Sunday, November 19, 2017

No solution to the Hariri Jr. mystery yet

I thought that Hariri's trip to France would answer the "is he being held prisoner" question, but I didn't account for the possibility of hostages:
Mr. Hariri’s two younger children, a 16-year-old daughter, Loulwa, and a 12-year-old son, Abdulaziz, did not appear in television footage of his arrival. The two have been attending school in Saudi Arabia and could have stayed behind for that reason, but their apparent absence was an obstacle to ending concerns that Mr. Hariri was not acting freely. It left room for speculation that the Saudis had pressured Mr. Hariri to leave them in the country as leverage.
Just the fact that people are openly wondering if a close American ally forced the prime minister of another country to resign, held him prisoner, and now is letting him leave but only because he left two children behind so they can serve as hostages is completely insane.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Why wasn't Kuwait Airways forced to face up to its contradictory stance?

The thing that I don't get about this case is how Kuwait Airways could have offered to compensate "Adar M" with a  a direct flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok on a different airline if Kuwaiti law prohibited the company entering "into an agreement, personally or indirectly, with entities or persons residing in Israel, or with Israeli citizenship." Isn't buying Adar a ticket on a different airline entering into an agreement with him, at least indirectly?

If they hadn't compensated him, it just would have looked like they were ripping the Israeli off, which probably would have weakened the airline's case. But by compensating him, why wouldn't that also damage their case in the German court, as they were willing to enter into one kind of deal with an Israeli just not the deal that he paid for.

Two spins on MBS

This is probably the most optimistic spin of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon's current escapades. I don't think it is all spin. It probably is part of the reason for MSB's domestic moves and Saudi Arabia faces economic collapse unless it finds a way to have an economy that is not entirely dependent on oil.

But it doesn't explain MBS's crazy foreign policy: his quagmire in Yemen, his silly and self-destructive blockade of Qatar, his over-the-top hard line against Iran, and his possible abduction and forced resignation of the Lebanese prime minister. That stuff is related to the other reason for MSB's "anti-corruption" crackdown: Salmon's consolidation of power in anticipation of his ascension to the Saudi throne.

My theory is that MBS believes that the current system in which Saudi Arabia is effectively governed by a council of elders (comprised of the various siblings and brothers who are the closest relatives of the current king) will not be able to make the hard to decisions to modernize the country both economically and socially. He is probably right about that. But his solution, to arrest or marginalize all his relatives who might dilute his authority, while adopting a muscular foreign policy to show he is a decisive and dependable leader, is a bad way to go about it. None of his high-risk foreign adventures has paid off yet, and it is possible (if not likely) that all will end badly for KSA. That will give his rivals in the Saudi royal family ammunition to fight back when the opportunity presents itself.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why not him?

Al Franken is toast. Maybe he would have been able to explain it away with it-was-just-a-misunderstanding" if not for the photo.

Peut-ĂȘtre libertĂ©

If his alleged Saudi captors don't feed him some excuse to weasel out of this trip, I guess we will finally find out if Saad Hariri really was held against his will and forced to resign.

I know Trump gives any other contender a run for its money these days, but I really think that the Saad Hariri/possible captive in KSA is the weirdest story in the world right now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Decisive Leadership

Donald Trump is waiting for instructions from President Hannity before he decides whether to continue to endorse Roy Moore for Senate.

Nice Try

A bunch of people on my SocMedes are crowing about how that Company that owns Cards Against Humanity bought some land along the U.S.-Mexican border to stop Trump from building his fucking wall. I'm all for stopping the wall, but why does anyone think that will work? The federal government can use eminent domain to seize the land for the wall.The government would have to pay the CAH folks the fair market price, but thanks to their recent sale, that would not be hard to figure out.

I don't know if the wall will ever get built (I am cautiously optimistic that it won't), but it isn't going to be stopped by this purchase.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What about special hooks for employees to hang their light sabers?

I thought the whole idea behind autonomous cars is you don't need any infrastructure for them to work. One big benefit for cars that drive themselves is they can just ride on existing roads as they currently are. You don't need to build some new mag-lev track, or special lanes on the highway.

That's one reason the FoxConn demand is so ridiculous. Another one is the fact that truly autonomous cars have not been invented yet. There's a lot of excitement and optimism (some insist over-excitement and unrealistic optimism) that self-driving cars will come soon. But they haven't come yet. Until they do, we don't know for sure that they will really work anytime soon. It is still possible that the self-driving revolution won't occur for the rest of my lifetime.

If FoxConn is going to insist on special accommodations for made-up technology that hasn't arrived yet, they might as well be asking for special air lanes for employees arriving by jet pack. What about teleporter receiving stations?

Monday, November 13, 2017


If I were responsible for deciding where some business's advertising dollars went, I would never decide to advertise on any political program, or even any newscast. It doesn't matter if you try to spread your advertising dollars around so it goes to programs that cater to both sides of the political system. Once you put your money behind those shows, you are a potential consumer boycott target. And once that happens, your brand is basically screwed, at least in the short term.

For example, after Sean Hannity defended Judge Moore's pedophile scandal, Media Matters pushed its boycott list for companies that adverse on his show, and Keurig (among others) pulled its advertising. That generated a backlash, so now Keurig is trying to walk it back. But it can't. If it goes back to advertising on Hannity's show, that will put it back on liberal's boycott list (and worse, it will stand out from that list, as it will be the only company that un-did its own boycott of the show, making it an even bigger target ). But if keeps from being Hannity's advertiser, it will be boycotted by conservatives. At least until everyone gets outraged about something else and forgets about all this stuff, Keurig can't win. It would have been better off if it never decided to advertise on Hannity in the first place.

But it is not just Hannity. The same thing could have happened on any other news show. Eventually, advertisers might realize it isn't worth advertising on any news channel.

Proving the thesis that Conservatives are primarily motivated by their desire to piss of liberals, but have no idea what actually pisses off liberals

Going ahead without us

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal originally designed to limit China's influence by writing the rules for trade in the Pacific rim in a treaty that excludes China, will now be used to limit China and American influence.

I have very mixed feelings about agreements like the TPP. (I wish they were not just trade agreements, but rather including binding standards for other things affected by trade, like labor standards and the environment). But the whole idea behind the agreement was to give signatory countries an advantage in trade over China. Now, they will get an advantage over China and the U.S.