Friday, August 26, 2016


Finding it strangely irksome that some Guatemalan media (e.g. El Periódico) still refer to Mexico City using its old title of 'Distrito Federal'. It just seems to highlight the clumsiness and carelessness of much of what passes for journalism in this country. Between the hacks writing the articles and their editors, there ought to be someone  in the office informed enough to correct this. 

We're not talking about some distant foreign metropolis - this is the nearest 'alpha' global city. I then get annoyed with myself for getting so anal about these small details, but my first proper job after university was in magazine publishing and was driven hard by people whose attention to detail was single-minded to the point of fanatical.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


I have never really approved of austerity. In the UK at least it was implemented in a way that tried to disguise an ideological urge as a practical need. It is thus both ironic and appropriate that the Cameron-Osborne regime was ultimately undone by Brexiters who, with varying success, went about dressing up their baser instincts as a highminded crusade.

Anyway, I am fairly sure the British economy would have done better under the sort of economic policies implemented by Obama in the wake of the great crash.

It should be noted that here in Latin America the two nations undergoing the most stringent austerity regimes are Venezuela and Cuba, ostensibly the most socialist. It's a bit of a dance of death for this pair now, as one sinks to new depths the other has to adjust and fall with it.

A month ago President Castro told the Cuban National Assembly that growth had fallen from 4.7% to just 1% in the past year and that big cuts would be required to turn things around, including a reduction in energy consumption of 6% and fuel consumption by 28%, plus fewer imports. The government would also reduce credit and liquidity across the state sector i.e. most of the economy.

Bound to work.

The less said about Venezuela the better.

Perhaps austerity has been widely adopted as the appropriate corrective to perceived socialist-induced mayhem, which is why it didn't happen in the USA and why in Latin America it has to be done by socialists themselves - because the people don't have so many opportunities to vote them out.

One thing that can be said about ideological conservatives is that they are less prone to blaim the failures of their boneheaded policies on the likes of 'exploiters, manipulators, speculators and opportunists' along Cuban and Venezuelan lines.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Not sending their best...

This one has been doing the rounds...

"They’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you...They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us"  > The Donald. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Progress is NEVER inevitable...

One of the most obvious errors regularly committed by right wing thinkers of the libertarian sort is the assumption that ‘free’ markets inevitably lead to prosperity. If they did, they would not be free at all, would they? 

This is exactly the kind of teleological thinking these sophists mock the likes of Marx for. Yet free markets no more lead to inevitable economic progress than natural selection leads to intelligent life. 

Free markets are in fact just as prone to errors, to marching up cul-de-sacs as Nature is. There might be a greater underlying probability of positive consequences over negative ones, but the term free by its very nature implies that you get some sort of mixture of the two. 

It goes without saying too that nature's system for correcting mistakes is generally not considered apt for economic predicaments. So, this is why we have governments. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Gold Star Trap

So Donald took the bait, as they must have known he would. 

This has all the hallmarks of a deliberate ruse and falling for it so publicly has already cost Trump 8 points according to a CNN poll released today. 

There's no doubt that the Democrats know that they can keep setting these booby traps and the GOP candidate will surely keep triggering them, but it's hard to imagine that they have a better ambush device up their sleeve than Mr and Mrs Khan. 

It's a shame in a way, because some swing voters may have forgotten what a total idiot he has just made of himself come November. 

In truth, Obamas aside, almost all the headline speakers at the DNC, especially all the various Clintons, were lacklustre, but this didn't matter so much, because the job of composing the underlying, almost subliminal message was handled with real aplomb. 

Crucially the Democratic strategists have demonstrated an understanding that zombies, once turned, cannot easily be turned back into ordinary human beings capable of generally independent, non-herd-like ratiocination, at least not until someone comes up with a general cure. 

So, as a bullet to the head is politically non-viable, the only way to handle the likes of Trump zombies and Brexit zombies is to confuse and slacken them a bit by presenting as a lure some alternative basic impulses for them to slaver over. 

So the plan unveiled in Philadelphia was to take all these newly-turned Trump zombies and see if they could be retro-fitted into either 'Patriotism' or 'Praise the Lord' zombies: the sort that have been around a lot longer in US politics, but never quite threatened a complete apocalypse. It may well work.