Let's Fix This Country
foreign policy

Why Would We Want Saudi Arabia
As An Ally?

We needed their oil. Midway through World War II, the Roosevelt administration was warned that the U.S. was running low, having almost single-handedly fueled the allied war effort. There in Saudi Arabia lay a resource that had hardly been tapped. Oil became the core of the U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship for decades
They need no introduction, but where are Clinton and Obama in this gallery? They were equally accommodating of the Saudis, but their years lacked incidents such as those we recount.

thereafter: We would buy their oil, they would buy American weapons, we'd guarantee their security. So it was that we would have as an ally one of the world's most repressive countries ruled by a royal family that hoarded to itself the unimaginable riches found beneath its desert floor.

But that calculus has changed. First, the U.S. is now the world's biggest oil producer: 12 million barrels a day thanks to shale, subsurface geologic rendering, and technologies such as directional drilling. Besides, the Saudi kingdom presents us with problems. The war they are waging against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The king gave the reins to run the country to a crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who a year ago is believed with certainty to have ordered the gruesome murder of Washington Post opinion writer, Jamal Khashoggi, by a gang of 15 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

In the year since the killing, President Trump has never acknowledged that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's assassination, managing no more than, “It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”.

The killing of a journalist is of no moment to Trump, who cares only that…

media

Media Mayhem: Competition Leaves Consumers with a Scattered Mess

This page doesn't pay much attention to entertainment media, but the ability to get away from Trump World for a little respite is under threat. The "content providers" have embarked on their own trade war, fragmenting the video world into ever smaller pieces of declining interest. It's such a frenzy that we now read they are creating action thrillers for smartphones to be serialized in 10-minute bites.

First, there was Blockbuster, displaced by Netflix, which served up movies on DVDs sent through the mail.

That didn't disturb the cable/dish world all that much. But then Netflix switched to streaming, leaving their founding DVD customers behind to pick among the scraps, and Netflix's success spawned entry by Hulu, then Amazon, then CBS, all now spending literally billions to produce their own exclusive and mostly forgettable content, greenlighting just about every pitch that comes along to fill their insatiable maws. And by about this time next year, AT&T's WarnerMedia Division, Comcast's NBC Universal, Walt Disney, and Apple have plans to join the fray. That makes eight so far, plus whatever dish/cable we need to hang onto for basic content or delivery.

Fundamental principles have come unlearned.

1. Consumes like economy. All of these services, presumably, either do or intend to charge for subscriptions — monthly hits to our credit cards. They…

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corporations

Enriched by Tax Cuts, CEOs of 181 Major Corporations Decide They’d Better Atone

Corporate America is having a change of heart

For decades in America, corporations have followed the precept set down by the University of Chicago school of economists, led by Nobel recipient Milton Friedman, that the sole calling of a corporation is to maximize value for its shareholders. That profit at all cost

could lead to a welter of harm and hardship to people and the environment were unfortunate but must not be allowed to interfere with that goal.

In words if not yet in deeds, that changed abruptly when the Business Roundtable, its membership the chief executive officers of large U.S. corporations, took full-page ads in the major newspapers to issue a "Statement of the Purpose of a Corporation", prefaced by reminders that freedom, liberty, and a free market economy have been a "critical engine" to the nation's success. The new doctrine bore the signatures of 181 CEOs of major companies from a cross-section of industry such as of Apple, JPMorgan Chase, Pfizer, United Airlines, Salesforce, SAP, BlackRock, Honeywell, and ConocoPhillips.

The Statement consists of five commitments, two of which are taken up by what one would think are nothing new — "Delivering value to our Customers" and "Generating long-term value for Shareholders", unless "long-term" deliberately signals a shift away from the obsession with quarterly profits. The others pledge ethical and fair dealing with suppliers, protecting the environment of local communities, and investing in employees with fair compensation, benefits, and training. There is no mention of unions.

To serve only its investors — what it called “shareholder primacy” — has been the Roundtable's official position since 1997. So what explains the sudden volte-face by the business community that corporations should change their outlook and look for ways to better benefit all with whom they deal? The ad mentions that "many Americans are struggling", that "too often hard work is not… Read More »

the economy

Spooked by Talk of Downturn, Trump Opted for Chaos

President Trump is showing signs of panic. Signs are increasing that we may be heading into a recession after an historic boom, but Trump's belief that the economy "I gave you" is key to his winning re-election has caused him to lash out,

asking in a tweet who is the bigger enemy, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell or China's President Xi Jinping, and on the same day, issuing a four-part tweet that said we should no longer import anything from China — plus…

"Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA."

The tirade was prompted by China's retaliating against Trump's 10% impost on most of China's imports not yet tariffed that is about to take effect, in part, September 1. China returned fire with tariffs on $75 billion of their imports from the U.S. When Powell, on the same as that announcement, failed in a speech in Wyoming to succumb to Trump's demands to lower interest rates, that was enough to send the president off the rails in a week in which he had battled Denmark, calling her prime minister "nasty" for her unwillingness to… Read More »

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