Month: September 2013

I Think that this is a Diss of John Paul II

It’s generally being presented as a unifying gesture, but I think that the decision to canonize Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on the same day:

Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be declared saints on 27 April 2014, Pope Francis has announced.

The Pope said in July that he would canonise his two predecessors, after approving a second miracle attributed to John Paul.

Polish John Paul, the first non-Italian pope for more than 400 years, led the Catholic Church from 1978-2005.

Pope John was pontiff from 1958-1963, calling the Second Vatican Council that transformed the Church.

The decision to canonise the two at the same time appears designed to unify Catholics, correspondents say.

John Paul II is a favourite of conservative Catholics, while John XXIII is widely admired by the Church’s progressive wing.


The double canonisation will be the first in the Church’s history.

Here is why I think that this is a comment on

John Paul has been on a fast track to sainthood since his death, when crowds in St Peter’s Square chanted “santo subito” (“sainthood now”).

During his own papacy he simplified the process by which people are made saints, and created more of them than all previous popes combined.

John XXIII is remembered for introducing the vernacular to replace Latin in church masses and for creating warmer ties between the Catholic Church and the Jewish faith.

He has a big following in Italy, where he is known as Il Papa Buono, the good pope.


Two miracles have been officially attributed to Pope John Paul II – the number usually needed for canonisation.


Pope John XXIII was beatified by John Paul II in 2000, and Pope Francis took the unusual step of waiving the requirement of a second miracle in his case.

John Paul II’s canonization was on a rocket docket that Francis knew could not be stopped, but by making John XXIII, he takes some of the wind out of the sails of the inevitable JPII, and by waiving waiving the “2nd miracle” for John, he makes a comment on how standards were relaxed by John Paul.

Then again, ich bin a Yid, so my knowledge on the Catholic Church is neither deep nor broad.

This is a Level of Surreal that Buggers the Mind

I am at a Jiffy Lube, and a Football Game is on, Baltimore vs. Buffalo.

They cut to the Vikings-Steelers game at Wembley in England.

It’s a foreign outreach thing that the NFL does.

They show the singing of both national anthems, the Star Spangled Banner, and God Save the Queen.

Singing the the Star Spangled Banner was Kiss bassist Gene Simons.

Gene Simmons singing the Star Spangled Banner?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

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An Important Lesson About How to Reduce Piracy

Interesting. It appears that the expansion of Netflix into Canada had reduced piracy by ½:

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings dropped a surprising statistic during an interview with Dutch website Tweakers last week, as he made the rounds promoting the launch of Netflix Netherlands.

When asked if Dutch viewers would switch from piracy to Netflix, Hastings said sure, some will switch, and that piracy helps “create the demand” for easier, legitimate ways to watch video through the Internet. Pressed for examples of markets where Netflix has actually brought about a decrease in piracy, Hastings pointed to Canada. Here, he claims, “Bittorrent traffic’s down by about 50 per cent since Netflix launched three years ago.”

There are some facts in the entire copyright debate, particularly as applies to entertainment:

  • It’s inconvenient for people to pirate things.
  • They are willing to pay when the institutions who control the content aren’t dicks who make “legal” use of the products even more inconvenient because they want to wring every possible penny from their users.

Of course, it’s rather unlikely that the the powers that be are going to stop acting like a dicks, seeing as how they have the political pull to turn what should be civil infractions into felonies though their pet congresscritters.

H/t PP at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Sikorsky S-97, the Proposed Production Application of Advancing Blade Helicopter Technology, Enters Final Assembly

Fuselage is on its way to Sikorsky

3-view images are courtesy of Sikorsky

I’ve had an affection for this technology since the Advancing Blade Concept in the 1980s.

It’s simpler than a tilt rotor and does things like autorotation and a lower disk loading, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it flies:

Sikorsky will begin final assembly of its S-97 Raider helicopter prototype this week, according to company officials.

That puts the helicopter manufacturer — which is competing for the US Army’s Armed Aerial Scout program — on track for a first flight at the end of 2014.

“It’s just a really exciting foundational milestone for us, and it’s great to be leaving the design phase of Raider and getting into the build phase,” Chris Van Buiten, Sikorsky Innovations vice president, said.

The Raider is based on the X-2 technology developed by Sikorsky in the late 2000s, but grows the size and weight significantly. Where the X-2 demonstrator was a one-person, 5,000-pound platform, the Raider will be roughly 11,000 pounds with room for six troops in its combat assault mode. In reconnaissance mode, that space could be used for extra equipment or ammunition.

Despite that growth, Sikorsky executives are confident the design will bring a mix of speed and maneuverability that helicopters have not yet achieved.

“This thing has to fly faster than 220 knots” at cruising speed, Van Buiten said when asked about key performance targets. “It has got to do more than a 3G turn at speed. It has to demonstrate hover at 10,000 feet and 95 degrees. Those are the non-negotiables.”

Hopefully, this will work better than the over priced and under performing bucked of bolts called the V-22 Osprey.


Well, at least it’s not saying, “So long and thanks for all the fish.”

H/t Ecop on the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Captain Obvious Strikes

It appears that his secret identy is Nancy Pelosi:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sought Friday to lay the blame for a possible government shutdown on congressional Republicans, saying that they refused to negotiate on the issue.

Pelosi pointed to the GOP’s inability to reconcile their competing factions as the reason that the federal government is a few days away from shutting down.

“It’s impossible for Democrats to negotiate with House Republicans when they can’t negotiate with themselves,” Pelosi told reporters. “We don’t know what we’re going to vote on from one minute to the next because I don’t think they know what they’re going to vote on.”

“I don’t know that they even know what they’re doing,” she added.

Well, duh!

Matt Taibbi Nails it Again

This time, he’s writing about how Wall Street is robbing ordinary working people’s retirement:

In the final months of 2011, almost two years before the city of Detroit would shock America by declaring bankruptcy in the face of what it claimed were insurmountable pension costs, the state of Rhode Island took bold action to avert what it called its own looming pension crisis. Led by its newly elected treasurer, Gina Raimondo – an ostentatiously ambitious 42-year-old Rhodes scholar and former venture capitalist – the state declared war on public pensions, ramming through an ingenious new law slashing benefits of state employees with a speed and ferocity seldom before seen by any local government.


Nor did anyone know that part of Raimondo’s strategy for saving money involved handing more than $1 billion – 14 percent of the state fund – to hedge funds, including a trio of well-known New York-based funds: Dan Loeb’s Third Point Capital was given $66 million, Ken Garschina’s Mason Capital got $64 million and $70 million went to Paul Singer’s Elliott Management. The funds now stood collectively to be paid tens of millions in fees every single year by the already overburdened taxpayers of her ostensibly flat-broke state. Felicitously, Loeb, Garschina and Singer serve on the board of the Manhattan Institute, a prominent conservative think tank with a history of supporting benefit-slashing reforms. The institute named Raimondo its 2011 “Urban Innovator” of the year.

The state’s workers, in other words, were being forced to subsidize their own political disenfranchisement, coughing up at least $200 million to members of a group that had supported anti-labor laws. Later, when Edward Siedle, a former SEC lawyer, asked Raimondo in a column for how much the state was paying in fees to these hedge funds, she first claimed she didn’t know. Raimondo later told the Providence Journal she was contractually obliged to defer to hedge funds on the release of “proprietary” information, which immediately prompted a letter in protest from a series of freaked-out interest groups. Under pressure, the state later released some fee information, but the information was originally kept hidden, even from the workers themselves. “When I asked, I was basically hammered,” says Marcia Reback, a former sixth-grade schoolteacher and retired Providence Teachers Union president who serves as the lone union rep on Rhode Island’s nine-member State Investment Commission. “I couldn’t get any information about the actual costs.”

This is the third act in an improbable triple-f%$#ing of ordinary people that Wall Street is seeking to pull off as a shocker epilogue to the crisis era. Five years ago this fall, an epidemic of fraud and thievery in the financial-services industry triggered the collapse of our economy. The resultant loss of tax revenue plunged states everywhere into spiraling fiscal crises, and local governments suffered huge losses in their retirement portfolios – remember, these public pension funds were some of the most frequently targeted suckers upon whom Wall Street dumped its fraud-riddled mortgage-backed securities in the pre-crash years.

Read the rest.

Not enough bullets.

You Cannot Make this Sh%$ Up

Ted Cruz just engaged in a mammoth talk on the Senate floor, (it was not a filibuster) talking about the evils of Obamacare.

At one point, he read from the children’s classic Green Eggs and Ham, while talking about how awful the PPACA will be.

As Senator Claire McCaskill observed, Ted Cruz does not get the Dr. Seuss story, which is all about not prejudging things:

During Sen. Ted Cruz’ marathon talk-a-thon, he dramatically read one of his children’s favorite books, Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, saying it was a good-night story for his children.

How ironic, Sen. Claire McCaskill, remarked on Morning Joe, that the Texas Republican used that book in a marathon speech opposing a healthcare reform bill he has never tried.

“I went the University of Missouri, I did not go to Harvard, but I’ll tell you that my daughter texted me this morning and said ‘Mom, does he not know the point of the story?’” the Missouri Democrat said.

In the classic Seuss novel, a grumpy character declares “I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham…I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere.”

Eventually, the character tries the green eggs and ham to appease his persistent friend and finds that he quite likes them: “I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!”

“It’s that you can’t knock things till you try it,” McCaskill said with a smile. “It’s ironic that he used that in the filibuster because I think when people realize how the these exchanges are going to work…It’s all private insurance companies on these exchanges.”

Not only reading Seuss on the Senate floor, but getting it wrong.

Theodore Seuss Geisel must be spinning in his grave.

Someone Else Calling for a Postal Savings Bank

Just like I did a few months ago.

It’s Senator Bernie Sanders and Represantative of Pete Defazio:

The Postal Service Modernization Bills brought by Peter DeFazio and Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, would allow the post office to recapitalize itself by diversifying its range of services to meet unmet public needs.

Needs that the post office might diversify into include (1) funding the rebuilding of our crumbling national infrastructure; (2) servicing the massive market of the “unbanked” and “underbanked” who lack access to basic banking services; and (3) providing a safe place to save our money, in the face of Wall Street’s new “bail in” policies for confiscating depositor funds. All these needs could be met at a stroke by some simple legislation authorizing the post office to revive the banking services it efficiently performed in the past.

I don’t think that it’s going to happen.

Wall Street owns Congress, and Wall Street does not want an alternative.

Tell me You Don’t See Echos of Wiemar Germany Here………

Greece, of course, though I would argue that it was a foreseeable consequence of policies foisted on them by the Germans.

We have seen an explosive growth of the Fascist Golden Dawn party, with the tacit approval of the more mainstream Greek political parties, because they see them as providing a counterweight to the growth of the SYRIZA party, and because it allowed them to cast the Socialist SYRIZA, which is a real threat to the corruption of the Greek elites and to the interests of the banksters.

Basically, Golden Dawn allows them to play the, “Both sides of the same coin,” game.

They aren’t of course.

SYRIZA doesn’t engage in systematic violence against people that they do not like, and they haven’t made a concerted effort to infiltrate the Greek state security apparatus to obtain approval for their campaign of intimidation and violence.

Golden Dawn has done all of this in spades, and now, following the murder of anti-Fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn member, the Greek government is trying to put the Genie back into the bottle, and ban the Golden Dawn party:

The Greek government has hinted that it will seek to ban Golden Dawn after the far-right party was linked to the murder of a leading leftwing musician in Athens.

As violence erupted on the streets and demonstrators protested after the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas, a prominent anti-fascist, the public order minister, Nikos Dendias, cancelled a trip abroad saying the government would table emergency legislation that would seek to outlaw the group.


Earlier in the day, police raided Golden Dawn offices across the country, with media reporting running street battles outside branches in Crete, Thessaloniki and Patras.

Voted into the Greek parliament for the first time last June, the neo-fascist Golden Dawn has been widely accused of employing violence to further its ratings in the polls.

The socialist Pasok party, the junior member of Antonis Samaras’s two-party coalition, [The ruling coalition, not SYRIZA] has campaigned openly for it to be banned, saying it should be considered a criminal gang.


Eyewitnesses said the singer was stabbed several times by a man who suddenly appeared in a car after being phoned by members of the mob. The attack bore all the hallmarks of a premeditated assault, they said.

Unfortunately, it may be too late, because it looks like Golden Dawn has already infiltrated the Greek state security apparatus:

The killing of Mr. Fyssas has spurred the government to begin a risky crackdown on Golden Dawn, opening its first investigation into whether the police forces are infiltrated by sympathizers or members of the group, one of the most violent rightist organizations in Europe.

On Tuesday, officers raided three police stations on the outskirts of Athens. The sweep came a day after the government replaced seven senior police officials — including the chiefs of special forces, internal security, organized crime and the explosives unit — to ensure the investigation would take place with “absolute objectivity.” In addition, two top members of the Greek police force resigned abruptly Monday, citing “personal reasons.”

Such steps have the potential for volatile repercussions in a country where the security forces have had links to far-right organizations at various points since the end of World War II. They are likely to test the determination of the government and the public to turn back the influence of Golden Dawn, which has climbed steadily in opinion polls in the past year and has 18 of its members in Parliament.


The public outcry after the killing of Mr. Fyssas, who used the stage name Killah P, placed greater pressure on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, a member of the right-leaning New Democracy party, to investigate a police force he has repeatedly defended, despite a cascade of reports drawing links between the police and Golden Dawn.

Human rights groups say the police have for the most part looked the other way as Golden Dawn has systematically terrorized immigrants. These aggressive acts, sometimes captured on video by Golden Dawn members and posted on the Internet, involve roving groups crushing market stands run by immigrants, riding in gangs on motorbikes armed with clubs and shields bearing swastika-like symbols and beating immigrants with wooden poles draped in the Greek flag.

Nikos Demertzis, a professor of political sociology at the University of Athens, said allegations of police collusion with the far right were not surprising. “Generally there is a tradition in Greece that the far-right organizations have certain links with the police — this is a historic, recurring theme,” Mr. Demertzis said.

They are Fascists, and they have a large amount of influence over the police during a period of social disorder.

It might already be too late to fix this.  History is littered with who thought that they could control extremists (on both right and left) and end up being devoured by the monster that they have created.

Stay Classy, Barack

What a surprise. When Congress wants to hear testimony from innocent victims of drone strikes in Pakistan, the Obama administration invokes the immigration authorities to prevent their entry:

The US government is being accused of derailing a congressional hearing that would be the first to hear testimony from survivors of an alleged CIA drone strike by failing to grant the family’s lawyer a visa.

Shahzad Akbar, a legal fellow with the British human rights group Reprieve and the director of the Pakistan-based Foundation for Fundamental Rights, says the state department is preventing him from taking his clients to Capitol Hill next week. The hearing would mark the first time US lawmakers heard directly from drone strike survivors.

Akbar’s clients, Rafiq ur-Rehman, his 13-year-old son, Zubair, and his nine-year-old daughter, Nabila, are from the tribal regions of north Waziristan. The children were injured in the alleged US strike on the village of Tappi last year. Their grandmother – Rehman’s mother, Mamana – was killed.

Rehman and his children have spent months making preparations to visit Washington after being invited by US representatives to testify in the ad hoc hearing on drone strikes.

According to Akbar, his clients’ visas for the trip have been approved, but his has not. He believes the hold-up is political.

“It’s not like my name is scratched because there is some sort of confusion. My name is blocked,” Akbar told the Guardian. “Before I started drone investigations I never had an issue with US visa. In fact, I had a US diplomatic visa for two years.”

This is the third tangle Akbar has experienced with US authorities over a visa since 2011, a year after he began investigating drone strikes. In April, Akbar said he was being prevented from speaking at a human rights conference in Washington because of a delay processing his application. He was eventually granted entry.

This is indefensible, and is a consequence of having a policy that terrorizes millions throughout the world, and creates more terrorist, is indefensible.

Obama and His Evil Minions know that their policies will not hold up to scrutiny, so they are conspiring to keep a 13-year old talking about the death of his grandmother.

And this guy is a Nobel laureate.

What were they thinking in Sweden?

Supply Side Economics is a Fraud

In interesting showing in a very concise form that the data does not support the theory of supply side economics:

The biggest political theory of the last 30 years is supply side economics. It was the basis of the policies of all Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan onward. The idea is that if the rich are given more money, they will use it to invest in business and thus create jobs. According to the theory, if you give money to the poor, they will just spend it. The rich, on the other hand, will help businesses to grow and this will help the poor.

The idea is nonsense as anyone who has ever run an actual business should be able to explain. Businesses expand when they see a lot of demand for their products. If a computer repair business has to turn away business for lack of resources, it will hire another tech to be able to take the extra work. This is as simple a notion as there is. Now it is also the case that in rare instances, a company may see a market opportunity but not expand to meet it because they simply don’t have the start up capital to do it. Maybe expanding would require buying more property and the cost of a loan is too high. But that is a rare case. In general, businesses are demand constrained.

But this isn’t a matter of conjecture. If businesses really acted the way that conservatives claim, then businesses should invest a lot more when profits were high compared to when they were low. That’s why I found the following graph from Dean Baker so interesting. It shows corporate profits and investment as a share of GDP since the end of World War II. The thing to notice here is that there is nothing to notice:

While correlation does not imply causation, as the saying goes, a lack of correlation does imply a lack of causation, and in this case, we have what appears to be a slight  negative correlation.

Economics is frequently called dismal science for reasons that are patently obvious, but supply side economics does not even rise to that meager standard.

It is instead a reflection of Calvinist theories of predestination, which, among other things believes that wealth and material success are indications that one is part of the “elect” and hence bound for salvation.

Calvinism believes that wealth is a (though not the only) sign of virtue, and supply side economics is an outgrowth of a philosophy that came over with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.

It’s an article of faith, and as such it should be accorded no more intellectual weight than the precepts of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Maybe less, because Pastafarians don’t want to screw it up for the rest of us.)

Just When You Thought that the American Military Could Not Get Any Worse on Rape in the Military

We have a the convening authority allowing cross examination that would not be out of place in a Taliban court:

Earlier this month, the U.S. Naval Academy held a hearing into allegations that three of its football players had sexually assaulted a female midshipman. The alleged victim was a 20-year-old sophomore in April 2012 when she attended an off-campus “toga and yoga” party, drank heavily, and had alleged sexual contact with the three men while being allegedly too intoxicated to give consent. That’s a lot of “allegedlys,” but if true, the midshipman’s tale is a worn, familiar one—especially in the military, where a recent Defense Department report found that an estimated 26,000 service members experienced some form of sexual assault last year, up from 19,000 two years before. Of those incidents, 3,000 were reported; only 302 went to trial. As details from this latest hearing leak out, it’s easy to see why so many victims might prefer to disappear rather than face the punishing interrogations and institutional pressures that come with speaking up.

The woman, now 21, spent more than 20 hours on the stand, requesting several times to be excused from testifying because of exhaustion. Though, according to newspaper accounts, she said repeatedly that her memory of the night was fuzzy (she came to believe she’d been raped after she heard rumors and saw posts about her on social media), the defense lawyers pounced on discrepancies in her story as evidence of instability and deceit. They grilled her on her mental health. They inquired whether she wore a bra or underwear at the party. They quizzed her relentlessly about her oral sex technique, including how wide she opened her mouth. (Why? Because, as the New York Times reports, “oral sex would indicate the ‘active participation’ of the woman and therefore consent,” according to one of the player’s lawyers.) They asked, the paper of record continues, “whether she had apologized to another midshipman with whom she’d had intercourse for ‘being a ho.’ ”

This is shameful. And it makes an excellent case for Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand’s bill to remove sexual assault trials from the military chain of command, prosecuting them in civilian courts instead. Supporters of the Gillibrand proposal cite the web of conflicting loyalties between the accused, the accuser, and the judges as one reason that the current system is failing to protect victims. They argue that authorities’ first allegiance may be to the military’s reputation—that the bias is to acquit. But here’s an even simpler reason to make the switch: Civilian courts don’t allow the kind of abusive questioning described above. Lawyers in civilian courts are prohibited (or at least strongly discouraged) from asking an alleged assault victim about her sexual history. Judges in civilian courts would probably break their gavels admonishing a counsel who wanted to know how wide a woman opened her mouth for oral sex.

This is truly obscene.

I’d go further than Gillibrand, and put this in Federal Court, removing it completely from the jurisdiction of the military, because it is clear that they cannot be trusted with this.

As the Germans once said of the British, “They fight like lions, but they are led by asses.”

It appears that the same could apply to our officer corps, at least with regard to their morality.

Why High Frequency Sucks Part 86

Some high frequency traders in Chicago made a lot of money by having 7 milliseconds advance notice of the recent Fed decision:

In the wake of an unusual trading pattern after the Federal Reserve’s decision to continue economic stimulus last week, Fed officials have contacted certain news organizations to discuss rules and procedures for the central bank’s advance release of sensitive information, CNBC has learned.

On Sept. 18, the Federal Reserve shocked the financial world with its decision not to scale back its level of support to the economy as most market participants expected.

Financial markets reacted at the speed of light, pushing stocks dramatically higher in just moments. But it looks like the speed of light just wasn’t fast enough for some traders.

Some traders in Chicago appear to have had access to the Fed’s decision before anyone else in the Windy City. According to trading data reviewed by CNBC, they began buying in Chicago-traded assets just before others in that city could possibly have been aware of the Fed’s decision. By one estimate, as much as $600 million in assets changed hands in the milliseconds before most other traders in Chicago could learn of the Fed’s September surprise-a sharp contrast to the very low volume of trading ahead of the Fed’s decision.


The precise timing of the release is crucial because information can only travel as fast as the speed of light-a physical reality first laid out by Albert Einstein. Information-like a Fed decision-released in Washington takes as much as 7 milliseconds to travel to Chicago, where futures and other assets are traded. And because high-speed trading firms are now able to execute trades at the millisecond level, there is a brief window of time in which information can be publicly available in Washington but is still traveling to Chicago, where computers won’t receive it until milliseconds later.

Thanks to modern technology, that window is long enough for some to profit if they know which direction the market is about to go and can place millisecond-level trades accordingly. None of this trading would typically involve a human being-it takes slow-moving humans about 300 milliseconds just to blink an eye, making them much too slow to react to news at the millisecond level. Instead, high-speed data feeds are plugged directly to algorithmic trading computers, which in turn analyze the news as it comes in and execute pre-programed trading strategies.

What apparently happened is that a reporter who was given the information ahead of time, the Federal Reserve does this in a locked room (really) under sequester.

The reporters can prepare their reports, but they cannot release any information before 2:00 pm.

Someone cracked the system, and used the speed of light to gain a competitive edge.

The bitch is, I am not sure that this was illegal.

Whoever did this did not act on non-public information, it had been released publicly at 2:00pm EDT, which is when they traded, they simply beat the information going down the wires .

It should be illegal, and I’d love to see someone prosecute these motherf%$#ers.


If Time magazine is right, we are doomed as a society.

Machiavelli Explains Syria

It now appears that rebels in Syria have found the “leadership” in exile to be incompetent self-serving leeches:

With empty pockets and clothes smudged with dirt, the Syrian rebel fighter smuggled himself across the border and traveled 18 hours by bus to plead with Syrian opposition leaders meeting in a luxury hotel here to send help back home.

The fighter, Hassan Tabanja, a former electrician, needed money to provide food, weapons and ammunition for dozens of men fighting alongside him against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. But after two days of scant results at the main opposition coalition’s meeting here last weekend, Mr. Tabanja sat on the patio glaring at the men in suits all around him.

What they had provided, he said, “will barely get me back to Syria.”

For Mr. Tabanja and many other government opponents inside Syria, the leaders of the coalition who claim to represent them abroad have long seemed detached from their suffering, and frugal or mysterious with the money they have raised. As the leaders have shuttled among world capitals and bickered in fancy hotels, they have appeared increasingly powerless to affect the course of Syria’s war: more than 100,000 people have died, millions have been displaced, and extremist groups are gaining ground.

The leaders complain that their efforts to win recognition and support have been thwarted by the world’s indifference and the competing agendas of their own tightfisted patrons, but their words have failed to assuage many of the people relying on them for help.

“It’s a political game,” said Mr. Tabanja, after he was shooed away by guards surrounding Ahmad al-Jarba, the leader of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition. “They are like puppets in the hands of their enemies,” he said. “They are prolonging the presence of Assad.”

I will remind you what Nicolo Machiavelli said about exiles:

A prince should therefore be slow in undertaking any enterprise upon the representations of exiles, for he will generally gain nothing by it but shame and serious injury.

We could have learned this from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Or we could just have read Machiavelli, is one of the found figures of the study of governments.

Seriously, this sh%$ is literally governance 101.