not safe

We are less, not more, safe now

This is not going to be a nice post. This is an angry post. This is me asking all of you Trump supporters to pull your heads out of your asses. The lack of air is destroying your brain. When President Trump, never one to rely on empirical facts, said the United States was in a better position and Iran is weakened now, he was either lying or just as dumb as dirt. We are less safe now.

Here are the reasons we have emboldened Iran and made the world a much more dangerous place for Americans and American interests.

The Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader, has said the military strike against us was “not enough.”

What does that mean? Iran could have hit the sites with much more lethal weapons. Why didn’t he? Because Iran doesn’t want a full-on war with the United States. To make that problem go away, they launch a less than lethal strike. Iran informed Iraq that the attack was coming so they could move people out of the way. Also, an Iranian commander has vowed “harsher revenge on the U.S.” Using the Don’s favorite medium, the supreme leader tweeted this:

How are we safer again?

But Iran doesn’t have the ability to attack the U.S.

How would they alone fare against the U.S? Not well. The problem is they are not alone. First of all, they have proxy groups all over the region. Their allies are all over the Middle East. Who are they? They have Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and others. What Iran may not want to directly, they have friends to do the job. Then, they can claim “we had no idea” and avoid that all-out war with us. This means the world in a much more dangerous place for us and our friends (Israel, I am looking at you.) Does that look like increased safety?

Let’s not forget about cyber attacks.

If North Korea can hack into Sony’s systems, leak unflattering emails and force a film to go directly to streaming services, you can bet Iran can do something similar or worse. This is one of the ways it works its terrorist mojo around the planet. Remember the entire U.S. intel community said Russia hacked a number of systems around our country. Check this out if you need a refresher course on that.

When we killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, we killed a national hero .

We also made him a martyr. We united a nation against us when they had been against their own government. From that Los Angeles Times piece:

“Religious leaders in Iran are extremely apt and capable in producing symbolism and creating a culture of politics in which they can incorporate nationalism and faith,” said Ali Akbar Mahdi, a sociology professor at Cal State Northridge. “They are utilizing all kinds of symbolism and tying it in sense of victimhood and how Shiites have suffered and now have to fight.”

The people of Iran were mad at their supreme leader for a number of reasons. Reformers railed against him and wanted real changes to the way things are done there. If you believe the whole, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, you can see why killing a national hero is going to bring some backlash. If you think they all just hate Americans for the sake of hating Americans, you should do a Google search you can find reports of the candlelight vigils they had for us in the aftermath of 9/11. You can do some of your own research. Time Magazine put it this way:

For several months this fall and winter, tens of thousands of Iraqis poured into the streets in giant protests against government corruption and against Iran’s dominance in their country, nearly bringing Iraq to a standstill and forcing Iraq’s Prime Minister Abd Al-Mahdi to offer his resignation; he remains as a caretaker head of government while the fractious parliamentary groups squabble over who will succeed him.

Vivienne Walt — Time Magazine

Iran has pledged to go “full speed ahead” on nuclear weapon development.

Sure, #ConDon has told the world that by withdrawing from the Iran deal, they have stopped but they just announced they are going back to it. When that deal was in force, they had stopped. What incentive do they have now? None. And if you think the money they received was some kind of gift, I reiterate my call to take your head out of your ass. That was money they had paid us for military technology they were buying but we never delivered because of the revolution of 1979 and the ouster of the American backed Shah. Look it all up. If you don’t believe something I write, I invite you to look it up. I am not making this up.

Iraq will kick our troops out of their country.

There has been a movement to get us out for a while and who can blame them after we assassinated a high ranking member of the Iranian military on their own soil. Do you think the Iraqis wanted to be stuck in the middle of a U.S./Iran war? Would you?

The war on ISIS has been paused making us all less safe.

In the first place, some Iraqis think it will harder to fight ISIS now that Suleimanu is dead. Did your jaw just drop? From the aforementioned Time piece:

The U.S. strike against Soleimani has handed the ISIS remnants an unwitting victory, by stoking anger among Iraqis against the group’s archenemy, the Americans, and diverting their attention from other grievances.

Vivienne Walt

Not only that but NATO has scaled back their work to fight ISIS and have paused their work on this Iraq completely. While Trump has proposed getting out of NATO in the past, this week he asked for their help and after his statements about article V, they don’t seem to be inclined to step in. Can you blame them? We have said we may not follow through on our commitments unless we are paid for it. That is not a good way to keep us safe either.

I am not going into the long American history of harming people in other nations to advance our national interests and assassinating political leaders with whom we disagree. (Don’t believe me? Do some research. There are many reasons we aren’t always trusted and sometimes hated.) We have not always been seen as the “shining city on a hill,” that Ronald Reagan spoke of but I think we strive to be.

When I think of America, I see that shining city on a hill. Assassinating people we don’t like is not something we should be doing. That is what dictators do. That’s what leaders of banana republics do. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said it best when she said, “This is not about how bad they are but how good we are.” I saw her say that this morning and am sure I butchered the quote but you can see the point.

Bottom line: Neither Americans nor American interests are safer today than when this saga started. This is President Trump’s tale/tail wagging the dog to get attention off the impeachment process.

Stony Brook Saga

It’s beautiful, right?

This is the view from my bedroom in Stony Brook, NY. When I was growing up, my grandmother, Judy, lived here and this was her room. Although I grew up with this view, I never appreciated it. It’s funny, I was quote the north shore of Long Island snob and appreciated splitting my time between here and San Francisco. I appreciated that but not the view.

The journey back has been a little overwhelming. As a renter, I never had to worry about getting the ducts cleaned or the chimney repaired. I just called someone and whatever problem I was having was taken care of tout suit.

This is where I always knew I would end up. When my father bought the place from Judy, I was excited because I knew I would up here when he died. That happened last year. Truthfully, I also always knew that I would not know how to react to this. I cannot count how many nightmares I have had that he is still alive. And then there is the part of me that wishes I could punch him the face. Karma took care of him. He died choking on a piece of meatloaf.

My first visit back was surreal, to say the least. I had been warned that the place was a mess and while it was habitable, it was gross. The basement reminded me of the basement of American Horror Story; Murder House. I even found my other grandmother’s cremated remains. So creepy.

And now here I am. In a place with a memory for every emotion. Happiness, joy, sadness, loss, hurt, anguish, teenage angst, loss, love and some hate is thrown in for good measure. I am slowly getting the house into better shape. The basement will be redone soon and the carpet (installed in the 1980s) is gone. I got rid of a lot of stuff and moved my stuff in.

I was looking at the view the other day and I felt some things I have not felt in a long time. Happiness. Contentment. Joy. Just looking at the window, I have finally come home.

Bulgar wheat pilaf

If you are looking for ways to consume less in the way of animal products, this recipe may be just the ticket. I had it last night and it WAS AMAZING!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms
  • 1 cup bulgar wheat
  • 1.5 cups broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon tarragon
  • chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a skillet that can go in the oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook until fragrant and the onions are starting to carmelize. This should take around 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in mushrooms and cook about five minutes.
  3. Add broth, bulgar wheat, water and tarragon (you can also add salt and pepper to taste). Bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and put in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Toss with parsley and walnuts and serve. Enjoy!

This is a filling and flavorful meal that I will have again and again.

Help us, Kentucky voters, you are our only hope

I just finished writing a post about Mitch McConnell on the Daily Kos.  In it, I implore the voters of Kentucky to vote out the current Senate Majority Leader. I hope you will check it out. The caption that you cannot read says, “I would love to do more but I want to be reelected and I have to do what President Trump wants. It is impossible to know what he wants so I do nothing.”

While we do need to get rid of McConnell, it would also help for some GOP Senators to grow a spine. If you live in a state with a GOP senator, you can call 202-224-3121 or text “resist” to 50409.

It is time to take back Congress from the Trumpers.

This is how genocide starts

This was reprinted from Firebrand Left. As that website is no longer up and running, I found it on the Way Back Machine. I think we are past three and have reached five.

Over the past few days, I have been spending some time over at a pro-Donald Trump Facebook group. While I have found a lot of things I have heard Donald Trump say to be upsetting, frightening or just plain confusing, nothing I have heard him say comes even close to what his supporters say. They say the United States Constitution is “outdated.” They do, support the Second Amendment but the rest was written by people who did not have to deal with modern-day terrorism. This is how they justify hating Muslims. Islam, they say, is not a religion but a political ideology.

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This is not helpful for any real conversation but that is not the real problem. While I do not think it is appropriate to define 1.6 billion people this way but that is not the real problem either. The problem is not even that anti-Muslim rhetoric makes gives the extremists more ammunition to use against us or that it makes it harder to fight terrorism. The problem is that when you start defining this way, we are taking the first step towards genocide. That’s not the America I think we want to live in.

You may be thinking, “That’s pretty extreme.” It is but there is something that people do not realize about genocide. If you look at the phenomenon across centuries and continents, you will see genocide follows a predictable pattern. From Armenia and Germany to Rwanda and Sudan and then to Cambodia, there are ten steps all of these genocides follow. They are (per Genocide Watch):

  1. Classification
  2. Symbolization
  3. Discrimination
  4. Dehumanization
  5. Organization
  6. Polarization
  7. Preparation
  8. Persecution
  9. Extermination
  10. Denial

We are hovering somewhere between step one and three. We have not quite gotten to the point of actual discrimination but there are measures that have passed or considered to ban Sharia law in all but 16 American states. Who is behind all of this? A number of high profile Republicans such as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann have spearheaded the “anti-Sharia” movement.

This belief, that Americans need to be protected from Muslims, has been advanced by the Trump campaign. HIs famous promises to build walls along the Mexican but not Canadian border and to ban entry by Muslims advance the cause of racism and Islamophobia. We need to be protected from what we see as “them.” Americans are Christian (and sometimes Jewish). That’s the ‘us.” Muslims are not true Americans who pay their taxes, love their families and serve in our military, they are outsiders to be feared and demonized.

Trump and his supporters point out the recent attacks throughout Europe, in Orlando and in New York and New Jersey. They do not mention the fact that the gunman in Orlando was born in New York nor do they talk about the Oklahoma City bombing by a United States born terrorist or the multitudes of shootings by Americans. No one was talking about religion when they looked at the massacres in Sandy Hook, Columbine or at 101 California Street. We are not being killed in mass numbers by Muslims coming into the country. We are too busy killing ourselves.

The problem with the people who think, and my feeling is that they really believe the things they are saying, that we are facing an existential threat. Adolph Hitler really believed that the world was engaged in an epic battle for survival against the Jews.  When people say things like, “there are no good Muslims and bad Muslims…” they are reading right out of the Nazi Germany playbook:

This is not what this country is all about. We cannot become complicit to the mentality that is promoted by the Trump supporters. We are better than that. I hope.

Photo by Gage Skidmore