Trump ranks every relationship by how it might profit him, the manifestation of a life of selfishness.Stonekettle Station, The Latter Days of a Better Nation, Part VI
You’re the president? What are you gonna do about Iran?
He misheard me. I said I’m present when he asked how was I? My usual conversational smartassery causes a miscommunication again. But the question was asked and so I proceeded to dwell on the question What would you do about Iran? for the next few hours. My immediate response was to say I’d apologize for saddling them with the Shah, but he didn’t hear me and it wasn’t important enough to belabor the answer to the question that he flippantly asked in response to my smartassed non-answer.
The story of the US’s relationship with the region is a long history of pain and grievance, so the question of what to do is equally long and painful to answer. The nation of Iran was made up out of whole cloth like the country of Iraq was, lines drawn on a map by the colonial powers in an agreement they made to mutually release the region from their direct control following World War one. Before the area we in the West call Iran was under colonial control, the civilization that occupied that space referred to itself as Persia.
Well, that was one of the names that the natives of Iran used. Iran has always been on the road from wherever conquerors came from to wherever they were ultimately going to head next. The natives of the region have always been headstrong, surpassing their occupiers ability to cope with their insistence on going their own way, seperate from the empire they were currently part of, unless that empire was lead by a Persian. That is, until they were almost destroyed by the Mongols. But even the Mongols themselves took up Persian ways after settling in Persia, holding power there until the time we term the modern age. Which is where we modern people meet up with world powers whose names we recognize.
Any attempt on my part to tell a history of Iran and the people of that region will be criticized as being an oversimplification. If the paragraph above doesn’t do justice to the millenia of conflict, discovery and advancement in your eyes, feel free to expand your own knowledge by reading further on the subject. There are links throughout this article for just that reason, feel free to click on them. However, the modern age is where the conflict between the US and Iran originates, so let’s just proceed into the modern era, because this is a single blog article and not a multi-volume history of the region and its peoples.
Tehran is first used as the capital city of Iran/Persia during the Qajar dynasty in the Sublime State of Persia. It was the capital of the Pahlavi dynasty and the Imperial State of Persia. The Pahlavi who founded the dynasty was a member of the Russian military who deposed the Qajar Shah in 1925. The Shah that America and Great Britain put into power, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was a continuation of the Pahlavi dynasty in their eyes. Someone who would continue to allow the removal of Iran’s natural resources by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company if also, conveniently, being the Shah of Iran.
To put the Shah into a position where he could do the US and Britain this favor they wanted from him, MI-6 and the CIA toppled the government of Mohammad Mosaddegh. Mosaddegh had nationalized the oil industry in Iran in an effort to bring control of the country’s national resources back into the hands of the natives of the region. A situation enjoyed by all of the first world countries, but denied to third world countries. He had won leadership of the country of Iran in popular election in 1951. He had been appointed prime minister by the Shah himself. As the wiki article on him notes,
The new administration introduced a wide range of social reforms: unemployment compensation was introduced, factory owners were ordered to pay benefits to sick and injured workers, and peasants were freed from forced labor in their landlords’ estates. In 1952, Mossadegh passed the Land Reform Act which forced landlords to turn over 20% of their revenues to their tenants. These revenues could be placed in a fund to pay for development projects such as public baths, rural housing, and pest control.Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
His actions as prime minister seem quite rational, in hindsight. If only he hadn’t pissed off the multinational corporations that really ran his country, he probably would have been celebrated by more than just the people of the region who want the benefits of liberal democracy enjoyed by first world countries. But that isn’t how it worked out. Britain and the US forced him out of office and restored the monarchy of the Shah. Restored the Pahlavi dynasty to Iran, setting up the next twenty-plus years of military rule, with all the terrorism, torture and suffering that the phrase military rule implies.
It was after the people of Iran were denied liberal democracy by a coup carried out by foreign powers that they turned to the Mullahs for leadership. Can you blame them for this, were you in their place? I can’t. But Republicans do blame them, largely because the current Republican party is dominated by fundamentalist/evangelical christians who see Islam as their competitor in the religion markets of the world. They see Iran as the target they want to take down, have seen Iran as their prime target since the Islamic Revolution occurred and Iran once again nationalized their oil production (the real reason that US corporate leaders are pissed) as well as invaded the US embassy and took Americans hostage.
We got our people back, but Britain didn’t get back its oil production machinery, so we remain pissed and Britain remains pissed. In the intervening 40 years between the revolution (1979) and now (2019) there has been a lot of water under that bridge of hatred between the US and Iran. There was the Iran/Iraq war that we funded through Saddam Hussein. The one where he gassed parts of Iran as well as his own people who were in rebellion. We paid for a lot of that. There was the shoot down of Iran Air Flight 655, much like the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that Vladimir Putin deems fake news. We did that and then made up stories for how we didn’t do that, just like Putin is doing now. But we killed nearly 300 Iranian citizens on a routine flight.
Then there was the the US invasion of Iraq. An invasion founded on a lie. That invasion opened pandora’s box in the entire Middle Eastern region, creating the opportunity for political change that the populations of a good portion of the region eventually took advantage of. Iran’s Mullahs took advantage of their neighbor’s instability and have created what Washington sees as an Iranian puppet state where there once was a government installed by the second Bush administration. Iran has taken advantage of the chaos that Bush II created, advancing its influence across the region. Influence which its main competitor, Saudi Arabia, sees as a direct threat. Not surprisingly Saudi Arabia seeing Iran as a threat means that their paid stooge, Donald Trump, sees Iran as a threat.
So here we are in 2019. The tit for tat behavior has been going on for decades. The US and Britain want their assets back, the Iranians want to be in control of their own country, and the idiot that the idiot Stormtrumpers put into the office of the presidency is doing his dead-level best to get us into war with Iran. What would I do now, in his place? I’d recapitulate to the agreement that the Obama administration negotiated in good faith. I’d stop antagonizing Iran with sanctions. I’d apologize, officially, for the coup in 1951. I’d apologize for shooting down their civilian airliner in 1988. I’d apologize for helping Saddam Hussein kill hundreds of thousands of their people. I’d try that just for starters, see how far that gets us. Not that I think it’s likely that the Orange Hate-Monkey or his Secretary of War will do any of that. What I wouldn’t do is bomb Iran.
I will never apologize for the United States of America. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are.George H.W. Bush
It looks like the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) is trying to get us into a war. If he isn’t trying to get us into a war, he’s stupidly making a future war inevitable, as Jim notes in the image above/right. In my opinion, this is just more Republican policy boilerplate, the part of the standard corporatist MICC approach to the world that echoes with the novel 1984 more frighteningly than the phrase alternative facts does. We are on a permanent war footing. We will be eternally at war with Eurasia or Eastasia.
It will probably be a war with Iran. They (the Republicans) have wanted to be at war with Iran since 1979. Their memories of historical intransigence on Iran’s part are more than slightly skewed towards seeing the US as the good guys in that relationship.
A good portion of this post was written in response to the OHM’s provocation of Iran two years ago, back when Jim posted the above images to Facebook. Here we are two years later, and the exact same shit is still going on. We will be at war soon if we do not remove this festering wound on the ass of America that is the entire Trump administration. These crises that have plagued the OHM since he lied his way into office will only get worse until we remove him from office.
I wanted Trump impeached the day he took the oath of office because I knew that his criminal business methods would take us to places like the one we find ourselves in now with Iran. They won’t pay him to say nice things about them, so they get punished. This article is an example of my understanding of who Trump is and where his kind of criminality would lead us to, in that I started the damn thing two years ago and it is still topical. Trump and his advisors are still trying to get us into war, a war with Iran, and Americans as a rule do not want to be forced to go to war. Can you imagine being drafted to go to war against Iran right now? This guy can,
I am in favor of a military draft with no deferments for any reason. If the risk were spread equally I think Vietnam, 16 years in Afghanistan and Iraq wouldn’t have happened. A draft is one of the few, easily observable times most of the citizenry can draw a straight line from federal government policy to their daily lives.Facebook comment
A simple lack of knowledge about his own country’s history appears to be the fault in his thinking. He goes on to rage at great length in the comment that I replied to on Facebook two years ago, about the injustice of being forced to go fight wars he doesn’t want to fight in. The reason that the Vietnam war (known as the US war in the country of Vietnam) had such a high body counts is because the army had troops to burn. The army had troops to burn, the President and the Congress had troops to burn, because there was a draft. There had been a draft in force since the beginning of WWII, and the end of the draft in 1973, an outcome demanded by young men in response to the body counts of the Vietnam war, is probably why our leaders found other ways than war to solve international political issues for the last few generations.
Other ways? Arms reduction treaties for one. Using the populations of client states to do our dirty work was another way. Creating a mercenary, private army was also an outgrowth of the end of the draft. Jim put it this way,
Rich people don’t get drafted (see Trump et al). Connected people, even if they are drafted don’t go to war (see Bush Jr. et al). Drafts are NEVER EVER fairly and uniformly administered. In every single case, conscription become a way for the government to force the poorer part of the population to fight unpopular conflicts for the benefit of corporations.Stonekettle Station
In all the times there have been mandatory conscription there has never been one where the wealthy cannot buy their way out, where the powerful cannot exempt themselves and their children. That simply isn’t how a draft is done. Conscription is just like slavery, and the sons and daughters of the powerful will not be allowed to be slaughtered like slaves, their parents will see to that. There is a reason conscription is not allowed any longer in civilized countries. As Jim alludes to, Old Bone Spurs himself managed to evade the draft. His personal unwillingness to die for his country doesn’t stop him from appointing people who want to take us into war and let others die in his place. After all, someone went to war in his place in Vietnam, why should this be any different? The poor are more suited to the task of living and dying violently. Let them go to war, or so the hateful bastards who currently lead this country think.
The draft will not stop the repetition of senseless wars. Even without the example of Old Bone Spurs there is plenty of other evidence to represent this fact. Napoleon proved this handily by being able to draw up conscripts time and time again for his military adventures. The reason that the USSR had such astronomical losses on the Nazi Eastern front is because Stalin had millions upon millions of starving peasants to throw at the better equipped, mechanized Nazi army. They sent unarmed, untrained civilians straight into battle, telling them to take the arms of their fallen comrades and take the fight to the huns with them. When you live in a country that is organized on social equality, every person is a number. An expendable part in a greater machine that must be kept running.
Aside from all of that. Aside from the meat grinder that is the modern military. Aside from the problems of military conscription giving the modern military more meat to grind, there is the further problem of disconnect between the average citizen and the government that works so well that it allows him to believe that he can get by without government’s help. There is something we can do to remedy these delusions and it isn’t a military draft.
Mandatory civil service.
A requirement that every young person spend two years as part of their continuing education in the civil service of the United States. As an alternative they could join the military, but only if that is their freely selected choice. Either before or after college, take your pick or let them take their pick; but there would be no exemptions from this service except for permanent mental or physical incapacity. Permanent wards of the state, in other words. With all of the menacing overtones that condition entails.
As part of their required civil service they could help out as interns in D.C. or they could go overseas as part of the Peace Corps (A thing that I was surprised to discover still exists) or they could join government outreach programs (poverty relief, healthcare, education, etc) within the US as well. This kind of not killing and blowing things up service would foment an understanding in our population of the real nature of government and the human condition as other people experience it, and it would also not require them to give up their lives for their country. They would be bound by the same code as all the other civil servants in US government employment not the UCMJ like military conscripts. It is the proverbial win-win situation.
Requiring civil service as part of being a citizen of the United States would overturn the political norm, and that is a good thing. Right now the average American citizen thinks they can get through their lives without government making plans for them, no matter how many times you point out that everything they use on a day to day basis has to be planned out and constructed by somebody. I know because until I was disabled, I was one of those clueless rubes myself.
How do you think the Tea Party started? It started because people who think they currently live without government oversight and intervention believe that ending all government would be a good thing. My former libertarian friends tried to convince me to go with them and subvert the Republican party in 2006. Back then it was part of Ron Paul’s movement. They were going to change the world. They have succeeded in getting Trump into the White House. Congratulations? Never have I been so happy as I am right now, knowing that I never contributed a minute towards the Tea Party.
But the belief that what is needed is a reformation of the political norm is well-founded if poorly understood by anarchists, libertarians and the MAGA that support the OHM. We need to change the political and social norms to the point where we all understand that voting is the absolute least that can be expected of us as citizens. We have to get to the point where we thank everyone for their service, not just the soldiers who are lucky enough to return from war. Everyone who does their part is worthy of our respect, in peacetime as well as in wartime, and everyone needs government whether they are conscious of it on a daily basis, or not.
But war is as old as humanity. You won’t end it.
That is a cop out as old as humanity. It was probably mouthed by the same people who frequented the first purveyors of the oldest profession. As I said previously, starting with the Napoleonic wars and going straight on through Vietnam, You can see how modern democracy and modern warfare exact greater and greater tolls on the humans caught in this increasingly mechanized business. All of those wars were fed by conscription that kings could never manage prior to the benefits of a popular mandate. But a dictatorship of the proletariat? The meat to grind never ends in one of those places. The OHM’s dictatorship would grind meat just like Hitler’s did, with zealots guarding his corpse at the end as whatever city he was hiding in last is reduced to rubble around them. That way lies death.
If my antagonist in that thread two years ago had read and understood the article on the end of the US draft, he would have seen how Nixon ended conscription to end the war protests. The nation would have come apart at the seams if he hadn’t ended it. And that strategy combined with his drug war allowed him to destroy the burgeoning political movements towards equality and democracy that were present in the late 1960’s. Locking us back in the same repeating domestic struggle that we’ve been in since 1865, the same one that has lasted until the present day.
Reinstating conscription like he proposed will simply drive up body counts in wars that shouldn’t even occur. Wars that wouldn’t occur if there was a world government with the ability to enforce an end to war. Something that gives nationalists like the OHM and his supporters nightmares that they wake screaming from. I hope their nightmares come true. More than that, I think that revealing the true interconnectedness that lies at the heart of human society will strip away the disguise that allows the wealthy to set the poor and middle class at each other’s throats over the scraps they leave on the table. We are all in this together whether we like it or not, and the only exit from this existence is non-existence.
How about we change the beat and see if we like the new music before checking out for the last time? Sounds like a plan to me.
World of Warcraft studio Blizzard has apparently announced that WoW is going to reduce its level cap – a so-called ‘level squish’ – at some point in the future, and it has done so via a customer survey asking if you knew about that.PC Games
Wow. An idea that I’ve been pushing for awhile now, and I didn’t even have to write them about doing it. I really don’t know why they ever increased character levels beyond 100 in the first place. It just doesn’t make any sense. I’m not even sure why leveling is still part of the game, at this point. It just serves as a gateway that players have to get through before being able to be free to do what they want in the game.
Blizzard has conducted a stat squish already. The player base got over that. They take away in-game flight routinely with every release of new content. The player base puts up with that. I can’t see why reducing levels to 100 from the current 120 makes any difference at all, or should make a difference to anyone playing the game. Max level is max level, no matter what number is attached to it. You can’t get more max than max.
I’ve been of the opinion that levels should be reduced and capped at 100 for quite some time now. If Blizzard insists on leveling-gating new content, they should just reset the level of existing maxxed toons to 99 and be done with it. As I outlined above, I don’t understand why this warrants a lot of wishy washy, hand wringing bullshit. Just do the thing and be done with it. The players will probably not even notice. I’m convinced they won’t notice much of anything unless you went back to making them walk everywhere in game. That suggestion seems to piss most players off the way I get pissed off about not being able to fly in game.
I was aghast to discover that I had missed a Philip K. Dick novel the other day. I had shared an image on Facebook that discussed the dangers of pissing off a redhead (or ginger. This image.) something I do every day with the Wife, especially when I point out that her temper proves she is a ginger. That woman can punch hard when she thinks she’s being insulted. However, I’ve seen the carpet a few times in our thirty years of marriage. She’s a ginger. The sun lightens the hair on her head, as it does for most strawberry blondes. But the long-running argument between Red and I wasn’t the subject I wanted to discuss here. Missing from the image was one of my favorite examples of redheads that you really don’t want to piss off, and that is the potentially causality destroying character from the movie Prince of Darkness.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scornedThe Mourning Bride, by William Congreve
…and she was pretty pissed at the end of that film. With good reason. So anyway, another friend and fan of the ginger set said that the clip reminded him of the novel Ubik by Philip K. Dick. Having never read the book I felt I had to remedy my lack of knowledge and went directly to Amazon.com to see if the book was available on Audible. Then I could read the book and find out what it was that he thought was similar between the book and the movie.
Ever since I started getting vertigo I’ve had a problem with the repetitive back and forth motion of the eyes while reading making me tired and dizzy and potentially bringing on vertigo, So I get books on audio now. I listen to so many books that it pays off to have an Audible account. Aside from having a regular supply of books to have read to me, if I feel like I want to access the text of the book I can get whispersync from Amazon to synchronize between the audiobook and the Kindle book, and that makes the experience a win-win for me no matter how I want to learn something new.
This was one of those instances where I was tempted to get both the Kindle book and the audiobook, especially since the page on Amazon offered me the Kindle book for $3.62 as shown in the header image for this article. Less than four bucks more and I could have the book to read for myself if I felt like reading it! So I bought the book and downloaded both versions to my phone. Then I noticed something odd. The Kindle book was not in English, it was in Romansh. I don’t even know what region of the world Romansh is spoken in, much less speak it myself.
Well, that’s weird. The Ubik page on Amazon’s website is written in English and it doesn’t say anything about the other versions of the book that are listed as being in other languages. Feel free to click the link under the image and see for yourself. There is no way to find the English Kindle book short of looking specifically for the book as a Kindle book and that book is not $3.62 it’s $9.99 (free with kindleunlimited! Another fucking subscription service. Just what I need.) more than twice the price of the Kindle book I was first offered. I know what this is, even though I’ve not seen it too many times before. This is false advertising, and I’ve been taken in by it.
So I started the refund on the Kindle book in a language I can’t read and opened a chat dialog with someone at Amazon so that I could resolve the problem of being sold something that I didn’t want. What I wanted was the book in English, the language the book was originally written in, and I wanted it at the advertised price on the Ubik page on Amazon. I mean, it takes less work to port over the exact type script of the original work than it does to pay someone to translate the book into another language, edit, copyedit, format, etc. the new manuscript into another language. Why was the Kindle book twice the price?
Well, I know why the Kindle book was twice the price, as does every person who deals with the frustration of getting any book in this day and age. Amazon and Apple and just about every other digital book publisher rigs the prices of books through contractual obligations at artificially high prices where they can get away with them, and then offers bargain prices where they cannot gouge the unsuspecting customer. And after an hour or so of arguing with the representative in the Amazon chat service, they conceded I had a legitimate complaint but that they were not contractually able to offer the digital books at the same prices that they offer them at in other countries and for other languages. However, I could get a credit for the difference in price between the two books, and that was the best that they could do for me. So I took the only route available to me and accepted the credit offer. Not that it really made me happy.
Today on Facebook I was offered a memory I may have missed from June 11th, 2018. Hey, it’s been a year and four days since the Amazon/Ubik conundrum. I’ve listened to/read the book now. More than once. I know why the dream sequence reminded my friend of that book. The one unresolved conundrum here is that the webpage for Ubik on Amazon still takes you to the Romansh Kindle version even when you type “Ubik” in a fresh instance on the Amazon store. Even though I returned that book and bought the English version for a final price of $3.62 when the store credit was applied. Even though I helpfully reiterated the potential legal liability that Amazon was opening itself up to by putting a price and no stated language waiver on the combined Ubik page that you land on when you type in Ubik on their home screen.
One whole year later, still not fixed. I saved the chat session logs. I saved the page images. It’s a simple thing to reassemble the entire conundrum, so I figured I’d do that. I mean, I’ve given them a year to fix their programming and they still haven’t done it. I wonder how many Kindle books there are out there that are offered at a lower price in a language other than English, versions that are offered on landing pages when you go looking for a book by its title? Books that are not the books that the shopper is looking for, even though they are tempted to buy the books for the lower price stated, later to have to go through the exact same process I have had to go through? There’s a class action lawsuit in there somewhere for the savvy lawyer to take advantage of. Just send my children the finders fee twenty years from now when the lawsuit settles, would you?
Someone on Reddit took the time to read the article I wrote titled GIGO is a Thing, or Why Freedom of Speech Isn’t Free (weird, isn’t it? That someone would actually read links provided as feedback?) and offered some commentary feedback of their own,
you’re probably already aware of paradox of intolerance, which applies perfectly to your article.
What I learned from that feedback is that I need to read more Karl Popper. Once I went looking for the paradox and found it as well as Popper’s name, I was happy to be reintroduced to some of his thinking. For those who haven’t run across this concept before, the paradox is stated as follows,
…if a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized or destroyed by the intolerant.Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Having refreshed the idea in my head, I remembered running across the paradox of intolerance before, or heard someone expressing it before, back in the seventies. Sometime in the immediate aftermath of white supremacy first being separated from federal power. The idea that we had somehow encouraged this evil in our midst.
None of us thought of it in the terms of unlimited tolerance, back then. We just knew, causally, that neo-Nazis started to appear among us. The subsequent discussions were about how to respond to them. The ACLU, rightly or wrongly, defended the rights of the neo-Nazis and Klansmen to speak. Many other Americans condemned them for this action, but I don’t think we’ve ever successfully dealt with the problem. It simply keeps re-emerging every generation to be dealt with again. Perhaps that is the human curse, to always be weeding out the bad ideas.
It’s only in hindsight, with a view towards history, with increasing experience, that you can see the unlimited tolerance as the weakness that needs to be offset, because it is a weakness as Popper rightly observed. It is a weakness and also a strength. How to filter the garbage without filtering the learning that comes from being exposed to the garbage? That is the crux of the paradox. You can’t see authoritarianism as an ill to be avoided from inside the authoritarian bubble. You only see it from the outside once you emerge. From inside it seems like a just use of power, like an anti-abortionist might see stopping what they deem murder or anti-vaxxers stopping harm to children. Until you stop believing a thing and look at it from outside that thing, you can’t test it’s falsity. While you believe, state power looks like the answer to stopping the sickness that you see.
This is why critical thinking is an absolute good that needs to be taught to everyone. Without critical thinking you simply do not have the tools to determine whether your beliefs are false or not. As I said in the GIGO article,
To be eternally vigilant is to practice due diligence as often as required when it comes to the things you believe as well as the things you are told. What is due diligence? Caveat Emptor. The two states of mind are interchangeable. Healthy caution and skepticism. If you want to be at liberty, if you want to maintain liberty, then you must be skeptical of all things that are not immediately apparent. Due diligence is another way to describe critical thinking.
This is the difference between a belief and a philosophy. Between knowledge and belief. You can believe any damn fool thing you want, even demonstrably false things (doublethink) a philosophy (specifically scientific philosophy) requires that you test new beliefs against old beliefs to determine which is the sounder thing to believe in. Whether or not this new idea conforms to the other things you think you know already. When an old idea fails it should be rejected in favor of the new thing which at least appears to be more true.
“The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.”George Orwell, quoted in The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 by Dorian Lynskey
1984 will always be an essential book, regardless of changes in ideologies, for its portrayal of one person struggling to hold on to what is real and valuable. “Sanity is not statistical,” Winston thinks one night as he slips off to sleep. Truth, it turns out, is the most fragile thing in the world. The central drama of politics is the one inside your skull.George Packer, The Atlantic, July 2019
For any #MAGA out there. You know who you are.
Trumpconlaw is another podcast hosted by Roman Mars of 99% Invisible fame. When the show first started, I started tweeting out my own version of promos for each episode. The series of them can be found under the tag TrumpConLaw on this blog. This post should appear as the header for that series of tweets.
I am slowly working my way through the 99% Invisible archive. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever make it all the way through, but hope springs eternal. 99% Invisible is undoubtedly one of the best designed websites in existence. All Roman Mars podcasts and the podcasts that are presented through his distribution group, Radiotopia, are among the few podcasts out there that are easily shareable; easily shareable because the link to the hosting website is actually referenced in the feed address for the podcast you are listening to. I remain baffled as to why more podcasts do not design their feeds to be easily accessible in this way. In any case, give some of these podcasts a listen. It will take your mind off of the impending doom looming over the US today.
If you think #MAGA means anything other than Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, you are the person these tweets were written for.
If you think #MAGA means anything other than Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, you are the person these tweets were written for.