Long division.

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Some good news (or at least not bad news): The U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria obviously haven’t led to a terminal nuclear conflict; not yet, anyway. That said, this was another loathsome destructive exercise by three imperial powers intent on maintaining at least symbolic dominance over their erstwhile colonial possessions. We’ve heard all the flimsy justifications for this action – the need to enforce the prohibition on use of chemical weapons, the need to alleviate the suffering of innocents, etc. None of it holds any water.

While it’s good that a class of weapons is at least nominally banned, it’s hard to see a substantive difference between gassing people and blowing their legs off, or piercing their skulls with fragments of depleted uranium shell casings, or dropping white phosphorus on them, or enforcing a medieval siege that results in more than a million contracting cholera (i.e. biological warfare). And if Trump, May, and Macron are concerned with the suffering of innocents, they can start addressing it by not supporting Saudi war crimes in Yemen or Israeli executions of Palestinian protestors. Then there’s the legal question. I can’t speak for Britain or France, but Trump has no legal authorization to attack the government of Syria. It appears as though their argument on this issue is might makes right; that’s transparently illegitimate.

The result when every power pursues their own interests.Restraining a Trump administration powered by John Bolton and Mike Pompeo is going to be difficult. It isn’t made any easier by internal divisions evident on the left. Clearly we don’t need to agree on everything to agree that American intervention in Syria is a bad idea and shouldn’t be done. There’s a natural tendency to turn conflicts of this type into a kind of zero-sum game between bad players and good players; this is not unique to the left, obviously. There are people on the left who support the rebellion in Syria and those who think it’s populated entirely by terrorists. Likewise, I’ve heard leftists essentially align themselves with the Assad regime and others call for its overthrow.

There are bad players on all sides of this conflict, obviously, and every power is pursuing their own interests. I don’t have to agree with Assad’s rapacious military assaults to agree that we shouldn’t attack his government, largely because American intervention has such a bloody history. (I would say it always fails, but that would entail the assumption that our military policies are intended to do our victims some good … which is never the case.) I’ve never been a fan of Vladimir Putin, but I understand Russia’s decision to intervene in the wake of previous regime-change efforts on the part of the U.S., all of which have resulted in failed states, hundreds of thousands of dead, and worsening political turmoil. I haven’t seen convincing evidence one way or the other with respect to who used chemical weapons two weeks ago, but the question is irrelevant – the solution to this conflict does not involve American military force. Period.

If the left (and center-left) can coalesce around the basic principle of non-intervention, grounded in solid legal, moral, and historical arguments, we will have a better chance at holding off the Bolton-Trump assault on the Middle East.

luv u,

jp

Another week that was.

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I know we’ve all been drinking from a news fire hose this week and you hardly need me to remind you of that. Still, I’m going to do some short takes on various topics … unless I get on a tear, then all bets are off. (No betting!)

Iraqi-versary – It’s been fifteen years since the American invasion of Iraq. Still seems like yesterday, particularly when you consider the state Iraq is in right now – divided on a sectarian basis, barely holding together, bombs going off at regular intervals, struggles persisting over the rubble of its cities. Our war cost them upwards of a million lives, and that’s compounded on the many hundreds of thousands who died in the 11 years of sanctions that preceded the 2003 attack. No one has been held accountable for this, so I’m confident it will happen again in some form.

Total ass clown.Bolton – Speaking of being held accountable, HE wasn’t, and now he’s going to be National Security Advisor. All I can say to that is, expect war with Iran … but don’t expect it to be the cakewalk that Iraq was. (Yes, I know … but Iraq will seem like a cakewalk once we wade into Iran.)

Yemen Vote – The Sanders-Lee-Murphy amendment to force debate on an authorization for supporting the Saudi assault on Yemen garnered 44 votes, which is encouraging but not enough to save the millions facing hunger, cholera on a biblical scale, and endless death and destruction rained down by a U.S. sponsored and guided Saudi air force. We need to do better for the people of Yemen. Be sure to remind your federal legislators (and our president) that this is on them. And bear in mind that Trump pushed for the bill to fail as not to displease his beloved weasle-prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is a primary architect of this slaughter.

Cambridge Analytica – Count me as someone who doesn’t believe the machinations of Russian bots and dodgy data companies like CA had a decisive effect on the 2016 election. That’s not to say it didn’t have ANY effect. And that’s also not to say that they aren’t tremendous dicks for steeling millions of people’s data and using it to help elect a self-aggrandizing racist moron president of the United States. My feeling is that they – and, in fact, Facebook as well – should be broken up and scuttled for all they’re worth. If you want to stop rogue billionaires, the best way to do it is by taking away their billions. Let them rough it as mere millionaires, poor sods.

Russia Probe – Message to Donald Trump: Please, please talk to Mueller or to the grand jury. Get your side of the story down, dude. It’s the only way out of this mess. You can do it, Donald. Just wear your white sheet and speak truth to power.

luv u,

jp

Better than.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

There isn’t much I can say about the presidential race except … it’s going to happen, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Much has been said about the general lack of enthusiasm about both major candidates. It seems we Americans always find ourselves in this situation. Certainly, we focus too much on famous people (i.e. politicians) and not enough on what is really important (i.e. politics). I supported Obama in 2008, but not because I loved him. Rather, it was because McCain would have been an unmitigated disaster – a point he has proven every time he’s opened his mouth over the last three years. With respect to the presidency, voting is a zero-sum game. If you lose, the other wins. And the other, my friends, gets worse every time around.

In all honesty, the Republican party is more virulent and destructive every time they return to power. It’s hard to imagine an administration more regressive and destructive than that of George W. Bush, but judging by Romney’s advisors – folks like John Bolton – it’s not hard to imagine that we would get just that. They will, of course, attempt to conceal their extremism starting … well, starting last week, when Santorum suspended his campaign and effectively ended the primary season. Romney will now be the nominee, and being the Colorforms (another sixties toy) creature he is, they will now stick a more moderate outfit to his two-dimensional frame. It’s Mitt the Moderate, once again! Come on, ladies! He didn’t mean it when he told Mike Huckabee  that he believes life begins at conception! Come on, Latinos! He was only pandering when he said Arizona’s SB 1070 “papers, please” law was a model for the nation!

Fortunately for Romney and for the Republican party, pop culture in the United States is a cross between a bulimic twelve-year-old and someone with advanced Alzheimer’s. We’re stuck in the perpetual purge/gorge cycle, and we can’t remember what happened yesterday … or even earlier today. Romney is the perfect politician for that circumstance. He apparently has no actual convictions, so he can seem equally committed to any portfolio of views that might fit a given electoral situation. Even having extensive video archives of him taking contradictory positions somehow doesn’t register. So what is likely to happen this fall? Anyone’s guess.

I’m not an Obama acolyte. There were some serious missteps over the past few years that demonstrate a certain lack of boldness on his part. But there’s no question but that he was better than the alternative, and he remains so today.

luv u,

jp