The fallen.

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Four special forces soldiers were killed in the African nation of Niger earlier this month, and the Trump administration doesn’t want to talk about it. There’s been no discussion of what our policy is in Niger or more broadly in that region of Africa, no information on the circumstances of the men’s deaths, no nothing. It’s a bit reminiscent of the Yemen raid that went bad just a couple of weeks into Trump’s tenure, except that they HAD a story for that one and it turned out to be as bogus as a Linkletter million dollar bill.

Another thing the Niger incident echoes somewhat more dimly is the Benghazi attack back in 2012. You know, four dead Americans, questions about how much support they received from Washington, and so on. So I imagine Trey Gowdy will start holding hearings on this quite soon, right? (Trey? Are you out there, Trey?)

What they DON'T want to talk about.Okay, so, the thing MSNBC has latched onto is Trump’s call to one of the relatives of the lost soldiers in Niger and his comments surrounding presidential condolence calls in general. This seems like a red herring. The fact is, Trump radiates a sense of not caring about anything that happens to military people. This just points to what I’ve contended for some time now; that Trump is all of our worst tendencies balled up into a big, fat, greasy wad of nothing. He doesn’t care about lost soldiers in much the same way that most Americans don’t care – at least, not enough to step away from their televisions or to put their forks down. Sad, as Trump would tweet, but true.

Do Americans wonder why our military is operating in places like Niger, Chad, etc.? My guess is that they don’t, since both the government and the media are not taking a close look. One freelance journalist working in that region, Amanda Sperber, commented on Democracy Now! that she found it surprising that Americans weren’t aware of our presence in Niger; that we have, among other things, a drone base in that country. Why? Because we the people don’t make it our business to question these deployments. We don’t have to pay (at least, for the time being) and we don’t have to fight, so we essentially don’t give a fuck.

We will become a civilized people the moment we start treating our service personnel as if they were members of our immediate family. When we get to that point, maybe Trump will adjust his behavior … or, even better, be sent home.

luv u,

jp

The choice.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

Yeah, I know. California didn’t go the way we’d hoped. But then neither did New York. Or Ohio. Or Pennsylvania. Or Massachusetts. Freaking Massachusetts! Still, Bernie Sanders did an amazing thing. The last true progressive candidate, Dennis Kucinich, won maybe 20% in one state (I think Oregon) and that was cause for jumping up and down (or at least up). That was eight years ago, and back then we could never have imagined something like the Sanders campaign. This is a rising movement, as I’ve said before – it’s political, it’s generational, it’s policy-focused … it’s freaking amazing. And it came within a whisker of stealing the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination away from the biggest name in party politics.

That's the story, Morey.Anyway, Hillary Clinton has won; that’s what the voters have said. I won’t quibble with the numbers – the horse race is over. However, the real project of 2016 continues – that of pushing a more energetic progressive agenda forward and finding effective ways of holding Hillary accountable to the activist wing of her party. My hope is that my fellow Sanders supporters will not resort to cynicism; a fear underlined by the ridiculous decision of the AP and NBC News / MSNBC to declare Clinton the “presumptive nominee” of the Democratic Party hours before the polls opened in California. That irresponsible act will, for many, throw doubt on the outcome of the California primary. We need to maintain the activist energy of the Sanders campaign and mobilize it behind a set of policies while working to defeat Trump in November. We can’t afford a radical Republican presidency. We just can’t.

I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again: my disagreements with the Clintons are profound. I am opposed to her foreign policy positions, with very few exceptions. Her closeness to Wall Street augurs well for them and not so hot for the rest of us. And I am not convinced that she is the strongest candidate to defeat Trump this fall. But leave us face it – she will be the Democratic standard-bearer, barring disaster, and we need to take the five minutes (in favorable states) needed to cast our vote for Hillary where needed, then get back to the real work of politics – namely improving the prospects for our neighbors and our planet. That’s the work that made the Sanders campaign in inevitable. That’s the hope for a livable future.

That’s our choice. Choose wisely, friends.

luv u,

jp

Round nine.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

Just watching the ninth Democratic debate. Debate, so called, though of course there is no proposition that’s being debated aside from who should be president. I’ve been watching it for a few moments, and I have to say … it’s kind of shrill. Lots of shouting, yes. Lots of finger pointing, accusations, counter-accusations. Lots of nasty looks, back and forth. Bad hairdos. You know the drill. Hoo boy. Our elections are way too freaking long. The process goes on for two years, pretty much. The debates are not very illuminating. It’s more like political speed dating – no particular depth.

Presidential debates: Shriller in vanillaThis is a media driven process. The horse-race coverage of the primary campaigns has pretty much swallowed up MSNBC, for instance. They basically pushed Melissa Harris-Perry out the door because she didn’t particularly want to be a campaign correspondent. Hard to blame her for that. Horse-race politics coverage is basically like sports journalism. The marketing approach is practically indistinguishable from that of sporting events – same kinds of music, graphics, etc. And this debate is a bit like Pacquio vs. Bradley. Except that it’s shrill white people.

I will be honest. I support Sanders, but I am not overly concerned with who wins the nomination. I am more concerned with the movement that supports his campaign – the broad public sentiment revealed by the strength of his primary and caucus performances, not to mention the attendance at his public events. The popularity of the Sanders campaign is based on issues, not on personality, likable as Bernie may be. The fact that these issues reflect the sentiments of the upcoming generation of young people, kids who have faced substantial economic headwinds from day one, gives me some hope for the future. My primary concern is that young people see some results from progressive policies in the near term, should a Democrat win this fall. If the left fails this generation, they are likely to turn right for answers.

So, this is a kind of race, but not the kind MSNBC wants to cover. It’s a race against time with respect to climate change, with respect to economic justice, with respect to social justice. Young people can bring about a more progressive future, if they get a chance.

Oh, boy. Hillary just said some pretty awful stuff about foreign policy. Dubya Bush in drag, frankly. I’ve heard enough.

luv u,

jp

Land of the (not so) brave.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

It’s happening again. A terrorist attack occurs somewhere in the developed societies and right-wingers are falling over themselves to prove that terrorism works. They start railing against Islam writ large, slamming the door shut on refugees from the Arab world, calling for bloody vengeance, and so on. The level of hysteria is almost shocking, given the fact that the attacks they’re obsessing about happened in France, not America. (They don’t seem perturbed by the Beirut bombing, as it was targeted on Hezbollah, which they hate worse than ISIS.) MSNBC’s Morning Joe has become a bullhorn for invading Syria. I can only imagine what Fox News is like these days. Facebook has blown up with people defending (I kid you not) the crusades. This thing plainly goes up to eleven.

Some asshole's good old days.It’s hard for me to see how these calls for military action and pulling up the drawbridge aren’t simply appeals to cowardice. Seriously – the vast majority of the loudest hawks and anti-immigrant fanatics are also fierce defenders of an over-broad interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Given that many, many more Americans are killed by heavily armed family members, neighbors, or strangers than by terrorism, this is an almost astonishing level of hypocrisy. Even more disturbing is the ludicrous background assumption, expressed most consistently on Morning Joe and by career hawks like John McCain, that if we had simply invaded Syria in 2012, all would be sweetness and light in that sorry nation today. Is there any factual basis for that assumption? The question never arises.

We really need to stop reacting to retail, non-state terrorism in precisely the way the perpetrators hope we will: by sending in the money, the guns, and/or the Marines. Our outsized support for the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s spawned both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Our sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s and our invasion in 2003 launched Al Qaeda in Iraq, which morphed into ISIS in more recent years. Our “rat line” to the Syrian rebels fed ISIS and facilitated the non-man’s-land that is now the territory of the nascent Islamic State – a consequence our DIA was well aware of, according to declassified documents. Hundreds or even thousands of U.S. troops on the ground will fuel their growth and spawn other, more virulent movements, following on the line of radicalism proselytized by the Saudi Kingdom, our closest ally in the Arab world. ISIS wants us to invade Syria because they know how that works. Do we?

I don’t think we do. From what I’ve seen over the last week, I’m growing more convinced that the American people will tolerate a wider war. (The fact that most presidential candidates are talking about that is proof enough.) So … more war. That will be our legacy to the world.

luv u,

jp