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Soleimani is dead. What happens now?

No one knows, really. Iran will retaliate, but then what?

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**Updated June 29, 2020 (scroll to the bottom)

No one knows, really.

I’m not a Middle East expert. I’m not even all that much more informed than the average person who pays a decent amount of attention to world politics. I don’t profess to know how to solve anything in the region, and I’ve never felt comfortable throwing suggestions or conjectures out there because there are a lot of moving parts and I’ve never seriously studied how they fit together. I’m comfortable talking (ranting mostly–y’all know me) about the US economy or our justice system or lobbying etc. because I’ve studied those things and I feel confident that I have a handle on how they work.

I just wanted to put that out there first — if you want expert analysis, please look up expert analysis. I’ve been doing that all morning and it has both confirmed what I felt and talked me off a ledge of irrationality.

I have a negative reaction to anything Donald Trump does, especially at this point in his presidency. I see the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani as an impulsive, two-pronged effort to shore up support going into this year’s election: his Strongman Mentality proving how strong he is by taking out a powerful adversary when no one else had and a basic understanding that a sitting President rarely loses his re-election bid when the country is at war. Starting a war with Iran by taking out arguably the most influential if not most powerful man in the region achieves both, and Trump understood it as a political strategy all the way back in 2011.

Soleimani wasn’t walking around pulling puppet strings in the Middle East for three decades because US government officials didn’t know how to kill him or never had the opportunity to kill him. They just didn’t have a plan for what comes after. Trump would like to characterize this assassination as Trump being smarter than those before him (because he figured out how to kill Soleimani), being braver than those before him (because he’s not afraid of the repercussions), and being more patriotic than those before him (because Soleimani was almost certainly behind the attack on the US embassy in Iraq recently).

Theoretically, I have no problem with Soleimani being dead via the actions of the US government. If I objectively look at the situation without the negative impulse to hate Donald Trump and without examining the rationale behind why Trump ordered the strike, I still have no problem with Soleimani being dead via the actions of the US government. If I put this sequence of events in the context of another Presidency (dangerous leader in the Middle East terrorizes the area for decades, fights proxy wars with the US through other countries, makes a direct attack on the US embassy, so the President orders his murder), I still have no problem with Soleimani being dead via the actions of the US government. If you and I are on the same page and you’re looking for a way to “debate” the Republicans in your life who accuse you of loving Iran or hating Trump so much you can’t see a good thing, remind them that you agree Soleimani had it coming….at some point.

The unease I’m sitting with rests with the question of Who is the Adult in the Room? Donald Trump ordered this strike without Congressional approval. I feel uncomfortable with an unpredictable wannabe dictator who reads at a 4th grade level being in charge of anything, let alone anything that could lead to war. He has proven repeatedly that he does not surround himself with the best, the brightest, or even the competent. Short of seeing what the long range plan is, there’s nothing that would settle this disquiet in my gut. If this was Obama or Hillary, I would wonder what Iran’s retaliation would be, but I would trust they, with the help of the most talented, most informed people in Washington, would have a plan to deal with it. I don’t trust Donald Trump or anyone around him to have a plan, and if they did have a plan, I would assume the plan would make everything worse.

So now we wait. What will Iran do now that we have declared war by murdering their Number Two? How will the Trump administration handle that war? What does that war mean for the safety of the US in the short term and in the long range perspective of looking at the effect of that war on the election? The only thing we know for sure is that we are at war with Iran whether that was the plan or not.

June 29, 2020

So, I had forgotten all about this and today on Twitter, Soleimani is trending again because Iran has issued an arrest warrant for Donald Trump and a bunch of other people relating to the assassination. 

Iran has issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining President Donald Trump and dozens of others it believes carried out the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, a local prosecutor reportedly said Monday.

While Trump faces no danger of arrest, the charges underscore the heightened tensions between Iran and the United States since Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

(cont. ABC News)

It’s been 6 months and a war didn’t materialize the way many of us thought, so the whole situation just kind of faded from consciousness. Now it’s back and I’m sitting with this unease again.

And I’m also annoyed at Iran for doing this in the runup to the election. An escalation between the US and Iran this close to November will only help the sitting President, because no President loses reelection when the country is at war…in theory anyway. Donald Trump is a wild card, so he could react terribly and lower his chances even more because who wants Donald Trump in charge if the country is at war?

Then again, Joe Biden can barely remember his wife’s name.

I’ma just…fix myself an early drink.

 

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Politics

The DNC won’t add weed and healthcare to the platform.

The United States is not a democracy.

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The Democratic National Committee has been voting on the 2020 platform, and if you’ve been mystified (and upset!) about the outcome, you’re not alone. You would think that in a democracy, if the majority of people want something, our delegates and elected officials would speak on behalf of the people work to make that something come to fruition.

Unfortunately, the United States is not a democracy.

Marijuana

Marijuana is legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Across the country, grassroots organizations are working to decriminalize and legalize marijuana because there is no reason for it to be classified as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and bath salts. Nobody ever ate a face high on marijuana. The continued vilification of marijuana is a holdover from the racist Refer Madness days of yore where lawmakers convinced everybody that Black men would smoke weed, turn into King Kong, and steal their white women. That racism never really went away. Who gets arrested for smoking weed and who doesn’t? Who is in jail for smoking weed and who gets to open dispensaries?

Given that history, it’s not a surprise that liberal-minded people have moved toward legalizing marijuana. In 1969, support for legalization was 12%. In 1977, it was 28%. Not much changed for the next couple of decades — support for legalization didn’t pass 30% until 2000. However, between 2000 and now, support has grown to 66%. A clear majority of Americans want marijuana to be legal, and among Democrats support is at 76%.  (Even Republicans have tipped over into the majority with 51%.)

The DNC voted against adding marijuana legalization to the platform.

Democratic National Committee delegates voted 105-60 against including marijuana legalization in the party platform on Monday.

The draft version of the platform supports decriminalizing marijuana use and legalizing medical marijuana, adding that it should be left up to the states “to make their own decisions about recreational use.”

The platform was unlikely to ever endorse full legalization, since Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee, does not back the policy. He supports federal decriminalization, which would take away incarceration for possession.

But Dennis Obduskey, a delegate who introduced the legalization amendment during the meeting of the DNC’s platform committee, noted that the current document is a step back from the 2016 platform, which supported “providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”

(cont. HuffPo)

A majority of the country wants legal weed. A hefty majority of Democratic voters wants legal weed. Biden does not want legal weed and the delegates fall in line behind him.

Medicare for All

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a country where, if you got sick, you could go to the doctor without worrying about whether you’ll go bankrupt? In the middle of a deadly pandemic, wouldn’t it be great to be able to go to your local healthcare provider and ask for a coronavirus test without insurance? (We can do that here in NYC, but in many places in the US, you need insurance or you need to be an essential worker or both.)

The rest of the country thinks so too. 66% of voters support Medicare for All — that’s 46% of Republicans (because you know how they are) and a whopping 88% of Democrats. There aren’t a whole lot of things you can get 88% of a group to agree on, but clearly Americans who are voting Democrats into office want Medicare for All.

The DNC is not adding it to the platform.

Here’s my Sitting On My Beanbag Chair With No Expertise opinion. We’ve seen things like this happen before, where it seems a majority of us want one thing and our officials ignore that in favor of what’s good for them or their career. Our politicians are beholden to donors, so if we want more money for solar energy but the oil guy is paying for the campaign, we don’t get more money for solar energy. This doesn’t quite feel the same.

Instead, I feel like I’m being taken for granted, that my vote is a given, and the party and platform feels free to capitulate to the minority of loud, moderate, and reliable voters. I don’t have any insights to their actual process, so feel free to draw your own conclusions, but it looks to me that the DNC is playing the odds, and those odds are against the majority because most of us will in fact support the party even if the platform isn’t as progressive as we all want and deserve.

There’s no medicare and no weed, but I’m still going to do my best to make sure we get Democrats elected as opposed to Republicans. I’m not going to sit out, because there’s too much at stake. On the other hand, the moderates who would be upset by free healthcare and legal marijuana could in fact turn away, withdraw their support, and just sit at home. They’re not as upset at the direction of the country, so they don’t have the same fiery desire to make sure we do in fact get as many Republicans out of office as possible. Those moderates are older and they more reliably turn up to the polls. So the DNC looks at it and says, “here are these people who always vote and work for us who MIGHT NOT VOTE if we make changes, and here are these people who vote sometimes and they’ll work whether or not we make changes.”

And the only way to change those odds and that thought process is to actually show up. We go through this every couple of years and at some point it has to stick — young people, you have to vote. People who will be dead before you even throw out some of your spices are building the country you have to live in for the next 4 or 5 decades because you don’t vote. And the DNC makes undemocratic decisions like these, against the will of the majority, because the minority turns out over and over.

 

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No one cares about the lunch lady.

What’s going to be the mortality rate for cafeteria workers when schools reopen? 

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There are a couple of viral tweets going around painting Betsy DeVos as a callous monster for wanting to re-open the schools.

As far as I’ve been able to find, a doctor made that prediction, not Betsy, and I’m not even sure how he came to those numbers because the death rate for children under 18 is actually lower than 0.02%. Still, let’s be very clear. Betsy DeVos is definitely a monster, but she should be going viral because of the full scope of the picture, not one dubious figure.

The economy can’t reopen because there’s nowhere for children to go. Parents can’t leave their kids at home alone while they go back to work, so until they’re back in school, the country won’t start running again. That is the main concern for this administration.

The people who have the means to keep their children home away from public school are mostly white and mostly middle class. This is also great for DeVos because she doesn’t want those kids in school with poor and/or brown kids anyway.

A lot of teachers would rather retire or quit than go back to school next month, and that’s also great for DeVos because if public schools perform poorly, she can more righteously throw her weight behind the charter system she loves so much.

But Betsy DeVos and the whole lot of them are ignoring the lunch ladies.

I grew up in a very rural school district where my graduating class would have been around 80 people (I didn’t graduate with them though because I left for boarding school). I don’t remember the names of any of the janitors in any of the schools I went to growing up. The ones I can clearly build an image of in my mind were 40-year-old Black men, but they were in the background of my upbringing, neither praised nor maligned.

I don’t remember my first bus driver but she was a white woman with a long ponytail and a son named Brian who bullied me on the way home from school every day until I fought back. She kicked me off the bus and my mom had to pick me up for the rest of the year. My second bus driver a few years later was a cheerful Black woman. I remember a lot about her because she was also the computer teacher — that’s what happens in rural school districts, a lot of double duty. They were both in their 40s, but there were a few older bus drivers as well. My mom drove a school bus in her 60s just for something extra to do because she was tired of doing so much hair (she owned a salon). I don’t think anybody hated the bus drivers — except James Harris. I definitely hated James Harris because he was an asshole and I don’t care if anybody from my childhood is reading this. James Harris was an asshole.

One of the 3rd grade teachers went to high school with my mom and she was in her 40s when I came through. My 3rd grade teacher was almost 60 though. My 6th grade science teacher and 7th grade math teacher were both about 60 as well. The rest seemed old at the time, but they were generally under 40. Most of my teachers were nice women and I have pretty fond memories of them growing up.

I don’t have any fond memories of any of the cafeteria workers. They were mean old ladies who gave me nasty food. The square pizza would be burnt. The chicken rings would be rubbery.  I’ve never had chocolate milk that tastes like that outside of a school cafeteria. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich should actually have some jelly in it. And did I mention they were mean? Because they definitely were. When one of the Poor Kids didn’t have the quarter to pay for reduced breakfast, they didn’t get any food, and I felt like it was the mean old ladies’ fault. Lunch was a break from the day, but they would yell at us for just being kids. Why do we have to be so quiet?!

It’s not just me. The lunch lady is the most maligned adult from our childhoods. It’s hard to find nice cartoons about the lunch lady, but these are endless.

lunchladies1

lunchladies3

 

lunchladies4

lunchladies2

As an adult, it’s easier to look back at the cafeteria workers and stand in solidarity with what they go through. Most of those women have cooked for their families for decades. They know their way around the kitchen as much as any other 60-year-old Southern woman, but they were forced to feed us what was stipulated by the guidelines and the budget. They couldn’t give free food to the unfortunate and they didn’t make enough money to feed them out of their own pocket. They sometimes didn’t make enough money to feed themselves, and they’d be punished if they took leftovers (which are supposed to be thrown away per school district regulations, not taken home to feed your family). And if they were a little grumpy from time to time, they had the right to be. It’s a thankless job serving terrible food to children who disrespect you. Also, put yourself in this common scenario: You’re an older woman whose husband has been laid off or passed away, and you have to find a job with no work history. You can either greet at Wal-Mart or serve cold corn at the elementary school.

When schools open, kids will be spreading the coronavirus around like Skittles. As a general rule, children are disgusting germ factories. They’re always leaking and touching things and they’re mysteriously sticky at all times. And they cough like this:

cough

I don’t understand what a school day is supposed to look like. Disney went through all this work to make their park Social Distance Friendly and they’re requiring people to wear masks and the system is already breaking down, but how do you do that in a school? The desks are right next to each other and there’s no way to spread them out. How do you make a class of 25 wear a mask all day long when it takes ten minutes just to get them in a straight line to go to recess?

When the kids start to get sick, some of your children will die. The ones who don’t die will hop on a packed school bus and kill some of the bus drivers. They’ll walk by the janitor who cleans when the halls are mostly empty. They will sit in class all day with a teacher trying to hide behind a shield, but some of them will die too.

Then their midday reprieve from learning and breathing in a mask will be in the school cafeteria where they’re yelling at each other and spraying germs on the grumpy old lady serving the food nobody likes. She’s wearing a mask, but they aren’t. She’s wearing gloves, but they haven’t washed their hands well. She’s keeping her distance, but she’s stuck in that cavern of corona with recycled air for the 3 or 4 hours it takes for all the classes to have lunch.

What’s going to be the mortality rate for the lunch ladies?

 

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Sarah Palin’s death panels are finally here.

And they have nothing to do with Obamacare.

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Flattening the curve is the strategy we were told to implement to keep from overwhelming the healthcare system. I’m not sure when that messaging got lost, but the death rate in Italy was so high because they didn’t have the ability to treat all of the infections, not because the virus itself was so much more deadly. When covidiots respond to articles about the uptick in infections with statements about how low the death rate is, they are correct. The death rate is lower in these hotspots than we expected, because we have the ability to treat the sick.

What happens when there is no more space to treat them? The bodies start to pile up, and that’s the next uptick we’ll see, because hospitals have run out of beds and doctors have to make on the spot decisions about who receives care and who doesn’t.

You have ten people who will die if you don’t save them. How do you pick which three? Doctors are not equipped to do that and no one should have to pick and choose who dies because the government failed to protect the public. The government decided it was more important to put people back to work and the government has decided these are the talking points they’re going to arm their supporters and coronvirus deniers with:

  1. The number of infections is up because we’re doing more testing.
    The percentage of infections is up because more people are getting sick. If one in ten tests came back positive and now one in four come back positive, that has nothing to do with the number of tests you’re doing and everything to do with the rate of infection, which is sky rocketing.
  2. The death rate is low because it’s mostly young people getting sick.
    Don’t young people know old people who will then get sick? And what happens when those young people need medical care and there’s no space for them?
  3. Most people recover.
    Just because I’m going to recover from something doesn’t mean I want to get it in the first place. I can recover from a broken leg, but it really really hurts, so I avoid breaking my leg. Some people are sick for weeks. Some have lasting neurological deficits. Some people still can’t breathe well. And a lot of those people recover because there was space in the hospital.

Since we are running out of space, despite what any covidiot tells you, we have to decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t.

Enter, the death panels. Along with a further dumbing down of political discourse, Sarah Palin left us with the phrase “death panels” which she coined herself in a Facebook post back in 2009 where she railed against Obamacare.

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society

(cont. Facebook)

The Right took it and ran with it. The Affordable Care Act was especially heinous because sick people would have to parade themselves in front of paper pushers who would decide whether they live or die. They would have to beg bureaucrats for the right to receive healthcare. Every time the Republicans try to repeal Obamacare, these death panels are mentioned again, panels that have never come to fruition.

Until now. If Sarah Palin defines a death panel as a group of people deciding how productive someone will be to society, then Arizona’s coronavirus scorecards are death panels. They grade people based on their general health and life expectancy. The sicker you are, the older you are, the higher your score, and the lower your priority on the care list.

az1

az2

Flattening the curve would’ve prevented this. Arizona is a Republican state with a Republican governor and they have rolled out the dreaded death panels in response to a situation they created themselves. In the 11 years since Sarah Palin gave the GOP their main talking point against Obamacare, we haven’t seen a death panel of any sort. In the 4 months since COVID-19 hit our shores, we have a formal death panel in Arizona and instant death panel calculations going on in ICUs across the country as doctors grapple with the reality that they cannot treat every patient who needs life-saving measures.

But at least people can go to Applebee’s.

 

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