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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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economy

Joe Manchin doesn’t want to give money to people who need money.

Conservatives are so intent on giving money to people who already have it.

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When you’re rich, you see money as a reward as opposed to a necessity to live. Joe Manchin is worth over seven million dollars so he has no frame of reference for what a $300 credit is to someone with a child. To him, $300 is pocket change you get as a thank you, not the difference between cooking healthy meals or going to McDonald’s.

Millions of children are set to be lifted out of poverty this year because the Democrats temporarily beefed up the child tax credit in the last coronavirus relief package.

Extending the enhanced credit is included in Democrats’ massive social spending bill. But Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — whose support is needed to pass the legislation — has said he wants to once again require parents to work in order to qualify for the credit, a shift that could exclude millions of the nation’s poorest families.

(cont. CNN)

The impact this would have on children isn’t up for debate. The monthly payments that started in July have kept 3.5 million children out of poverty. Child poverty is expected to be cut in half by the end of the year and low income families with children have seen a 25% decrease in food instability. (x)

But a credit for parents isn’t just about being able to buy food for your children. Almost half of the recipients used some of the money to buy groceries, but others paid bills, which also allows you to provide food for your family.

Poor people know that any money coming from anywhere that goes to anything helps you put better food on the table. If you work two jobs to make ends meet, you don’t always have time to cook. You go to McDonald’s on the way home because that’s the only way you can feed your family. Cutting one job down to two, or even cutting some hours from your second job, gives you more time to feed your family with better food.

Poor people who live or have lived in food deserts also know what that extra money can mean to your family. I’ve lived in a food desert in Bed-Stuy and in Harlem. I’m young, able-bodied, and childless. If I have to walk half a mile to the nearest grocery store with fresh vegetables, I’m able to do that. There are so many low income families who do not have that option. Extra money means a used car so you can get to a grocery store or even just a Lyft once a week so you can stock your refrigerator.

Money gives you options and choices. It gives you ways to be a better parent and provider. So what’s the problem? How could you possibly have an argument against helping parents be better parents?

Once again, rich people are concerned that poor people will get something they didn’t work for. Let’s be clear about Joe Manchin: he did not work for $7 million. He’s been an elected official for the past 40 years. That is his job and you do not amass $7 million on the salary of a public servant. He founded a coal brokerage firm and gave it to his son, but the company still pays him dividends as he stops clean energy bills from passing. That’s where Joe Manchin gets his money, from coal trading that he doesn’t even do. He has $7 million dollars from not working.

So it is absolutely enraging that a rich person who does not work wants to keep $300 from reaching parents who desperately need it because some of them may take it as an incentive to not work, or to work less. To that I say: so what if they don’t work? If $300 a month is enough money to keep you out of the job market, then the job you were doing was grossly underpaying you in the first place. It was probably demeaning work for pennies, and if you can save a bit of your self worth thanks to the federal government, that is a good thing. That is a happier American citizen. That is a better parent raising the next generation.

But that’s just giving Manchin’s position a level of truth it doesn’t deserve anyway. Of the people who have received child credits, only 5% of them decided to work less. Joe Manchin, like so many other Conservatives, will screw the majority just to make sure a minority isn’t “getting one over” on him. Instead, his rationale is to give a credit to people who already have jobs. Joe Manchin, like every other Conservative, wants to give money to people who already have money because, in America, having money means you are morally better than someone who does not have money. It all goes back to the foundation of American Christian Prosperity Gospel Capitalism: rich people are rich because they are good people who deserve it and poor people are poor because of their own moral failures. You can extrapolate that principle out to a host of social policies Conservatives refuse to support.

And if you can get rich by doing absolutely no work at all, kindly forget that you did nothing. Just pretend you worked super hard and the Money Jesus smiled upon all of your endeavors.

 

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Vote or Don’t Vote for Charles Graham…but know why.

A good ad does not a good candidate make.

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Earlier this week, NC State Rep. Charles Graham announced his run for the US House of Representatives, hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Dan Bishop in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. And he came in guns blazing with this campaign ad featuring the KKK…

I’ve never seen a campaign ad for a Congressional race go viral on social media so quickly, but less than a day after it was released, it was all over Twitter. I reposted it too. And then I found out Charles Graham was the only Democrat in the NC House to vote in favor of NC’s HB-2, the state’s infamous transgender bathroom bill.

Back in 2017, Republican state lawmakers wrote a bill that required people to use the public restroom in accordance with the gender they were assigned at birth. Republicans cited their false intention to protect women and children from predators (a thoroughly debunked premise that I don’t need to spend time on), and Charles Graham was the only Democrat to vote in favor of it.

I deleted my Retweet immediately.

Later, I did more reading, and Charles Graham had issued an apology for his vote, and as far as political backtracking goes, this is one of the more sincere and believable ones I’ve come across.

————————————————————–

Text of the above screengrab from Charles Graham’s website reads:

I believe human dignity is a human right. It’s a value I hold dear – but five years ago I failed to uphold my own value when I voted for HB2, and it was a mistake. It was a bill written and voted on within 24 hours, with the conversation surrounding protecting children and women, but I should have done more research to completely understand the impact of the bill. After the hurried vote, I spent the following days talking with colleagues and transgender-rights activists about the impacts of the bill – I became a full supporter of recalling the bill and worked across the aisle to fully repeal it. To the LGBTQ+ community, and specifically to the transgender community who suffered real pain from this bill and the rhetoric that surrounded it, I am sorry.

I have always tried to do what is right, but I am not perfect. I’m running for Congress to stand up against hatred and ignorance, and I expect to be held accountable when I fail to live up to my own principles.

————————————————————–

I believe him. That said, you don’t have to. There are people making the case that if he were truly apologetic, he would have released this apology at any point between 2017 and now, that if he were truly in favor of trans rights, he wouldn’t have waited until his campaign ad went viral and his voting record on the issue was called into question. I don’t disagree, however, he admitted that he didn’t really have a full grasp of the issue when he voted, and once he had a greater understanding, he worked to repeal the bill. That to me is more than just lip-service — that’s action to undue something you did.

So. I decided to post his ad again, but I took a beat. I’d already made the mistake of supporting a candidate (from afar) based on one campaign ad without really looking into his record or what he supports, so I did my due diligence and it’s not great.

NC-9 has been very dramatic these past few years. In 2016, a US District Court ruled the gerrymandering in North Carolina was so heavily and obviously prejudiced toward Republican candidates, the state had to redraw the lines. Before 2016, NC-9 looked like this.

Democrats still argue that the partisan lean toward Republicans continues to be out of sync with the actual population of the state so they’re looking to have the lines drawn even more equitably, but for now, this is NC-9.

Before the lines were redrawn, incumbent Robert Pittinger won that slivery snake of a district with 94% of the vote. He lost his primary bid in the election following the restructuring of his district and Reverend Mark Harris won the Republican nomination. His Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, is a successful businessman with a solar clean energy fund called Double Time Capital. Far from the forgone conclusion of the 94% win by Pittinger, the race between Harris and McCready went down to the wire (I wonder why…) and Harris came out on top with roughly 900 more votes than McCready.

However! (Drama!) The bi-partisan state election board declined to certify the results because campaign operatives for Harris committed fraud on multiple occasions (which included tricking elderly Black voters in rural areas into filling out absentee ballots for Harris). The election was voided and Dan Harris was not the Republican nominee the second time around. State Senator Dan Bishop won the Republican primary and went on to defeat McCready by two percentage points. In the last cycle, Bishop won re-election by a larger margin against Cynthia Wallace, the first Black chairperson of NC-9’s Democratic Party, in a lackluster race that didn’t garner much attention.

This backstory is necessary to understand why the Democratic Party should put its weight behind someone other than Charles Graham. Charles Graham is a Conservative. He’s absolutely the kind of person/politician who is aligned with the Democratic Party not because he agrees with most of the platform but because he disagrees with the other side, and that’s an important distinction. Because we have a two party system, we have a lot of people who belong to to the Democratic Party by default, not by choice. If you’re a politician who hates Donald Trump and supports funding for education, you’re not allowed a voice in the Republican Party. Even if you take issue with some of the Democratic platform, you’re still allowed a place in our Big Tent, and that’s who Charles Graham is.

…critics began pointing out Graham’s more conservative voting record in the General Assembly, including his support for some abortion restrictions, in favor of allowing firearms on school grounds, and opposing a statewide mask mandate — all votes largely in keeping with the prevailing sentiment in his conservative district, which has begun trending more Republican as rural voters sour on Democrats due to culture-war issues.

(cont. MetroWeekly)

Firearms on school grounds and abortion restrictions and no mask mandates are the positions of a Republican. We don’t need another “Democrat” of this kind in Congress, so reflect back on the recent history of NC-9. If this were the snakelike sliver of the past where 94% of the vote went to a Republican and we suddenly had a chance to flip the seat, it might make more sense to focus on a Conservative Democrat. In a district where one Republican had to cheat to win, and still only won by a few hundred votes, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat. In that same district where the the election was voided and the next Republican won by 2% partly because of his alignment with Donald Trump, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat.  In that same district where Donald Trump won the state for reelection and a Black woman still managed to grab 45% of the vote, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat. A clean energy businessman narrowly lost while Trump was in office and a Black woman grabbed a huge share while Trump was winning the electoral votes. You can run the same kind of candidates against that Trump-supporter again and win if you mobilize the people to vote.

Look at this way: People who voted for Republican Dan Bishop because they like Dan Bishop are going to vote for Dan Bishop again. They are not going to suddenly vote for a slightly more liberal version of Dan Bishop just because that version has a good backstory about fighting the KKK and taught special ed. Your goal is to grab the people who don’t like Dan Bishop, so why would you run Dan Bishop-lite? Run an actual alternative who can grab the people who didn’t vote for him while also catching the attention of the people who didn’t vote at all. Nobody who voted for Dan McCready a few years ago or Cynthia Wallace last year is suddenly itching to vote for a Democrat In Name Only. Charles Graham caught a couple of headlines with a good campaign ad, but that’s about as much attention as he deserves from national politics going forward. Save your donations for his primary opponents.

(Sidenote: I do believe Charles Graham evolved quickly on trans issues and his statement was genuine. I believe it because he has not apologized for his votes on abortion. He probably believes in his heart that women do not have the right to choose, so he has nothing to apologize for. If he were an opportunist, he would just apologize for that too and keep it moving.)

 

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Politics

Rolling Stone: Rudy Giuliani Whines About Fox News Ban to Steve Bannon

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Rudy Giuliani was reportedly “really hurt” that Fox News banned him from appearing on the network. He turned to Steve Bannon to elaborate on Friday, telling the former White House adviser that the ban is “outrageous.”

(cont.)

Fox News is perfectly fine with peddling lies and booking commentators who peddle lies, but they’re not okay with losing money. When Dominion Voting Systems filed suit against Giuliani *and* sued Fox News for $1.6 billion partly because Giuliani kept going on air to say Dominion was part of the rigged system to give Biden the election, Giuliani’s relationship with Fox News was suddenly in jeopardy.

You can lie all you want to destroy our democracy, but don’t you dare cost us any money.

 

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