Is the Iran Thing a Re-Election Ploy?

The answer is “maybe, but it doesn’t really matter that much.”

As far as the first part of the answer goes, social media is full of people reposting old tweets where Trump accuses Obama of wanting to go to war against Iran for purposes of winning the 2012 elections. Given that Trump is nothing if not an immature, thin-skinned, gaslighter who projects his own faults on others, it is therefore a distinct possibility. Even Max Boot, a conservative who is normally extremely averse to such notions being suggested about U.S. militarism, retweeted a cartoon alleging this very thing.

Or it could just be Trump’s famous impulsiveness leading him to make a rash decision. Trump is as much an exemplar of that sort of behavior as he is of gaslighting, after all. After the U.S. “embassy”* there was attacked, all the mentions of “Benghazi” could well have provoked him into wanting to demonstrate that he’s not as weak as he believes Obama was.

Ultimately, however, it really doesn’t matter very much. Whether Trump blunders into a war he deliberately chose as part of a re-election strategy, or a war he never consciously chose as a result of a knee-jerk reaction, the consequences of a war with Iran would be equally tragic regardless of the cause.

* I put “embassy” in quotes because it’s not an embassy in the commonly-understood meaning of the term (a building in a national capitol that houses another nation’s diplomatic offices). It’s a military base over 100 acres in size and containing multiple buildings and other facilities.

Cut the Naïve Europhilia

American liberals and European social democrats look just so stupid when they post things like this.

It does such a good job of pushing all their buttons and pandering to their preconceived biases of how the world is that they don’t stop to kick the tires on the premise and ask how well it explains how the world actually is. Answer: not so well.

Just consider how well fascist politics is selling in their beloved Europe at the moment. Fascist parties are actually in power right now in both Hungary and Poland. OK, but that’s Eastern Europe, you say. Well, in Western Europe, a basically fascist party routinely gets about 50% of the vote in Austria, the AfD is growing by leaps and bounds in Germany, the now-rebranded Front National is a a perennial force to be reckoned with in France (and has been for decades), and Berlusconi ruled in coalition with fascists for years in Italy. That’s just to pick a few examples that come to my mind off the bat; give me a little more time and I could probably rattle off at least as many more examples.

Or consider how much better the USA respects the liberty of children than most of Europe, where children are compelled by law to be confined inside authoritarian classrooms for longer hours with less vacation time. While being so compelled, they are often subject to batteries of standardized tests that are used to constrain their futures and career options for the rest of their lives. That, while they’re not even in their late teens yet!

I’ve even heard liberals more than once bemoan this state of affairs, and wish wistfully that the USA could be as authoritarian and domineering towards children as Europe is. All in the name of “helping” them get a “better” education, of course. Maybe they should look at the Nobel Prize list and see which country is by far the leader when it comes to the number of its citizens which have received them. I suggest that this is no coincidence, and the greater amount of free time American children experience is tied directly to a greater propensity to develop unconventional and original ideas later in life, some of which prove to be quantum advancements in knowledge.

Yes, there’s no shortage of awfulness and hypocrisy about the USA. That doesn’t mean the correct response is to idealize Western Europe. No hierarchical society, anywhere, is worthy of such idolatry. All have closets full of skeletons, just like all have areas where they are doing things better than the norm.

No, I Still Do Not Support Gun Control

Just personally, as a queer and an anarchist, I’ll be doubly targeted if the fascists (already in control of the national government, albeit and thankfully with a comically incompetent leader) decide to send their enemies off to the camps. If they come for me, I want to be able to take some of them out.

Beyond just personally, if enough of those targeted have this attitude, those doing the targeting are likely to reevaluate their decision to be fascist collaborators.

The USA is a failing empire on the brink of going full fascist and anyone harboring delusions about it being able to magically achieve some version of late 20th-century European Social Democracy (complete with the requisite social peace and low levels of firearm ownership) just because they’d like it to is pursuing a fool’s paradise.

Besides, those European paradises of government control and regulation are far closer to going fascist than many may realize, as the recent growth of parties like Alternative für Deutschland and Lega Nord illustrates. Even Europe isn’t really the Europe that liberals tend to imagine it is.

The State and the Right have a near-monopoly on the ownership of weapons, and have been taught (in no small part by liberals who refused to prosecute the Bush Regime for its crimes in Iraq) that they can engage in excesses and get away with it. This is a recipe for disaster, and the absolute last thing we need is to give the State more power to render the oppressed even more powerless.

Science Can Not Save the World

Science is merely a process by which an external reality can be observed and verified, nothing more. Science can document as accurately as possible, given our personal failings, how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but in and of itself it can’t actually change much of that process.

That process is governed by ruling classes and power hierarchies that run on threats, force, human conformity, appeals to emotion, widespread indoctrination, and so on. Science can help understand those processes but again it can only describe them.

Science is about knowledge, not action.

Changing things will require a process of revolutionary struggle; ruling classes never voluntarily relinquish power just because it’s the nice thing to do (and you built and enunciated a convincing fact-and-logic based argument).

What’s up with Julian Assange and Wikileaks?

He definitely let himself be played by the Russians and used to strategically release information timed to do the most damage to Hillary Clinton. At the least he’s a Kremlin asset, in the same sense that James Clapper observed Donald Trump is a Kremlin asset.

Beyond that, it’s impossible to say. I tend to lean to saying he’s in over his head, partially due to his own personality defects. I think it’s pretty obvious that he has a personal grudge against Hillary Clinton. As someone who’s harshly critical of Hillary Clinton myself, I understand some of that grudge, but it’s important not to let oneself be blinded by one’s grudges.

I also think that Assange ended up provoking the USA far more than he thought he would; I don’t think he believed the US would try to jail him for his political activities. The shock of that doubtless has influenced his antipathy towards the US empire.

I have antipathy to that empire, too, but it’s important to keep in mind just what forces you are aiding in your activism. There are wannabe empires in the world, and just because the US empire has been bad doesn’t mean that the wannabes will necessarily be better.

In the case of China and Russia, all available evidence indicates they will be worse. At least the more open political environment in the USA leaves the US empire significantly more vulnerable to being shamed.

Fire and Fury, The Gorilla Channel, Fake News

First, Fire and Fury should not be taken as a serious information source. It’s written by an individual who might rightly be called the Donald Trump of journalism, given his lack of adherence to norms and past record of playing fast and loose with factual accuracy. He’s already been caught getting into the White House on false pretenses.

Second, it’s not as if Trump or anyone in his regime has much ground to stand on when it comes to complaining about such things.

Third, there is no Gorilla Channel. That’s a hoax. It wasn’t believable to start with:

I had never heard of any such thing, yet Trump is supposed to have had access to it in Trump Tower (but not the White House?). If it were a cable channel, you’d expect it to be available pretty much everywhere there is cable. If Washington, DC has an inferior cable system that doesn’t carry it, it wouldn’t be that hard to install an earth station at the White House to receive it.

They set up “a hastily-constructed transmission tower on the South Lawn” to broadcast it? Really? That tower would have attracted the attention of photographers; surely someone would have noticed it. And why erect a transmission tower for cable TV? Far simpler and easier to just modulate a signal and inject it into the coax. If over-the-air transmission is for some reason desired, a tower isn’t needed for a low-power signal, anyhow. This wouldn’t need to reach farther than a few rooms in the White House; it would be a simple matter to put an ultra low-power transmitter in a closet somewhere.

Fourth, the book’s general premise, that Trump is totally unfit for the job he finds himself in, is no big surprise and was obvious already.

The Bigotry of Valerie Plame

Yes, that Valerie Plame, Joseph Wilson’s wife, the ex-CIA agent. First she tweets:

Then 90 minutes or so later she makes a feeble attempt at walking it back:

And yes, it’s a feeble attempt. If she “zeroed in on the neocon criticism,” then why mention Jewishness at all, if the problem is neoconservatives? Why retweet the subject, which was “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars.” Not “America’s Neocons” or even “America’s Jewish Neocons”, but “America’s Jews” as a whole. The problem was identified as Jewishness, not political ideology.

That an article so titled would resonate with her (to the point of prompting an instinctive retweet) points to deeply-held antisemitic attitudes on her part. That’s a far bigger problem that a simple “Oopsie!” can atone for.

Nuclear War: Now Ten Seconds to Midnight

This Is Not a Conspiracy on Trump’s Part

Pretty much everything that’s observable about Trump is consistent with the thesis that he is not some sort of evil, brilliant, right-wing mastermind. He’s an intellectually immature adult child who is almost solely concerned with his own self-glorification, nothing more.

This Is Still Exceptionally Dangerous

Even though there isn’t an organized conspiracy to start a nuclear war, there is still a very good chance, probably about 50%, of one starting within the next 12 months. Anyone saying otherwise, no matter how prestigious their voice, is telling lies that amount to whistling in the graveyard.

The Stalinist monarchy that rules North Korea has long been irresponsible and unhinged. That danger was traditionally mitigated by the United States being at least somewhat reasonable. Now we have two unhinged people leading two adversarial nuclear-armed nations. You take it from there. Again, anyone arguing that this is less than a grave existential threat to civilization is telling lies that amount to whistling in the graveyard.

More than Likely, Trump Is Being Played

Played by the fascist right, that is. It’s doubtless fascists like Bannon and Gorka that are egging him on. Trump likes those fascists because they do a good job of stroking his childish ego.

Being fascists, they don’t care how many deaths they cause in the name of creating a fascist state. The ends will always justify the means. If some millions or tens of millions of Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, Americans, or others must die to achieve their vision, so be it.

What Is Justified to Stop This? Pretty Much Anything

I’m not going to enunciate just what that anything might be, but you get the idea. Needless to say, the least extreme measures that can promptly achieve the necessary goal of stopping nuclear war should be used.

That in Itself Is Another Danger

It is so because it might lead to the danger of Trump proving in the long run to have been a phantom menace that paved the way for authoritarians to use extraordinary means to neutralize the Trump threat, and after having legitimized such means, then using similar ones to create an authoritarian order of their own.

Personally, I’m Strategizing Ways to Leave the Seattle Area

We’re the most likely target on the US mainland, because we’re the closest metro area to North Korea. Living outside the city, like I do, is no guarantee of safety, because North Korea’s missiles are likely to not be all that accurate. They could easily miss by ten miles or more.

Most likely strategy is to spend an extended amount of time at my parents’ place in New Mexico. The big question I’m now mulling through is how immediate the threat is. North Korea might not be able to strike Seattle yet, so they may opt to go after Seoul, Tokyo, or maybe even Guam first.