Category Archives: Iran

The First Casualty

There’s an ongoing debate as to who coined the phrase “the first casualty of war is the truth.” Some credit California Senator Hiram Johnson who said something along the same lines in 1917. He was a progressive Republican, which was not an oxymoron in his case. He was TR’s running mate in 1912 on the Bull Moose ticket.

Others believe that the Greek tragedian Aeschylus coined the phrase. This one-two punch makes it win-win for me as a Greek American who grew up in California. Yay, Team Adrastos.

In either case, the phrase deserves to be in the pantheon of quotes as whatever this thing with Iran is evolves into. The most mendacious administration* in American history is focusing its talent for lying on the Iran crisis. Suddenly, some of Trump’s harshest critics believe his most extreme statements on this subject. Do they think he wouldn’t lie about this? If so, why? Here’s the warning I posted on the Tweeter Tube:

President* Pennywise has threatened to bomb 52 targets in Iran in twisted homage to the Americans held hostage in 1979-80. While it *is* an event that Trump has heard of, I doubt he can count that high. Hopefully, the military won’t screw up again by presenting him with another extreme option:

Pentagon officials usually include a far-out option when they present possibilities to the president in order to make the others seem less extreme. The other options presented to Trump in Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach resort, included strikes against Iranian ships or missile facilities or militias backed by Iran that are operating in Iraq. “The Pentagon also tacked on the choice of targeting General Suleimani, mainly to make other options seem reasonable,” reports the Times.

That’s okay with a rational leader but not with a mentally ill president who is eager to distract attention from his impeachment. It’s either dog wagging or dick waving. It could be both: he’s eager to offend. That’s why I call him the Impeached Insult Comedian.

The next time Trump tweets out some batshit crazy threat, give the Morton Salt girl a holler:

It’s currently pouring Trump regime lies and bullshit. Take everything they say with a massive grain of salt. That goes for the Iranian government: they’re contenders in the Liar’s War as well.

There are unconfirmed but plausible reports of Iranian Americans being detained at the border and airports. What’s next? An embargo on the upcoming season of The Shahs Of Sunset? Reza and I object:

The reason I’m making light of the current situation is my belief that mockery is the best medicine. Besides, we still haven’t the foggiest notion of what course this crisis will take. The Iranian regime is as ruthless and violent as that of Saddam Hussein BUT they’re infinitely more sophisticated. Hopefully, they’re too clever to provoke a land war. That statement comes with an enormous caveat: the Middle East is where prediction go to die. That coupled with Trump’s lack of impulse control makes it almost impossible to predict what happens next. You might as well ask the Morton Salt girl. She knows as much as the next pundit…

All I know for certain is that the first casualty of war is the truth.

Let’s close things out on a semi-optimistic note. The last word goes to the Police:

Fools Rush In

American presidents have a fatal attraction to the Middle East; hence the blurry featured image from 1979. It happened again last night. The Kaiser of Chaos ordered a hit on the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ commander, Qassim Suleimani. Making the act twice as provocative is that it happened at Baghdad International Airport. Remember Iraq and the mess in Mesopotamia? This is some serious shit.

The phrase fools rush in comes to mind, which is confirmed by this quote in the NYT:

In killing General Suleimani, Mr. Trump took an action that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had rejected, fearing it would lead to war between the United States and Iran.

While many Republicans said that the president had been justified in the attack, Mr. Trump’s most significant use of military force to date, critics of his Iran policy called the strike a reckless unilateral escalation that could have drastic and unforeseen consequences that could ripple violently throughout the Middle East.

It was an action too reckless for the Bush-Cheney administration. Let that sink in for a moment.

It came shortly after off the cuff remarks by the Impeached Insult Comedian at his Florida clip joint:

“I don’t think that would be a good idea for Iran. It wouldn’t last very long,” Mr. Trump said. “Do I want to? No. I want to have peace. I like peace.”

Glad to hear that, Donald. It would be better if you didn’t oscillate wildly from dove to hawk and back again. Clarity in foreign policy is imperative; something the Trump regime is incapable of.

Trump’s comments remind me of the “light at the end of the tunnel” statements issued during the Vietnam War and Dick Cheney’s assertion that the Iraq War would be a “cakewalk.” We all know how those conflicts turned out: there was no cakewalk and the light at the end of the tunnel was a train that ran us over.

I suspect that President* Pennywise has convinced himself that this is like the Al-Baghdadi and Bin-Laden hits. It is not. This is an assassination of a senior governmental official whose business included state sponsored terrorism. Such an action requires Congressional approval:

It’s apt to be an unconventional war. The retaliatory weapons are likely to be old-fashioned terrorist attacks as well as new-fangled cyber warfare. We’re unlikely to invade Iran but this is bound to get ugly and chaotic. This is some serious shit.

The problem with three years of incessant lying is that more than half the public will not believe anything this administration says about this situation. They’re likely to pour gas on the fire and make things worse. It’s what they do.

The traditional “rally around the flag” reaction will not happen this time around. We’ve been deceived once too often. Believe nothing, trust no one.

Coming in the midst of a presidential impeachment, this action is inherently suspect. It’s unclear if we should label it a “wag the dog” or a “wave the dick” moment. What it is is foolish as is current Iran policy, which is based on the notion that anything Obama and Kerry did was wrong. We’ve gone from our best relations with Iran since the demise of the Shah to this fucking mess. This is some serious shit.

I almost called this post This Is Some Serious Shit because it is. I opted instead to use an old Johnny Mercer-Rube Bloom song whose full title is Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread). The last word goes to Rick Nelson, Doris Day, and Frank Sinatra:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Together

Flying Eyeball by Rick Griffin.

To say that New Orleans is a football town is a grotesque understatement. Between the Saints and LSU Tigers, gridiron love runs deep in the Crescent City. But last Monday, local sports fans were talking about the NBA Pelicans. Our local hoopsters lost 2 players to free agency: Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins. The latter Boogied to the Warriors and the surly Rondo signed with the Lakers. I was one of the few  local hoops fans to take this in stride. Rondo was a team leader last year after 12 years as a locker room cancer and occasional gay basher. Boogie Cousins had a torn ACL, which is an injury that usually diminishes big men when they return. I had a torn ACL myself. It ended my unpromising career as a little leaguer. So it goes.

In other local news, new Mayor LaToya Cantrell continues her incomprehensible PR campaign:

I still haven’t the foggiest notion as to what “being intentional” means. Of course, I may just be unintentionally dim. I had an intentionally amusing twitter exchange inspired by the Mayor’s tweet. Two of my twitter friends evoked the image of Matt Foley, Chris Farley’s failed motivational speaker, culminating in this tweet from my old pal Liprap:

This week’s theme song is a bona fide hippie anthem. Get Together was written by Dino Valenti who is best known as lead singer for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Valenti was a man of many names: he was born Chester Powers and also wrote songs as Jesse Orris Farrow.

We have three versions of Get Together for your listening pleasure. First, the Youngbloods, a band so hippie dippy that their keyboard player was nicknamed Banana, followed by the pre-Grace Slick Jefferson Airplane, and a recent live version by Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

In case you’re wondering, the featured image is by Rick Griffin who was one of the legendary Sixties rock poster artists. The image itself was originally on a poster for a Youngbloods show at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

Now that we’ve discussed the Flying Eyeball, let’s make like Evel Knievel and jump to the break.

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Trump’s War On Obama

The Current Occupant’s obsession with his predecessor reached an apogee of absurdity yesterday. The Iran nuclear deal is not only one of the Obama administration’s greatest accomplishments, it is working. Trump’s foreign policy actions continue to impact and alienate our allies and give aid and comfort to some dubious characters such as Bibi Netanyahu and the Saudis. Who’da thunk Saudi “reformers” and Israeli wingnuts would be in bed together? It’s the whole “enemy of my enemy “mind-set writ large.

Trump has done many terrible things as president* but this is the worst because it could lead to war. He’s pulling out of a carefully planned scheme without contemplating what comes next. By all accounts, there’s no plan or strategy on how to proceed. Hell, there’s nobody in charge of sanctions at the State Department right now. I am not making this up.

All Trump knows about the Iran deal is that it has Barack Obama and John Kerry’s fingerprints all over it. Kerry bad, Obama worse. That’s all he needs to know.

Trump prides himself on being a foreign policy “disruptor,” whatever the hell that means. All he’s really done is to take us back to Bush-Cheney era regime change policies. In fact, regime change in Iran was a bridge too far for many Bushies. John Bolton and his mustache lost that battle. Yesterday’s decision brings us closer to another stupid, bloody, and unnecessary Middle Eastern war. Thanks, Trumpy.

Obama and Kerry were playing the long game with Iran. They thought that engagement with Iran would lead to the erosion of the theocratic state built by the ayatollahs. There are many Iranians who are restless and ready for change. The Obama strategy was to encourage those folks to be change agents; a horrible phrase but accurate in this case. Team Trump doesn’t do long-term strategy. They play the short game. Badly.

Whatever happened to the notion of linkage? How can the Trumpers negotiate a nuclear deal with North Korea after pulling out of the Iran pact? Why should the dictator with bad hair trust them to keep their word to him after this? Questions abound. Answers are elusive. If nothing else, the price for cutting a deal with North Korea just went up.

One interesting sub-plot of the Iran deal mishigas is to watch how many Never Trump conservatives become Sometimes Trumpers. The NYT’s Bret Stephens has already praised the move. He won’t be the last.

I can usually find the humor in Trump’s war on Obama but not this time. The stakes are too high. It feels as if we’re slip sliding into a war simply because Donald Trump was publicly mocked by Barack Obama. That’s nuts but that’s the way it is in 2018.