Who Shot Down the Airliner?

The Americans say the Iranians shot down the Ukrainian jet today, bound for Kiev, which exploded shortly after takeoff.
Excuse my skepticism, but after WMDs, the Kuwaiti incubator story, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, and so on, I’m inclined to believe the Americans are lying. At any rate, I’m going to need a lot more than “U.S. officials are confident…” or “17 U.S. intelligence agencies agree…” Well, of course they do. Their job is to agree and I’m pretty sure at least 16 of them are totally redundant.
The Iranians have denied it completely. Ali Abedzadeh, head of the Iranian Civilian Aviation Association said it was ‘physically impossible’ and a ‘ridiculous charge.’ Well, that’s not entirely so, either. If a missile was fired and it struck the plane, that is entirely physically possible. It is the reason anti-aircraft missiles exist.
Still, I can’t see why Iran would have any motive. It looked like WWIII had been averted, cooler heads were beginning to prevail, so why?
Some people are saying it may have been an accident. Pretty tragic, but possible. If the missiles were loaded and ready, because of the state of emergency caused by Soleimani’s assassination, then all it would take is somebody setting their coffee down on the wrong button and uh-oh, international incident.
So, which ones should we believe? We should probably wait for the aircraft investigations team to finish their investigation, and stop listening to politicians.
FWIW, here’s my solution: nothing was done about it when the U.S. shot down an Iranian civilian plane a few years back. Let’s treat this incident exactly the same.

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Countdown to Armageddon

Which is a bit of an inflammatory headline. I don’t actually think we’re headed for WWIII. While Trump’s drone bombing of an Iranian general (and an Iraqi general was killed, too) has garnered spectacular headlines, it was not nearly as egregious a violation of human decency as the coup in Bolivia, and most people around the world have forgotten about that already.
I am not excusing the coup in Bolivia. That is a tragedy and I hope that eventually the Moralistas get their country back. Just talking a bit of realpolitik and pointing out how fast people who are a bit removed from the flashpoint forget about these things.
The Iranians responded to the direct attack on their sovereignty by launching some rockets in the general direction of an Iraqi base where some U.S. soldiers were and miraculously not killing or injuring anybody.
They then issued a statement saying they had retaliated and as far as they were concerned that was it. So, there is no question of who is being the bigger man here. Iran wins that contest hands down.
So, if Trump’s goal is to actually start WWIII, he will have to do something even more inflammatory, and he doesn’t have a lot of support for that. Not among the American people, not in congress, and not even in the Pentagon.
If the pentagon refuses, Trump loses.
So, I don’t think WWIII is going to happen, at least not this time. I’ll feel a lot safer, however, once we get rid of Donald Trump.

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A Dream of a Dream

Last night in my dream I decided to drop a hit of LSD and it was a very conscious decision, to see if doing LSD in a dream would be different from doing LSD in real life, and I must admit the results are inconclusive.
Of course there was a wild collection of hallucinatory images, most of which I can’t remember, because that’s the world of dreams. It’s also the world of LSD.
I do remember one scene vividly, which was late in the dream just before I woke up, and there was a pale green typewriter on a high shelf, next to a potted tree, like a small Christmas tree but live and undecorated. I lowered the typewriter down on a bungee of chewing gum, and made my plan to write my blog about the trip within the dream, and the line with which I would begin was ‘In the future, we will see through the light.’
I feel good this morning, but I don’t have answers. That’s O.K. Questions are better. Questions open doors. Can we alter reality by altering our minds, does our perception of a thing change the thing itself? Sure, in a philosophical, poetic sort of sense it does but just because I see a rock as a pillow doesn’t mean the next person along won’t kick it and break their toe, the rock is still a rock, and we are still outside reality no matter how much we are part of it. But then I write about it and send my thoughts out into the world. Do they have an impact?
I’m sure they would if I could find the right words. Still searching.

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Two Parties

Quote of the day: In any other country, Joe Biden and I wouldn’t even be in the same party – Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

Which is true. Beyond the superficial differences – she is a young firebrand and he is a shambling old man who gets easily sidetracked and sounds a bit like Abe Simpson – there is a seemingly endless list of policy differences.
Yet, in our two party system, here we are. AOC and Fingers Malarkey are both part of the Democratic party.
They represent the two sides of it, and this is going to be a problem in the general election, no matter how you slice it. If anybody other than Bernie (the AOC wing of the party) gets the nomination, voter turnout will be low, millions of Berners will stay home on election day, and Trump will be re-elected.
On the other hand, what guarantee do we have that the pro-Hillary wing of the party (which has already proven far more stubborn than I thought possible) will come around to supporting Bernie once he has secured the nomination.
The strategy of the Sanders campaign, as I understand it, is to mobilize huge numbers of disenfranchised people – youth, minorities, working class people who are angry at the government – to come out and vote for a change. But we’re also going to need those Biden and Hillary voters. I suspect that between July and November we’ll be able to persuade them that Bernie is not the dangerous person they perceive him to be.
The way I see it, there’s a split in that group, too. There are the ones who are actually holding office, and therefore they are actually in the pay of corporations, so we can’t count on them. They number in the hundreds, but not in the thousands.
Then there are the rank and file Democratic voters who’ve been voting for the lesser of two evils for so long they think that’s the way it has to work. Since they are not receiving bribes from oil companies or banks (that would be really expensive if they had to bribe the voters directly), they’ll come out and vote for Bernie, even if they make a few sarcastic comments along the way.
30 or 40 years from now, you will still find some very, very old people who want to bitch about how badly treated Hillary was and what a wonderful president she would have been. We don’t need to take them too seriously.

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An Appropriate Response

‘Appropriate response’ is certainly a bit of a tricky issue. Throughout history, appropriate responses have often led to war. Refusing to sell oil to Japan after they invaded China was an appropriate response, which led the Japanese into thinking that bombing Pearl Harbor was an appropriate response.
Was assassinating Qassem Soleimani (and the Iraqi officer killed with him) an appropriate response for anything he’d done? I don’t think so. The charges that ‘he killed a lot of Americans’ come down to him being a general on the opposing side, in a conflict in which the Americans don’t even seem to know which side they are on. Soleimani (according to those friendly to him) was fighting against ISIS in Iraq.
A lot of people do think it was, though.
So, what would an appropriate response from the Iranians be? A lot of people think they might try to block the Straits of Hormuz. Maybe. Might lead to war.
I’ve seen a few headlines today that “Iran” offered an $80,000,000″ reward for anybody who assassinated Trump. I checked with Snopes and they gave it a “mixed.” Someone speaking at his funeral (which was broadcast on State TV and seen by millions) suggested it. So, it’s sort of like saying “Russia” interfered in the U.S. election campaign in 2016 because a St. Petersburg meme mill bought a lot of ‘ads’ on facebook, and some Russian woman who loves guns donated a lot of money to the NRA and they donated it to Trump.
It wasn’t actually an official response. But (although I am not officially suggesting the assassination of anybody, nor am I in a position to do so) you have to admit, it would have been an appropriate response.

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The Writer's Psyche

First of all let me make clear that I am a huge fan of J.K. Rowling. She is a brilliant writer and, from all I’ve read about her, a pretty decent human being as well. Those two don’t always go together, so it’s worth noting.
But her Cormoran Strike novels (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith), while they are entertaining and well written and certainly worth a read if you’re into detective stories, will never count for half as much as the Harry Potter books. No way. They don’t even do anything to revolutionize the detective genre, which has basically been the same formula since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Brilliant and intuitive (but somewhat flawed) detective sees things nobody else did. Sometimes, a plucky and dedicated assistant is involved.
Then, I was reading ‘The Silkworm’ and was struck by this passage: The room seemed much smaller with his arrival. Next to Kathryn, Strike appeared huge and almost unnecessarily male; when she had swept it clear of Christmas ornaments, he dwarfed the only armchair. Pippa retreated to the end of the sofa and perched on the arm, throwing Strike looks composed of defiance and terror.
‘D’you want a drink of something?’ Kathryn threw at Strike in his heavy overcoat, with his size fourteen feet planted squarely on her swirly rug.
‘Cup of tea would be great,’ he said.
I couldn’t help but think of this passage immediately: The giant squeezed his way into the hut, stooping so that his head just brushed the ceiling. He bent down, picked up the door and fitted it into its frame. The noise of the storm outside dropped a little. He turned to look at them all.
‘Couldn’t make us a cup o’ tea, could ye? It’s not been an easy journey…
Of course, Rowling has created hundreds of characters and written millions of words so it’s not too surprising that there should be some similarities. Also, I do sometimes see connections which aren’t really there, and if Cormoran Strike is really Hagrid, then Pippa (a neurotic transsexual with homicidal tendencies) becomes Vernon Dursley, which is a bit of a stretch.
But it’s enough to make me wonder if there was some particularly memorable moment in Rowling’s life when a large and intimidating man entered into a small room, intimidating everybody, and then calmly asked for a cup of tea.

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The Assassination of Qassem Soleimani

Up until this morning, I had never heard the name Qassem Soleimani. I imagine most people hadn’t. He was not a famous movie actor or sports figure. He was not a head of state. How can we be expected to know the names of other countries generals?
Yet, the media covering his targeted assassination, by an American drone, seem to think we know all about him. He is the worst enemy of the United States. Of course, they say. There is no question, they say.
But did a state of war exist between the United States and Iran? That’s a rhetorical question, the answer is no. So, Soleimani was not threatening to kill any U.S. troops on the battlefield. They aren’t (or weren’t) at war with us.
Also, if the U.S. is fixing to have a war with Iraq, this serves no great purpose. O.K., we killed their top general. They will replace him with another general. Possibly one who is more devious/militant/anti-American than Soleimani. We don’t know.
Another thing that a lot of people are overlooking is that an Iraqi officer was also killed, and the attack took place in Iraq. Not the first thing in the last week or so that’s pissed off the Iraqis, either.
So, altogether an ill conceived decision by the hairless orangutan who cheats at golf. Let’s hope the Iranians are better at diplomacy than he is.

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