Iran: Response To A Democratic U.S. Senator

Today I received an email from Debbie Stabenow, the Democratic senator for Michigan. I’ve reproduced it below, together with my response:

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Dear Robert,

Because you have written me in the past to express your concerns about the threat of a nuclear Iran, I wanted to let you know about an important action that the Senate has taken.

Today I voted for, and the Senate passed, legislation that renews our ability to invoke sanctions on Iran. Without this action, that authority would have expired at the end of this year.

I cosponsored renewal of the sanctions on Iran because I am committed to keeping pressure on Iranian leaders to honor their agreement to end that country’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. This 10-year extension sends a strong message to Iran: that we stand ready to reimpose strict sanctions if they fail to comply with the terms of the agreement.

I have said that the only thing worse than Iran being the largest state sponsor of terrorism would be Iran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism with a nuclear weapon. The Iran Sanctions Extension Act maintains critical leverage for the U.S. as we continue to closely monitor Iran’s activities to ensure the security of America, Israel, and the entire Middle East.

As always, please continue to share your views on issues of concern to you and your family.

Sincerely,
stabenow2

Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator

Dear Debbie

I had no idea you’d joined the Republican Party. Perhaps you could enlighten me as to the evidence dictating your view that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism?

Iran is a nation of Shia Muslims; every terrorist act against the West, including 9/11, has been committed by Sunni Muslim extremists. Iran aids the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad because it is composed of mainly Alawis (with Shia affiliations) and the rebels are Sunni extremists. Hezbollah (again, Shia) is supported by Iran, but only in their fight against the brutality of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians they subjugate. If the U.S. government were to really pressurize the Israelis to repair the dreadful damage done to the lives of Palestinians, by Israeli actions since 1948, Hezbollah would likely cease to be a problem to them.

My last contact with you was concerning the Iranian situation, but I was much less concerned about their nuclear ambitions than the hideous sanctions imposed on them by the West (led, of course, by the U.S., via the U.N.) with the resultant effect on innocent civilians, and in particular, children.

It’s common knowledge that sanctions don’t work. They didn’t work against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, and they won’t work against Ali Khamenei, who’s a relatively moderate leader. American-led sanctions against Iraq in the 1990’s caused the most diabolical suffering to the populace. UNICEF calculated that as many as half a million children died as a direct result of American/Western sanctions.

The only sane choice when dealing with Iran has already been made by the present U.S. President. No doubt progress on this issue will be completely thrown away by the incoming administration of Trump & Co., who appear hellbent on stirring up another Middle Eastern brew of poison and hatred against the West.

I note this bill was passed unanimously (with the exception of Sanders, who opted out) and that President Obama will sign it into law, even though he’s intimated it’s unnecessary. Khamenei has previously stated that any extension of the legislation would be taken as a violation of the JCPA and could jeopardize further negotiations.

It would appear that the U.S. people’s representatives are determined to push the Iranian regime into a corner yet again, using more of the same bully-boy tactics that have proved such a disaster in the Middle East over the last forty years, since the Carter Doctrine.

Isn’t it time you, who are charged with the responsibility of bringing peace to the world, stopped behaving like schoolyard bullies run amok and became educated in the more mature skill of political diplomacy, an adeptness I feel is sadly lacking in U.S. politics today.

After all, the nation’s militant tactics in the Middle East over the last forty years have brought forth nothing but millions of dead bodies (including thousands of American soldiers), rampant terrorism against both the U.S. and its allies, the rise of al Qaeda and now, ISIS, the devastation of Iraq and Syria and their many historic sites and artifacts, and utter turmoil and suffering over five percent of the world’s landmass.

Is this a record of which one nation can feel proud?

Sincerely

Robert.

Kill The Crazed Greed-Fest Of Black Friday

R J Adams

black-friday

Fifteen years ago, when I left the U.K. to live in America, no-one in Britain had ever heard of ‘Black Friday’. The day following my first Thanksgiving I thought it might be so-named because everybody ate and drank so much on the Thursday that they stayed away from work next day. It seemed a great idea. What was the point of going into the office or factory for one day, feeling like death warmed up, when it was the start of a weekend anyway? In Britain, everyone stays home after a feast day. Of course, that was before I learned of the American work-ethic.

I soon discovered the truth, and to be frank, I was appalled. The idea of rushing into the mall in the early hours to fight over a TV or computer, immediately after spending a pseudo-religious day giving thanks for one’s lot, just seemed so hypocritical. Of course, that was before I became familiar with the ‘other’ American religion – shopping!

The idea of Black Friday has now spread to Britain – like most things American eventually do. Hopefully, despite the efforts of far-right political parties like UKIP, U.S. gun-culture won’t catch on in the U.K.. Having seen first hand the catastrophic results of America’s crazy misinterpretation of its Second Amendment, let me assure all Brits it would be the very worst that could possibly happen to you and your country. America will never be a stable nation while around forty percent of the population own at least one firearm, with many owning far more. I’m not talking sporting shotguns, but pistols, rifles, and automatic weapons by the score.

In America Black Friday comes around once a year. For approximately 110 Americans every day is a Black day, for that was the number killed or injured daily by firearms in 2015, many of them children. And that figure doesn’t include suicides by firearm.

Not surprisingly there’s a spike in shootings on Black Friday in America. Greed, tiredness from waiting long hours in the cold, hangovers from the previous day’s festivities, all contribute to the mix of tensions as those doors are thrown open and the dash to find a bargain begins.

Many would like to see the end of Black Friday, both in the U.S. and U.K.. Some stores are no longer taking part. Many people boycott the sales in protest.[1]

It’s time to end this crazed greed-fest. It’s time we regained our dignity and morality and said enough is enough.

[1] “Black Friday backlash getting bigger – and more consumerist” BBC, November 26th 2016

Love In A New York High Rise

By R J Adams

Surely, it was love at first sight. When they finally met in the penthouse of that luxury tower block in New York City, it seemed the two could never again bear to be apart. But, alas, Nigee – as Donny mischievously called him – needed to return to his British friends at the Club UKIP, in the picturesque south coast village of Humping-on-the-Hillock.

It was the saddest of partings. Catching a few brief moments alone in Donny’s sumptuous bedchamber the two embraced longingly, a tear quickly brushed aside from Nigee’s cheek by Donny’s gentle, if somewhat tiny, fingers. “Will I see you again soon, Donny,” Nigee choked, “I’m not sure I can live without you now.”

Donny raised himself to his full six foot two inches. He glanced down at the slightly balding pate of the lesser man beneath his chin and, summoning his most manly depth of voice, intoned, “I need you, Nigee. I have a plan that’ll bring you back to my side for ever.”

The voice, though deep and masculine, held a noticeable quiver. Nigee heard the tiniest crack, the merest hint of falsetto, as Donny mouthed his name. He clasped tighter to his friend – and in fairness we must refer to Donny as ‘friend’ for we know not how far this affair, this relationship, had progressed beyond – even, perhaps, transgressed – the bounds of mere friendship: that bond between two men who share their love in pure platonic need, or dares to cross the exquisite threshold of boundless, trouser-renting, passion.

“What plan, Donny?”

“Leave it all to me.” No quiver now, no falsetto tremble to betray this parting moment. “Go now,” a playful slap to his friend’s buttocks, “and leave it all to me. You’ll be with me again soon, I promise.”

The flight back to Britain seemed interminable. What could Donny have meant? How could he possibly arrange for them to be together forever? It seemed an impossible situation, but Nigel knew that Donny would somehow keep his word. What they’d shared in their brief time together, those moments of ultimate joy and happiness…

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…were sufficient for him to know that Donny wouldn’t let him down now.

Heathrow Airport was always busy and Nigel had to push his way through the throng of travellers to find a taxi. He passed a newstand, paused, then unbelieving snatched a newspaper from atop the pile and knew in that second Donny had kept his word. He would be going back to America. He would soon be feeling those strong arms around him once more. He felt a shiver down his spine recalling Donny’s tiny fingers caressing the nape of his neck. Hardly daring to look again for fear it was illusion, he glanced down at the headline in that morning’s Guardian newspaper:

“Nigel Farage would be great UK ambassador to US, says Donald Trump”[1]

Nigel’s heart leapt in his chest. He was going back to America. He was going to be with Donny. It was all going to be wonderful. Tears of joy filled his eyes as he dashed across the concourse and hailed a taxi. “Take me home,” he shouted at the driver, “And quick! I have to pack.”

But little did Donny and Nigee know that dark spells were afoot. From behind her black door the Wicked Witch of May casts her runes, mixes her potions, and summons all her powers of evil to ensure their love will never flourish.

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“There is no vacancy,” a Downing Street spokesman said when asked about Trump’s remark on Tuesday. “We already have an excellent ambassador to the US.”[2]

Poor Nigee! Is all lost? Has the Wicked Witch of May supplanted Donny’s plans for him and Nigee to be together forever?

We can only hope FERVENTLY that she has!

“Nigel Farage would be great UK ambassador to US, says Donald Trump” Guardian, 22nd November 2016

[2] “Nigel Farage attacks response to Trump ambassador tweet” BBC, 22nd November 2016

Goodbye Obama – Merkel Will Miss You

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“There will be no return to a world before globalisation. We owe it to our companies and our citizens, indeed to the entire world community, to broaden and deepen our co-operation.”

Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have jointly produced an article strongly defending globalization, on Obama’s final visit to Germany as U.S. President. (Though it’s doubtful they burned the midnight oil together, pens poised and parchment aflutter by the light of a single, spluttering, candle). It was published in the German business paper, Wirtschaftswoche.

Above, and below, are quotes from same.

“We are stronger when we work together. Now that the global economy is developing faster than ever and the global challenges are never greater, this collaboration is more important than ever before.” [1]

Merkel has never been shy in displaying her enthusiasm for the TTIP, which would likely have been ratified in Europe but for the reticence of French president, Francois Hollande, who wasn’t at all happy with the wording of the trade deal. Not that that really mattered. It was slipped in through the backdoor of CETA, dressed up as a benign Canadian idea, rather than the U.S.- backed neoliberal poison it truly is.

This latest U.S.- German collaboration is an obvious thrust at the next inhabitant of the White House, whose objections to trade agreements the new president-elect has never failed to – eh, Trump-et?

Obama has always been welcome in Germany so long as Merkel is in control, but his silver tongue doesn’t work so well in some other parts of Europe, and Greece gave him a much cooler reception:

In Athens, Mr Obama acknowledged that globalisation had created a “sense of injustice” and a “course correction” was needed to address growing inequality.
“When we see people, global elites, wealthy corporations seemingly living by a different set of rules, avoiding taxes, manipulating loopholes… this feeds a profound sense of injustice,” he told Greek leaders. [1]

How can it be that in Germany he praises globalization as the cure-all for the world’s ills, yet in Greece he insists a “course correction” is necessary, denouncing all that the TPTP and TTIP are designed to propagate – “… global elites, wealthy corporations seemingly living by a different set of rules, avoiding taxes, manipulating loopholes..” – exactly the objectives these two massive trade agreements he’s been peddling for the last four years are designed to bring about.

The Greeks were not impressed:

Mr Obama’s visit to Greece was marked by street protests by leftist groups which denounced US “imperialism”. Police used tear gas against about 2,500 demonstrators who had tried to reach the city centre on Tuesday.

It’s always been the case, since his election campaign of 2007-08, that Obama’s told his audience exactly what they want to hear. Throughout his eight year presidency his glib tongue has promised much to the Western world (Yes, We Can! Greater Together!) but behind the scenes he’s operated to a totally different agenda: hobnobbing with the corporate elite, secretly peddling his corporate “trade agreements” around the world, expanding his ‘war’ powers to such an extent the U.S. president now has total control of a whole secret military (the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), over which there is no Congressional oversight, and which he is about to leave in the hands of Donald J Trump) and security services bloated out of all proportion during his presidency with in excess of one million employees with top security clearances, if one includes the numerous private contractors working in the service of the National Security Agencies.

Yet still one hears Americans crying, “If only Obama could stay in power!” How little they realize the damage this one man has done to his country, and to the world. By embracing the neoliberal philosophies of Rand, Friedman, Hayek, Reagan and Thatcher, he’s kept open the floodgates of poverty for many thousands of his countrymen and women – not to forget the children – and the only slightly positive aspect of his presidency has been Obamacare, which in reality did more for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies than it’s ever benefited the people. They still have to find expensive co-pays and add-ons that make medical care in the U.S. the most expensive in the Western world.

Globalization isn’t a necessary evil we have to put up with, and trade tariffs aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but despite all Donald Trump’s rhetoric during his campaign it’s unlikely he’ll produce anything positive for the nation, or the world. We’ve already seen the effects of globalization over the last forty years, since Reagan and Thatcher developed their infamous monetarism policies. It’s great for making the rich wealthier, the corporations more powerful, and the rest of us poorer, working longer hours in more menial jobs – if we’re so fortunate as to have a job at all.

Truly, the neoliberal version of globalization sucks, as does Obama. He’s led his people a merry dance these last eight years, hoodwinked the populace while cosying up to the corporate powers. He’s not alone in this. The U.K., German, and even the French governments are awash with neoliberal policies, while fearing a backlash from their electorate after the shock of Donald Trump’s election.

Already the far-right parties in Europe are gearing up for their next election campaigns. Hollande, Merkel, and other European leaders may well find their careers curtailed at the ballot box if they continue on the course they’ve agreed with Obama.

Of course, that’s not something that’ll bother Mister Obama. He’ll be too busy trying to decide which lucrative corporate position he’ll accept from the many and varied offers pouring in. That is, if he hasn’t already had an offer he can’t refuse – from Angela Merkel.

[1] “Globalisierung. Gemeinsam. Gestalten.”” Wirtschaftswoche, November 16th 2016 (In German)

Relevant quotes in English can also be found at: “Obama defends globalisation on Germany visit” BBC, November 16th 2016

Who The Hell IS Nigel Farage?

nigel-farage

Who is this guy? He reminds me of an old comedy TV show from long ago. A face kept popping up that wasn’t supposed to be there, until it became so familiar its sudden appearances were funny for a time, but rapidly grew tiresome from over-exposure.

Nigel Farage was somewhat amusing for a time. He was the clown on the fringe of British politics until, like so many clowns, he eventually became wearing, and slightly sinister. It’s little wonder Farage and Trump have gravitated towards each other.

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They both started out as clowns, but now, emulating that old TV show, they keep popping up unexpectedly. Trump will be in our faces for at least the next four years, given that the clown’s now become Master of the Universe, but please, Mister Farage, do us all a favour and just disappear.

Only a few days ago the BBC broadcast an interview with Gina Miller, the woman leading the legal challenge over Brexit. Who did the BBC choose to sit in the next chair and give the opposing viewpoint? Nigel Farage! No Labour, Tory, or even Liberal-Democrat representative was there to put their party’s point of view. No, instead they preferred to ask the idiot, Farage.

He’s once again temporary leader of UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), the most minority political party in Britain and an offshoot of the National Front, because by his own admission there’s so much infighting going on within its ranks that it’s impossible to produce anyone capable of leading this rabble. He’s left and returned, left and returned to the leadership so often he’s got his own revolving door policy.

This week he turned up yet again in America, hanging out with Donald Trump.

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They should get on well. After all, they have much in common. Farage is a climate-change denier (“this loopy idea that we can cover Britain in ugly disgusting ghastly windmills and that somehow our future energy needs will come from that”), admires Vladimir Putin (…asked which current world leader he most admired, Farage replied: “As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin…”), is in favour of returning guns to the streets of the U.K., wants to deport all U.K. immigrants (though he couches his views in deliberately vague terms), supports private healthcare, and many other viewpoints that make him and Donald Trump ideal partners in political crime. One can only hope Mister Trump will find him so appealing he’ll add him to his list of cabinet ne’er-do-wells, and we’ll never have to see Farage’s cherubic little countenance ever again this side of the Atlantic.

Why should anyone have any interest in what this beer-swilling, arrogant, apology for a politician has to say? Politician? He’s not even managed that. Farage has never been elected to the British Parliament in his life. He’s failed every time he’s tried. He’s had to make do with a position in the European Parliament of Brussels because no-one else wanted it. He was happy there because he could make a nuisance of himself and insult the European members in his usual un-invigorating style. Frankly the man is an acute embarrassment to anyone with any sense of decency. One can only hope Donald Trump refuses to pay his fare home.

Though, frankly, I imagine even Trump will tire of this obnoxious clown before much longer.