THE ABSURD TIMES — STILL

Aushwitz and Master Race.

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 25, 2020

After being subjected to his "celebration" of the fall of Aushwitz, and the announcement that Wolfgang Blitzkrieg will do a special on it, it is time for all to share.

High Crimes

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 24, 2020

Friday, January 24, 2020

HAMILTON, FEDERALIST 65

THE ABSURD TIMES

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Hamilton, Federalist 65
Reprinted by the Times

It has become rather ridiculous to hear repeatedly that an actual crime has to have been committed in order for it to fall under the category of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” There was actually no such concept whatsoever when the Constitution, written by us, “We the People,” was adopted.

When I was very young, in elementary school, grammar school, or whatever they want to call K-7 these days, I took a look at a copy of my Dad’s book titled simply the Federalist Papers. I found it not only very dull, but also difficult to read. Now it is not so dull.

It can be found online, but the most accurate version is reproduced in about 5 or 6 point type. For comparison, this is in 14 point, our usual size is 16, standard letters are in 12 point or, for longer letters, even 10. But 5 or 6 is almost impossible, even for those with extreme myopia. In addition, it is also presented end to end with no margins whatsoever and this means that almost what would be a standard paragraph these days would fit on one or two lines. That is another reason for reproducing it here, but in a more readable form. Nothing else is changed whatsoever.

It has become one of the most looked up items online but, again, it is not very readable. We reproduce it here so that you can have it available as the “Republican” servants and cult members in support of Orange leader will probably use that argument about actuall crimes and it will be handy for you to have it. Also, who knows, those of them that can or will actually read may find it of value. So, here it is, unexpurgated and uncensored the entire item, along with it’s suppliment.

FEDERALIST PAPERS

Federalist No. 65

The Powers of the Senate Continued
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 7, 1788.

Author: Alexander Hamilton
To the People of the State of New York:
THE remaining powers which the plan of the convention allots to the Senate, in a distinct capacity, are comprised in their participation with the executive in the appointment to offices, and in their judicial character as a court for the trial of impeachments. As in the business of appointments the executive will be the principal agent, the provisions relating to it will most properly be discussed in the examination of that department. We will, therefore, conclude this head with a view of the judicial character of the Senate.
A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.
The delicacy and magnitude of a trust which so deeply concerns the political reputation and existence of every man engaged in the administration of public affairs, speak for themselves. The difficulty of placing it rightly, in a government resting entirely on the basis of periodical elections, will as readily be perceived, when it is considered that the most conspicuous characters in it will, from that circumstance, be too often the leaders or the tools of the most cunning or the most numerous faction, and on this account, can hardly be expected to possess the requisite neutrality towards those whose conduct may be the subject of scrutiny.
The convention, it appears, thought the Senate the most fit depositary of this important trust. Those who can best discern the intrinsic difficulty of the thing, will be least hasty in condemning that opinion, and will be most inclined to allow due weight to the arguments which may be supposed to have produced it.
What, it may be asked, is the true spirit of the institution itself? Is it not designed as a method of NATIONAL INQUEST into the conduct of public men? If this be the design of it, who can so properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the representatives of the nation themselves? It is not disputed that the power of originating the inquiry, or, in other words, of preferring the impeachment, ought to be lodged in the hands of one branch of the legislative body. Will not the reasons which indicate the propriety of this arrangement strongly plead for an admission of the other branch of that body to a share of the inquiry? The model from which the idea of this institution has been borrowed, pointed out that course to the convention. In Great Britain it is the province of the House of Commons to prefer the impeachment, and of the House of Lords to decide upon it. Several of the State constitutions have followed the example. As well the latter, as the former, seem to have regarded the practice of impeachments as a bridle in the hands of the legislative body upon the executive servants of the government. Is not this the true light in which it ought to be regarded?
Where else than in the Senate could have been found a tribunal sufficiently dignified, or sufficiently independent? What other body would be likely to feel CONFIDENCE ENOUGH IN ITS OWN SITUATION, to preserve, unawed and uninfluenced, the necessary impartiality between an INDIVIDUAL accused, and the REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE, HIS ACCUSERS?
Could the Supreme Court have been relied upon as answering this description? It is much to be doubted, whether the members of that tribunal would at all times be endowed with so eminent a portion of fortitude, as would be called for in the execution of so difficult a task; and it is still more to be doubted, whether they would possess the degree of credit and authority, which might, on certain occasions, be indispensable towards reconciling the people to a decision that should happen to clash with an accusation brought by their immediate representatives. A deficiency in the first, would be fatal to the accused; in the last, dangerous to the public tranquillity. The hazard in both these respects, could only be avoided, if at all, by rendering that tribunal more numerous than would consist with a reasonable attention to economy. The necessity of a numerous court for the trial of impeachments, is equally dictated by the nature of the proceeding. This can never be tied down by such strict rules, either in the delineation of the offense by the prosecutors, or in the construction of it by the judges, as in common cases serve to limit the discretion of courts in favor of personal security. There will be no jury to stand between the judges who are to pronounce the sentence of the law, and the party who is to receive or suffer it. The awful discretion which a court of impeachments must necessarily have, to doom to honor or to infamy the most confidential and the most distinguished characters of the community, forbids the commitment of the trust to a small number of persons.
These considerations seem alone sufficient to authorize a conclusion, that the Supreme Court would have been an improper substitute for the Senate, as a court of impeachments. There remains a further consideration, which will not a little strengthen this conclusion. It is this: The punishment which may be the consequence of conviction upon impeachment, is not to terminate the chastisement of the offender. After having been sentenced to a perpetual ostracism from the esteem and confidence, and honors and emoluments of his country, he will still be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law. Would it be proper that the persons who had disposed of his fame, and his most valuable rights as a citizen in one trial, should, in another trial, for the same offense, be also the disposers of his life and his fortune? Would there not be the greatest reason to apprehend, that error, in the first sentence, would be the parent of error in the second sentence? That the strong bias of one decision would be apt to overrule the influence of any new lights which might be brought to vary the complexion of another decision? Those who know anything of human nature, will not hesitate to answer these questions in the affirmative; and will be at no loss to perceive, that by making the same persons judges in both cases, those who might happen to be the objects of prosecution would, in a great measure, be deprived of the double security intended them by a double trial. The loss of life and estate would often be virtually included in a sentence which, in its terms, imported nothing more than dismission from a present, and disqualification for a future, office. It may be said, that the intervention of a jury, in the second instance, would obviate the danger. But juries are frequently influenced by the opinions of judges. They are sometimes induced to find special verdicts, which refer the main question to the decision of the court. Who would be willing to stake his life and his estate upon the verdict of a jury acting under the auspices of judges who had predetermined his guilt?
Would it have been an improvement of the plan, to have united the Supreme Court with the Senate, in the formation of the court of impeachments? This union would certainly have been attended with several advantages; but would they not have been overbalanced by the signal disadvantage, already stated, arising from the agency of the same judges in the double prosecution to which the offender would be liable? To a certain extent, the benefits of that union will be obtained from making the chief justice of the Supreme Court the president of the court of impeachments, as is proposed to be done in the plan of the convention; while the inconveniences of an entire incorporation of the former into the latter will be substantially avoided. This was perhaps the prudent mean. I forbear to remark upon the additional pretext for clamor against the judiciary, which so considerable an augmentation of its authority would have afforded.
Would it have been desirable to have composed the court for the trial of impeachments, of persons wholly distinct from the other departments of the government? There are weighty arguments, as well against, as in favor of, such a plan. To some minds it will not appear a trivial objection, that it could tend to increase the complexity of the political machine, and to add a new spring to the government, the utility of which would at best be questionable. But an objection which will not be thought by any unworthy of attention, is this: a court formed upon such a plan, would either be attended with a heavy expense, or might in practice be subject to a variety of casualties and inconveniences. It must either consist of permanent officers, stationary at the seat of government, and of course entitled to fixed and regular stipends, or of certain officers of the State governments to be called upon whenever an impeachment was actually depending. It will not be easy to imagine any third mode materially different, which could rationally be proposed. As the court, for reasons already given, ought to be numerous, the first scheme will be reprobated by every man who can compare the extent of the public wants with the means of supplying them. The second will be espoused with caution by those who will seriously consider the difficulty of collecting men dispersed over the whole Union; the injury to the innocent, from the procrastinated determination of the charges which might be brought against them; the advantage to the guilty, from the opportunities which delay would afford to intrigue and corruption; and in some cases the detriment to the State, from the prolonged inaction of men whose firm and faithful execution of their duty might have exposed them to the persecution of an intemperate or designing majority in the House of Representatives. Though this latter supposition may seem harsh, and might not be likely often to be verified, yet it ought not to be forgotten that the demon of faction will, at certain seasons, extend his sceptre over all numerous bodies of men.
But though one or the other of the substitutes which have been examined, or some other that might be devised, should be thought preferable to the plan in this respect, reported by the convention, it will not follow that the Constitution ought for this reason to be rejected. If mankind were to resolve to agree in no institution of government, until every part of it had been adjusted to the most exact standard of perfection, society would soon become a general scene of anarchy, and the world a desert. Where is the standard of perfection to be found? Who will undertake to unite the discordant opinions of a whole community, in the same judgment of it; and to prevail upon one conceited projector to renounce his INFALLIBLE criterion for the FALLIBLE criterion of his more CONCEITED NEIGHBOR? To answer the purpose of the adversaries of the Constitution, they ought to prove, not merely that particular provisions in it are not the best which might have been imagined, but that the plan upon the whole is bad and pernicious.
PUBLIUS.

FEDERALIST PAPERS

Federalist No. 66

Objections to the Power of the Senate To Set as a Court for Impeachments Further Considered
From the New York Packet.
Tuesday, March 11, 1788.

Author: Alexander Hamilton
To the People of the State of New York:
A REVIEW of the principal objections that have appeared against the proposed court for the trial of impeachments, will not improbably eradicate the remains of any unfavorable impressions which may still exist in regard to this matter.
The FIRST of these objections is, that the provision in question confounds legislative and judiciary authorities in the same body, in violation of that important and well established maxim which requires a separation between the different departments of power. The true meaning of this maxim has been discussed and ascertained in another place, and has been shown to be entirely compatible with a partial intermixture of those departments for special purposes, preserving them, in the main, distinct and unconnected. This partial intermixture is even, in some cases, not only proper but necessary to the mutual defense of the several members of the government against each other. An absolute or qualified negative in the executive upon the acts of the legislative body, is admitted, by the ablest adepts in political science, to be an indispensable barrier against the encroachments of the latter upon the former. And it may, perhaps, with no less reason be contended, that the powers relating to impeachments are, as before intimated, an essential check in the hands of that body upon the encroachments of the executive. The division of them between the two branches of the legislature, assigning to one the right of accusing, to the other the right of judging, avoids the inconvenience of making the same persons both accusers and judges; and guards against the danger of persecution, from the prevalency of a factious spirit in either of those branches. As the concurrence of two thirds of the Senate will be requisite to a condemnation, the security to innocence, from this additional circumstance, will be as complete as itself can desire.
It is curious to observe, with what vehemence this part of the plan is assailed, on the principle here taken notice of, by men who profess to admire, without exception, the constitution of this State; while that constitution makes the Senate, together with the chancellor and judges of the Supreme Court, not only a court of impeachments, but the highest judicatory in the State, in all causes, civil and criminal. The proportion, in point of numbers, of the chancellor and judges to the senators, is so inconsiderable, that the judiciary authority of New York, in the last resort, may, with truth, be said to reside in its Senate. If the plan of the convention be, in this respect, chargeable with a departure from the celebrated maxim which has been so often mentioned, and seems to be so little understood, how much more culpable must be the constitution of New York? [1]
A SECOND objection to the Senate, as a court of impeachments, is, that it contributes to an undue accumulation of power in that body, tending to give to the government a countenance too aristocratic. The Senate, it is observed, is to have concurrent authority with the Executive in the formation of treaties and in the appointment to offices: if, say the objectors, to these prerogatives is added that of deciding in all cases of impeachment, it will give a decided predominancy to senatorial influence. To an objection so little precise in itself, it is not easy to find a very precise answer. Where is the measure or criterion to which we can appeal, for determining what will give the Senate too much, too little, or barely the proper degree of influence? Will it not be more safe, as well as more simple, to dismiss such vague and uncertain calculations, to examine each power by itself, and to decide, on general principles, where it may be deposited with most advantage and least inconvenience?
If we take this course, it will lead to a more intelligible, if not to a more certain result. The disposition of the power of making treaties, which has obtained in the plan of the convention, will, then, if I mistake not, appear to be fully justified by the considerations stated in a former number, and by others which will occur under the next head of our inquiries. The expediency of the junction of the Senate with the Executive, in the power of appointing to offices, will, I trust, be placed in a light not less satisfactory, in the disquisitions under the same head. And I flatter myself the observations in my last paper must have gone no inconsiderable way towards proving that it was not easy, if practicable, to find a more fit receptacle for the power of determining impeachments, than that which has been chosen. If this be truly the case, the hypothetical dread of the too great weight of the Senate ought to be discarded from our reasonings.
But this hypothesis, such as it is, has already been refuted in the remarks applied to the duration in office prescribed for the senators. It was by them shown, as well on the credit of historical examples, as from the reason of the thing, that the most POPULAR branch of every government, partaking of the republican genius, by being generally the favorite of the people, will be as generally a full match, if not an overmatch, for every other member of the Government.
But independent of this most active and operative principle, to secure the equilibrium of the national House of Representatives, the plan of the convention has provided in its favor several important counterpoises to the additional authorities to be conferred upon the Senate. The exclusive privilege of originating money bills will belong to the House of Representatives. The same house will possess the sole right of instituting impeachments: is not this a complete counterbalance to that of determining them? The same house will be the umpire in all elections of the President, which do not unite the suffrages of a majority of the whole number of electors; a case which it cannot be doubted will sometimes, if not frequently, happen. The constant possibility of the thing must be a fruitful source of influence to that body. The more it is contemplated, the more important will appear this ultimate though contingent power, of deciding the competitions of the most illustrious citizens of the Union, for the first office in it. It would not perhaps be rash to predict, that as a mean of influence it will be found to outweigh all the peculiar attributes of the Senate.
A THIRD objection to the Senate as a court of impeachments, is drawn from the agency they are to have in the appointments to office. It is imagined that they would be too indulgent judges of the conduct of men, in whose official creation they had participated. The principle of this objection would condemn a practice, which is to be seen in all the State governments, if not in all the governments with which we are acquainted: I mean that of rendering those who hold offices during pleasure, dependent on the pleasure of those who appoint them. With equal plausibility might it be alleged in this case, that the favoritism of the latter would always be an asylum for the misbehavior of the former. But that practice, in contradiction to this principle, proceeds upon the presumption, that the responsibility of those who appoint, for the fitness and competency of the persons on whom they bestow their choice, and the interest they will have in the respectable and prosperous administration of affairs, will inspire a sufficient disposition to dismiss from a share in it all such who, by their conduct, shall have proved themselves unworthy of the confidence reposed in them. Though facts may not always correspond with this presumption, yet if it be, in the main, just, it must destroy the supposition that the Senate, who will merely sanction the choice of the Executive, should feel a bias, towards the objects of that choice, strong enough to blind them to the evidences of guilt so extraordinary, as to have induced the representatives of the nation to become its accusers.
If any further arguments were necessary to evince the improbability of such a bias, it might be found in the nature of the agency of the Senate in the business of appointments.
It will be the office of the President to NOMINATE, and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to APPOINT. There will, of course, be no exertion of CHOICE on the part of the Senate. They may defeat one choice of the Executive, and oblige him to make another; but they cannot themselves CHOOSE, they can only ratify or reject the choice of the President. They might even entertain a preference to some other person, at the very moment they were assenting to the one proposed, because there might be no positive ground of opposition to him; and they could not be sure, if they withheld their assent, that the subsequent nomination would fall upon their own favorite, or upon any other person in their estimation more meritorious than the one rejected. Thus it could hardly happen, that the majority of the Senate would feel any other complacency towards the object of an appointment than such as the appearances of merit might inspire, and the proofs of the want of it destroy.
A FOURTH objection to the Senate in the capacity of a court of impeachments, is derived from its union with the Executive in the power of making treaties. This, it has been said, would constitute the senators their own judges, in every case of a corrupt or perfidious execution of that trust. After having combined with the Executive in betraying the interests of the nation in a ruinous treaty, what prospect, it is asked, would there be of their being made to suffer the punishment they would deserve, when they were themselves to decide upon the accusation brought against them for the treachery of which they have been guilty?
This objection has been circulated with more earnestness and with greater show of reason than any other which has appeared against this part of the plan; and yet I am deceived if it does not rest upon an erroneous foundation.
The security essentially intended by the Constitution against corruption and treachery in the formation of treaties, is to be sought for in the numbers and characters of those who are to make them. The JOINT AGENCY of the Chief Magistrate of the Union, and of two thirds of the members of a body selected by the collective wisdom of the legislatures of the several States, is designed to be the pledge for the fidelity of the national councils in this particular. The convention might with propriety have meditated the punishment of the Executive, for a deviation from the instructions of the Senate, or a want of integrity in the conduct of the negotiations committed to him; they might also have had in view the punishment of a few leading individuals in the Senate, who should have prostituted their influence in that body as the mercenary instruments of foreign corruption: but they could not, with more or with equal propriety, have contemplated the impeachment and punishment of two thirds of the Senate, consenting to an improper treaty, than of a majority of that or of the other branch of the national legislature, consenting to a pernicious or unconstitutional law, a principle which, I believe, has never been admitted into any government. How, in fact, could a majority in the House of Representatives impeach themselves? Not better, it is evident, than two thirds of the Senate might try themselves. And yet what reason is there, that a majority of the House of Representatives, sacrificing the interests of the society by an unjust and tyrannical act of legislation, should escape with impunity, more than two thirds of the Senate, sacrificing the same interests in an injurious treaty with a foreign power? The truth is, that in all such cases it is essential to the freedom and to the necessary independence of the deliberations of the body, that the members of it should be exempt from punishment for acts done in a collective capacity; and the security to the society must depend on the care which is taken to confide the trust to proper hands, to make it their interest to execute it with fidelity, and to make it as difficult as possible for them to combine in any interest opposite to that of the public good.
So far as might concern the misbehavior of the Executive in perverting the instructions or contravening the views of the Senate, we need not be apprehensive of the want of a disposition in that body to punish the abuse of their confidence or to vindicate their own authority. We may thus far count upon their pride, if not upon their virtue. And so far even as might concern the corruption of leading members, by whose arts and influence the majority may have been inveigled into measures odious to the community, if the proofs of that corruption should be satisfactory, the usual propensity of human nature will warrant us in concluding that there would be commonly no defect of inclination in the body to divert the public resentment from themselves by a ready sacrifice of the authors of their mismanagement and disgrace.
PUBLIUS.

What a Pile of Crap: Johnson and Don of Orange

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 22, 2020

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Andres Johnson and Donald of Orange: Impeach and Toss

THE ABSURD TIMES

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Johnson: meet Donald of Orange

Illustration: A view of our 19th Century version of Donald the Orange

Johnson is Trump

Erstens: Ich hätte kein Problem damit, dass der derzeitige Bundeskanzler (und Quantenbiologe) ein Handelsabkommen mit Russland eingeht, solange solare Technologie und Lagerung einbezogen sind.

That having been said, let me further say that I have absolutely no desire to comment on the foolishness of Hillary Clinton (who seems to be revealing herself as an underground “Goldwater Girl again).

Further, I have no real interest in American history. However, when our politicians start playing games with the Constitution and act like a freakish cult in public, I feel forced to do something. Therefore, I am publishing the transcript of an interview showing how Donald Trump is very much like Andrew Johnson, the previous legitimately impeached President.

The trial took place way back in 1868 (in the U.S. that is a long time) of the successor to Abraham Lincoln. Understand that at that time the Republicans were closer to the Democrats of today: the positions were, in other words, reversed. There is no doubt that Trump should be tossed out of the white house on his ass, but we can only wait for the inevitable outcome. This interview, however, is most important and enlightening (I even learned from it) and so I am publishing here after checking the facts. Every detail in important and accurate and the only one left out is that in those days the Vice President was a member of the opposition party. This may explain at least part of the motivation for Lincoln’s death.

After a nearly 13-hour marathon session, the U.S. Senate approved by a party-line vote the rules for the impeachment trial of President Trump. This marks just the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. The Senate trial comes a month after the House impeached Trump for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. Under the rules, each side will be given 24 hours over a three-day period for opening arguments. Senators also agreed to automatically admit evidence from the House inquiry into the trial record. Republicans rejected 11 amendments from Democrats to subpoena witnesses and documents at this stage in the trial. Democrats were attempting to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Department and the Office of Management and Budget. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke early on Tuesday laying out the Democrats’ case for impeachment. “President Trump is accused of coercing a foreign leader into interfering in our elections to benefit himself, and then doing everything in his power to cover it up,” Schumer said. “If proved, the president’s actions are crimes against democracy itself. It’s hard to imagine a greater subversion of our democracy than for powers outside our borders to determine the elections from within.” For more, we speak with Manisha Sinha, professor of American history at the University of Connecticut and author of “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition.”

Proposterous

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 13, 2020

PREPOSTEROUS

THE ABSURD TIMES

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Latuff: Iraqi votes unanimously for U.S. to leave

Preposterous
We are told that we made the world, and certainly the U.S. safer by assassinating Ghassem Suleimani. It is not widely known that, at the same time, Trump also tried to kill another Iranian leader, this time in Yemen. We do know, but don’t really seem to care, that we killed a major Iraqi figure who was with Sulemani at the same time, only he was an Iraqi. Also not much attention is being paid to the fact that the Iraqi Parliament unanimously voted to kick the Americans out. We also denied the Foreign Minister, or perhaps the President, of Iran a visa to address the United Nations. (Well, what use is the United Nations except to bring revenue to New York?) Also, the “Green Zone” in Baghdad was torn up and a commercial airliner shot down.

That is just a quick summary of the first or second week of the New Year under Trump. Just recently, Pompeo elaborated a bit. He said that several embassies were under “imminent” attack. He would not define the word, but came up with another word that I would really like to hear defined. He said that Iran had to act like a “normal” country. That was a good time to spit out the coffee or something like that in reaction. Now, what does a “normal” country act like?” Well, obviously like the United States since Trump got elected? Now come on, you don’t really mean that, now, do you? I mean, I know this guy grew up in Kansas and all, but that is no excuse for this sort of double-talk. Or maybe it is. Yeah, Iran should act more normal, right.

Now, other information suggests that Suleimani was actually delivering a response from the “Supreme Leader” (no, not Trump) through Iraq in response to one from Saudi Arabia. Now this would be an imminent danger, no doubt, given our foreign policy, but that is not clear. It is clear that Iran does not have much confidence in the U.S. as it did react to the place sited on radar and thought it might be an incoming missle and therefore shot it down. Idiots tell me that it is easy to tell the difference between a commercial airliner and an incoming missle, but with such a short distance and having only 10 seconds to react, it is unlikely that one would take any chances.

One thing that has actually confused me during this entire process is that so-called “rational” people in the discussion have to preface any discussion of how stupid the assassination was have to preface their arguments by saying all sorts of negative things about him, things like “Now he was a bad man, but…” and “He does have American blood on his hands, but…”, before explaining how stupid this whole process was. Now, if he did have good ol’ apple pie blood on his hands and kill Americans, where did he do that? I haven’t heard any reports from Pittsburgh or San Jose, not even Delaware. Just where did he do all this bloody stuff to Americans? Or are we upset with the fact that he attacked ISIS as they were ours to attack? Even so, how did he get our blood on his hands? I realize that Iran has our oil, as is the case also in Iraq and Syria, hidden under their ground, but that really isn’t blood, now, is it?

Oh, and next week the Impeachment Trial should start. It is fixed. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this all is the desire to have John Bolton testify. Now, those who want him to testify may not really understand what they are dealing with. He should be limited to Ukraine in his testimony, but how would you stop him once he got going. Now trump is more or less a sociopath and can therefore be trusted to do whatever he thinks will benefit him. Bolton leans more towards being a Psychopath and, even worse, or more dangerously, is intelligent, has a fairly good memory and failing that is a compulsive note taker. He has never met a war he didn’t like (as long as he didn’t have to get shot at personally) and everything will proceed on this premise: War is good. Bomb other countries, and so on. Bomb Congress if you have to in order to bomb other countries. Any idea that interferes with his main premise need to be destroyed. So, both Democrats and “republicans” had best figure out a strategy to deal with him before he is sworn in. (No, I’m not even going to go into the idiocy of watching Senators swear to be unbiased and fair – if you believe that they will, nothing said here will mean anything to you.)

We have a few related things to discuss. When I first mentioned elsewhere that Iran indeed had shot down its own commercial airplane, many rose up to scream, idiotically, that an airliner looks much different than does a missle. Well, no, not on a radar screen right after launching several missles at the enemy and suspecting a reprisal attack and having 10 seconds to decide.

What one needs to do in these situations where you have no other information is to put yoourself in the mind of the person responsible. Now, suppose you are in the airport tower where you give takeoff approval in such situations. Imagine also that you are aware of the attacks just recently and the pilot said “asks permission to take off”. I think I would have said something to the effect of “No way, man, no way, not now”. Who would think it was a good idea to fly a commercial aircraft in such tense times?

Also, the Iraqi parliament voted unanimously to kick the U.S. out.

Finally, the commander in chief, though he claims not to take drugs or drink, seems very much under the influence of some sorts of narcotics, prescribed or otherwise. The slurring of speech, the transposition of consonants within sentences, and the varying justifications of the same incident within hours all seem very unlike his past behavior (of several months ago). While the drugs may have been prescribed, he is easily capable of self-medcating. They are, one could argue, mind-altering substances (and few would argue against that), one would imagine that if there is one mind that needed altering, it was his. At any rate, he is mentally sinking.

Fun

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 9, 2020

Assassination

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 5, 2020


THE ABSURD TIMES

The following is by Paul Duncan, an ex-patriot from Canada to England (hiya, Boris!). Another take on motives for assassination. [We still think it’s to avoid impeachment. Bolton said it was long planned, but Psychopaths tend to believe what they say – actually, he wanted this for years. Paul has a growing following in the U.S. and world wide.

The Out And Abouter

– SATIRE, COMMENTARY, SATIRICAL COMMENTARY –

SUNDAY, JANUARY 5TH, 2020|

SEARCH FOR…

NEWS

Grizzled US Soldier Deploys For His Third Tour Of Re-Elections

BY PAUL DUNCAN ON JANUARY 3, 2020 • ( 3 COMMENTS )

Less than an hour after U.S. President Donald Trump paused between dessert courses at Mar-a-Lago to order a lethal air strike on an Iranian general last night, Staff Sergeant Treble Duaters was packing his bags and preparing to deploy to the latest in his third tours of re-elections.

“It is what it is,” the stoic soldier says, declining to say where he’s going, but nodding when asked if it has a q in it and rhymes with the word ‘distract’.

“From the moment we sign up, we all know that when the leader of our country comes due for a second term, we’ll be going somewhere far away to risk our lives killing people who have very little to do with any of that.”

Duaters was sent to Turkey in 2012 to help Obama look decisive in protecting allies from Assad. And as a fresh-faced man of 18 in 2004, he embarked on a mission to Yemen as part of George W. Bush’s once-declared-finished-but-still-going-16-years-later War On Terror.

“At least I know this will be my last re-election campaign,” the sergeant said, as he arrived at a bustling Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, in the dark hours of this morning.

“Some of these guys are young. Who knows where they could end up being sent over the course of their careers. North Korea? Canada? Space?”

He trails off for a minute as we approach the airfield from which he’ll be departing in just a few short hours, and then adds:

“But that’s what we gotta do. Keeping America great, right?”

It’s unclear whether he is saying this sincerely or ironically. In any event, he receives no answer.

Note: Credit to the cartoonistTim Hamilton, who provided the inspiration for this satirical post with the below cartoon, published inThe New Yorker in June, 2019.

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Assassination

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 5, 2020

THE ABSURD TIMES

The following is by Paul Duncan, an ex-patriot from Canada to England (hiya, Boris!). Another take on motives for assassination. [We still think it’s to avoid impeachment. Bolton said it was long planned, but Psychopaths tend to believe what they say – actually, he wanted this for years. Paul has a growing following in the U.S. and world wide.

The Out And Abouter

– SATIRE, COMMENTARY, SATIRICAL COMMENTARY –

SUNDAY, JANUARY 5TH, 2020|

SEARCH FOR…

NEWS

Grizzled US Soldier Deploys For His Third Tour Of Re-Elections

BY PAUL DUNCAN ON JANUARY 3, 2020 • ( 3 COMMENTS )

Less than an hour after U.S. President Donald Trump paused between dessert courses at Mar-a-Lago to order a lethal air strike on an Iranian general last night, Staff Sergeant Treble Duaters was packing his bags and preparing to deploy to the latest in his third tours of re-elections.

“It is what it is,” the stoic soldier says, declining to say where he’s going, but nodding when asked if it has a q in it and rhymes with the word ‘distract’.

“From the moment we sign up, we all know that when the leader of our country comes due for a second term, we’ll be going somewhere far away to risk our lives killing people who have very little to do with any of that.”

Duaters was sent to Turkey in 2012 to help Obama look decisive in protecting allies from Assad. And as a fresh-faced man of 18 in 2004, he embarked on a mission to Yemen as part of George W. Bush’s once-declared-finished-but-still-going-16-years-later War On Terror.

“At least I know this will be my last re-election campaign,” the sergeant said, as he arrived at a bustling Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, in the dark hours of this morning.

“Some of these guys are young. Who knows where they could end up being sent over the course of their careers. North Korea? Canada? Space?”

He trails off for a minute as we approach the airfield from which he’ll be departing in just a few short hours, and then adds:

“But that’s what we gotta do. Keeping America great, right?”

It’s unclear whether he is saying this sincerely or ironically. In any event, he receives no answer.

Note: Credit to the cartoonistTim Hamilton, who provided the inspiration for this satirical post with the below cartoon, published inThe New Yorker in June, 2019.

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War and Twinkie-brain

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 3, 2020

THE ABSURD TIMES

By Latuff: Motivation

War and Twinkie-Brain

by

Czar Donic

Hey, I’m tired, ok, got it? Cut it out!

Now Twinkle Toes Trump has assassinated the second most powerful person in Iran, Qasem Soleimani, and the man who did to most, next to Assad, to defeat ISIS. We were not there at the time, but he was. He was popular in Iraq and Iran. As a result of this abject stupidity, Iran will definitely strike back, and it can strike back just about anywhere: Lebanon, Gaza, West Bank, Iraq, Europe, and these are just the launching points. The tragets could be any one of these as well as Israel, Saudi Arabia, that’s right, I forgot Yemen for a moment. So what is the purpose of this?

Why stir up so much shit, shit-for-brains? Well, obviously, it is intended to help divert attention from the Impeachment – nothing like a nice war with American troops getting killed to derail an impeachment. It also is helpful often to call to the public to rally around the flag and re-elect him. It should not be lost that the first thing he tweeted out was photo of the U.S. Flag. Now, you can print it out and rally around it.

If you want to hear about all the points that make this bold, patriotic, and lovely, all you have to do is tune into Fox. Also, Hannity is available on radio as well. And get ready for this: the only sane voice on Fox is now Geraldo who knows some of what is going on.

If you are looking for sane and competent reporters on the air, you have only Arwa Damon of CNN and Robert Engels of NBC. Both are fluent in Arabic as well and know what is going on. Arwa is more perceptive and Richard more analytical. Arwa seems more accurate, but both are at least sufficient.

An ally of Iran is Russia, just in case you wonder. Also, we could have a Depression soon if Twinkle-toes continues on his present path. Anyway, here are a few people who lay out some of the basics:

* * *

The United States has assassinated Iranian commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in a major escalation of the conflict between Iran and the United States, which now threatens to engulf Iraq and the Middle East. President Trump authorized the drone strike that killed Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport and four other people, including a high-level Iraqi militia chief, Thursday night U.S. time, Friday morning in Baghdad. Iran called Soleimani’s assassination an act of “international terrorism.” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, “The U.S. bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.” The Pentagon justified Soleimani’s assassination as a defensive strike, saying the general was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” The Pentagon did not offer evidence of an upcoming planned attack. We get response from Iranian scholar Trita Parsi, who is executive vice president of the Quincy Institute, a new think tank.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The United States has assassinated the Iranian commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in a major escalation of the conflict between Iran and the United States, which now threatens to engulf Iraq and the Middle East. President Trump authorized the drone strike that killed Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport. It killed also four other people, including a high-level Iraqi militia chief. This happened Thursday night U.S. time, Friday morning in Baghdad.

General Soleimani has long been one of the most powerful figures in Iran. He was the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force — Iran’s powerful foreign military force, similar to a combination of the CIA and U.S. Special Forces.

Iran called Soleimani’s assassination an act of “international terrorism.” The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, quote, “The U.S. bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.” The Pentagon said, quote, “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” The Pentagon did not offer evidence of an upcoming Iranian planned attack.

After the assassination, President Trump tweeted from Mar-a-Lago, where he is golfing, in Florida, at his resort. He tweeted an image of an American flag.

Democratic lawmakers slammed the assassination as unconstitutional, as Trump did not have congressional authority to carry out the strike. Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy tweeted, “Did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”

Both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush had rejected the idea of killing Soleimani, out of fears it would lead to outright war between the U.S. and Iran. This is Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking after the assassination.

AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI: [translated] If the Islamic Republic decides to challenge and fight a country, it will do so unequivocally. We are strongly committed to our country’s interests and our peace. We are strongly committed to the dignity of our country. We are strongly committed to the progress and greatness of our country. And if anyone threatens that, we will, without any hesitation, confront it and strike it.

AMY GOODMAN: The targeted assassination came after members of an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia and its supporters attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and set fire to a gatehouse, in response to a slew of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that killed two dozen members of the Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Kata’ib Hezbollah. These strikes were in retaliation for the killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack in Kirkuk, Iraq, a week ago. The head of Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was also killed in the drone strike.

The New York Times reports General Soleimani had flown into Baghdad from Syria in order to urge Iranian-backed militias in Iraq to do more to stop the wave of anti-Iran protests that have swept Iraq in recent months. The militias are already accused of killing and disappearing protesters and human rights activists.

The Pentagon has sent more than 14,000 U.S. troops to the region since May. The U.S. is now warning American civilians to leave Iraq immediately.

The attack has sparked fear and alarm in Iraq and across the world. France’s deputy minister for foreign affairs said this morning, “We are waking up in a more dangerous world,” unquote. Tensions between the United States and Iran have been escalating since President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark Iran nuclear deal and imposed crushing economic sanctions on Iran. In response to the assassination, protests are planned Saturday in at least 30 cities across the U.S. as part of a National Day of Action: U.S. Troops Out of Iraq.

Well, for more, we’re going to begin in Washington, D.C., with Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the new think tank, the Quincy Institute. His most recent book, Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy, he’s also the author of A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Trita Parsi.

TRITA PARSI: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to the assassination of Soleimani?

TRITA PARSI: I think a couple of former Obama officials on TV yesterday put it best when they said that this is an act of war. And it’s an act of war that took place without any consultation with Congress, any approval from Congress, any authorization from Congress. It’s fascinating to see that the last couple of days Pompeo has been spending a lot of time talking to the foreign ministers and the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel, and not until today did he actually start making phone calls to the Europeans and others.

So, this is something that is going to be a major point of escalation. It’s a decision that I think ultimately has made America less, rather than more, safe. I think that’s clear from the decision by the State Department today to urge all Americans to immediately leave Iraq. Rather than ending these endless wars, that Trump promised his base that he would do, he is sending more troops to the Middle East, he is doing things that is further destabilizing the Middle East, and that will probably trap American servicemen and women in the Middle East for a longer period of time.

AMY GOODMAN: John Bolton, the former national security adviser, tweeted, “Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani. Long in the making, this was a decisive blow against Iran’s malign Quds Force activities worldwide. Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.” Trita Parsi?

TRITA PARSI: So, it’s clear now that even without John Bolton in the White House, Trump has surrounded himself with so many neoconservatives, or people who are very close in their thinking to the neoconservatives, that he is continuously getting advice that is very similar to the advice that the Bush administration was given went it came to the invasion of Iraq. And Bolton has for long urged not only war with Iran, but regime change in Iran, and has been pushing the United States to go in that direction. And I think part of the reason why many of these war hawks are celebrating on Twitter today is not because they think that this actually was a decisive blow to Iran or a decisive blow to the IRGC; I think it’s because they view this as a point of irreversible escalation. After this, there can only be more escalation and, ultimately, war. And that’s what they’re celebrating.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Trita, because I know you have to leave — this is such a significant day today here in the United States, in Iraq and all over the world — if you could explain: Who is Soleimani?

TRITA PARSI: So, Soleimani is head of the Quds Force, which is the external arm of the IRGC. IRGC itself has a tremendous amount of problems inside of Iran, because we’ve seen how they have been involved in the repression of the Iranian people. We’ve seen that just in the last couple of weeks. But Soleimani was head of its external activities. And as a result, he was receiving — he had an image that was separate from that of the IRGC. Polls made by U.S. entities have shown that he had popularity levels around 70% inside of Iran, which is largely because a large part of that population viewed him as a key reason as to why ISIS was defeated, a key reason as to why that type of a radicalism and terrorism did not reach Iran. So, this is not going to be something, I think, that will hurt the regime. On the contrary, I think they will utilize this in order to be able to consolidate their power and, on top of that, move the Iranian government in a much more repressive, as well as hawkish, direction than it was before.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, of course, the U.S. is calling him a terrorist; Iran, a hero. Talk about Soleimani’s significance around the world and the fact that both Obama, who you’ve written extensively about, and George W. Bush, though they too had the opportunity, did not assassinate him.

TRITA PARSI: Because they recognized that that would be such a major escalation that it likely would lead to war. It doesn’t mean that they, in any way, shape or form, had a positive view of Soleimani, but they did recognize, I think, that he is revered in corners in the Middle East that may be outside of the control of Iran. And as a result, even if the Trump administration and the government of Iran would end up in a scenario in which both of them would like to de-escalate the situation, they may not be able to do so, because they may not be able to control other entities that will seek to take revenge for Soleimani’s assassination by killing Americans. And as a result, their ability to put out this fire may be much, much more limited. I think the Bush administration and the Obama administration recognized this and, as a result, chose not to go in this direction, because they recognized how uncontrollable the situation would be.

AMY GOODMAN: Trita Parsi, we want to thank you so much for being with us, executive vice president of the new antiwar think tank, the Quincy Institute. Trita’s latest book is titled Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy, also author of A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran. He is an Iranian-American author and scholar.

I want to turn now to Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, joining us via Democracy Now! video stream from Istanbul, Turkey. Ghaith, we talked to you yesterday about the protests in Iraq. This was right before the assassination of Soleimani. If you can describe the significance in your country, in Iraq? What does this mean? The U.S. assassination of Soleimani occurred at the Baghdad airport.

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: [inaudible]

AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith, we have to go to a break because we’re not quite hearing you, and then we’re going to come back to you. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, correspondent for The Guardian newspaper. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with him in a minute.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

We continue our discussion of the U.S. assassination of Iranian commander Major General Qassem Soleimani with Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna of California. Khanna says he believes the assassination was planned for some time and that Congress has failed to hold the Trump administration accountable. “I believe that the president’s policies are putting us in tremendous danger, and the motives are almost not relevant. What’s relevant is that he acted in a way that’s unconstitutional,” Khanna says.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue on this day after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian commander, major general, number two almost in Iran, a major escalation of the conflict between Iran and the United States, which now threatens to engulf Iraq and the Middle East. We are going to Ro Khanna, who is the Democratic congressmember from Silicon Valley in California, member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Your response, as you join us by telephone, to what has just taken place, Congressmember Khanna?

REP. RO KHANNA: Amy, this is what many of us feared. As you know, I had an amendment in the National Defense Authorization that would have prevented Iran from having — any offensive attack against Iran and any funding for that attack. That amendment was stripped from the final bill at the Pentagon’s insistence. My belief is that the Pentagon has had this kind of activity in the works and planned for a while, and they have not come to Congress. But the tragedy is that Congress has not insisted on having that authorization.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain. Explain what has just happened. You, along with Senator Bernie Sanders, fiercely condemned the bipartisan passage of the Pentagon spending bill, the overall spending bill. Why do you believe this allowed for the assassination?

REP. RO KHANNA: There was an amendment in that bipartisan bill, that had passed the House of Representatives, that would have prevented the Congress from authorizing any funding for an offensive strike against Iran, including any Iranian official. That clear language was saying that the president, the Pentagon had to come to Congress before taking any offensive action. This is clearly an offensive action. It may be an action of retaliation, but it’s an offensive action. It’s not an action of self-defense where there was imminent harm. And this is exactly what the amendment would have prohibited. That is why the Pentagon pushed back incredibly hard on keeping that amendment in the National Defense Authorization. The White House pushed back incredibly hard. And the amendment was removed, even though the House had passed it and even though a majority of senators had supported it. The amendment didn’t make it into the final bill. And I believe that was a signal to the Pentagon that Congress wasn’t going to stand up against this kind of action in Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Khanna, you tweeted, “Soleimani has blood on his hands. So did Saddam Hussein. But we shouldn’t have gone to war in Iraq. And we now must not in Iran.” Can you elaborate?

REP. RO KHANNA: Surely. I mean, no one is arguing that Soleimani hasn’t done certain terrible things. I mean, he has orchestrated campaigns. He has possibly ordered the killing of Americans. And that is a — he’s not a good person. Neither was Saddam Hussein. Neither was Gaddafi.

The question, though, is first constitutional. The United States doesn’t go and start wars without congressional authorization, and that didn’t happen here. And second, the question is: What is an appropriate response in terms of keeping us safe and not allowing terrorism to spread? And what we have seen is that the “war on terrorism” over the last 20 years has been a failure. Terrorism has spread. It’s 5,000% up and spread around the world since this “war on terror” has started. And we’ve spent trillions of dollars in these wars, that could have gone into other initiatives to make our country stronger.

AMY GOODMAN: This is —

REP. RO KHANNA: And so, my —

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.

REP. RO KHANNA: So, my point is that, you know, just because someone may be a bad actor doesn’t mean that the United States can go to war without congressional authorization.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking on CNN just before we went to broadcast.

SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO: I’ve watched these protests over the last weeks. They weren’t burning American flags. They were demanding that the Iraqi political leadership stop their kleptocracy, stop their political shenanigans. And Qassem Soleimani was at the center of that. He was driving bad outcomes for the Iraqi people. He was causing many Muslims in the region to be killed. I saw last night there was dancing in the streets in parts of Iraq. We have every expectation that people, not only in Iraq, but in Iran, will view the American action last night as giving them freedom, freedom to have the opportunity for success and prosperity for their nations. And while the political leadership may not want that, the people in these nations will demand it.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Khanna, your response?

REP. RO KHANNA: The justification for American military intervention, that somehow we’re going to bring freedom, that somehow the people in those countries wanted it, but if Secretary Pompeo really was convinced about that, why didn’t he come to Congress to make this case? His argument is that this doesn’t seem to be an imminent attack. He’s arguing that this was a planned attempt to help bring greater freedom to Iran or to the people there. And if that was the case, he should make that case to the United States Congress. But he knows that if he had made that case to the Congress, Congress wouldn’t have authorized this kind of offensive attack.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Khanna, Michael Moore — right? — the Oscar-winning filmmaker, tweeted this New York Times front page from December 17, 1998, with the front-page banner headline “Impeachment Vote in House Delayed as Clinton Launches Iraq Air Strike, Citing Military Need to Move Swiftly.” Are we seeing echoes of the past? You have right now, today, the Senate majority leader, with the Senate coming back today, speaking about impeachment. You have the OMB releasing all of these emails that show the direct line to President Trump stopping the aid to Ukraine, which, of course, was about investigating his political rival, Joe Biden. Is this a wag-the-dog situation?

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, no, I don’t want to speculate on motives without evidence, but I think the facts are bad in themselves. And here is the facts — here are the facts as we know it. This president and his advisers have been itching for an escalation with Iran from the day he took office. He got us out of the JCPOA, the agreement we had with Iran that was leading to greater peace. He declared the Iran Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. He has engaged in constant escalation and skirmishes. And this is the highest escalation. So, I believe that the president’s policies are putting us in tremendous danger. And the motives are almost not relevant. What’s relevant is he’s acted in a way that’s unconstitutional. He is potentially getting us in another endless war. And he’s getting us into the Middle East in another intervention, when he promised exactly the opposite on the campaign trail.

AMY GOODMAN: Bernie Sanders tweeted an hour ago, “I was right about Vietnam. I was right about Iraq. I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran. I apologize to no one.” You are co-chair of his campaign, Ro Khanna. Last 10 seconds, your final words?

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, this is why we need Bernie Sanders as president. He is — he had warned against Iraq. In fact, the Iraq invasion strengthened Iran in the region. He will stop these unconstitutional wars. And he had the courage to vote against the National Defense Authorization and to anticipate this situation. He had warned, as had some of us in Congress, that we needed to restrict this president before the president took this kind of action.

AMY GOODMAN: California Congressmember Ro Khanna, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. RO KHANNA: Thank you.

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fter the United States assassinated Iranian commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in a major escalation of the conflict between Iran and the United States, which now threatens to engulf Iraq and the Middle East, we get response from Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, who says the U.S. killing of Soleimani was reckless. “Did anyone consult Iraqis about the assassination of Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi soil?” he asks. “We don’t want another round of civil war.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: In 2011, before he was president, Donald Trump tweeted, quote, “In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran.” This is Trump saying the same thing in a video he posted online in 2011.

DONALD TRUMP: Our president will start a war with Iran, because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He’s weak, and he’s ineffective. So the only way he figures that he’s going to get re-elected, and as sure as you’re sitting there, is to start a war with Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Trump. We’re going back right now to Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, the correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, joining us via Democracy Now! video stream from Istanbul, Turkey. What you understand is happening on the ground now in Iraq amongst Iraqis, and if you can also respond to what then not President Trump, before he was president, Donald Trump said about Obama wanting to start a war with Iran to get re-elected?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: I mean, in Baghdad, there is a real anxiety. I mean, I love Secretary Pompeo when he talks about freedom for Iraqis. I mean, these words are so absurd, so meaningless. I mean, what freedom? Did anyone consult Iraqis about the assassination of Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi soil? I mean, this is an act of war, an act of war committed on the land of another country. We are no fan of Qassem Soleimani or Iran, but at the same time we don’t want another war, another round of civil war happening in Iraq.

What you have at the situation — we spoke about this yesterday, Amy — is you have a very delicate confrontation taking place between different elements of Shia political power, different Shia militias. Those are anti-Iran, and those who want a kind of a more independent Iraqi role. In between comes the United States and assassinates the biggest Iranian general in the region. There will be a reaction from the Iranians in Iraq. There will be a reaction from the Iranian militias in Iraq. And this reaction will happen on Iraqi soil. It will not happen in New York. It will not happen in D.C. It will happen in my country.

And this is why this is such a dangerous game. I mean, it is a repetitive game of what we heard in 2003, of what I heard when I was a child in 1991 and of all of the wars in between. And this is very dangerous. Yes, there were some dancing scenes, because like five, six people, the same number of people who chanted when the Americans rolled through Baghdad. I mean, don’t they read history? Don’t they know that none of these military actions that have been taking place, from the ’90s ’til today, led to more peace? I mean, I totally agree with your previous speaker, that 15, 20 years after the “war on terrorism,” what have we achieved? We have ISIS on the outskirts of Baghdad. We had cities destroyed. I mean, when did ever war achieve anything good in this region?

AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, you have Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated. Also, the head of the Popular Mobilization Forces was also assassinated. I think, altogether, there were five people killed at Baghdad airport. The significance of this?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: It’s huge significance. And again, it has two layers of significance, one in terms of the confrontation between the United States and Iraq. On the other layer, it will be a confrontation between pro-Iranian elements within the militias, within PMUs, the Popular Mobilization Units, the hashd, so-called, and more Iraqi moderate elements in the — I mean, we’ve heard Ayatollah Sistani come today in the sermon and condemn the attack, but called for caution, called for preserving Iraq from internal conflict. Everyone is trying to create this middle path for Iraq, but it will be very difficult. And I’ve been talking to activists in the square. I’ve been talking to Iraqi journalists and writers. They’re all fearing that they will be the first target on these pro-Iranian militias. They will want to vent their anger on someone. They might not be able to attack the Americans, but they will definitely be able to attack Iraqi, you know, pro-democracy, anti-Iranian people in the streets.

AMY GOODMAN: So, The New York Times is reporting, Ghaith, that General Soleimani had flown into Baghdad from Syria in order to urge Iranian-backed militias in Iraq to do more to stop the wave of anti-Iran protests that have swept Iraq in recent months. You talked about this yesterday, these protests. But if you could respond to that?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: I mean, I haven’t read this report particularly, but we know that Qassem Soleimani, certain elements and some pro-Iranian elements in the Iraqi militias and the Iraqi government have been very vocal and very lethal in confronting these demonstrations. I mean, we know about kidnappings, we know about disappearances, we know about snipers shooting at demonstrators — a repetition of the way that demonstrations in Iran were quelled. So, we know that these elements were very highly involved in trying to oppress these demonstrations. But as I said yesterday, kind of like these demonstrations managed to put these pro-Iranian elements on the back foot. What the attack on these mobilization units on the border with Syria and now this attack on Qassem Soleimani is suddenly giving them, the — you know, the raison d’être to respond and to be more vocal and more violent in their response.

AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, what do you see happening now? You have the French Foreign Ministry saying we have woken up to or more dangerous morning. In Britain, the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has condemned the assassination. One Democratic leader after another in the United States, the Democrats are saying that the U.S. didn’t approve of this. What do you see happening at this point?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: For the past decade, there have been a kind of a — kind of a way both Iranians and the Americans were confronting each other, but there was lines, rules for the game, in which each tried to avoid an open confrontation, an open war. I think these rules have just collapsed today. I do not see how another round of violence is not going to grip the Middle East. I don’t see how Iraq will prosper in peace. I don’t see Iranians being saved from the next round of violence. And this is very maddening and very dangerous — it’s not dangerous. “Dangerous” is an underestimation. This is criminal. I mean, I have been reporting on the last 16 years of war in Iraq. I’m flying back to Baghdad to cover the next round of fighting in Iraq. So, this is not kind of assumptions or theories; this is the reality. You have tens of thousands of armed pro-Iranian militias. You have tens of thousands of anti-Iranian forces. And then what do you do? You’ll have a confrontation. You’ll have a war. It’s a war by proxy, in a region that’s crippled by war. So it’s maddening. It’s maddening how this is allowed to happen.

AMY GOODMAN: And let’s be clear, these pro-Iranian militias, they are Iraqi. They are part of the Iraqi security forces. And in fact, while they targeted U.S. forces for years, they then went on to target ISIS. Is that right, Ghaith?

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: Of course. I mean, these units were largely established after ISIS’ conquest of one-third of Iraq. They were formed, they were trained, equipped by the Iranians. And they fought, and they are still fighting, against ISIS. Now, yes, they are involved in violence against Iraqis. Yes, they are, you know, accused of corruption, financial corruption, whatever you want to call it. But, yes, they are part of official Iraqi military structure. I mean, I’ve talked to — there is a lot of resentment towards these forces amongst Iraqi officers, but that doesn’t change the issue that — the point that they are part of the established Iraqi military structure. And you know what? During the battle against ISIS, I witnessed at least two incidents in which American airstrikes came in support — not officially, unofficially — came in support of these militias when they really needed help on the outskirts — unofficially — when they needed help on the outskirts of Mosul. So, both of these units have been fighting a common enemy. The common enemy is almost gone, and now we’re having a situation where the Americans want to settle their scores with the Iranians, in the most idiotic way, if I may say so. I apologize.

AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, I want to thank you for being with us, Iraqi correspondent for The Guardian newspaper. We’re speaking to him in Istanbul, Turkey. He is headed into Iraq to report for The Guardian. Please be safe.

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We host a roundtable discussion on the U.S. assassination of Iranian commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, who has long been one of the most powerful figures in Iran. He was the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force — Iran’s powerful foreign military force, similar to a combination of the CIA and U.S. Special Forces. Iran called Soleimani’s assassination an act of “international terrorism.” “It was probably the best, the fastest, the quickest way to have a unifying rallying cry for the Iranian political establishment,” notes Iranian journalist Negar Mortazavi. We are also joined by historian Ervand Abrahamian, author of “The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations,” and Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of “Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we continue our roundtable discussion after the U.S. assassinated the Iranian commander, basically number two in Iran, Major General Qassem Soleimani, a major escalation in the Iran-U.S. conflict, now threatening to engulf Iraq and the Middle East. We are also joined by Negar Mortazavi, who is an Iranian-American journalist in Washington, D.C. Ervand Abrahamian is with us here, too, a historian at City University of New York, author of several books, including The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations. And Phyllis Bennis in Washington, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, who has written the book, among many others, Understanding the US-Iran Crisis.

Negar, let’s start with you. Is this attack on Soleimani going to unite people across the political spectrum in Iran?

NEGAR MARTAZAVI: It definitely is, and it already has. We see various political factions inside Iran — I’m not talking about dissidents or the opposition base outside, but the political factions that are operating within the country, including the ones who are considered opposition to the government who had been cracked down during the 2009 Green Movement. Some have been to jail but still are operating inside the country. We see messages of condolences. We see messages of condemnation coming from almost every faction. This includes the reformists, the moderate factions and, of course, the hard-liners, who saw Qassem Soleimani as a hero. So, it was probably the best, the fastest, the quickest way to have a unifying and rallying cry for Iranian political establishment.

AMY GOODMAN: Phyllis Bennis, as a U.S. activist, scholar, organizer, your response to what has taken place?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: You know, Amy, I think what’s very important for us to remember is that history is shaped by when you start the clock. This crisis, this escalation did not begin with the killing of one U.S. military contractor last week. We still don’t know who was responsible for that strike. But this was not the beginning of the escalation as we’re being told in much of the mainstream media. This crisis goes directly back to the Trump administration decision, that was implemented in 2018, to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. That’s what destroyed the potential for a diplomatic, rather than war-based, approach in the region. I don’t think that this attack was a reflection of a new strategic approach on the part of the Trump administration. There’s no evidence that this actually was based on a strategic approach at all. So I think that we have to be very clear at looking at the trajectory from 2018, from the withdrawal of the Iran nuclear deal, right up through the increasing tensions that have led to potentials for clashes between the U.S. and Iran and between U.S. allies and Iran throughout the region.

And we now have reached the most reckless, the most dangerous provocation that we’ve seen so far. There’s a very serious possibility that this action, which will force some kind of Iranian reaction — we don’t know what it will be. We don’t know what form it will take, whether it will be a direct military attack on a U.S. base, on a U.S. ally, whether it might take the form of cyberattacks of one sort or another. But we know there will be a response.

And then the question will be: What will be the response of the Trump administration to that? Are they prepared to set the region ablaze in another full-scale war that would pit the United States and its allies — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel, potentially others, some of the forces in Lebanon — against Iran and its allies throughout the region? This could be a devastating war, far greater militarily, if it came to that, than the already horrific history of the U.S. invasion and war in Iraq.

And to have done so without any care about congressional consultation, as we heard from Representative Ro Khanna a few minutes ago, the notion that this went forward without any effort to consult with Congress to get authorization — we should remember that the authorization that does exist, that did exist, for U.S. troops to be sent back to Iraq, was a very, very narrow decision, without direct authorization, but was based on a claim by the White House, by the Trump White House, that troops were being sent back only to challenge ISIS. This was not an attack on ISIS, as we’ve already heard. General Soleimani was one of the leading forces against ISIS, and his forces and the U.S. forces were on the same side in Iraq throughout much of the years of war against ISIS.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring in Ervand —

PHYLLIS BENNIS: So, there is no legitimacy here.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring in Ervand Abrahamian. You are a historian. You’ve long covered the U.S.-Iranian relationship, including 1953. That has no significance, that date, probably, for many people in the United States, but it’s the moment that the U.S. funded the overthrow of the democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh. To give that historical context, in this last minute we have, and the significance of it today, as you heard that Soleimani was killed — also, apparently, his son-in-law was killed, as well — by the U.S. at the Baghdad airport.

ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: Well, in the past, Iran has seen United States as a conspiratorial power that carries out coup. Now I think it’s become a different ball game. They can describe United States as a state terrorist power, that actually goes out and not only kills someone, but kills them at an international airport at a foreign country. This, by any definition, this would be described as terrorism. So, in that way, they have, actually, a new basically propaganda weapon to use against United States.

And I suspect what the National Security Council in Iran will do, instead of doing something rash — people are expecting some sort of military reaction, so — they think politically, and they are going to say what we’re going to do politically. And politically, they will use basically the whole issue to rally the public. There are elections in a few weeks’ time. The right-wing populist will sweep the elections. That will sweep away the more moderates who had been talking about peace negotiations and normalization. So, you’re going to have, in the long run, increasing tension. I don’t expect war in the near future, but if Trump is re-elected, I would say it’s 110% chance of war after that election.

But, meanwhile, I think the person who’s having the best laugh at this moment is the former caliph, al-Baghdadi, in his grave, because what the killing of Soleimani has done has actually provided a wonderful opportunity for ISIS to recover. There will be a resurgence of ISIS very much in Mosul, northern Iraq. And that, paradoxically, will help Iran, because the Iraqi government will have no choice but to rely more and more on Iran to be able to contain ISIS. After all, ISIS was contained earlier by the U.S., the Kurds and Iran. Trump has pulled —

AMY GOODMAN: These very militias

ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And these pro-Iranian Iraqi militias.

ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN: Yeah, yes. And Trump has pulled out of north Iraq, of the area where ISIS was, pulled the rug out from the Kurds, and now he’s declared war on the pro-Iranian militias. And the Iraqi Army has not been in the past capable of dealing with ISIS. So, the obvious thing is now, the Iraqi government, how are they going to deal with the revival of ISIS? Possibly they could turn to Russia, but I think Russia has its hands full in Libya and Syria, so they will have no choice but to actually rely more and more on Iran. So, Trump has actually undermined his own policy, if he wants to eliminate Iran’s influence in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to leave this discussion here, but of course we will continue it next week. I want to thank you, Ervand Abrahamian, a historian, a journalist. I want to thank Negar Mortazavi, the Iranian-American journalist, speaking to us from Washington. Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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