Daines as Dangerous as Ayatollahs is Less than Half the Story

by William Skink

There are some interesting underlying assumptions to unpack in Pete Talbot’s latest contribution to Intelligent Discontent, starting with the title: Daines, Republicans as Dangerous as the Ayatollahs. The post takes on the open letter to Iran 47 Republicans disgraced themselves by signing, a move so stupidly partisan even some Republicans admitted it was a dumb idea.

The first assumption is, obviously, that Iran is dangerous. The deal being developed includes a 10 year time-out on enrichment. There is already plenty of IAEA inspections happening, something a certain nation in the Middle East armed with a few hundred nukes can’t say. But it’s Iran that’s dangerous, despite cooler perspectives pointing out that there is scant evidence that Iran’s leadership is dangerously irrational and/or suicidal.

What people in this country have an especially difficult time understanding is that there is a very logical argument for Iran to achieve weaponized nuclear capacity, and that is the deterrent argument. Nations that give up chasing that deterrent, like Libya, get decapitated and thrown into chaos, thanks to all those gosh darn optimistic humanitarian interventionists suckered by monsters like Hillary.

Pete’s post is a reaction to an interview with Steve Daines on some lesser propaganda platform than Fox News. Daines signed the letter, and is therefore the predictably awful politician we know him to be. Not surprisingly, when the topic shifted to Venezuela, equally stupid ideas were discussed, including a dumb quote from Dick Morris:

Morris said that Venezuela leads an anti-U.S. coalition of countries in South America and the Caribbean, and that the administration could neutralize Venezuela by declaring an oil embargo on the country: “That would stop their oil sales and kill their economy in a matter of weeks.”

Good idea. After doing untold damage to the Middle East, let’s alienate all our neighbors to the south.

That is how the post ends. What is completely omitted is the executive action Obama took JUST THIS WEEK. I guess for that we’ll have to go to Counterpunch to read about how Obama is channeling his inner-Reagan:

On Monday, the White House took a new step toward the theater of the absurd by “declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela,” as President Barack Obama put it in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner.

It remains to be seen whether anyone in the White House press corps will have the courage to ask what in the world the nation’s chief executive could mean by that. Is Venezuela financing a coming terrorist attack on U.S. territory? Planning an invasion? Building a nuclear weapon?

Who do they think they are kidding? Some may say that the language is just there because it is necessary under U.S. law in order to impose the latest round of sanctions on Venezuela. That is not much of a defense, telling the whole world the rule of law in the United States is something the president can use lies to get around whenever he finds it inconvenient.

So who is alienating who? Who is really dangerous? Lesser-evilism keeps the focus squarely on Republicans. To do that, some important stuff gets omitted, and that’s too bad.

  1. Shoe, meet the other foot.

    “And you want to talk about treason? They were trying to undermine Reagan, who was arranging, trying to arrange freedom for the Nicaraguan people, vis-a-vis the freedom fighters there who were called the Contras. John Kerry was part of this. April 18th one year in 1980-some-odd, 1985,
    John Kerry and Tom Harkin traveled to Nicaragua to meet with Daniel Ortega. And through Kerry and Harkin, President Ortega offered a ceasefire agreement on the condition the US stop aiding the Contras. Reagan denounced the offer as a transparent propaganda initiative designed to influence an upcoming House vote on $14 million of Contra aid. But Kerry said, “I am willing to take the risk in the effort to put to test the good faith of the Sandinistas.”-Rush.

    • JC

      Funny that you think that to “arrange freedom” Reagan wanted to invalidate a democratic election that Ortega won with 67% of the vote. And that the CIA was going to sell drugs to buy guns for the contras. You may think Ollie North is a hero, but he’s just another corrupt convicted felon, rah-rah’ing for a version of patriotism that rots this country to the core.

      • Don’t like that one? How ’bout this one?

        “By the way, this letter, this letter pales in comparison to all of the similar times or the similar techniques that Democrats have engaged in. Ted Kennedy sent a letter to then Soviet leader Yuri Andropov apologizing for Ronald Reagan and begging the Soviets not to overreact, essentially saying that Reagan was a reckless cowboy and worse, that the Democrats are gonna do their best to rein him in. The Soviets were reminded he’s not gonna be president forever. Just be patient. We’re doing everything we can here.”-Rush.

          • I know how to use search engines, but thanks.

            It is my studied opinion that Ronald Reagan, a bit of a dolt, was merely the vehicle by which George H.W. Bush was leveraged into power. Reagan’s presidency effectively ended in April, 1981, when he was nearly murdered (the fleshette barely missed his heart), the patsy used the son of a Bush family friend. Ironic, no? Can they be more obvious?

            • Bush the older was also in on JFK’s death. Right Mark?

            • Stop and think. Any fool can easily see that Reagan was intellectually challenged, but that’s not important, as charisma was his selling point. In politics, that’s an effective governing tool.

              The president is nearly assassinated on March 30 (allegedly) by the son of a family friend of the Vice President, whose other son Scott is scheduled to have dinner with the Vice President’s son Neil on March 31. It’s America, so no one raises an eyebrow. It is treated as normal, none are suspicious, no one questions, business as usual. It is treated with deafening silence.

              This kind of credulity is neither native nor natural. It has to be manufactured. Only In America do we encounter such incuriosity. It’s as if the entire country has its brain under a wet blanket. I marvel at the phenomenon. This may be the stupidest country in recorded history.

              • There must be a country out there were it’s average intelligence meets your standards?

                Venezuela perhaps?

              • It’s not the native gifts we all have, but rather the system of indoctrination, that has dumbed Americans down. You are a perfect example, born smart and capable, but brought into awareness during the Cold War and scared silly by Commies under the bed and nukes and bomb shelters. That left your bright and capable mind addled by fear, and leaves you where you stand today, another Cold War casualty.

                The average Venezuelan, facing as they do the American power machine head on, knows far more of the world than the average American.

              • The average Venezuelan stands in line for toilet paper.

              • CIA right now is putting teh squeeze on the Venezuelan economy, and warehouses are under orders not to distribute goods. It’s SOP in any attempt at regime change, done everywhere on the planet, but always treated as the fault of the local population in our media.

                People have written several times in your earshot now about an Academi (Blackwater) bomber that was to have hit the capitol in Caracas as part of a coup d’etat in mid February, and military takeover. The Venezuelan government got wind of it and arrests followed. How you manage not to know about these things is part of your mystique.

    • We all know that Nicaragua was preparing to bomb Brownsville, Texas.

      • ISIS doesn’t have nukes.

      • The problem Swede is that you only see what you choose to see. People here have written tons about ISIS and its suspicious origins and financing and how the US appears to be engaged in a fake war to fight it. Don’t you think it odd that they deliberaly taunt stupid Americans with their beheading videos, almost like they are saying “Please, attack us! Pleae attack us!” Why would they do that? No one is that stupid! No one!

        All of this conversation goes on outside your awareness, so that you don’s have a clue how silly your “ISIS has nukes” statement sounds. We live in the same building, but your apartment in the basement is not wired well enough to pick up everything going on.

  2. JC

    What a nasty title for a blog post. The level of Islamophobia and xenophobia is sad. Not all ayatollahs are evil, just as not all catholic priests are pedophiles.

    Ayatollah Khamenei (current Supreme Leader of Iran) wrote in January of this year:

    “To the Youth in Europe and North America,

    The recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you about them. I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts.

    I don’t address your politicians and statesmen either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth.

    I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and hatred and its utilization has unfortunately a long record in the political history of the West.

    Here, I don’t want to deal with the different phobias with which the Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured in new historiographies.

    The histories of the United States and Europe are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars. This approach is admirable.

    By mentioning a fraction of this long list, I don’t want to reproach history; rather I would like you to ask your intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to the current problems? Why is it that attempts are made to prevent public awareness regarding an important issue such as the treatment of Islamic culture and thought?

    You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers. Now, I would like you to ask yourself why the old policy of spreading “phobia” and hatred has targeted Islam and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity. Why does the power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and remain latent? What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the super powers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting the image of Islam? …”

    Hardly the words of an evil man. And is speaking directly to the bigots of the west.

  3. It is very hard to have accumulated some intelligence and insight in a stupid country like this. All that happens is that a smart website like this takes on a Cassandra image, and people stop reading. The Democrats are gone now, Liz. They don’t feed here anymore. Pete will never read your words. They feed on each other, and avoid confrontation with smart critics. That’s why Pete writes at ID and not here. It”s moral cowardice, but very common.

    He’s got it going, reading the proper sources, thinking proper thoughts, too clueless to understand that he’s just another Neocon now. The only thing that distinguishes him from a typical Fox viewer is that he puts a D by his name.

    By the way, Swede drives me to drink, for which I thank him, but he takes his opponents on point blank. No cowardice in him.

    • petetalbot

      Hi Mark. I’m here, reading liz’s words. I quite often visit this site and find liz (William Skink, now) and JC’s posts and comments to be thoughtful. I don’t always agree with them but usually do. One of the main reasons I went over to ID was because Pogie blocks your comments. It makes for much better threads.

      • Ouch. Especially after letting Scary Larry monopolize most of the commenting.

      • Pogie, like you, likes to be stroked, told how smart and insightful he is, and never challenged to expand his thoughts into new territory. He’s been writing the same post in various forms for years now. You follow nicely.

        Who can live like that? I can’t. I like it when people challenge me. I can’t be hurt, but I can be set straight. The best blogger I ever encountered, Dave Budge, had sharp wit and the ability to cut deeply and leave a mark. It did not hurt that he was smart. I often left a conversation with him feeling abused and mistreated, even fearing encounters at times. I miss him.

        But people, and you are part of this, do not reason into beliefs, and so cannot be reasoned out. Your post at ID is merely a mindless regurgitation of our propaganda motif, mindless. But to get you to think about it requires that you be shaken in your boots, made angry, and perhaps endure some cognitive dissonance. It happens. It’s rare, but sometimes people stop and think. So far, you have not. You just hid yourself away.

        Usually, with American ‘thinkers’, there are three or four ways to approach them, shake them up, enlighten them, make them think. None work.

      • JC

        Pogie blocks my comments too. He thinks it makes for better reads, also. He won’t admit to it, but I’ve submitted a half dozen comments over the last 3 years or so, and none of them ever have gotten published. So I quit trying.

        • It’s pretty bland over there, but they do like stroking one another, as if mutual agreement is a form of discussion. Talbot’s pieces elicit exactly zero comments. Truth is, they don’t like to be shown up, not hard to do.

        • petetalbot

          I’m sorry to hear that, JC. I wouldn’t block ’em but then ID isn’t my site.

          • petetalbot

            Well, Mark, I guess ID could follow the 4&20 comment format: a post is written and Swede makes some right-wing, snarky comment. Then everyone piles on. Then Eric or Craig Moore make another right-wing comment, and everyone piles on. Then Mark insults someone, “no critical thinking, a pawn of the NY Times and NPR, no moral courage,” etc.

            Now that’s entertainment.

            A few posts ago, here’s Mark on himself: “It is hard to trust one’s sanity, intelligence, eyes and ears when others say different. But I do.” I’m just a mere mortal, often questioning my belief system and the causes I associate with. It must be great to be so sure of oneself; an all-knowing demigod, really.

          • The response was in regard to a question of my sanity, since evidence tells me the official story of 9/11 is illogical and unfathomable, utterly impossible. But if I say that, and I do, people attack me as being crazy for not believing the official lies of our times, so I have to have a grip, believe in myself and endure. That’s difficult, Pete, not being part of groupthink. You took that out of context.

            There’s no problem with the comments here. Swede and Craig are courageous to jump into the infested waters, even if I think they are all wrong. They get all their news from American sources, and just don’t see much of the world, but they bring it. They cannot see what they choose not to see. But they are bright and curious, and don’t hide from their opponents.

            You, on the other hand, are fearful, and so retreated into Pogie’s little nest. You don’t want to be confronted. You want affirmation, as does Pogie, without sweating. I read your comment at 1:09 PM on 3/12 above, for instance, and thought “man, this guy doesn’t understand anything, he only sees the world through the American news media lens.” You’re dealing here with people who are well read and experienced in the American experience, who scour foreign news sources. Your own frame of reference is narrow and easy to spot and upend, and this has to be unsettling for you.

            But it has nothing to do with intelligence, merely ignorance, which is easily cured. American propaganda is pervasive and extremely difficult to break free from. I distinctly remember that day in 1988 when I had my first breakaway thoughts. It was deeply disturbed to realize I had been lied to all my life. It was like being cast into unknown waters without an oar. But you have to engage in the dialectic, facing contradictions rather than avoiding them. That does not happen over at Pogie’s. He’ll ban your ass if you show him up. People here face contradictions, delve into them, try to understand the world as it really exists. You do not do that at this time.

    • I love it when something that we have known for over half a century becomes “news.”

      Who does not know this already? Who?

      • larry kurtz

        the only woman to visit here and mark runs her off: how progressive.

          • larry kurtz

            how paternalistic.

            • petetalbot

              The moment I saw Mark’s response to Carla’s link, I thought exactly the same thing. Hey, let’s alienate the few people who comment here outside of the usual cadre. Let’s show ’em how vastly better informed, intelligent and well-read we are. Keep up the good work, 4&20. I’m sure Carla can’t wait to post another comment or link here.

              • lizard19

                I agree that Mark’s comment to Carla was unnecessary, but if you’re judging blogs by the comments, then it would be fair to point out your Larry problem.

              • larry kurtz

                LK is benign compared to Mark’s relentless bullying, liz. Mizzoola the conscience of Montana? Get real, boys.

              • lizard19

                you are not one to talk, larry. you say say some truly nasty stuff.

              • My comment had nothing to do with whoever posted it, but rather a climate in which things that are well-known for decades are suddenly “revealed” by journalists in the ‘now it can be told’ framework. We know who did the Iranian coup and why it was done and the fact that it led to repression that finally uncorked in 1979 whe Iran had a revolution. Iranians are very well Informed about this, Americans just got told!!!

                Pete, what are we to do when we come upon those who are uninformed, under-read? Is the point then to follow Voltaire’s advice, that we should be both stupid and polite? Or can we just carry on in the hopes your can play catch up? You’ve very sensitive to being shown up, as if the blog comment sections should be kept tame so that we’re all equal. That would be extremely boring, but more to your liking?

                If Carla is driven off by that comment, I apologize. But it had nothing to do with her, and she, like you, needs a tougher hide if she hides away after some exposure.

              • petetalbot

                This will be my last comment on this matter. When blogs become more about personalities than issues, it’s a sad state of affairs.

                Yeah, liz, Larry (Kralj, not Kurtz) can put a serious damper on a thread. It looks like maybe you block him here at 4&20 – your call – or he just doesn’t visit anymore. He certainly isn’t as arrogant as some folks I’ve read, and sometimes contributes an interesting link. I think that most regular readers tend to skip his comments.

                And Mark, I’m not that sensitive, having been called much worse, but the personal insults usually come from the right wing. If the criteria for commenting here is to have a “tougher hide,” well, no thanks. I’ll save my battles for people who matter: policy makers, elected officials, bureaucrats; not someone who sits on his arse and belittles others over the internet.

  4. steve kelly

    What are the chances a Democrat could switch parties today, feign a conservative epiphany, and become president? Yet the same fundamentalist hoards worship the warmed-over Democrat installed in 1980. Rush. Hannity, et al. Go figure.

  5. petetalbot

    ” … Less than Half the Story,” shouts liz’s headline concerning my post on Daines and Iran. Cut me some slack, liz. I try to tackle one issue at a time. I couldn’t agree more that Obama saying Venezuela poses an “extraordinary threat to (our) national security” is one of the more knot-headed lines he’s proffered.

    You’re making assumptions about my assumptions. I think it’s extremely hypocritical of us to dictate who does and doesn’t get nukes when we have an arsenal of 1600+ warheads. Get rid of those and then we have some moral standing.

    And JC, I suppose there are some reasonable Ayatollahs out there. I was referring to the hardliners in Iran who staunchly support Sharia law, but then I suppose that’s most of them. (I’m also disgusted by hardliners here who believe the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, should be the law of the land.) I’m one of them evil secular humanists, don’t you know. In my travels, back in the day, I made many Muslim friends, although they tended to be of the more secular variety. But you’re reading way more into the headline than is there. I certainly meant no “Islamophobia and xenophobia” by it.

    But are you saying that Iran should have nukes, liz, as a deterrent, and that Libya wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in today if it had them? Maybe everyone should have nukes, then.

    • JC

      I always try and put the shoe on the other foot with these sorts of things. How would we feel if secular arabs talked about christians with words like “dangerous as the Bishops”? If there ever was anything that would trigger 21st Crusades, it would be arabs or muslims targeting Christian leaders, as opposed to just targeting “the west.”

      If there was any hope that muslims and christians could find common ground and work together towards peace, it would take enlightened bishops and priests (like Ivan Illich) and ayatollahs like Khomenei to speak to their throngs about things like tolerance, acceptance, moral behavior, etc.

      • petetalbot

        I could maybe get behind “dangerous as the Bishops,” JC. I’m not big on theocracies in any form – the root of many of the world’s problems.

        • The root of a good portion of the world’s problems is American foreign policy. But once filtered through our propaganda system, Americans think we are out saving babies and fighting for democracy. A person has to break free of the fairy tales.

    • How about Obama, the hard-liner threatening peaceful nations like Venezuela. How about the death toll, which is overwhelmingly Westerners killing Arabs. This puffery, supposing there are “reasonable Ayatollahs” out there (far more than there are reasonable Westerners) is a sign of a small frame of reference, seeing the world through the NPR or NYT lens, that’s all.

  6. JC

    This is too funny:

    “An Open Letter to 47 Republican Senators of the United States of America from Iran’s Hard-Liners

    You have opened our eyes. We are brothers.
    –By William Saletan

    March 11, 2015

    Dear senators:

    Thank you for your letter of March 9 explaining your system of government. We were unfamiliar with the complexity of your laws. For three years we have been negotiating a nuclear energy agreement with your president. We now realize our mistake. As your letter makes clear, the authority to establish such agreements on behalf of your country rests with your Congress.

    We are in your debt for this clarification. Moreover, your letter has prompted us to undertake a broader study of the American political system. What we have learned has opened our eyes. For 35 years, we have treated you as an adversary. Our intelligence agencies told us that your culture and your political system were radically different from ours. We now understand that we were misled. Your country is much like ours. Indeed, your Republican Congress is much like our revolutionary Islamic councils. We are brothers…”

    Read the whole thing, it’s brilliant! I guess a little humor is needed every once in a while to defuse the tragedy of our “foreign” policy.

    • One similarity is that Iran has a ruling council of men in robes, called mullahs, who make laws that have to be obeyed. We have a similar ruling council of mullahs, called our Supreme Court.

      Theoretically rulings by our own mullahs can be overturned, but they are not. Worse yet, their power to have the final say on all laws was usurped, not mentioned in the constitution.

      We ain’t that different, them and us, on closer examination, ever.

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