i stand with oreo-eating lesbians

I’m not what you’d call an Oreo cookie fan. As commercial cookies go, they’re okay. I buy Oreos maybe once or twice a year. I’ll be noodling through the market and I’ll see a display of some new ‘Limited Edition’ flavor of Oreo. Lemon Meringue Oreos, Red Velvet Oreos, Chocolate & Peanut Butter Oreos, Tiramisu Oreos, Carrot Cake Oreos, Mint Oreos. And I’ll say to myself, “What the hell is that about?” and buy a package. Because why the hell not?

Today, I’ll go buy some Oreos deliberately. Well, maybe not today. I mean, it’s Saturday and the market will probably be busy. I prefer to do my grocery shopping during the week, when all the decent employed people are at work. So let’s say Monday. On Monday I’ll go buy some Oreos. Rainbow Oreos, if they have them. Why?

Because of OneMillionMoms (which I’m just going to call OMM because it’s easier). OMM is a division of the American Family Association, which describes itself as “a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on television and other media.” OMM says its goal is “to stop the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media (TV, music, movies, etc.).”

Let me just say upfront that I wasn’t entirely sure what a ‘biblical ethic of decency’ means. So I Googled it and was directed to a Bible verse. Matthew 22:39, which I also Googled. It’s about the second of two commandments on which ‘hang all the law and the prophets’. The first is about loving god. Here’s the second (in the King James version, which I think rumbles so much better than any of the newer versions):

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

That seems like a pretty solid foundation for decency. But what does that have to do with Oreo cookies? OMM and AFA are organizing a boycott of Oreos cookies because the company that makes them are “attempting to normalize the LGBTQ lifestyle.” How? By “using their commercials, such as the most recent Oreo ad featuring a lesbian couple, to brainwash children and adults alike by desensitizing audiences.”

I don’t watch much commercial television, so I was completely unfamiliar with an advert that featured Oreo-loving lesbians. But my interest was definitely piqued. This is how OMM describes the advert:

The ad has a daughter going home to see her family and brings her lesbian lover with her. The commercial focuses on the mother approving of her daughter’s girlfriend, but the father is hesitant and has reservations. He later has a change of heart and even displays his acceptance of her lifestyle by painting his picket fence in rainbow colors to further show his approval. The advertisement ends with: “A loving world starts with a loving home.”

Well, that sounded okay to me. I mean, it’s all about family and acceptance and a loving home, right? But according to OMM, “It is obvious they are going after our children.” So I figured I should probably track down the actual advert and watch it. I didn’t want to unfairly decide that OneMillionMoms were homophobic assholes without seeing the advert. Besides, I figured Oreo-loving lesbians would be good television.

Here’s the actual brainwashing commercial:

I didn’t see any children in the commercial. I barely saw any Oreos. I guess we’re supposed to assume the Oreo-based brainwashing took place prior to the events in the advert. I guess we’re supposed to be interpreting the relationship between the two young women and the parents as some form of post-Oreo trauma. It’s not clear.

What IS clear, though, is OMM’s belief that LGBTQ people are somehow fundamentally wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated. Their point seems to be that parents shouldn’t accept their LBGTQ children, even if the children are young adults who are making an effort to be accepted. Their point seems to be that buying Oreo cookies is putting children and young adults at risk of…of being accepted? At risk of being loved by their parents?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing something. But this isn’t the first time right-wing Christians have boycotted Oreos. I wrote about this almost exactly eight years ago, during the Great Hydrox Cookie Rebellion of 2012, when right-wing Christian groups tried to bring Oreo to its metaphorical knees by boycotting their cookies.

In their defense, if we’d listened to right-wing Christian groups back in 2012, we wouldn’t be subjects to Maple Creme Oreos. Or Gingerbread Oreos. Or Pumpkin Spice Oreos (which I’m inclined to agree is an abomination in the eyes of the gods).

I’m not convinced that buying Oreos as an expression of LGBTQ support is any less stupid than refusing to buy them as a form of homphobia. But I’m going to buy them anyway. I’m okay with being stupid in a good cause. And I firmly believe that being stupid WITH cookies is better than being stupid WITHOUT cookies. Even if they’re store-bought corporate cookies like Oreos.

I’m here to say I’ll even eat a goddamn Pumpkin Spice Oreo in support of any parent who loves their child without reservation, who believes a loving world begins with a loving home. I stand with Oreo-eating lesbians. And their parents.

trump and socrates

Somebody at the White House needs to remind Comrade Trump that he’s still the President of These United States — and that a big chunk of his job is to pay attention to what’s going on in the nation. Anybody who has spent any time at all on social media or watching any actual news show on television has heard of the QAnon conspiracy theory. I mean, back in 2019 the FBI designated QAnon as a “domestic terror threat” because of the group’s potential to incite extremist violence. That’s the sort of thing that ought to grab a president’s attention.

But somehow QAnon and the national security threat it poses seems to have largely slipped right by Donald Trump’s keen eye. During his town hall last night, he said this:

“I know nothing about QAnon…I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard, but I know nothing about it.”

Trump, who is a narcissist of the first water (okay, quick but pointless digression…’of the first water’ refers to the way they used to grade the clarity and translucence of diamonds…c’mon, you know you wondered about that), wants us to believe he knows nothing about a group that has him at the heroic center of their belief system. He may not be aware of exactly how loopy the QAnon community is, and he may not think they’re a terrorist threat, but it surpasses belief that he’s unaware of their love for him.

But then again, Trump has displayed an uncanny ability to NOT know things. Here are a few of the things he’s admitted not knowing anything at all about.

— QAnon
— Russia paying bounties on Coalition troops in Afghanistan
— Steve Bannon’s involvement in a fundraising campaign to support the building Trump’s wall
— WikiLeaks
— the Proud Boys
— a recent bungled incursion into Venezuela
— Dr. Stella Immanuel, the woman who says masks don’t work and insists there’s a cure for Covid-19
— the Air Force refueling at Prestwick airport in Scotland and staying overnight at Trump’s expensive Turnberry golf resort a 40 minute drive from the airport instead the many hotels within a few minutes of the airport
— Rudy Giuliani’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who are currently awaiting trial for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, campaign finance fraud, and lying to the Federal Election Commission
— David Duke and the KKK

That’s a LOT of important stuff NOT to know about, especially given the fact that knowing about important stuff like this is a critically important part of the POTUS job description. I’m not even mentioning the stuff Trump obviously knows about, but hasn’t really bothered to deal with. Stuff like Saudi Arabia murdering and dismembering a Washington Post reporter. But we can safely say the scope of his ignorance is matched only by his amazing expertise in an astonishingly wide array of fields of knowledge.

Here are a few things Trump has said he knows more about than…well, anybody.

— drones
— ISIS
— tax law
— the horror of nuclear
— campaign finance
— social media
— forestry
— courts
— immigration system
— trade
— negotiating
— infrastructure
— tariffs
— renewables
— Cory Booker
— the Federal Reserve
— the military
— windmills and wind energy
— banking

Socrates, the Greek philosopher and minor character in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, said this: “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.” It sounds a lot more impressive in Greek. But basically, he was saying an individual can only know a limited amount of stuff, and what that person knows isn’t much at all compared to what the individual doesn’t know.

But Trump is no Greek philosopher. When he says he doesn’t know something, there’s a decent chance he knows enough to lie about knowing it. And when he says he knows more about something than anybody else, he’s absolutely lying.

I suspect Trump isn’t as knowledgeable as he claims. I suspect he’s not as ignorant as he claims. In fact, I suspect D.J. Trump is what those of us in the justice biz call ‘a lying sack of shit’ (DISCLAIMER: I am no longer in the justice biz, and haven’t been for quite a while, but I can still recognize a lying sack of shit when I see one).

I’m not say I know more about lying sacks of shit that anybody else, but spotting lying sacks of shit is like riding a bike — you never really forget how to do it.

october surprise

Originally, a ‘surprise’ was an unexpected attack. It comes from the Latin sur meaning ‘over’ or ‘above’ and prendre meaning ‘to grasp or seize’. A surprise party, originally, was a stealth military detachment that ambushed the enemy.

The political phrase ‘October Surprise’ has a vaguely weird history. It grew out of the 1980 election between President Jimmy Carter and his challenger, Ronald Reagan. It appears to have been coined by William Casey, Reagan’s campaign manager (and a former OSS officer who, after Reagan was elected, became the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency). Casey was concerned that Carter was secretly arranging the release of 52 American hostages held by Iranian revolutionaries, and would announce the deal just before the November election. ‘October Surprise’ has also been used to describe an alleged secret deal between Iran and Reagan operatives to prevent the release of those hostages until after Reagan won the election and was inaugurated (and, in fact, Iran announced the release of the hostages literally minutes after Reagan’s inaugural speech).

Almost every election since 1980 has included some sort of October Surprise —  an event designed to irreparably damage one candidate’s chances and boost the other’s. Few of them work; fewer still are actual surprises. That includes yesterday’s ham-fisted absurdist political theater. We’ve all been expecting a ‘surprise’, of course. But even given Team Trump’s reputation for bungling political schemes, this ‘surprise’ was badly managed. Comically bad.

Here’s the basic accusation as reported by the New York Post. Somebody (Hunter Biden) brought three damaged laptop computers to a Delaware computer store for repair in April of 2019. The owner of the store (unidentified in the original report) claimed to have found an email on one computer’s hard drive — an email from Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, thanking Hunter for the opportunity to meet Joe Biden, who was then Vice President. Scandal! Hunter Biden and his daddy are corrupt! Biden must be defeated in the coming election! Scandal!

John Paul Mac Isaac (This should not be taken as an indictment of men wearing kilts).

Right. Now let’s ask a few questions — the sort of questions a 14-year-old fan of cop shows on television would ask.

Who is this unidentified store owner?
— He turns out to be kilt-wearing Trump supporter John Paul Mac Isaac.

Who brought the three laptops to Mac Isaac’s shop?
— Uh…we don’t know. Mac Isaac says he has a ‘medical’ condition that prevented him from recognizing the person who brought in the laptops. Also, nobody signed any sort of repair authorization form or receipt for them. But the person allegedly said his name was Hunter Biden.

What evidence does he have to prove the laptops were brought in by Hunter Biden?
— At least one laptop had a ‘Beau Biden Foundation’ sticker on it, plus there was an email addressed to Hunter Biden on that laptop, plus there were sexually explicit images featuring Hunter Biden.

Did Hunter or anybody return to the shop to retrieve the laptops? Or called to inquire about them?
— Uh…no. After ninety days Mac Isaac said he made repeated attempts to contact Hunter Biden without success.

What did Mac Isaac do when he discovered the email?
— He contacted the FBI. No, wait…first he made a copy of the email (and apparently the sexual images) which he gave to Rudy Giuliani. No, wait…he gave the copy of the material to Rudy’s attorney, then he turned it over to the FBI. No, wait…the FBI got in touch with him about the material, then he gave it to them. Or maybe he gave it to the FBI, who later sought his help in accessing the material.

Is this the same Rudy Giuliani who has been working for a couple of years with known Russian intelligence operatives to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden to hurt Joe Biden’s election chances?
— Uh…yes, it is.

Why did Mac Isaac give the material to Rudy’s attorney before giving it to the FBI?
— Because he doesn’t trust the FBI. He seems to think maybe the FBI (possibly in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee) murdered Seth Rich (who worked for the DNC) because Rich knew ‘the truth’ about the DNC emails stolen by Russian intelligence operatives sources and provided to Roger Stone, WikiLeaks, and the Trump campaign. He also thought maybe the FBI might kill him too. So he made a copy of the material and gave it to Rudy’s attorney as insurance. He said he didn’t tell the FBI he’d made an ‘insurance’ copy, but that they would have assumed he would make such a copy to protect himself.

Why would Mac Isaac give the material to the FBI if he thought they might kill him if they knew he had the material?
— Uh…because of reasons?

What meta-data could we obtain from the email?
— Uh…none. The New York Post only had a pdf file of the email, not that actual email. So there’s no header information, no metadata. Just a picture of the alleged email.

How did the New York Post get this material?
— It was provided to the Post’s Deputy Politics Editor, Emma-Jo Morris, by Rudy’s attorney. Ms. Morris apparently became the Post’s Deputy Politics Editor yesterday, when she wrote the story. She has written three other political stories for the Post. All three were written yesterday. All three are about Hunter Biden.

What did Emma-Jo Morris do before becoming the Post’s Deputy Politics Editor yesterday?
— She booked guests for Fox News personality Sean Hannity.

Is this the ‘smoking gun’ October Surprise Republicans claim it to be?
— Nope. It’s not smoking. It’s not even a gun. It’s not a surprise. But it IS October.

This is perhaps the stupidest, worst prepared, least convincing, most desperate October Surprise ever. It’s the most embarrassingly bad disinformation op imaginable. It’s like Laurel and Hardy teamed up with the Keystone Kops to create a conspiracy theory. If the person responsible for this is in Russian intelligence, I’m going to guess he’s looking at a long drop from a high window, an acute case of cement poisoning following an incident of deceleration trauma.

toggle election

Republican Friend: I’ve been a moderate Republican all my life. I voted for Trump last time, but I didn’t think he’d actually win. I can’t bring myself to vote for him this time.
Me: Great. Glad to hear it.
RF: Don’t be too glad. I’m not voting for Biden either.
Me: Those are the only choices. Trump or Biden.
RF: I’m voting for Jo Jorgensen.
Me: Who?
RF: Jo Jorgensen.
Me: Who is Jo Jorgensen when she’s at home?
RF: She’s the Libertarian candidate.
Me: So you’re voting for Trump.
RF: No, I’m voting for Jorgensen.
Me: Same thing.
RF: No, it’s not. I’m voting my conscience.
Me: Bullshit. You’re dodging your conscience.
RF: No, I’m not. I said I can’t bring myself to vote for…
Me: Yeah, I know what you said. And I know what you meant. You mean you don’t want to feel any responsibility if Trump is re-elected.
RF: No, that’s not it.
Me: Bullshit. That’s exactly it. You don’t want to vote for Trump, but you’re not going to do anything to prevent him from being re-elected. You’re more concerned with soothing your conscience than with protecting the Constitution.
RF: That’s not true. Biden won’t fix the nation’s prob…
Me: Does Jo Jorgensen have a popcorn fart’s chance of winning?
RF: No, but that’s not the point. The point is…
Me: Fuck your point. This is a toggle election. The choices are truly binary. Yes or no. Up or down. On or off. Biden or Trump. Those are the only choices.
RF: I have to vote my conscience.
Me: Fuck you and fuck your conscience. You’re a coward.
RF: I’m not a…
Me: You’re dodging all personal responsibility to act for the good of the nation. It’s no different than saying you oppose the pandemic but won’t wear a mask. Fuck you.
RF: It’s not like that at all.
Me: Did I just say ‘Fuck you’? I believe I did. Fuck you again.
RF: Are you angry with me?
Me: Shut up. Go away. Fuck you and everybody you know, you fucking coward.
RF: I understand you’re upset.
RF: Hello?
Former Republican Friend: Hello?

whistle and go fishing

My heart’s in the ice house. John Prine is dead, the world is locked down, and Bernie Sanders has suspended his presidential campaign.

I have mixed feelings about that last thing. Last July I said “I just wish he hadn’t decided to run for POTUS again” so you’d think I’d be glad that Bernie suspended his campaign. And I sorta kinda am. But I’m also sorta kinda not. I’m sorta kinda glad on account of Bernie has some followers who flat out piss me off and (in my opinion) taint his campaign. But I’m sorta kinda not glad because Bernie has almost single-handedly shifted the Democratic Party to the left.

He did that partly by being a Democrat of Convenience. He runs as a Democrat without actually being a Democrat, but his positions are so popular he yanked the Democratic Party leftward. There are folks in the Democratic National Committee who aren’t happy about that, of course. And that brings me back to being sorta kinda glad Bernie is suspending his campaign now, at this point in time, rather than later. Because some of his supporters are DNC conspiracy theorists. They believe the DNC ‘rigged’ the primaries to defeat Bernie (and, in some cases, to re-elect Comrade Trump).

Here are some actual, not-made-up, real comments taken from a couple of Facebook groups that support Bernie:

— [T]he DNC plots against Bernie, violate the constitution by stealing the election/votes, asks us to vote for an absolutely terrible choice instead and then whines to us about how they won’t beat trump because of US!?
— The Democrat Party could have changed their voting date if they wanted, but they rigged their election again to boot Bernie out
— The DNC knows the numbers, and either believe they don’t need Sanders voters for them to win, or else they actively want Trump to win. Either way, my one vote isn’t going to change the election. I bear zero responsibility for their loser plans.
— I want to be counted as one of the growing number of people rejecting the DNC
— If you’re voting for Biden you’re giving the DNC consent to rigging elections.
— I’m willing to lose this election to trump if it teaches the DNC the lesson that they Will Never win another election ever again until they listen to us and run a progressive candidate.

There are Sanders supporters who apparently actually believe the DNC is somehow violating the US Constitution by setting rules for the Democratic Party primaries. Who apparently actually believe the DNC is secretly working to elect Trump. Who apparently actually believe NOT voting for Biden will somehow teach the DNC a lesson.

Look, the DNC sets the rules for the Democratic Party primaries because they’re the Democratic Party’s National Committee. Who else is going to set those rules? The Green Party? The Republican Party? This is how things work everywhere. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees are chosen by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nomination Board, not by the Country Music Assocation’s Nomination Board. Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants by Michelin’s full-time staff of anonymous restaurant reviewers, not by Yelp feedback.

Bernie didn’t lose the nomination because the DNC conspired against him; he lost because more people showed up and voted for Biden. Warren didn’t lose because the DNC conspired against her; she lost because people didn’t vote for her. Booker lost because people didn’t vote for him. Harris lost because people didn’t vote for her.

Joe Biden, go figure.

Joe Biden won because people voted for him. Why did they vote for him? Damned if I know. I don’t think he was anywhere near the best candidate (SPOILER: the best candidate was Warren). But Biden got the votes. You don’t have to like it to accept the reality of it. You don’t have to LIKE gravity to accept that if you drop a rock, it’ll fall on the grass (if you’re outside and standing on grass — let’s not get too fussy about this).

The other reason I’m sorta kinda glad Bernie has suspended his campaign now is so we can get the following completely predictable bullshit conversation out of the way. You know the conversation I’m talking about, but here are a few actual, not-made-up, real examples of it (again, straight from Facebook pro-Bernie groups):

— A choice between two rapists is no choice at all. Joe Biden is Trump with fewer obnoxious tweets and even more dementia.
— I’m not voting for another monster just to stop a monster.
— Voting in the moderate choice is just as bad as trump.
— what is the real difference between Biden and trump
— There is no really big difference between Biden and trump…they are both representing the neoliberal agenda
— I can’t vote for either with a clear conscience. Trump and Biden are sexual predators. I can’t vote for them and feel good about it.
— BIDEN IS JUST LIKE VOTING REPUBLICAN. I’M NOT VOTING FOR BIDEN OR TRUMP. I’M OUT.

Okay, Biden wasn’t my first choice. Hell, he wasn’t even in my top five. He might have been in my top ten, but near the bottom. But Jesus suffering fuck, people, he’s in a totally different political galaxy than Comrade Trump and is infinitely preferable.

If you think there’s no difference between Joe Biden and this fuckwit, then you’re an idjit.

Biden says he’ll increase taxes on the wealthy. The Tax Policy Center calculated that Biden’s plan would raise $4 trillion over a decade—one of the largest wealth transfers in American history. He supports subsidies and Medicaid funding, along with a public option, in order to achieve universal health care. It’s not Medicare for All, but it’s an improvement over the current feral insurance system. He’s advocating a US$17 trillion clean energy investment, and tighter regulations to bring emissions to zero. He’s supporting $2 trillion in new spending on early education, post-secondary education, and housing. He’s talking about a $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan. He’s in favor of a $15 minimum wage. He wants to close the gun show loophole and ban the sale of assault-style weapons. He’s in favor of immigration reform and wants to provide undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. He’s just come out in support of Warren’s bankruptcy plan.

Comrade Trump is opposed to all of those things. If you say there’s no difference between Biden and Trump, you’re completely fucking delusional. Or stupid. Or a Russian troll. Or so goddamned well established in your privilege that Trump’s policy depredations won’t have much effect on your life. Also? Fuck you in the neck, just on general principles.

I’ll vote for Joe Biden. Hell, I’ll hold my nose and even campaign for him. I’ll probably give him some money. Not because he’s the best candidate, but because I can forgive myself for voting for him. I couldn’t forgive myself for voting for anybody else.

As the poet Prine said:

Father forgive us for what we must do
You forgive us we’ll forgive you
We’ll forgive each other till we both turn blue
Then we’ll whistle and go fishing in heaven.

so far

Over the last few days, three bits of seemingly unrelated news caught my attention and sort of took up residence in my brain.

News Bit the First: After two years of investigation, a Trump Justice Department inquiry launched by vindictive Republicans into allegations of 1) financial corruption by the Clinton Foundation, 2) criminal activity by Hillary Clinton in the Uranium One deal, and 3) still another probe into the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server was quietly ended. No report was issued, no announcement was made, no comment was given — the investigation just ended with the conclusion that there was absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing.

News Bit the Second: There’s been an ongoing social media discussion about the reluctance of men — particularly men who would be casting votes for Academy Award nominations — to see Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women. Why? Apparently because it’s about women. Apparently because these men feel the male characters in the film are ‘two-dimensional, largely ornamental and relegated to the background.’

News Bit the Third: It appears Senator Bernie Sanders may have said — or somehow suggested — that a woman couldn’t win a presidential election in 2020. It seems highly unlikely to me that Bernie would have said that — or that he would believe that to be the case — but the guy tends be blunt and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he said something that could easily be interpreted that way. In a way, it doesn’t matter if Bernie actually said it or not. The sad fact is, the electability of women shouldn’t even be a matter of discussion. But it is.

Obviously, these three seemingly unrelated bits of news aren’t unrelated at all. I don’t need to point out what they have in common. I don’t need to say it’s incredibly stupid that it’s 2020 and women are still dealing with this shit.

But I DO want to say that it’s impressive as hell that they ARE dealing with it. That Hillary Clinton could get three million more votes than Trump, still lose the election, and yet still have the strength of character to continue to speak out. That Greta Gerwig can make an absolutely amazing film, get denied a Best Director nomination, and yet still have the strength of character to celebrate the actors in her film and their nominations. That Elizabeth Warren could create the idea for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, be denied the Director’s position by Republicans, run for a Senate seat against the incumbent Republican, win the seat, was warned by Mitch McConnell NOT to read a letter by Coretta Scott King, read it anyway, got formally rebuked (“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted”) and still had the strength of character to run for president.

I am astonished that so many women have continued to stand firm, speak out, and fight for fundamental fairness despite living in a culture that is punishing, denigrating, often hateful, shaming, and for some reason even denies them pockets in their clothes.

Pockets, for fuck’s sake. How women find the patience to resist burning it all down is beyond me. And they could do it. If every woman — every low paid office clerk, every admin assistant, every receptionist, every woman executive, every housekeeper and baker and welder and doctor and truck driver and police officer — if every woman decided to not go to work for one day, the entire world would come to an abrupt halt. If they decided not to go to work for two days, whole economies would collapse.

But nevertheless, they persist. They do go to work. Every goddamn day.

So far.

there will be a blood price to pay for this

I’m not at all sad that Qasem Soleimani is dead. As the leader of the Quds Force, he’s been responsible for a LOT of deaths, including those of US troops. But I’m outraged and alarmed by how and why he was assassinated.

First, this act seems a clear violation of Executive Order 12036, which includes a prohibition against assassination. “No person employed by or acting on behalf
of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in,
assassination.” You can call it a ‘targeted killing’ but that’s just a polite way of saying assassination.

Second, even if you’re willing to violate that Executive Order, openly assassinating the leader of the Quds Force is deliberately provocative. We’re talking 10-20 thousand special ops troops who specialize in unconventional warfare and intelligence activities. These guys are extremely loyal to Soleimani, and they know how to conduct terror operations. The Quds Force is capable of striking targets in the US mainland, but are FAR more likely to take vengeance on more convenient targets. That means every member of the US armed services located in the Middle East. And every person who works for any US agency in the region. And any US non-governmental organization. And any US businessperson working in the area. And their families. I don’t know who the most likely targets would be — but if I were considering retaliation, I’d set up coordinated attacks on US special forces commanders.

Third, even if you’re willing to violate an Executive Order prohibiting assassination AND you’re willing to put a massive number of US citizens at risk from experts at terror operations, it’s exceedingly stupid to commit the assassination in the capital city of a third nation. That necessarily embroils that nation in the conflict, which is especially stupid when your embassy in that third nation has been mobbed by protesters for days. Iran and Iraq aren’t natural allies, but this assassination will make them both more hostile toward the US. What makes this even worse is that the US no longer has any real allies in the region — and it’s made doubly worse by the fact that Comrade Trump recently betrayed the only allies the US could count on (the Kurds). Nobody in the region has any reason to trust the US. Sadly, nobody on the globe has any reason to trust the US to keep its word about anything.

Fourth, even if you’re willing to violate an Executive Order prohibiting assassination AND you’re willing to put a massive number of US citizens at risk from experts at terror operations, AND you’re willing to do this in a third nation in a region in which you have no allies, it’s wildly irresponsible and risky to do it after you’ve spent three years gutting your diplomatic corps and undermining your intelligence agencies. Even if other nations COULD trust the US, we’ve replaced most of our professional diplomats and intelligence analysts with political hacks and amateurs.

Finally, even if you’re willing to violate an Executive Order prohibiting assassination AND you’re willing to put a massive number of US citizens at risk, AND you’re willing to do this in a region in which you have no allies, AND you’ve spent three years trashing your diplomatic corps and intelligence agencies, you should NOT have two different US agencies giving two different reasons for committing that assassination. Did we assassinate Soleimani to A) deter future Iranian aggression (as the Pentagon says) or B) prevent an imminent attack by Iranian terrorists (as the State Department says)? Pick a fucking story and stick with it.

It’s all so very sad and so unnecessary. The sad and terrifying truth is this: there will almost certainly be a blood price to pay for this recklessness. It won’t be paid by Trump’s family, it won’t be paid by the children of members of Congress or the children of the wealthiest clans in the US. That blood price will most likely be paid by poor and working class kids who enlisted in the military after graduating from high school.

That’s the ugly truth haunts me more than anything. I’m not at all sad that Qasem Soleimani was killed. But I’m sick at heart that his assassination in this manner will almost certainly end up killing kids in uniform.

he’d sell them weeds

Jeebus on toast. This guy, I declare.

This is exactly the sort of tone-deaf, massively bone-headed thing Comrade Trump would do — assuming it’s not just another off-the-cuff lie he’s telling, which is entirely possible. Only a fuckwit like Trump would secretly invite the Taliban to the United States. The Taliban — the people who literally made it possible for al Qaeda to crash commercial jets full of innocent passengers into each of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon (not to mention the disrupted attack that ended in an empty field in Pennsylvania. And to do it secretly? On the anniversary of that attack? That’s got TrumpThink written all over it.

But even though it completely fits in with Trump’s brand of idiocy, it’s still Trump. So we always have to ask if it’s a lie. Always. Because this would be a classic Trump sort of lie. It’s self-aggrandizing and dramatic. But IF he invited the Taliban to the U.S. for any reason at all, would he have invited them to stay at Camp David? No, probably not. He’d almost certainly have invited them to stay at a Trump property. That sounds like snark, I know, but it’s not. I’m sincerely convinced Trump would try to find a way to make a buck off of peace talks.

So I’m inclined to think this whole Taliban business is wrapped in a cocoon of lies. It’s probably not entirely a lie, or even mostly a lie. But I’d bet my paycheck (if I had a paycheck) that it involves a complicated and terribly dumb string of semi-related lies wrapped around a single kernel of truth.

But here’s the thing: we absolutely should be talking with the Taliban in order to find some way out of the now-pointless war in Afghanistan. And I have no problem with talking to them here in the U.S., though that seems awfully premature. But regardless of how and where it’s done, Comrade Trump should NOT be involved.

Nobody trusts him. Nobody believes him. Nobody can rely on him to honor a deal or keep a promise. He’s lied to and cheated on all of his wives; he’s lied to and cheated hundreds of businesses with whom he’s signed contracts; he routinely tells blatant lies to the public and to the news media; he’s negated treaties with our nation’s closest traditional allies and he’s cozied up to our enemies. Everybody — everybody — knows Trump is capable of changing his mind at any moment for any reason or perceived slight. Comrade Trump simply cannot be trusted on any level.

There’s an old Bedouin saying: La taqul bur lin twkyh. “Don’t say it’s wheat until you harvest it.” The Taliban aren’t Bedu, but I think the saying still applies. They aren’t stupid. They know Trump will sell them wheat and deliver only weeds. So it’s unlikely any serious peace talks will take place while Comrade Trump is in office.