Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Question is Why? - Political Opinion

One fact in the current hype to bomb Iran is overlooked: The people of Iran are innocent. How many innocent people will we kill when we bomb Iran? We killed over half a million innocent people in our war against Iraq.  Remember that war? The one we started by lying about weapons of mass-destruction?1 The war that made America an Aggressor Nation for the first time since the Spanish American War. 

The government of Iran is most definitely not innocent in its support of terror to create a militant Islamic world and is certainly a political problem for us, but we created it. We foolishly tinkered with a foreign government and infected a nation to create our own Frankenstein. Now certain political and religious groups want to kill it. And the millions of innocent civilians who live there. They are mainly guilty of not being Christians.

Our laboratory wasn't in a dark, eerie castle, rather a Democratic state that duly elected its own leaders. The curtain was pulled back on the US covert operation that ran counter to our goals and ideals in support of the oil factions who wanted Iranian oil at cheap prices. On August 19, 2013, the CIA formally acknowledged the United States, on August 26, 1953, covertly removed the duly-elected Iranian government of Mohammad Mossadegh and installed our puppet in his place, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shaw of Iran.

The leader we removed was parliamentary-elected Mohammad Mossadegh, elected in 1951. Mossadegh soon nationalized the Iranian oil fields, taking them away from British control for the first time since 1913. The oil fields were controlled by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company/Anglo Iranian Oil Company (APOC/AIOC), known to us today as British Petroleum, or BP. [Note: Look up Winston Churchill's involvement with lobbying British Parliament for APOC, a subsidiary of Burmah Oil, in 1923]  The intent of the seizure was for Iran to control its own economic future as Iran was making little money off the huge oil exports, but the U.S. and Britain used the threat of “communism” to covertly remove the Mossadegh government and install one of their own. The Shaw was “returned to power” because he was guaranteed of not going “communist.” The control of the oil fields was returned to the Anglo Iranian Oil Company under the Shaw. 

When the westernized Shaw tried to modernize Iran by giving voting rights and education to Iranian women in 1963, the resulting protests by religious clerics led to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini being exiled from Iran and he fled to France. 

So far so good, but unfortunately for us, the Shaw of Iran was not the great leader the West expected, and his brutal government fell in a popular revolution in 1979 that led to the return of the exiled Ayatollah. The secular government was replaced by a militant religious one. The collapse of the Shaw's government led to the 444 day hostage situation, where 52 U.S. Embassy staff were taken hostage. The hostages were released, incidentally, when word was received in Tehran by the new, revolutionary government that Ronald Reagan had been sworn in as U.S. President, as agreed in the secret Algiers Accord that guaranteed Iran's sovereignty.

To complicate the Middle East even further, we then backed and supplied Iran's arch enemy in the bitter eight-year Iran-Iraq war that soon followed. That war, from 1980 until 1988, killed over one million soldiers and civilians. Who did we back with money, weapons and training? Why, none other than our dear friend, Saddam Hussein! To muddy the waters even more, President Reagan initiated the Iran/Contra affair, where we supplied illegal arms to Iran at the same time we backed the Iraqis. You don't think we have a bad reputation in the area, do you?

Iran has been run by conservative religious clerics ever since 1979, even though the day-to-day government is run by the Iranian parliament. Attaining a nuclear bomb is a status symbol, leverage for political supremacy, but certainly not a viable, usable weapon. The Iranians can't bomb Israel, or anyone else for that matter, without removing most of the Middle East, including Iran, from planet Earth. The Israeli nuclear arsenal can remove every Arab capital and still have bombs left over.  [The North Koreans on the other hand have nothing to lose in a nuclear war, a vast radioactive wasteland there might be an improvement.] Terrorists getting nuclear weapons? Iran and Saudi Arabia could themselves be targets from radical Muslims extremists, and especially Dubai and Qatar. I don't think nuclear weapons are going to be handed out to Hezbollah or Al-Quaida, ever. The policy of stopping the nuclear proliferation taken by the Obama administration is the first step of defense just in case I'm wrong. 

I have no love for Israel ever since their controversial attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, in 1967 during the Six Day War, where they killed 34 Americans and wounded another 171. I was still active duty Air Force at the time, and U.S. Military sentiment against Israel reached fever pitch. But Israel is considered the "stalwart of Democracy” in the Middle East by most American politicians. Israel is without a doubt the economic and educational leader in the Middle East. However, insuring their security is not something I want my children to die for. The Israelis are tough enough to do it by themselves, but also smart enough to get us to do it for them, just like British Intelligence (MI5) who convinced President Eisenhower to implement CIA Operation Ajax to install the Shaw. Perhaps we just aren't as smart as we think.

Any step toward normal relations with Iran is going to be tough, but one thing we don't need are the people who want “to get even.” The Crusades are over, at least to most of us. The Muslim religion will eventually evolve and leave the medieval standards of the past just as Christianity did. The question is not whether we can wait that long, the question is whether we as a people want war or peace.

"On the evening of September 11, 2001, about ten thousand Iranian people gathered in Madar Square, on the north side of Tehran, in a spontaneous candlelight vigil to express sympathy and support for the American People"2 On September 18, 2001, Iranian women lit candles in Teheran’s Mohseni Square in memory of the victims of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC. Even the most hardline Islamic clerics, who despise the United States, have been shocked into silence by the attacks. President Mohammad Khatami set the tone for Iran's reaction with a statement that in Persian rang with deep compassion: "On behalf of the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic, I denounce the terrorist measures, which led to the killing of defenseless people, and I express my deep sorrow and sympathy with the American people."3 Huge crowds attended candlelit vigils in Iran, and 60,000 spectators observed a minute's silence at Tehran football stadium.

In 2007, U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain sang, “Bomb, bomb, bomb... bomb, bomb, Iran.” The question is not just “why” but who wrote the music?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Wart on Christmas

I'm already tired of Christmas music and it isn't even Thanksgiving yet! I only spent a total of twenty minutes in the car this morning, ten while driving one way, and ten coming back. I heard Jose Feliciano sing “I want to wish you a Merry Christmas” twice. I changed radio stations the first time it came on, and lo and behold, a few minutes later the station I changed to played it as if to say, “Nah nah na nah nah, you can't escape our marketing onslaught! You will be merry! Be a good consumer, do your religious duty and buy, buy, buy.” Thanksgiving is still four days away.

Is there a war on Christmas? Not by any red-blooded American consumer I know. How about by Humanists or other secular Americans who prefer to separate Santa Claus from Jesus Christ? What about the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Pastafarians, Scientologists or visitors from another galaxy who don't think the Christians should have hijacked the Scandinavian Winter solstice holiday in the first place. Well, maybe, but I think I have uncovered the real problem, it is a semantics problem! It is really a Wart on Christmas! Everybody simply hears what they want to hear, and the “T” just gets dropped off.

For centuries, Christmas has been the main leverage point in maintaining strict order and discipline within whichever version of Christianity happened to rule whatever land you happened to be in. Unless, of course, the Christians hadn't conquered it yet, say, like Peru. Or China. Or maybe places where they had been removed, like Communist societies where religion was banned. In those primitive societies, they simply measured the end of another solar/terrestrial season and decided to celebrate because they knew good times were just around the corner. Hey, light up a fir tree! Throw some yule logs on the fire and find some chestnuts! Man, that's good eggnog!

But, aaah! The capitalist are coming, and now we have a problem: How do they leverage the birth of a religious icon into massive, profitable sales? First, stuff 'em with music until their wallets explode. Really, the unknowing listener will be so happy so spend everything they have just so they don't have to listen to “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” for another ten and a half months.

The old ways were far more subtle. Nostalgia still seeps over atheists when they hear the Vienna Boys Choir sing “Silent Night.” How about “Ave Maria?” Even Jews think it is a beautiful song. But what were they selling then? Religion, of course! Today, it is Barbie dolls and X-box consoles, bags and bags of useless battery powered toys, cosmetics for socially deprived women, whatever else can be sold immediately after the only truly secular family holiday in America, Thanksgiving. Well, maybe not that secular, especially to the survivors of the Pequot Indians where the Puritans said "Thank You" by slaughtering them and taking the survivors as slaves.

The traditional, well, for my generation at least, major selling day was the Friday after Thanksgiving. It was called “Black Friday,” because for many retailers, it meant they had finally earned enough to show a profit for the year. In other words, they were out of the red ledger column and into the black, hence the name Black Friday. On Black Friday I would take my daughter, load the canoe and head for the Everglades. 

Thanksgiving is the one holiday we can all sit down with our families and enjoy the true warmth and love that makes it all worthwhile, and we all do it in our own religious ways. Well, we used to anyway. The Wart on Christmas has infected Thanksgiving and damned if they aren't opening normally closed stores and selling when we should be sitting with our families, giving thanks for what we have.

The Wart on Christmas has proven to be infectious and I don't think we have an antidote. Unless, perhaps, it's earplugs.


Updated 2-16-2014 by the Author

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Writer's Nightmare

I once wrote brain freeze, the condition commonly known as writer's block, isn't the worst thing that can happen to a writer. Writer's block is when the blank computer screen or empty page of paper stares at you and you have absolutely nothing to put on it. Having nothing to write or capture on paper or computer disk is merely the second worst thing that can happen to a writer. Seriously. Having media ready to capture thoughts and then having none is actually a blessing, as something will invariably materialize if and when your muse quits tripping through Facebook. No, the worst thing that can happen to me is when those precious, once-in-a-lifetime thoughts flash through my consciousness and I have absolutely no way to capture them. 

Those fleeting, ethereal thoughts often dissolve long before I can find a piece of paper, a napkin, anything with a margin, to hastily scribble on, losing them to eternity. If I'm lucky, a couple of days may pass and I'll remember what Inspired me, but sometimes the thoughts are simply gone. I think my muse does this to me on purpose. It waits until I'm in traffic, or having dinner in a restaurant when it slips me a thought that would pivot or anchor my whole next article, or maybe inspire an evening of ignoring my life while I write and rewrite a narrative or dialog, and then it logs on to Facebook and I'm on my own, repeating my thought over and over trying to commit it to memory.

Where was I going with this? Oh, yes, not having a way to capture those elusive, exclusive thoughts is a real pain in the neck/butt/shoulder/ass, depending on which genre the writer writes. The end result is the same: lost thoughts and concepts that will drift out and away, an ending that never happens or a character who doesn't fulfill their possibilities, headed somewhere unknown, out into the universe, hopefully to alight on someone sitting in front of a blank computer screen wondering what the hell to write.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lucy, 'Splain me something...

Well, maybe even Lucy can't help here, the situation defies logic. Well, to me anyway.

It all started when my handy-dandy, ever trusty electric drill needed to have its battery charged. The DeWalt portable drill I have been using for the last several years came with two batteries and a charger, so, it has never been a problem in the past. I always keep the unused battery charged and ready to pop in the drill whenever the one in the drill runs down. A minute or so after the one in the drill goes flat, and I'm usually up and running. I swap them out all the time so they both get used interchangeably. The drill kit with the batteries came in a very nice hard carrying case with neat little chrome latches, really cool!

I bought the drill kit at Home Depot for $99.00 during a special promotion, and considered myself a shrewd buyer as the price soon went up to $129.00 for the kit. I haven't paid much attention lately, but I've seen the popular kit around when I've been in the store. I assumed the price would eventually increase until a newer model came out or the drill was discontinued.

As I was taking down hurricane shutters recently, a fairly heavy-use project, the battery in the drill ran out. I use the drill with an adapter as a power wrench, the only sensible way to remove wingnuts and bolts without spending an extra couple of hours. However, the replacement battery in the charger was unexpectedly dead, so the project came to a manual, grinding halt.

I decided to price a new one while I recharged the one remaining battery. Wow! Talk about sticker shock. The lowest price I could find on-line was $54 and that was for a nondescript, oddly labeled battery that vaguely resembled the original DeWalt unit. The cheapest DeWalt unit was $79 and that was without on-line shipping costs. So, I headed off to Home Depot to see what I could find.

The current replacement 18 volt battery, now labeled with an X to show it's better than the original, is located conveniently in the very first tool bin, neatly packaged in theft-proof plastic. If you think child-proof caps on medicine bottles are stinkers, try industrial level theft protection on tools. At any rate, I balked at its $89 price tag. Well, maybe I don't need the replacement battery as badly as I thought. As I turn to leave, I happen to glance around the shelves and see the original drill kit I bought several years ago, now on sale for $84.99. It's the last one left. Let's see, how long is a microsecond?

I now have my backup battery, plus another new spare battery, another charger, and a brand new drill. And of course another neat little carrying case with chrome latches. And I saved five bucks to boot. See, even Lucy can't explain this one.

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