IRAN: REALITY VS. IMAGINERY

January 27, 2021

It’s important to distinguish what is actually happening in Iran from the nonsense fed us by America’s Iran bashers lest we find ourselves in a repeat of the war in Iraq – seeking imaginary weapons of mass destruction.

“Iran is trying to reduce its weapons-usable stockpile,” according to one of our country’s nuclear experts. If true, that’s very important to understand.

That conclusion came from Robert Kelley who spent over 35 years working in the US Department of Energy nuclear weapons complex, including Los Alamos. He worked in research, engineering and information analysis, managed the centrifuge and plutonium metallurgy programs at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and was Director of the Department of Energy Remote Sensing Laboratory, responsible for US emergency nuclear response. Sent by USDOE to the IAEA, he twice served as a Director of the nuclear inspections in Iraq.

Here is Kelley’s analysis:

20% enriched UF6 is in a form suitable for further enrichment to weapons levels.

Once it is converted into uranium metal it is no longer suitable for enrichment

The metal is to be converted to a uranium compound that is even less suitable for enrichment for weapons.

This is legitimate research reactor fuel.

So Iran is voluntarily removing low enriched uranium from the stockpile that could be converted to weapons.

They are moving away from weapons!

They are doing exactly the right thing for nonproliferation, removing potential weapons material from the inventory.

They need support and congratulations.  They must be truly baffled to see that the Americans don’t get it that they are doing the right thing!!!

Don’t let self-proclaimed experts fabricate “facts” to lead us into another war.


The Nightmare is Over But Can We Survive the Cleanup

January 25, 2021

The Republican Party has been dominated by Donald Trump and it still appears that his followers continue to dominate its ranks. A Trump dominated Republican Party is dangerous because it’s not dedicated to democratic government, norms or rules. We survived Trump, barely, but would we survive another term with someone like Trump intent on becoming dictator and tearing down all the democratic structures, restrictions and barriers to dictatorship and despotism? Political scientists like Kim Scheppele see a path to a nondemocratic takeover after the ground has been broken by an unsuccessful first try. Therefore it’s crucial that the Republican Party emerge from the Trump nightmare. It’s not enough that the rest of the country rejected him. We all have a stake in a loyal opposition – not one dedicated to pulling down the pillars of the temple.

How. It’s critical to change the election laws so that a party loyal to a would-be dictator like Trump cannot emerge. His victories have depended on strengthening the extreme wings of the Republican party by gerrymandering legislative seats and excluding voters from the polls who would vote for more moderate candidates at all levels – federal, state and local.

The Supreme Court could have solved those problems, much like the Warren Court did with its decisions on reapportionment, the Voting Rights Act and poll taxes. But the Rehnquist and Roberts Courts have refused to support structural supports for fair elections, supporting instead the exclusion of legitimate voters from the polls, gerrymandering at all levels of government, and emasculating the Voting Rights Act so that states have a clear path to excluding opposing voters from the polls.

That means the Biden Administration and its friends in both houses of Congress have to do it by statute, as allowed by Art. I, sec. 4. It may take heavy lifting but no sacrifice is too great. If they can do that, the Republican Party will have to respond to a broader electorate and its Trump voters won’t have clear shots either to nomination or to victory.

I don’t want to bury the Republican Party; I want to reform it so that it can perform its proper functions, serving as watchdog and providing alternatives. A disloyal party, however, cannot and must not be tolerated.

I don’t know whether the path to those reforms requires ending or changing the rules regarding the filibuster but I’m all for it. The filibuster blocked Civil Rights legislation for years, protected segregation, lynching, the violence of the Klan and their allies against Freedom Riders and people trying to register to vote. Anti-lynching legislation was still being blocked last year after being introduced more than a century ago.

The filibuster could be procedurally weakened, the requirements for filibustering could be made more onerous, election laws removed from its clutches, or the filibuster could be eliminated completely.

Whatever it takes, Schumer, Harris and Biden have to create a path through the filibuster’s roadblock – a path to more democratic election laws that will help to make American democracy reliable, opposition parties loyal, and our constitutional system something we can be proud of again.

This commentary was scheduled for broadcast on the WAMC Northeast Report, on January 26, 2021.


Missiles in the Middle East

January 25, 2021

Let me suggest opening this link, and scanning to the map on the last page. It’s stunning. Missiles are now all over the Middle East. And since Iran can’t find protection under an American nuclear umbrella, they cannot accede to American demands without a region-wide solution. Another way of saying that, is that withdrawal from the JCPOA had permanent consequences. In this as in so many other ways, the arrogance of Trump led to changes which make everything harder.


Hallelujah (I hope)

January 20, 2021

One hopefull event. May it signal the end of the nightmare. Stand by for PTSD.


Liberty and Terror

January 18, 2021

Some things sadden us: Cries of election rigging started long before anything happened perhaps because Republicans had spent years very publicly trying to rig the election against Democrats by excluding or gerrymandering Democratic voters. People stick to rumors of election rigging despite repeated counting and recounting of votes, repeated failure to produce evidence of wrongdoing and numerous decisions in which judges of both parties made clear that they saw nothing more serious than trivial mistakes. Armed groups mimicked battles for power in dictatorships, stormed and vandalized the Capitol, attacked Capitol police, and attempted to stop the count. Even some Congressmen still insist on forcing their way past metal detectors intended to keep all weapons out.

So there’s a need to state the obvious although it probably won’t get to the ears or minds of the people who ought to change their behavior.

The militia and gun crowd seem to believe that overturning democratic procedures would put them in charge and Republican supporters seem to agree. But once force displaces democratic procedures, force rules, with no end in sight, and freedom is gone. Harm is permanent, putting the future in the tank.

Armed groups shout about liberty and freedom, but whose? Whose now and whose in the future? If some colonel or general controls, or if gangs, criminal groups, death squads, private armies, or internal army factions compete for control, what does liberty mean? That your son or brother hasn’t yet been impressed into service? That your mother or sister hasn’t yet been raped? Is that freedom? We know people who sent their children here to get them away from the clutches of the Sendero Luminoso, founded as a Peruvian Marxist organization by Abimael Guzmán, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in Peru and forcing students to fight. Are the Chinese, Burmese, or Syrians free though they too are ruled by militaries? Does Cliven Bundy come out on top, ignoring the larger society’s need? Or once the rule of force takes over, does even his resort to jury nullification end whenever an army wants what he has.

Armed groups, gangs and militias fight, split and recombine. Some in militarized countries may be happy for a time, but the long run is about who muscles their way to the top, like Joe Stalin who long ruled the Communist Soviet Union and slaughtered tens of millions in his purges, including those who thought they’d been his friends. The long run is ruled by guns, not principle or freedom but power wielded to mow down any who could challenge the rulers. Whose side are you on, on issues yet to be defined? Whose side are you on as power shifts among armed groups?

And does it even matter. In the wars south of the U.S. border, who’s been safe? Sonia Nazario wrote “Someone Is Always Trying to Kill You,” the cover story of the New York Times Sunday Review a year ago. Is that freedom? If there is no rule of law, everyone is at risk. Armed groups have the adrenalin of their weapons but there are weapons on all sides. Indeed, absent the rule of law, absent counting actual votes, everyone with a gun is either a bandit or potential ruler. That’s not liberty. That’s slavery. If anyone cares, the Founders of our country would have agreed – liberty, to them, meant the right to vote and by their votes choose their leaders.

— This commentary was scheduled for broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, on January 19, 2021.


National Day of Service

January 18, 2021
image

The National Day of Service for the Inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will celebrate and honor the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 18, 2021.

WHAT:            Food and Diaper collection

WHY:              to stock neighborhood pantry boxes which are available in     

                        neighborhoods with increasing numbers of families experiencing    

                        food insecurity

WHEN:            Monday, January 18,   10 am until 2 pm

WHERE:          B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation, 420 Whitehall Rd., Albany

                         AND

                         Delmar Presbyterian Church, 585 Delaware Ave., Delmar

BEST ITEMS:    anything that can withstand outdoor temperatures such as

                          canned beans, soup, rice, granola/protein/breakfast bars, canned

                          fruit, tuna fish, coffee, tea, cooking oil etc.   

                          Also diapers – size 5 or 6 are the most popular sizes

The National Day of Service is an opportunity for all Americans to unite and serve at a time when the global pandemic calls on all of us to work together and support our communities.


Liberty and Terror

January 18, 2021

Some things sadden us: Cries of election rigging started long before anything happened perhaps because Republicans had spent years very publicly trying to rig the election against Democrats by excluding or gerrymandering Democratic voters. People stick to rumors of election rigging despite repeated counting and recounting of votes, repeated failure to produce evidence of wrongdoing and numerous decisions in which judges of both parties made clear that they saw nothing more serious than trivial mistakes. Armed groups mimicked battles for power in dictatorships, stormed and vandalized the Capitol, attacked Capitol police, and attempted to stop the count. Even some Congressmen still insist on forcing their way past metal detectors intended to keep all weapons out.

So there’s a need to state the obvious although it probably won’t get to the ears or minds of the people who ought to change their behavior.

The militia and gun crowd seem to believe that overturning democratic procedures would put them in charge and Republican supporters seem to agree. But once force displaces democratic procedures, force rules, with no end in sight, and freedom is gone. Harm is permanent, putting the future in the tank.

Armed groups shout about liberty and freedom, but whose? Whose now and whose in the future? If some colonel or general controls, or if gangs, criminal groups, death squads, private armies, or internal army factions compete for control, what does liberty mean? That your son or brother hasn’t yet been impressed into service? That your mother or sister hasn’t yet been raped? Is that freedom? We know people who sent their children here to get them away from the clutches of the Sendero Luminoso, founded as a Peruvian Marxist organization by Abimael Guzmán, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in Peru and forcing students to fight. Are the Chinese, Burmese, or Syrians free though they too are ruled by militaries? Does Cliven Bundy come out on top, ignoring the larger society’s need? Or once the rule of force takes over, does even his resort to jury nullification end whenever an army wants what he has.

Armed groups, gangs and militias fight, split and recombine. Some in militarized countries may be happy for a time, but the long run is about who muscles their way to the top, like Joe Stalin who long ruled the Communist Soviet Union and slaughtered tens of millions in his purges, including those who thought they’d been his friends. The long run is ruled by guns, not principle or freedom but power wielded to mow down any who could challenge the rulers. Whose side are you on, on issues yet to be defined? Whose side are you on as power shifts among armed groups?

And does it even matter. In the wars south of the U.S. border, who’s been safe? Sonia Nazario wrote “Someone Is Always Trying to Kill You,” the cover story of the New York Times Sunday Review a year ago. Is that freedom? If there is no rule of law, everyone is at risk. Armed groups have the adrenalin of their weapons but there are weapons on all sides. Indeed, absent the rule of law, absent counting actual votes, everyone with a gun is either a bandit or potential ruler. That’s not liberty. That’s slavery. If anyone cares, the Founders of our country would have agreed – liberty, to them, meant the right to vote and by their votes choose their leaders.

— This commentary was scheduled for broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, on January 19, 2021.


A Taste of Their Own Medicine

January 11, 2021

I find myself getting angrier by the day and wanting to give the extremists, the alt-WRONG, the Trumpistas, the people who think the road to greatness is violence against each other, a taste of their own medicine. They chanted “Lock her up” and I want to lock HIM up, and THEM too.

More than that, I keep thinking of the loyalty oaths we had to sign in the 50s and 60s, spread by Joe McCarthy and used to attack liberals. It was very effective in destroying the pro-labor movement, the left that called for measures to make life better for working people. That was what the McCarthy loyalty oaths took down. The left morphed, of course. In the 60s it switched to integration and the women’s movement so that the Trump crowd could now slander the left claiming we liberals don’t care about workers.

But now, like the old loyalty oaths, it’s time to make people swear under penalties of perjury that they have never brought guns or other weapons to demonstrations, or into public buildings, or threatened public officials with them. It’s time to fence in those who believe that politics is a blood sport, decided not by votes but by force. This goes much deeper than Trump and it needs to be removed from the body politic. Maybe the alt, the racists, misogynists and extremists who are afraid of fair competition with Blacks and women will morph into something more constructive – though I don’t have a prayer that they will ever understand that we all do better when everyone does better.

The South took back their loss in the Civil War with continued violence, guerilla violence where necessary until they took over a part of this nation and ruled it for a century of segregation and intimidation. Now it’s time to finish the job of taking this country back and threaten and intimidate those who think threats, intimidation, assault and murder are fine means of politics. This country has no place for people who put victory and murder above democracy. We talk about violence in this country but the way-over-the-top racists are the problem and before we tear down the prisons, we should use them to lock the violent racists up. What goes around comes around and that includes gun violence as well as biological violence by refusing to abide by the rules of public health, overwhelming our hospitals and killing people both ways. They don’t believe in life. When you take away the idea that they care about human life, what you are left with in the anti-abortion hysteria is misogyny. Blacks and women, that’s what these extremists are afraid of. They are cowards in daily life trying to claim bravery with their weapons, mobs and threats.

Frankly, it’s very disturbing that there are people who still support the monster called Trump, who will work against any non-Trumper in politics even though there are no Trump policies – he got rid of every idea as soon as he announced it: love the uneducated but support the rich; love the workers in middle-America but ditch the infrastructure projects he promised. He lies to his most devoted supporters because he can.

The biggest dupes of Trump are the ones in the Red hats. He’s filled their minds and bellies with words. And turned many into traitors.

— This commentary was scheduled for broadcast on the WAMC Northeast Report, on January 12, 2021.


Global Lessons in Police Reform

January 7, 2021

A very interesting, and chilling, comparison of American failure to reform police with much better results elsewhere, which makes garbage of the frequent claim that “we’re no. 1,” is called To Protect and to Serve: Global Lessons in Police Reform. I highly recommend it.


No prior violence at the Capitol was instigated by the person responsible to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed….”

January 6, 2021

WP listed 7 incidents in the history of the U.S. which involved violence at the U.S. Capitol, Elahe Izadi, A history of violence at the U.S. Capitol, WP, March 28, 2016, available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2016/03/28/a-history-of-violence-at-the-u-s-capitol/.

Makenzie Koch, A history of shootings, other violent attacks at the US Capitol, available at https://fox4kc.com/news/a-history-of-shootings-other-violent-attacks-at-the-us-capitol/, Posted: Jan 6, 2021 / 03:56 PM CST / Updated: Jan 6, 2021 / 03:56 PM CST reported “Since the Capitol was opened in 1800, there have been two other shootings and several other serious attacks.”

I can remember reporting of several of those incidents, going back to the 1954 attack by Puerto Rican nationalists, when I was in Junior High School.

Never before has the person acting as Commander-in-Chief been the leader and supporter of the violence – effectively a traitor. There have been many warnings going back several decades that gun rights groups and those gathering at gun shows, private militias and congregation of militia organizations, have been preparing to attack federal authorities. One of that number, Timothy McVeigh, bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing hundreds, including the children in a day care center in the building. But those warnings ran afoul of politics because the gun rights groups were allied with one of the political parties. Enough, people with guns planning conspiracies against the government and against people whose politics differ from theirs, must be stopped. Those involved in the violence at the Capitol must be tried, convicted and sentenced, from the top down.


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