Wednesday, January 08, 2020

On Iran's "retaliation" - a guest perspective

Much discussed (elsewhere) is the high likelihood that Iran's recent missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq was an "arbitrated response/deal..." one negotiated in advance, allowing Iran and Iraq a face-saving way to "retaliate" in some flashy way, without causing any U.S. casualties that would invite further vengeance. This kind of thing is classic in the art of de-escalation and is consistent with Trump's bipolar pattern - lashing out then hurriedly backing off and letting professionals help him minimize any blowback.

Below is a guest-commentary that was offered to a small group by my friend and respected investment guru Russ Daggatt. But first -- I agree that the Iranian missile attack will be seen as a rather lame pre-negotiated, pre-warned face-saver. And hence, there will likely also be deemed insufficient by many of the parties in the Ayatollahs' constituency. You can be sure it will be supplemented with a "deniable" attack of some nastiness, at a later point.

What would be smartest? On the Daily Show, Roy Wood comically suggested those with grievances against Donald Trump make threats against Trump hotel properties. The threats needn't be serious in order to have intended effects. Moreover, it seems apropos, since this whole affair was a choice made entirely by ol' Two Scoops, against the wishes of all responsible U.S. government adults. 

Any of you who have read either EARTH or Polemical Judo know that I long ago suggested that kind of non-lethal methodology for developing nations to use, applying the prim legal definitions of "war" to get their stolen trillions back from banking havens. I proposed they issue Letters of Marque for anyone to use stink bombs or streaking on the small nation's behalf. I am not recommending this to Tehran! Since in fact, that regime doesn't deserve any moral high ground -- it has none, and will soon be a Russian satrapy, in any event.

Still, one can fantasize such a measure simultaneously deterring Trump income while adding a touch of whimsey to lighten up a crisis.

Now over to Russ Daggatt.

==  The Iran Tiff: Factual background, by Russell Daggatt ==

Tonight, Iran has reportedly launched a dozen or so missiles at two US military bases in Iraq (apparently without American casualties). Iran has sent word that they won’t further retaliate if the US doesn’t. Obviously, a lot is still uncertain. Now’s a good time to pull back and look at what we hope to achieve from all this.

By any definition, assassinating the top military leader of another country is an act of war. (The last time we did it was during WWII, when we killed Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack. But that was total war (we actually nuked Japan), declared by Congress.) General Soleimani was a national hero in Iran, which is a proud country of 80 million people. Their internal politics demanded some act of retaliation. (Had another country assassinated, say, Dick Cheney during the Bush years, every Democrat would have joined every Republican in demanding some kind of retaliation. And Soleimani was more beloved in Iran than Cheney was here.)

Instead of seeking to cool emotions, Trump has been escalating the conflict, engaging in the taunts, threats and insults that he is temperamentally inclined to spew in even the most trivial and benign of situations. Before we rush headlong into war (again), it’s worth asking what we are hoping to achieve and whether war is the best means of achieving those objectives.

Humans are tribal. We tend to see our tribe as virtuous and other tribes as evil or devious or, at a minimum, mistaken. It’s useful occasionally to see things from the other side (not always easy when the nationalistic drums of war are beating).

I’m no fan of theocracy. I would be happy to see the Iranian people throw off their’s (and hope we don’t embrace one here). But we have a pretty bad history with that country - from our overthrow of their democratically-elected Prime Minister Mosaddegh, to our shooting down Iran Air 655 (killing all 290 innocent men, women and children aboard), to supporting Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war (which cost upwards of a million lives), to abrogating the nuclear deal (with which they were complying) ... and now assassinating General Soleimani. They have far more reason to fear and hate us than we do them. The Iranian leadership has generally been relatively restrained into their regional behavior - aggressively advancing their interests, but in a low-cost manner that doesn’t overextend themselves or risk major escalation.

To review: We invaded and occupied countries on either side of Iran, and have remained there for nearly two decades. During that time, we’ve had as many as 180,000 troops in Iraq (to their west) and 100,000 in Afghanistan (to their east). There was really no way they could stay out of the chaos we created on their borders and throughout the region - they had and have too much at stake. (By comparison, what are our interests, 6000 miles away?)

Iran’s leadership has been portrayed in this country as fanatics bent on suicidal aggression. In fact, they are relatively conservative, cautious and pragmatic (unlike our current leadership). They have shown themselves repeatedly willing to deal with us when it is in our mutual interest. They initially worked with us in Afghanistan (General Soleimani supported our allies, the Northern Alliance, in the battle against the Taliban even before we got involved there) - until Bush declared them part of the “Axis of Evil”. In 2003, they proposed a “Grand Bargain” to resolve all our regional differences (including those re Israel), to which we didn’t even respond. And they led the fight against ISIS in Iraq - with US forces and Iranian-backed militia sometimes operating out of the same Iraqi bases (it’s fair to say ISIS might have overrun all of Iraq had it not been for General Soleimani).

The media have been constantly repeating the administration's claim that General Soleimani was “responsible” for the deaths of hundreds (or sometimes, specifically, 600) American troops. It’s true that Iran backed Iraqi Shiite militia in the civil war that was unleashed in the chaos following our invasion and occupation. The US was fighting both sides of that civil war at various times and various places, and sometimes we were fighting Iraqi Shiite militia backed by Iran. We killed a lot of Iraqi Shiites and they killed a lot of our troops. Over 4500 Americans died in Iraq, which means most of those deaths were from fighting the Sunnis who those Shiite militia were also fighting. In other words, much of the time, they were fighting the same people we were. But those Iraqi Shiite militia, with the support of Iran, did seek to drive us out of their country.

We need to accept the fact that there is no way we are going to eliminate Iranian influence in Iraq. We opened that Pandora’s Box in 2003. Iran is the center of the Shia faith and many of its most holy sites are on the other side of the arbitrary post-colonial border in Iraq. Iraq is majority Shiite and many if not most Shiites look to Iran as the center of their faith. It’s worth noting that there were no Iranian-backed attacks on US forces for eight years, from 2011 until Trump pulled out of the JCPOA. After 2014, we were on the same side in the fight against ISIS.

And then there was the *nuclear deal* - the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The more moderate elements of the Iranian government took a big risk negotiating with us. They peacefully dismantled their nuclear program under the most intrusive inspections regime ever agreed to by any country in the world. While some of the restrictions on their enrichment activity phase out over time, their commitment never to pursue nuclear weapons and to that inspections regime never expire. By all accounts, they fully complied with the agreement. But the moderates lost that bet. We reneged. The hardliners were proven right - the US can’t be trusted.

It's also worth noting that Soleimani, while a ruthless warrior and committed adversary of the US and Israel, was also a skilled diplomat and negotiator - one of the best in the region. He knew how far to push it, and when and how to cut a deal. In fact, he was in the process of doing so -- arguably lured to his fate by a false U.S. overture --  when a US missile killed him outside the Baghdad airport. Iraq’s Prime Minister said that Soleimani was bringing him Iran’s response to a Saudi proposal for de-escalating regional tensions. Since the US did not inform the Iraqi government that we were planning on killing Soleimani on Iraqi soil, we might not have known that was his mission that day.

(To further complicate things, among the others we killed along with Soleimani was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. That is a really big deal in Iraq by itself. He was the leader of an Iraqi Shiite militia that fought the US during our occupation of Iraq, and which the US says was behind the attack on a US base that killed an Iraqi-American contractor last month. But he was also deputy commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a state-sponsored coalition of mainly Shiite militia, nominally under the control of the Iraqi PM, formed in 2014 to fight ISIS. As the leader of that fight, Muhandis was considered a hero by many Iraqis (while considered a “terrorist” by the US). He had also been a security advisor to the first Iraqi PM after our invasion and a member of the Iraqi parliament. So, Muhandis was part of the Iraqi government, who fought against us during our occupation, but with us against ISIS. The Iraq PM said the killing of the Muhandis was an act of aggression against Iraq and a breach of the conditions under which American forces operate in their country. Complicated, right? How much of much of that do you think Trump understands?)

The current escalating conflict started with an attack by an Iranian-backed Shiite militia, Kata'ib Hezbollah (part of the Iraqi PMF), on an Iraqi airbase, that killed an Iraqi-American contractor. The US retaliated by attacking several militia bases, reportedly killing 25 Kata'ib Hezbollah members. That might have been disproportionate on our part, but not extremely so. Things might have ended there, but following a funeral in Baghdad for the Kata'ib Hezbollah militiamen killed by the US, an angry mob of dozens of militiamen and their supporters marched to the US Embassy and stormed the outer reception area.

Some background on that embassy attack: It is an understatement to call the US compound in Baghdad an “embassy.” It is more like a walled city within a city. At 104 acres (with much of it underground), it is the largest and most expensive embassy in the world, nearly as large as Vatican City. It cost $750 million to build* and has 5000 people (and has had as many as 16,000 people) working there. That is more than a mere diplomatic outpost. It is like an American small town, inside a fortress, in the middle of the largest city in the largest Arab country.

The “attack” was a mob of a few dozen Iraqis, armed only with stones and improvised Molotov cocktails, who stormed the outer reception area of this vast complex. Iraqi security forces reportedly made no effort to stop them. They threw rocks and trashed the reception area (setting fire to it). But it was not any kind of military attack or attempt to take over the compound - it was an angry protest. From how it has been characterized in the media, you’d think it was a coordinated military attack by Iranian forces. The mob only went about 5 meters into the reception area and never approached within hundreds of meters of the main embassy building. There were no deaths or serious injuries, and after a few hours, they left. I’m sure it was scary for the people in the US compound. But it did not warrant a major military escalation with Iran.

That was a perfect place to leave our escalating tit-for-tat with Iran (at least for this round). It was unarmed Iraqis protesting our killing other Iraqis in Iraq. They shook their fists in anger at us, but no one was hurt. Total casualties in the three incidents: One American contractor, on our side, and 25 Iraqi militiamen, on the other side.

But then Trump decided to radically escalate the conflict. (The embassy attack reportedly reminded him of the US embassy occupation in Tehran under Carter and the Benghazi attack, so he felt he had to look tough. Specifically, he had to look tougher than President Obama, with whom he is irrationally obsessed.) The Trump administration, led by Secretary of State Pompeo initially lied and said the killing of Soleimani was in response to the threat of an “imminent” attack on US interests, but that story quickly fell apart. It was the most “extreme” option given to Trump to retaliate against Iran and had been under consideration for a while. It increased the danger to Americans in the region, it didn’t decrease it.

So let’s look at where things stand now:

• Trump betrayed the Kurds in Syria, ceding Syria to Russia and Iran, and proving us to be an unreliable ally.
• The US-led coalition has suspended operations against ISIS in Iraq, as resources are reassigned to protect our own facilities and personnel.
• The Iraqi parliament voted to expel US (while chanting anti US slogans), solidifying Iranian influence in that country.
• By killing an Iranian national hero, internal pressure on the Iranian regime has eased as the country unites against the Great Satan.
• Iran has announced it will no longer abide by the enrichment restrictions of the JCPOA, further dividing us from our erstwhile allies. (It’s worth noting that Iran is not abandoning the inspections regime and cooperation with IAEA.)
• The populations of both Iran and Iraq have been turned against us.
• No one believes a word Trump and his administration says.

Were these the objectives we hoped to achieve by starting a war with Iran? If not, what are our objectives and have recent actions helped further them? (As Lewis Carroll wrote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there.”)

My point here isn’t to act as an apologist for Iran or Soleimani. They have been determined adversaries of the US and Israel and have done a lot of bad things. It is to step outside our own tribal bubble and focus on the bigger picture. Even looking narrowly at our own national interests, is this escalating conflict advancing them?

I think you can guess my answer.

-- RD

== DB Notes ==

* The greatest untold travesty, among the countless travesties of the Bush era, was who actually benefited from the US invasions.  The Kurds, sure, a bit, till we betrayed them at Trump's orders. Kuwait for sure. Iran, from delayed demolition of Saddam and us later basically handing them Iraq...

...but the one never discussed was Halliburton, plus Bechtel and other military logistics companies. These are the ones who, on cost-plus contracts, gorged on "emergency" no-bid contracts to build and supply and run the bases etc. Their profit margins were unprecedented across all of human history, vastly greater than say Lockheed or other tranditional military suppliers, who nowadays don't benefit all that much from shooting wars.

The greatest TOLD obscenity committed by the Buishes was committed by Bush Senior (the worst president of the 20th Century) who allowed Saddam to murder a million Iraqi Arabs who were dancing in the streets celebrating their promised liberation from that monster, one of the worst stains on American honor in all of history.

77 comments:

TCB said...

Some short notes:

If you've never seen the movie Three Kings with George Clooney, do so. Totally worth your two hours. To my knowledge, the only fairly honest American movie about the 1991 war.

I can think of at least one Democrat who wouldn't demand retaliation if foreign assassins took out Cheney. Mind you, there is no proof that he can be killed. He's been running on a robot heart for years, I think?

And if I have not already laid down this rap, let me do my song and dance about Soft Power. So many people have no idea what soft power is, even though everyone knows it when they see it.

Every moron, even Donald Trump, knows what military power is. Some other country is doing stuff you, the leader, want them to stop doing? Or they are NOT doing something you want them to? Fine. You threaten to send planes with bombs, and tanks and cannons, and ship and soldiers, to rain violence upon them until they do what you want.

And everybody understands economic power. Your country is rich, and you can pay people, even other countries, to do what you want. Or, you can pay some other country to use military power to do your fighting. There are all sorts of ways to use money to get others to do your bidding.

But soft power? What's that?

Let's say there's one person in your neighborhood who's just more credible than anybody. S/He's not stupid. S/He doesn't lie. S/He always tries to be fair. If you have a dispute with somebody else, you both trust him (or her) to broker a compromise. This person has soft power. I'm talking about Fred Rogers. Oprah. Jimmy Carter. Greta Thunberg, even. The person with soft power isn't trying to con anybody. Their ideas are probably good ones. If they tell you something you don't like, you swallow hard and try to accept it, because it's the truth.

This is one of the things that make people like the Bushes and Trump and Mitch McConnell and Murdoch and Limbaugh so destructive and loathsome to America and its values.

They make liars of us!

For being so gawdam obsessed with POWER, they actually squander one of our greatest and most irreplaceable powers. Soft power. The power of being a trusted honest broker who has everyone's well-being at heart. If anything, it's easier to regain lost military or economic power. Soft power, once gone, doesn't come back for a long time. If ever. Decent people don't trust you any more.

When Bush Sr. betrays Iraqis, America loses soft power. When he abets the looting of Soviet state industries, America loses some more. When his son permits torture to become something Americans do, we lose some crediblity on human rights. When Trump betrays Rojava and Ukraine, again we lose soft power. Whew Trump jails immigrant children. When Republicans win crooked elections, who are we to complain about election fraud elsewhere? And on and on it goes, until the US president has no friends elsewhere but the scum of the earth in capitals like Moscow and Riyadh and Istanbul and Pyongyang. All of whom would gladly watch us burn.

Robert said...

I must admit that I was surprised to find out Contrary Brin is now being moderated with comments! Then again, given how some of the people posting here were... outright trolls who only delighted in causing conflict, I'm not entirely surprised. All good things, you know.

One thing I noticed is how quiet Trump has gotten in the wake of the Iranian missile attack on the United States and the fact Trump has mostly stopped his Tweets of Terror. (Seriously, that man has weaponized microblog posts.) It has me wondering... just how big a dose of drugs did they pump into Trump when they got him into the secure room to keep him from blowing up the world? Or maybe someone in the military pulled out a dossier with video, showed it to Trump, and said "you are going to behave, or we're going to "leak" this and McConnell will have no choice but to allow a full trial and you will be removed from office."

Blackmail *can* do good in the right hands, I suppose. Trump is not acting like himself right now so... something has changed. (My friend jokes that his toupee is actually an alien controlling Trump and occasionally runs off screeching to reveal the "666" on that bald head of his that he did as a joke in college on a dare.)

Acacia H., formerly Rob H.

John Kurman said...

Iran is far from done with retaliation. They know us and our short-sighted ways far better than we know them. Assassins will hound the Trump family and associates for at least the next 40 years.

Ironically, the safest place right now may be right next to Donald Trump Jr, a zero priority target.

David Brin said...

Robert, welcome back. We had a great ride at Contrary Brin, since the 90s one of the oldest and best communities, arguing at (mostly) high levels without any entry controls! Moderation waiting till the 2020s. Forced on us by an obsessive imbecile. But in fact, it's hardly any trouble, so...

---
As for this... "Mnuchin seeks delay of proposed disclosure of Secret Service spending on presidential travel until after election"

Absolute evasion of any accountability. (Imagine if Obama tried this, or 10million other things.) One of your top wager demands must be that your RASR name a popular GOP anti-impeachment meme that doesn’t boil down to “Don’t look! No testimony! Stonewall! The FBI didn’t dot every “i” so ban looking! Tax Returns or Deutsche Bank money laundering or stacks of NDAs? Never let us see! No investigations of (our) presidents! No, no don’t look!”

Why? What is it you're afraid we'll see or hear? Attacking the "deep state" men and women who saved us from Hitler, Stalin & bin Laden? After spending 25 years and half a BILLION dollars of our money "investigating" Clintons (they never stonewalled) and finding nothing whatsoever?

The word that kills them is "coward." Refusing to bet is un-manly. It shreds every pretense and pose.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mnuchin-seeks-delay-of-proposed-disclosure-of-secret-service-spending-on-presidential-travel-until-next-year/2020/01/08/8769ea28-30da-11ea-91fd-82d4e04a3fac_story.html

David Brin said...

Careful John K. We don't act in any way as if condoning. And bless the Secret Service! Again, he'll hurt more if the targets are symbolic and even legal.

John Kurman said...

I'm only supposing, not suggesting, what any good national security official has already figured out.

TCB said...

Actually, it appears the Iranian missile attack was a sort of fig leaf: "All right, we shot back, nobody got hurt this round, let cooler heads prevail." And that is a good thing.

The Root notes Trump's apparent acquiescence to reality, albeit in humorously unflattering terms: The President of the United States Just Publicly Went Out Like a Bitch. And That’s Fine by Us

What I find Interesting, if sad, is that Strange Coincidence of the 737-800 crash near Tehran. The plane (with many Canadian citizens aboard) broke up in midair, aflame, all souls lost. It was NOT a 737 Max. What happened? Accidental shootdown by nervous Iranian air defense crews? A bomb aboard? Or an actual technical accident, and if so, WHAT? They do not, it seems, intend to let Boeing have access to the black boxes or the investigation, which is odd but also understandable.

The most Interesting fact of this tragedy is that it was an Ukrainian jet, on its way to Kyiv!!! How are we supposed to accept this at face value, and not wonder if Putin's finger is in it somehow?

Here's an old joke I just made up.

A 15th Century Italian nobleman goes to his psychiatrist (for the purposes of the joke, there are shrinks in Renaissance Italy, work with me here!) He says, "Doc, I think I might be going crazy! I'm extremely paranoid and I think lots of people are plotting against me!"

The psychiatrist tamps his pipe and says, "My good fellow, you're not crazy. You are living in the Italian Renaissance. Lots of people ARE plotting against you. That will be two florins."

Zepp Jamieson said...

Kudos to Daggat. That may be the best short explanation of the entire Iran situation that I've seen.
This has been a political and diplomatic catastrophe for Trump. Not just in the middle east and Europe, but in Congress. Mike Lee disparaged admin efforts to explain why they attacked Suleimani's convoy as "the worst briefing I've ever seen" and indicated that it would affect his vote on the nature of the impeachment trial. Clearly he can no longer support the pretence that Trump is fit to govern.
A meme making the rounds today goes, "If Trump wants to destroy Iran, he should run for president of that country." A lot of posts have lists of Trump properties worldwide, or coordinates to the fourth significant digit for Mar-a-lago. There's a popular notion that Iran could get away with targeting Trump himself rather than American assets and Trump's massive unpopularity. -Given the stakes, I don't think that would be a sound approach for Iran to take, at least not as long as Trump is president, but it won't hurt for Trump's advisors to remind him Iran retribution will haunt him personally for the rest of his life.
One bugger factor right now is that that plane that crashed yesterday was in flames and fragmenting as it fell from the sky. It's fairly likely that someone shot it down, and Iran is keeping the black box. Justin Trudeau is trying to negotiate with the Iranian government over the release of those instruments. Meanwhile, while the government is a "person of interest" there are many other factions in the area that could have done that.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Robert: many people have noted that Trump's performance this morning, stumbling, slurred, vague, with evident breathing problems, was commensurate with a mild overdose of Adderol, a drug to which Trump is allegedly habituated.

Zepp Jamieson said...

TCB: An alternative to that is "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't really out to get you."

Lloyd Flack said...

Looks like the apparent shoot down was a stuff up. There were after all mostly Iranians on the plane.
And it does look like panic and/or poor IFF. I occurred little over an hour after they launched the second attack. They were likely to be very jittery, anticipating a potential American strike.

Robert said...

Please call me Acacia, not Robert. I know the account still uses "Robert" but I realized a couple years ago I'm a transwoman and the only people who call me Robert are my parents (who are unhappy at learning they have a daughter, sadly enough).

--------

Trump's drug addiction issues has been known for a bit. His website still has a picture of a drawer full of over-the-counter medications he "acquired" overseas where they are still unregulated and he just smuggled them over. I'm not surprised he's "partaking" of his drugs, though again I have to wonder if he's being "encouraged" to take them at this point to make him more malleable.

Acacia H.

Zepp Jamieson said...

It may well have been an accident. Or even mechanical or pilot failure. The black box would tell authorities much.
About half the passengers were Ukrainian. Most of the rest were Iranian or Canadian.

Hailey said...

Acacia, congrats on finding yourself!


Cheers,

From a fellow trans woman who mostly lurks here:)

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

Actually, it appears the Iranian missile attack was a sort of fig leaf: "All right, we shot back, nobody got hurt this round, let cooler heads prevail." And that is a good thing.


I've mentioned that I work alongside an Iranian expatriate who has no love for the mullahs and who thinks Trump is a brilliant tactician.

He's been saying for days that the killing of Sulimani was something that Iran wanted done (or at least is happy about), and that there was some secret arrangement with Trump to get it done. It sounds preposterous, and yet the events that have followed certainly don't disprove that theory. At this point, I don't know what to credit.

I've been on a roll with Dave Sim-isms lately, but here's another one: The part of my brain which wants to dismiss the theory can't yet convince the other parts of my brain to do so.

 Ashley said...

I don't particularly agree or disagree with the guest poster, I'm not informed enough to have an opinion at that level, but I suggest that President Trump chose the option no one wanted him to choose goes in the face of procedure for presenting "Courses of Action."

Again, I'm a mere amateur follower of military protocols, but I suggest you all check out this counter-narrative here:

https://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/2020/01/one-simply-does-not-do-throw-away-coas.html

Worth a read, and certainly educational for me.

Darrell E said...

Acacia,

Huh, I wasn't aware of Trump's drug issues. Doesn't surprise me though. And an Adderall habit fits in every way.

Larry Hart said...

Ashley:

but I suggest that President Trump chose the option no one wanted him to choose goes in the face of procedure for presenting "Courses of Action."


However, it is par for the course for Trump, who might well have chosen a course of action specifically because no one wanted him to choose it.

This cartoon, especially the punch line explains how Trump is easily played:
https://dilbert.com/strip/2020-01-08

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/08/opinion/mitch-mcconnell-trump.html


...
Thanks to his pal and protector Mitch, Trump has it both ways on issues like gun control and prescription drug prices. He can say he’s in favor of change without taking any risk that anything will be presented for his signature into law. Mitch has it all covered — with a lid. The House passed more than 400 bills last year, and about 80 percent of them are sitting around moldering on the Senate runway.

This is incredible power for a politician who’s never been elected to national office and isn’t even popular in his home state — one recent poll put him at the very bottom of the Senate, with a 37 percent positive voter rating in Kentucky.

Nevertheless, the country’s been Mitchified.

It’s really the McConnell era, and we ought to be discussing that every day, particularly whenever Donald Trump is within earshot.

There’s only so much the media can do to make this situation clear. We have certain journalistic rules against beginning news stories with, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who actually runs the country, expressed support for his minion, Donald Trump . …”

But nobody’s stopping you. Tweet away. It’ll drive the president crazy. No idea how McConnell would react. He’s probably too busy making all the real decisions to notice.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Middle east politics can be Machiavellian and Byzantine and I wouldn't be surprised if such a plot actually existed. But would you entrust the secrecy of such a plot to DONALD TRUMP? And yes, he's easy to manipulate, but how could Iran pull something like that without at least one of Trump's advisers noticing?

David Brin said...

"About half the passengers were Ukrainian. Most of the rest were Iranian or Canadian." I wonder who would call that a win-win....

David Brin said...

"would you entrust the secrecy of such a plot to DONALD TRUMP?"

The purpose of his private debriefings with Putin was to establish the name of his new handler. The FBI should be watching minor aides or butlers or Mara Lago staff very carefully.

Jon S. said...

For myself, learning who the passengers were (so far) makes the Iranian story, that the plane was aflame and trying to return to the airport when it exploded, more likely. Unless we learn that one of the passengers was a high-value target, blowing up a random plane that didn't even belong to the Great Satan makes no sense at all, while a 737-800 which has received substandard maintenance (not uncommon among some of the smaller airlines around the world) and is laden with fuel could conceivably have exploded.

The words of Elim Garak echo in my ear: "I believe in coincidences. Coincidences happen every day! But I don't trust coincidences."

 Ashley said...

Larry Hart said..."However, it is par for the course for Trump, who might well have chosen a course of action specifically because no one wanted him to choose it."

However, that's not how it's done, and if you read the article at the link I posted you'll understand why.

Unless of course you have experience in presenting Military Course of Action briefings, in which case I will be all ears on the subtleties that the article failed to address.

Darrell E said...

Zepp,

What does offer a bit of plausibility to that scenario is that Trump is dumb enough and narcissistic enough to agree to such a plan even though the only benefits for the US would be negative. Trump is incapable of creating chains of reasoning to model possible outcomes and incapable of saying no to a stroke to his ego. It would be a simple pitch, "You wanna look real tough Donnie?! All you gotta do is blow this guy up for us and we'll let you know right where he is."

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

The words of Elim Garak echo in my ear: "I believe in coincidences. Coincidences happen every day! But I don't trust coincidences."


I like Malcolm Nance's "Coincidence takes a lot of planning.

Ashley:

However, that's not how it's done, and if you read the article at the link I posted you'll understand why.


I did read the article, but I had already posted by then.

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

It would be a simple pitch, "You wanna look real tough Donnie?! All you gotta do is blow this guy up for us and we'll let you know right where he is."


"...And voters will love you for taking out a terrorist, just like Obama did."

Remember how he thought firing James Comey would make him popular with Democrats? Because Comey had screwed Hillary over, which was originally the reason Trump gave for firing him?

locumranch said...


This thread gives us a choice between two mutually incompatible narratives to describe the current relationship between the US, Iraq & Iran:

On one hand, we are asked to believe one Russ Daggatt, a guest poster, who argues that the current military crisis was randomly precipitated by the rogue, egomaniacal, incompetent, moronic, blundering & potentially insane actions of one US President Trump.

On the other hand, we have David's assertion that 'Iran's recent missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq was an "arbitrated response/deal..." one negotiated in advance, allowing Iran and Iraq a face-saving way to "retaliate" in some flashy way'.

This would imply that this entire military incident was some sort of grotesque pre-planned political theatre, a position that is reinforced by no less than 3 coincidences.

The first coincidence is that this "rather lame pre-negotiated, pre-warned face-saver" could not have happened without the similarly lame and pre-negotiated US assassination of Iranian General Soleimani which could not have occurred without a significant Iranian intelligence leak to the USA by Soleimani's immediate allies or handlers.

The second coincidence is that we are now told was that the victim (General Soleimani) was the SECOND most powerful man in Iran, leading the FIRST most powerful man in Iran, one Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to weep, tear his clothes, throw himself onto his beloved's coffin and pledge horrible retribution, only to deliver this "rather lame, pre-negotiated, pre-warned" military burlesque, a sham-of-a-response that suggests that Soleimani's death may have been DESIRED (even ordered) by the Ayatollah.

The third coincidence was the occurrence of yet another supposedly random tragedy, the simultaneous destruction of a scheduled Ukrainian passenger jet in Tehran, leaving no survivors, even though we are told that (1) Iran is part of the Putin Oligarchy & Russian Federation 'Axis of Evil', (2) Ukraine belongs to the US & EU military coalition that is currently 'at odds' with Iran, and (3) Ukraine is supposedly AT WAR with all things related to the Russian Federation, giving rise to the possibility that this 'random plane crash' may either be part or the entire purpose of this pre-planned military sham.

Someone more cynical than myself may even conclude that the whole Middle East Crisis, including the Putin Boogeyman, is just a manufactured military farce designed to keep the citizenry of West manipulated, distracted, deluded and enslaved by endless war in the service of an International Military Industrial Economic Consortium composed of Oligarchs, Bankers, Intellectuals & Media.



Best

David Brin said...

Is "moderation" some kind of miracle drug? locumranch reverted to 6 or 7 years ago, offering a vitamin-enhanced gruel of actually systematic and not spasmodic-strawman assertions and arguments. It was eve... cough ... worth reading!

Of course the crux is still dazzlingly tendentious and absurd, proferring 'contradictions' that simply aren't.

e.g. the "face-saving" negotiated missile strike came after both Trump and the Aytollah rocked back shuddering "what have I done?" and handed things back to the professionals...

As for the airliner, we don't know what happened. An antsy-nervous AAM crew doing the same thing our Navy did to that Iranian airliner, by nervous accident and sloppy IFF? Plausible. Or else the Ukrainian aspect is significant, given thatg Russians have shot down full Uklrainian passenger jets before. And given that there are elements in Iran who do NOT want a de-escalation.

In other words, the yowl of "contradiction" is still what we always get... an illogical yowl. Still, vastly better, son.

--

Oh. "Someone more cynical than myself may even conclude that the whole Middle East Crisis, including the Putin Boogeyman, is just a manufactured military farce designed to keep the citizenry of West manipulated, distracted, deluded and enslaved by endless war in the service of an International Military Industrial Economic Consortium composed of Oligarchs, Bankers, Intellectuals & Media."

And someone SMARTER than yourself would see who wants more light and transparency and who tries to snuff out illumination at every turn. And hell yes, that is the issue, life or death. And Fox-Putin-GOP are the forces of darkness.

jim said...

Well it looks like the extreme political polarization has a silver lining. We have become so polarized that even corporate democrats are afraid to be war supporters if Donald Trump is president.
And republicans proved that even they could be anti-war when Obama was president. It might just be wishful thinking but this unwillingness to support a president of the opposite party engaging in war mongering might become the new norm, and that would be a wonderful thing.

David Brin said...

Of course jim ignores that dems have (at last) restrictions on war powers on their top agenda.

reason said...

Darrel E that conspiracy plan might make sense if Putin acted as a go between (or even duped both sides).

Zepp Jamieson said...

Darrell: Since there doesn't seem to have been any sensible reason for the ambush (no imminent threat) and the two foreign sources likely to have tried to get Trump to attack Suleimani (Israel and Saudi Arabia) were caught flatfooted, I look to Brin's implication that one or more foreign powers may have "servants" acting as advisors in Mir-a-lago. Normally that might seem far-fetched, but this is an amazingly incompetent administration that let a Chinese agent wander right into the premises with data sticks and devices to foil surveillance cameras. and espionagy sorts of stuff. Her cover story that she was invited to a pool party might have worked if she had thought to bring along a bathing suit.

David Smelser said...

With respect to the plane crash, watch was Hannity was broadcasting on the night of the crash:
Hannity Announces Six B-52 Bombers Are On Way to Region - Carrier Groups Are in Striking Distance
https://youtu.be/RDhMuP9dGBY


Alfred Differ said...

Acacia,

The only people who find it easy to make the mental transition are the folks who don't know you well enough yet to form a mental model of you as a person. Since that includes lots of us who interact with you across these here tubes, our work is easy. You have the much tougher task and I wish you good luck with it.

---

If y'all are right about the drugs, we've exposed a vulnerability with amendment #25. The people with the power to act on it might prefer to keep an addled figure-head in place.

Alfred Differ said...

We often have a carrier group 'over there' in striking distance. Usually the carrier is over there supporting Afghanistan operations, but that task includes theater defense. So...

Where are carrier groups are (roughly) is public knowledge.

David Brin said...

Apologies if the moderation requirement means hours pass...

duncan cairncross said...

the moderation requirement means hours pass....

Especially mine as I'm in a completely different time zone!

But that is to be expected -

I hope your phone does not beep when I post something at some ungodly hour in the USA

David Brin said...

Bless the Navy and stay safe.

Lloyd Flack said...

The delay from moderation might be making people less likely to make an impulsive post. It might also take some of the excitement out of combativeness. This might be what is leading to the improvement in Locum and the Ent's posts.

Larry Hart said...

#SAD

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/09/opinion/australia-fires.html

...
There’s substantial evidence that conservatives who are highly educated and well informed about politics are more likely than other conservatives to say things that aren’t true, probably because they are more likely to know what the conservative political elite wants them to believe. In particular, conservatives with high scientific literacy and numeracy are especially likely to be climate deniers.

...

TCB said...

Dr. Brin, way upthread, hath said:

""would you entrust the secrecy of such a plot to DONALD TRUMP?"... The purpose of his private debriefings with Putin was to establish the name of his new handler. The FBI should be watching minor aides or butlers or Mara Lago staff very carefully."

GAAAHHHH DAMMIT Are we living in an episode of ARCHER?!?!??!!?

TCB said...

What EVER has gotten INTO you, Calpurniaaa?

Andy said...

"Apologies if the moderation requirement means hours pass..."

Are you able to appoint some trusted members as admins to speed up moderation?

matthew said...

Mike Bloomberg pledges to keep funding his staffers to support the eventual nominee, even if that person is not him.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/bloomberg-fund-sizable-campaign-effort-through-november-even-if-he-n1113421

I'm not a Bloomberg fan but this is welcome news. Important welcome news.

Caveat: I'm sure the level of support would be different if any of the more progressive candidates win, but still, kudos to Bloomberg for the pledge.

David Brin said...

Except that gives him moles into the new campaign and presidency... but sure. Idle paranoia aside...

jim said...

I assumed that Bloomberg got into the race for two main reasons. First to make sure that Sanders does not get the nomination. Second, I see him as angling to become the Vice President in the style of Dick Chaney. If Bloomberg is on the ticket as the vice presidential candidate he will be able to spend as much of his personal fortune on the race as he wants. In return he gets to shape policy and maybe have a veto over policies he doesn’t like?

The Biden – Bloomberg ticket makes the most sense for Bloomberg, although he might be willing to go for a Warren – Bloomberg if Biden craps out in the primaries and he gets the right concessions from Warren.

Robert said...

@Alfred: That would be a valid argument except that my staunchly conservative friend who voted Trump and has been my friend for 30 years didn't blink once and accepted me with open arms when I came out to him and his wife. Another online friend, who is very religious, another Trumpist, and drinks the anti-Democrat Koolaid who has known me for close to 20 years, also accepts me and doesn't say anything against me being Transgender. My workplace (for whom I've worked for 10+ years) had no problems whatsoever with me being trans. The people who have the problem? My parents, including my mother who said "it's shameful" to my face when insisting I can't tell my (more liberal) cousins or my aunt on my father's side or uncle on my mother's side. In short: it's [i]them[/i]. And it's their choice.

--------------

While I at times roll my eyes at Dr. Brin's descent into Conspiracy Thought, I will admit a small (somewhat darkly) whimsical part of me has this weird thought that Russian IFF systems currently have "Ukrainian assets" marked as hostile, and since the Iranians are using Russian hardware, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine ended up with another transport jet being flagged hostile and some poor Iranian military commander pushed the button before realizing the horrific truth.

No doubt that (to use U.S. rank) Captain vanished that evening and a very similar-sounding shaved Private showed up to duty the very next day....

------------

I've long had a suspicion that Bloomberg knows he's not going to win and instead is running right now to either ensure he gets the VP slot or just to take down Trump. His pledge is another piece of that puzzle and also puts the onus on Sanders, Warren, and other anti-Biden folk to make similar pledges.

However, I doubt Sanders will make that pledge. He's... waging a different war right now, and having Trump remain in office another four years would just allow him to further break the Democratic party and remake it in his own image. I'm still a bit annoyed at AOC who put a stress fracture into the Democratic Party by accidentally advocating for a multi-party system when the #1 concern right now is [i]getting Trump and the Republicans out of the White House[/i]. There is more than enough room for Blue Dog Democrats, Centrists, and Social Democrats like AOC under the Democratic Party banner. Especially as Republicans won't break into the parties of Evangelicals, Fiscal Conservatives, and Mob-Lite. They know their only hope is to remain unified even if that means they all become Trumpists.

Acacia H.

matthew said...

I'm trying to welcome help here! Celebrating another ally. No purity tests!

***

Ok, very good point, David. Need to be even *more* paranoid about the oligarchy. Plus, Bloomberg did use to be GOP.

*Never trust a billionaire*

Still, maybe good news?

Larry Hart said...

For all who hate on the superdelegates, I'm afraid I agree with this, especially the bolded portion:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Jan10.html#item-3

Another thing to keep in mind is that as a result of how the 2016 primary played out and the anger of Sanders' supporters at the superdelegates (who largely supported Hillary Clinton), the rules for 2020 were changed. There still are superdelegates (formally, PLEOs, Party Leaders and Elected Officials), but they are not allowed to vote on the first ballot. However, they are allowed to vote on the second and subsequent ballots. So if there is a brokered convention, the superdelegates may have the final say. In nearly all other democratic countries, the party leadership chooses its candidates without any input from the voters. They get their say in the general election. The idea that a political party isn't allowed to have even a small say (about 16%) in choosing its candidates would seem strange to them beyond belief.

matthew said...

Celebrating another ally. No purity tests!

***

Ok, very good point, David. Need to be even *more* paranoid about the oligarchy. Plus, Bloomberg did use to be GOP.

*Never trust a billionaire*

Still, maybe good news?

David Brin said...

LH: "The idea that a political party isn't allowed to have even a small say (about 16%) in choosing its candidates would seem strange to them beyond belief." Especially after the horrific example of Trump's populist takeover of the GOP.

I doubt Bernie wants to shatter the DP. I am praying AOC is as smart as she looks and is taking into account the allure of flattering sycophants.

I could show Bloomberg how to get more bang for buck. But ...

...the key meme among all my splitter-counter-memes http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/08/five-devastating-rebuttals-to-use-with.html

... is that it was hairbun/crewcut veterans who TOOK TERRITORY in purple and red districts. AOC types are WELCOME to primary old fart "corporatist" dems in blue districts. Knock yerself out. This is not Zero Sum. Just stop pretending you will win over red ones by "just being more sincerely socialist!"

That bullshit has been utterly, utterly experimentally disproved. Have a broad coalition and send the right people to the right fronts in this desperate battle. And tell the Putin-paid splitter memes to fuck off.

Alfred Differ said...

Acacia,

I'm glad to hear that concerning many of the people around you. That means some of the world has moved along faster and farther than I thought likely to happen. In a similar way, I was caught a bit by surprise by the same-sex marriage movement in California. I have very definite, liberalizing opinions*, but after the embarrassment of the 2008 election, I didn't think my neighbors would help reverse the error for some time. I underestimated them. In proving me wrong, they helped me be a bit more optimistic about the general state of our liberty.

* [I advocated for PDA's to help acclimatize youngsters so the battle could be won in about half a generation, but they all went full-on legal challenge. They were right and I was too timid.]



As for Bloomberg, I've never met a politician who ran for office who didn't think they could win it. Charisma AND Ego. Bloomberg might have fallback positions he isn't thinking much about, but I don't doubt he thinks he can win.

matthew said...

Steyer and Bloomberg have had a free rein in many of the traditionally red states in terms of advertising. They are the only ones making media buys in a lot of places, and the sparse polling in those places show them in good positions. Steyer is in 2nd in South Carolina, for instance. We should be treating them as serious contenders, as much as it pains me to say so. I certainly don't want another oligarch as president.

Bloomberg has his NDA problems from his time as mayor. I suspect if he starts gathering delegates or his team really ends up helping a Biden or Buttigieg in major ways then someone is gonna offer to pay to break a couple of the NDAs and Bloomberg will be another #MeToo statistic.

Steyer is interesting. Well done adds and public image. His campaign needs to learn to back off though. One of my friends ended up on his list and he was getting contacted 20+ times every day. DM, email, texts, calls. My buddy says he'll vote for Trump over Steyer because of the harassment. I don't *think* he's serious but he certainly doesn't like the dude.

Alfred Differ said...

When black women in SC side with Steyer, I'll take him seriously. Until then, I suspect Democrats will eventually come around to the idea that he's buying an election. It's not like that hasn't been done in the past, but it puts the tarnish on a candidate for the Dems.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Acacia: I note that Sanders gave full throated and active support to Hillary in the general, even after it became obvious that she was going to renege on her promise to be a stonge voice for labour and workers and address their concerns. (She lost to Trump in mid-west states where Sanders ran strong, too). It highlights the big problem the Democratic Party has with the left: they consider the left to be in thrall to them just because they aren't Republicans, and the left is left to chose between the Hitlers of the GOP or the Chamberlains of the Democratic Party.
Do you really think Bloomberg, a billionaire, will give the same full support to Sanders or Warrent that he might to an apostle of slow surrender, such as Biden. (Biden even said the other day he would consider a Republican running mate!)

matthew said...

Oh and pour one out for Neil Peart.
Drummer and lyricist for Rush. Literate and a SciFi lover. Unfortunate emphasis on Ayn Rand (which he later regretted), leading to many a nerd becoming a libertarian. Played D&D enthusiastically. Wrote a seriously great book about grief and loss and motorcycles (Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road).

Perhaps the most influential drummer I know. Every band I've been in, punk to country, blues to rock and electronica, when the drummer got bored they started playing Neil's stuff. I can think of no higher compliment.

He was an amazing human. We are poorer without his voice and presence.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Brin sayeth, " "just being more sincerely socialist!""

Welp, they don't have to declare themselves socialist. GOP will call them that anyway. All they have to do is be left-populist--stand for working people and the dispossessed, and MEAN IT. (That's what passes for "socialism" in this propaganda-besotted country). Hillary paid lip service to it, far too tepidly, while Trump, unencumbered by any ethics or morals, ran as the working-class candidate. Brought him close enough in the rust-belt states that the GOP could steal it.

Don Gisselbeck said...

To repeat myself, as a "fire up the guillotines" leftist, I can't understand why people can't see that serially electing the lesser of two evils eventually gets decent officials.
On a mostly on topic note, the website of the Iranian Ski Federation has been inaccessible for several days.

David Brin said...

"All they have to do is be left-populist--stand for working people and the dispossessed, and MEAN IT."

Thus repackaging the same utterly utterly disproved splitter nostrum. Something's disproved? DOUBLE DOWN on it!!!!!

Ignore all the evidence. Ignore how we won red districts in 2018. Ignore polling and the actual words of actual local people. Keep trying the same thing, expecting different results.

You CAN push socialism by primarying moderates in blue districts WHILE backing those with a chance to take territory in red-purple ones. But guys like you will always hate on your allies.

---

Bernie may collect bunches of delegates then decide to be convention kingmaker.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

All they [Democrats] have to do is be left-populist--stand for working people and the dispossessed, and MEAN IT.


No, that's the secret sauce that Trump stumbled upon in 2016. Much of the working class themselves despise the dispossessed. Trump may have appealed economically to the working class in the campaign, but he keeps their support by making it clear that they can be mean to the dispossessed.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Bernie may collect bunches of delegates then decide to be convention kingmaker.


Which mimics my proposed alternative to ranked choice voting. That in a real election, if no one candidate reaches 50%, the candidates themselves get to horse-trade their votes with each other in return for such things as policy concessions or cabinet appointments.

I don't claim to have vetted all of the details, but it seems to me that that method would produce a better result for those factions with large pluralities but not majorities. With "traditional" IRC, you get the personal satisfaction of voting for (say) AOC and still helping (say) Biden beat Trump, but in the end, AOC is just one more loser. My way, Biden would have to make some concessions that AOC's constituents approve of in order to get her votes.

Larry Hart said...

Emphasis mine. Seems awfully similar to the ridiculous attacks on President Obama which were inexplicable except for outright racism:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/09/opinion/meghan-markle-prince-harry.html

...

Then there was the sublimely ludicrous suggestion that [Princess] Meghan’s avocado consumption is responsible for mass murder, while her charity cookbook was portrayed as somehow helping terrorists.

Those who claim frequent attacks against the duchess have nothing to do with her race have a hard time explaining these attempts to link her with particularly racialized forms of crime — terrorism and gang activity — as well as the fact that she has been most venomously attacked for acts that attracted praise when other royals did them. Her decision to guest-edit British Vogue, for example, was roundly condemned by large parts of the British media, in stark contrast to Prince Charles’s two-time guest editorship of Country Life magazine, Prince Harry’s of a BBC program and Kate Middleton’s at Huffington Post, all of which were quietly praised at the time.

Her treatment has proved what many of us have always known: No matter how beautiful you are, whom you marry, what palaces you occupy, charities you support, how faithful you are, how much money you accumulate or what good deeds you perform, in this society racism will still follow you.

David Brin said...

LH there's two places left where the candidates can dicker & horse trade. First as legislators back in their houses... but since most are Senators and hence powerless...

The other is at the convention. They can't order delegates to vote a certain way, anymore. But their requests will be heeded.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I note that Bernie is now leading in the polls in Iowa, a state ravaged by Trump's trade wars. He got there by talking to the farmers and finding out what they need in order to keep going.
And what are you going to do if Biden gets the nomination and follows through on his statement that he would consider a Republican as a running mate? One assassin is all it would take...
Several Dems--all centrists--were urging Pelosi to give up on trying to wrest a fair trial in the Senate and just submit the damn articles of impeachment. Of what use are they to anyone?
I know a lot of good Democratic moderates, but the centrists, the DLC types who believe that there is an imaginary political centre they must cling to and forever triangulate--they are useless. They consider surrender a precondition for office. And they don't dare offend that imaginary political centre by running stridenly Rooseveltian Dems for office.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: Trump's policies are making workers the same dispossessed that (some) of them despise. There was a study the other day that claimed that states that saw a $1 increase in the minimum wage in 2018 saw a 10% drop in the suicide rate as well. LBJ's dictum of winning by making poor white trash feel superior to the best ****** may be smart politics, but it's about the most self-destructive way of running a society or a country I can imagine. (And just to be clear, I realise you're not advocating that!).

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'm passing this along, something I got from Howie Klein over at his downwithtyranny blog. It's a useful guide for battleground states based on Trump's job-performance ratings.
https://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-path-to-victory-doesnt-go-through.html

If job approval is an indication of how someone is likely to vote, a Bernie v Trump election in November isn't going to be close. The new Morning Consult state by state job approval numbers for Trump are out and basically he has only 13 states locked down (with 79 electoral votes). Bernie would have 23 states locked down (with 269 electoral votes). The incontestable Trump states-- from bad to worst in terms of job approval:

• Missouri- +6
• Kansas- +7
• Utah- +7
• Oklahoma- +8
• Louisiana- +9
• Arkansas- +10
• Kentucky- +14
• Mississippi- +14
• Tennessee- +15
• Idaho- +16
• West Virginia- +21
• Alabama- +22
• Wyoming- +28

And these are the states that the Democrats would begin the general election campaign with lock-downs-- from safe blue to tsunami blue:

• Maine- minus 6
• Pennsylvania- minus 6
• Iowa- minus 9
• New Mexico- minus 10
• Wisconsin- munus 10
• Minnesota- minus 10
• Nevada- minus 12
• New Jersey- minus 14https://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-path-to-victory-doesnt-go-through.html

If job approval is an indication of how someone is likely to vote, a Bernie v Trump election in November isn't going to be close. The new Morning Consult state by state job approval numbers for Trump are out and basically he has only 13 states locked down (with 79 electoral votes). Bernie would have 23 states locked down (with 269 electoral votes). The incontestable Trump states-- from bad to worst in terms of job approval:

• Missouri- +6
• Kansas- +7
• Utah- +7
• Oklahoma- +8
• Louisiana- +9
• Arkansas- +10
• Kentucky- +14
• Mississippi- +14
• Tennessee- +15
• Idaho- +16
• West Virginia- +21
• Alabama- +22
• Wyoming- +28

And these are the states that the Democrats would begin the general election campaign with lock-downs-- from safe blue to tsunami blue:

• Maine- minus 6
• Pennsylvania- minus 6
• Iowa- minus 9
• New Mexico- minus 10
• Wisconsin- munus 10
• Minnesota- minus 10
• Nevada- minus 12
• New Jersey- minus 14
• Delaware- minus 15
• Michigan- minus 15
• Colorado- minus 18
• New Hampshire- minus 19
• Connecticut- minus 20
• Oregon- minus 20
• Illinois- minus 21
• Rhode Island- minus 23
• Maryland- minus 24
• Washington- minus 25
• New York- minus 25
• California- minus 28
• Hawaii- minus 28
• Massachusetts- minus 31
• Vermont- minus 35
• Delaware- minus 15
• Michigan- minus 15
• Colorado- minus 18
• New Hampshire- minus 19
• Connecticut- minus 20
• Oregon- minus 20
• Illinois- minus 21
• Rhode Island- minus 23
• Maryland- minus 24
• Washington- minus 25
• New York- minus 25
• California- minus 28
• Hawaii- minus 28
• Massachusetts- minus 31
• Vermont- minus 35 (continued

Zepp Jamieson said...

(continued)
That's an electoral college vote away from an immediate win and TRump's out on his lard ass. There are, arguably 14 contestable seats, at least according to Trump's sorry job approval numbers. (I know... South Carolina and the Dakotas are kind of stretching it.) This list goes from likeliest Trump to likeliest Bernie:

• South Carolina- +5
• North Dakota- +5
• South Dakota- +5
• Montana- +3
• Indiana- +3
• Texas- +1
• Nebraska- +1
• Florida- even
• North Carolina- even
• Alaska- minus 2
• Georgia- minus 2
• Ohio- minus 3
• Arizona- minus 3
• Virginia- minus 5

So 14 true battleground states. Let's say Trump wins every one of them but one-- any one... Bernie is president. All Bernie has to do is win one of the states were Trump is underwater-- Virginia, Arizona, Ohio being the most likely. Or how about this? He can win the one electoral vote he needs by taking Omaha, which is extremely likely.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

That's the primary contest you are talking about. I'd like to see a similar dynamic in actual elections.

matthew said...

Way outside my area of expertise. Anyone with more knowledge care to comment? Alfred?

Vanity Fair reporting on very unusual futures trading just before the Suleimani strike.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/01/the-mystery-of-the-trump-chaos-trades-iranmar-a-lago-edition

David Brin said...

“I note that Bernie is now leading in the polls in Iowa, a state ravaged by Trump's trade wars. He got there by talking to the farmers and finding out what they need in order to keep going.”

You leap to comfy conclusions always always without bothering to study the lay of the land. Dig it. Iowa is weird. The conservatives are extreme and so are the liberals. Look across the past cycles. Iowa democrats always swing left.

“Republican as a running mate?” Your desperation to come up with scenarios is tedious. To imagine Biden would do this is beyond any reach of a sane person. Seriously? When he knows that splitterism is our one route to defeat, you think he wouldn’t chooseWarren or someone suited to shore up his left?

“I know a lot of good Democratic moderates, but the centrists, the DLC types who believe that there is an imaginary political centre they must cling to and forever triangulate--they are useless.”

you probably have never read my essay on this:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/08/five-devastating-rebuttals-to-use-with.html

You certainly show not the slightest sign of tackling the challenges there. All you can do is repeat the same magical incantations over and over again. They comfort you, it’s clear. And of course they especially comfort Putin, because therein lies his hope for 2020.

Watched Bernie on Colbert last night. I love the guy. He reminds me so much of my own dad. I see flaws. But I’m no dogmatist. The dems I deemed unacceptable are off the stage, now, though Bloomberg will likely get on. I like Liz & Bern above all because the KGB will seek dirt in vain.

So the KGB will instead try to split us, shatter our coalition. And Zeepp is a great example to us all of how easily Putin’s guys might use our saps against us.

David Brin said...

"Zeepp" was a typo. Sorry about that. And my derision of lazy-comfy splitterism is intended to KEEP our alliance, not drive guys like Zepp away.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Treebeard said...

Where does our host’s bizarre obsession with Putin come from? He mentions him in almost every post, like some demon who haunts his mind. Did something happen to him personally that he blames on Russia, is it family history, or something else? I’ve seen him gloat about Russia’s low birthrates, compare Russian men unfavorably to farm animals, suggest that the KGB might come after him personally, claim that a president, party, and a large segment of the American people are Putin's puppets, and basically blame Putin for every political development he disapproves of. It suggests something deeper than ideology at work, something pathological, personal or tribal. Care to enlighten us?

David Brin said...

Bizarro, but I'll pause the "onward."

You know it makes you look insane to shrug off the blatant fact that ALL of our security agencies ascribe to the Kremlin acts of war agains the US, our institutions and elections?

Putin called the fall of the USSR the 20th Century's worst tragedy. He and his pals and "ex" KGB consist of nearly all the same men, doing the same things, with the same goals, as when they all grew up reciting Lenin. For 70 years they failed to suborn the US left. Within a few years of dropping the hammers and sickles and claiming to be "christian traditionalists", the SAME MEN in the SAME spy agency completely suckered and won over the entire American right.

Russian mass media is resurrecting and glorifying Stalin!

See here how desperately Putin wants to reframe the USSR as the sole hero of WWII, washing out lend lease and using Orwellian methods to white-out Stalin's collaboration with Hitler and invasion of Poland and the Baltic States. Again... Putin called the fall of the USSR the 20th Century's worst tragedy.

We need nothing more than to see how desperately Fox and the Limbaughsphere are working to kissy-kissy the man with nukes aimed down our throats.

Oh, but I waste my time using words with the ent. Watch this scene again, and look at the puppet entering the room in the background.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXiSafSqXAY

Watch the grin as he greets his master, while other western leaders know what they are looking at. The winner of the new cold war, destroyer of NATO and puppetmaster for the American fall.
https://www.cnn.com/videos/business/2018/11/13/late-night-trump-putin-paris-greeting-orig-vstan-emg.cnn

And now onward

onward

Zepp Jamieson said...

I wasn't desperate to "come up with a scenario": Biden really did say he would consider a Republican running mate. Now, I have no idea how serious he was--his mouth often outpaces his brain--but it didn't send a good message to those of us who recognize the futility of trying to treat with this generation of Republicans. It reminded me unpleasantly of Obama's decision to include a couple of Republicans in his cabinet--a decision I approved of at the time but quickly learned was another "There shall be peace in our time" moment. (Neville Chamberlain was a much better PM and person than history gives him credit for--he just made the same grievous mistake of thinking the other side was dealing in some sort of good faith).
I did read your essay you mentioned, and agreed with most of it. I will note that failing to approve triangulation against an implacable foe is not the same as being a screaming leftist radical. I note that while Bernie is my favourite in the primaries, I would give my full and unreserved support for Elizabeth Warren. I don't trust Gabbard or Bloomburg for reasons I'll be happy to articulate, and even though I like a lot of Steyer's philosophy and believe him to be sincere, I don't want another billionaire in the White House. Yang falls into that same category. Biden and Klobucher are both DLC, which is not moderate as much as it is fearful, and I can't see either standing up to Trump, McConnell and that lot.
There were a couple of really good moderates, but unfortunately they've both dropped out of the race. Apparently their own magical incantations didn't have the appropriate juju.
I'm very much aware of Putin's malign intent--you may recall I chased a couple of his stooges out of here myself over the past few years. But if we can't have this debate now, at the start of the primaries, then when?
Re: "Zeepp"--no worries. I've made that same typo myself.

David Brin said...

The job of the Dem president is to preside over hundreds of skilled and brilliant people demolishing all fragments of the oligarchic-treason-putsch. I have no doubt of Biden's intent to do that. Klobuchar is problematic in many ways re: temperament, but I don't doubt her ability to seek that too. She'll not get the nom.

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