Day 15,260

When we were in college, in the late Seventies, there were some Iranian students on campus as well. They were easily identifiable — by their Trans Ams, went the joke. Oil money, y’know.

But they weren’t all spoiled rich kids. Some took the opportunity of being outside their country to protest conditions within — conditions of living under the Shah. Such protests weren’t casual. They covered their faces with masks. The SAVAK — the Shah’s secret police — might be watching.

Being young and American — and in sleepy Eugene, Oregon, no less — we didn’t understand this at first, the ostentatious precaution of it. And Eugene being a hippie mecca — Berkeley North, we joked — the masked Iranians were just one protest group among many, a sideshow, really, part of the ongoing campus circus.

That all changed our junior year — November 4, 1979, to be precise. The day the Tehran embassy was overrun.

We were 20, and we had learned a few things by then. The revolution had been in the news for a year, and the Shah himself had fled the country in January. The Ayatollah was now a familiar figure.

Less familiar, if you just watched the news, was the backstory: How Iran had a democratic government in 1953, how the CIA backed a coup against that government, how America — Us! — had propped up the Shah ever since.

The Iranian students on campus in their masks would have known that. And had we listened to them at the time, we would have learned it earlier, that our own government shared responsibility for their plight. But by the time the embassy was stormed, we damn well knew.

And then, everything went south.

In the news, the backstory — the very context — was irrelevant. Now it was the embassy personnel with the masks, and that was all that mattered. Roone Arledge, the ABC Sports guru, the Up Close & Personal guy, who had recently taken over the news division to derision from Doonesbury among others, launched a late-night series of specials called America Held Hostage, with an unknown spare correspondent as host. Every night, Ted Koppel would count the days since the standoff started, because now hyping the immediate drama was the only thing that mattered.

(He was far from alone — Walter counted, too — but Roone & Ted made a brand out of it.)

The Rest of the Story isn’t just how that context-free jingoistic festival would find a permanent slot as Nightline. It’s not just how Saint Jimmy, badgered by Day This and Day That, launched a desperate rescue mission that we were damn sure, sitting in our dorm room that night as the news broke, would soon get us drafted into a new Vietnam. It’s not even how Ronnie committed treason against our government by making backchannel arrangements to delay their release until his inauguration.

It’s how we, as a nation, ignored everything but the event itself. It’s how we’ve repeatedly done that since, more than forty years now, turning a blind eye to the harm we cause to people around the world, then being shocked — Shocked! — when they have the audacity to resist, violently so, after all civil means of resistance have been violently precluded.

It’s how America became the Great Satan through our own hubris and blindness. It’s now Day 15,260, and we’ve never learned. We’ve only made things worse.

Our enemies never hated us for our freedom. They hated us for crushing theirs.

45 Comments

Time isn’t a flat circle, it’s a goddamn Slinky.

@nojo: Yes. I was in Cairo in August 2011. Every Friday, students protested in Tahrir Square directly across from the McDonald’s near the Egyptian museum under a Peter Max billboard of Hosni Mubarak’s smiling face.

He wasn’t staring straight on. Rather, his face was turned ever so slightly to the side. Avuncular. Protective. Kind. He allowed the students to vent their spleens in predetermined quantities. He supported time, place, and manner restrictions. “Everything’s fiiiine, you see? The kids are alright.”

Less than a month later, the twin towers fell. Almost a decade later, Tunisia caught spring fever and it seemed like it was going to spread faster than COVID (sorry). I watched Cairo.

I stayed in the Lotus Hotel, close enough to where the westerns were but far enough away to forget them. I made some friends when I was there. I sat in their shops chatting, drinking tea and smoking apple tobacco from hookahs. Most were *lotharios wanting green cards or people who got kickbacks if I bought something from their friends’ shops. All were just decent people with hustle who kept asking me to relay messages to our president. “We love the United States, but we hate Bush.”

Of course they knew that I didn’t talk to the guy. I think their message was for us: Pay attention, please.

One night I went to a beautiful gated park. It cost about ten American cents to get in, and you could only enter if you were Egyptian. Here I have to say that I never knew what it felt like to be part of a majority population until I went to Egypt. My lizard brain told me that I was with my kind, my kin, despite being the product of several generations of raped West African slaves and not North African. They knew I was American, but they taught me some hustle so I could pay the Egyptian price for a litre of bottled water or koshari.

My family is blonde and nappy, ginger and straight, brown and wavy, light bright and damn near white, urple, cafe au lait, slate blue, hazel, brown, green, high to no bridge, flared to narrow.

[ugh-went down the blackberry path with this post, and I gotta fly for now. maybe the edit button will be working when I get back. Love you, nojo!]

*some random wild mallard drakes has been sexing up my ladies. I haven’t seen him in action, but I’ve found fertilized eggs, and those hussies stand on a pile of wood chips next to the river and call him. Lothario is the word of the day.

@JNOV: Just saw a mention of Barbara Lee voting against the war in 2001, and being of my time and place, I’m reminded of Oregon’s Wayne Morse voting against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. We don’t learn from quagmires, either.

@nojo: <strike>what’s mr ignatius saying about our withdrawal from Afghanistan?<\strike> I decided to do my own research I couldn’t find any more Eric Ambler digital books in the library, and I decided to give ignatius a try. That guy! He’s a mess. 

@JNOV: Kind of a blur out there right now. Twenty years in-country, many fingers to point. Scores are being settled.

@nojo: Yes.
I have a friend from college who is now a pols professor. We were talking about Afghanistan, and he said, “We need to leave and close our eyes for 10 or 15 years.” If we hadn’t been on the phone I may have slapped him. I keep thinking about the children. I don’t know if it’s rational, but I think we should stay to protect the children. Not just the girls but also the boys who are sold into sex slavery. There’s no cultural relativism argument here.
I work with a lot of combat veterans, but there’s only one I know well enough that I will discuss/argue with him about which war was right, if either. How do we feel about Colin Powell? (we both say “Kah-Lin” like you’re fucking supposed to.) we argue about whether the administration did him dirty or if he didn’t have the guts to stand up, while admitting we never defied orders ourselves.
My friend did 12 tours in the sandbox. (A tour can be three months, six months, there’s really no set time – the length is based on the mission, it’s location, whether the soldiers can be relieved…stuff like that.) Once when we were really, really drunk, he pulled up his shirt and showed me some of his bullet and shrapnel scars. He has many. He’d point to one and ask me what happened when he was shot here? Right lung collapse, broken ribs, sucking chest wound. He’d nod. What about back here? That probably hit your right kidney, maybe your liver… and we went on like that until I cried. they kept sending him out and sending him out and the one time they decided to medically discharge him, they changed their minds and sent him out again.
He lost one person. He was trying to plug the soldier’s torn femoral artery with his fingers. His superiors loved him because he only lost one person. Only. And that’s why they kept sending him back. Only one loss.
His definition of “only” is “failure.”
And when he goes home, he kisses his wife, he goes to his study, he turns on that old school jazz stuff I wish I could get into, and he drinks himself into oblivion. Crown Royal.
Then there’s the guy I work with who is related to a civil rights leader. He told me that he shot a child. The child was walking towards him, and several times he told the child to stop. The child didn’t stop. He shot the child dead. I asked him if he had children. He said he has three. And he said that he would shoot that child again. No regrets.
Nojo, maybe it’s just one war that started tens of thousands of years ago near the Tigris and Euphrates and there is no end.

@JNOV: The post I started to write looked like it was gonna be 5000 words, so I switched to this instead. Wasn’t gonna go back thousands of years, but at least a couple hundred, to the arguments over American participation in revolutionary France, the practical limits of our power, no matter what goodness might be in our hearts.

And then the Draft came to mind, or lack of it, how not long ago it was a commonplace that the “volunteer” military allowed civilian leaders to extend conflicts long beyond what citizens would suffer otherwise, a blank check written against families who lacked other opportunities.

But mainly it was gong to be about the hubris of it all, how the Cheney crowd would say (about Iraq) that all we needed to do was change facts on the ground, and all those trifling historical/cultural concerns would just wash away. We’re an empire now, have been more than a century, but our power still isn’t unlimited. We still can’t dictate to the world, much as some of us would like.

The real tragedy of our participation is what you allude to. Once again we’re abandoning people who trusted us, who helped us, leaving them to vicious fates, just like we abandon our own soldiers after they’ve served, just like we’ve abandoned the firefighters who rushed the towers — just like we’re continuing to abandon doctors and nurses and schoolteachers who deal with covid.

“God damn America” a wise man once said, and you can bet he’s never getting a statue.

It’s all so fucking sad. Why didn’t we get the female judges, teachers, and all the interpreters out of there BEFORE removing the soldiers?

And the GOPers who nine months ago were saying Trump was so right to pull out of that godforsaken place are now all but salivating for a terrorist attack so they can blame it all on Biden.

Canada’s taking in 20,000 refugees. We’re offering red tape.

@nojo: Yes.

@SanFranLefty: Hey! 100% unrelated: on another post ¡andrew! mentioned coumo’s nipple which made me think about Menendez (RIP) which made me think of you.

@nojo: part of me wishes we’d blown up leaned much, much harder on Pakistan a long time ago. But nukes, I guess.

Typing on this iPad is giving me agita. At least it’s good for playing Lemmings.

@JNOV: That’s Harry Shearer’s longstanding point, reiterated today, that we conveniently ignore Pakistan, because, y’know, that and such. And yeah, that’s one of the benefits of joining The Club. Another seems to be taking such uncomfortable conversation totally off the table.

American ignorance throughout the region is staggering, simplistic, and repeatedly calamitous. And that’s only our third-worst problem this year!

@nojo: I like him, and I haven’t thought about him for a while. Too busy being horrified.

@JNOV: I follow Shearer on Twitter, but I haven’t listened to his show (or any podcast) for a few years now. Trump — the unceasing flood of Trump — forced me to take drastic measures to preserve my wits, since I needed them to take in multiple outrages a day.

It’s really struck me how FB/Twitter participation nosedived after the inauguration, and not just political posts — it’s like everyone just needed a long fucking break.

And now it’s just one existential crisis after another. The Boomers who brought us this point through their actions and inaction will be checking out over the next ten years, leaving the rest of us to deal with — and somehow survive — their mess. Kids are being born today who will be around in 2100. I hope they have enough left in them to piss on every 19XX grave they can find.

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that you never start a land war in Asia.
Morons.

The United States did an excellent job of installing a government in Afghanistan that’s a mirror image of our own: brazenly corrupt, abjectly incompetent, overrun by psychofascist religious fanatics, and on the brink of collapse.

@¡Andrew!: I said elsewhere that we can’t even build our own nation.

@nojo: It’s just tragic. There’s never been a nation such as ours that had so much potential, and then destroyed it so violently.
And all because of the insatiable greed of the soulless sociopaths at the apex of US society and the deranged racist hatred that they exploit to stay in power.

@¡Andrew!: I think our potential was dumb luck. Atlantic Ocean to the east, Pacific to the west, relatively harmless neighbors to the north and south gave the new bosses who, let’s face it, we re the same as the old bosses, the breathing room to think about the world they wanted to inhabit.

Thinking is a luxury of the elite who don’t have to tote that barge or lift that bale. They don’t have to churn their own butter or make their own soap.

Angela Davis, nutty as she is, wrote that white women wanted to franchise but didn’t put they backs into it until they were excluded from discussions about abolition. The enfranchised men were like, “ain’t they cute wanting to vote and whatnot. Stick to embroidering your trousseaux.”

So the rich white women were like “we really need the vote. And can we get that Frederick Douglass guy to come speak at one of our conferences? Maybe not that ex-slave who showed her bosom.”

Ain’t I a woman?

So slaves freed! Yay! Males former slaves get us citizenship, the federal vote, and all that lands on the states’ heads as the feds go straight up gangster on their asses. Yay!

But the white women, when the learned that Mr. Douglass was getting the franchise but they weren’t? They used the same arguments against the freedmen that white dudes used against them.

ERA-women of color and poor white women have been working for centuries. But the ERA folks weren’t focused on their sisters who were scrubbing toilets and taking in laundry. Oh no. They excluded them from the conversation and were like, “can I get paid the same as my male counterparts at my firm?” Okay. Fine. Excellent request. Hell, we added ERA language to the Japanese constitution when we wrote it for them, but whatever. They’ve been ignoring that shit for 80 years.

Okay. So you want equal pay for equal work. Totally reasonable and should be a fundamental right, but why didn’t you bring your sisters along? Oh, and good call modifying the tools of the black civil rights movement to suit your purposes.

And now, TERFS. I cannot not wrap my head around their problem unless it’s the age-old misconception or the size of the pie. The number of slices don’t count if the size is the same, but the pie is AS LARGE AS WE CHOOSE IT TO BE.

Gar.

So, no. We did not have a revolutionary war. We kicked the old bums out and kept our own bums.

We were fooled.

Oh. And the French. Dumb luck and French money that ultimately resulted in rolling heads because we bankrupted them, didn’t pay what we owed, and Franklin drank all their wine.

But for the French, we’d be singing god save the queen.

Wow, I just realized that for the first time in 20 years, America is at peace.

Welp, instead of clinging to helicopter skids, people are climbing onto airplane wings.

I received this last night:

Afghanistan: Let’s Talk About It
US Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans from all eras are reacting to the events in Afghanistan, such as the U.S withdrawal and the takeover by the Taliban.

You are not alone.

Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service. It’s normal to feel this way. Talk with your friends and families, reach out to battle buddies, connect with a peer-to-peer network, or sign up for mental health services. Scroll down for a list common reactions and coping advice.

Resources available right now
Veterans Crisis Line – If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.

Vet Centers – Discuss how you feel with other Veterans in these community-based counseling centers. 70% of Vet Center staff are Veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.

VA Mental Health Services Guide – This guide will help you sign up and access mental health services.
MakeTheConnection.net – information, resources, and Veteran to Veteran videos for challenging life events and experiences with mental health issues.

RallyPoint – Talk to other Veterans online. Discuss: What are your feelings as the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan after 20 years of US involvement?

Download VA’s self-help apps – Tools to help deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) – Request a Peer Mentor

VA Women Veterans Call Center – Call or text 1-855-829-6636 (M-F 8AM – 10PM & SAT 8AM – 6:30PM ET)

VA Caregiver Support Line – Call 1-855-260-3274 (M-F 8AM – 10PM & SAT 8AM – 5PM ET)

Together We Served -Find your battle buddies through unit pages

George W. Bush Institute – Need help or want to talk? Check In or call:1-630-522-4904 or email: checkin@veteranwellnessalliance.org

Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes – Join the Community

American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network – Peer Support and Mentoring

Team Red, White & Blue – Hundreds of events weekly. Find a chapter in your area.

Student Veterans of America – Find a campus chapter to connect with.

Team Rubicon – Find a local support squad.

Common Reactions
In reaction to current events in Afghanistan, Veterans may:
Feel frustrated, sad, helpless, grief or distressed
Feel angry or betrayed
Experience an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression
Sleep poorly, drink more or use more drugs
Try to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations
Have more military and homecoming memories
Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service.
Veterans may feel like they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst. For example, they may:
Become overly protective, vigilant, and guarded
Become preoccupied by danger
Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future

Feeling distress is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. It can be helpful to let yourself feel those feelings rather than try to avoid them. Often, these feelings will naturally run their course. If they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.

Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress
At this moment, it may seem like all is lost, like your service or your sacrifices were for nothing. Consider the ways that your service made a difference, the impact it had on others’ lives or on your own life. Remember that now is just one moment in time and that things will continue to change.

It can be helpful to focus on the present and to engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today that is important to you? This can be as an individual, a family member, a parent, or a community member. Something that is meaningful to you in regard to your work or your spirituality? Such activities won’t change the past or the things you can’t control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.

[more!]

It can also help to consider your thinking. Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you using extreme thinking where you see the situation as all bad or all good? If so, try and think in less extreme terms. For example, rather than thinking “my service in Afghanistan was useless” consider instead “I helped keep Afghanistan safe.”

Finally, consider more general coping strategies that you may want to try including:

Engage in Positive Activities. Try to engage in positive, healthy, or meaningful activities, even if they are small, simple actions. Doing things that are rewarding, meaningful, or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, can make you feel better.

Stay Connected. Spend time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.

Practice Good Self Care. Look for positive coping strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational text are some simple ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.

Stick to Your Routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.

Limit Media Exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress.

Use a mobile app. Consider one of VA’s self-help apps (see https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/) such as PTSD Coach which has tools that can help you deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.

PTSD Coach Online. A series of online video coaches will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress. PTSD Coach Online is used on a computer, rather than a mobile device, and therefore can offer tools that involve writing.
If you develop your own ways of adapting to ongoing events and situations, you may gain a stronger sense of being able to deal with challenges, a greater sense of meaning or purpose, and an ability to mentor and support others in similar situations.

Welp, Texass Governor Mengele has the ‘rona now. And after all that he and Florida’s moRon deathSentence have done to use the childrens as COVID 19 homicide bombers to kill as many Americans as possible. Sadly, he’s vaxxed.

And all they’ll get is millions of dollars from their sleazy donors that own the treatments.

Republinazis are killing their own people.

Okay! How do we support the Afghan protesters?

Checking the news to see whether White Domestic Bomber is being called a Terrorist. Will report back when Hell freezes over.

None yet. Sympathetic background story likely being written instead.

It looks like Mr Roseberry may be below the fold.

I decided to look around the net for information about sponsoring a refugee family. Most are run by churches. The last thing people fleeing religious fanatics need is more religious fanatics.
I found a government site about sponsoring a family, but it’s in Canada.
I expanded my idea of refugees to include other countries and Americans displaced by natural disasters, annnd I was sent to an Airbnb site.
This isn’t something I’m prepared or even qualified to do, but it would be nice to see that preparations are in the works. I suppose this situation is related to govt supported xenophobia.

@JNOV:
I strongly support the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
https://www.nwirp.org

I don’t know anything about the following two groups, but they come recommended from the local lefty blogs.

Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) in South Seattle
https://www.rewa.org

World Relief
https://worldrelief.org/seattle/

That CIA Iran coup? Today’s the anniversary! Silly me, should have checked the date before writing.

WSJ editorial this morning:

“The Return of ‘America Held Hostage’”

More than forty years on, still learning the wrong lessons.

@nojo: The Tr666p-endorsed candidate for one of Georgia’s senate seats supposedly held a gun to his wife’s head and threatened to blow her brains out. That’s gotta be the best metaphor ever for the Republinazi party’s ongoing terrorist attack against decent people in America. He’s now guaranteed to win, btw.

There’s a November 2001 Friedman column making the rounds where he says “Give war a chance”, and I really don’t know whether the Lennon reference was accidental or deliberate.

@nojo: No reminders needed that the corporate media totally shredded their credibility and legitimacy 20 years ago. All of the same worthless shitheads still have their cushy jobs in which they can smugly and sanctimoniously continue to be wrong 100% of the time and no one’s ever been held accountable for anything.

They’ve turned US journalism into another failed propagandist institution like all the others. Just look at the coverage of the fall of Kabul this week; how did we get into this disaster??? Bush and Cheney who???

@¡Andrew!: I’ve been thinking this week how “the adults in the room” became a common phrase with Shrub’s inauguration, and the grownups managed to tank the world economy and land us in a twenty-year war, among many other achievements. Perfect crime, really.

@nojo: Thank you SCOTUS for getting involved in a political question!
Hey. So you know TFW a person you’ve mentored for the past year gets the promotion you applied for? Not a great feeling. At least I like him. But still. Next month I start my 10th year at this job. I think he just started his fourth. I’m confused.

I’m not mentoring anybody else. I’m not going to hurt my numbers by stopping to answer ANYONE’S questions anymore. I’m going to try my best to coast the next <strike>five</strike> FOUR (yay!) years until I hit 20 years of govt service (they count my time in the military), and I’m going to try to hang on for another two when I’ll hit 62. I’m going to make catch up contributions to that fucking shit version of a 401K they have, I’m going to get alllll the matching contributions I can. I’m going to eat PB&J and maybe fried bologna as a special treat for the next decade. I’m going to put a tiny house in my backyard and make it an Airbnb until I retire from federal service and make it my law office where I’ll do wills and shit like that. I’m going to start moonlighting like NOW as a medical transcriptionist, and I think my student loans will be paid off before I die.

I’ll take “Misogynist anti-Semites in Media” for $200, nojo

I’ll take “Failures in Vetting” for $400

I’ll take, “Conflict of Interest” for $600

I’ll take, “The Internet Is Like A Tattoo” for $800

I’ll take, “WTF Were You Thinking” for $1000

Final Jeopardy

“Sketchy Producers Who Haven’t Been Fired”

Ducks. Ducks lay eggs. Big eggs. Super duper big ass eggs.
A lot of effort goes into laying a big ass eggs besides the obvious. They don’t lay everyday like chickens do. They don’t roost. They lay their eggs on the ground. If you’re lucky, they lay them together in the same nestish thing they’ve created in their house so you’re not on you hands and knees in their gross poopy bedding digging for errant eggs. If you let them out before they’ve don’t their business, you’ll find eggs anywhere. I’ve found them in their pools. I’ve found them under bushes. I’ve found them on the front lawn. They just fart them out wherever they happen to be and whenever the mood strikes.
If they’ve done a magnificent job hiding an egg, you’ll find it five weeks later when it explodes.
I really like my ducks. I really don’t like eggs. Chicken, duck, quail – no. Disgusting. Blech. Gross.
One day I realized that I had 30 eggs taking up refrigerator space better occupied by hot dogs. What to do?
I incorporated and sell those things at 50 cents a piece. Baller.
Last week an older gentleman came by asking about buying some eggs. We talked turkey and then he asked me if I am Polynesian. Wait. He didn’t ask me. He *told* me that I’m Polynesian. He was wearing a ratty Navy hat, so I thought, “Yeah. He was stationed in Hawai’i at some point, and wants to reminisce about his misspent youth.”
“No, I’m not Polynesian.”
I knew what was coming next.
“What are you?”
Despite being asked this question for as long as I can remember, and despite arguing with people that I am in fact Black, I still get annoyed that people think this line of questioning is okay and that they would rather me be anything other than Black. You should see their faces when I insist that I know my ancestry up to a point because slavery.
My last name is French, but some immigrant rocket scientist thought they were Americanizing it when they changed the spelling. They failed.
People ask me, “Hey, what kind of last name is that?”
“French”
“You’re French?”
“Well, if you go back to the 18th century and count my direct ancestor who happened to be the slavemaster’s son, then yes. I’m French.”
You should see their faces.
Right now I have 60 ducks eggs ready to go. The ducks earn their keep, and that money goes a long way to offset the feed and water bills. They work hard.
But that guy? The one with the hat? Fuck him.

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