Thursday, April 18, 2024

Israeli leaders seem to be crazy

Let me get this straight: Israel attacked the Iranian consulate in Damascus, which it technically Iranian soil. Because they have slaughtered so many Persians over the year without serious consequences, they stupidly assumed that killing a bunch of Iranian military officers in a diplomatic building wouldn't be a big deal or generate a serious Iranian response. That was delusional. So bad that even a casual observer like me noticed that Israel had crossed a new line. In retrospect, even Israeli officials are privately admitting (gift) they miscalculated when they attacked Damascus.

So even though Israel was completely wrong about how Iran would react to its operation and even though Iran's attack on Israel was entirely provoked by Israel and was not very different from how any other country would react if a foreign nation violated the sanctity of a diplomatic building and killed several of their military officers, Israel still is considering another strike against Iran? That has to be the most irresponsible reckless decision they can make. And right at a time when support for Israel is waning throughout the world, including in the U.S.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Lighting Fast Post: unfounded speculation about what is up with Justice Thomas that I need to get posted before the Court updates on his status and turns out to be a nothingburger

  1. He's dead.
  2. He has some other really serious debilitating health crisis.
  3. He is just regular sick but is not in a condition that would allow him to participate remotely at the moment.
  4. He was struck with amnesia and is wandering D.C. not realizing he is a Justice of the Supreme Court as his clerks frantically search for him.
  5. Harlan Crow flew him off on a fancy junket to a place where he could not participate remotely (OTOH, what billionaire's getaway doesn't have decent wifi?)
  6. He's too busy plotting with Ginny to overthrow the government to be bothered by his actual job.
I'd say I'm 97.3% sure it is #3, but I can't say I'm positive!

UPDATE (4/16/24): Clarence is back! No explanation about what happened yesterday, but I think we can definitively rule out #1 and maybe #2 (because debilitating illness usually takes more than 24 hours to get over). All of the others are still on the table though!

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure we will never know what that was about.

Why does the European far right accept Russian support?

Russian funding of far-right nationalist parties in Europe has been a thing for a while (gift link). But I'm still struck by how odd it is. I get why Russia would do it. The far right parties can be really destabilizing for Europe and they tend to be against stuff that Russia doesn't like, like aid to Ukraine. But the confusing thing is why the far right would be so willing to accept Russian funding.

If you were a far right German nationalist, you think that Germany and/or the German people are the best, and generally want Germany to stand on its own too feet. Doesn't accepting funding from foreigners completely undermine that? I get why maybe they admire Putin (or at least the air-brushed version of Putin that he projects, which polishes away all of his many shortcomings and failures) and maybe would want to emulate a Putin-like nationalist regime in their own country. But accepting direct support from Putin just seems to undermine the most basic thing that these right-wingers supposedly stand for.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Governor Noem makes history

A third Native American tribe with a reservation in South Dakota has banned Governor Kristi Noem from their land. She is now barred from approximately ten percent of the state's land area. I wonder if that is a record for a sitting governor. The three reservations she is barred from is the Pine Ridge reservation (Ogala Sioux), the Cheyenne River reservation (Cheyenne Sioux), and now the Standing Rock reservation (Standing Rock Sioux). But looking at the map there are still a lot of reservations she could still be banned from!

UPDATE (4/15/24): The fourth reservation is Rosebud! Which one will be #5?

Thursday, April 11, 2024

If countries have a right to retaliate when they are attacked, you should expect any country to retaliate when attacked

This is another example of how Iran is not treated like other countries. If a "regular country" (meaning a country in the "developed world") had its consulate bombed by another country, everyone would expect the country with the bombed consulate to retaliate. Retaliation in those circumstances is not just expected, it is portrayed as just.

So if Italy bombed the French consulate in Germany to get some mafia figure who was supposedly hiding there, the international community would deem Italy to be a pariah state. And if France vowed to retaliate against Italy, it would be viewed as justice, not as some terrorist threat. That would be true even if the mafia guy really was in the French consulate when it was bombed. Bombing a diplomatic compound is just not how civilized countries deal wit those issues. It would be ridiculous for the U.S. to announce that it would protect Italy against French aggression in that scenario. Italy would be the real aggressor. They attacked French soil!

And yet that is exactly what Biden is doing in this case. Israel bombed an Iranian consulate and killed 13 people. That wasn't in retaliation for anything. They just attacked because they thought bad people were there (although their crime just seems to be achieving a high rank in Iran's elite military unit). Iran's threats to retaliate, something that any other country in its situation would do is viewed as somehow out of bounds.

I get that the Iranian government is awful. But isn't it just easier to focus on the things they do that are awful? When you treat regular behavior as out of bounds, it just discredits any attempt to call them out when they really do stuff that is out of bounds.

Monday, April 08, 2024

the cosmic ballet goes on

We drove to Rochester NY to get in the path of totality this time. It better not be cloudy! (Ron Howard's voice: it is cloudy)


Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Rogue Nation

I realize there's a lot of awful coming out of the conflict in the Middle East, but I'm somewhat surprised that Israel isn't receiving any real blowback from their decision to intentionally bomb a diplomatic complex in Syria.

Embassies and consulates are supposed to be off-limits, even for countries you hate. It was Iran's takeover the U.S. embassy in Tehran that first got it the "rogue nation label." The U.S. bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, but they insisted it was an accident. It still got a lot of blowback from it.

But Israel intentionally bombed the Iranian consulate in Damascus. They're not denying it. In fact the Israelis seemed to think it was a successful operation to assassinate Iranian miliary leaders who were there. It's a clear violation of international law, but it really looks like no one gives a shit. I'm guessing its because it was an Iranian diplomatic facility. There seems to be a tacit agreement in the Western World than anything goes when it comes to Iran.

UPDATE (4/4/24): It looks like Israel did get a bit of blowback at the UN for this (although the U.S., Britain, and France abstained). I guess the diplomatic outrage just got less coverage because it was overwhelmed by the World Central Kitchen killings.

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Republicans determined to make me avoid flying into either D.C. airport

I'm impressed that House Republicans managed to find someone to name Dulles Airport after who is actually worse that John Foster Dulles.

(Incidentally, this is a good book, if you want to see how awful having a pair of brothers run the State Department and the CIA at the same time during the height of the Cold War)