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Friday, August 19, 2016

Boat trip!

Got everything packed? Good, good. Don't forget the picnic (pronounced pick-a-nick) basket. Then there's the water supply, or at least that machine Mitch invented that makes water from thin air using something that looks like a spark plug. (I think the Robinsons used it on Lost In Space, right alongside the clothes washer that folded garments and wrapped them in plastic.)

Well, it's been a long summer, and we have done absolutely NOTHING that can be considered recreational. Yes, Marvin (my personal robot assistant) rolled over to the hardware store once or twice to pick up some machine oil and batteries. Yes, the mansized tuber struck up a friendship with some ornamental plant outside the 7-11. Yes, Mitch Macaphee went to half a dozen mad science conferences, one held in an abandoned cement plant on the north end of town. (I told him to have it here, that one abandoned mill is just as good as another, but he wasn't having any of that.) Still, none of this can be considered recreational in a summery kind of way. (You could say that none of them amounts to summery execution, but I really wouldn't say that if I were you.)

So, what was it going to be? Road trip? Nah. Did that last summer. Sickening, frankly. How about a boat trip? We have the Erie Canal running practically right alongside our abandoned hammer mill. All we need is a cheap gondola and a couple of oars, then it's off to wherever that canal goes. East or west, I reckon. Just like Life on the Mississippi, except less crackery. And no Mississippi. No?

That looks like fun, kidsYou see, THIS is why we never go on vacation. We can never freaking decide what we want to do or where we want to go. The only time we travel is when we're on interstellar tour (or when we time travel, which is disorienting, frankly, and I have discouraged Mitch from dragging us along through the time/space portal he keeps in his office). It's like we're just visitors on this, our home planet. Though come to think of it, the weather has been ungodly hot just lately. And Louisiana is under water. And California is on fire. Maybe this ISN'T our home planet. It does seem kind of inhospitable. Hmmm...

Okay, well ... boat trip it is. Pull the gondola up to the jetty ... whatever any of those words mean.

Hostage to history.

I'm going to rant about something that has really gotten under my skin this week, and I want to say up front that I am not raising this in defense of Obama's foreign policy so much as in response to a thirty-five year hyper-nationalist obsession that shows no sign of abating. I'm referring to the recent stories about the $400 million transfer to Iran coinciding with the release of some key detainees, and the consequent hysterical response and cries of "ransom!" on the part of center-right pols and pundits. Even purported liberals have adopted some of the language of this crusade, pointing out apparent "linkage" between the payment and the release. Let me make just a few points in response.

Yes, it's been 37 years of this crapFirst, the $400 million is not our money; it is Iran's money. It represents funds paid by the Iranian people for arms sold to the despotic Shah before his overthrow; the arms were never delivered, and with the application of sanctions, the money was frozen, like the proceeds from oil sales. As a component of the nuclear deal, the United States and its partners agreed to free up this money while keeping the bulk of the sanctions in place. Once the agreement was settled, the administration apparently reserved delivery of these funds - the $400 million in cash, since Iran still can't use the international banking system - as some surety that the prisoner release (negotiated as a side agreement) would actually happen.

So let me put this as simply as possible. Giving people back their own money is not the same as paying them ransom. I know it's fun to play with the word "ransom", but it simply doesn't apply here.

Ironically, many of those who are now calling it "ransom" are the same fuckers who complained during the nuclear negotiations that Obama's administration was not working hard enough to release the prisoners. Clearly they were working on this. But the return of Teheran's money was not payment for the release; it was compliance with the terms of the nuclear agreement.

Lastly, this is not like the Iran/Contra scandal; not at all. Reagan was trying to find off-the-books ways to fund his terror army in Nicaragua, since funding had been prohibited by Congress. He arranged a sale of arms to Iran (while in the midst of helping Saddam Hussein attack Iran) as a payment for release of prisoners captured in Lebanon, then funneled the proceeds of the sale to the Contras. There was a quid pro quo there - arms for hostages - but also the broader crime of illegal aid to the psycho killers attacking community centers and health clinics in Nicaragua.

None of this will appear in the media coverage. That's because the war party in the U.S. - Democrats and Republicans alike - have had Iran derangement syndrome since 1979. Iran took something from us back then and we have never forgiven them for it - something very valuable, namely, Iran. That means endless demagoguery on this issue, regardless of the facts.

luv u,

jp