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Posts published in “Day: January 19, 2016”

Or just a thank-you?


What a weekend. The culmination of a remarkable diplomatic effort with Iran is announced. An unheard-of cooperation with both China and Russia. A world shaping nuclear limitation agreement that might – just might – last forever, sealed by a performance no one thought possible. This was topped by the release of all American prisoners in Iran. Under a separate and delicately balanced agreement reached after months of work. A completely separate but parallel negotiation carried out in complete secrecy. Finally, a potentially explosive naval confrontation is finessed into a non-story, over before anybody actually realized what had happened. It was a stunning clean sweep of U.S. diplomacy.

The reporting of these events unfolded within hours of one another, delivered to the sound of an unending cacophony of insults, jeers, heckles, outrageous threats and just plain lies from the resources of right wing television, talk radio, and the entire passel of Republican Presidential wannabees. What was totally ignored by these responses was that a new Iran appears to be emerging and at hand. No one expected Iran to comply with the nuclear agreements. It had routinely stiff-armed demands for the release of prisoners for years, even those detained on the shakiest of grounds. And similar military incidents had dragged on for months while this one was over in a few hours. What did remain over it all, however, was the stench and stain of the vitriolic attacks from the Republican candidates and the far right commentariat.

In political campaigns of the not-too-distant past, the firm principle observed by the working media and by both sides of any political issue was that we have one President at a time, and that in any developing crisis on foreign soil, politics stops at the water’s edge. It would have been unthinkable for the press or anyone in a campaign mode from either party to comment upon anything happening in a foreign land in the middle of a developing crisis, while any American lives might be in jeopardy. We had one President at a time, and while we campaigned ferociously over domestic matters, or over issues of future policy, in any matter pertaining to current foreign situations we stood resolute, in full and complete support of our President.

In those days, for anyone to say anything negative about the deal for the four prisoners being released in Tehran, or anything at all about the ten sailors or their predicament on Farsi Island, while these individuals were still in Iran’s custody and before their safe return had been assured and actually carried out would have been regarded as unthinkable – something just short of high treason – and would have earned the outrage of the speaker’s own party as well as that of the observing public. It was a good rule, and we should return to it.

In the events of this last weekend, if there had been anything other than a leaderless Republican party with its primary campaign in shambles, the entire country would be still be on its feet cheering and celebrating the results that had been achieved. What this all truly deserves is a Wall Street parade with a Sousa march dedicated to it, and a fireworks display.

Maybe somebody ought to at least try … How about at a quiet Hip-Hip-Hooray, softly anyway, three times, with maybe a “Go Team Go” at the end?

First Take/Trump ban

As I write this, the parliament of Great Britain is debating a proposal to ban Donald Trump, the front-running Republican candidate for president of the United States, from their country.

Across the pond, he has been called "a buffoon" and "poisonous," and even a "wazzock" ("a stupid or annoying person"). They're not fans.

Jack Dromey, a leading minister for the Labour Party, said "I don't think Donald Trump should be allowed within 1,000 miles of our shore." Another MP said, "I draw the line at freedom of speech when it imports a violent ideology." That's a definition of Trump growing up now in a number of quarters.

This was not simply the result of a few MPs playing politics. It happened because a million citizens signed petitions asking for the ban; under British law, Parliament had to consider the idea. (Might something like that be a good idea for us too?) So it represents the views of a lot of constituents.

All of this has generated some debate over on our shores. What if, for example, Trump actually won the presidency?

And then there's the whole idea of banning people, which ought to give all of us pause. On Facebook, one friend remarked a few hours ago, "And while I find this funny, it's not the right precedent to set for develop worlds to ban loud mouth jackasses from their country. I find it better to have very strong freedom of speech protections so that when those loud mouth jackasses start spewing vitriol we others have the freedom to call them out for what they really are."