“Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families. What makes America America is that we offer that chance. We turn Lady Liberty’s light to the world, and widen our circle of concern to say that all God’s children are worthy of our compassion and care. That’s part of what makes this the greatest country on Earth.”
Here's why they are nothing like the pilgrims according to the Daily Caller:
They Were Pioneers
America was founded by people leaving the relative safety of Europe for the unknown perils of the new world, and the Pilgrims were no exception. While few nations accepted the strong Calvinist beliefs of the Pilgrims and the Puritans, these dissidents could still count on the benefit of civilization by remaining in Europe.
When they came to Plymouth, these settlers had to do the very difficult task of creating entirely new communities in a strange land — largely all by themselves. It’s hard to be a refugee claiming asylum when you’re crossing an ocean to a land that’s largely unsettled and is a more dangerous place than where you hail from. There was little refuge to be had in this untamed country for the Pilgrims — especially considering how many new arrivals died in the months upon hitting shore due to disease and other harsh living conditions. (RELATED: It’s ‘Un-American’ To Impose Refugee Resettlement On The Country)
For this reason, they were pioneers creating a society from the ground up rather than refugees coming to a well-established, prosperous society.
They Had No Government Assistance
This statement is an obvious fact when you consider the facts of life in seventeenth-century America. There was hardly any government, much less government assistance to be had. The Pilgrims also had to finance their passage to the new world with a Virginia Company loan that required them to work for seven years to pay off. The only real help they had from any form of government was the tacit permission to settle in English-claimed lands.
Today’s refugees are a different matter. The U.S. government pays for the flights of these migrants to come here. Even though there’s a stated requirement that the refugees must pay back the feds for the free ticket once they start working, 91 percent of these individuals go straight onto government assistance upon arrival — with 68 percent on welfare.
So the federal agencies paying for these trips may have to wait awhile for airfare compensation.
Hostile Natives Were All Around
While it’s true that the Pilgrims and their nearby co-settlers the Puritans initially had cordial relations with the Indian tribes, that goodwill didn’t last long. By 1636, the colonists were engaged in brutal warfare with the Pequot Confederation and eventually came into conflict the Wampanoag — the Indians who participated in the historical Thanksgiving feast — in the coming years.
Many Indians resented the newcomers for coming onto their land and were more than willing to slaughter any colonists who they saw as a threat.
Contrary to mainstream media hysteria, today’s refugees suffer a warm embrace from Americans who support them with tax funds and local amenities. Any verbal or physical attack on them can be treated as a hate crime and punished severely. Any American who might be worried by these new arrivals can face castigation by a biased media and powerful political leaders — such as our own president.
There were no New York Time editorials to bash the Pequot as nativist xenophobes for scalping Pilgrims back in the 1630s.
They Created Safe Communities
In spite of being surrounded by hostile natives and living with constant outbreaks of the plague, the Pilgrims and the Puritans were well-known for building communities defined by order, prosperity, hard work and thrift. Crime was not tolerated and resulted in harsh sentencing.
On the other hand, many refugee communities in the U.S. and Europe are defined by the opposite conditions. Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Little Mogadishu neighborhood — a top destination for Somali refugees — has become a hotbed for crime and radical Islam. From 2003 to 2013, the federal government had deported over a 1,000 refugees for violent crime convictions. (RELATED: America Already Has A Refugee Problem On Its Hands)
In Europe, several countries are experiencing a refugee crime wave that is stretching police thin and putting cities on edge.
They Were Christian
The Pilgrims were devout Calvinists who came to America to create model religious communities. Today’s refugees are primarily non-Christian, as can be ascertained by the top countries of origin for settled migrants from the year 2013.
This fact only becomes an important point when considering Syrian Christians. Many groups of people around the world are persecuted for their religion and/or ethnicity — and many of them are non-Christian. In Syria, though, the most persecuted group is arguably the Christian minority. Islamist rebels — not just ISIS — single them out for retribution, punitive taxes and even death merely for the faith they practice.
But even though this is a clearly persecuted group, America has hardly taken in any out of the nearly 3,000 Syrians we have resettled so far. Less than 3 percent of the migrants accepted by the U.S. are Christian, even though they comprise 10 percent of the Syrian population and most of the rebel factions are hostile towards them.
With these facts in mind, it’s hard to make any comparison with the Syrian refugees and the Calvinist Pilgrims. Life was much harder for the seventeenth century settlers, yet they still managed to plant the seeds for a future nation through their struggles.
Today, that nation that was forged by Pilgrims and other transplants from the British Isles is saying no to the idea of taking in more Syrian refugees.
And they were white, let's not forget that. Also too, it's the 2000s not the 1600s, which makes it like, totally different. They didn't have TV then. Or planes. Or Burger King even. So you can't really compare them. They don't even eat Thanksgiving dinner probably because it's like it cannibalism or something for them. Because Turkey. So this is right on.
Well, there is one thing he got wrong. These refugees are facing a hostile population.
ISIS acts like a state that owns an oil company. Notice, at the bottom right, that the non-ISIS market for ISIS oil is local, meaning civilians, and also includes anti-ISIS rebels in Syria and Iraq (click to enlarge; source).
ISIS is a complex entity, in part a state and in part a jihadist insurgency. To the extent that they're a state, they hold territory and govern (including, ironically, offering free government-provided health care). Here's a look at ISIS-held territory, including the location of oil fields and refineries within that territory.
ISIS-held and -supported territory in red; anti-ISIS territory in blue. Note that even the rebels are customers of ISIS oil (click to enlarge; source).
The U.S. and its allies are in a bind. ISIS finances its operations from its oil revenue. Most of its oil isn't sold on the international market, but the local one. That is, millions of people in the region depend on ISIS oil for their energy needs, even the anti-ISIS rebels in Syria. If those oil fields and refineries were bombed or otherwise put out of commission, the disruption to civilians in the region would be enormous. This likely accounts for the fact that of the more than 10,000 air strikes against ISIS by the U.S.-led coalition, fewer than 200 have targeted its oil infrastructure.
The story comes from the Financial Times. Only part is below, but it's all fascinating:
Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists
Erika Solomon in Beirut, Guy Chazan and Sam Jones in London
Jihadis’ oil operation forces even their enemies to trade with them
On the outskirts of al-Omar oilfield in eastern Syria, with warplanes flying overhead, a line of trucks stretches for 6km. Some drivers wait for a month to fill up with crude.
Falafel stalls and tea shops have sprung up to cater to the drivers, such is the demand for oil. Traders sometimes leave their trucks unguarded for weeks, waiting for their turn.
This is the land of Isis, the jihadi organisation in control of swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory. The trade in oil has been declared a prime target by the international military coalition fighting the group. And yet it goes on, undisturbed.
Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’ black flag — it fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbours.
But more than a year after US President Barack Obama launched an international coalition to fight Isis, the bustling trade at al-Omar and at least eight other fields has come to symbolise the dilemma the campaign faces: how to bring down the “caliphate” without destabilising the life of the estimated 10m civilians in areas under Isis control, and punishing the west’s allies?
The resilience of Isis, and the weakness of the US-led campaign, have given Russia a pretext to launch its own, bold intervention in Syria.
Despite all these efforts, dozens of interviews with Syrian traders and oil engineers as well as western intelligence officials and oil experts reveal a sprawling operation almost akin to a state oil company that has grown in size and expertise despite international attempts to destroy it. ...
Estimates by local traders and engineers put crude production in Isis-held territory at about 34,000-40,000 bpd. The oil is sold at the wellhead for between $20 and $45 a barrel, earning the militants an average of $1.5m a day.
About selling to their enemies in Syria:
“It’s a situation that makes you laugh and cry,” said one Syrian rebel commander in Aleppo, who buys diesel from Isis areas even as his forces fight the group on the front lines. “But we have no other choice, and we are a poor man’s revolution. Is anyone else offering to give us fuel?”
It's both a complicated situation and a lucrative one (my emphasis):
When [ISIS] pushed through northern Iraq and took over Mosul, Isis also seized the Ajil and Allas fields in north-eastern Iraq’s Kirkuk province. The very day of its takeover, locals say, militants secured the fields and engineers were sent in to begin operations and ship the oil to market.
“They were ready, they had people there in charge of the financial side, they had technicians that adjusted the filling and storage process,” said a local sheikh from the town of Hawija, near Kirkuk. “They brought hundreds of trucks in from Kirkuk and Mosul and they started to extract the oil and export it.” An average of 150 trucks, he added, were filled daily, with each containing about $10,000-worth of oil. Isis lost the fields to the Iraqi army in April but made an estimated $450m from them in the 10 months it controlled the area.
While al-Qaeda, the global terrorist network, depended on donations from wealthy foreign sponsors, Isis has derived its financial strength from its status as monopoly producer of an essential commodity consumed in vast quantities throughout the area it controls. Even without being able to export, it can thrive because it has a huge captive market in Syria and Iraq.
Indeed, diesel and petrol produced in Isis areas are not only consumed in territory the group controls but in areas that are technically at war with it, such as Syria’s rebel-held north: the region is dependent on the jihadis’ fuel for its survival. Hospitals, shops, tractors and machinery used to pull victims out of rubble run on generators that are powered by Isis oil.
“At any moment, the diesel can be cut. No diesel — Isis knows our life is completely dead,” says one oil trader who comes from rebel-held Aleppo each week to buy fuel and spoke to the Financial Times by telephone.
As the top civilian administrator of the former Coalition Provisional Authority, Bremer was permitted to rule by decree. Among his first and most notable decrees were Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 1, which banned the Ba'ath party in all forms and Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2 dismantled the Iraqi Army.
In a very real sense, ISIS is Bush's and Bremer's direct creation.
How will this end? The authors aren't sure:
Isis’ luck with oil may not last. Coalition bombs, the Russian intervention and low oil prices could put pressure on revenues. The biggest threat to Isis’ production so far, however, has been the depletion of Syria’s ageing oilfields. It does not have the technology of major foreign companies to counteract what locals describe as a slow drop in production. Isis’ need for fuel for its military operations means there is also less oil to sell in the market.
For now, though, in Isis-controlled territory, the jihadis control the supply and there is no shortage of demand. “Everyone here needs diesel: for water, for farming, for hospitals, for offices. If diesel is cut off, there is no life here,” says a businessman who works near Aleppo. “Isis knows this [oil] is a winning card.”
The situation in Iraq and Syria isn't stable, but it isn't unstable either. Dismantling ISIS is going to be a tough nut to crack. Radicalizing a great many more of the region's residents is a distinct possibility if Western and Russian attacks increase.
A Nation Free of Oil
One final thought. Have you ever wondered what the nation and our foreign policy would be like today if Jimmy Carter had won in 1980, the solar panels had stayed on the roof of the White House, renewable energy production had thrived, and the nation, by determined effort, were freed of all dependence on fossil fuel?
That world, with the possibility of leisurely conversion from carbon, is gone. But for a time in the 1970s the door was wide open. If a certain Presidential candidate hadn't cut a deal with a certain hostage-holding government, we might even have walked through it. How much better would our lives be today, if we were a nation free of oil?
As America heads off to its collective orgy of individual consumption, I ponder how much our belief in our own beliefs is self-reinforcing and a kind of faith both religious and secular.
At Naked Capitalism, Lambert Strether points to a three-part documentary, The Power of Nightmares 1: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (BBC-2004). From the Wikipedia summary:
The film compares the rise of the neoconservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamist movement, drawing comparisons between their origins, and remarking on similarities between the two groups. More controversially, it argues that radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organisation, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth, or noble lie, perpetuated by leaders of many countries—and particularly neoconservatives in the U.S.—in a renewed attempt to unite and inspire their people after the ultimate failure of more utopian ideas.
Interesting parallels between the religious radicals and the noeconservative project to make the Soviets the bogie man hiding behind every tree and under every bed:
This dramatic battle between good and evil was precisely the kind of myth that Leo Strauss had taught his students would be necessary to rescue the country from moral decay. It might not be true, but it was necessary to reengage the public in a grand vision of America's destiny that would give meaning and purpose to their lives.
The neoconservatives were succeeding in creating a simplistic fiction, a vision of the Soviet Union as the center of all evil in the world, and America as the only country that could rescue the world.
If the intelligence had to be cooked to show that the Soviets were a bigger threat than our intelligence services and military thought, so be it. With the Soviets gone, we had to find and/or create a new Evil Empire. (The same Washington players -- Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, etc. -- who hyped the Soviet threat later hyped Saddam, then al Qaeda. Now this season's Big Bad is ISIS.) Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian Islamic theorist the documentary proposes as a parallel to Leo Strauss, proposed a project to rescue the world from western culture's "state of barbarous ignorance" in which "you’re so corrupt that you can’t even know you’re corrupt," writes Strether. A kind of moral Dunning-Kreuger effect.
Watching the Donald Trump circus now, it is easy to see the effects of both. And it's hard not to see the parallels between the two forms of religion.
Despite all the negativity and fear, the energy in this room does not feel dark and aggressive and threatening. It doesn’t feel like a powder keg about to blow, a lynch mob about to rampage. It feels joyous.
“There is so much love in every room I go to,” Trump says, near the end of nearly an hour and a half of free-associative bombast, silly and sometimes offensive impressions, and insane pronouncements. “We want our country to be great again, and we know it can be done!”
This is the thing Trump knows: You can stand around fretting about truth and propriety and the danger of pandering to baser instincts.
At recent Trump rallies, supporters have spit in protesters’ faces, tackled demonstrators in Miami, and shoved and punched a Black Lives Matter activist in Alabama. (“Maybe he should have been roughed up,” Mr. Trump said after the episode.) Mostly, he has embraced the scuffles as a new and action-packed dimension of the Donald Trump experience.
“Isn’t a Trump rally much more exciting than these other ones?” Mr. Trump asked as the police ejected a protester shouting “Trump’s a racist” from a rally in Worcester, Mass., last week. “That kind of stuff only adds to the excitement.”
To supporters seeing him up close, the Trump experience was very real. They locked eyes on him and nodded religiously when he talked about “anchor babies” cast by unauthorized immigrants, or the “animals and savages” perpetrating terrorism, or the “scum” on the streets. Guarded by a line of Secret Service agents under the stage, he made his fans howl with laughter and shake their heads in disgust at “stupid” leaders who use teleprompters.
He even got them to mock their brethren who could not get into the hall. “You should have gotten here earlier,” Mr. Trump said to applause.
When he referred to the man identified as the ringleader of the Paris attacks this month as “the guy with the dirty, filthy hat,” the crowd chuckled, but one of the high school girls, unexpectedly appalled, shouted, “You bastard,” before lowering her head.
When Mr. Trump said he would bring back waterboarding as an interrogation tactic against terrorism suspects, and added, “If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway,” an older couple behind the group of teenagers threw back their heads in utter delight.
“Amen,” the woman said.
“Oh, my God,” one of the high school girls said. Another covered her mouth in shock.
On Thanksgiving 1965, Arlo Guthrie visited friend Alice Brock and her husband at their home, a church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and did them a favor by taking out their garbage. The dump was closed that day, so Guthrie and a friend dropped the garbage off a cliff where other locals had previously dropped trash. Guthrie was arrested the following day, and the mark on his record miraculously kept him out of Vietnam by making him ineligible for the draft.
Guthrie recalled the incident in hilarious detail in 1967's "Alice's Restaurant," which became his most beloved song and the subject of a 1969 movie. (The Old Trinity Church, where Alice lived, is now the Guthrie Center). It's also become a Thanksgiving tradition, played nationwide on public radio every year. "To have what happened to me actually happen and not be a work of fiction still remains amazing," Guthrie says. "It's an amazing set of crazy circumstances that reminds me of an old Charlie Chaplin movie. It's slapstick." Guthrie, who very rarely plays the song live, kicks off an 18-month tour celebrating the event that inspired the song on January 21st in Daytona Beach, Florida. Here, Guthrie reflects on his unlikely classic.
Did you ever think "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" would be your most beloved song?
Well, you have to remember that back in '65, all the way into the early Seventies, nobody in their right mind would have written an 18-minute monologue. I mean if it was 2:31, stations wouldn't play it. So I never expected it to even be on a record, let alone get airplay, let alone have it made into a movie. I mean, that was all like a whirlwind of events that were way beyond my control.
The song was kind of a novelty song when you started it, right?
I did take the war in Vietnam seriously, and I was in college. I began college in Billings, Montana, in September of 1965. I was gonna study forestry. And I came home for Thanksgiving vacation and stayed with my friends in this old church they had purchased. So when I first started writing about it, it was just repeating or telling my audience what had happened to me. Because I thought it was funny.
To have what happened to me actually happen and not be a work of fiction still remains amazing. It's an amazing set of crazy circumstances that reminds me of an old Charlie Chaplin movie. It's slapstick. I mean, who gets arrested for littering? And who goes to court and finds themselves before a blind judge with pictures as evidence? I mean, that's crazy! And then to be rejected from the military because I had a littering record? I mean, those events were real and not only that, those people played themselves in the movie! The cop in the movie is the real Officer Obie and the judge in the movie, the blind judge is the real Judge Hannon. And these are real people! And they consented to play themselves because they think they, like me, observed the absurdity of the circumstance.
The examples of the GOP's reflexive opposition to President Obama's agenda are many but this may be the best one yet: by a 27 point margin Republicans say they disapprove of the President's executive order last year pardoning two Thanksgiving turkeys (Macaroni and Cheese) instead of the customary one. Only 11% of Republicans support the President's executive order last year to 38% who are opposed- that's a pretty clear sign that if you put Obama's name on something GOP voters are going to oppose it pretty much no matter what. Overall there's 35/22 support for the pardon of Macaroni and Cheese thanks to 59/11 support from Democrats and 28/21 from independents.
The rest of the poll is kind of fun too. They ask which presidential candidate is the most likely to ruin Thanksgiving. I think you can guess who that is. By a mile.
By the way, the Turkey pardon tradition was started by President Reagan when Sam Donaldson was asking him if he planned to pardon his partners in Iran-Contra crime while he was walking past the White House turkey and he quipped, "maybe I'll pardon this guy."
You know all those articles you see every year about how to argue with your conservative uncle at Thanksgiving? Well, unsurprisingly, the conservative uncles are very upset about it. I wrote about it for Salon this morning:
The Thanksgiving holiday seems like one of those rare occasions in American life where virtually everyone shares a similar experience, the traditions of the family gathering, the food, the football, the sometimes contentious discussions among people who love each other but nonetheless have different worldviews and political beliefs. It’s become something of a cliché, in fact, with an annual flurry of tongue-in-cheek articles in newspapers and other publications giving advice on how to handle that obnoxious uncle’s unpopular opinions at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
And yes, these articles are usually aimed at liberals trying to deal with that drunken Limbaugh-listening relative who insists on baiting everyone at the table by going on about the pet right-wing outrage of the moment and passing on talk radio propaganda as if it had been delivered directly from God. These stories are so ubiquitous that it’s fair to assume this must be a fairly common experience.
It’s undoubtedly also true that conservative families often have to deal with the college kid who’s home for Thanksgiving break and decides to regale the table with her newfound knowledge that everything they believe in is the result of corporate brainwashing and that Ayn Rand turns out to be a fraud. These days there will likely be a lot of talk at those tables about trigger warnings, cultural appropriation and safe spaces, all things that will sound to the drunken uncles as if they are being discussed in a foreign language. (National Review would-be humorist Charles C.W. Cooke tried to tackle this last year with mixed results.)
The difference between these two phenomena is best illustrated by the massive whining and tantrums that result from any joking around about it. And no, I’m not talking about the college kids. Yes, they might get frustrated and call their parents “haters” and flounce off to their rooms, but they are, after all, still kids. No, the people who are hysterical over this are conservatives who have worked themselves up into a full-blown hysterical meltdown over it.
This year, the Democratic National Committee put together a funny little website called “Your Republican Uncle” in which they use this annual holiday trope as a way to explain some of the issues important to Democrats in a mildly amusing format. Evidently, the right has been unaware up until now that Democrats don’t agree with them, because this clearly hit a very sensitive nerve. Even as they dismiss it all as inane folly, they went to incredible lengths to angrily debunk the “talking points” in lengthy blog posts on such major websites as Hot-Air, where chief writer Allaahpundit was spitting mad:
The takeaway from these sites is that liberals are so cloistered from interaction with conservatives and so insecure in their own basic political beliefs that they actually need to be prepped before the most basic social engagement with the enemy. If you think that’s a good look for your movement, you do you.
I’m fairly sure that he’s taking this a lot more seriously than any liberal takes it. But he wasn’t alone on his righteous indignation. Conservative blogger Ace of Spades wrote an entire treatise on how to deal with the miscreant liberals in your family when they use any of these “Vox explainer” talking points. It’s very elaborate and very, very serious:
I herewith humbly submit these first sketches of a new branch of Lifemanship I call “Thankgivingmanship,” which I define as the gentle art of insulting the stupid without alerting them to the fact that they’ve been insulted at all.
It is the goal of the dedicated Thanksgivingman, then, to achieve the sublime art of giving offense without offense being taken.
My basic strategy is thus: It would be as rude of you as it is rude of your cretinous grownchildren kin to allow a Thanksgiving dinner into a stupid game of Rachel Maddow Talking Points and their rebuttals.
So, rather than confront the unemployed idiots who will be assailing you, I propose instead to superficially avoid conflict and engagement on their dummy mouthflappings, and appear instead to agree with them.
But — and here is the point — a skilled Thanksgivingman will only appear to agree with the grownchildren to feeble intellects, such as those possessed by the grownchildren themselves. Instead of disagreeing with them — which will cause argument and anger — you will instead claim to agree with them, while in fact contradicting them, subverting them, of baffling them with statements that nearly, but do not quite, make sense.
As I said, it’s all very elaborate. He goes on to lay out a complicated set of tactical arguments designed to tie the foolish liberal up in knots. It is obviously something that merits a lot of serious thought and preparation. Clearly, it’s extremely important.
But nobody is more intent upon taking up the momentous challenge of the Thanksgiving liberal talking points conspiracy than the man who says his talent in on loan from God, Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh was hopping mad about all this on his show yesterday and he didn’t mince words. He went on for about half an hour on the subject, very upset and disturbed by what these liberals are doing to the institution of the family:
You hear a lot these days about how much businesses dislike “uncertainty.” It’s too hard, goes the refrain, to figure out how financial reform is going to play out, or how much heath care reform is going to cost. Better to play it safe and not hire anyone.
But at least today’s businesses are reasonably assured of a stable calendar. During the latter years of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, this was not the case. In August of 1939, President Roosevelt was taking a brief summer fishing trip on Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada, just over the border from southeastern Maine. A handful of journalists were gathered in the living room of the red cottage that had belonged to the president’s mother. After some discussion of the tensions in Europe—this was August 14, less than three weeks before the German invasion of Poland—FDR said to the newsmen: “Oh! I will give you a story I had entirely forgotten. I have been having from a great many people, for the last six years, complaints that Thanksgiving Day came too close to Christmas. Now this sounds silly.” But the president went on to explain that the tradition that had begun with Abraham Lincoln of annually celebrating Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November created a time window between Labor Day and Thanksgiving that was too long without a holiday, and a time window between Thanksgiving and Christmas that was too short.
The first issue the President had already fixed, by making Columbus Day a national holiday in 1937. To address the second one, he would simply move Thanksgiving to an earlier date. “The stores and people who work, retail people, etc. are very anxious to have [Thanksgiving] set forward,” he explained. And 1939 provided an ideal opportunity for shifting what FDR labeled “a perfectly movable feast.” There were five Thursdays in November that year, and so moving Thanksgiving from the 30th to the 23rd would make it not much earlier than it had been the previous year (the 24th), and yet give the retailers the extra week between Thanksgiving and Christmas they were clamoring for.
In keeping with the light, summer mood, there was only one question from the press: “This year, Mr. President?” The answer was quick: “This year, yes,” and then the President went back to arguing that there is “nothing sacred about” the date of the celebration, noting that “in the early days of the Republic, it was held sometime in October.”
The seeming spontaneity of the announcement belied the fact that the remarks had been scripted for FDR a week before. One of his aides, Lowell Mellett, a former Scripps-Howard newsman who would go on to head the movie division of the Office of War Information, had in fact provided the President with different versions of how he might present his plan to the public. Moreover, as FDR indicated in his press conference, the issue had come up before. In 1933 and 1934, November also had five Thursdays, and a diverse group of merchants had conducted a public campaign to have the date changed; the most prominent push had come from the National Retail Dry Goods Association. But the administration was far too busy trying to implement the National Industrial Recovery Act, and rebuffed requests to change the date.
For all the years of considering the question, however, no one in the administration seems to have given much thought as to the logistics of moving a major holiday. This left them stunningly, comically unprepared for how the country would react, especially given just three months notice. In early July, the President drafted a letter he wanted to send to each state Governor asking “your personal thought” about moving the holiday—not to the second-to-last Thursday of November, but rather to Monday, November 15th. (FDR had long held that Mondays made the best holidays, because workers could get a three-day weekend.) “I am saying nothing about it until I have heard from the Governors,” FDR wrote.
The Governors’ responses would likely have kept FDR from making the change, or at a minimum persuaded him to begin the new observance in 1940 rather than immediately. But the letters were never sent. And so prior to Roosevelt’s Campobello bombshell a month later, essentially no one—not Governors, not clergymen, not even the retailers who’d dreamt up the idea—knew that Thanksgiving in 1939 would come a week early.
It’s hard to name a group of Americans who weren’t thrown off by the change in date. Pleasing businessmen had been FDR’s stated goal, and many of the large department stores hailed the move; the president of Lord and Taylor predicted that the shift could create an extra billion dollars in additional commerce. But business rarely speaks with a single voice, and FDR angered quite a few industries by giving so little advance notice. Food distributors, for example, had production and shipping schedules set for months, and in some cases they couldn’t be moved. A week makes a difference in the lifespan of an early navel orange, noted the Chamber of Commerce of Lindsay, California, which complained that the crop would not be ready in time for the earlier date, and thus no one would be eating oranges on Thanksgiving. “Cutting off one week of this valuable holiday market will cost shippers of this and adjoining districts many thousands of dollars,” its telegram said.
More urgent complaints came from companies that printed and distributed calendars. Their 1940 products had already been produced, and they now faced the prospect of selling calendars with the wrong date for an important national holiday two years in a row. “This is a great hardship on our part as we have already printed over three million Calendar Pads for 1940 with the date as the custom had been, the last Thursday in November,” wrote the president of APT Lithographic. The president of the Symphony Orchestra of Albany—where FDR had served as governor—tried to speak for many, writing the President: “Literally thousands of organizations throughout the country who are forced to arrange definite dates, often a year in advance, will suffer by this unexpected change.”
Some of the loudest grumbling came from colleges and high schools that had scheduled Thanksgiving football games and other festivities, and now scrambled to see if different plans could be made. The coach of Ouachita College made his protest explicitly political, telling the Associated Press “We will vote the Republican ticket if he interferes with our football,” which, in what was then solidly Democratic Arkansas, bordered on treason.
Even ordinary citizens were baffled and outraged; thousands wrote and sent telegrams to the White House to complain. Many had given little thought to why this quasi-sacred holiday was celebrated on the day that it always had been, and thus expressed disbelief that the President—or indeed anyone—had the power to shift the day. “You can no more change my day of Thanksgiving than you can change the shape of the moon,” wrote a man from Darby, Pennsylvania.
But one group was in a position to do more than gripe: the 48 state Governors. Since there had never been federal legislation making Thanksgiving a holiday, the existence of a presidential proclamation was not binding on the states. Governors could declare a day of Thanksgiving any day they wanted to, as many states had done going back (at least in New England) to the 17th century. And so nearly half the states simply ignored the White House plan and observed Thanksgiving on the 30th. Thanksgiving 1939 was the most chaotic, most fractured celebration the holiday has ever seen, in the 150 years that it has been observed nationwide. The country was almost evenly split between the two Thanksgivings: 26 states and the District of Columbia carved their turkeys on the earlier day, while 21 states did so on the later day. In Texas, where they both raise turkeys and love football, Governor Lee O’Daniel decided that both days would be official holidays.
In keeping with the polarization that characterized Roosevelt’s entire tenure in office, the split was largely partisan. In New England, where Thanksgiving had been celebrated the longest, all of the governors stuck by the traditional date; then again, all the New England governors were Republicans. Only five Republican governors—in Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania—joined with the Democratic governors celebrating Thanksgiving on the 23rd. Perhaps inevitably, the two days became known as “Democrat Thanksgiving” (the 23rd) and “Republican Thanksgiving” (the 30th); some referred to the 23rd as “Franksgiving.” A Peter Arno cartoon in The New Yorker captured the divide perfectly. At an upper-crust Thanksgiving dinner, a woman tells her turkey-toting butler: “Bring Mr. Rogers some bacon and eggs, Bassett. He’s not celebrating till next week.”
Actually, for butlers in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the situation was even more complicated. Thursdays were traditionally the day off for domestic workers—butlers, chauffeurs, maids—employed by wealthy Californians. To make up for the fact that many would have to work two consecutive Thursdays they declared a third celebration—dubbed Domestic Workers’ Thanksgiving—on November 16th. English actor Arthur Treacher—the most famous onscreen butler of the day—was the guest of honor at a seven-course dinner and floor show at the Biltmore Ballroom in downtown Los Angeles.
Despite all the confusion, Roosevelt stuck to his guns and insisted that 1940’s Thanksgiving also be moved up a week—that is, on November’s third Thursday (the 21st) instead of the fourth. With Roosevelt resoundingly re-elected in 1940, a few more governors came on board that year; a total of 32 states observed the holiday on the 21st. Yet the bifurcated holiday only added to the strife and confusion. In part because so many 1940 calendars had been distributed showing November 28th as Thanksgiving, surprising numbers of people—state governors, university presidents, schools, lodges, church groups, families planning reunions—were unsure when the “real” Thanksgiving would take place, and wrote the White House to ask. As late as July 1940, the head of the marketing department at Birds Eye Quick-Frozen Turkeys found himself having to politely ask the White House about the right date, “so that we will be able to make some decision as to the purchase of turkeys and to plan our advertising activities more accurately.” The 1942 Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby musical Holiday Inn introduces a Thanksgiving scene with a November calendar with a cartoon turkey sitting comfortably on the last Thursday, who then switches back and forth between that day and the previous week, until he gives up and faces the audience with a shrug.
And after all that strife, the plan didn’t work. New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was generally a supporter of the president’s, and was concerned that FDR was taking all the political heat. So he instructed the city’s commerce commissioner to launch a study into whether sales had gone up or down. When LaGuardia’s comprehensive survey was finished in the spring of 1941, he wrote to the president: “There is no indication from the aggregate sales figures that the Holiday trade during November and December was greater with the observance of the new Thanksgiving date in 1939 and 1940, respectively, than with the date heretofore observed.” What retailers wanted—overwhelmingly—was a single national day, regardless of whether it was the last or second-to-last Thursday in November.
And thus, the administration was forced to retreat. On May 21, 1941, the President admitted in a press conference that his Thanksgiving shopping stimulus experiment “did not work.” Roosevelt had made a firm commitment to the calendar makers to keep 1941’s Thanksgiving where it had been planned, but 1942 would see the restoration of the traditional date. Meanwhile, Congress was motivated to ground Thanksgiving with an official, national piece of legislation. Yet here, too, there was a faction that advocated a simple return to the last Thursday, against those who saw an opportunity to address permanently the issue of late Thanksgiving that had so perturbed America’s retailers. In November, the Senate Judiciary committee changed the wording in a law that had been passed by the House, substituting “fourth” Thursday for “last.”
Although Roosevelt was no longer directly involved in the Thanksgiving debate, the country’s political division clouded the seemingly simple task of picking a Thursday. In Senate debate, veteran Roosevelt nemesis Robert Taft argued that the proposed fourth Thursday raised the question of “whether we are now compromising between the Executive and history.” However, those who agreed with Taft had little stomach for fighting over the day of Thanksgiving once Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Both houses agreed to the fourth Thursday, and President Roosevelt signed the bill into law on the Day after Christmas. Even then, a few states stubbornly refused to acknowledge anything but the last Thursday. As late as 1950, five states chose the fifth Thursday in November as their Thanksgiving; only with the nation at war in Korea in 1951 did all Americans once again sit down to the Thanksgiving table on the same day. On the list of things to be thankful for, knowing in advance when a holiday will take place ranks fairly high.
News reports of the annually banal pardoning of the White House turkey triggered memories of that video where Sarah Palin blathers on about whatever Sarah Palin was blathering on about, word-salad-wise, while behind her a workman looks on while he slaughters a turkey.
Several of our current GOP presidential candidates thought it might look more dignified if the turkey they were mock-pardoning was in black tie:
Gotta say the hands visibly holding the turkey's legs from underneath a velvet cushion are bit of a distraction, if not quite as Palinesque as a workman holding a turkey's legs while bleeding it out into a trough.
It got me thinking about other "turkeys." Martin Longman at Political Animal recalls how Palin's run for vice-president meant her party had to — en masse — spend two undignified months pretending that the truth doesn’t matter, nor any standards for holding high office:
And so, now, seven years down the road, it’s gotten to the point that Republicans have realized that they can say anything they want and just blame media bias if anyone calls them on their lies.
Palin basically invented this is a survival strategy after she fell on her face in her first big interview with Katie Couric. It’s now more than a survival strategy. It’s the Republican Party’s modus operandi.
Politico lists some of the looniest quotes from the 2016 campaign trail so far, including Jim Webb's grenade story and Donald Trump's "blood coming out of her wherever" smear of Megyn Kelly.
And Peace on Earth and Good Will towards y'all too:
The organizer of a recent armed anti-Muslim protest at an Irving mosque published the names and addresses of dozens of Muslims and “Muslim sympathizers” online Wednesday.
David Wright III copied an Irving city document that included the personal information of people who signed up to speak before the City Council voted in March to support a state bill aimed at blocking Muslim influence.
Wright, who organized Saturday’s armed protest against the “Islamization of America” outside the Irving Islamic Center, posted on Facebook “the name and address of every Muslim and Muslim sympathizer that stood up for … Sharia tribunals in Irving.”
David Dayen found this turkey buried in the Times:
We can’t close our eyes. I don’t know what’s wrong with Obama, he wants to close his eyes and pretend it’s not happening. Why is he so emphatic on not solving the problem? There’s something we don’t know about. There’s something we don’t know about.
Yesterday, Donald Trump spoke with right-wing radio host Michael Savage about his plan to take on ISIS, bragging that he came up with the U.S. plan to attack the group's oil infrastructure, which he said only started "about two days ago." (The U.S. has actually launched hundreds of attacks against the so-called Islamic State's oil infrastructure since last August.)
"Does anybody say, 'Thank you Donald?" he asked. "Nobody. I've been the only one."
Savage went on to ask Trump what he believes is President Obama's "real reason for flooding America with Muslims from Syria," which Trump said was "hard to imagine."
"Obviously some people think it's evil intentions, I think it's incompetence, regardless, a lot of people think it's evil intentions."
He's being unusually cagey there. Normally he would just come right out and accuse someone of being a terrorist loving Muslim. I expect it won't be long before he does. He's getting there.
Many years back on Thanksgiving eve I ran this recipe for Pumpkin Cake and received a very nice note from Washington Post journalist Karen Tumulty saying that she'd been tooling around the web for something to bake and tried it and liked it. Ever since then I've called it Karen Tumulty cake. And I run it every Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
It's easy even for non bakers and it really is very good.
* 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons well-shaken buttermilk
* 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar,
* 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
* a 10-inch nonstick bundt pan
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bundt pan generously.
Sift flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, ginger and vanilla in another bowl.
Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, just until smooth.
Spoon batter into pan, then bake until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.
Whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle over warm cake, sprinkle with chopped walnuts (keep a little icing in reserve to drizzle lightly over walnuts) then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.
What is truly remarkable about the Donald J. Trump presidential phenomenon is the aesthetics of it, which are gay in a way that not even Trump’s own gilt-rococo/Louis XIV taste in interior decorating can quite match.
In other words, Trump's gay. Of course. Beutler sees this as a PeeWee Hermanesque rejoinder to the group of online Trump fans who like to insult Republicans who don't like Trump as "cuckservatives" --- an awkward melding of the words cuckhold and conservative.
But this is really just standard schoolyard stuff that's been part of GOP politics forever. This is actually nothing compared to my favorite example:
Over the past week or so, something unusual has happened in American politics: political figures, mainstream scholars and commentators are describing a leading contender for president of the United States as a fascist. Sure, people on barstools around the country have done this forever but it’s unprecedented to see such a thing on national television and in the pages of major newspapers.
[I]t it was after Trump started calling for stronger surveillance of Muslim-Americans in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks that a handful of conservatives ventured to call Trump’s rhetoric something much more dangerous: fascism.
“Trump is a fascist. And that’s not a term I use loosely or often. But he’s earned it,” tweeted Max Boot, a conservative fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who is advising Marco Rubio.
“Forced federal registration of US citizens, based on religious identity, is fascism. Period. Nothing else to call it,” Jeb Bush national security adviser John Noonan wrote on Twitter.
Conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace, who has endorsed Ted Cruz, also used the “F” word last week: “If Obama proposed the same religion registry as Trump every conservative in the country would call it what it is — creeping fascism.”
Yes, this is a hard fought primary campaign with insults flying in every direction. But ask yourself when was the last time you heard Republicans using the “F” word against someone running in their own party? I can’t remember it happening in decades. It’s possible that some members of the GOP establishment called Barry Goldwater a fascist in 1964 (Democrats did, for sure) but that was half a century ago. In recent years this just has not been considered politically correct on left or right.
The CNN story goes on to interview various scholars who all say that to one degree or another Trump is, indeed, fascistic if not what we used to call “a total fascist.” Historian Rick Perlstein was the first to venture there when he wrote this piece some months back,
It’s hard to understand why this has been so difficult to see. On the day he announced his campaign, Trump openly said he believed that undocumented workers are not just criminals (that’s a common refrain among the anti-immigrant right which fatuously chants “they broke the law by coming here”) but violent rapists, killers and gang members. He said he wants to deport millions of people, including American citizens. In fact, he wants to restrict American citizenship to people whose parents are citizens, and thus are guaranteed citizenship by the 14th amendment.
For months Trump has been saying that we cannot allow Syrian refugees into the country and promising to send the ones who are already here back. He has indicated a willingness to require American Muslims to register with the government and thinks they should be put under surveillance.
He condemns every other country on earth as an enemy, whether economic, military or both, and promises to beat them to “make America great again.” Despite the fact that the U.S. is the world’s only superpower, he says he will make it so strong that “nobody will ever mess with us again” so that it was “highly, highly, highly, unlikely” that he would have to use nuclear weapons.
“we’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule… And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago…”
Does that add up to fascism? Yeah, pretty much. In his book, “Rush, Newspeak and Fascism” David Neiwert explained that the dictionary definition of the word often leaves out the most important characteristics of the philosophy, which are “its claims to represent the “true character” of the respective national identities among which it arises; and its mythic core of national rebirth — not to mention its corporatist component, its anti-liberalism, its glorification of violence and its contempt for weakness.” If that’s not Donald Trump I don’t know what is.
He's also encouraging his followers to beat up protesters and routinely claims the military should have summarily executed Bowe Bergdahl --- which he says the country would have done in the past "when we were strong." Call him whatever you want but it doesn't change what he is.
“We are clearly called, in the Bible, to adhere to our civil authorities, but that conflicts with also a requirement to adhere to God’s rules. When those two come in conflict, God’s rules always win.
“In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin, violate God’s law and sin, if we’re ordered to stop preaching the gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that. We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin.”
I'm glad he brought that up. Because tons of people are trying to stop good God-fearing Americans from preaching the gospel and trying to force them to "perform same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it" and he needs to draw the line.
Whatever your answer might be, or mine, I think Stockman's answer is Yes, and he details that answer in an excellent looking-back and looking-forward essay about the U.S. and its Middle East "involvement." I have excerpted several sections below, but the whole is worth a full top-to-bottom read.
Before we turn to Stockman's points, though, I just want to highlight two semi-hidden ideas in his essay. One is about money. What Stockman calls the "War Party" in Washington is really the bipartisan Money Party, since the largest-by-far pile of cash looted from the federal budget (in other words, from taxpayers) goes to fund our military and its suppliers and enablers. Which means that most of it is stolen and diverted in some way. Which means that those who do the stealing have a lot of "skin in the game" — the game that keeps the money flowing in the first place.
Recall that what's now called the Money Party was what Gore Vidal called the "Property Party":
“There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.”
Which means the Washington War Party is a bipartisan gig. Thus our bipartisan wars, which for Stockman answers the first part of the imputed question above. Yes, America does have the wars it seeks.
But that's just the first part — what about wars it "deserves"? Do Americans really want these wars? Does the D.C.-based "war party" have popular backing? You've probably guessed the answer just reading the news, but for the most recent, post-Paris evidence, consider this:
Exclusive: After Paris, Americans want U.S. to do more to attack Islamic State - poll
A majority of Americans want the United States to intensify its assault on the Islamic State following the Paris attacks, but most remain opposed to sending troops to Iraq or Syria, where the militant group is based, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found.
The poll makes clear that Americans don't want to send in troops (yet), at least most don't. But that just means we're happy with more bombs, drones and missiles fired into streets and villages filled with potential "collateral damage" — also knows as victims, also known as "future U.S.-hating terrorists."
If the American war-making machine, both the in-government part and the out-of-government part, wants these wars ... and if the American people want our war machine to prosecute them ... well, these do seem to be wars that America both seeks and, sadly, deserves — because frankly, it doesn't fall to me to say my fellow Americans shouldn't have what they seek.
To be clear — I believe my fellow Americans should not have what they seek when they seek their own suffering and pain. I have that great a sense of compassion. But I would not say that, any more than I would say to my drunken uncle, "Time to stop." He's not going to stop, so why spend time asking him? It won't hurt less to watch, whether you ask or not.
But you and I, we can talk about the truth. And the truth is, all of our Middle East involvement is a deadly exercise, deadly to us — and it will end in tears, our own. Now Stockman to say why.
Blowback & the Washington War Party's Folly
I called Stockman's essay a look back as well as a look forward. The look back produces this (Stockman's emphasis):
Exactly 26 years ago last week, peace was breaking out in a manner that the world had not experienced since June 1914. ...
As it turned out, however, there was a virulent threat to peace still lurking on the Potomac. The great general and president, Dwight Eisenhower, had called it the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address, but that memorable phrase had been abbreviated by his speechwriters, who deleted the word “congressional” in a gesture of comity to the legislative branch.
So restore Ike’s deleted reference to the pork barrels and Sunday afternoon warriors of Capitol Hill and toss in the legions of beltway busybodies that constituted the civilian branches of the cold war armada (CIA, State, AID etc.) and the circle would have been complete. It constituted the most awesome machine of warfare and imperial hegemony since the Roman legions bestrode most of the civilized world.
In a word, the real threat to peace circa 1990 was that Pax Americana would not go away quietly in the night.
Yes, there was a day, in the lives of many of us in fact, when peace threatened to break out. But that didn't last long:
Needless to say, the sudden end to 20th century history posed an existential threat to Imperial Washington. A trillion dollar complex of weapons suppliers, warfare state bureaucracies, intelligence and security contractors, arms exporters, foreign aid vendors, military bases, grand poobahs and porkers of the Congressional defense committ[e]es, think tanks, research grants and much more——were all suddenly without an enemy and raison d’etre.
As it has happened, Imperial Washington did find its necessary enemy in the rise of so-called “global terrorism”.
But the everlasting truth is that the relative handful of suicidal jihadi who have perpetrated murderous episodes of terror like 9/11 and this weekend’s carnage in Paris did not exist in November 1989; and they would not be marauding the West today save for the unrelenting arrogance, stupidity, duplicity and mendacity of Imperial Washington.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Stockman says plainly:
That the middle east and the Arab/Islamic world in particular is now a burned out zone of failed states and an incubator of barbaric religious and sectarian fanaticism is because Imperial Washington made it that way.
It did so under the banner of two stunningly false predicates. ...
Those "false predicates" are as illuminating to consider as they are surprising.
Is the U.S. Military the Cure for High Oil Prices?
The first false predicate is one that goes back to Henry Kissinger, that the Fifth Fleet, guarding the Persian Gulf, is necessary to free the world from high oil prices.
One of these was the long-standing Washington error that America’s security and economic well-being depends upon keeping an armada in the Persian Gulf in order to protect the surrounding oilfields and the flow of tankers through the straits of Hormuz.
That doctrine has been wrong from the day it was officially enunciated by one of America’s great economic ignoramuses, Henry Kissinger, at the time of the original oil crisis in 1973. The 42 years since then have proven in spades that its doesn’t matter who controls the oilfields, and that the only effective cure for high oil prices is the free market, not the Fifth Fleet.
Every tin pot dictatorship from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to Saddam Hussein, to the bloody-minded chieftains of Nigeria, to the purportedly medieval Mullahs and fanatical Republican Guards of Iran has produced oil—-and all they could because they desperately needed the revenue.
For crying out loud, even the barbaric thugs of ISIS milk every possible drop of petroleum from the tiny, wheezing oilfields scattered around their backwater domain. So there is no economic case whatsoever for Imperial Washington’s massive military presence in the middle east, and most especially for its long-time alliance with the despicable regime of Saudi Arabia [emphasis Stockman's].
There's much more about this, going back to our 1953 CIA coup against Iran's democratically elected leader Mosaddegh, which "installed the monstrous Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on the Peacock Throne and thereby inaugurated 25 years of plunder and Savak terror." Stockman then ably traces the history through the First Gulf War to today.
If you read this section, note that the justification for the First Gulf War, and indeed for the existence of the "state" of Kuwait itself, makes no sense. A taste: "Kuwait wasn’t even a country; it was a bank account sitting on a swath of oilfields surrounding an ancient trading city that had been abandoned by Ibn Saud in the early 20th century."
The bottom line about "high oil prices" is this — because every greedy SOB sitting on an oil field wants to monetized it, the market will float on a sea of oil and never be starved of it. For a climatologist, that's a disaster, but for oil prices, not so bad. It's why oil — not gasoline, but oil — is so cheap today. The Saudis won't, or can't, stop selling it, nor can anyone else (like ISIS).
Is Regime Change in America's Best Interest?
The second predicate Stockman fingers as a perp in our constant addiction to Middle East adventurism is the (hubristic, in my view) belief that regime change is in our best interest:
Right then and there came the second erroneous predicate. To wit, that “regime change” among the assorted tyrannies of the middle east was in America’s national interest, and that the Gulf War proved it could be achieved through a sweeping interventionist menu of coalition diplomacy, security assistance, arms shipments, covert action and open military attack and occupation.
What the neocon doctrine of regime change actually did, of course, was to foster the Frankenstein that became ISIS. In fact, the only real terrorists in the world which threaten normal civilian life in the West are the rogue offspring of Imperial Washington’s post-1990 machinations in the middle east.
While that may seem obvious, Stockman includes a stunning particular, the fact that the remnants of the out-of-work Saddam-era Iraqi officer class, and countless others, were being actively radicalized by the U.S. itself:
[E]ven as Washington was crowing about the demise of Zarqawi, the remnants of the Baathist regime and the hundreds of thousands of demobilized Republican Guards were coalescing into al-Qaeda in Iraq, and their future leaders were being incubated in a monstrous nearby detention center called Camp Bucca that contained more than 26,000 prisoners.
Here's part of a quote from a U.S. military officer who visited Camp Bucca (emphasis mine):
"You never see hatred like you saw on the faces of these detainees," [former US Army officer, Mitchell] Gray remembers of his 2008 tour. "When I say they hated us, I mean they looked like they would have killed us in a heartbeat if given the chance. I turned to the warrant officer I was with and I said, 'If they could, they would rip our heads off and drink our blood.'"
What Gray didn't know -- but might have expected -- was that he was not merely looking at the United States' former enemies, but its future ones as well. According to intelligence experts and Department of Defense records, the vast majority of the leadership of what is today known as ISIS, including its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, did time at Camp Bucca. ...
Camp Bucca was an American terrorist factory. America has a number of terrorist factories around the world.
Note that this isn't an indirect connection to current ISIS leadership, but a direct one. These men aren't connected with current ISIS leadership. They are current ISIS leadership. Stockman discusses how L. Paul Bremmer, Bush's "proconsul" in Iraq, threw them out of work when he disbanded the Iraqi army (almost on day one), guaranteeing an era of Shiite revenge-taking against Saddam's former Sunni-led secular regime. These men were the victims of both U.S. punishment and Shiite vengeance. They were, and are, also well trained military leaders. Not the best combination, if you're interested in a peaceful outcome.
Why Are We Fighting in Syria?
Which leads to the last piece of this puzzle. ISIS — for now, but not forever — occupies the terrorized towns of Sunni Iraq, kept there because we keep them supported and in power with our relentless hate-inducing attacks. But why are we in Syria? The answer has to do with, yes, our addiction to "regime change," but also our "friends" in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It turns out that what we want isn't what they want. Are they helping us, or are we helping them?
The newly proclaimed Islamic State also filled the power vacuum in Syria created by its so-called civil war. But in truth that was another exercise in Washington inspired and financed regime change undertaken in connivance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The latter were surely not interested in expelling the tyranny next door; they are the living embodiment of it. Instead, the rebellion was about removing Iran’s Alawite/Shiite ally from power in Damascus and laying gas pipelines to Europe across the upper Euphrates Valley.
I'm afraid this will not end until the major players stop financing and prosecuting it — meaning us.
How Will This End?
It's easy to see that this ends in either of two ways. It will end when we stop sending money and arms into the region — i.e., when we impoverish our wealth-drunk arms industry and starve the fighting — or it will not end.
Which means, it will lead to continuous tears, American ones. And when, again, you factor in the continuing spiral toward chaos guaranteed by continuing global warming, we may look back and say, "Paris was our generation's Sarajevo." It's hard to stop a war when only a nation's people don't want it. It's almost impossible to stop a war when the people unite with the wealthy to promote it.
Which brings me to Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, war, and speeches each gave recently. But that's for later.
(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. If you'd like to help him, click here. This page also lists every progressive incumbent and candidate who has endorsed him. You can adjust the split in any way you wish.)