About Reagan

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Ronald Reagan is without a doubt a conservative icon who, as President, had many victories but one victory currently relevant does most emphatically not belong to Reagan, even though it’s often attributed to him.  Once again the United States finds itself negotiating with Iran.  Americans are considering whether the negotiations have accomplished their stated goal: To keep Iran from building a bomb.  The question is, is the deal a good one?  Could we have gotten a better deal?  Could Reagan have gotten a better deal?  “Reagan didn’t need a deal” is the slogan running through Conservative circles.  The implication being that Reagan achieved release of the hostages in 1980 through sheer force of personality.  Surely any rational person knows what a farce that is.  But let’s go through the events anyway.

Most people are familiar with the first part.  The secular leader of Iran, the Shah, supported by the US and very friendly to western powers, was overthrown in a religious coup.  The Embassy was stormed and 52 American were taken hostage for over a year.  They were released the day Reagan was sworn in.

In one respect Conservatives are correct.  Reagan did not need a deal.  Because Carter had already signed one.  It’s called the Algiers Accord.  It’s a simple document.  We promise to stay out of their business. We release 7.9 Billion dollars of Iranian assets and sanctions.  They also get some immunity in civil courts.  In return, they deposited one billion dollars in an escrow account as part of arbitration agreement to compensate Americans for assets lost in the revolution. Iranians would receive assets held by the US belonging to the Shaw and Iran would honor their international debts and obligations.  Oh, and the hostages would come home.  Because the Iranians refused to negotiate with the US without an Algerian intermediary (it wasn’t called the Algerian Accords for nothing), and the numerous linguistic barriers the negotiations took a great deal of time.  It also took a lengthy amount of time to physically transfer some of the assets (such as 50 tonnes of gold).  Additionally, Iran was in a war with Iraq which also complicated safe transportation.


In the end it was Carter who secured the release of hostages through a reasonable and complex deal.  It was also Carter who was generous and statesman enough to allow Reagan to make the announcement and implicitly claim credit.  The next time Reagan would negotiate with Iran he would sell our enemy weapons and transfer the funds to murderous death squads against the explicit orders of congress.  This was not a success.  If there was any justice in the world, the Iran-Contra scandal should have brought down the Reagan administration.  Beside Carter, Only Obama has successfully negotiated with the Iran.  He’s created a medium term impediment to Iranians acquiring a nuclear weapon.  In theory the Iranians say they don’t want a nuclear weapon, they only want nuclear power.  Which is fine.  It’s very healthy on the part of the Iranians to wish to diversify their economy.  However, there’s no reason we should trust them.  So these negotiations are necessary.  I won’t go into the finer points of the treaty in this blog.

The point is that the near mythological status that Reagan holds has corrupted the history of our dealings with Iran and have created entirely unreasonable expectations. Without respect, even for an enemy, and compromise, negotiations mean nothing.  It’s time to understand a deep history of the world instead of knee-jerk short-term politicized reactions.


A Liberal Guide to Free Speech pt 2

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It’s not my intention to infuriate Liberals, particularly since it’s a group I sympathize with most strongly.  Yet it is an imperfect group, and there are issues that need to be addressed.  In a way the Liberal movement has been a victim of its own success, particularly in its approach to dialogue.  The issue is complex because there’s a lot to be legitimately offended about. Disappointingly, without easy obvious targets the Liberal movement has fractured and largely turned on itself. Yet there are still so many battles to fight.

I think one of the reasons for this is the issue of Privilege.  Privilege is a very real, very serious issue.  Please believe me when I say I’m not questioning its existence, presence or its power over people’s lives.  Privilege absolutely needs to be confronted.  However, more times than not, confrontations over Privilege often do little more than scuttle any hope of meaningful dialogue.  To be honest, I’m not even sure if meaningful dialogue is an actual goal from the Liberal wing of modern politics. Liberals, from this centrist’s perspective, are quite happy to chat about the evil’s of the oppressor, and ecstatic to protest conservative demagoguery, but caught between the right-wing menace and the liberal echo chamber is everyone else that is being actively excluded.  I would consider this one of the primary causes for why the Liberal movement has stalled in the last few years.

Nor am I being hyperbolic.  Many many times I have heard from my liberal friends that other voices are not welcome.  They aren’t interested in “educating” people who have questions.  Men, white people, straight people Christians, etc are frequently told quite literally to shut up.  The consequence of this behavior is that if you are a member of a Privileged class, there is absolutely no way for you to have a dialogue except with other Privileged people.  This is extremely unhealthy.  I understand why minority groups feel the need to do this.  How they want a space where they feel their voices won’t be marginalized by “outsiders” and so forth, but by excluding those who wish to be a part of your struggle you have drastically and unnecessarily weakened your movement.  The outright hostility minorities hold for their friends is incredible and unfortunate.

It also goes hand in hand with considerable outrage.  The anger from the left has created a very punitive atmosphere that trickles down to personal interactions.  Innocuous comments flare up and escalate.  Internecine squabbles over terminology and nomenclature shatter productive relationships. Overzealous protective impulses alienate support networks.  And a shocking lack of humor.

The truly annoying fact is that liberal and minority groups aren’t completely wrong.  Jokes and humor have been used to degrade and shame for far too long.  How many office perverts have tried to get out of a sexual harassment suit by saying “I was only joking”?   Derogatory terms such as “retard” or “midget” obviously deserve considered condemnation.  However, if you’re spending all your time making sure everyone has the latest list of what you can and cannot say to people you will only exasperate anyone who isn’t you and you will fight with anyone who has a slightly different list.  Any dialogue is going to be shut down and liberals will run a campaign that comes frighteningly close to censorship.

Micro-aggressions are another frustrating path where no one wants to microaggress, and I fully acknowledge the cumulative damage that microaggressions can have.  But there’s no mechanism to constructively deal with them either, and that isn’t fair.  I have an example. As a white male, people ask about my ancestors all the time.  My geographic lineages, my history going back generations.  This is not an unusual conversation for me, but having this exact same conversation with someone that is part of a minority is frustratingly delicate.  I have no idea how to have this conversation with someone without callously tripping over a sensitive issue.  So… I avoid the conversation.  But, pretty soon if you avoid enough conversations your isolating yourself from minorities and you get yelled at for that too.  You can’t talk to people, and you can’t not talk to people.  There has to be away to repair and address the cumulative impact of micro-aggressions without having to magically know what is and isn’t offensive.

Finally, mansplaining.  I’m sorry feminists, but this word has to go.  If, for no other reason, that it’s just a terrible portmanteau.  More importantly, it’s one of the most needlessly effective methods for shutting down a conversation.  Let me illustrate.  A man makes a comment.  The feminist, quick to anger, tells man how his comment was offensive.  The man, genuinely confused, says, I don’t think I’m being understood, allow me to clarify my statement.  Feminist says: now your mansplaining.  There is no other comment the man can make that won’t contribute to this perceived mansplaining, so understood or not, conversation is over.  In fact, I’m well aware of the fact that this entire paragraph or the entire blog could be tried, convicted, and executed as just one more ignorant man mansplaining things.  Since the Privileged are not given that benefit of the doubt for different possible interpretations for any given statement and they are actively excluded from minority spaces, all too often conversations turn into frustrating exercises in bridge burning.

There are meaningful battles that need fighting, but the unending, hypercritical, perpetually angry, constant exclusion and intentional lack of dialogue in liberal ranks needs to end.  Liberals must be willing to incorporate new ideas, perspective, and language if they want to craft a successful agenda and their allies are crucial to that endeavor.  The constant internal bickering needs to be set aside.  It’s time to embrace imperfect allies.  Remember, embracing imperfection is something your allies must do as well.

Dear Huckabee,

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Gov. Huckabee, I urge you to leave the GOP party as you’ve recently threatened to do for the following reasons.  First, you’re contributing to the GOP being the stupid and ignorant party.  You wish to be stupid and ignorant by all means, start your own party.  The issue of gay marriage is not one of science, and what science there is doesn’t support your positions, just like on evolution, global warming, sex ed and others.  Ignorance pours from you like water from niagara.  This is fine.  Your an American and entitled to your opinions, but those opinions are increasingly at odds mainstream Republicans.  Honestly, we’d rather you join us in our fight for sensible policies rather than this rigamarole.  We want to be the party that isn’t constantly at war with reason and science for the sake of a few social conservatives.  Quite frankly, we don’t need you anymore and you’re hurting more than your helping.  Especially if we want to have a chance of surviving the 2016 elections.

Secondly, As I’ve just alluded, social issues are a major distraction.  Honestly, no one cares what consenting people do.  Let them find what happiness they can in this world.  Goodness! that you care is creepy and weird.  That you would legislate on non-issues take time from solving real problems.  How does vilifying gay people help us solve issues with taxes, foreign policy, oversight of President Obama, and the business of government? There’s a lot of stuff we need to do and fighting this fight just isn’t worth it.

Thirdly, social conservativism is not the victim of judicial activism as you suggest, but against our nation’s laws.  If something is illegal it doesn’t matter how popular it is, it needs to stop.  This is why we have a court system in the first place.  As Republicans we value the constitution.  If there’s a core American value among Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, Democrats, Republicans, Black, White, green and everything in between it’s the value of our Constitution.  Right now your position that we mandate restriction on marriage are blatantly unconstitutional.  How do you know? wave after wave of judges have ruled it unconstitutional.  This issue just got an underhanded bitchslap by the supreme court.  It’s done.  This fight is over.  You and a few conservatives will eventually take it all the way to the Supreme Court.  They’ll rule against you and you know what? We’ll be glad.  This issue will be done.  and we can put it behind us and stop alienating voters with our bigotry.  If you want to overturn this eventual ruling you have a Constitutional option. You can do like the Democrats are doing and start trying to push for a Constitutional amendment, but we’ve got to warn you.  We’re not going to support you on this.  Your on your own.  As you should be.

Fourthly,  What kind of “Small government Conservative” are you?  You want to pass laws that dictate what people can do in their own homes?  No.  Our party, like other parties, is about promoting personal freedoms and responsibilities.  We’re not going to say what people can and can’t do in this area.  You say it hurts children. Your wrong, but even if you were right, it’s not our job.  We’re not going to tell parents how to parent, we’re not going to tell schools how to teach.  We are going to give people the freedoms to live there lives however they see fit.  This is what the GOP stands for, or should stand for.

In short, make good on your threat and please leave the Republican Party.