“THE MEMO”

Memo

The release of the memo from the House Intelligence Committee is coming.  To start I have no idea what is in “The Memo.” Like all of you I know its four pages long and is an executive summary of the committee hearings on the investigation of alleged Russian interference with the 2016 election and collusion by the Trump campaign. Some say it is devastating and will expose corruption and criminal activity in the highest reaches of the FBI and the Obama administration writ large. Others say it is cherry pick information without context designed to destroy the FBI and attack the news media. The Democrats on committee wrote their own memo which is not going to be released with the majority memo. It will however be released to the House members for review, so we can be sure it will be leaked.
What facts do we then have to guess what is in the memo, none. We can only infer from actions taken and what has been leaked as well as rumors, what we may see in the memo. Many on both sides of the aisle are concerned it will contain classified information. I hope this is not the case and that it will be a summation like the report released by the Intelligence Community detailing what they knew of Russian activities in the 2016 election. While based on classified information it was a summation with sources and methods redacted.
What we do know is it will cause a major debate across the country. It will not likely destroy the FBI as an institution but will cause a shakeup in senior management. Will it cause a disruption of the ongoing special investigation by Robert Mueller, we don’t know but suspect it will have an impact based on the reaction the news of the release has caused on the left. Will it have context, probable not, it’s a summation of a year long investigation.
What is the one thing we know? After going to the committee vault and reviewing the memo, as well its hoped at least some of the underlying documents, FBI Director Wray retuned to the FBI and the next day Deputy Director McCabe was gone. Beyond the memo is talk of a devastating report from the FBI’s own Inspector General on the handling of the Clinton email investigation. This all follows on the heals of revelations of two FBI agents text messages who were involved in both the Clinton and the current Mueller investigation, being biased against Trump and pro Hillary. While it is OK for people to have opinions, it is not OK for investigators to text about attempts to direct the outcome of their investigation to a foregone conclusion.
The questions to be answered by this memo should be, was the FBI weaponized by the Obama administration, did the bias of the investigators influence their ability to conduct the investigation. Has the investigation into Russian interference been tainted to the point that it must be ended? The last question, is the memo based on political bias and should it be disregarded.
When you read this memo, it should be with some skepticism since it is coming from only one side, but it should be read without prejudice. It will likely contain enough truth to decide if the actors named have hurt the country. It will be bad for the nation if the FBI was politicized but it will not have been the first time. During the red scare of the ‘50s and the civil rights movement of the ‘60s the FBI was weaponized against our citizens. These revelations will not destroy the nation but hopefully make it stronger.
So PLEASE THINK when the memo comes out. Use your sense of reason and not emotion.

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Congress Do Your Job

capitol

As the countdown to a government shutdown continues the politicians seem more interested in assigning blame then getting to an answer that would keep the government running. What this all comes down to is whether or not it is more important to keep thousands of government employees at their jobs providing service to America or in making political points. On the other side we have a debate on whether it is more important to approve a short term stop gap measure or put thousands of people out of work to demand a full budget. In other words, politics as usual.
I heard the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tell a press conference that the Democratic representatives held together against what she said was a bad Republican bill, of course there was nothing in the bill that the democrats objected to other then it did not have everything they wanted in it. I think it is time that the people told their representatives that we are less concerned with party loyalty then having the people we hire, do their jobs. While the Republicans can get a bit of a pass this time, they did exactly the same thing in the last shutdown period.
I personally believe we do need to address those immigrants who were brought over as children and know no other home then the United States. Some will say they had time to get US citizenship, but many did not know they were illegal till adulthood. But this can be fixed without holding the government hostage.
Its time to remind the congress that they have one major job assigned to them by the constitution, pass a budget, ONE JOB. It is time they did it.

Racism, Diversity and Cultural Appropriation

martin-luther-king-jr-quotes-pictures

Social divisions are more prevalent now more then ever. The United States, once a melting pot, is breaking down into individual groups that are becoming more and more antagonistic to each other. While many will say this is driven by racism I contend it is based on the loss of diversity in the original meaning of the concept. The United States is the most heterogeneous society in the world, a mixture of cultures and languages unknown in the rest of the world. After the Second World War the US began to address the problems of racism, not all at once and not with a massive single movement, but a beginning. There is no need to rehash the civil rights movement other then to say had society not come together as a single force, the movement would have failed. One thing that helped us come together was the way the neighborhoods developed in the 50s and 60s. Unlike the intercity neighborhoods of the past, that were Jewish, Italian, Irish or black, the new neighborhoods were diverse. The neighborhood I grew up in was a mix of Italian, Irish, and black. The neighborhood my children grow up in was less easily defined. In this neighborhood while there were some families whose parents could be defined by ethnicity or race most were a mix. Apart from the two Ukrainian families, that came over as refugees, as did my mother-in-law from Germany, most had mixed ancestries and we knew them as Americans.
This is what was meant as diversity. We accept everyone’s background and culture and meld it into a single culture. How many of us who are not Italian eat pasta, not Polish eat Kielbasa, not Mexican eat taco’s? Even those most American of meals, the Hamburger and the Hot Dog come to us from Germany. Because of economic expansion even those last bastions of homogeneity such as the south and mid-west have broken down. Why then have we lost all the progress we made in the past decades and are back to an us versus them mentality, or are we.
The popular view is that the US is breaking down into racial and political subsets that are building barriers and preparing to do war with the others. This is a popular view in most news and information outlets. If you believe the popular viewpoints then all white American males are racist misogynistic Neanderthals, filled with hate and armed to the teeth. On the other side all African-American males are rapist and/or murdering drug dealers, and if not, then they are victims of police brutality because all police are racist who arbitrarily pull over all blacks and given the chance, shot them. No where do we read about a society that is civil and populated by people who practice common courtesies and act with common sense. This of course is explained through the old adage “Dog bites man is not news; man, bites dog, is news.” In this day and age of a 24/7 news cycle and instant reporting any story that fits the current narrative is splashed across any outlet available, regardless of truth and with no time to verify. Does this mean racism does not exist, of course not. Racism exist in this country and almost everywhere else, but to what extent does it impact the majority of citizens.
Today we celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King who once said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This is in fact where we were headed, we were moving forward into a colorblind society and we continued to absorb other cultures and grow as a nation, then it stopped and now we are moving backwards. To once again quote Dr. King: “If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
The vast majority of Americans today have continued to move forward. In the 50 years since the seminal year of 1968 much has changed in race relations and social interactions. Racial equality is both legally mandated and generally accepted. So how did we get the white supremist movement. We did not just get it, it was always there. The Klan, the neo-Nazi’s and the other groups calming white supremacy are not new nor are they a large part of white society. Their size and power has been grossly distorted by a news media anxious to build up subscribers and viewers in a shrinking market. The election of Donald Trump on a populist platform accelerated the use of racial division in the news and as a political weapon even though it was driven by false and fallacious reporting. Even before Trumps election there were groups that needed to exacerbate the racial divide. On college campuses we have seen calls for black only dorms, classes and black only areas, which I s the absolute opposite of what we need for racial equality. This is the worst thing if you truly need to have a vibrant and diverse campus.
The main reason any society needs diversity is to grow. To grow all sections of society must join together and function as one. Accept from each those things that help the community grow and reject those that are not in line with the societies norms and values. What do I mean by rejecting some aspects of a culture? Let’s start with female genital mutilation and move onto Sharia law, or any practice that rejects equality. Diversity does not mean separation it means inclusion.
Lastly, we need to get over the concept of cultural appropriation. What that means is one cultural taking over another and claiming it as its own. It does not mean wearing a sombrero to a collage Cinco de mayo beer bash. When I wear Kurdish clothes to a Newroz celebration it is not cultural appropriation it is cultural appreciation. Wearing an Hawaiian shirt to a luau or a shamrock pin to a St. Patrick’s Day parade is OK.
Let’s honor Dr. King today and every day and move forward as a single people with a diverse culture.

History is about to Repeat Itself in Kurdistan

Hitler and Chamberlain

“APPEASEMNET” Giving into someone in order to avoid potential conflict”

As my readers know I like to connect current events with their historical forbearers. It has always amazed me how many people can recite George Santayana warning that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and how few live its caution. Today in Kurdistan we are witnessing a repeat of history which bought the world to a great war and in the end introduced us to the atomic age.
Following the devastation of World War I most of the world was exhausted and did everything to never have a major war again. The war to end all war was not, and the mechanisms set up to prevent the next war failed. They failed because the participants refused to accept the fact that there are times when force must be used to stop a greater violence.
The League of Nations and its member states set up high ideals and moved forward with great expectations, but when faced with actual crisis that revolved around its main charter it proved incompetent. The attempts at resolving the problems through diplomacy or attempts to bring the parties to the table were an absolute failure. The inability to resolve the Japanize invasion of Manchuria, or the Italian assault on Abyssinia (today Ethiopia) as well as both the league and the great powers to respond to German rearmament, and the reoccupation of the Rhineland and Europe conceding the Sudetenland, all in the hopes of evading war. One action of the league that may have been considered a success was the resolution of the Mosul question, rejecting Turkey’s claim to the province of Mosul as historic Turkish territory and awarding Mosul to Iraq under a British mandate for 25 years to ensure the autonomous rights of the Kurds. The intent however did end as failure.
The result of all this was that the aggressor nations of Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union saw the weakness of the world and exploited it. The League of Nations was toothless without the British or French military and the leaders of those nations were still so traumatized by the last war that a military option to any problem was just not considered.
Today we see much the same happening in the Middle East. Aggressor nations have been testing the west and finding it war weary, attempting to extract itself from current confrontations while avoiding new ones. While viable diplomatic solutions are advanced, with no threat of war they are simple rejected. When they are successful, such as a ceasefire in Syria, it is temporary and used to rest and rearm the combatants.
Iran is currently the most dangerous aggressor by far. Its direct use of its military through the IRGC and indirect use by proxies including Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, Hezbollah and Hamas. These forces have given Iran control of Iraq and Lebanon as well as much of Syria. This control gives Iran a land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean. It has effective control of Iraq and Lebanon and Syria.
How could this happen? Let us continue the lessons from history. Consider the disputed territories in Iraq as the Rhineland/Sudetenland of the 1930’s. Germany marched into the Rhineland to diplomatic outrage but no action and then used diplomacy to take the Sudetenland without Czechoslovakia’s input or presence. These last are examples of the west failing to stop aggression in the hopes of stopping aggression. When Iraq, under the direction of Iran, violently seized Kirkuk and the other disputed territories from the KRG without warning, the west allowed it in the hope of ending aggression.
Following failed diplomacy and a worthless embargo of Japan the Japanized attacked Pearl Harbor with the intent of reducing the US military and removing its power from the Pacific. Japan had shown itself to be ruthless in its military conquests prior to Dec 7th ,1941 and continued it brutality up until the end of the war. The Iraqi PMF has shown itself to be brutal with the mass slaughter of Sunni civilians following its occupation of cities such as Fallujah. This has continued even into the disputed territories. The US can stop this by extending military protection. Recently however the PMF have declared the US military as the new targets and the leader of Sadr’s militia, Abdullatif al-Amidi, has called on the Iraqi parliament to force the removal of all US forces from Iraq.
In the end this will result in an eventual all out war in the Middle East. This war will not be confined to the current areas. As we have seen, Saudi Arabi has been pulled into the battle in Yemen and is under attack by forces trained and supplied by Iran. The leadership of Iran has also said that the next war will result in the destruction of Israel. Russia has already staked out its claim in Syria and Turkey is drifting rapidly into dictatorship set on recovering at least part of the Ottoman Empire (Mussolini was intent on reestablishing the Roman Empire.)
It is always hoped that war can be avoided but history has shown us that diplomacy works best when both side understand that there is a military option available and that the other side is willing to use it.

 

 

The Presumption of Innocence

 

Just a quick word on Roy Moore. I think the man is an idiot who should not be in a position to represent the Republican party in any capacity. Having said that I also believe in justice and its proper application, By that I mean in the United States there must always be a presumption of innocence. The Latin phase is “ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat” (the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.) In other words, it is up to the accuser to prove that anything happened and that the accused is responsible. While this is used in criminal cases it must also be used in our everyday belief in fair play.

 

The accusations occurred 40 years ago and as such will be almost impossible to prove. The only things that can be judged are the facts of Judge Moore’s life and actions. I find it too consequential that the accusations have also come after it is too late for his named to be removed.

 

The people of Alabama must now decide the fate of Roy Moore. The rest of us must decide if we will find truth in facts or just go along with a crowd mentality.    

 

The Kurds, Independence and Why the US Should Care

Kurdish american flag

 

In northern Iraq there is an area known as the Kurdistan Region, a self-governing area comprised officially of three governorates, Dohuk, Erbil and Soleimani, four unofficially with the addition of Kirkuk. The Kurdish people are a separate population with their own language, customs and culture. As was most of the Middle East they were part of the Ottoman Empire for 600 years, until the end of the First World War. Following Turkey’s defeat, the allies, France and England, divided the Middle East into separate countries. The division was not intended to right any past wrongs or concerned with cultural or linguistic differences, but to serve as new colonies for Europe, with interest in oil production. The Kurdish people saw this as an opportunity to become a free and independent country and such was promised by the Treaty of Sèvres that ended the war with Turkey and was designed to break up the Ottoman empire. For reasons best left to your own research a second treaty, the Treaty of Lausanne was written, and the hope of independence was removed. The Kurds have been fighting for the right to their own country ever since.
On September 25th, a referendum will be held in the Kurdish region to determine the desire of the Kurdish people to seek full independence from Iraq. This referendum is expected to pass by greater than 95%. Then what?
Most western nations, including the United States, have opposed Kurdish independence for many reasons. Some of the reasons are political such as Turkey will be opposed, others are emotional such as the entire Middle East will fall apart if we allow for a separate Kurdistan. This last assumes a stable region, which it is not. These arguments have been made and discussed and dissected for many years and I will not go into the reasons why Kurdish independence should be opposed or argue the points others have put forward in opposition. I intend to simply argue why there should be a free and independent Kurdistan.
What makes a country/nation is a combination of a common language, common culture and shared values, or simply stated a uniqueness that sets them apart from others. Without this uniqueness, there is always problems. Forcing different people to adopt other cultures or languages has proven to be disastrous. For many years the Kurdish language was not allowed in the Kurdish regions of Iraq. Kurdish culture was suppressed and the Kurds themselves were removed from their homes and replaced by Arabs from the south. Surrounded by Arab states, Turkey and Iran, Young Kurds do not speak Arabic, Turkish or Persian. While most Kurds are Muslim there is a thriving Christian community of Kurds as well as Yezidi (a culture all its own). There is also a diversity of political thought, not always as readily accepted, but accepted. Nowhere else in the region will you find such a wide-ranging acceptance of diversity.
After centuries, we see the desire for independence in the Scots and prior to this the Irish, today we also see the continuing independence movement by the Basque . Currently we have seen a resurrection of older nations in eastern Europe such as Serbia, Bosnia, etc. The common thread has been language and culture. Iraq is not a natural country, it was made-up by foreign powers. The Kurds have nothing in common with their Arab neighbors, not language or culture or history. To allow the regional population to redraw the boundaries is not earth shattering but natural. Is Kurdistan perfect, no. Will there be problems, yes. But at the end of the day it’s the right thing to do. As a nation born of revolution and a desire to be free we have an obligation to help this new nation in every way possible. At the end of the First World War President Wilson made it clear in his 14 points that “XII. The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development…” Kurdish children are more familiar with Wilson’s 14 points than most American adults.
It is time to fulfill the American promise to the Kurds.

Is North Korea Helping Iran Skirt the Requirements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

I and NK

The recent advances made by North Korean nuclear capabilities force the thought that they may have had advanced help. The one nation they have been dealing with is Iran. It is known that Iranian ballistic missiles have shown a close similarity to North Korea’s. What is the relationship then between the two countries nuclear development. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran Deal, Iran was to end its research and development of nuclear weapons for 15 years. There is by treaty and understanding to be any outside research, but have the Iranian found a way around this.

North Korea has been cut off from the rest of the world for many years, regardless of economic support from China and Russia. The speed at which it has advanced from a small nuclear detonation to position of a probable thermos-nuclear device is astounding. If in fact they have also managed to miniaturize it to be a warhead on an ICBM is of even greater concern. Based on the speed of advancement it is not unlikely that they had outside help.   

While several countries could advise North Korea, such as China, Russia, India, or even Pakistan, these countries have no reason to do so. In fact, the opposite is true and none would be safe with a nuclear North Korea. Iran on the other hand has every reason to covertly aid the North Korean regime. It would have all the research it needs whenever it wishes to end the Iran deal and move toward development and deployment of a weapon. The current belief is that it would take Iran over a year to reach a breakout point but this assumes that they would start from the point they had been at the signing of the accord.

This is a major problem that must be confronted. While all attention is directed at North Korea, which it should be, Iran is setting the stage to become a nuclear threat in the Middle East. German Chancellor Merkel has said that the JCPOA could act as a guide to denuclearizing Korea the opposite is true. Iran has taken every opportunity to evade the spirit of the Iran deal and it should only be followed as a cautionary tale.

As we move forward attempting to handle a crisis with diplomacy we are edging the world closer to nuclear war. Repeatedly in history mankind has refused to see danger and ignored the signs that a major problem was on the horizon, until it is too late, and millions die. Decisive action can stop North Korea and Iran and must be taken for the sake of peace.