Russia takes Trump’s advice on the Arctic

Some major Russian features on a chart, because I didn’t know the Gulf of Ob was a thing, and you probably didn’t either

Maybe Democrats got it right. Maybe former President Trump really was a Russian puppet. If you were to compare the Arctic policy that President Trump pursued with what Russian “President-For-Life” Putin is pursuing, you would see some strong similarities.

In the Arctic regions of America, meaning Alaska, President Trump sought to overturn the former legal restrictions on utilizing resources in the region. Trump’s legal team struck down restrictions related to Pacific Walruses and began issuing drilling leases, only to have President Biden withhold those leases. Supposedly, this was done to protect the walruses, but lets be honest, its a communist plot. See, walruses were being trained by the US government to attack communists. They accidentally got released once and managed to sink a Russian vessel, which was covered up by blaming Russian vodka day drinking, something that is totally believable. When President Biden babbled on about walruses amidst his corn pop and lifeguard references, well, now you know why.

I mean, just LOOK at all the patriotism bursting from this defender of the US Constitution!! (Image from Eye on the Arctic)

On a more serious note, when we look at the Russian arctic, we see President Putin pursuing a policy that looks a lot like Trump’s policy. He’s developing Arctic infrastructure, building a huge terminal at Sever Bay. He’s dredging new or existing shipping lanes to let in larger vessels. He’s got more leases on the Yamal Peninsula then Alaska could ever dream of. All of these big projects are going to companies like Novatek and Gazprom, and if they sound familiar, its because these companies use the oil and natural gas as economic leverage in Europe.

Remember when Poland signed a 5 year deal with the US to get natural gas? You don’t? Oh, that’s right, that story got totally buried in 2017, because it was good news related to the Trump administration, and “orange man bad” won the day in the media. Searching for it now, it comes up on obscure media outlets, not the CNN’s and FOX News of the world. It also comes up on a lot of Russian outlets, because it was viewed as a big deal.

Russia has made no secret of its plan to lead the world in LNG and oil. Its a bit grandiose, and might not fully come to fruition. But they saw what happened in a Trump America. They watched how American LNG and oil exports diminished the importance of Iranian oil while strengthening the will of former Eastern-block countries against Russian influence. Iran got placed in a bind: if it pumped more oil, it would bring down the price, making Russia angry, while pumping less would threaten its financial sovereignty. For an America that seems to get bogged down in the Middle East all the time, this is a perfect way to leave the region, which is exactly what Trump did. Not bad for someone who gets made out to be a bumbling fool by the media.

So Russia took that page from Trump and made it their own. They’ve been eyeing the Arctic for a while, but now is as good a time as any, and with a (hopefully temporary) reprieve from the pressures of US oil and LNG exports, Russia can bounce back from low prices and COVID-19. While the US wrings its hands over environmental issues, despite having solid rules in place, Russia knows that the Arctic is savage. It suffered an invasion of polar bears, something I once thought possible only if National Geographic started making horror films. Maybe they were radioactive bears from all the nuclear testing the Russians perform in Arctic? Maybe they will begin attacking US outposts in response to the walrus attacks?

Let’s be honest, the current policy of restricting drilling is done to punish “evil” US oil companies. Even Norway is drilling more, because their welfare state depends on it. But restricting US oil and LNG output is short sighted. It takes away an effective tool of Middle East policy, where every nation and fake nation involved wants to paint you into a corner, and the only way to cut the Gordian Knot is with economics. It cedes more ground and influence in Europe to Russia, who is all about taking more influence and ground when it can. And for a growing China, it makes it easy for Russia to keep them in check with higher prices, even if only for a little while longer. While this policy appeases a certain political class of people, history will later reflect the foolishness of this choice.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Time for Israel to Move Back into the Gaza Strip and Stay

The real danger is that we who support the war will reach the point that we say “we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep”.

Me at Instapundit May 31st 2006

OK Israel let’s face facts.

It’s been 16 years since you pulled out of Gaza leaving greenhouses and infrastructure intact as a good will gesture toward peace and to some degree Israel reaped rewards from this to wit:

  1. It shrunk the area that needed to be defended
  2. It demonstrated the bad faith of the Palestinians
  3. It demonstrated Hamas’ inability to take care of the basic needs of a population
  4. It opened wide the conflict between Hamas & Fatah
  5. It demonstrated that the Palestinians are less interested in a state and more interested in a launching ground for attacks.

But in the end all of these demonstrations to the world lose their meaning in a world were actual reality doesn’t matter. When you have a press that doesn’t see the difference between people who fire rockets at a population from within civilian structure and people who defend their countries from it. For example there is a lot of talk about Iron Dome and its excellent success rate but it’s a system that no other country wants to buy, why? Because any other country faced with such attacks would have gone in and crushed those attacking it.

It’s time for Israel to do the same.

Israel should roll back into Gaza, take the territory and either annex it or give it a status as a non-voting province.

What will the world and the press do? Attack and condemn Israel? They do than anyways.

What will Hamas and the PA do, try to kill Jews? They do that anyways.

As for the left in the west what are they going to do , hate Israel more then they do now? Hate Jews more than they do now? As I said many years ago on Instapundit concerning Haditha:

Our press and the anti-American left both in this country and outside of it has been reporting “Hadithas” over and over again over the last three years.

Time and time again our friends have accused us of every possible atrocity that there is to the point that internationally people are already able to believe this or the 9/11 stuff or all the rest.

Because of this, internationally it is totally irrelevant if the Marines actually violated the rules of war. Our foes are going to say that we’ve done things if we do them or not, so the only people that it really matters to will be; the people killed (and family) and the people in our own country who support the military.

The real danger is that we who support the war will reach the point that we say “we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep”.

How the left in the west reacts is the least important question to answer.

The important question is: What will the Arab states do? There is one simple answer, likely nothing.

The states that made peace with Israel didn’t do so because they loved Israel or didn’t hate Jews. They did so because they are threatened by Iran and will be no less threatened if Israel is in Gaza. The question is will they decide they’re less threatened if Iran though Hamas no longer controls Gaza or more threatened as Iran’s ability to hit the Jewish state is curtailed? I think it’s the former.

It’s time for Israel to stop being sheep and given the a taste of General Sherman’s war so that Generations will pass before they again appeal to it.

Now if they prefer to have their citizens duck rockets every few years when a Democrat or a weak republican is in office it’s their country.

But if they take my advice the rockets will be over.

Update: Apparently Israel’s PM reads this blog:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is pursuing “forceful deterrence” against Gaza’s Hamas rulers and does not rule out a further escalation.

Meeting with foreign ambassadors on Wednesday, he said “you can either conquer them, and that’s always an open possibility, or you can deter them.”

“We are engaged right now in forceful deterrence, but I have to say, we don’t rule out anything.”

Iran redux

By Christopher Harper

Joe Biden says he wants to re-establish the nuclear deal with Iran—a move that would almost assuredly embolden the rogue regime.

Earlier this month, the Iranian parliament threatened to expand production of nuclear material in direct violation of a deal, which the Obama Administration negotiated and from which the Trump Administration exited in 2018.

Keep in mind, the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, only slowed Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon rather than stopped it.

If passed into law, the new parliament motion means that Iran would undertake a series of steps if the remaining parties to the agreement don’t provide relief from sanctions.

The steps include stocking 120 kilograms of uranium enriched at over 20% purity and withdrawing from a voluntary protocol, allowing U.N. inspectors access to non-nuclear sites. One hundred and twenty kilograms of 20%-enriched uranium is roughly half the material needed to fuel one nuclear weapon.

But there’s more. Last week Iran executed dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was sentenced to death for inciting anti-government protests in 2017.

The execution of Zam demonstrated Iranian authorities’ willingness to defy international opposition in its suppression of the country’s media and opposition activists and the reach of its intelligence services beyond the country’s borders.

Zam, who had been living in France since 2011, ran a popular news channel, which he used to share news and logistics involving unrest in Iran in 2017. amid efforts by government security forces to suppress it.

Three years ago, he traveled to Iraq, where he was captured by the Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s security force.

But there’s even more. Earlier this year, U.S. officials determined that Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran in 2007, had died in Iranian custody. Last week Iran released a retired U.S. Naval officer, Michael White, for medical treatment to the Swiss embassy. His release was conditioned on his remaining in Iran.

Moreover, the State Department has repeatedly called for the release of three people with dual citizenship of Iran and the United States held by the Tehran regime.

Is Iran really the type of government that the United States can trust to abide by an agreement? I don’t think so, and neither should Joe Biden and his team.

Ach-ptooie, Twitter and Facebook hate conservatives–Hello Parler

By John Ruberry

I’ve had my fill of Facebook and Twitter blocking friends of mine from posting there and having their accounts suspended. These two social media giants unapologetically back liberal political figures while using their might to crush conservative leaders–as well as rank-and-file supporters of the right side of the political spectrum.

The most recent victim of Twitter bumptiousness is Da Tech Guy himself, simply because he questioned the veracity of the presidential recounts in swing states. It happened today.

Meanwhile there is another social media site, Parler, where free speech is encouraged. I’m @marathonpundit there. Please follow me. While I haven’t deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts–I’ll be spending much less time there. Besides, I don’t want someone to steal my handles there.

On his show radio show Friday night Mark Levin announced his social media transition. Today on the platform he announced, “Hurry and follow me at Parler. I’m trying to encourage as many of you as possible to immediately join me there as I may not stay at Facebook or Twitter if they continue censoring me. And one day I’ll have left their platforms. Parler is a wonderful alternative and is growing, and we need you there ASAP. It believes in truly open speech. Thank you!”

In his well-deserved grilling by the US Senate last month, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey couldn’t come up with a solid answer on why he continually blocks President Trump’s Tweets about controversial COVID-19 treatments and election fraud. Meanwhile, a post from the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, questioning whether the Holocaust occurred, remains on the microblogging platform. When asked about if any other world leader, besides Trump, has had Tweets blocked, Dorsey couldn’t come up with any examples. 

Twitter is a Trump-hating and a conservative-hating site. I can’t think of a single incident of a liberal–famous or not–having their posts deleted or their accounts blocked. Just last week, for instance, reputed comedian Kathy Griffin reposted on Twitter her notorious photo where she holds the bloody head of President Trump. Don’t forget, threats of violence against the president violates federal law. What would happen to my Twitter account if I posted a similar shot with Joe Biden?

It’s not just “the guy in his pajamas” Tweeting at home who gets bullied. The New York Post, America’s oldest daily newspaper and its fourth-most read, saw its Twitter account suspended for 13 days because of stories it wrote and Tweeted regarding email revelations alleging graft gleaned from Hunter Biden’s laptop. The Twitter “gods” deemed these reports unsubstantiated–even though the Biden-Harris campaign never denied the Post’s stories. Another reason given by Twitter for the Post’s suspension was its claim that the paper was publishing “hacked” information. But Hunter’s laptop was obtained legally.

Contrast that behavior with Twitter’s non-response to the New York Times’ stories on President Trump’s federal income tax returns. Those returns were possibly retrieved by hacking–and that tax information was almost certainly illegally obtained by somebody.

Facebook isn’t quite as bad as Twitter in regards to censorship but it has a shameful free speech record too. Many of my friends have ended up in “Facebook jail” for pushing the envelope a bit as they challenge the leftist dogma. I’ve never hear about liberals being tossed into “Facebook jail.” And yes, I have liberal friends.

Twitter makes money on ads, mainly thru “Promoted Posts” that appear on its feed. If I am not on Twitter, I don’t see them. Just as when my television is switched off I don’t see commercials there. 

Facebook is downright creepy in its ad strategy. If I click “like” on a story for a sports team, shortly afterwards I’ll see ads on my Facebook page promoting hats and shirts for that team. A few hours after I arrived in Alaska this summer for a vacation this T-shirt ad on my FB page. “I may be in Anchorage but my heart is with the Chicago White Sox.” Does Facebook know when I use the men’s room? It gets worse. A couple of years ago–just five minutes after leaving the wake for a friend of mine–I was requested to write a review on Facebook for the funeral home that hosted the wake.

Facebook takes the predilections and overall activities of its users and essentially sells them to advertisers. In fact they are selling you to advertisers. Yep, you.

But if I’m not there, or not there very much, Facebook and Twitter will suffer. If millions of conservatives follow the same action they’s suffer a lot more.

Let’s think of social media hatred of conservatives this way. Imagine you are a member of an ethnic group that is disliked by the proprietors of the only two restaurants in town. You still eat at these places because sometimes you are hungry and you just don’t have the energy to prepare your down dinner. That is, until you find out that the cooks always spit into your sandwiches. 

Ach-ptooie! 

That’s what Facebook and Twitter is doing to conservatives. Spitting on them. 

Over 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump. Let’s see if Facebook and Twitter can endure angering such a large segment of America. 

Patriots, it’s time to spit back.

Ach-ptooie!

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. You can follow him on Parler @marathonpundit.

The Iran War Powers Act, and what it (doesn’t) mean

Qasem Soleimani, Commander of Quds Forces during National AGIR commanders conference, from Wikipedia

There is much to-do about President Trump’s veto (that was not overridden) of the Iran war powers resolution. On its face, a bill that says President Trump can’t just declare war on Iran seems to be a good thing, given the crazy number of places we have committed our Armed Forces to so far. I was curious what the bill actually said, so I did a bit of digging. At first, it was difficult to get the right bill because there have been multiple bills introduced by various members trying to restrict war with Iran. The one that was recently vetoed was S.J. Res. 68. You can read the PDF version here.

It’s a pretty short bill, so let’s dive into it! We’ll skip the fancy header stuff and get into the meat of it:

Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Congress has the sole power to declare war under article I,
section 8, clause 11 of the United States Constitution.

Well, no issue there. In case you only read the amendments to the Constitution, this is squarely in Article I.

(2) The President has a constitutional responsibility to take actions to defend the United States, its territories, possessions, citizens, service members, and diplomats from attack.

Sounds about right.

(3) Congress has not yet declared war upon, nor enacted a specific statutory authorization for use of military force against, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) do not serve as a specific statutory authorization for the use of force against Iran.

Sure… but how does this apply if you’re a terrorist funded by Iran? Iran is running a proxy war against the United States, and the U.S. has responded in kind. Both nations are fighting each other in the shadows, but hesitating to attack each other directly, although there have been the occasional assassination attempt. Essentially, this says you can’t use these two pieces of legislation to justify war with Iran.

(4) The conflict between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran constitutes, within the meaning of section 4(a) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1543(a)), either hostilities or a situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances into which United States Armed Forces have been introduced.

That is correct, see the USC text here. Then again, you could say this applies every time we conduct a Freedom of Navigation transit. It’s pretty vague. A U.S. Carrier Strike Group would be always “equipped for combat,” so anytime it goes anywhere its meeting this criteria.

(5) Members of the United States Armed Forces and intelligence community, and all those involved in the planning of the January 2, 2020, strike on Qasem Soleimani, including President Donald J. Trump, should be commended for their efforts in a successful mission.

Yay, I guess? Did they just give a shout-out to the President? Who snuck that in?

Even Democrats give me credit!

(6) Section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)) states that “at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs”.

True, but missing a section. The previous portion, 5(b), allows the President to essentially deploy the military for up to 60 days before he has to remove them. Kind of important. Should read the whole text, available here.

(7) More than 100 members of the United States Armed Forces sustained traumatic brain injuries in the Iranian retaliatory attack on the Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq despite initial reports that no casualties were sustained in the attack.

And initial reports are normally wrong, so the point here is what? Iran shot a bunch of missiles at us and nobody died? Some people get a Purple Heart and a VA disability bump? Sure, its just a statement of fact, but to what end?

I’m not downplaying the damage here, it sucks that people got injured. My bigger point is that it doesn’t matter to this bill in the slightest.

(8) Section 8(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1547(c)) defines the introduction of the United States Armed Forces to include “the assignment of members of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged, or there exists an imminent threat that such forces will become engaged in, hostilities”.

100% true.

(9) The United States Armed Forces have been introduced into hostilities, as defined by the War Powers Resolution, against Iran.

Introduced? Against Iran? Here’s where you can lawyer-away. The troops were in IRAQ. They were attacked in IRAQ. President Trump authorized a strike on General Soleimani in IRAQ. Not Iranian soil, Iraqi soil. He even notified the Iraqis. The troops in Iraq are in no way sufficient to invade Iran. We’re not even shooting across the border…General Soleimani was killed in Baghdad, which is over 200 km from the Iranian border.

Maybe I’m wrong, but this simply sentence seems like its reaching a bit. Troops that were already there (not introduced) and are helping Iraq (not fighting Iran) are somehow now engaged in hostilities against Iran? Please, if a lawyer wants to drop a comment to explain this, I’m all ears. I just don’t see it.

(10) The question of whether United States forces should be engaged in hostilities against Iran should be answered following a full briefing to Congress and the American public of the issues at stake, a public debate in Congress, and a congressional vote as contemplated by the Constitution.

Sure, couldn’t agree more. Congress hasn’t lost the ability to declare war or turn off the military funding tap, neither of which it has decided to do. And, to be fair, President Trump hasn’t put military forces in Iran, nor is he massing troops on the border to do so.

(11) Section 1013 of the Department of State Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1984 and 1985 (50 U.S.C. 1546a) provides that any joint resolution or bill to require the removal of United States Armed Forces engaged in hostilities without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization shall be considered in accordance with the expedited procedures of section 601(b) of the International Security and Arms Export Control Act of 1976.

Yup, but again, the soldiers involved were all already in IRAQ, and there to help the Iraqi Army.

SEC. 2. TERMINATION OF THE USE OF UNITED STATES FORCES FOR HOSTILITIES AGAINST THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN.

(a) Termination.–Pursuant to section 1013 of the Department of State Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1984 and 1985 (50 U.S.C. 1546a),
and in accordance with the provisions of section 601(b) of the
International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976,
Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United
States Armed Forces for hostilities against the Islamic Republic of
Iran or any part of its government or military, unless explicitly
authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of
military force against Iran.

OK. So, pray tell, what hostilities? Did we shoot missiles into Iran? Did we invade some piece of Iranian territory? I’d like to know.

(b) Rule of Construction.–Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the United States from defending itself from
imminent attack.

Well that’s good to know!

So I’m not seeing the big deal with this bill, besides that its a bunch of grandstanding. It’s a lot of fluff and it’s accusing the President of conducting operations against Iran, without saying WHAT operations he’s engaging in. It also is attempting to link soldiers that are already in IRAQ as somehow having something to do with IRAN. I get it, the countries are only one letter apart…but seriously.

How this piece of legislation feels

I’ve had a few people quote President Trump’s tweets about “raining fire down on Iran” if they attack our Navy vessels. OK, I’ll bite. For starters, imminent attack and self defense are still protected, so President Trump threatening to use them is a giant nothing-burger. Did he threaten to invade Qeshm Island? If so, I’d be all onboard saying that’s a really bad idea without a war declaration.

That’s not what is happening. Essentially, we have a President that is totally fine making bombastic claims when another country threatens him. It’s his personal style and likely part of his negotiating strategy. We can argue about whether this is effective, and I think there is plenty of room for debate on that. I personally think it isn’t always the best strategy to use with our allies, for example. I’m not the President, so I don’t get to make those choices, and for people that really don’t like that style, there is the voting box come November.

To accuse President Trump of engaging in hostile acts directly against Iran, but then not being able to name them, and trying to disguise it as an attempt to reign in a President that is trampling on Congressional rights is nothing more than stupid grand standing. We continue to be promised World War III with President Trump, and it continues to not happen.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

CNN Letter to Sean Davis (with apologies to Abe Lincoln & Horace Greeley)

There are many who seem confused by the MSM’s behavior toward China, Russia Iran and even towards the efforts to arrest the spread of the Corona / Wuhan Virus in the US. This behavior has drawn harsh responses from conservatives and confusion to those who believe the media operate in the pubic interest. For those who might be confused this letter might explain their actions:

CNN offices,
Atlanta, March 22, 2020.

Sean Davis The Federalist:
Dear Sir.

We have just read your tweet of the 21st. addressed to ourselves through that medium & previous statements through the Federalist. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which we may know to be erroneous, We and other mainstream media do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which we may believe to be falsely drawn, We do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, We waive it in deference to a fellow member of the media although as you are on the right you don’t really deserve such deference.

As to the policy We “seem to be pursuing” as you say, we have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

We would save the Union from Donald Trump. We would save it the shortest way under the Constitution or outside of it. The sooner the national authority of our allies in the Deep state in general and the Democrat party in particular, can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” before those horrible days of the internet, Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge in the days before he decided to join our noble cause.

If there be those who would not save the Union from Donald Trump, unless they could at the same time attack Communist China or Putin Iran and save the nation from the spread of the Corona Virus , We do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy Communist China, Putin or even Iran, We do not agree with them.

Our paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union from Donald Trump, and is not either to save or to destroy Communist China, Putin Iran or even the Corona Virus. If we could save the Union from Donald Trump without helping Communist China, Russia, Iran or even the spread of the Corona virus we would do it, and if we could save the Union from Donald Trump by directly helping Communist China, Russia, Iran and the spread of the Corona Virus we would do it; and if we could save the Union from Donald Trump, by helping Communist China, Russia, Iran and the spread of the corona virus in some cases and hindering Communist China, Russia, Iran and the spread of the Corona Virus in others we would also do that.

What we write, broadcast and report about Communist China, Russia, Iran and the Corona Virus,we do because we believe it helps to save the Union from Donald Trump; and what we forbear, we forbear because we do not believe it would help to save the Union from Donald Trump.

We shall do less to help efforts to fight the Corona Virus in the US whenever we shall believe what we are doing hurts the cause of defeating Donald Trump in November, and we shall do more to help efforts to fight the Corona Virus whenever we shall believe doing more will help the cause of defeating Donald Trump in November. We shall try to correct errors when shown to be also errors in our efforts in obtaining that goal of Trump destruction; and we shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be in aid of that effort to destroy Donald Trump.

We have here stated our purpose, shared by other members of the media on TV, online and in print according to our view of the official duty of the media to destroy conservatism in general and Donald Trump in particular; and we intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free of Donald Trump in particular and conservatism in general.

Yours,
CNN.

If you wish to read a slightly modified version of this letter which was sent by some fellow named Abe Lincoln to a newspaperman by the name of Horace Greeley on August 22nd 1862 in response to critiques of his actions concerning fighting of the American Civil War you can read it here.

A Basic Compare and Contrast

The letter of the day is I

by baldilocks

It turns out that you can compare apples to oranges.

On Monday, Iran’s Ministry of Health released new data concerning the coronavirus. It said that 66 people have died from the virus while 1501 have been infected. But given the Health Ministry’s propensity for lying, the figure for those dead and infected is likely much greater.

The rampant spread of coronavirus in Iran was a problem largely the result of the Islamic Republic’s own making. In early February, Iranian officials were aware of a potential problem in the city of Qom, where a shrine holy to Shia Muslims served as a breeding ground for the transmission of the virus. Yet authorities took no action to quarantine the city or even warn residents to take safety precautions. The shrine still remains open to visitors and video has recently emerged showing people licking the shrine.

By the time health officials began taking action, it was a case of too little too late. Iran’s Deputy Health Minister, Iraj Harirchi, downplayed claims made a city lawmaker that deaths from COVID-19 had reached 50 and said that he would resign from his post if that assertion was accurate. A day later, Harirchi became a victim of COVID-19 and was under quarantine but not before he was observed coughing on those adjacent to him during the previous day’s press briefing. Several other Iranian diplomats and parliamentarians have since been infected, and at least two have died including a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran’s bumbling and incompetence in dealing with the health crisis can be attributed to the Islamic Republic’s unwillingness to acknowledge weakness and vulnerability.

(…)

Iran’s handling of the crisis stands in marked contrast to how its arch nemesis Israel is addressing the issue. While Iranian officials are spewing little else but propaganda, the Israelis are at the forefront of inventing cures and treatments for the coronavirus.

The Migal Research Institute, an Israeli company based in Galilee has announced that they are on the cusp of developing a coronavirus vaccine. The company had been developing a vaccine for coronavirus in chickens and recognized that they could tweak their vaccine to combat coronavirus in humans. According to Migal’s CEO, David Zigdon, a vaccine for humans could be ready in a few months.

In addition to vaccinations, the ability to rapidly test for the presence of coronavirus is critical. To that end, researchers at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University have developed technologies that drastically reduce the time needed to analyze saliva samples for the presence of COVID-19. This technology reduces the time to analyze a sample from an hour to approximately 15 minutes.

There are more interesting details, but back to the fruit …

Both are good; similar but different. Neither is better than the other.

However, when the apple releases its seeds to fall to the ground, it preserves its progeny and bears more apples. And when the orange withholds its seed, it and all its seed rot away.

Choices matter.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Hello Iran: When people stop believing government lies they stop believing in the government

Latvian Popular Front Leader Mavricks Vulfsons. Signs read “Freedom” and “1940–Year of Stalinist Occupation Regime”

By John Ruberry

Regular readers of my posts here and at Marathon Pundit know that my wife, Mrs. Marathon Pundit, was born in the Soviet Union–in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. She emigrated to the United States in 1991.

Mrs. Marathon Pundit was lied to regularly–just as citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been fed untruths since 1979.

As with other members of her generation, Mrs. MP believed the lies pumped out by the government, and that includes the schools, whoppers such as Soviet citizens enjoyed an advanced standard of living, even though Mrs. Marathon Pundit grew up in a farmhouse with no running water that was heated by birch logs. And Latvia was considered better off than most other Soviet Republics. She believed the falsehood that Latvia, along with Estonia and Lithuania, asked to join the USSR in 1940. The reality is that as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact the Baltic States were occupied by the Red Army and promptly annexed; the leaders of Latvia and Estonia were exiled to remote corners of the Soviet Union. The fate of Estonian president Konstantin Päts was particularly sad, as he was tortured in psychiatric hospitals because of his “persistent claiming of being the president of Estonia.”

Mrs. Marathon Pundit’s parents knew better of course. They also knew it was best to keep quiet. They knew repercussions awaited those who talked about the wrong things. The silent survive. And while it was impossible to cover up the deportations to Siberia of the Joseph Stalin era, the extent of it was known only to a few.

There were big lies and little lies. Here’s one of the latter. Before swimming in one of the few public pools in Latvia, Mrs. Marathon Pundit and other bathers were warned that if they chose to urinate in the water, or if there was an accidental leak, the urine would be immediately turn red and the pee menace would be promptly identified and of course punished. Eventually–I don’t know how–she discovered the clear truth on urinating in swimming pools.

Then there were the omissions. My wife didn’t learn until I told her that the Red Army–two weeks after the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939–seized eastern Poland. The same goes with the Soviet invasion of Finland later that year.

The “Throne of Lies” in the USSR began to collapse after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Ordinary Soviet citizens eventually learned that the state-controlled media reported on the severity of the catastrophe only after western governments noticed the spike in radioactivity in their lands. “The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl 20 years ago this month,” Mikhail Gorbachev wrote in 2006, “even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later.”

Those being lied to didn’t believe the lies any more.

A few years earlier the end of the junta era of Argentina came after the government had to admit their rosy reports on the Falklands War with Great Britain were wrong. It was the UK that was winning nearly every battle.

Now protests are breaking out across Iran after the mullahs were forced to admit that the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which took place on Wednesday shortly after Iran fired missiles at US troops in Iraq, was caused by a missile fired by the Iranian military, after first denying it. And there was a lie within the lie as the Iranians claimed that the passenger jet veered over a sensitive military area.

“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” is one the chants heard in Tehran.

The people of Iran–or at least some of them–don’t believe the lies anymore.

Kimia Alizadeh, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, defected last week. Yes, she did win a bronze in taekwando, that’s not a lie, but her state-created image was a sham. “Whatever they said, I wore,” Alizadeh wrote. “Every sentence they ordered, I repeated.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

The Ultimate Iranian Irony

There seems to be a lot of outrage over Iran’s admission that they accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner full of Iranians, Ukranians and Canadians during their “attack” on our bases.

The outrage seems to be coming from all over the world from Canada to Ukraine to within Iran itself to the point where, much to the shock of Michael Moore, they are even defacing posters of a certain late Iranian general.

I’ll readily concede that people have a reason to be outraged. A lot of innocent people were killed, and this accident might have been preventable if Iran had grounded flights during their attack, or informed those manning batteries that the plane was going up, or had better trained their battery peole etc etc etc and the fact that this was an accident doesn’t make the people involved any less dead.

But the irony of the situation really hits me.

Since the Islamic Revolution Iran has been the #1 or #2 exporter of terror in the world (behind the soviets for a while) there are literally thousands if not tens or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people who are dead because of the action of the Iranian Mullahs and their proxies, not to mention the millions who have suffered because of it. Their actions have deliberate, methodical and calculated but most importantly Iran’s actions have been an open secret known worldwide from Krakow to Khartoum.

Despite this knowledge the world had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get even weak sanctions applied to them to Iran. Diplomats were happy to look the other way as Iran did what it did.

Forty years of deliberate murder and the world didn’t bat an eye, but now Iran finds itself isolated not because of all those decades killing people on purpose, but for the one batch of people whose deaths they didn’t intend.

The world is a very strange place.

Unremembered Gratitude, Gatez Misdemeanor, Occam on Iran, Manslaughter vs Murder Williamson goes under the fedora

There is a running gag in the TV show Maverick when both Brett or Bart Maverick after a long trip in a stagecoach or horse or whatever invariability when they get to a hotel they want a tub and hot water. As soon as it’s drawn invariability whatever lady they are paired with whether it is Connie Stevens or Kathleen Crowley appropriate the full bath from this which angers them to no end as a bathtub of water costs a dollar (the equivalent of $21.18 today) for it since someone has to haul the water, heat it and then haul it again to the tub one bucket at a time.

While California is doing it’s best to return their state to a land where a hot bath or shower is a luxury that most people can’t afford, which has been the norm the rest of us can be grateful that we live in an age and a land where such comfort is so common that it never occurs to be grateful for it.


Rep Matt Gaetz is getting a ton of flack for his vote with the Democrats on their Iran resolution in the house.

I can’t see the point of it, this resolution was symbolic, has no chance of becoming law and was about as meaningless as any that Pelosi has pushed.

After all we don’t throw Rand Paul or Mike Lee off the bus because their principles on foreign policy are different, perhaps Gaetz believes that on principle congress should not cede this power to the executive as a rule.

When he abandons the President or the Pro-life movement on something that actually matters I’ll worry but for now I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. After all people have the right to be wrong.


Had a bit of a twitter debate with a fellow who was insisting that we shouldn’t trust the US government info on the downing of that Ukranianian jet.

While there is nothing wrong with doubt Occam’s razor suggests that this was all about some panicked at the thought that Donald Trump would follow through almost at once, a perfectly reasonable explanation made more reasonable by Iran’s ducking and dodging on the investigation. Particularly with Iran doing all it can to obscure the site.

I’m wondering if those who are seeing a conspiracy here think that the pickets who shot Stonewall Jackson were actually Union spies under deep cover, after all they had the most to gain by removing him before Gettysburg…


One more thing about the jet business. I object to the use of “Murder” in describing what happened. Manslaughter or involuntary homicide would be more accurate. I suspect if the gunners knew it was a passenger jet they would not have shot it down, but given the situation it was irresponsible for Iran to let the jet go up.

Of course if you subscribe to the idea that Iran tipped us off and knew we weren’t hitting back because of it the command might have assumed they gave the battery folks a heads up. Very bad idea if so.


Finally Marianne Williamson has dropped out of the presidential race. A lot of people laughed at her but I am very relieved that she is gone.

In my opinion she was one of two candidates who had an actual chance against President Trump, not a great chance, but a chance.

You might ask why, and once all the candidates I think have a shot are gone I might give it, but until then I’ll just be satisfied that the President’s chances have improved considerably.