Iran: WWRRD?

17Jul15

President Ronald Reagan with Caspar Weinberger, George Shultz, Ed Meese, and Don Regan discussing the President's remarks on the Iran-Contra affair, Oval Office

As I hear reports about the new deal with Iran regarding its nuclear program, I have decided to hold it to the standards that conservatives apparently use these days: WWRRD.

As dealings with Iran go, the answer would be: sell the Iranian government weapons in violation of an embargo, in order to illegally fund Central American terrorists trying to overthrow a democratically elected government.

That said, Reagan set a very low bar for U.S. foreign policy with the states on the Persian Gulf and in Mediterranean Asia: Terrorist attack on a Marine barracks in Lebanon? Cut and run. What to do about Saddam Hussein? Sell him chemical weapons, obviously.

Perhaps this new approach is better.


I have a rant building up that has nothing to do with any of my regular subjects. Perhaps I have a new category, the “birthday post”, with my previous editions being: Life Lessons from Vacation (2014), Icarus (2013), and Twelve Things I Wish I’d Known Twenty Years Ago (2012) — none of these have been written on my birthday, but they were all inspired by my thoughts surrounding my birthday.

There is a car company with a commercial out for the new model year of their iconic roadster. (I’m not going to name the car company or embed the commercial because the commercial enrages me so much, but I have included a link for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it.) The outline of the commercial is, you had fun with your car when you were a teenager, then took on responsibilities and had to drive ‘responsible cars’. Now that your children have left home… or you can afford an extra car… or they’re driving themselves… or your wife divorced you for being a selfish prick, you can have the new version of the car you drove as a teenager. In short, now that you’re in your midlife crisis, buy our car. I’ve always thought of this model as a midlife crisis car, but I don’t remember them ever having been so open about it.

I’m not entirely sure why my response to the commercial is so strong. Perhaps part is because I find the rhyming cloying. It’s probably more because I’ve never defined myself by the car I drive, and I find the idea of owning a car because it’s ‘fun’ to be ridiculous. Perhaps I find this grating because I have been having a crisis in my midlife, and have been for a few years, but I know that it won’t be solved by buying a car that reminds me of when I was me.

Frankly, the idea that there is a time, “when you were you” (as the commercial has it) is laughable — particularly in reference to the high school years. I am who I am, and I like much about who I am. I would be as disoriented being a younger version of myself as the high school me would be if he suddenly found himself in my current life. Back in high school I was (like it seems everyone else is at that age) floundering, trying to figure out who I was, and not realizing that that process is one that only time can determine, and that time will continually change the answer.

At this time of year it does get hard to not think about the years I’ve spent in jobs I don’t like, that barely pay the bills (if that), and that don’t give me an opportunity to use my talents or make a contribution. It’s hard to not rethink all the choices I’ve made that have contributed to my failures, and wonder if I could have made different decisions while keeping the relationships that make my life worth living. All of that makes it difficult to remember that I do have talents, that I can make a contribution, and that I can make life better for others (and maybe for myself, too).

Even with all of that, I wouldn’t want to go back to who I was in high school, or even in college. (I was a grumpy SOB then, too, for one thing.) That said, there are aspects of myself that have softened over the years I wouldn’t mind reclaiming (the self-confidence, the competitiveness, the passions, the combativeness, the metabolism).

So, my message to the manufacturer is this: midlife crises are crises. Your car won’t fix them. Pretending it will is predatory bullshit.

P.S.: “Driver’s license… took two tries.” When I was in high school, we called those people bad drivers, it was never something to be proud of.


A great piece on the difference between civil and religious marriage from a clerical perspective.

Glass Overflowing

It is an odd relationship–the way ministers often act as agents of the state to sign civil marriage licenses. We can’t sign any other documents on behalf of the state. But hundreds of years ago, when marriages all (mostly) took place in churches, we entrenched the two acts–the act of the church in joining people in the covenant of sacred marriage and the act of the state in conferring civil rights and relationships to couples.

There has been plenty of fear ever since the Supreme Court ruled last week that marriage equality was the law of the land. Much of this fear has been promoted by fear mongerers, threatening to set themselves on fire (just kidding–I’m not kidding about this. He was. A minister said he would set himself on fire if the Supreme Court ruled as it did). And the fear mongerers are successfully ‘mongering’ a…

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Capture

The horrific racist terrorism at Emanuel AME church in Charleston, brought a quick reminder that the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia was still being flown by the South Carolina state legislature. A great fracas has ensued, including my early contribution here:

Much of the debate has focused on the post-1865 meaning of the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia and its rectangular counterpart, the battle flag of the Army of Tennessee/Confederate Naval Jack. From the flags’ adoption by the nation’s largest terrorist organization shortly after the war (where they were clearly attempting to claim the heritage of the Confederate Army) I have seen charted the inclusion of the flags in the state flag of Georgia (1956), and the running up of the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia in South Carolina (1962) as responses to the African-American civil rights movement. (Mississippi, on the other hand, incorporated the flag into their own in 1894, which raises the question, “What precipitated Mississippi’s 1894 flag change?”)

For example, it is clear from context that the Klan (and many of their ‘intellectual’ allies) have meant the flag to be an instrument of terror (like their ‘illuminated’ crosses) as well as a claim of revolt and descent from the armed forces of the Confederacy. On the other hand the states of, Georgia and South Carolina appear to have meant theirs in revolt, rejecting anti-segregation laws. In both cases, there is clearly a racist element to their displays.

Let’s go back a bit now… like a century before South Carolina raised their flag. What was the original meaning of the battle flags and naval jack?

Flag_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America_1861-1863.svg_

Well, it wasn’t “states’ rights”, because even if that had been the cause of the war, there was another flag for that:

(And, if you do think that “states’ rights” were the cause of the Civil War, you might want to read the declarations of secession for South Carolina, Texas, and Mississippi the only right in question was the right to own slaves — to exploit, to beat, to rape, and to murder fellow human beings.)

constitution_3_of_4_630No, the flag in question is a flag used in battle as the identifier of a military unit. It never flew over any of the Confederate capitols (neither statehouses, nor the national capitol). It was displayed by those troops who were actively engaged in war against the United States of America. In other words, the flags in question were solely used by illegal militias whose sole purpose was armed insurrection against the United States of America. The Constitution has a little something to say about that:

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

US Constitution, Article III, Section 3

Even by this very strict definition, the people fighting under the flags in question were committing treason, something that President Lincoln knew well. It was the reason for the reason for his general pardon. He knew that there were those in Congress who would want the Confederates prosecuted to the full extent of the law, which would mean that the white adult male population of the returning states would be reduced dramatically (even more so if they included those ‘adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort’).

What does it mean today to fly those flags today? Well, you might mean that you take pride in your Southern or rural heritage. There were surely many Confederate soldiers who displayed gallantry and were respected by their opponents — Lee, Jackson, and Hill come to mind — but they are counterbalanced by the systemic slaughter through starvation and disease at Andersonville, and there is certainly a romance surrounding failed causes (see the English Cavaliers, late Scottish Covenanters, Russian monarchy, and Paris Commune). And Southern culture reaches far beyond the Confederacy and the antebellum South, so there is no reason for it to be defined by secession. Don’t be surprised if the reaction you receive is to be treated as a racist terrorist — because that is what it has meant to African-Americans for a century and a half.

The one meaning that cannot be escaped, though, is that by displaying the flag you have claimed to be an active member of the Army of Northern Virginia, Army of Tennessee, or Confederate Navy — illegal militias whose sole purpose is armed rebellion against the United States of America. In short, you have declared yourself to be a traitor. You should be happy if you are treated as such.


One of the simplest explanations of the abundant problems around the traitors’ flag.

Ty Templeton's ART LAND!!

Sometimes, I feel more like a good scolding than a good laugh. Sometimes, I feel more like a good scolding than a good laugh.

If you don’t know what this is about, go to a news site that doesn’t have the word “Fox” on it.

fun with flags websize revised

It astounds me that there’s something called a “controversy” about removing the reprehensible symbol from the South Carolina statehouse in the wake of a terrorist shooting of an historical black church in Charleston.

Astounding.

Because some racist pigs PRETEND they don’t know exactly what that shitstain of a flag actually means.

But I’m through with being polite about it.  If you wear that odious symbol around me, I’m going to treat you like the human garbage I have no choice but to assume you are.  I will no longer witness this inhuman symbol without comment.

print and burn your own!

Ty the Guy OUT!

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Lots of comics have used the confederate battle standard…

I'm not sure how ironically this is being used.  When I see the dark skinned snake guy, I'm not so sure.... I assure you, the provocative image and identity of…

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Thought Catalog

Chad SparkesChad Sparkes

ENFP: Wants to dine, live and mingle like the locals in order to have the most authentic experience possible.

ESFJ: Makes sure everyone’s wearing sunscreen and wakes up early each morning to pack the group lunch.

ESFP: Has a whirlwind vacation romance.

INTJ: Selects the optimal hotel, dining and entertainment options by methodically narrowing down a list of possible selections prior to the trip.

ISFP: Sees a great photo op, wanders into a back alley to capture the perfect lighting and gets lost. Rejoins the group three days later.

ESTP: Convinces everyone to go bungee jumping.

ISFJ: Thoughtfully selects souvenirs for loved ones back home and mementos to put in their scrapbook.

ENTP: Somehow learns the local language in less than a week and charms their way into everything for free.

INTP: Embarks on a solitary road trip with…

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Fortune

“You are not an introvert!” my friend Lesley Stahl chided me over dinner last week at Loi Estiatorio, a Greek restaurant in Manhattan. “I’ve seen you with groups of people, I’ve seen you on stage, I’ve seen you…and there is no way you’re an introvert!”

The more I protested, the more the 60 Minutes correspondent accused me of misrepresenting myself to her. You see, Stahl and most other people who know me — including Fortune editor Alan Murray, my boss, who calls me “one of the least quiet people on staff”—think I’m an extrovert.

But appearances are often deceiving. Quiet Revolution, a startup led by Quiet author-turned-entrepreneur Susan Cain, created a five-minute quiz to determine where you fall on the introversion-extroversion scale. And my test results prove my point: With a score of 39 out 50, I am a closet introvert.

Most people don’t realize that your identity as an…

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