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Saturday, January 11, 2020


I have not been blogging much this past week.  In part, this is because I start teaching again on Monday and I have also been re-reading Book I of the Treatise to prepare for my YouTube Hume lectures, which begin February 6th.  But the real reason is that I am bummed out by the news [save for the astonishing fact that Bernie seems to be surging slightly.] 

I have now listened to uncounted hours of commentary on the killing of Suleimani and its aftermath.  Glib TV personalities and deep thinking experts, some of whom could even find Iran and Iraq on an unmarked map of the Middle East, and not a single one of them has so much as alluded to the fact that in 1953 the United States overthrew a secular democratic Iranian president because he nationalized the country’s oil resources.  I was reflecting that they probably imagine that is too long ago for Iranians to remember.  It is, after all, 67 years now.  And then I recalled that last year, the UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor lost her job because she countenanced the removal of a famous campus statue of a southern Civil War soldier.  That war ended 155 years ago, and it is still fresh in the memories of many whom I am saddened to call neighbors.  As Faulkner observed, the past is never dead.  It is not even past.

And then there is the Senate impeachment trial, probably starting right after Martin Luther King Day.  Everyone is atwitter about Susan Collins saying she is working with a “very small” group of Republican Senators to call witnesses.  I will make a prediction [this is not mine; I read it on line but forget who said it]:  It takes four Republicans plus all the Democrats to call a witness.  Susan Collins will report, sadly, that she was only able to find two beside herself.  Having cleared this with McConnell first, she will make a big deal of her efforts, avoid a primary challenge, and then run for yet another term as an open minded bi-partisan.

God I hate her.


David Auerbach said...

When I was in high school I wrote a long paper (gleaned from days of squinting at micro-fiche) on the Iranian Oil Company. In other words, I wrote about our overthrow of the Iranian government. The always valuable show On the Media has a couple of very good pieces on all this war-mongering: On the Media on Iran

s. wallerstein said...

Of course Iranians remember what was done to them in 1953. Societies especially remember wrongs that were done to them; they remember those wrongs for generations. I believe that Machiavelli points that out.

What is now happening in Chile, months of often violent civil unrest, goes back to September 11, 1973 when the Chilean armed forces, backed by Nixon and cheered on by the Chilean rightwing elite, overthrew the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende. That will haunt Chile for generations and generations. Watching what happens in Chile is like watching the family history of the house of Atreus.

Charles Pigden said...

Well apart from overthrowing Mossadegh, the US supported the tyrannical Shah until 1979 and then sponsored Saddam Hussein during the Iran/Iraq War in which he did indeed use horrific weapons of mass destruction against Iranian troops. When it comes to the USA, Iranians of many ideological complexions have ample cause for ongoing resentment.

SAVAK, Pahlavi's secret police was set up by the CIA and it became noticeably less murderous when Jimmy Carter raised 'human rights concerns' with Iran. The fact that it became a lot less horrific on Jimmy Carter's watch suggests that its previous operations were carried out with the tacit consent of successive US government. Most of SAVAK's victims will be very old or dead now. Not so their children.

Dean said...

I, too, am bummed out by the news, due to its substance but also to the way in which it is delivered (e.g., glibly, as you note). But then I continue with my project of reading Dickens' Our Mutual Friend. Suddenly, I'm not bummed out! I'd say two of the novels I've recently read -- the Dickens and Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence -- are de rigueur reading for our times. They will help to un-bum you out, even if only by demonstrating it has always been thus, but of course also because they are both masterful literary achievements.

Jim said...

Not sure if anyone saw the Bret Stephens NYT op-ed piece yesterday where he states that no one should rule out Sanders' chances of winning the nomination and the presidency. Stephens right wing approach notwithstanding, he makes a valid point.

-- Jim

Jerry Fresia said...

Good point, and then there is Joe Manchin and Doug Jones, emblematic of the Democratic party's ferocious Resistance.

And speaking of Collins and her support of Kavanaugh, whatever became of the House Dems who said after Kavanaugh got in that if they captured the House, there would be impeachment efforts against Kavanaugh?

We now hear from Neal Katyal, no slouch, that Pelosi ought to break up the two Articles, send to the Senate only the Obstruction of Congress, given that that is a done deal, but hold the Abuse of Power article, until the Senate permits further documents to be aired at trial, given that that article evidence is still developing. It doesn't appear Pelosi has it in her to actually fight the Repubs on this so I hope the Repubs will dispatch the trial quickly and put us out of our misery. Then, hopefully, we can concentrate on Bernie's campaign.

s. wallerstein said...

You might be interested to learn that I was watching the weekly Sunday morning TV news round-up here in Santiago, on Channel 13, mainstream and even a bit rightwing, and they began their explanation of the problems between Iran and the U.S. with the 1953 CIA-backed coup in a completely matter of fact way.

Ludwig Richter said...

Jim, I did see the Bret Stephens piece. He argues, in short, that Bernie Sanders can win by being the left-wing version of Donald Trump. Which shows he doesn't really understand the Sanders' campaign.

According to the Intercept article that Professor Wolff referred us to, the Sanders' campaign is employing a person-to-person, ground-up strategy for winning the nomination, a key element of which is expanding the electorate. As AOC has said, "The swing voters that we’re most concerned with are the non-voters to voters."

Quoting Richard Feynman, Stephens tried to make a point about how people like him should not count Sanders out because they don't like him. What Stephens can't face is that Sanders might win because he appeals to people Stephens would rather pretend don't exist.

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