Monday, June 4, 2021. We look at past issues -- Camp Ashraf and the violence in the US against Iraqi girls and women -- while discussing COVID.
This won't be a long snapshot and I'll explain why and why it's being done so late. By seven tonight, I'd told myself I'd write it. It's not my job to tell anyone how to conduct this or that aspect of their life. Self-censorship is also not a good thing. I'll give two examples on that regarding this site.
First, Camp Ashraf residents. They were non-Iraqis trapped in Iraq as a result of having lived there before the fall of Saddam and being disarmed after the US-invasion. They were asked by the US government do disarm and promises were made that then were not kept. US Gen David Petraeus was not thrilled (to put it mildly) that the Ashraf community would be attacked repeatedly after disarming -- with the Iraqi government either looking the other way or taking part in the attacks. Petraues was bothered by many things in that situation including that the decisions taken had left the US mimlitary responsible for defending the Ashraf community.
The Ashraf community were part of a larger group of Iranian dissidents who were not in Iraq. It was a group that many in the press were not sympathetic to and made no effort at all to be impartial in their coverage. (THE NEW YORK TIMES was particularly hideous in this regard.)
How do you cover this group here? A group most in the press called a cult, etc?
We did it by focusing solely on the Ashraf community in Iraq.
We were not defending the group's beliefs (or alleged beliefs) and we were not defending their actions (or alleged actions). We were dealing with the law and the US government had a responsibility -- a legal one -- once they chose to enter into negotiations with the Ashraf community about disamring.
This could be a long responsibility/obligation. The People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) could use their members in Iraq, for example, to wage war or cause strife or any number of things. I didn't want to be part of that and we weren't part of that. And when the PMOI contacted this site wanting some form of assistance, I noted it here in the next snapshot and that this was not our role and we would not be engaging. And that may be one reason that unlike Howard Dean and two other people, I wasn't targeted by the FBI. (The three people targeted were all prominent Democrats who had held office and who were defending the rights of the Ashraf community.) Also true, I was informed by a friend who was then AG that my e-mails had been monitored and that there was no reason to question me but, as a friend, he urged me to continue to draw a very strong line between the Ashraf community trapped in Iraq and the PMOI.
No one would defend the Ashraf community for the longest time and when the three Democrats did, the targeting of them pretty much ensured that others wouldn't step forward.
We drew our lines clearly. We were not here to promote the PMOI and we were not going to feature their propaganda (all groups put out some form of propaganda -- including the NRA and the ACLU). We were not going to get caught up in the beliefs or practices of the Ashraf community in Iraq because various press outlets were using those two topics to ridicule and to turn the group into 'the other.'
Our focus was solely on the obligations under US and international law -- obligations ont he part of the US government. And we weren't going to get trapped on some road where 20 years later we were still referring to those obligations.
By that, I mean, we weren't going to be allowing the Ashraf community to be used by the PMOI for 20 years. The US government could be done with their obligation immediately -- and I made that point here and I made it on the phone and face-to-face with various officials in Barack Obama's two administrations (a point that carried much more weight after the 2013 attack/massacre on the camp residents). It wasn't the US government's obligation to get each resident of Camp Ashraf a stunning apartment in Paris with a view of the Chaps Elysees. It was their obligation to make a sincere effort to find locations that would be safe for the residents. To find them, to locate those places, to ensure that they stood a chance. But if the Ashraf community chose to play Goldilocks and insist that this one was too cold and that one too hot and . . .
If they were provided the opportunities to make a home elsewhere and they elected not to take it, then the US government's obligations were no more. After 2013's attack, this point was reflected in the approach the US government was now taking.
It helped that Hillary Clinton was no longer Secretary of State by then because she was completely ignoring the law -- and being found in contempt by US courts as a result. She'd been repeatedly ordered by the courts to provide this or that documentation, to provide the basis for her decision not to attempt to help the residents, to this and to that. Was she just inept? I have no idea but the notion that she was this wonderful expert and so qualified to serve as president depended upon a lot of stupidity including of how she skirted the law, she ignored rulings by the US courts and she basically refused to update her thinking on any issue her husband had taken a stand on the 90s. (Bill had targeted the PMOI when he was president in the 90s.)
To this day, I have never offed a personal opinion on the people who were part of the Ashraf community and I hope I never will. This was a legal issue and that's how we approached it -- by focusing on the law. If a legal reality changed or appeared that it might have changed, we didn't look the other way, we covered it. We made our position about what the law was and we were very clear that the US government could discharge their obligation at any time by doing it's job. If it did that job and the Ashraf community refused to leave, the obligation was nullified.
Another issue we had to tackle was the attacks in the US carried out by Iraqis. I don't mean attacks on the government, I mean attacks on family members -- usually just the female family members. There was still a huge prejudice against Iraqis in the early days of the war. So if someone was being charged with this or that in the US, did we note it here?
At first, I said no. Like the animal sacrifices being carried out by the Iraqi government (with the complicity of the US government), we didn't cover it. A new government building was unveiled in Iraq? There was a good chance that an animal was 'sacrificed' (killed). That wasn't our dance.
But in terms of censoring on actions in the US?
What I quickly (re)discovered was that when girls and women are attacked, everyone will do everything in their power to protect a man who honestly should have no protection.
You've got PTS or some other trauma from the war and you beat the s**t out of your wife?
I'm sorry, did you mistake for Rachel Maddow? I'm not going to cover for that abuser. Let Rachel bring the idiot on twice and one week and treat him like he's Forest Gump -- which she did -- despite the public, legal documents presented in court that he'd not only repeatedly beat the woman after he returned from the war but he'd also beat before he ever shipped overseas.
In the case of Iraqi girls and women living in the US and attacked b Iraqi men -- maybe a girl was run over by her father in his car? We couldn't ignore that. A culture of silence was not going to be encouraged by this site because anti-Iraqi attitudes were prevalent in the US. So we covered the attacks in the US on Iraqi girls and women.
If we start looking the other way, it's just not going to work
So with that in mind, I've been sick all day since this morning because I got the first COVID shot. Am I sick because of the shot? No, I'm sick because many health issues.
And I'm writing about it because I'm seeing a smug attitude online in the last two weeks by a bunch of idiots prattling on about medical issues when they have no training.
You do see me offering medical opinions here or trying to shame anyone into doing something. I'm not a medical expert and I have no training in that field.
Now I have studied the law and I'm find offering legal arguments -- and those arguments have been solid and, oh yeah, I've never been wrong on the outcomes -- whether it was the SOFA or what have you. I can argue the law. (And, as I like to point out, when any of the idiots who were offering contrary legal advice can claim to have broken a multi-figure contract with a corporation and walked away from it with the full amount of money being paid out, then they can talk to me about the law. But watching a few episodes of THE PRACTICE isn't going to make you someone who knows the law.)
On masks, I've stated that I wear one and I've stated why -- my many health issues of late. I have not condemned grown ups for not wearing them. My job does not include telling grown ups what to do and, due to may own health issues, I am fully aware that some people truly cannot wear them.
In terms of getting the vaccine, I was always going to get it, the issue was when. My oncologist, my endo doctor, my pcp and other doctors had various reasons for why I should wait. For example, when it was first available, I was due to have surgery on my eyes. The surgery had been postponed repeatedly due to the return of the cancer and due to blood sugar issues (severe blood sugar issues that required me to get regular shots in both eyes every six weeks -- from my retinal eye doctor -- I actually three eye MDs -- not optometrists -- and all three are surgeons -- I've accepted the fact that if I live more than 3 years more, I will probably be as blind as poor Mary Tyler Moore was when she did her last acting role -- guesting on HOT IN CLEVELAND -- a performance that no one seemed to notice required her to be seated -- no one appeared to register that Mary never stood or walked that entire episode because she honestly couldn't see) since February 2020. Finally, we were going to be able to do it at the end of December. That's when the vaccine then became available. Having had to repeatedly postpone the surgery due to medical issues, it was the opinion of five of my doctors that I shouldn't get the vaccine just yet. I shouldn't do anything to jeopardize the surgery taking place.
After that, there were other reasons including my oncologist wanting me to finish a six week cycle of medication before doing any vaccine. That was completed last week. So I scheduled my COVID vaccine for this Monday. (I have to another one in 28 or so days.) Immediately after the shot, my blood sugar dropped to the point that I passed out. After I came to, I couldn't even stand up on my own. I had to grip the wall, a chair, a friend's arm for the next hour. I then went to sleep. At seven p.m., I woke up and thought "Oh, I've got to write about this." And planned to, booting up the laptop but before it was booted up, I was putting my head down for 'just a moment.' Instead, I slept several hours.
Even with this reaction -- which was anticipated by my endo doctor -- I would have the shot again. That's me. I can't make that decision for anyone else.
But there's been a lot smugness from a lot of stupid Americans of late. Posting your celebratory selfies of you getting a vaccine isn't really compassionate or caring when so many in the world have no access to the vaccine. The people of Iran, for example, have had their government attempting various ways to get the shots -- now they'll be using money that can't leave Iraq to purchase shots.
But chalk that up to basic stupidity -- that nah-nah-nah, look what I got!
To assume you know what someone else needs or requires medically? That's just stupidity. It's stupidity if you have no medical training. Even if you do, if you don't know the person's medical history, it's stupid of you to try to weigh in.
I can't speak to what anyone else should do. You're not my child, my children are grown adults and they may ask advice from time to time but they always make their own decisions. If I'm not going to tell them what to do, I'm not to stick my nose into the business of strangers.
I had the vaccine and will have the second shot and I'm sure that I'll be sick after that one too. I'm doing that because it's what feels right for me and it's what my medical team advises. What's right for me may not be right for others.
These 'experts' who get online and try to shame others for not getting a vaccine are real idiots. A) You don't have medical training so sit your tired ass down. B) If your goal is really to get people to have the vaccine, grasp that shaming is not going to work or be an effective strategy. You just come off like a smug know it all who never learned to mind their own business.
This thing has been handled wrong from the very beginning and Joe Biden was getting it wrong before he ever became president. He preached to an off-key choir and they embraced him but his comments were not helpful in encouraging people to get the vaccine.
I'm referring to many things but we called out his 'trust the science' nonsense.
Trust the science?
Well science changes. It's not a Platonic dialogue that we read and study and argue over meanings but the actual words were set in stone centuries ago. Science is an ongoing process. And most people are smart enough to grasp that.
Politicians should have been smart enough to grasp that, in a pandemic, you're not making an argument for science or reality-based or whatever some smug asshole thinks is the superior cross to hang from. In a pandemic, you should be attempting to reach as many people as possible.
It should have been 'trust your doctor.' Many people in this country do not know a scientist -- unless we're enlarging the definition so broadly to include high school science teachers. Most do know a doctor. Most trust their doctor or they wouldn't see her or him.
You need to utilize your language and enhance your communication skills if you're trying to persuade someone. Instead, we saw the same nonsense from the 'cultural elites' -- what did we call those jerks when Bully Boy Bush was in office? I can't remember and to be honest, I've had to stop in the midst of this to take another nap. So I need to wrap this up to get this posted. (And it's not a dictated for a change so I'm responsible for all typos.)
I get it, your lives are lousy so you tape on your own video and post it to YOUTUBE and pretend like you did something when all you did was create another barrier to communication. You tried to shame someone when shame doesn't work -- if it did, you wouldn't be posting your uninformed opinions on YOUTUBE, now would you?
I've had a very bad reaction to the shot. Not caused by the shot but as a result of several pre-existing conditions. I'm not going to be part of a conspiracy of silence. I'm aware sharing may make some people rethink getting the virus -- and maybe they should. I'm also aware that if we talk honestly to one another, we breed trust.
Shaming and bullying really doesn't work for most of us. It never works on me. Various people have tried to bully me regarding what positions I take here or what I'll cover here. It won't work. It's never worked on me. That's why I could speak out against the Iraq War when few in the US bothered to. It's why I'll do my blocking and hit my marks if -- IF -- it makes sense to me and feels natural. If it doesn't, you're not going to persuade me by trying to bully me. I've stood up to directors who've left others in tears.
Some people are not going to get the vaccine in the US. It should be free -- in the US, in every country. But money play into not getting it for some. Some people won't get it because they don't trust the government -- a valid position when you grasp how often the government has lied. There was a push -- by NPR -- recently to mock and shame African-Americans who were skeptical about the vaccine because of the way the US government had used medicine (or 'medicine') in the past to target that community or experiment (without informed consent) on that community. I don't get where NPR -- one of the many outlets that lied the nation into war back in 2002 and 2003 -- has any standing when it comes to hectoring others. It would be stupidity for members of a community that have regularly and repeatedly been damaged and harmed by their own government not to have skepticism when certain claims are now made. Some people don't like shots and/or needles. Some people have health issues that may mean the vaccine is not a viable option for them.
If we don't encourage a public dialogue on these issues, nothing's going to be accomplished. This needs to be an ongoing, public dialogue in which people can be heard. It's a global emergency -- still, it's still one. And there will be no buy-in unless people are listened to, are allowed to share and until a bunch of idiots who are too damn stupid to grasp how fortunate they are stop mocking and trying to shame others. It's a pandemic, we all need to be talking. Stop using shame and bullying to try silence others or force to conform to what you want them to do and be.
I'm going to stay up for about 20 more minutes if I can and get some things from the public e-mail account to post throughout the morning. If I wake up feeling the same tomorrow morning, I'm going back to sleep and I'll try to have a snapshot up by 5:00 pm. If I feel find when I wake up, the snapshot will go up at it's usual time.