You may now remove your tinfoil hat

reeducation campWhile you were waiting to be released from re-education camp, Jade Helm 15, the takeover of America (OK, mostly just Texas) by Obama’s jackbooted legions of special ops FEMA agents striking from bases in shuttered Walmart stores connected by secret tunnels, came to an end.

Or, as Steve Benen writing for MSNBC put it:

Congratulations, America, you managed to avoid a military takeover of the United States and the dictatorial imposition of martial law.

A spokesman for Army Special Operations Command, which led the summer-long military training exercise, described the operation as an overall success. Formal after-action reviews will determine what, if any, lessons were learned from the experience.

Until then, I’ve got a lesson for you: Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

This is how summer ends

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The main stage at twilight, Wheatland 2014.

 

I don’t know about you, but for me, summer doesn’t end with Labor Day, or the first day of school. It ends this weekend, on an old farm in mid-Michigan, where my family, family-by-choice, and 15,000 of our closest friends gather for a weekend of camping, making music, and listening to music.

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The author and his wife.

The Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, MI, has become our end-of-summer tradition since we first went with friends in 2009. While this is my family’s sixth Wheatland, some in our group have been going since 1975, the festival’s second year. Our camp now boasts three generations of native “Wheaties,” as attendees are known.

For 41 years now, the Wheatland Music Organization, has been dedicated to preserving, celebrating, and showcasing the richness of traditional music and dance. This isn’t Burning Man or Bonaroo. This is a folk festival in the best sense of the word, because the people at the festival are as much the musical fabric of the weekend as are the performers that grace the stages.

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Guitars and new songs at camp.

At our camp we have guitars, banjos, fiddles, Irish flute and whistle, autoharp, mountain dulcimer, upright bass, and the best harmony our voices, liberally lubricated with whiskey and coffee, can put together. While the official Sunday morning gospel sing is at the main stage, we pregame it with a camp sing of our own.

Our numbers are a little diminished this year with some cherished members of camp missing for health reasons. It’s the second year now without our daughter, down in college in Tennessee.  And it’s likely the last one for a while for our son, who will himself head off to college at the end of this year.

The advance party for our group set off in the predawn darkness this morning to line up so that when the festival gates open they can claim our traditional camping spot and begin to lay out the dimensions of our home for the next two days. I’ll be bringing up the rear this year, hitting the road for the two-hour drive north as soon I’m done teaching for the day. By the time I get there the tents will be up, the camp kitchen organized, the instruments will be out, and the whiskey will be flowing.

I will have some catching up to do.

Happy end of summer.

Iran deal: Now even more official (with an update)

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With four more Senate Democrats announcing their support for the Iran nuclear deal yesterday, Republicans will not have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster of their resolution disapproving the agreement.  Not that objections from Congress would have made much of a difference in any course:

For all the drama leading up to this week’s debate, the other five world powers who helped negotiate the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — have made clear they have no desire to return to the bargaining table, and are likely to ease sanctions against Iran and put the agreement in place regardless of the view ultimately expressed by Congress.

Of course none of this stops the political posturing either in Congress (not that the lack of congressional GOP buy-in for any of Obama’s foreign policy initiatives really matters much) or from amongst the ranks of presidential contenders.

Just as Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton (well, front-runner everywhere but New Hampshire …) announced her support for the deal this morning, opponents were making plans for a rally at the Capitol later today featuring such foreign policy heavyweights as Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin, and Glenn Beck.

Luckily Dick Cheney has resurfaced to offer a fresh alternative to diplomacy, a new Mideast war, backed up by a master class in how not to learn from the past.

“[T]here are lessons from the past on which we can draw,” Cheney declared. He then cited Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor; the Gulf War, in which the U.S. destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program; the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which Cheney said convinced Libya to abandon its nuclear program; and Israel’s 2007 attack on a nuclear reactor in Syria. “In each of these cases,” Cheney argued, “it was either military action or the credible threat of military action that persuaded these rogue regimes to abandon their weapons programs. Iran will not be convinced to abandon its program peacefully unless it knows it will face military action if it refuses to do so.”

Of course Cheney fails to articulate how to make threats of military action — like the ones Obama has already made — any more credible without actually going to war. Nor does he manage to explain how such threats failed to stop the Iranians from advancing to the edge of nuclear capability under his watch.

Perhaps he’ll show up at the rally today to spell it all out for us slow learners.


Update

We may never find out if those 42 Senate Democrats really support the deal now that conservative Republicans in the House have blocked a vote in that chamber. Reuters reports this afternoon:

A rebellion by conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives on Wednesday delayed the first congressional vote on the nuclear agreement with Iran and raised the possibility that lawmakers might never vote on a resolution disapproving of the pact.

The House was supposed to vote on a procedural motion to begin debate on Wednesday, but it was put off after some Republicans said they wanted to push President Barack Obama to provide more information about the deal.

The rebel Republicans, led by Representative Peter Roskam, said the Obama administration had not provided all the information about the deal required under the IranNuclear Review Act. They said it includes “secret side deals” about inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities that have not been fully revealed.

The White House dismissed that suggestion.

“If Congress does not vote, this agreement goes into effect. It’s as simple as that,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

For the life of me I can’t figure out what the Republican game is here.

 

A tale of two refugee crises, 59 years apart

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Nov. 1956: Hungarian refugees cross the border into Austria.
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Sept. 2015: Syrian refugees cross the border into Hungary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In November, 1956, what started as a trickle turned into a flood as hundreds of thousands of Hungarian refugees fled their homes, bound for Austria and the West. They were escaping the brutal suppression by Soviet troops of their abortive uprising against communist rule.

Armed resistance was crushed within a week. Mass arrests and denunciations of “traitors” continued for months. Austria greeted those refugees with open arms, announcing that every Hungarian refugee who reached Austria would be granted political asylum.

CNN recalled that history in a report yesterday, reminding us that the Hungarian crisis of 1956 would become the template for the international community’s future response to refugee crises.

Contrast that with the actions of the Hungarian government, which has redoubled its efforts to complete a barrier fence along its border with Serbia in an increasingly aggressive efforts to block the flow of refugees, mainly from the wars ravaging Syria and Iraq, from entering its territory as they desperately try to make their way to Germany.  As the New York Times reports,

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly said that Hungary has the right to protect its Christian traditions by refusing to accept large numbers of Muslims, and that many of the arrivals making their way to Germany and other prosperous nations do not deserve asylum.

There’s an sad irony here in the failure of Hungary to repay the compassion that they received six decades ago with some compassion of their own.