This unspeakable act on the United States has really forced me, however, to rely on my moral compass, my conscience, and my God for direction. September 11 changed the world. Our deepest fears now haunt us. Yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States. This is a very complex and complicated matter.
Now, this resolution will pass, although we all know that the President can wage a war even without it. However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint. Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say, let’s step back for a moment. Let’s just pause just for a minute and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control.
Now, I have agonized over this vote, but I came to grips with it today and I came to grips with opposing this resolution during the very painful, yet very beautiful, memorial service, as a member of the clergy so eloquently said, “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.”
Associated forces are the mythical sixty-first and sixty-second words in the authorization for use of military force (AUMF) They appear nowhere in the text of the document passed by the US congress, and yet they are the basis for the continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and were the basis for the support of the war against DAESH/ISIS. They are the basis for the latest strike on Qasem Soleimani on Iraqi soil. They will be the basis for the eventual war in Iran that Republicans desperately want to start next.
Hindsight has proven that Barbara Lee is an American hero. A patriot that puts people like yours truly to shame. Why? Because I acted to quash a resolution by Travis county Libertarians to come out against declaring a war on terrorism. I did this not because I thought that war was justified. I did it because I felt that a political organization that hoped to be given power in some future election could not publically come out against a war that was so demonstrably popular with the masses back in 2001.
I would like to think that if I had been in Barbara Lee’s shoes back then, I might have had the fortitude to stand up for what I believed in, as she did. But I doubt it. I would probably have seen the writing on the wall, as Senator Joe Biden did, and felt justified in supporting a resolution that was going to pass whether I spoke out against it or not.
What I do know now is that the AUMF has to be rescinded. We will never get out of this endless war unless we do rescind it. We are breeding new legions of US hating terrorists with every one of the targeted strikes we engage in now. Unless we like being the most hated country in the world, with our citizenry afraid to travel beyond the country’s borders for fear of being targeted themselves, we have to give up this unwinnable war against terrorism. Unless we want to bankrupt our country in much the same way as we forced the USSR to bankrupt their country in Afghanistan at the end of the cold war, we cannot continue acting the way we have acted since 2001. It is time for all of this hatred and killing to stop and we have to stop it.
I’m listening to the news today. Today is the first day I’ve awoken clear-headed in a week or more. I’ve binge-watched Star Trek on Netflix for the last two days, I’ve been feeling so poorly, and before that I was just going through podcast archives because I didn’t want to listen to the news. I’ve been avoiding the news since the El Paso shootings. I’ve been avoiding the news because I don’t want to hear about thoughts and prayers and I don’t want to hear arguments about what kinds of solutions that we could enact that would fix the plague of mass shootings in the US today. I don’t need to hear what we need to do, I know what needs to be done. I wrote about it two years ago. We won’t do it, and prayers don’t help, so why pay attention?
Today I wake up and I feel well enough to risk listening to the news. So I queue up the NPR news feed and throw in ABC (CBS?) and then I go on to the Texas Standard. That’s when I get derailed from my news consumption. They’re still talking about El Paso on the Texas Standard. Well, El Paso is in Texas, I should have expected that. Governor Abbott has held a nearly unprecedented impromptu news conference. Great. He doesn’t think he needs to call a special session of the legislature to deal with the issue of mass killings right here in Texas.
Seriously? The guy who thought we needed a special session over which bathroom you use doesn’t think we need a special session over gun regulations and mass shootings? The governor who is afraid of homosexuals and transsexuals doesn’t think that being shot while in Walmart shopping for schools supplies is a problem that we need the legislature to address? I mean, I guess he gets an attaboy for finally admitting that his president is a racist… No, wait. He said the shooter was a racist, not the president that the shooter quoted was a racist. Nevermind. No attaboy for Greg Abbott. I thought he might actually get one thing right while he was governor, but I guess not.
None of this tirade would have made the blog if I hadn’t been pinged by Steve Kubby during my cardiologist mandated sweat marathon, something I’ve neglected for several days because vertigo makes exercise into an invitation to take a trip to the emergency room for a cause other than a heart attack. Falling off the treadmill can be about as traumatic as a heart attack, in the scheme of things.
The phone pings while I’m on the treadmill, and because I know I’ve turned off push notifications except for the apps that the family uses, I figure it’s someone I know needing something. So I (carefully) check the phone and notice it’s a messenger notification from Steve Kubby. Now, that’s weird. Steve Kubby blocked me on Facebook seven years ago. What the hell does he have to say to me today?
Who is Steve Kubby? Well, back at the dawn of the internet age, back in the bad old days of the full force insane war on drugs, Steve Kubby was a cancer patient that was jailed for possessing Marijuana. He was jailed for using a known appetite enhancer and pain suppressor to treat the side effects of his cancer treatment. I wrote about him way back then. I friended him on Facebook when I joined Facebook, as I did a lot of my libertarian friends of the time.
But time passed, and libertarians got even less connected to reality than they were before they could tailor their newsfeeds to only tell them things they agreed with, and the rest of the world got progressively weirder and less connected right along with them. I found I had less and less in common with libertarians as I became disabled and had to rely on the stingily released government services that I had faithfully paid for through all of my adult life. Became less connected as I relied on services that my libertarian friends and conservative family members condemned me for relying on (decrease the surplus population!) in the first place, just another bullet point in a long list of things that I no longer had in common with these people.
Then the world changed in some pretty shocking ways. Every bit as shocking as 9-11 was in its time, from my perspective. The terrorist attacks on our country were things that libertarians had seen coming. The US was breeding terrorists with every foreign intervention. This belief was part of the libertarian ideology, a piece of it that just happened to be true. What wasn’t on the horizon, wasn’t even in the calculations, was armed uprisings targeting our own people. The Sandy Hook massacre opened my eyes to the dangers of the killing machines in our midst, and the other horrible mass shooting events that seemed to occur far more frequently than they ever had before. Seven years ago, when Sandy Hook happened, we could go a couple of weeks before another shocking incident occurred. Over the first August weekend of this year we had two on the same day, and those were just the ones the media were willing to talk about. Incessantly talk about.
One wonders that, if the images of those dead children and their teachers had been plastered all over the internet, would that have altered the trajectory of armaphiles in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting? Would they have been less inclined to pretend that the attack was a false flag operation? If the pictures of the aftermath of mass killings were things that you could find easily, would these people who are sexually aroused by holding a killing machine have decided not to take the course they took? Would their masculinity shrivel? We’ll never know now.
We’ll never know because that wasn’t what happened. With Alex Jones, the pied piper of conspiracy fantasies leading the way, the armaphiles subscribed in droves to the truly insane idea that anyone would pretend to kill or actually kill hundreds and thousands of people just to have a pretense of making them give up their fetish paraphernalia. This image is just one of dozens I’ve seen over the years asking the question “Why do they care now? It’s because they want our guns!” In the midst of the Sandy Hook denialism, denialism that has only recently been stymied by successful litigation, I got caught up in a few different conversations about firearms and the purpose of having them. Conspiracy Cults; Getting What’s Coming to Them? was one of them. ZAP Doesn’t Include Firearms and Killer Pets was another. Both of those occurred after the date stamp on the messenger message that Steve Kubby was replying to, so maybe not. The only thing that corresponds to that period in time was the image (above) of the pyre that the Branch Davidians made of their compound in Waco, and contrasting that tragedy with the slaughter at an elementary school.
As I said in the message Mr. Kubby responded to today, responded to seven years after he blocked me and I subsequently wrote it,
Good. Less crap on my daily feed. As if truthers will ever have as much credibility as the just as clueless JFK conspiracy theorists. As if libertarianism hasn’t already seen it’s zenith in political relevancy (it has, by the way) and is determined to find the bottom of the political barrel as quickly as possible.
…to be unfriended by someone who goes to Nazi imagery at word go when it comes to discussions of weapons in the US. I think that’s a compliment. Stick to subjects like drug legalization, Mr. Kubby. It’s something you can at least speak knowledgeably about. That’s why I friended you, not your crazy ideas about other subjects, that much is certain. You were asking for support back then. No good deed ever goes unpunished, indeed.
If I tried telling that story it would take us way back. Back to the days when Al Gore was inventing the internet. Back to the days when Bill Clinton was the president, a conservative Democrat that couldn’t convince the Republicans of his time that he really was their buddy and they should work with him. He even passed the proverbial law and order legislation in his attempts to meet them halfway. Legislation that has helped lead to the highest levels of criminal incarceration in human history. All to no avail. Conservatives and Republicans still hate him to this day, even though he is demonstrably one of them. But I digress.
It would also take us all back to the days before science became political. Al Gore didn’t only invent the internet back in the 1990’s. According to conservatives he also invented global warming. I remember those days clearly. The outrage over the immolation of children shown to us on our TV sets was fresh. The fear of government overreach so graphically on display in those images. Bill Clinton’s assault weapons ban that had every conservative convinced he was coming after their guns. The merest suggestion by scientists and science communicators that we might have to stop burning gasoline while sitting in line at a drive through window to get hamburgers. Every. Single. Day. The unfathomable belief that carbon dioxide could kill us. The belief that the ancient ice that covered the poles of our planet might melt and that the seas might rise. It all sounded… Apocalyptic.
Telling that story would take us back to the days when I believed a lot of that kind of conservative bullshit. Bullshit that was spread by word of mouth because there was no internet, no access to facts and research without hours, days and months of sweating through volumes of information in a library. It would take us back to the days when I first heard the ideas that would lead a shooter to travel ten hours across Texas in order to “shoot Mexicans” in El Paso.
Back then, these weren’t the kinds of things that believers talked openly about, except among friends that agreed with them. You certainly didn’t allow yourself to be caught subscribing to them after killing more than a dozen people. Killing more than a dozen people and not even being embarrassed about the bullshit that lead you to do it.
The truncated Branch Davidian narrative was just one of the stops along the route for these deadly ideals. Sovereign ideals. The route from white supremacist, christianist writings back in the seventies to Ruby Ridge and then on to the Waco siege. From there they traveled onward to the Murrah building in OKC and onward still to the Bundy ranch and the Malheur standoff fiasco that should have been put down and it’s perpetrators prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Tax cheats and fraudsters have roamed free spreading their ideas far and wide for decades now, their wrong-headed beliefs largely unchecked and most likely uncorrectable aside from warning the uninitiated away from subscribing to them.
The concept of a sovereign citizen originated in 1971 in the Posse Comitatus movement as a teaching of Christian Identity minister William P. Gale. The concept has influenced the tax protester movement, the Christian Patriot movement, and the redemption movement—the last of which claims that the U.S. government uses its citizens as collateral against foreign debt.
Gale identified the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as the act that converted sovereign citizens into federal citizens by their agreement to a contract to accept benefits from the federal government. Other commentators have identified other acts, including the Uniform Commercial Code, the Emergency Banking Act, the Zone Improvement Plan, and the alleged suppression of the Titles of Nobility Amendment.
For my part, I could never track down the facts behind what sovereign citizens believe, even though I spent several years off and on dedicated to the idea that there had to be some basis for the beliefs that my friends of the time clearly subscribed to. I wrote one article for the blog on the subject back in 2014 titled Ideally There Would Be No Idealists; the Sovereign Version a sort of tongue-in-cheek salute to my disillusionment with idealists in general and the whole notion of sovereignty in particular. As I said there,
The idea that anyone can be sovereign or should expect to be considered sovereign is laughable; this is entirely aside from having the ultimate authority on what you personally will do or not do, whether you will continue to exist or not. Sovereign is a completely different approach to the subject of authority.
Whether or not anyone other than a king can rightfully claim sovereignty as the term is defined is beside the point. The fact remains that all of these events, knowingly or not, were in some part inspired by the sovereign citizens movement and their ideas. They were inspired by these ideas because those ideas flow freely in the counterculture that is represented in the simple phrase bucking the system. That’s where you go when working within existing political structures represents surrender on your part. The counterculture. Being part of the counterculture, a scofflaw, puts you on the fringe, and the fringe is were ideas like those represented by the sovereign citizen movement reside.
…and those ideas have been widely adopted by disparate peoples, many of whom would be appalled to discover the white supremacist roots of the ideas behind sovereignty. There is no doubt that Gale and the group he was part of were white supremacists. These are established facts. What is in question is whether any of the hundreds if not thousands of flavors of the sovereign citizens movement still promote the white supremacist heart of the ideals, or if they simply subscribe to the popular notion that other people’s rules don’t apply to them.
Cliven Bundy is a racist. That much is certain. His sons and their co-conspirators subscribed to the sovereign citizens ideals, they voiced concepts related to them more times than I care to count. It is entirely possible that David Koresh had no idea where his beliefs came from. None of the things that I’ve heard about the man suggest that he was capable of introspection, of questioning his own motivations to do this or that thing. So he may never have questioned why the rules of others should not apply to him; he may simply have accepted the arguments presented to him by the manipulators and con artists that seem to run rife out on the fringe of political belief. When you are profiting from the sale of weapons at gun shows while at the same time selling off the assets of your religious sect to support your and their lifestyles, all the while having sex with all of the women housed on the sect’s property, you tend to not study your relationship to the truth too carefully.
However, the government didn’t kill those children in Waco, as tempting as it is to believe the imagery of that day as I remember it, as conservatives and sovereigns remember it. The followers of Koresh being caught up in a suicidal belief system predicated on the looming end of the world lead more to their demise than any action that the US government did undertake, or even could have undertaken, in the best of circumstances,
The tactical arm of federal law enforcement may conventionally think of the other side as a band of criminals or as a military force or, generically, as the aggressor. But the Branch Davidians were an unconventional group in an exalted, disturbed, and desperate state of mind. They were devoted to David Koresh as the Lamb of God. They were willing to die defending themselves in an apocalyptic ending and, in the alternative, to kill themselves and their children. However, these were neither psychiatrically depressed, suicidal people nor cold-blooded killers. They were ready to risk death as a test of their faith. The psychology of such behavior—together with its religious significance for the Branch Davidians—was mistakenly evaluated, if not simply ignored, by those responsible for the FBI strategy of “tightening the noose”. The overwhelming show of force was not working in the way the tacticians supposed. It did not provoke the Branch Davidians to surrender, but it may have provoked David Koresh to order the mass-suicide.
The ultimate cause of the demise of the Branch Davidians in Waco was not a problem of gun control, the point of drawing a parallel between Sandy Hook and Waco. Most of the Branch Davidians died from causes related to the burning of CS gas, namely cyanide poisoning. The ATF did overstep their authority in this instance, they should have listened to the local police enforcement and allowed them to arrest Koresh the next time he came into town. But the federal government’s missteps did not directly cause these peoples deaths. Their being part of a death cult caused their deaths. If you are hoping and praying for armageddon, you too are part of a death cult.
If anything, the gun show loophole that sovereigns and scofflaws rely on to get their weaponry lead directly to the massacre. It was the purchases of weapons for resale at gun shows that put the FBI on Koresh’s trail in the first place. Had there been proper regulations for weapons of mass destruction like semi-automatic weapons are, there would have been no lucrative arms business for David Koresh to engage in, and he would never have gotten on the FBI’s radar in the first place. At least, not until the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints showed up on government radar, and even then it would have been to quietly arrest the leaders and then liberate the people held in ignorance of their own rights.
The two events, the Sandy Hook massacre and the Waco siege, are not related. They are apples and oranges except for one tangential fact. The US as a whole has adopted a siege mentality in the years following Waco. Like the Branch Davidians did right before their self immolation, we see enemies all around us and we know the doom of our way of life is on the horizon. We are all caught up in a death cult. All of us, and most of us are in denial about this fact.
We are poisoning the biosphere that keeps us all alive and pretending that the impending doom of our civilization is not something to worry about. Sea levels are rising, coastal cities are flooding in ways that we’ve never experienced before. All of this was predicted by the models that climate scientists have constructed, but conservatives and evangelicals refuse to believe. What they instead say is “god will provide” never understanding that what he will provide is death, just as he provided death to the Branch Davidians. He provided the death, the release from their burdens, that they prayed for. That is what omnipotence means. If it happens, he does it.
As nature itself turns against us, we live more in terror of being caught up in the next mass killing than we worry about the impending end of our civilization. The terror? That is by design. It is not the design of the government that wants your guns, but by the design of the white nationalist, sovereign, christianist, terrorists in our midst. The people who run the NRA. Young earthers. Evangelicals. The people who back Donald Trump, the Orange Hate-Monkey, his precious #MAGA, the Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. All of them. They want their armageddon. They want to meet Jesus, and they want to do it while they still have truck-nuts on their diesel SUV’s and an AR-15 in each hand. They want this disaster to continue to unfold exactly as it has been spelled out. They’d rather be dead than be wrong about everything.
Death is coming for them. Death is coming for all of us even if we do change our ways. But if we change our ways our children might have a world to live in rather than to have to die with us. If we embrace renewable energy like any sane person should, we can get over this looming catastrophe and possibly avert the apocalypse.
This has to be stopped. Their campaign of terror has to end, and we the people, the citizenry of the United States have to stop it. We are the only ones who can. If they require us to disarm them in order to get started on the real work at hand, reversing climate change, removing ourselves from the death cult of unquestionable economic growth, then that is what we will have to do. I would prefer that they could be made to see reason, but I am increasingly pessimistic that they will admit to their error before most of the currently living are already dead, and we cannot afford to wait that long.
We cared about the dead children in Waco, but we were powerless to stop them from being killed. We cared about the dead children in Sandy Hook, and we were stopped from preventing the next hundred, the next thousand mass shootings from occurring by people too stupid to know they were part of a death cult. We care about the dying biosphere all around us, and we are similarly being thwarted by these same stupid people who want desperately for their god to prove them right.
Those people? They are insane. I don’t know how else to describe it. It is insane to kill yourself when there is no need. When no sacrifice is needed. When suffering amounts to having to walk rather than drive. Cook rather than eat out. Not have the firepower on hand to take down an army single handed, just because you want to have it. They are insane, and we should not be listening to them when it comes to determining our, and our children’s, future.
I’m writing you concerning your dereliction of duty, and what I see as your one chance to save yourselves from the coming storm that is rising against Donald Trump and the Republican party that he has remade in his image. Your one chance to save yourselves from the fate that awaits both him and his accomplices in the high crimes and misdemeanors that he will soon be accused of. His accomplice in the Senate, Mitch McConnell will also be charged, and the Senators are in a position to either be charged with him, or to finally do the right thing by the citizens of the state of Texas whom they claim to represent.
In 2010, Mitch McConnell informed Republican contributors that he intended to not do his job for the next two years in order to make Barack Obama a one term president. When President Obama was reelected in 2012, Mitch McConnell proceeded to not do his job, and to encourage his fellow Senators to not do their jobs, including both of you, for the next four years, for the entire time that Senator Cruz had been in office. As a result of his and your efforts to derail the US government under Barack Obama, the migrant crisis on the Southern border was never adequately addressed. Because of his and your negligence, the opioid epidemic was never addressed at all. Because of his and your negligence, the student debt crisis has continued to spiral into a catastrophe. Because of his and your negligence, thousands and millions of Americans, thousands of Texans, have suffered and died without adequate healthcare. Continue to suffer and die to this very day. Not satisfied to see them suffer and die at the current rates, your caucus in the Senate has attempted to throw more people off of the ACA at the behest of your corporate and wealthy funders. Because of his and your negligence, the impacts of climate change have never been acknowledged and no attempts to offset CO2 emissions have even been begun at the federal level.
I could continue this litany of negligence, disrespect and outright lies on his and your parts, but I would be here all day writing this if I was to attempt to enumerate every single issue that McConnell is derelict in dealing with. His encouragement to you to be derelict in your official duties to serve and protect the constitution of the United States, and through that document the people you represent. I don’t consider any of you to be worth that kind of time. All three of you are generally beneath my notice, past experience being a good educator. I have written to all of you in years past, taking you to task for things you said and did both before and after you entered office. I know you are wholly owned by your corporate donors and wealthy benefactors. I know that none of you care about the suffering of average Texans. I know that none of you care about anything but being re-elected and being able to continue to take sweet campaign contributions from dark money sources. Therein lies the heart of your problem. I will spell this dilemma out for you.
You will lose your next elections. All of you. It’s true, I won’t and never have voted for any of you. So there is no need to try to prove to me that you aren’t the things I describe above. I know that I will get no return correspondence that will address any of the points that I make in this letter. You will dismiss this letter, as you have all the other letters I have sent you, as being from someone who does not represent the majority of Texans. Your current problem is larger than me, larger than Austin where I live, a place on the map that won’t vote for you either.
Austin, a city you Republicans have sought to punish for our unwillingness to support your previous pro-corporate agendas, along with most of the metropolitan areas across the state of Texas. We will not swear allegiance to you and your corporate owners, we see ourselves as citizens of the city we live in, not the state of Texas that our cities are unable to escape the control of. Your governor and the Republican controlled Texas legislature have all shown how much disdain they hold city dwellers in by forcing us to abandon rules that we deemed necessary for city life. Forcing us to abide by the whims of your corporate masters. We do not forget your disregard for our desire to go our own way, make our own rules. But your problem only starts in the cities that will not vote for you.
The average Texan will not support your leadership’s current white supremacist agenda. The targeting of racial and religious minorities. The demands that the US establish a legal preference for the christian religion and its god. These are all contrary to the constitution of the United States and all of the founding documents that have come down to us modified through the ages. It is there in black and white for anyone to discover. The racism that lies at the center of the Confederacy that your schools lie to our children about. The Jim Crow laws that your white supremacist forebears forced the federal government to accept in violation of the spirit of the fourteenth amendment. All of it, there for anyone to stumble across if they simply have the curiosity to go look.
Your problem is that all of Texas can see that you serve Mitch McConnell and Republican corporate funders. You do not serve the state of Texas, the state you were sent to Washington DC to represent. This can be seen in your willingness to watch Texans suffer and die without healthcare, as I mentioned previously. No, you don’t serve Texas; you serve Mitch McConnell, a man who violated his oath of office most recently in 2015 by not at least holding a vote for or against Merrick Garland, an act that was required by law, by the very constitution you swore to uphold. Mitch McConnell who is personally profiting from his wife’s job in the cabinet, also in violation of the constitution. You serve this man, and this man is not worthy of being a member of the Senate.
Mitch McConnell serves Donald Trump. Not the office of the president, an office that has sat essentially vacant since Barack Obama left office three years ago. No, he serves the man Donald Trump, a man who has never obeyed the law, a man who lied when he took his oath of office and even now openly conspires with our enemies in an attempt to retain political power. He serves Donald Trump, a man who is doing his dead level best to start a war with Iran that isn’t necessary. Donald Trump, the man that is starving and killing climate refugees on our Southern border in an attempt to prove that we in the US are even more heartless than the MS-13 gang members that he scares his voting block with. Donald Trump, and through him Mitch McConnell, wants to be more cruel than the gang members that are killing these people in the places they escaped from.
Now, all of this might not be a problem for you if only you could control the press like dictators do in places that Donald Trump loves. Places like Russia and North Korea. But this isn’t one of those poor, information starved places. This is the United States, where anyone can get on the internet almost anywhere and find out what the truth is by simply looking for it. By reading a newspaper or going to a library or just turning on their TV sets. And they are finding out about the things that I describe above. They know of your negligence. They know of your dereliction of duty. They, the majority of Texans who can and will vote, will not be voting for you in 2020 or 2024 because they will have a choice other than you to vote for. You may not be worried about this. You may think you have a fix in that will make sure you appear to win your elections anyway. The people who know what I know? Those people will not be fooled by your chicanery.
You have one chance and one chance only now to save your hides and your good standing, if not your offices. Begin hearings today to have Mitch McConnell removed from the Senate. Join with the leadership of the House of Representatives in their attempts to find out just how much criminality that Donald Trump has conducted under the guise of being president of the United States. Call for impeachment hearings for Donald Trump, a man who was never worthy of the office of the President in the first place based on his own rhetoric and his own lawless business practices. Do these things and we will not be forced to convict you along with your leadership when we finally take power from you again. The choice is yours. The writing is on the wall for anyone to see now. Choose.
You’re the president? What are you gonna do about Iran?
He misheard me. I said I’m present when he asked how was I? My usual conversational smartassery causes a miscommunication again. But the question was asked and so I proceeded to dwell on the question What would you do about Iran? for the next few hours. My immediate response was to say I’d apologize for saddling them with the Shah, but he didn’t hear me and it wasn’t important enough to belabor the answer to the question that he flippantly asked in response to my smartassed non-answer.
The story of the US’s relationship with the region is a long history of pain and grievance, so the question of what to do is equally long and painful to answer. The nation of Iran was made up out of whole cloth like the country of Iraq was, lines drawn on a map by the colonial powers in an agreement they made to mutually release the region from their direct control the control of the Ottoman Turks following World War one. Before the area we in the West call Iran was under colonial control, the civilization that occupied that space referred to itself as Persia.
Well, that was one of the names that the natives of Iran used. Iran has always been on the road from wherever conquerors came from to wherever they were ultimately going to head next. The natives of the region have always been headstrong, surpassing their occupiers ability to cope with their insistence on going their own way, seperate from the empire they were currently part of, unless that empire was lead by a Persian. That is, until they were almost destroyed by the Mongols. But even the Mongols themselves took up Persian ways after settling in Persia, holding power there until the time we term the modern age. Which is where we modern people meet up with world powers whose names we recognize.
Any attempt on my part to tell a history of Iran and the people of that region will be criticized as being an oversimplification. If the paragraph above doesn’t do justice to the millenia of conflict, discovery and advancement in your eyes, feel free to expand your own knowledge by reading further on the subject. There are links throughout this article for just that reason, feel free to click on them. However, the modern age is where the conflict between the US and Iran originates, so let’s just proceed into the modern era, because this is a single blog article and not a multi-volume history of the region and its peoples.
Tehran is first used as the capital city of Iran/Persia during the Qajar dynasty in the Sublime State of Persia. It was the capital of the Pahlavi dynasty and the Imperial State of Persia. The Pahlavi who founded the dynasty was a member of the Russian military who deposed the Qajar Shah in 1925. The Shah that America and Great Britain put into power, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was a continuation of the Pahlavi dynasty in their eyes. Someone who would continue to allow the removal of Iran’s natural resources by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company if also, conveniently, being the Shah of Iran.
To put the Shah into a position where he could do the US and Britain this favor they wanted from him, MI-6 and the CIA toppled the government of Mohammad Mosaddegh. Mosaddegh had nationalized the oil industry in Iran in an effort to bring control of the country’s national resources back into the hands of the natives of the region. A situation enjoyed by all of the first world countries, but denied to third world countries. He had won leadership of the country of Iran in popular election in 1951. He had been appointed prime minister by the Shah himself. As the wiki article on him notes,
The new administration introduced a wide range of social reforms: unemployment compensation was introduced, factory owners were ordered to pay benefits to sick and injured workers, and peasants were freed from forced labor in their landlords’ estates. In 1952, Mossadegh passed the Land Reform Act which forced landlords to turn over 20% of their revenues to their tenants. These revenues could be placed in a fund to pay for development projects such as public baths, rural housing, and pest control.
His actions as prime minister seem quite rational, in hindsight. If only he hadn’t pissed off the multinational corporations that really ran his country, he probably would have been celebrated by more than just the people of the region who want the benefits of liberal democracy enjoyed by first world countries. But that isn’t how it worked out. Britain and the US forced him out of office and restored the monarchy of the Shah. Restored the Pahlavi dynasty to Iran, setting up the next twenty-plus years of military rule, with all the terrorism, torture and suffering that the phrase military rule implies.
It was after the people of Iran were denied liberal democracy by a coup carried out by foreign powers that they turned to the Mullahs for leadership. Can you blame them for this, were you in their place? I can’t. But Republicans do blame them, largely because the current Republican party is dominated by fundamentalist/evangelical christians who see Islam as their competitor in the religion markets of the world. They see Iran as the target they want to take down, have seen Iran as their prime target since the Islamic Revolution occurred and Iran once again nationalized their oil production (the real reason that US corporate leaders are pissed) as well as invaded the US embassy and took Americans hostage.
“I fear chaos Mr. Yazdi, and if I may say it seems chaos has come again.”
Then there was the the US invasion of Iraq. An invasion founded on a lie. That invasion opened pandora’s box in the entire Middle Eastern region, creating the opportunity for political change that the populations of a good portion of the region eventually took advantage of. Iran’s Mullahs took advantage of their neighbor’s instability and have created what Washington sees as an Iranian puppet state where there once was a government installed by the second Bush administration. Iran has taken advantage of the chaos that Bush II created, advancing its influence across the region. Influence which its main competitor, Saudi Arabia, sees as a direct threat. Not surprisingly Saudi Arabia seeing Iran as a threat means that their paid stooge, Donald Trump, sees Iran as a threat.
So here we are in 2019. The tit for tat behavior has been going on for decades. The US and Britain want their assets back, the Iranians want to be in control of their own country, and the idiot that the idiot Stormtrumpers put into the office of the presidency is doing his dead-level best to get us into war with Iran. What would I do now, in his place? I’d recapitulate to the agreement that the Obama administration negotiated in good faith. I’d stop antagonizing Iran with sanctions. I’d apologize, officially, for the coup in 1951. I’d apologize for shooting down their civilian airliner in 1988. I’d apologize for helping Saddam Hussein kill hundreds of thousands of their people. I’d try that just for starters, see how far that gets us. Not that I think it’s likely that the Orange Hate-Monkey or his Secretary of War will do any of that. What I wouldn’t do is bomb Iran.
I will never apologize for the United States of America. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are.
In reading back over this, I realized how much of this content was put into my head by the invaluable resource that is the NPR podcast, Throughline. There are not one, but three different episodes on Iran and Islam that have aired in their feed since the premier of the show in February. The reason I now know that Shia and Sunni have not been at war with each other for a thousand years? Throughline (see the episode linked above titled War of the Worlds) In addition to the BBC podcast series that I also linked previously, this episode figured highly in my understanding of just how badly we have treated Iran since even before Pappy Bush started working in the CIA back in the 60’s.
NPR’s Throughline re-released their first episode last week. It reminded me that they had done a primer on the real history of the US and Iran.
“The only difference between me and these people is my place of birth, and this is not a big difference.”
I feel compelled to respond to this bit of agitation on the part of Julian Assange because I am tagged in it. As is typical for me I will do so with a link to a podcast that voices an opinion similar to mine:
I don’t think much of Julian Assange. I think less of him today than I did a decade ago and more when he burst upon the scene with stolen video footage that misrepresented what it purported to show. I didn’t like him. I still don’t like him or think he or wikileaks serves any bettering purpose in the world (we all should hope to leave the world better than we came into it. Most of us living today are likely to fail at this task) Jail time may be what he deserves. I’ll leave it to the courts to decide.
How many times has Assange revealed crimes committed by Vladimir Putin? How many whistleblowers has he helped in countries that weren’t aligned with NATO? There is some serious hatred for America present in everything he does, the kind of vitriol that sounds forced given the state of the world today. Obama was too easy on Putin, given what has happened since President Obama left office. Clearly we need technical counter-insurgency programs of our own. Let’s see how well Muscovites fair through a winter without electricity. They can have their power back when they get rid of Putin and return the Crimea to Ukraine.
People who defend Assange always point to the continuing military adventurism engaged in by the US government as proof that the US government is evil and has to be brought down. The people who voted for Trump voted to bring down the US government:
Wikileaks is aimed almost exclusively at the US. Assange’s working with Russia makes him an active threat. Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden deserve to be protected, but have to go outside of channels to do what they see as the right thing. Look at what happened to the whistleblower that tried to point out Trump’s quid pro quo with Ukraine. That is what happens to whistleblowers everywhere. This isn’t a US thing, this is a nature-of-power thing. Russia is the country that kills defectors. Specifically, Vladimir Putin kills defectors. It is his preferred terror tactic, liberally applied to keep his own people in line. The US hasn’t made a reputation for doing this. Perhaps Donald Trump will change this?
The Trump whistleblower will be outed, eventually. If Trump is not removed from office and jailed for his crimes, then the whistleblower will end up in jail for daring to speak truth to power. Who would have believed Edward Snowden back in 2013? No one. He tested the possibility of going the whistleblower route, and discovered that he would have ended up in prison. So he did the only other thing he could do. I’m not generally inclined to call a spy a hero, but if there is such a thing, Edward Snowden comes pretty close. So does the Trump whistleblower. The real question is, why do they have to spend thousands of dollars that they probably don’t have in order to do the right thing, risking jail and death just to do it? That is the question.
We are so close to losing this country to fascism now. So close. If people do not come out in force for whoever the Democrats offer up for election in 2020, we will lose this country.
…and I will not hang around to watch it burn.
Assange deserves to be brought down for his crimes. Maybe not jail time but he should be kept offline. His self-imposed isolation, evading capture for crimes he has legitimately been accused of in other countries, that has a health price. I don’t doubt that he is ill now. However, you will not inspire me to feel sympathy for him.
Edited comments from Pluspora
It is a statement of just how much beneath notice that Julian Assange is in my mind that this is the only article on the blog that mentions his name. That is how little I think of the man. A gnat that believes himself an elephant, much like the president he helped to elect with his conspiracy mongering and his alliance with Russia and its dictator, Vladimir Putin. That his days in existence are coming to an end is the justifiable outcome of his activities over the past twenty years. Reap the whirlwind, Mr. Assange.
Let’s imagine if 80,000 votes in the Rust Belt had gone the other way in 2016 and Hillary Clinton were president. Let’s also imagine there were controversial circumstances surrounding her victory – a foreign adversary attacked our political system in the hopes of putting her in power – and reasons to believe the Democratic campaign may have cooperated in some way with the attackers.
…Would there be widespread hand-wringing about those who dared to question Clinton’s earlier denials of wrongdoing? Would congressional Democrats call for Republicans’ resignations and demand new investigations into federal law enforcement?
Hillary Clinton has been the prime target of hatred for women for most of my life. If you had a problem with women in general it was Hillary Clinton that was cited as evidence of this problem. From the moment she stepped upon the national stage and presented herself and her husband as two sides of the same coin, she has been the target of ire for females by both males and females alike. I should have remembered this fact before thinking that she could ever be president, but my desire to not see the United States descend into the hellhole it is now on the path to becoming blinded me to that painful truth. The painful truth that is still reiterated in every chant of #lockherup, in the constant conservative and #MAGA refrain of What about Hillary? in the face of any criticism of their lord and savior, Donald Trump.
I have a pretty clear memory of the first time she strutted onto my radar, back in the early days of Bill Clinton’s first term in office. It was during the rollout of what conservatives derogatively called Hillarycare. I bought the lie back then, not understanding just how skewed the information that I was consuming was. How conservative everywhere in Texas is, even in the bluest of blue parts of Texas. Women had a place and Hillary Clinton wasn’t conforming to what was expected of women, behaviorally, back in the eighties.
I don’t want to put her on a pedestal. There are things she did that were objectively wrong. That isn’t the point of this article. The point is that if you pretend that everything she did was done by a man, you wouldn’t even have batted an eye at her behavior. This is probably the most telling argument against her as a leader, that she was and is absolutely ordinary from a human perspective. She compromised her values to protect her husband, just like anyone else would do. She waited to discover what the polls would tell her before taking a stand on a subject, just like every other career politician does. There is not one thing that she is castigated for that men have not done and been forgiven for. It is because she is a woman that people hate her.
Bad news for the haters: History is decidedly unafraid of “the woman card.” It doesn’t care how many people will stand on tables today and swear they’d feel the same if she were a man. It will see us for what we are—a sick society, driven by misogyny and pathetically struggling to come to terms with the fact that women do not exist solely to nurture.
Hillary Clinton was nowhere near as unpopular as her haters think, as pundits are now saying retroactively. Rather, what was underestimated was the misogynistic influence. What do I mean by that? I mean the people who blamed her for her husband’s presidency, or credited her with the same. She isn’t Bill Clinton and all the baggage that name and presidency entails. Whether she had covered for him or castigated him would have made no difference, and the failure to separate her from her husband’s behavior is the clearest form of misogyny that I can point to. But it’s hardly the only example.
But let’s forget about the hatred leveled at powerful women. Women of status in the US today. Let’s go to the other end of the social spectrum. From the wealthy and powerful and the unjustified treatment they suffer, to the women with nothing. Let’s look at what happens to the victims of war. American women who were radicalized and joined the Islamic State in Syria.
Read through the comments under that video. The calls to refuse these women re-entry to the United States, even though they have no other nationality to claim. We cannot make them stateless by revoking their citizenship, and we cannot keep them from returning if they are citizens. If we violate international law in this case, we will have no grounds to hold other countries to international law later. To keep these people from being radicalized again, we HAVE TO make sure they are fully engaged in society for the foreseeable future.
I don’t know the particulars of each case. It’s entirely possible that they deserve prison time for their actions in Syria. That isn’t the question here. The particular woman who was interviewed for the television segment expects to get a prison sentence. However, Donald Trump has revoked her passport. He has rendered her stateless. He has violated international law, at the same time as he is harassing other countries to abide by international law.
Hold on, I hear you saying. We can’t just let these people come back here. That’s the catch. We already have. American men who have surrendered under similar circumstances have been repatriated. The women, though? We don’t want those women back. That’ll teach the rest of the women to stay in line. Never mind that we cannot legally denaturalize a citizen. Only the court can do that, and we have to bring them back here to put them on trial. It’s a catch-22. We can’t keep her out, and we can’t say she doesn’t belong here without first bringing her home. All of them have to come home, but the women most of all. Most of all, because singling them out for different treatment is a hallmark of misogyny.
I want to live in a world where women are encouraged to fight back. In that world men will treat women better. But instead of teaching them to fight back we train girls to be passive. To smile meaninglessly. To never let a moment of anger show. Passivity gets you beaten to death while you sit and take it, and the women who do fight back are punished, punished more harshly than we punish men.
Think of the strongest, surest woman you know, and then think about what is said about her. Now think about that person as a man. See the problem now? I’m familiar with the argument. I’ve been around the park a few times now. A life without conflict is not really living, is expecting too much from others. Standing on “no conflict” as an achievable goal ignores the natural world around us where conflict is everywhere.
The misunderstanding originated with the separation of physical violence from verbal violence. Passivity starts with being afraid to speak your mind, not with the refusal to come to blows. Passivity is present in hiding in the “safe room” rather than fleeing from the aggressor or fighting back if necessary. Of being prepared to gut that bastard the next time he comes near, rather than forgive him. You can forgive his corpse, sweetheart. Forgive it all you like. Make sure it is a corpse first.
What? Too harsh? You’ve never seen your mother beaten. Never been beaten yourself. You’ve never discovered that rage within yourself and wondered where it came from. Walk a mile in my shoes. In a partner I wanted someone that would have my back because she wanted to protect me as much as I wanted to protect her. I taught my daughter to defend herself, that it was okay to defend herself. If women are our equals, they don’t need our permission to be in our faces all the time. They simply will be, and we (the men) will just have to take it. Hopefully we’ll manage as well as the women have.
I’ve been sitting on this one for quite a while. What we did to Hillary Clinton was misogyny and she’s not the only victim of our misogyny. Apologize to your daughters and your wives. Thank them for not gutting your heartless ass. That they haven’t thought about doing this is possibly because they are also misogynists. It is also possible that women don’t contemplate life in that way. You should also be thankful for that fact, if it is one.
“The bombings are the fault of 45, no matter the political affiliation of the bomber. 45 started fostering all this hatred.”
“Obama started it all! If he hadn’t been elected none of this would have happened!”
Conversation overheard at the local Big ‘N Large – October 26, 2018
Two years.Donald Trump has been president for two years. And still everything is Obama’s fault. I’m seriously beginning to believe we need a country-wide inquest to determine the healthy mental functioning of every American. Their capacity for self-governance. An assessment of the ability to maintain a country as advanced as this one is when you are so backward as to believe the crazy-assed things most Americans believe.
I can’t imagine how anyone would look at the pathetic example of Trump in office and think “I like the way this guy operates.” Anyone who thinks that should probably be assigned their own personal headshrinker. They have screws loose in there somewhere.
In Texas you have people who vote Republican because they always vote Republican. They haven’t voted Democratic since LBJ betrayed white nationalism and promoted JFK’s vision of equality. They never say it in so many words, but the understanding is there nonetheless. I’m trying to give my relatives the benefit of the doubt (whatever that is worth in this instance, I don’t know) they probably caught the Apprentice in between binging on the 700 Club and when the guy from that show decided to run as a Republican they thought it would be a great idea to vote for him. We can discuss whether giving such low examples of human life the right to vote was a good idea or not, but then they would also say the converse is true. So here we are.
You can’t lock Hillary Clinton up. You can’t lock Hillary Clinton up because Hillary Clinton has broken no laws. You know how I know she hasn’t broken any laws? Because Republicans crawled up her ass thirty years ago and never came out, the whole time looking for crimes to charge her with. They never found any crimes to charge her with. Bill Clinton has his own separate file of wrongdoing. Neither of them are the subjects in question, because they aren’t up for election now. They are not serving in office now.
Barack Obama hasn’t broken any laws. You know why I know he hasn’t broken any laws? Because for eight years he was president with a hostile congress itching to impeach him on any grounds they could dream up. And still he stayed fresh and white, no matter how black his enemies tried to paint him. The black man was whiter than the white man serving as president now.
That’s really galling, isn’t it? I mean, speaking to those Stormtrumpers that voted for the white guy because he was a white guy and you will not replace us is their battle cry? The black man is cleaner, is better, than the white businessman, the dream reality star candidate that was the latest, greatest white hope? The conman that everyone knew was a conman before he conned his way into the job he’s about to be thrown out of?
Cory Booker has been framed when it comes to the (now disappeared –ed.) counter-charges of molestation, after he dared to talk down to Brett Kavanaugh. You know why I know he’s been framed? Because only conservative (read as propagandist) websites and news sources are even talking about it. There will eventually be an admission by someone that they made it all up. Democrats are not the liars in the here and now. Bill Clinton was impeached over lying about a blow job. That couldn’t have happened without Democratic support. Al Franken retired rather than drag his senate seat through the mud. Over and over again, Democrats admit defeat when they are wrong. The Republicans? They just double down on their power grab.
Why not frame him? Cory Booker is a black man willing to be loud when he needs to be. He’s a natural target of the race baiting conservatives who are currently in power. It’s why he was a target for bomb makers. It’s two weeks before an election that conservatives and Republicans look to be facing a shellacking in, and a whole lot of the payback is women abandoning the GOP because of their willingness to burn the witch rather than admit they had a lemon up for nomination to the SCOTUS.
Now we have a gambling addicted alcoholic rapist on the SCOTUS. One that will ensure that Donald Trump’s financial records will never be released, which was the real goal of the GOP in nominating that specific justice to the court. Well done, Republicans. You have destroyed yourselves to save your glorious leader. You get to retain your hold on the presidency for two more years rather than have to admit that you advanced a known conman to the office of president. Now it is up to the rest of America to save the United States from you.
Why from them, and not the other way around? They are the ones willing to believe a pathological liar, a demonstrated pathological liar; to which I should probably add, a pathological liar that is still being quoted by news reporters as if his utterances mean anything at all. The media still reports what he says and his supporters believe what he says and I can’t for the life of me figure out why except that all of them must be nuts.
…which means there are probably too many of them for the human race to successfully govern itself. In other words, we’re screwed. I’m still doing my best to laugh (joy is in the ears that hear) but it’s looking more and more like a zombie apocalypse from where I’m sitting. Time to get out before they lock us all in with the zombies.
The amusing part of people reporting on and then believing the lies the President utters, is that someone is waiting on the FBI to confirm lies told by the president as if that would make those lies into truths. George Soros is funding migrant caravans? This is the kind of crap that gets posted to the Snopes Facebook group by credulous people looking for confirmation. The corollary of this observation is the answer to why there are so many variations on Snopes sucks groups out there created by and populated with people booted off the Snopes group. Bullshit remains bullshit whether you can confirm it or not.
You want something that isn’t bullshit but still is bullshit of a different kind? How about Kris Kobach trying to keep Dodge City residents from voting because Dodge City is now made up of hispanics that vote Democratic?
As a former Kansan I think I’m qualified to say, unequivocally, that Kris Kobach is a piece of shit. That the Kansas Republican party should be ashamed of itself for the stands it has taken and the damage it has done to the health, safety and welfare of Kansas residents. This thing in Dodge City? This is the tip of the dirty tricks iceberg in Kansas politics right now. Never have I been more glad to not live in Kansas than I have been over the last decade as I watched the former governor destroy the Kansas education system from afar. Watched as Kobach did his damnedest to keep minorities from voting. Persecuted LGBT people. Tried to deny healthcare to the poor and infirm. I have nothing but loathing for Kris Kobach and for anyone, ANYONE who votes for him. Friends and relatives who still reside in Kansas, be warned.
Those are the kinds of things that either make you laugh or make you start cleaning your guns in preparation for the zombie apocalypse. I’ve been doing my best to laugh for quite a while now.
…oh, wait. The ad proposes that Stormtrumpers would lynch Democrats? That would be a neat trick considering we outnumber them to the tune of several million people. Let them make their threats. It makes them look like the villains they are. You are the villain if you support Trump. You are the cause that Obama warns about. Make no mistake about it. If it comes to war, you will go the same way that your forebears went, because you are on the wrong side of history.
Editor’s note. This one was compiled from multiple sources over the course of years visiting memories on Facebook. RBReich, my own posts (1, 2) and three group posts here, here and here. My obsessive copying of comments posted to different groups and forums and then compiling them here has made way more work for me than I should probably take on, if I want to do anything other than this.
The payback for two hundred years of the myth of whiteness in the United States (not to mention the four hundred years since this all began in 1619) is coming. The payback for millennia suppressing women’s voices. It will suck to be white and male in 2021. Don’t forget your forefathers charged that card up the same way you charge up the climate card for your descendents. Maybe we should finally start thinking ahead. It would be a nice change of pace.
The Orange Hate-Monkey says “open borders” as if there are terrorists just waiting across the river for us to let down our guard. Terrorists got into the country even in World War Two when the entire country was on a war footing and reporting suspicious activity all the time. There is no such thing as a secure border, because the border is in every international airport and in every seaport and every inch of coastline. When he says border he means the Mexico border. There is no confusion here. He means brown-skinned people coming over the Southern border. Brown-skinned people that he then hires to work at Mar-a-Lago. But that is part and parcel of his racism. Dark-skinned people are lesser people and should be afraid of white people. Should be grateful to be allowed to survive in his America.
I don’t have a problem with open borders. If you thought about it, you wouldn’t have a problem with it either. It’s called tourism, letting people come in because they want to visit a place. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.
That is why we have to reject his America. Why we have to bring this machine to a grinding halt until he is removed from office. I make no bones about it now. He has to be removed. His Vice President has to be removed. The entire election should be voided because of Russian tampering and party shenanigans on the part of the head of the FBI, James Comey, who thought he was crippling the next President, Hillary Clinton, not putting a known criminal in the White House.
These GOP and Democratic party shenanigans have gone on long enough now. Time for them to stop. So first we take over the Democrats, and then we make the system sound again by passing state legislation that ends gerrymandering, institutes jungle primaries and mandates public financing for all elections. With those measures in place every dollar that gets into a representatives hands from outside the government will be criminal and prosecutable. Their parties will be largely irrelevant aside from the issues the party represents. Whoever best represents an area will be the representative because there won’t be a corrupting influence involved in drawing the districts. It’s a long haul, but we can do it. First we have to keep the OHM from making himself dictator of the United States, and that means keeping him from securing power in his hands. Stop the takeover of the SCOTUS. Say no to any appointments he makes until after the next congress is seated.
Despite a great deal of evidence that connects the dots between these mass killers and radical misogynist groups, we still largely refer to the attackers as “lone wolves” — a mistake that ignores the preventable way these men’s fear and anger are deliberately cultivated and fed online.
Here’s the term we should all use instead: misogynist terrorism. Until we grapple with the disdain for women that drives these mass murderers, and the way that the killers are increasingly radicalized on the internet, there will be no stopping future tragedies.
Your ad is misleading, plays to xenophobic fears, and is beneath the dignity of the hospitality industry. It is an affront to the victims of terrorism, and its shock and abhorrent xenophobia is only equaled by the irony of it being paid for by hotels, where, as the New York Post recently noted while covering your ad, “lots of terrorists have stayed.” Given that you are supporting an ad about terrorism in lodging, do your hotels have a perfect record on this?
Generally, I couldn’t give two shits what corporate conglomerates and their advocacy organizations have to say about pretty much anything. But reporting on this ad campaign and the full-throated rejection that AirBnB levels at the ad misses a few points which are worth enumerating so that everyone understands what is actually going on here.
Any rental property stands the chance of being rented for nefarious reasons. It is the nature of property ownership and leasing that this can happen to anyone who owns and rents property. Pointing at any one facet of an industry like hospitality and claiming “you promote terrorism” is wrong on its face. All use of property by anyone other than the owner incurs this risk to the property owner, which most of them are quite aware of if they are in the the hospitality business.
Therein lies the heart of the problem. Airbnb, like Uber does for car ownership, profits from the risk of property owners without being exposed to any risk themselves. AirBnB (or any other property renting app) breaks rules imposed on hospitality organizations for valid reasons of safety, security and sanitation, and they get away with these violations by claiming that they aren’t renting property, the owner of the property is. This legal sleight of hand may keep them from losing court battles, but it doesn’t excuse them from the fact that they are taking advantage of a need to pay bills by people who own property but can’t afford to keep it without leasing rooms via a handshake agreement.
If anything happens on the owners property while someone else is renting it, that owner pays for the damages to the renter as well as for the damages to the property. Slip and fall. Cuts and lacerations from broken glass. Illness from improperly maintained bathrooms and bedrooms. Heaven forbid there is a pool on the premises and alcohol to go with it. Most people don’t think about these potential liabilities. They just want to keep their property and they have to occasionally rent it out in order to do that. They are, most of them, one accident away from financial ruin and they don’t even realize it.
I’m not crying for hotel chain owners or tenement landlords who blatantly profit off the backs of the unsuspecting and the poor any more than I’m going to shed tears for taxi services that get rules put in place to limit their competition so that they can charge more for their service. What I am saying though is that the “sharing economy” doesn’t seem to be doing much in the way of sharing the profits from these new-found ways of getting around onerous rules, and they aren’t sharing much of the risk, either. Seems like the property owners should probably ask for more than just the rental cost from AirBnB. They should have some kind of financial assurance that they won’t be driven out of their homes if the unthinkable happens.