Everything Is Not Fine

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Barf BagWelcome to Barf Bag, a daily politics roundup to help you sort through the chaotic Trumpian news cycle.

Last night, Iran launched missiles at Iraqi bases where U.S. troops were housed. It was a direct response to the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Suleimani by an American drone strike in Baghdad Friday. While some publications have performed backflips to avoid calling it an assassination—or applauded it as “just”—it was, in fact, an assassination. Iran, in turn, launched missiles. And now the American people sit, poised for another needless war predicated on our country’s long tradition of white-supremacist imperialism.

This morning, Trump delivered an address in which he claimed Iran is “standing down” after last night’s missile strike. As he insisted: “[It] is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.” In covering this statement, CNN led with this sentence: “President Donald Trump, facing the gravest test of his presidency, signaled a de-escalation of tensions with Iran.” See what’s happening here? Instead of framing it for what it is, the warmongering of a power-mad pig with his sweaty hands firmly gripped around the launch codes, this is a “test.” A test of what, though? By this logic, certainly a test of the U.S.’s ability to beat the world into submission around it. Or of our military’s “strength,” which plays into the first point. Or maybe they’re wondering if Donald Trump might finally prove himself to be the leader many claimed, again and again, he always was. Only, he won’t! And so this harkening to Trump’s “test,” whether intentionally or not, falls completely in line with what happened the last time the aspiring fascists in the U.S. government launched the country into an endless war, predicated on lies and war crimes and corporate greed.

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Since Soleimani’s assassination, a host of television pundits have crawled onto national broadcasts praising Trump’s actions, especially those with explicit ties to the arms industry. On Monday, The Intercept reported that various employees, lobbyists, and ex-Army generals have popped up on CBS, Fox News, NPR, and ABC, among others. Here are a list of corporations they work for: Raytheon, Palantir, General Atomics, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co., McLarty Associates, and Lockheed Martin. Some, like John Negroponte, former State Department goon who now sits as vice chair of defense lobbyist McLarty Associates, was brought on air by Fox News to dispute the claim that Soleimani was assassinated. Quotes from David Petraeus, former general, were also published in various outlets. The Intercept reports:

Petraeus, notably, works for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co., the investment firm with holdings in several major defense contractors that is reportedly moving to “build up its defense portfolio at a time when military budgets are skyrocketing.”

When watching this cohort slither onto national news broadcasts to justify Trump’s sanctions and the assassination, I was reminded just how many of them were doing this in 2001 and 2002, when I was barely six years old.

So, here we are again. I can’t help but imagine how the next few months play out: maybe Trump will claim that the U.S. has once again won an imagined struggle brought about by this corrupt government stock-full of war criminals. More sanctions will likely be placed, and the media—also stuffed with former generals and investment bankers and defense lobbyists—will continue to praise his “show of force” in this latest “test” on his presidency. The rights of Iranians will be completely forgotten, as many ignore their safety, health, or ability to live lives free of needless conflict waged by an imperialist power. As drone strikes escalate, the government might even imagine a new specter like the “weapons of mass destruction” that loomed large over the aughts. Almost 20 years later, when climate change and a deteriorating global economy have made this planet inhospitable, people will look back and ask: “What the fuck was any of this for?”

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Alternatively, I can choose to ignore the future my brain has superimposed over my outlook, and fight for a different outcome. All across this country tomorrow, people are banding together to protest a needless war and the actions of a corrupt and unjust government. You can find your nearest gathering at nowarwithiran.org. [CNN]

Screenshot: No War With Iran (nowarwithiran.org)
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This morning, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel unleashed a legal opinion with serious implications for the future of the Equal Rights Amendment, which has battled for ratification since it was supported by both the House and the Senate in 1972. Reuters reports that in its official statement, the Justice Department’s Legal Counsel claimed it was “too late” for the amendment to gain any new signatures, seeing as its initial seven-year deadline has long since passed.

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In the opinion, Assistant Attorney General Steven Engles wrote:

“Congress may not revive a proposed amendment after the deadline has expired. Should the people of the United States wish to adopt the ERA as part of the Constitution, then the appropriate path is for Congress ... to propose that amendment once more,”

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This news comes after Nevada signed the amendment in 2017, shortly before Illiniois signed it in 2018. With activists in Virginia pushing for the state to become the 38th signature, the needed amount to approve the amendment, this opinion from inside the Justice Department could see 40 years of women’s organizing completely dismantled. This also comes after the House Judiciary committee voted in November to remove the initial 1982 deadline for the 38th signature.

Earlier this year, a woman in Virginia was jailed for exposing her breast at a protest in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. Michelle Renay Sutherland was then denied bond by the judge, but while in jail, VAratifyERA organizer Kati Hornung reported she was “in good spirits and talking with women in the jail about the Equal Rights Amendment.” The judge later rescinded his bond-denial, claiming he “didn’t have the backstory, and that’s why I denied you the bond.” Perhaps the judge can also fill the Justice Department in on said “backstory,” considering this entire administration seems to be lacking it. [Reuters]

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  • I mean this wholeheartedly: Fuck Mike Bloomberg. [The Intercept]
  • Appeals court will uphold block of Trump’s immigration ban. [ABC]
  • These Tennessee lawmakers really, really hate trans people. [CNN]
  • Bernie Sanders aims his discourse turrets at Joe Biden. [The Hill]
  • Breaking: Trump lied a lot in his speech about Iran! [AP]
  • Joe Biden sure has some explaining to do about the student debt crisis. [The Intercept]
  • Can California please do the right thing, for once, and vote Feinstein out of office? [Politico]

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