Wednesday: Hili dialogue

September 20, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to a Hump Day (“હમ્પ ડે” in Gujurati), Wednesday, September 20, 2023, and National Rum Punch Day. What a perfect followup to “Talk Like a Pirate Day”!

It’s also National Pepperoni Pizza Day, National Fried Rice Day (cultural appropriation), National Gibberish Day, National String Cheese DayConstitution Day in Nepal, and Universal Children’s Day in Germany.

Here’s how they make string cheese, which I like (it’s the texture, Jake):

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the September 20 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*The U.S. is trying to make nice with Iran, a move Masih Alinejad (and I) consider hypocritical and unconscionable. But Iran apparently isn’t having it.

A day after the United States and Iran exchanged prisoners and Washington released $6 billion of Tehran’s frozen assets, Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, gave no sign of seeking further reconciliation with the United States, threatening to retaliate for the killing of an Iranian general.

In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Raisi called the U.S. assassination of Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, “a terrorist act.” He then repeated Iran’s threats to take revenge on those who had ordered and carried out the killing.

General Suleimani was killed in Iraq in 2020, when Donald J. Trump was president, in an American drone strike targeted against him. Iran retaliated by launching a ballistic missile attack on American military bases in Iraq, and more than 100 U.S. soldiers suffered concussions as a result, the military has said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran, through all tools and capacities in order to bring to justice the perpetrators and all those who had a hand in this government sanctioned act of terror, will not sit until that is done,” Mr. Raisi said on Tuesday. “The blood of the oppressed will not be forgotten.”

Iranian officials have made similar threats in the past, but this one may take on added weight coming from the president of the country repeating it in one of the most prominent international forums, with world leaders in attendance.

. . . Law enforcement officials have said in the past that they have detected serious threats from Iran against former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton. As Mr. Raisi vowed revenge on Tuesday, a lone U.S. representative in the assembly hall took notes.

The sooner the protestors bring down the Iranian theocracy, the better, and I hope they will!

*The GOP fracas over funding the government continues, and we may be facing a government shutdown—again!

The prospect of a government shutdown escalated significantly Tuesday as House Republicans’ intraparty tensions again came to a head in a dramatic floor vote amid negotiations on a nascent plan to keep the government open.

House Republicans’ inability to find agreement on even a stopgap funding bill that is destined to fail in the Senate again puts into focus the challenge before House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as he tries to unite his party and avoid a government shutdown. Though Republicans largely agree on the need to significantly curb federal spending, divisions mostly over process have given any five lawmakers enormous power in the razor-thin majority.

But there’s hope, for even Republicans realize that a government shutdown is a bad thing, especially when it can be blamed on them:

But as hard-liners dug in on their opposition, their more moderate counterparts began to firm up contingency plans for a bipartisan effort to keep the government open, publicly condemning their colleagues’ obstinance.

Some Republicans are seriously considering getting behind a shell bill that could, as soon as next week, serve as the vehicle that allows moderates to supersede McCarthy’s control of the House floor and force a vote to keep the government open, according to three people familiar with the plan who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to outline preliminary and private conversations. What exactly gets included in such a discharge petition remains unknown, but those familiar with the planning said it would include a short-term funding plan to avert a shutdown that could garner enough support from House Democrats and the Senate.

Part of the Republican bill includes provisions to restrict immigration.  Unless the GOP comes up with a plan that can pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, we’re in for a shutdown. This is what happens when both houses of Congress are controlled by different parties.

*The WSJ reviews the new versions of the iPhone 15, made with a titanium case, and likes them all, despite their higher prices:

  • iPhone 15 ($799 and up) and iPhone 15 Plus ($899 and up):
  • iPhone 15 Pro ($999 and up) and iPhone 15 Pro Max ($1,199 and up)

Most of us don’t change our phones as often as our Brita filters. (You’re welcome for the reminder!) Will iPhone 14 owners notice a big difference if they upgrade? Heck no. But when I went back to the iPhone 12 and 13 models, the improvements were more noticeable. And even for a big-screen hater like me, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has become a contender.

Sadly, Apple axed the smallest “mini” phone after the 13; I liked the small versions you can slip into your pocket.  The author likes the lighter, stronger, titanium case and the improved camera of the 15. It also has the new USB-C port that you can charge off almost everything.

As for me, I don’t understand the urge to buy each new iPhone as it comes to market, and I’ll keep using my 13 as long as it’s compatible.

*Michelle Goldberg at the NYT decries the waning of donations by the Left to liberal causes in a column called “Where has all the left-wing money gone?” (h/t David)

As we stumble toward another existential election, panic is setting in among some progressive groups because the donors who buoyed them throughout the Trump years are disengaging. “Donations to progressive organizations are way down in 2023 across the board,” said a recent memo from Billy Wimsatt, executive director of the Movement Voter Project, an organization founded in 2016 that channels funds to community organizers, mostly in swing states, who engage and galvanize voters. He added, “Groups need money to make sure we have a good outcome next November. But. People. Are. Not. Donating.” [JAC: I really dislike these sentences made up of single words separated by periods.]

As both big and small donors pull back, there have been layoffs across the progressive ecosystem, from behemoths like the Sierra Club to insurgent outfits like Justice Democrats, the group that first recruited Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to challenge the Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in 2018. According to a July analysis by Middle Seat, a Democratic strategy and consulting firm, in the first half of this year, grass-roots donations to Democratic House and Senate campaigns were down almost 50 percent compared to the same point in 2021. Wimsatt, who had to lay off 15 people from a 55-person staff in June, told me, “I haven’t experienced a situation like this before when there’s been such a sense of scarcity.”

Both organizations mentioned above are woke. Could the public rejection of wokeness account for this phenomenon? I’d like to think so, but it seems unlikely. Goldberg mentions two reasons. The first doesn’t make sense to me:

One small, characteristic piece of this problem — and perhaps the easiest part to solve — involves the way Democrats use email. If you’re on any progressive mailing lists, you surely know what I’m talking about: the endless appeals, sometimes in bold all caps, warning of imminent Democratic implosion. (Recent subject lines in my inbox include, “We can kiss our Senate majority goodbye” and “This is not looking good.”)

In the short term, these emails are effective, which is why campaigns use them. Over time, they encourage a mix of cynicism and helplessness — precisely the feelings leading too many people to withdraw from political involvement.

But this one makes more sense:

But this is just a symptom of a bigger problem, which is that, right now, progressive politics are necessarily organized around preventing imminent catastrophe rather than offering up a vision of a transformed world. Joe Biden has an impressive legislative record, but because of the counter-majoritarian roadblocks in our system, the case for his re-election is largely about staving off disaster rather than the promise of new accomplishments. “It’s really hard to get people to give money when you do not have a coherent theory of change,” said Berger.

That one, at least, rings true. But revulsion at wokeness still may play a role. And fear of Trump may be a powerful motivator to donate.

*Finally, this story, in the “oddity” section of the AP’s site, is both heartening and sad. Click screenshot to read, and I’ve put in a photo:

The tale:

A Florida reptile park has taken in an alligator that lost its nose and upper jaw to a fight or boat propeller.

Gatorland Orlando said over the weekend that the injured alligator came from a lake in nearby Sanford, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast of Orlando.

“She had basically no chance of surviving in the wild with such a severe injury,” the park said in a social media post.

Over the next few days, the park’s veterinarian staff will be monitoring the gator in an effort to make sure it is eating in a stress-free environment, the park said.

To get the gator to eat, the staff is cutting up small pieces of food that they will toss in the back of its throat, believing it had survived in the wild doing the same thing on its own with snails, slugs and frogs, Kathy Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the park, said in an email.

Here’s a photo. I wish this little gator the best, and applaud the humans who are taking care of it:

Photo credit: via AP

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is cadging noms

Hili: Are you washing plates after every dinner or only those less tasty?
A: After every dinner,
Hili: That’s not smart.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy zmywasz talerze po każdym obiedzie, czy tylko po tych mniej smacznych?Ja: Po każdym.Hili: To nie jest mądre.

And a lovely picture of sweet Szaron:


From Irena:

From Seth Andrews:

And Philomena is back, and making trumpet noises! This is a melange from “Cunk on Earth”.

From Masih, calling out the hypocrisy of the administration’s worship of “human rights.” A few words from the long tweet:

When I criticize the US government for its dealings with Islamic Republic, I often get told by some analysts in the media, “the US government have sanctioned the Islamic Republic, what more do you want?”

I want the hypocrisy to end.

President Biden owes an explanation to all Iranians and Americans that how a sanctioned Meraj Air flight landed in New York, carrying sanctioned president of the Islamic Republic Ebrahim Raisi, and whose regime is actively attempting to assassinate Americans. Raisi will be protected by the U.S. Secret Service while in New York. Are the American taxpayers happy about it?

Titania’s still tweeting!

I find it hard to believe that even Colin Kaepernick made this first video (h/t Luana) comparing the NFL draft to slavery. But yes, it’s true, and from his Netflix documentary (see here). There is one HUGE difference between the NFL and slavery, and it’s green.

From Malcom: parrots doing tricks:

From the Auschwitz Memorial; I retweeted this one after I looked up the patch:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. At first I thought that both snails would go after the green bean:

Matthew says that these are all correct:

Yes, fascinating!

16 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Apparently, Masih doesn’t understand that the Iranian president has come to New York to speak to the United Nations. I don’t think Biden has any authority to stop that visit. Biden is not “hosting” the Iranian. There is no hypocrisy here. In the past, other odious dictators and murderers have come to the U.S. to speak to the U.N. There is nothing unusual in this visit.

  2. I don’t think it’s right for Masih to criticize the US (“Biden”) for letting the Iranian president speak to the UN. The UN would be an even more farcical organization that it is now, if the US only let its friends come and speak there. If the UN is to succeed in its mission, the heads of state of all countries have to be given access. This is written into the hosting treaty (Treaty 147) between the US and UN. It has nothing to do with Biden. How could the UN possibly work if one country were able control access to this international body?

  3. If anyone is going to make a big deal about the budget, they should be talking loudly about the fact that our national debt just hit $33,000,000,000 (that’s thirty-three trillion). It has tripled since 2009. We should be looking at drastic cuts and applying revenues to debt relief.

    1. True story:

      In 2001, George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from Clinton. I received a mailing from my then-Congresswoman, Heather Wilson (Little Miss Tobacco Whore herself), asking “what kind of tax cut would I prefer”. The flyer listed several options, but nowhere was there anything about cutting the deficit.

      I wrote to her saying that when actual adults get financially ahead, they pay down their debt. I told her that instead of a tax cut, we should take the surplus and apply it to the national debt.

      I never received a response from her. The Republican Congress passed a tax cut which mainly benefitted the wealthy, as they are wont to do. You know what kind of state the economy was in when Bush handed it off to Obama.


    2. I realize that it takes a major shift in one’s belief system, and I actually am pessimistic that I’d ever be able to convince you, DrBryon, but:

      U.S. dollars are spent into existence by the Federal government. As the U.S. has what is called a sovereign fiat currency (we have our own currency and we don’t promise to trade it for some commodity or another currency), the Federal government can never run out of U.S. dollars. That means the Federal government actually never needs to borrow to finance its operations, and the Federal government, unlike a private citizen or firm, can never involuntarily default on its fiscal obligations.

      Even Lauren Boebert knows the Federal government can create all the dollars it needs to, and that inflation is the true limit on Federal government spending.

      But don’t take my word for it, listen to Alan Greenspan:

      Ben Bernanke understands how a fiat currency works:

      In short, for the Federal government, the question is not, can we afford it? but rather, do we have the resources?

      What we call the National Debt should really be called The Private Sector’s Savings.

      If you have an open mind about this, I urge you to read Stephanie Kelton’s “The Deficit Myth,” or Hockett and James’ “Money From Nothing: Or, Why We Should Stop Worrying About Debt and Learn to Love the Federal Reserve,” or Wray’s “Making Money Work for Us: How MMT Can Save America.”

      Or, read Mosler’s free 26-page paper on the topic:

  4. On this day:
    1187 – Saladin begins the Siege of Jerusalem.

    1519 – Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda with about 270 men on his expedition which ultimately culminates in the first circumnavigation of the globe.

    1737 – The Walking Purchase concludes, which forces the cession of 1.2 million acres (4,860 km2) of Lenape-Delaware tribal land to the Pennsylvania Colony.

    1870 – The Bersaglieri corps enter Rome through the Porta Pia, and complete the unification of Italy.

    1893 – Charles Duryea and his brother road-test the first American-made gasoline-powered automobile.

    1911 – The White Star Line’s RMS Olympic collides with the British warship HMS Hawke. [Sister ship of the Titanic.]

    1946 – The first Cannes Film Festival is held, having been delayed for seven years due to World War II.

    1962 – James Meredith, an African American, is temporarily barred from entering the University of Mississippi.

    1967 – The Cunard Liner Queen Elizabeth 2 is launched in Clydebank, Scotland.

    1971 – Having weakened after making landfall in Nicaragua the previous day, Hurricane Irene regains enough strength to be renamed Hurricane Olivia, making it the first known hurricane to cross from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific.

    1973 – Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match at the Houston Astrodome.

    1973 – Singer Jim Croce, songwriter and musician Maury Muehleisen and four others die when their light aircraft crashes on takeoff at Natchitoches Regional Airport in Louisiana.

    2000 – The United Kingdom’s MI6 Secret Intelligence Service building is attacked by individuals using a Russian-built RPG-22 anti-tank missile.

    2001 – In an address to a joint session of Congress and the American people, U.S. President George W. Bush declares a “War on Terror”.

    2011 – The United States military ends its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, allowing gay men and women to serve openly for the first time.

    1685 – Giuseppe Matteo Alberti, Italian violinist and composer (d. 1751).

    1833 – Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Italian soldier and journalist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1918).

    1842 – James Dewar, Scottish-English chemist and physicist (d. 1923).

    1847 – Susanna Rubinstein, Austrian psychologist (d. 1914).

    1878 – Upton Sinclair, American novelist, critic, and essayist (d. 1968).

    1884 – Maxwell Perkins, American editor (d. 1947).

    1902 – Stevie Smith, English author and poet (d. 1971).

    1906 – Vera Faddeeva, Russian mathematician (d. 1983).

    1910 – Dorothy Vaughan, American mathematician (d. 2008).

    1914 – Kenneth More, English actor (d. 1982).

    1921 – Chico Hamilton, American drummer, composer, and bandleader (d. 2013).

    1927 – John Dankworth, English saxophonist, clarinet player, and composer (d. 2010).

    1934 – Sophia Loren, Italian actress.

    1936 – Andrew Davies, Welsh author, screenwriter, and producer.

    1938 – Eric Gale, American guitarist and producer (d. 1994).

    1948 – George R. R. Martin, American novelist and short story writer.

    1966 – Nuno Bettencourt, Portuguese singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves and immortality.
    1793 – Fletcher Christian, English lieutenant and mutineer (b. 1764).

    1863 – Jacob Grimm, German philologist and mythologist (b. 1785).

    1957 – Jean Sibelius, Finnish violinist and composer (b. 1865).

    2004 – Brian Clough, English footballer and manager (b. 1935).

    2005 – Simon Wiesenthal, Austrian human rights activist, Holocaust survivor (b. 1908).

    2006 – Sven Nykvist, Swedish director, producer, and cinematographer (b. 1922).

    2016 – Curtis Hanson, American film director and screenwriter (b. 1945).

  5. “A day after the United States and Iran exchanged prisoners and Washington released $6 billion of Tehran’s frozen assets, Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, gave no sign of seeking further reconciliation with the United States, threatening to retaliate for the killing of an Iranian general.”

    That isn’t really accurate. Per this article, Opinion A top NSC official explains why Biden moved ahead with the Iran hostage deal , the funds in question were not frozen. They were money earned by Iran from oil sales to South Korea. The US sanctions did restrict the use of the funds and the prisoner exchange agreement has actually increased the restrictions on how the funds can be used.

    From the article . . .

    ” There is a lot of false information out there. These are funds that South Korea deposited into Iranian accounts during past administrations for the purchase of Iranian oil. Under U.S. sanctions regulations, these funds have been legally available for certain forms of bilateral and humanitarian trade.

    These are not frozen funds. Iran spent heavily from similar accounts — in China, Turkey, India — under the last administration. The funds in South Korea were not spent for reasons specific to South Korea. What we have agreed to do as part of this deal is to transfer the funds from South Korea to a bank in Qatar. And under terms that provide confidence, the funds will be spent only on a limited category of humanitarian trade: food, medicine and agricultural products. That’s it.

    The funds are subject to more legal restrictions now than when they were in South Korea. And for any transactions, funds are used to pay vendors for the humanitarian goods. No funds whatsoever are going into Iran.”

    1. The actual details of the deal are not easily understood from the information given. Mr. McGurk, the Biden admin. official who provided the statements, also told CNN that “no funds are going to Iran at all.” which is accurate, as they are going to Qatar. His statement that the funds were not frozen, but unavailable to the Iranians for “reasons specific to South Korea” seems sort of deliberately vague.

      If they are allowed access to funds for the purchase of specific necessities, it means at best that the funds usually allocated for that spending can now be used to support Jihad against Israel.
      Plus, the Iranians have a long history of getting around such restrictions.

      Iranian politician and IRGC officer Mohsen Rezaee has previously boasted about kidnapping Americans and charging $1bn each for their release.

      The reason you don’t want to pay kidnappers is that when the word gets around, you find that you have incentivized such behavior.. I think the word is getting around.

      1. Even if the funds had been frozen and we released the funds, that still doesn’t equate to having “paid kidnappers.” The funds were always Iran’s.

        “His statement that the funds were not frozen, but unavailable to the Iranians for “reasons specific to South Korea” seems sort of deliberately vague.

        That seems perfectly clear, particularly when taken in combination with the preceding sentences. The funds in question had always been available to Iran for certain types of purchases, as far as the sanctions that the US had in place against Iran were concerned. The reason Iran had not spent the funds yet had to do with an issue between South Korea and Iran, not the US and Iran. In other words, if it were not for South Korea’s intervention, whatever exactly it may be, Iran had always been allowed to use those funds for certain types of purchases as far as the US was concerned.

        If family members or friends of yours had been languishing in an Iranian prison for years, would you think this deal was worth it or not? Or would you hope that your government would be able to make the hard decision to leave them there rather than risk doing anything that might free up money to be used to fund jihadis? What about all the money and resources spent on national security? FBI, CIA, NSA, State Department, Military, etc.. With that arrayed against the jihadis I think the risk is worth it.

        Or, what? Special Operations rescue attempt? That wouldn’t stir up the jihadis very much, would it? Invasion? Regime change?

  6. I agree. Single word sentences are annoying. It’s like pummeling someone with a jackhammer which, of course, is the goal. Rude and condescending if you asked me. Even so, it’s interesting how effective the written word is at eliciting physical sensation and emotion. The power of writing is amazing. Those hungry snails can’t even imagine what they are missing. (Nor do they care. They’re just hungry.

  7. In regards to the government shut-down, you said: “This is what happens when both houses of Congress are controlled by different parties.”

    Not really. This is what happens when one party is no longer a political party, but a cult doing the bidding of their insane leader. It has nothing to do with different parties controlling Congress, and everything to do with the nihilistic “freedom caucus” who will stop at nothing to try and hurt Biden and the democrats (even if it backfires). Trump before country and all that. It reminds me of Alfred Pennyworth’s quote, speaking to Bruce Wayne: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

    Yesterday, they couldn’t even pass a rule to fund the DoD…they also couldn’t pass a rule back in June and it was the first time a rule didn’t pass in 20 years…and now it happened again. Clearly, Kevin McCarthy has no control of his caucus. But I doubt they’ll oust him because no one wants the job. The GOP shitshow is quite funny if it weren’t so destructive.

  8. The trouble with the Democratic fundraising appeals that I see is that it’s always about some deadline. So what? Quit sounding like Jerry Falwell and start explaining what you need it for.

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