Give the Taliban their $7 billion

I remember when 9/11 hit. I remember that Tuesday morning: the confusion, the fear, the astonishment. I remember the public’s demand for answers, then the demand for revenge. Shear revenge. Utter, complete, and blinding revenge.

Anyone who stood against that lust for blood was a “traitor” and a “terrorist sympathizer”. I remember vividly how hard it was to even suggest that we don’t jump into another war quagmire and repeat our failure in Vietnam. Everyone was on board for war. Intellectuals intellectualized it in their opinion columns. Even liberal-leaning media outlets spared no time or respect for people who called for levelheadedness, for a simple pause, for counting to 10, for not acting on anger.

And that’s exactly what we embarked on: an angry war. Not a war that came after failed diplomacy or a war we tried to avoid but couldn’t. No. It was a war we wanted and wanted nothing else because we were angry. We were mad as hell. All we did beforehand was say to the Taliban: “You give us Bin Laden or we’ll carpet bomb you to the stone ages”, as if that would persuade the Taliban to give in. Of course it didn’t, and we knew it wouldn’t. We wanted them to refuse. We had our impressive new military toys and we wanted to unleash all our might onto these terrorists and teach them a lesson. We thought it was going to be a cake walk.

Everything about how we fought that war was soaked in anger. We bombed weddings. We bombed funerals. We urinated on bodies. We bombed schools. We killed and refused to count. We killed and refused to acknowledge (and still do). We killed and bombed and pillaged and hired mercenaries to kill and bomb and pillage. We can deny this all we want and we can fool many people with our denial, but we won’t fool the Afghan people. They know. They saw it all first hand. They are the ones who chose the Taliban over us and made them win.

We didn’t fight like a superpower. We fought like a toddler having a tantrum with drones at his disposal. And even now, 20 years later, we’re still so choke-full of spite. Did the Taliban do 9/11? Did they ever kill one of us on US soil throughout the 20 years we were bombing their civilians? No, but we just can’t stop hating them on a level deeper than any intellect can rein in. We hear the word Taliban and we instantly lose all sense of decency. Suddenly everything is fair game. Our media’s full spectrum cannot acknowledge one single good thing about the Taliban or even venture into trying to understand why Afghans chose them over us. When Mike Pompeo signed the treaty with the Taliban, he sat silent as everyone cheered the end of a 20 year war. Shortly afterwards we bombed them again and killed a bunch of civilians. It’s just weird how blinding our anger is.

And now, as just another extension of that anger; that childish, primitive, incapacitating spite, we give them rulership over Afghanistan but steal their money. It’s like we’ve become numb toward our own smallness when it comes to the Taliban. I bet they can count on the predictability of our lack of honor by now. It probably helps them make political decisions when they know how we will respond: with the least possible decency, that is.

Give them their money. Acknowledge the damage we’ve done. Acknowledge the killing we concealed. Start a new page. Be a better nation.

Stop shaming the vaccine hesitant. Start understanding them.

It’s hard to write a piece like this. On the one hand, I’m not a conspiracy theorist when it comes to COVID. I do know that it’s a real disease that has killed millions around the globe and that it is a global threat that we need to face and combat. It’s not hype. It’s real and we should absolutely protect ourselves from it.

I’m also not anti-vaccine. I myself would take a COVID vaccine if I felt that the risk involved in not taking it justifies the risk of taking it. I never hesitated to take a vaccine before. I think vaccines are a great human accomplishment and I do not subscribe to the overblown fears of autism or the rare side effects of conventional vaccines.

But when it comes to the available vaccines for COVID, namely the mRNA and vector DNA vaccines (which encompass all vaccines available in the US so far), I have serious reservations that can be understood and appreciated. And, no, I do not believe that they change our genetic makeup.

The mechanism of action of the Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, and AZ vaccines is such that they all rely on, or at least result in, our immune system attacking and killing our own skeletal muscle cells for us to gain immunity against COVID-19. The mechanism is simple in principle: the vaccine is made of DNA or mRNA strands enveloped either in lipid droplets or viral envelopes. The DNA/mRNA strand enters a skeletal muscle cell. That cell then uses the DNA/mRNA strand to create a foreign protein (the viral spike protein), which is then displayed on the cell’s membrane. Our T-cells recognize these proteins as foreign and, accordingly, destroy the entire skeletal muscle cell as if it were a cell that developed a DNA mutation, such as what happens to cancer cells that are cleared out by the immune system.

This is all fine until we realize a few things:

1- This is a very similar mechanism to the one by which many viral infections are believed to lead to autoimmune disease. There’s a list of viruses with which being infected leads your immune system to attack and kill the cells that the virus has infected. This would be beneficial if the immune system stops at killing infected cells and leaves the rest of the tissue alone. However, in some people the immune system instead gets “trained” to attack and kill all cells of the type that was infected (and sometimes other cell types too) whether they were infected with the virus or not. Many autoimmune diseases are thought to originate by such a mechanism.

One might argue that the human immune system is always destroying mutated cells in our bodies, and that’s true, but skeletal muscle cells don’t multiply, so they don’t mutate nearly as often as multiplying cells. Indeed, malignant tumors originating from cells that don’t normally multiply, such as rhabdomyosarcomas (skeletal muscle tumors), generally have poor prognoses, which could be because our immune systems aren’t used to clearing them since they rarely multiply, so they rarely mutate.

I wish the available vaccines had a delivery method that would have mucous membrane cells exposed to them instead of skeletal muscle cells. If the same vaccines could be delivered via nasal spray, for example, I would be more open to taking one of them. This is because these cells are routinely infected with respiratory viruses and our immune systems are generally pretty good at clearing the infected mucous membrane cells without developing autoimmune reactions against all normal mucous membrane cells in our bodies. We have no idea if the same applies to non-dividing cells such as skeletal muscle, neural, and certain connective tissue cells.

So when the news came out about a number of people developing myocarditis after receiving the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (over 1000 reported cases in the US alone so far), I was not surprised, and I doubt any of the vaccine developers were surprised either. It made perfect sense to me that the vaccines have caused immunity against other muscle cells such as those of the heart. And while this has been minimized in the media and most cases were “treated” with steroids and other meds, there is currently no way to know the long term cardiac complications of these affected individuals. Will their myocarditis be a condition that flares up every now and then? Will they develop other inflammatory conditions of the heart or other muscle tissues? We have no way of knowing, and more importantly, we have no way to cure such conditions if they develop, which brings me to my next point:

2- We are largely utterly hopeless in curing autoimmune disease. Yes, we know how to “manage” them, mostly with expensive medications that patients have to stay on for life, only to eventually succumb to their autoimmune illness anyway.

Not only that, but the medical community generally looks at patients of autoimmune disease who try to seek actual cures outside of conventional medicine with a great deal of disdain when the medical community itself is unable to provide satisfactory solutions for their debilitating conditions. To be sure, I am not an advocate for alternative medicine and I know that the majority of its advocates are shills who prey on the sick’s desperation for cure, but at least I understand these patients’ frustration with what modern medicine has to offer. The medical community needs to develop this understanding. Doctors need to realize that their methods of managing autoimmune disease are not satisfactory. They need to keep seeking actual cures. It is not ok for the medical community to have such low expectations of medicine that steroids and biologics are viewed as the end goal or even as satisfactory treatments. Unfortunately, many doctors have gotten stuck in their struggle to “manage” their patients that they lost sight of the fact that we should be looking for cures. Actual cures.

Many doctors are unfortunately unable to put themselves in place of their patients to realize that immunosuppression is not a solution. If I as a healthy young adult am given the choice between 1) contracting COVID and risking a small chance of being hospitalized and an even smaller chance of dying and 2) taking a vaccine that could cause me to develop an autoimmune disease of which there is no cure, I’d choose COVID any day. And while it’s true that the chance of developing chronic ailment from the vaccines is small, they haven’t been around for long enough to be sure. And while there is a real risk of long term complications from COVID infections, the track record of novel solutions that are eventually found to have more risk than benefit is not exactly gleaming with hope. Which brings me to my next point:

3- We have every reason to be suspicious of novel “solutions” when it comes to biological manipulation. In fact, not being suspicious after all the disastrous fiascos of the 20th and 21st-century drug recalls, pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, and other “creative solutions” that alter biology is naive at best and stupid at worst. Thalidomide was a great drug for several years before we found out its nasty side. DDT was deployed for many years before being removed from the market. mRNA and DNA COVID vaccines haven’t been around for 2 years yet and we’re supposed to treat them as if they’re perfectly safe. The time factor isn’t cancelled out by the fact that the vaccines have been given to tens of thousands of people in their clinical trials. If you give small doses of lead daily to a million people, it will still take years for toxic effects to show.

4- Mainstream media is selling vaccines very much like it sold the war on Iraq. There are daily horror stories about unvaccinated people getting hospitalized and regretting not getting the vaccine, but these cases are actually quite rare and I have not heard of any in my area. I’m not saying that the media is lying, but they are certainly over-presenting infected cases and avoiding all mention of the actual risk of getting hospitalized or dying from infection if you’re a young healthy adult.

At the same time, there is a deliberate underplaying of vaccine side effects. I’m hearing about actual people in my local community who had side effects ranging from anaphylactic reactions to loss of function in their arm to blood clots. Why aren’t these cases being reported by the media? Is the media ever capable of learning from its mistakes? And will the media bear any real consequence for their faulty reporting if we find out some deleterious side effect of the vaccines?

Don’t get me wrong; if I have to take one of the current vaccines, I will. If I have to travel overseas, if I have to go on immunosuppressive therapy for some condition, if I’m old, or if I develop a risk factor that would increase my risk of nasty side effects from COVID, I’ll take the vaccine. But as a young, healthy adult, it is tiring that the media is not even attempting to understand where the vaccine hesitant are coming from or how to address their concerns. We have very scientific, very legitimate reasons to refuse the current vaccines.

I’ll take a vaccine when it’s the protein based, conventional type. I’ll take an mRNA/DNA vaccine that is delivered to mucous membrane cells, and I’ll take the mRNA/DNA vaccine after it’s been in the market for 10+ years and we have statistics showing clearly the lack of significant long term side effects. Aside from that, I’m not taking it. I’d rather get COVID than take one of the currently available vaccines.

The public’s tolerance of being killed on the spot by police

Law-and-order-centric individuals claim to conjure logic and common sense when they declare that “if you don’t want to get shot by police, don’t mouth off to a police officer”, which highlights the strange infestation that we grew up accepting – namely that it’s acceptable for the punishment for certain acts to be field execution by police officers, with no trial and no due process.

We in the US are somehow OK with the notion that one deserves to be killed instantly for things like yelling at a police officer, running away from a police officer, reaching into your glove compartment in front of a police officer, not putting your hands where a police officer can see them, and a whole slew of other infractions, some explicitly taught in police academies while others can be left to a police officer’s judgement on the spot.

“An officer has to do whatever they have to do to defend themselves”, say law-and-order-centric people. But to respond with certain death to an uncertain threat essentially and fundamentally implies that the life of a police officer is more valuable than that of his/her victim. For this reason, this mentality of life supremacy is extremely uncommon in other countries.

“Well, criminals have guns and will shoot at police if they can”. Sure, and no one is arguing that a police officer cannot respond to fire with fire, but this is not what’s happening in the US. Here, police officers are responding with overwhelming and excessive lethal force against the least suspicion of a threat, stepping more and more into clear non-threat territory with their lethal force in a way that reveals deep angst, psychological disturbance, and/or a yearning to shoot someone, not a mere need to defend oneself.

And they always get away with lying about it. Isn’t it amazing that police departments predictably get away with lying to the public in their official statements? The videos that eventually surface clearly show that PDs were utterly and knowingly lying, but they never seem to be held accountable for it.

This all has to stop.

When does compassion get to be too much?

I’m no Leftie. At all. I share some views with the American Left and some with the Right, but the last thing I’d allow is to be labeled as Left wing. So when I agree with the far Left on an issue, I will definitely to keep it to myself and to friends whom I know agree.

One of these issues that will label you as a far Left extremist is the war crimes we committed overseas. Think Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Think Agent Orange. Think depleted uranium use in Iraq and Afghanistan. Think the over 4 million civilians killed by us since 1990. You know, that kinds of stuff. It’s all facts that can be easily proven, but God forbid you ever bring them up! You’ll be instantly cast into a category so extreme that you may be the only one inhabiting it. It’s intellectual suicide to most people outside of academic circles and probably a cause of literal alarm by your neighbors.

And I’ve accepted that. I stay away from bringing up our war crimes. It’s cowardly and dishonest, but it seems necessary for now.

But we all have our lines to draw, and I had to confront mine when I was recently asked to contribute to an effort to raise awareness about the high suicide rate among US veterans of war. It was a hard No for me.

No, no, no, and no. If I’m not even able to bring up our war crimes, I sure as heck won’t encourage sympathy with the perpetrators of such crimes, many of whom fully acknowledge and support such crimes even if they did not commit them, and many of whom still seethe with hate toward Arabs and Muslims and spread lies about them here in the US to propagate phobia. No, I won’t spread awareness for them. Sorry.

And I really am sorry. I hate to know that anyone killed themselves. It really breaks my heart and I really do wish that I could help them. But if I’m forced into being silent about the far, far higher numbers of people killed and maimed by them, I cannot in good conscience spread sympathy for the killers beyond the confines of my heart’s aching for their psychological anguish.

The question then becomes: How do I respond to such a request for supporting veterans? Do I lie and come up with some other reason besides my conscientious objection? Do I tell it like it is and face the unpalatable consequences? Or do I just say no without giving a reason?

So far I’ve gone with the third option, but I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep my mouth shut. I just hope we in the US finally start to see the glaring obviousness of God’s revenge upon us for all we did to other peoples.

A litmus test for hate

I hate sounding divisive. Division is truly the last thing we need at this time, which is exactly why I need to call out hate and name it for what it is. Hate divides. Being anti-hate is being anti-division.

In case you haven’t heard, there’s this Navy SEAL dude accused of all sorts of war crimes by his commanders who is now finally, after years of Navy officials trying to conceal his crimes and shut down his accusers, facing some criminal charges. If the accusations are true, they not only reveal a spectacular amount of hate, but also a particularly cowardly person: stabbing a wounded, beaten teenager who is tied up, sniping women, children, and elderly people from a distant hideout, firing a machine gun onto homes from a safe distance.. Stuff that no person of courage would do, but that’s beside the point.

I’m talking about all the people who are coming to his defense. The 40 congressmen, the people who donated all the money, and the news outlets that keep coverage of his case alive to rile up his supporters. I’m talking about them, and I’m calling them out as the hateful bigots that they are.

They will give you the familiar line of “He’s innocent”, but what they mean by that line is not that he didn’t commit war crimes, they mean that killing Muslims willy nilly is essentially okay. They have absolutely no problem with it and they condone it wholeheartedly. They resent the fact that anyone would have to face consequences for what they feel is a no biggie.

How do I know? Easy. It’s the simple fact that this case is gaining traction and getting lots of support. Had it been about someone unrightfully accused of a crime, it would have had a limited number of interested parties and garnered little news coverage. After all, there are hundreds of cases of this nature in the US legal system.

No – this case is a culture war item, and the General’s supporters are making a political statement. It’s the statement that standing by the troops means being ok with war crimes. It’s the statement that Muslims are, at least right now, legal game for any deformed individual who gets off on killing people.

So next time you see those “supporters” with their false compassion and their purported call for “justice” and “fairness”, know them for what they are. They don’t know justice. They don’t care about fairness. They’re incapable of compassion. They are the embodiment of seething hate – the kind of hate that takes away all hesitation to kill entire civilian families with no remorse.

No life is sacred anymore

I used to complain about the disparity in the value of human life between countries, how hundreds of civilians in a developing country count as “collateral damage” while the world can lose its mind over a half dozen dead Westerners. Nowadays, however, routine shootings by the mentally deranged seem to have evened the playing field by making us so numb that the value of a Westerner’s life is approaching the dismal value of a Middle-Eastern civilian killed by a drone.

I was hoping for the opposite: that the value of human life would be elevated overseas to match Westerners’ human life value. I was hoping that every time someone is killed, it becomes a big deal. I was hoping that the names of all the victims be commemorated, because one of these victims could be me or one of my children.

Instead, we’re all worthless now. Killing has become so mundane that we’re sick of even hearing about it. We wish to not even know it happened. People die just as easily as numbers are counted. One, two, five hundred and sixty three – it’s that easy. We’re all worth nothing more than the ink with which our names are written. We definitely count a lot to those who love us, but our demise leads to no change of policies, no reduction in killings, and not even a shaking of public conscience.

I’m so numb myself that I’m not even motivated to write more.

Is it divine payback for all the killing we’ve done overseas? It very well could be.

Trump might be the lesson that Americans need

Donald Trump’s ascent to power is not exactly a savory event to most people, especially to those who would like a president who is mature and well informed. However, there may be positives that come out of Trump’s election as far as our awareness as Americans of what’s happening in most of the world.

One trait in Donald Trump on which almost everyone agrees is his authoritarianism. His voters were shown in studies to even share this authoritarian streak with him. This is obviously quite terrible but it might just be the wake up call that Americans need. Let’s face it: we’re very good at saying that we don’t like despots, but we’re also quite complacent in our reaction to our government supporting and maintaining such despots or even at suppressing and eliminating better, more democratic leaders in developing countries.

Well, now we get to see what it’s like to live under one, and maybe, just maybe, this will ultimately lead to the world becoming a better place. Once we know what it’s like to be the subjects of a man who cares too much about his own person, rejects and resents dissent against him, believes that might is right, and disdains freedom of press, all while amassing enormous wealth and refusing to let go of businesses that pose a conflict of interest, maybe then we’ll be able to sympathize with people like the Egyptians or the Central Americans.

Once we see for ourselves how crippling, how depressing, and how stressful it is to live under such rule, perhaps we’ll start thinking twice before blaming other nations for their economic and educational inferiority. Maybe we’ll get to finally see that, under the “right” tyrrany, we’re all behave the same way, develop the same problems, and undergo the same hardships.

Just like an alien invasion could unite humanity against its looming danger, maybe despotism will be the new Great Uniter that will connect us with the rest of humanity.

Opposing BDS is not only about supporting Israel; it’s about hating Arabs

Decision makers in the West are not like lay people. They are not oblivious or media-susceptible when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They studied the conflict thoroughly in college. They know how it started. They know the grand theft of a nation that took place. They are fully aware of the ongoing humiliation of the Palestinians under Israeli apartheid. They know the numbers of Palestinian civilians Israel has killed. They know how Palestinians have to spend hours of their every day at check points just to travel within their own land.

They know all of that and perhaps other, even more troubling things than we know. So for someone like New York governor Andrew Cuomo to boldly state his strong opposition to the BDS movement, with white-hot vigor and wonderous momentum, it cannot only be a sign of loving Israel all that much. It must also be a sign of deep hatred toward Arabs at the very same time, and we need to start ackowledging this.

Let’s face it, people in the West don’t exactly grow up thinking positively of Arabs or Muslims. Thanks to the media and special interest groups, the picture painted in the heads of people is not exactly flattering. Whenever you have a large group of people with such a predisposition, you will invariably run into “hate nuclei” – certain individuals with an exaggerated representaion of that widespread negative perspective.

The same applies to racism or oppressing women: society in general is prone to such ailments, albeit to a mild degree in most people. Some, however, retain strong racist/mysoginistic predilections. Politicians are no exception, and governor Cuomo is such an example of strong hatred against Arabs.

One might think that this accusation of hate is too presumptive, but the facts on the ground in regards to what the Palestinians have endured and still do, as well as about the illegality of the Israeli occupation and the practices that accompany it, are too damning. The utter starkness of the injustice, the severity of which invariably converts any westerner into a Palestinian supporter just by visiting the occupied territories, is just too morally obvious for Israel supporters to be deemed devoid of hate, even seething hate. It just has to be true, particularly for those who know the facts on the ground.

To illustrate how this must be true, we need not go any further than examining public statements made by staunch Zionists within Israel, where political correctness is not as closely observed as it is in Cuomo’s New York. These statements almost never stop at loving Israel – they reliably cross into a clear anti-Arab sentiment in a way that makes it appear not as a peripheral component of Zionism, but as a prime motivation for it. Here are a few recent such statements:

Leave no one alive

Prison for marrying a non-Jew

Israeli soldiers can rape Palestinian women

We will gas you until you die

It is important and inescapable for all to recognize that being an avid Israel supporter is not all about “love”, but also about hate.

Human life is human life. Everywhere.

No one can claim to have genuine concern for people killed in drone strikes overseas while not being equally appalled by what happened in Orlando today. Human life is equally precious. The societal callousness toward the value of human life affects everyone everywhere, and is equally reprehensible.

This killing has become the new norm. Whether you live in the US or elsewhere, nowhere is safe. Explosions.. shootings.. Just wanton murder. It’s like we’re trying to rid the planet of “extra humans”, like we can’t stand seeing each other alive any more. Even PG movies teach us and our kids that massive explosions and building demolitions, where hundreds of people would die in reality, are just a peripheral part of a story. Like a footnote, only without any mention of death. 

How have we come to this? Who taught us that the lives of others, thereby our own lives, are worthless? What kind of global culture have we instilled in our youth that makes them completely fine with the premature taking of human life?

I’m not giving up hope. I’m optimistic that we will learn to change our ways. I just hope that it doesn’t take many more lives being lost before we learn. Whether it’s a ban on owning weapons, a ban on manufacturing weapons, or even a ban on manufacturing any and all explosive materials, we must arrive at something eventually.


Our never ending Machiavelianism

The seemingly unrelenting US attitude toward the rest of the world, which consistently go against the human rights of non-Western peoples, seem to be as indellible and as perennial as our very existence as a world power. When the NY Times recently ran an “expose” of the kind of foreign advisor the Obama administration relies on, one which shuns the “old guard” of foreign policy experts, I was actually a little joyed. I thought maybe we are finally learning to respect other people around the planet as having living souls and beating hearts just like us, and the departure from the old philosophy of interest-above-everything could only be toward a more moral paradigm.

Then John Kerry sits down with Egypt’s Sisi and I just shake my head.

It’s not funny, but I almost want to laugh at the intransigence of our own lack of regard toward other nations. I know they teach such disregard at ivy league schools. I know it’s been going on for decades now, but come on! Can’t we stand up for what’s right just once? Just for the sake of.. I dunno.. surprise?

Sisi just needs to introduction. His rise from being an utter nobody to somebody was by a coup in which he killed over 1,200 civilian protesters (a killing which is still taking place at various demonstrations intermittently) and detaining thounsands. He is characteristically clumsy in his speeches, to the point where he is literally uncapable of handling any serious questions from a foreign reporter. His economic record has been disasterous. He somehow managed to lower the IQ of his entire population into a jingoistic, believe-anything mash of brain matter and steroids.

He’s basically known for nothing good. Nothing. The only thing he did was mark the fragile end to a staged counterrevolution by simply sitting on the throne that the Egyptian Deep State (with our help) cleared for him. That’s it. Everything else he’s known for is bad. Everything.

Trust me, I try really hard to be the devil’s advocate before writing a piece like this. But it’s hard to justify our love affair with Sisi. I know there’s Libya and ISIS and Sudan and Israel to worry about, but that still does not justify the fact that we even let him take over, let alone that we continue to approve of him in the most pandering terms. This is just plain disgraceful.

More prudently, I can’t help but put myself in the shoes of the many Egyptians who lost loved ones on the hands of Sisi when they see our Secretary of State sitting with their butcher and following up with a flowery statement completely whitewashing their anguish. What must be going through their heads? What must be going through the heads of the millions of Arabs and Muslims who despise Sisi for his dismal record?

We really don’t want world peace, do we? I mean, when are we just going to admit it? Not that world peace is impossible, but that we simply don’t want it?