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David Fitzsimmons sets the scene, to the extent that you can set a scene which, as he notes, changes and shifts and contradicts itself at every moment.

Secretary of State Pompeo demonstrated the kind of fancy-dancing necessary to serve in this Cabinet at his news conference yesterday, at which the press asked him obnoxious questions like why the president, who has been very public about the incompetence and disloyalty of the FBI and CIA, was so confident in their assessments of Iran’s imminent threat, and, if he couldn’t say when the Iranians were planning to strike, what does he mean by “imminent” and how come the president told attendees at his pep rally that the attacks were to be directed at embassies when the briefing to Congress had not included that information?

His responses made the Nichols Brothers look like mastodons.

He could not have tap-danced so well if he were not aware that he serves a capricious, unanchored boss who not only can’t be trusted to back him up but can’t even be trusted to stand still long enough that his staff and cabinet can cover for him.

 

Though he’s got the support of Chip Bok, who is not only undisturbed by the question of whether or not we should trust the intelligence community but reminds us that any distrust of them, and belief in a Deep State, is actually coming from across the aisle.

And that it was Snowball’s sabotage, not poor planning, that made the windmill collapse.

Well, this is who Trump is and this is who we elected, and the Republicans are so intent on staying in power that, if the president began to wear his underwear on his head, Fruit-of-the-Looms would replace MAGA caps throughout Congress and the administration.

They’re not going to impeach him and it’s not certain he won’t be re-elected and the world and the US will both have to deal with it, either for another year or for five. We’ll see.

 

It’s either a very good thing, or a very bad thing, that Iran is in a similar state of confusion, as Lisa Benson suggests.

Iran’s Guardian Council faces two problems at the moment: One is that they shot down a civilian airliner, and the other is that Iranians are not idiots.

As I write this, it appears the mullahs have decided to simply admit that they screwed up, attributing the disaster to human error.

They had previously launched a bunch of missiles aimed at a part of an American base where they would do no harm, allowing Trump to announce that they were stepping back while they reported to their loyal audience that they had avenged the assassination with a heroic, destructive assault.

Iranian Deplorables, like American Deplorables, will believe anything they’re told, so it was a win-win all around.

“We screwed up” is a tougher pill to swallow and, if I were in charge of that anti-aircraft unit, I’d be a little nervous right now.

 

Though we sure are playing pass the blame on this side of the Atlantic. When I saw Gary Varvel‘s cartoon, my first reaction was to wonder what on earth Pete had said.

Putting “Buttigieg” and “Iranian airliner” into Google News only produced conservative sources blaming him for his disloyalty much as Varvel does. I couldn’t find a neutral story explaining whatever speech he had made or position paper he had released.

Just this:

Which seems like a Stone Soup kind of thing where Pete provides a stone and then the people who didn’t want to help contribute meat and vegetables until it becomes a thick, nourishing stew.

However, I certainly have heard plenty of other people blaming Trump for having started it.

“He started it” being a useful excuse, as we all knew well before we entered kindergarten.

I’d agree with Pete that the whole thing was unnecessary and unwanted, but I’m the type to send everybody to their rooms rather than play a game of “whose fault was that?”

I believe it was, indeed, human error, but it came about through poor training and poor discipline and I’m not blaming the Iranians too much because we did the same damn thing back in 1986.

The USS Vincennes was engaged with some Iranian gunboats in the Straits of Hormuz, and mistook an airliner for an approaching, intervening fighter jet. The airliner was sending out the proper civilian-aircraft ID signals, but the Vincennes was only monitoring the military band and, well, there’s more, but they blew the shit out of 290 civilians on a shopping trip to Dubai.

So a few years later, when my son was serving on the same sort of craft in those same waters, the lesson of the Vincennes was deeply embedded in their training, and not just that you should check for civilian identification signals before blowing anyone up, but that you shouldn’t get so intensely involved with Iranian National Guard gunboats that you lose track of where you are and what you are supposed to be doing.

They also studied lessons learned from the Forrestal and the Stark, and I’m sure the current group of sailors studies the The Cole and the Fitzgerald.

Shit happens, but the same shit isn’t supposed to happen twice, and, if it does, you ought not to assume it’s gonna roll downhill.

What happened in Iran the other night was the same thing that happened on the Vincennes: Things were very tense and an unexpected aircraft appeared and somebody got nervous and pushed a button he shouldn’t have.

If you’re looking for whose fault it was, either we take it back a century and get nowhere, or we blame it on human error and fog of war and focus on training people to be more careful.

Though I certainly agree with anyone who suggests we elect leadership that doesn’t poke anyone, stick out their tongue at them or touch their side of the car.

But okay: Here’s whose fault it was:

 

Community Comments

#1 Sean Martin
January/11/2020
@ 8:08 am

Yes, but when the US did it in 1986, the US was the “good guys”, so it was allowed. Iran’s the “bad guys”, remember? Even this morning, in my FB feed, there are still headlines about how Iran did this ON PURPOSE.

:: sigh ::

And I trust the gentleman who was complaining on your site a few days ago about the lack of conservative “cartoons” is happy now. :-)

#2 WVFran Allen
January/11/2020
@ 11:00 am

Thank you for the wonderful John Hartford song!! Hadn’t heard that before.

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