Thanks, President Trump!

New Orleans     Yes, you heard me say it:  thanks, President Trump for not throwing one of those big ones at Iran and starting a war.

After a period of crazy back-and-forth with Iran, fueled by mouth-breathers like John Bolton and other hawks, Trump has been transparent that he made the decision not to pull the trigger on a retaliatory strike on Iran.  He didn’t feel that potentially killing 150 Iranians was proportionate to the fact that Iran shot down an unmanned US drone.  I’m not ashamed to say it:  good call, Mr. President!

Reading about his decision is an exercise in our own kind of personal restraint, because you can feel in each story the spin from the two-handed pundits (on one hand and on the other) and the advocacy of the stone-cold hawks for more bombs and blood versus the folks holding up warning signs.  From the reports, it seems the generals were not even unanimous.  The Defense department was run by part-timers and short-timers giving the president less than confident advice.  The Secretary of State was a maybe, saying sure strike, but the sanctions are working.

The only thing predictable was that John Bolton, former temporary UN guy under George W. Bush, then Fox fighter, and now frighteningly the National Security advisor, was as always Mr. Blood and Guts.  This guy never met a missile he didn’t love or a war he didn’t want, whether it is looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or claiming that the Iranian government is a terrorist sect.  An Iranian must have stolen his date for his high school prom or something.  He’s so unhinged about all of this that it must be personal somehow?

The President is saying he was ready to push the button and then asked one more general what the kill count might be on the Iranian side and pulled back when he heard 150 might die when we had lost no one.  Some analysts are carping about this story and trying to paint it as the usual Trump embellishment and fabrication claiming that all assessments going to the president would have included a range of fatalities.  Others are saying the 150 was on the high end of the estimate of a strike on a missile site that might have been from zero to 150.  Defenders and  apologists are saying maybe Trump just wasn’t listening earlier or paying attention?  Some are saying that Trump thought perhaps the drone downing was a mistake and something done by a rouge commander.

Who cares?  He did the right thing.  The advice was conflicting and the sources were unreliable and in this instance he had the good judgement to keep the powder dry until he was confident. Furthermore, whatever the reason or instinct might have been, Trump was also right:  this would not have been proportionate at 150 to zero.  He was also right that it might have brought us closer to war.  Let me add that would be yet another war.

Maybe it’s the thing about even a stopped clock is correct two times per day, but this call was the right one for President Trump for whatever reason, and we should thank him for doing the right thing.

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Reading the Chief Organizer Reports in Tehran and Around the World

Reading-LolitaChicago     A little more than a decade ago, Azar Nafisi, an Iranian professor, author, and now ex-patriot, wrote a very enjoyable book called Reading Lolita in Tehran:  A Memoir in Books.  It was a memoir obviously so it was about her own experiences before, during and after the revolution and what it was like to live with those changes, but, fascinatingly, she told the story in sections looking at authors she and a small group of women, many of them former students, read in her behind-the-doors book club of sorts, including works not only Nabokov, but also by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Jane Austen.

All of this came to mind when I noticed something interesting about who was now reading my daily blog, the Chief Organizer Reports at www.chieforganizer.org.  As opposed to those who listen to it daily on KABF radio or get it on a feed to their emails or via Facebook, Google Analytics is a great, free tool that gives you more than you might ever want to know or could possibly understand about how your website traffic works.  For the first time in seemingly forever, I scrolled down the monthly figures recently that list in rank order the readership of the Chief Organizer Reports by country and saw that predictably the United States was the big leader with 40% of the readership, but solidly in the #2 slot with more than 11% was Iran.  With another click at the readership by city, Tehran was now the single largest city where I had regular readers and in the #13 slot was Mashhad, with 2.8 million people the second largest city in Iran.  Now they had my attention?  What’s up with that?  Is there a behind the screens interest in building community organizations now in Tehran?

Mentioning this to some brothers and sisters, they’ve cautioned, that it’s best not to even ask, but obviously that’s not me!  Of course some of this may just be pure volume and coincidence, but that really doesn’t explain enough because even with 77 million people, Iran is only the 17th largest country in the world by population.

According to US Institute for Peace, “Iran is one of the most tech-savvy societies in the developing world with an estimated 28 million internet users, led by youth.”  Boasts between 60000 and 110000 active blogs, one of the highest numbers in the Middle East, led by youth.

Young people could be part of it though?   Google tells me that the Chief Organizer’s readership is 27.5% between 18 and 24, 33.5% between 25-34, or over 60% less than 34 years old, with another 15.5 less than 44, meaning 75% of my readers still are knocking on the door and ready to rock!

So, as ACORN’s first President Steve McDonald used to always caution, we don’t want “to get the big head.” A friend and fellow organizer with long ties to Iran, when queried, cautioned that with little for young people do in their Iran, once people are up and surfing and get around the nominal internet controls there, they spend a lot of time surfing.  Of course they have to because internet speeds are very slow:  Internet speeds in Iran rank 164 out of 170 countries.

Nonetheless when I look at the readership from various countries and cities, it’s overwhelmingly where we have ACORN International affiliates and partnerships, and broad, deep ties to organizing and change, all of which says to me that something somewhere in Iran, and elsewhere, is stirring.  I’m a half-full, rather than half-empty, guy, so I have to believe it’s not just boredom, but folks trying to figure out if there is something here that speaks to keeping hope alive and making change PDQ…pretty damn quick!  At least I hope so, because it’s part of why I do this every day.

If we can be a part of that happening in Iran, then we want to help!  We’re sending the same message to folks in Ethiopia, Pakistan, Turkey, and tens of other countries as well!

Ps.       For readers curious about the geography of the Chief Organizer Reports readership, here’s more for you, and if you have thoughts or ideas about what to make of it, you know how to find me:  wade@chieforganizer.org.

Rank of readership by top 10 countries

1.      United States
2.      Iran
3.      United Kingdom
4.      India
5.      Canada
6.      Pakistan
7.      Indonesia
8.      Germany
9.      Ethiopia
10.    Turkey

Rank of readership by top 20 cities

1.      Tehran
2.      New Orleans
3.      New York City
4.      Washington, D.C.
5.      Toronto
6.      London
7.      Addis Ababa
8.      Little Rock
9.      Chicago
10.    Los Angeles
11.     Houston
12.     Bristol
13.     Mashhad
14.     Mumbai
15.      Delhi
16.      Bangalore
17.      Lahore
18.     San Francisco
19.     Ottawa
20.    Athens

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