Posts Tagged ‘ayatollahs’


Donald Trump’s big showing on Super Tuesday inspired me. A year ago, who would have thought him a serious presidential candidate? So in response to his triumph, I want to say this: Send me a dollar—now!

I’m gonna make America great again. It’s simple. There are 320 million Americans. Some are legal. All I’m asking is a buck a head. Old heads, young heads—doesn’t matter. I love any head. Especially with hair. Giving a buck is easy. Even homeless people have a dollar lying around somewhere. But they scrounge dumpsters. What do they need a dollar for?

So what’ll I do with $320 million dollars? I’m gonna make America great again. Did I say that? Anyway, don’t ask for details. Only a schmuck shows his hand. But you’re gonna love it. You’ll think it’s great. You’ll thank me. You will.

Okay, I’ll give you a peek behind the curtain. I’ll skip the facts, because there are people out there who, if they knew, they’d try to screw America. You know who they are. One look at those brown faces, and you know. But they can’t screw America. Not if you send me a dollar.

First, I’ll buy a home in Sea Cliff, one of San Francisco’s wealthiest neighborhoods. Winners look like winners, right? All those bedrooms and bathrooms. Makes me want to have more kids. And rich-people views of the Pacific, the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge. I’m gonna buy a home worth $25 million. But I’m only gonna pay $10 million. Tops. Because the people who own that home, I’m gonna get them to practically give it away.

Then I’m gonna do renovations. That’ll put money in the hands of American workers. Unless I hire Mexicans. Maybe Poles. It’s all about the free market, okay? Anyway, I’ll do $10 million worth. But it’ll only cost me $3 million. Tops. Like what? Gold fixtures in the kitchen and the bathrooms. Winners look like winners, right? Did I say that already? Gold railings on the stairs. And gold toilet seats. There’s nothing like settling your tush onto gold. Those toilets are gonna be American, too. And the manufacturers are gonna give them to me.

What else? You’re gonna love this. Someone with $320 million can be a target for people with un-American ideas. Anyone who hates rich people. Although they’ll all be in jail soon. Meanwhile, I’m gonna hire the best private security force ever. Guys with the best training and the best weapons. So tough, they could kick the ayatollahs’ asses tomorrow. The Iranian people are gonna beg me to send them over there to Africa or wherever Iran is. The Iranians are gonna pay their expenses, too. And these guys are gonna work for minimum wage.

It’s terrific. I can’t get over it. I’m gonna make America great again. And remember, when you send money—$5 a head’s also good; so’s $100—you’ll also be sending a message: You’re mad as hell and you’re not gonna take it anymore. Was that in an old movie? I don’t know. I have people who write this blog. I only know three things. God bless America. Send me a dollar—now. And make it cash.

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The Iran deal is done—at least until Congress votes on it. President Obama will veto a “no” vote, and overriding that veto will be difficult. So what lies ahead? We can only speculate. But I do have a warning.

First, let’s look at some possibilities. We’ve bought time, but following the ten-year agreement, Iran—unless a younger generation abandons revolution—may rush to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran’s holding a nuclear threat over Israel, the Middle East and American policy is unsettling. Some think tank inhabitants believe we can live with a nuclear Iran. Until we get there, it’s all theory.

Before the agreement ends—perhaps well before—Sunni Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and perhaps Egypt, may seek to develop their own nuclear weapons. Make no mistake. A proxy war in the Middle East now pits Shiite Iran against Sunni Saudi Arabia. Yet nations have much in common. They’re Muslim. They fund extremists. And they consider each other apostates.

Regrettably, lifting sanctions and unfreezing Iranian assets will enable Tehran to fund more terrorism, increasing its backing for the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiite groups in the Gulf and probably Hamas in Gaza. President Obama admittedly focused solely on the nuclear issue. We have our work cut out.

Now let’s examine reality. Peter Beinart—a liberal who supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq then later saw its folly—rejects the theory of American omnipotence (The Atlantic online, July 14). We may be the world’s most powerful nation, but power is relative. We cannot dictate terms to other nations which, while not as strong as us, are formidable regional powers capable of great harm. The administration of George W. Bush set out to remake the Middle East with the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein. Lovely theory. Ugly results.

Unfortunately, saber rattling comes easy. Restraint—particularly when the United States is so potent militarily—poses a major challenge to those who think we can use force with impunity. (Side bar: we are friendly with Vietnam following a war, which cost us more than 58,000 lives; there’s always hope.) Sober commentators like Roger Cohen (New York Times, July 16) point out that the Iran deal does not bring us into the best of all possible worlds. But no one offers a better alternative.

What would have happened had we foregone deal making and ratcheted up sanctions? Would Iran really have given up its quest for the bomb? Remember the bomb drawing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu held up at the United Nations in September 2012? Although tough sanctions were in place, Iran was thisclose. But Bibi and his cabinet didn’t unleash the Israeli Air Force.

Look, I’m no pal of the ayatollahs. They and the Republican Guard are odious hate mongers. Their anti-Israel and anti-America rhetoric constitutes a thin ploy to distract Iranians from their deprivation of human rights and Iran’s regional aggression. But Peter Beinart correctly notes the limits of American power and the delusional nature of “American exceptionalism”—to wit, we know it all and can do no wrong.

I’m glad the White House hasn’t trumpeted “peace in our time.” And I hope that the deal’s critics won’t advocate, “nuke the bastards.” The future is murky. Living with uncertainty is a rough challenge. Get used to it.

Read the first two chapters of FLIGHT OF THE SPUMONIS here at You can get a signed copy from me—July sale priced at $15 plus $3 postage if required—or order a soft cover or e-book at

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Yesterday’s Opinion Pages in The New York Times asked, “Can the United States stay engaged with modern democratic Middle Eastern countries that have sizable anti-Western populations?” The answers by the chosen debaters were reasonable. The question was misleading.

Modern democratic Middle Eastern countries don’t exist—with the exception of Israel. Now let’s be clear: Millions of people in the region want their nations to move into the category of “modern democracy.” But millions more don’t share that desire. The recent attacks on American embassies in Egypt and Yemen—and the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya—reflect real differences with the modern democratic West that can’t be papered over. Kings? In the Middle East, they rule as well as reign. Ayatollahs? They run Iran. Autocrats? Syria’s makes headlines daily. Elected presidents? Yes, even those—but men ruling over fractured states where the rule of law has yet to be established let alone extended to all citizens.

Emotions in the U.S. are raw now. That’s understandable. So it’s time for a reality check, which I’ve reduced to three salient points (although I welcome you to add more).

1. Societies in the Middle East really do have different worldviews. Take free speech. In the U.S., we cherish it. Sometimes we abuse it, but still we uphold it even when we fault the abusers. The Middle East? Someone—not Washington—made a hateful film about Muhammad. Most Americans condemn and dismiss it. Egyptians and Yemenis stormed our embassies. Sudanese forced their way into the German embassy. In Tripoli, Lebanon, one person has been killed in a protest. These stories are still unfolding. Political dissenters? I can yell “Screw Obama!” ‘til the cows come home. In the Middle East, dissenters face intimidation, imprisonment or death. Iranians and Syrians, among others, can tell you.

2. American power to foster change is limited. (Read Slick! for a satirical take on that.) The world is not a machine that can be repaired by a competent mechanic. In part, our options are restricted precisely because the Middle East is not like us. What we believe to be rational, progressive arguments often fall on deaf ears. Moreover, we’re condemned when we don’t step in (Egypt) and reviled after we do (Libya). Does anyone really want to send U.S. troops into Damascus?

3. The Middle East will remain a political and religious powder keg for a long, long time. Europe experienced centuries of bloodletting before achieving peace. The horrors of World War Two and the Holocaust are less than seven decades behind us. In the Middle East, the forces of Islamism (by which I mean theocratic dictatorship, not Islam) battle those seeking modernity, with or without a Muslim flair. Add to that Islamists battling among themselves. And stir in age-old clan, tribal and ethnic animosities. Can you say “Iraq?” With prudence, we can contain the fire. But only the people of the region can extinguish it.

Should we then turn our backs on the Middle East? No. The world is far too interconnected. Moreover, those of us who support Israel’s right to exist cannot risk a second Holocaust through disengagement. Let’s hope those in power or seeking power in Washington will adopt both perspective and patience. Because as we also saw this past week, a shot from the hip often lands in the foot.

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Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at Which, by the way, received a great review and coveted Star as “a book of remarkable merit” from Kirkus Reviews. To purchase a signed copy, email me at SLICK! also is now available at, and