Birth(day), Death, and Taxes

“Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes,” the old saying goes.  But we are also born, those of us fortunate enough not to fall prey to the abortion industry.  Today marks my thirty-fifth birthday.  I celebrated by paying $162.57 in vehicle property taxes to Darlington County, South Carolina.

Yesterday, I purchased a new vehicle, my first new car in thirteen-and-a-half years, and only the third I’ve ever owned.  It’s a 2017 Nissan Versa Note SV.  The other two were a 1988 Buick Park Avenue Electra, which I bought from my older brother for $800, after my grandparents gave it to him one year, and a 2006 Dodge Caravan, which those same grandparents gave to me as a college graduation gift (after the Buick was totaled when a lady ran a yield sign and smashed into me).

The Buick is long gone, but I kept the Dodge.  I figure it’s worth more to me as stuff-hauler than I would have gotten in trade-in value.  Of course, that means maintaining insurance on both vehicles, and paying taxes on each.

Well, I awoke today to the news that our military assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleiman last night.  When I first read that Soleiman was “assassinated,” I was picturing a fate similar to the death of the “austere religious scholar,” the ISIS guy, al-Baghdadi: covert operatives swooping in under cover of darkness, swiftly and surely relieving the general of his life.

Instead, it was a missile strike.  Not as romantic, but whatever gets the job done.  I sometimes wonder why we don’t take the surgical decapitation strike approach with more scumbag leaders.  How difficult would it be to infiltrate, say, North Korea, and send Kim Jong-Un off to an early, chubby grave?

Regardless, I think President Trump has just about the best Middle Eastern policy we can get, other than just never being involved in the region in the first place.  I’m afraid that a massive troop pullout and the rest would be too destabilizing in a region that has never enjoyed much of it, except under strongman rule.  It also would not look good for us:  “We’ll help you out and support you, until it costs too much.”

My position has long been that, because we got into the mess, we need to live up to our commitments.  On the other hand, leaving the Middle Eastern quagmire to destroy itself in endless fatwas and jihads doesn’t seem so bad (other than the obvious human misery it would cause), so long as Iran doesn’t get nukes.  Henry Kissinger seemed to agree.

But President Trump seems to have the right approach:  support our allies, try not to get any more involved than necessary, but show strength and decisiveness when necessary.  President Obama’s approach was to kow-tow to Islamic leaders in the erroneous belief that his unique charm and self-effacement could win over tribalistic warriors who despise weakness.

President Trump, on the other hand, gets the way these men think:  unsubtle, brute force—and the willingness to use it with devastating effect—speaks louder than the velvet glove of diplomatic flattery.

That’s a tragic fact for the people living in Middle Eastern nations.  But it is, indeed, a fact.  Outside of Israel and maybe Jordan, there does not appear to be a Middle Eastern leader or government that is responsible to or cares about its citizens.  Plenty of them are nationalistic, to be sure, but not to the benefit of their citizens.

As a colleague of mine puts it, “there are no Boy Scouts in the Middle East.”  It’s a region that pulls out the the moral gray areas of life.  For a region suffering under the brutal totality of Islam, it certainly plays Realpolitik well.  Iran was far better off under the Shah than under its current Islamist regime.  Remember, not all dictators are equally bad.

Well, let’s hope Iran gets the message.  Let’s hope, too, that America’s leadership takes note.  When dealing with bullies and thugs, you have to be tough—and willing to use toughness.

7 thoughts on “Birth(day), Death, and Taxes

  1. Happy Birthday, you whippersnapper!

    Two things crossed my mind this morning. That day when the entire European Squadron was in Tangier Harbor and the cable went out “This Government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead,”

    The second was this:

    Maybe not as professional, but satisfying nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes, NEO! Other than paying taxes, I’ve been (occasionally avoiding) practicing lines for a play I’ll be in next Friday and Saturday. I haven’t done a play in years, and I am struggling to learn my lines—gulp! But I’ve found with drama performances, everything tends to fall into place at the last possible minute. Not the best scenario for the writer and director, a former student of mine, but it will be fine.

      Hope you’re enjoying your Friday!

      —TPP

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know that feeling all to well. Doing presentations, even on stuff I know well, is always intimidating. The worst was the day I walked into my 2d semester freshman US history survey when the prof gestured me over and whispered in my ear, asking if I could do 50 minutes on World War II in the Pacific. Yikes! Luckily there was a pretty good map, and I pulled it off. He had lost his voice to cold a couple hours before.

        Like

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