SFD Short—Ends and Means, Again

Hey Everybody—

Today we’re releasing the seventeenth SFD Short, but by far what’s more important is that today is Muellermas, when a fabled, twinkle-eyed elf named Bob Mueller gives us the gifts me most want.

Today the first indictments of the Mueller investigation into, first, collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and, now, corruption across the board, and who knows what else by the end. 

I’m watching the press briefing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders right now and they’re coming at the White House, even though SHS’s blithe, blasé mendacity is making me want to rip my ears right off of my head right now.

What makes someone alright with, willing to be paid to, spew lies from this podium? To cover up the worst kind of wrongdoing? What happened to you, Sarah? Man this makes me sad.

Anyway, cool stuff coming out on Patreon this week, detailed in the show, for both $5 and $1 per month supporters.

Musical credit this time goes to krackatoa

Iran VII: The Revolution in Power

Hey Folks,

This one’s number twelve, and while we’re not done with Iran yet, number thirteen, Iran VIII and the very last Iran show, come hell or high water, is gonna be here in three weeks or less.

I get into it a bit in the show, but time’s going to be tight over the next ten months or so, and how much I spend with which thing I do is going to depend in part on what I’m getting paid to do each. That sounds pretty mercenary, and it is, but that’s the way things are shaking out right now—law school’s a lock for next August and it looks like I’m going to be taking on a part-time writing job, on top of this thing and the freelancing.

In any case, if you’re on Patreon, I can’t ask you to do more. And if you haven’t got a spare $5 a month, I’m in that boat too, and I get it. But Patreon grows when the audience grows, and everybody but everybody can help out with that. Twitter. Facebook. Tumblr (I don’t really use Tumblr). Rate the show: iTunes, Pocket Casts, Stitcher.


We’re talking this time about the revolution in earnest, the revolution in power, the period of jostling and consolidation that would see the debate over and the formation of the new Iranian state.

Continue reading Iran VII: The Revolution in Power

Lying in Politics

Not a whole lot of news this time out. The title of the post is obviously drawn from the essay in Hannah Arendt’s Crises of the Republic.

Which we should all read, but if the point of this show is that politicians stopped believing the American public capable of argument and then dumbed us down to the point that we actually became incapable of argument, then I guess the point is also that as a rule, we don’t read Arendt or anything else that might explain what’s going wrong at the heart of us.

Happy Monday, folks!

Iran VI: Revolution

Alright, here we are, finally. The Iranian Revolution of 1979. There’s still some groundwork to be laid, but we’re getting there this episode, full stop. Let’s take a look at some of the folks coming to center stage.

Here we’ve got the two principal players from at least the first half of the episode, both of whom stumble through ’77 and ’78, leading, in a not at all inescapable way, to the events of 1979. Carter spent his campaign and early days in the White House putting out rhetoric right in line with the philosophy of SFD—stop those arms sales, cut off support for unsavory dictator-allies, re-evaluate policy with an eye to places like Cuba. But the Carter White House, for all its promise, largely maintained US commitments to our sinister friends abroad and kept up those arms sales, especially to Iran and even to places like Guatemala, where guns were demonstrably going towards the genocides we heard about way back in episodes four and five.

Despite that ongoing support and despite reciprocal state visits, Carter’s speeches, along with rising international awareness of the worst elements of Iranian repression, convinced the Shah that he needed to liberalize things at home. Those changes, most especially allowing some freedom into politics and the press, led directly, like one-to-one, connect-the-dots to the street protests that eventually brought down the regime.

Ali Shariati, the man in the foreground, passed away in 1977, probably from lingering injuries incurred at the hands of SAVAK. It was too soon to see the Revolution he had a hand in making, but large swathes of Iranian youth, especially religious and secular liberals, subscribed to his philosophical fusion of socialism and Iranian Shi’a Islam. We got into this last episode, but whereas both Shariati and Khomeini saw a role for religion in government, Shariati wanted the ulama, the clergy, on the outside. In a parallel to the thought of Liberation Theology, Shariati saw the role of the clergy and their congregations as a permanent opposition, holding the government to account and pushing it to fulfill what he saw as the truest values of Shi’ism—the defense and uplift of the weak and opposition to oppression and misused authority.

Continue reading Iran VI: Revolution

The Plan for Mexico

Hey Everybody,

This Monday’s show is short and to the point. Next Monday, we’re back to Iran. You might be able to hear in this one that I’m a little sick. The unfortunate side-effect of having a weekly show where I talk is that, well, if I get sick I’ve still gotta record. I’m going to try to get as well as I can before I hammer Iran, but I’ve got to get in the booth soon or there’s no way I’ll have time to finish editing this week.

The “booth”

Remember, SFD needs your help to grow and survive. That means sharing us on Facebook, means following us on Twitter, it means going out and rating the show, and above all, just spreading the word-of-mouth. It’s up to you folks.

And SFD’s new Patreon-exclusive news show is up, this time talking about trade agreements, NAFTA, and the tax reform plan going to the Congress. It turned out pretty tight and it’s worth a look-hear.

SFD Short—State

Hey Folks—

I’m back on track here in Mexico, finally in the same place long enough to get working on the regular. To that point, if anybody hasn’t seen the piece I put up at the Awl last week, it’s worth checking out.

Damn it feels good to be a byline

Next up is an article that explores how Tom Clancy made the whole US dumb about terrorism. No lie.

Iran is coming, guys, and soon. I’m settled, outline’s happening right now, which means writing and recording is going down within the week. I’m excited to be moving again.

The next Patreon-exclusive news show is likewise about to come out, so check out the page. We’re doing way better over there than I would have expected, and it’s pretty obvious that I’d love for that growth to continue.

In other, worse, news, the world’s a big goddamn mess and that’s not changing anytime soon. My disaster of the week, because that’s pretty much the timeframe we’re going to have to start using, is what went down in Mexico City and Puebla and the communities in their respective states (where I was two days before). We’re looking at hundreds of dead and people aren’t even done digging the schools out yet.

Mexicans, typically, despite the damage, have taken things in style. This last quake actually took place on the very same day as the much-more-devastating quake in 1985 that wrecked Mexico City and that resulted in a lot of the better building practices that made last week’s quake less terrible. And, in fact, there was a national earthquake drill just a couple of hours before the real temblor:

Continue reading SFD Short—State

The End of the World—A Conversation with Rob Morris

Hey Everybody—

Like I said up on the FB page on Monday, I wasn’t skipping this week, I just had a date with Rob Morris yesterday. Short show notes, but remember:

Rate and review the show on iTunes, Stitcher, or whatever else you use.

An earthquake hit Mexico yesterday and it’s looking not too good. If you’ve got bills to sling around on relief, think about sending a few down here.

I’ve got a piece up on the Awl.com about how Ancient Aliens from the History Channel is the most dangerous show on TV.

And with September’s news show going up next week or the last in the month, remember to check out our Patreon.

SFD Short—Collapse

Hey Everybody—

I was on the road a little longer than I thought I’d be and I missed last week’s show and for that I’m sorry. But I’ve got one this week, and I’ll be away from rural Tennessee and back in Mexico by next Monday and SFD should be back on track for a few months solid at least.

The September Patreon-exclusive news show is going to go up in the next couple of weeks and Maya Gebeily will be joining me for a talk about the American fascination with Vietnam sometime in that same time period, all of which is worth getting excited about.


SFD Short—Bad Patriotism


I’ve been thinking about patriotism in the US for a long time, long enough to have written this for the College Dems’ newspaper back at Georgetown. There’s something about how everybody wants to be a patriot without ever considering what the term might really mean; something about the way it is, for us, tied up with the State and the Military (it was no accident that we broke out Patriot missiles and the Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11); and something about how the Right in the US today has latched rabidly onto the term that all make me pretty uncomfortable.

These are, undoubtedly, self-described American patriots. And especially when I wrote this episode, over the weekend of the Charlottesville White Right march and murder, it seemed as though my discomfort was getting more and more relevant.

All of these guys would call themselves patriots. And the word ‘patriot’ itself seems to give them an excuse to ignore any self-analysis, like the way the 82nd Airborne were a not insignificant part of the Allied war effort against the Axis powers. It’s telling that the minutemen are the only part of the Revolution they remember and the only iconography they include in their self-image when in fact the real firepower of the Founding Fathers, the stuff that made our little uprising stick where a thousand others didn’t, happened not in the field but in scenes like this:

And finally, for reasons that probably won’t become clear until the end of the episode, here’s this the Ballet Amalia Hernandez doing what’s popularly known as the Mexican Hat Dance, to the “Jarabe Tapatío:”

I’ve got that video start to set when the Jarabe does, but if you want to lay eyes on some of the dances you might see to “Guadalajara” or to the “Son de la Negra,” which ends the episode, go ahead and rewind it and you will. Here are the three kids who played “Maria Chuchena,” the huapango music from where I used to live in the Sierra Gorda, in Querétaro.

I couldn’t tell you who Camila Cabello is from Eve, but apparently she’s popular in Mexico along with the US.  I’ve got her in here because I think it’s a pretty apt example of how “Mexico Lindo y Querido” is always welcome, even at some teeny-bop pop concert.

But here’s Vicente Fernandez, Chente, doing it right: