In Which I Invite Gary Johnson To A Party

By Nicole Plyler Fisk


The cake! The party was financed by an Il gattaro D’aleppo group member, who in lieu of birthday presents for herself, asked friends to help her sponsor a party for children in Aleppo.

Today on Morning Joe, Libertarian party candidate Gary Johnson asked, “What is Aleppo?” in a truly cringe-worthy video. For those of us closely following news from Syria, Aleppo is not only the war’s fiercest battleground but also has become synonymous with Omran Daqneesh and Abu Wad and Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel (i.e., those people from this ancient, beautiful city, caught in the crossfire … the people for whom Gary Johnson, in his ignorance, seems to know or care little).

I have never considered voting for Johnson for president (just look at his stance on gun control, also known as: willful rejection of science). That said, he’s someone who doesn’t know about Aleppo, and I think he should. So, I’m here to help, with an open letter.

Dear Gary,

This morning, a friend texted me and told me to turn on Morning Joe. I did. And I saw you, asking, “What is Aleppo?” I’m sympathetic, in a way, because sometimes I say stupid things (e.g., I mispronounce words a lot, because I learned them incorrectly as a kid and sometimes find it hard to shake off my original mispronunciation).

Luckily, we live in the Digital Age, so when I have trouble with a word, I look it up and hit “audio” and am able to hear how to pronounce it correctly. You, likewise, could harness the power of the Internet, social media even! We don’t have to be detached from what’s going on in other parts of the world, when we can — you know — talk to the people who live there.

Take, for example, the Facebook group Il gattaro D’aleppo, featured recently in Syria Direct. Through this group, you can follow and aid Nobel Prize candidate’s Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel’s humanitarian efforts in rebel-controlled east Aleppo.

After I heard about your “What is Aleppo?” question, I went downstairs to find my six-year-old son. I asked him if he knows about Aleppo. His response? “Of course I do! What makes you think I don’t?” He proceeded to remind me that we have friends in Aleppo, Syria who are in the middle of a war, and then he looked at me like I’d lost my mind.

And he’s right. Just last week, through the Il gattaro D’aleppo group page and Facebook-live-video, we woke up to a birthday party in East Aleppo. My kids watched as others their age, nearly 7,000 miles away, sang “Happy Birthday” in Arabic, and lit candles, and had cake. They watched as little red hearts danced across the screen, because people from all over the world were at the party with us. We clicked Facebook’s heart-shaped emoji and watched our love float across the screen too.

I heard a siren in the background and felt real panic. I remember watching the Challenger explode on live television when I was in the first grade, and I worried (first and foremost) for those children in Aleppo, but also for my children, because: What if the bombs start falling again, during the party? What if my children witness the unthinkable? 

I voiced my concern, and my 12-year-old daughter’s response was: “Well, then, it’s even more important that we watch — because it’s dangerous there, and we need to know if something happens, so we can send help.”

After talking about how to get more people connected, more people to serve as witnesses and as helpers, we started a Facebook page, Cats of Aleppo, and have been posting cat-a-day photos, from Alaa’s collection. Our goal is to direct more people to Il gattero D’aleppo, where crowd-funding has financed an animal shelter, a playground, ambulances, wells, and more.

Here’s hoping you’ll join, Gary. I promise that, if you do, you’ll never have to ask “What is Aleppo?” again. And that’s a good thing.




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27 Responses to In Which I Invite Gary Johnson To A Party

  1. wordcloud9 says:

    Gold Star to you and your kids!

    • Nicole Plyler Fisk says:

      Thanks, worldcloud9! xo

      • ragnarsbhut says:

        Nicole Plyler Fisk, I know that some people have an experience with an occasional gaffe. Just look at Joe Biden. Even though you seem to disagree with his stance on gun control, gun-free zones are are target rich environments for gun violence.

  2. Terry Welshans says:

    Ask Trump the same question…. I wonder what he would say. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, knows not only what an Aleppo is, she would name the sides and the leaders of each.

    • Nicole Plyler Fisk says:

      Right … Trump would probably say something racist (e.g., bomb it, b/c there are Muslims there). 😦

  3. It would be the usual gibberish. It may sound like English, and use English words, but at the end, it is just gibberish.

    Remember comic Larry Storch? He spoke fake languages. Trump is Larry Storch speaking fake English. I checked the Bad Lip Reading website. They don’t have a single BLR of Trump.

    That, no doubt, is because they can’t. How do you do bad lip reading when the speaker has already done all the work?

    Here is The Donald’s response to a question about his policy position on nuclear proliferation:

    Trump quote on nuclear policy

    • Nicole Plyler Fisk says:

      A great example, Chuck, of Trump’s word salad … although this one is especially terrifying b/c the world “nuclear” is in there. /shudder

    • wordcloud9 says:

      When I am forced to hear or look at his words, I just keep thinking “What is he ON?”
      Seriously, what sober person talks like this?

      • Obviously, one who is not too tightly wrapped to begin with. As was pointed out earlier this evening on television, he has a devoted following that is too limited in critical thinking capacity to process what he is really saying.

        I have been watching the documentary, “Tojo, Japan’s Razor of Fear.”

        Tojo had the political acumen to amass power equal to, or greater than, the Emperor. He ignored the advice of his top military, such as Admiral Yamamoto. At the same time he was a tactical and operational military nitwit. He started a war he could not win. As he was losing, he continued to throw troops and treasure into losing battles, insisting that everyone must fight to the death, even women and children. For every Japanese soldier killed in battle, at least ten died of starvation or disease because he neglected to give them supplies.

        The similarities between Tojo and Trump, with regard to their military understanding, is striking. At the end of the war, Tojo was hung as a war criminal. Despite his bravado and willingness to order his losing commanders to commit Seppuku, he was too chickenshit to do it himself.

        He was hung as a war criminal.

        As I said, the similarities are striking.

  4. pete says:


    They don’t have a “bad lip reading” of Trump for the same reason they don’t have one of Sarah Palin. What comes out is already just a word salad.

  5. Terry Welshans says:

    I am not trying to defend Gary Johnson, but the Libertarian Party is not the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, and the party has a different approach to international affairs. The Libertarian platform:

    3.3 International Affairs

    American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.

    As cruel as this may sound, the party wishes to end U.S. intervention in the business of other nations. I do not know if that precludes selling (as opposed to giving) arms, which is international trade, which they do encourage.

    For those unfamiliar with the party, here is an example of the platform from the days of Ed Clark who was the candidate 30 years ago:

    The Libertarian Party wants to exchange taxation for a system of “pay-as-you-go” where we, the people” pay for our services directly. An example would include paying for fire protection through an insurance policy that funds and reimburses the fire department for their services. If you don’t wish to participate, your house may burn to the ground; the choice is yours.

    The entire platform is available at:

    The history of the party is at:

    It is not for everyone, unless you want to start with a clean piece of paper.

    • wordcloud9 says:

      Selling arms is OK, it’s just giving them away that bothers them?

      Considering the U.S is the world’s biggest exporter of arms (almost DOUBLE Russia, #2 in the world), and how often our weapons show up in the hands of terrorists, this totally negates their anti-foreign entanglements plank.

      If you trade with other countries, then you are entangled with them.

      And not paying taxes for fire departments? What about MY house burning down because my Libertarian neighbor’s house caught on fire, and the fire department didn’t show up to stop it from spreading?

      These people do not live in the real world. For every good idea the Libertarians have, they have at least five really bad ones.

      • Terry Welshans says:

        Comparing a Libertarian’s isolationist position to the world of today is “sticker shock.” America tried to be neutral in World War I and II, but once they were forced to change, they did. Many lives were lost because we didn’t intervene sooner.

      • We have not seen Bron around in a while. I guess he got bored when the blog was in the doldrums while we were trying to reorganize. He is a big believer in Ayn Rand and her philosophies. I had trouble with his arguments about everybody paying for their own stuff. The fire department was one example. There are services that benefit everyone, and it is not a matter of only paying for what one uses.

        Moreover, there are government services that should never, under any circumstances, be privatized. Private prisons and our crumbling infrastructure for one. The number of dangerous bridges in this country have reached staggering numbers. When a major Interstate highway bridge falls into a river, that should get everyone’s attention. I read in the news that private prisons may be on the way out. I hope so.

        Then, there is Flint, Michigan. The name itself has come to reflect badly on politicians who put ideology and low taxes on the rich, instead of safety for the public they were sworn to protect and serve.

    • Terry – along a similar theme – snippets from George Washington’s farewell address:

      [A] passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity.
      As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion.
      Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.
      It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it.

  6. My heart hurts for the people in Syria; every one of us should be paying attention and adding our voices of condemnation at the atrocities inflicted on civilians.

    But who do we condemn? Assad and the rebels, certainly. But also Saudi Arabia, which is armed and supported by the US. Nothing is simple, and the old adage “follow the money” can help us begin to understand the forces at work here:

    You can’t understand the conflict without talking about natural gas

    By Maj. Rob Taylor

    Much of the media coverage suggests that the conflict in Syria is a civil war, in which the Alawite (Shia) Bashar al Assad regime is defending itself (and committing atrocities) against Sunni rebel factions (who are also committing atrocities). The real explanation is simpler: it is about money.

    In 2009, Qatar proposed to run a natural gas pipeline through Syria and Turkey to Europe. Instead, Assad forged a pact with Iraq and Iran to run a pipeline eastward, allowing those Shia-dominated countries access to the European natural gas market while denying access to Sunni Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The latter states, it appears, are now attempting to remove Assad so they can control Syria and run their own pipeline through Turkey…

    Continue reading –

    • I heard that on the news. I hope it works out. Both the US and Russia have been wasting money and lives to no particular good end. A cooperative effort is in everyone’s best interest. The US has wanted Assad out, but if he is removed, whatever replaces him will probably be worse. Containment is more useful than regime change. We should have learned that much from the fiasco of removing Saddam Hussein. He was a terrible and brutal man, but what replaced him is far worse than anything he ever did. Taking Saddam out created a power vacuum, and if you connect the dots, led directly to the creation of ISIS.

  7. This reminds me painfully of the man on the street interviews conducted by Mark Dice on You Tube pertaining to the 4th of July. Different situation, however, the same principle applies.

  8. ragnarsbhut says:

    If you want to address the issue of a person’s gaffes, put Joe Biden on the list.

  9. Terry Welshans says:

    I don’t keep up with Joe Biden and would appreciate you saving me the time to look up what kind of antics he is up to. Would you be so kind as to present a list of those gaffes?

  10. ragnarsbhut says:

    One Joe Biden gaffe is where he said that you cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.

  11. ragnarsbhut says:

    Terry Welshans, politics is a nasty sport. Do you deny this?

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