The Watering Hole; Thursday November 26 2015; Thanks (for) Giving


In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday in November to be a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” ‘Thanksgiving’ was first celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 after their successful ‘first harvest’ in the New World; the celebration lasted for three days back then. Those concepts have pretty much dissipated over the last several decades, however, to the point where these days Thanksgiving — still the fourth Thursday in November — means a day off, a turkey dinner, and the start of the so-called ‘Holiday Season’  and its ‘shop till you drop’ commercial mentality.

This year, another factor has entered the room and, thanks to its high volume political campaign (Republican, of course) rhetoric, has infected the holiday with an almost surreal contagion of unadulterated and largely irrational fear — a fear of terrorism; of ISIL; of Islam; of Muslims everywhere; and most prominently, the fear of Syrian refugees, especially those trying to obtain sanctuary in America: TERRORISTS!!

So in response, virtually every Republican governor along with one Democratic governor have publicly proclaimed their state as being OFF LIMITS! to all Syrian refugees who are of course most likely NOT innocent people, but are Muslim extremists or radical Islamists who are out to kill Americans! And they’re all part of Obama’s sinister plot to bring on Shariah Law . . . etc.

Fear. Hopefully it can be made to lead to hatred, then to more fear, maybe help a Republican get elected as President next year so we can Save America!!

Thanksgiving.  “Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” — for protecting us from those evil evil terrorists?

There is another side to that coin, however. Imagine it: NO fear, NO hatred, simply the goal, the desire, to help those who truly need help, to provide those refugee families with a safe and secure — and comfortable — surround; the surround which most Americans consider their birthright. And most impressively, some are offering to help even in spite of their own governor’s completely irrational position. Here, below, the perfect example — a letter from Michael Moore to (Michigan) Governor Snyder: ‘I myself am going to defy your ban’:

Dear Gov. Snyder:

I just wanted to let you know that, contrary to your declaration of denying Syrian refugees a home in our state of Michigan, I myself am going to defy your ban and will offer MY home in Traverse City, Michigan, to those very Syrian refugees you’ve decided to keep out. I will contact the State Department to let them know I am happy to provide a safe haven to any Syrian refugee couple approved by the Obama administration’s vetting procedures in which I have full faith and trust.

Your action is not only disgraceful, it is, as you know, unconstitutional (only the President has the legal right to decide things like this).

What you’ve done is anti-American. This is not who we are supposed to be. We are, for better and for worse, a nation of descendants of three groups: slaves from Africa who were brought here in chains and then forced to provide trillions of dollars of free labor to build this country; native peoples who were mostly exterminated by white Christians through acts of mass genocide; and immigrants from EVERYWHERE around the globe. In Michigan we are fortunate to count amongst us tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim Americans.

I’m disappointed in you, Governor Snyder, for your heartless and un-Christian actions, and for joining in with at least 25 other governors (all but one a Republican) who’ve decided to block legal Syrian refugees from coming into their states. Fortunately I’m an American and not a Republican.

Governor, count me out of whatever you think it means to be a Michigander. I look forward to welcoming Syrians to my home and I wholeheartedly encourage other Americans to do the same.

Michael Moore

P.S. By the way, my 700-sq. ft. apartment in northern Michigan is a little small, but it’s got cable, wi-fi and a new dishwasher! Also, no haters live on my floor! Stop by any time for a hot chocolate this winter.

Finally. A genuine reason to celebrate Thanksgiving in 2015. I will, however, change the word — slightly — in honor of Michael Moore and all like him.

Thanks for Giving!

Imagine it, if you dare. A world free of fear and hate, a world filled instead with caring and generosity for all people, especially for those less fortunate, those struggling for the simple joy of leading a peaceful life. It can happen, apparently.

Just never ask a Republican to help make it possible because, as Rep. Steve King points out, Muslim immigrants are ‘incompatible’ with Americanism


The Watering Hole, Wednesday, November 25, 2015. WWIII

The attacks in Paris have made one thing abundantly clear: we are in World War III.

It started with a singular incident: the attack on American soil against civilian and military targets. The World Trade Centers represented imperialist capitalism. The Pentagon represented imperialist militarism. Together, they represented the worst of the American Empire.

If the attacks on 9/11 were a false flag attack, as has been committed by governments before, designed to whip the populace into its place through fear and prejudice, it worked. People gladly gave up civil liberties and signed up to go to war. The rule of law was suspended. Torture of the enemy, accepted. Anything – anything for the illusion of safety. Including war. Invading two sovereign countries. Killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. Acceptable. Why? Because – terrorists.

If the attacks of 9/11 were committed by a small group of militant revolutionaries in the Middle East, it worked. The strike against the symbols of moneyed capitalists and war-mongering imperialists generated the expected response: war. A new Crusade. Carnage so abominable as to attract thousands to rally to the side of the revolutionaries.

The megapowers of the world pounded their might against civilian populations. The populace responded the only way possible. Car bombs. Improvised Explosive Devises. Suicide bombers. The fought on their homeland.

Until now. (at least, a ‘now’ that the western media recognizes.) Now, they’ve taken the fight to the enemy. They’ve attacked and killed civilians in the Capital of France. Other attacks are occurring around the globe.

The War on Terror is World War III.

PETER NEUMANN, Director, International Center for the Study of Radicalization, King’s College:

 I think there are three aims here. The first is classical asymmetric warfare — warfare. You’re hitting us. We’re going to take revenge by hitting you where it hurts most, namely at home.

The second intention is really to polarize and to divide European societies, to create that sense of Islam against the West, and to create a lot of mess in the countries that they oppose.

The third intention that often gets forgotten is also internally. I think the Islamic State has been on the defensive in its core territory in Iraq and Syria.


UPDATE – This occurred after this post was drafted:

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 23rd, 2015: NatGeo, Take Me Away!

I can’t deal with “Ugly Americans” [of course, “Ugly Americans” = “Republican Presidential Candidates and their Fans/Supporters”] anymore; we keep thinking, “How can these guys sink so low?”, then, the next hour or day or week, one or two or several of them come out with such outrageous shit that we really need a new word to define what circle of hell lies beyond “outrageous” or “horrific” or “despicable” or “abhorrent” or “inhuman” – sorry, I need more words!

And I’ve had it up to HERE with the holidays being turned into meaningless “shop-’til-you-drop” commercialism [how about if “Black Friday” could be turned into “Black Lives Matter Friday” – hell, make every day of the entire Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday shopping season a day of protests]. So I’m going with some beautiful photos from National Geographic to start the week.

Here’s some pretty birds, from “A Flight of Birds”, a section of NatGeo’s Photo Ark, including a photo capturing the iridescent plumage of the Purple Glossy Starling, such as seen below,
and a more close-up shot of the Javan Rhinoceros Hornbill, like the one seen below:
javan rhinoceros Hornbill

And if you prefer a larger gallery for leisurely viewing, here’s more from NatGeo’s 2015 Photo Contest. The “Week 10” group includes a brooding sunset photo of Godafoss Waterfall in Iceland – here’s a chilly winter shot of the falls, just to start the calming process:

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy the views or rant away – or you can do both!

Sunday Roast: Adele…again

Yeah, I know!  I just did an Adele post a couple weeks ago!  But it’s different now, because her new album, 25, is out.  This means the whole world is a different place now, which calls for another Adele post.

Too over the top…?  Whatever, dude!  At least I didn’t pull a cringe-worthy Wasilla Grifter stunt.  Ugh.

This is our daily open thread — I missed music night, so post your tunes!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 21, 2015: When Being Afraid Just Doesn’t Help

Fear is not always a bad thing. It plays an important role in our evolution as a species. Evolution, BTW, is a fact of Science.

As Bill Nye says, there’s no reason to doubt it. None. And there certainly isn’t any reason to teach your kids Creationism as a valid theory in its place. Creationism is not Science. It doesn’t propose testable hypotheses. It simply tells you what is supposed to have happened and then tells you, “Believe this, or else.” I agree with Nye that one of the worst things you can do to your kids is to teach them that Creationism explains how we got here.

But fear is not always a good thing, either. Erick Erickson (who has blocked me on the twitter ) is afraid, but not for any good reasons. He says that he won’t go see the new Star Wars movie because…well, here’s what he posted on his website [And, yes, I’m posting it in its entirety. Sue me.]

I’m really glad I didn’t get tickets on opening day to see Star Wars. Seriously.

I have no confidence in this Administration to keep us all safe, particularly in light of President Obama’s statement today that there’s really no way to stop this stuff.

There are no metal detectors at American theaters.

I think I’ll wait till Star Wars is less a threat scenario.

His post is titled, without irony, “Truth be told…”. Except, where did he get the idea that his hometown theater in Macon, GA, is under credible threat of attack? And why would terrorists, of any nationality or religious affiliation, choose the premiere of Star Wars to launch an attack? And for him to say that he has “no confidence in this Administration to keep us all safe” is a very disingenuous thing to say, because as a Conservative, he already believes the world is a dangerous place and always will be. It’s true that the world is dangerous, and there will always be dangers that will never go away (such as climate change and Fox News Channel), but we Liberals believe that it can be made safer from certain dangers, like fear and ignorance. Through education people can be taught to overcome their fears and to think before acting. President Obama is right to say that attacks like the ones in Paris are never going to be stopped entirely, especially if you want to live as the free people we are. Being free means being free to do things that could harm others. To deter these acts, we institute laws with punishments for violating them. And it works for the vast majority of people. But no law will stop someone who doesn’t care if he lives or dies, and this is true whether the person is motivated by extreme hatred of a certain ethnicity or skin color or by religious fundamentalism. And the only way to eliminate those kinds of attacks entirely is turn this country into a police state, where you would be stopped on the street and forced to show the cop your papers permitting you to walk around freely. And none of us wants that, Liberal or Conservative. And Erickson’s saying this for one reason, and one reason only (if you don’t count the other reasons like he’s stupid, and ill-informed, and six or seven other things): He wants you to be afraid. And he doesn’t want you to stop and think. Because when you stop and think, you realize there is nothing to fear. Because if he thinks metal detectors are going to stop would-be religious extremists from gunning down the very audience in which he and his family sit, then he’s forgetting how the Aurora, CO, theater shooter propped open an emergency exit so he could retrieve his weapons from his car and return to the theater to massacre people. A metal detector at the front entrance would not have made any difference there, would it? But simple reasoning like that doesn’t stop Conservatives in or out of government from trying to gin up fears where there is no rational reason to fear. Conservatives love hyping ridiculous conspiracy theories to keep people afraid. And as we all know, people who are afraid make bad decisions. Like voting for Conservatives to govern them.

The danger in all of this fear mongering is that when ACTUAL dangers come along, ACTUAL things that could kill much but not all of humanity, and both for the same reason – Evolution – people are not going to respond to it thoughtfully and rationally. Or they will dismiss it because none of the other world’s-gonna-die stories turned out to be true (on account of they were made up out of bullshit ideas.) And billions could die. I’m not trying to monger up any fear, I’m trying to point out a legitimate danger that could result in massive amounts of people dying. I learned something the other day and it should give you cause for concern. Not the fact that I learned something, I actually do that all the time without anyone being concerned. I mean what I learned should make us rethink how we use antibiotics. There is an antibiotic called Colistin that is considered a last resort weapon to fight dangerous bacteria. And a study out of China suggests that certain bacteria may be developing a resistance to Colistin. Not only that, but some of these bacteria “have developed a mechanism to transfer resistance to neighboring bacteria. And those bacteria don’t even have to be the same strain as those that originally developed the resistance. So bacteria that cause other health problems could be affected.” This is a cause for concern, but let’s not panic and become fearful. The World Health Organization (Whooooo are they? Who? Who? Who? Who?) has developed an action plan to combat drug-resistant bacteria. The Obama Administration has also developed a plan to fight these dangerous bacteria, which became dangerous thanks to Evolution. Does that mean Evolution is dangerous? Well, it can be. I mean, we’re here because of Evolution, but we can also be replaced by more intelligent, more rational, and less fear-based versions of humans because of Evolution. And that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. But don’t worry, Conservatives. By the time that happens, you’ll be long gone. And that would definitely be a good thing.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss your fears, rational or not, or the fears of conservatives (almost always irrational), or anything else you want to discuss. Don’t be afraid. It’s okay. You have nothing to fear at The Zoo.