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.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, November 18, 2015: Fighting Terrorism

I’m Briseadh na Faire, and I’m running for President.

Today’s topic du jour: Terrorism.

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Newton’s 3rd law of physics.

Yet this applies with equal, if not greater force, to social interactions, especially on the massed scale.

Terrorists act = governments react.

Both kill innocent civilians.

The equal and opposite reaction to anarchy is authoritarianism; to terrorism is torture; to drone strikes is suicide bombings; and the cycle continues.

The path is endless; oddly enough, perhaps necessary, at least until we address the problem of overpopulation. Poverty – lack of food, water, the basic necessities of life – is the stagnant pool from which terrorists are bred and recruited. The suicide bomber doesn’t hope in 72 virgins. He hopes in a better life for those he leaves behind. He has given up all hope in a better life for himself. So, in a perverse sort of way, these endless wars have a driving function to equalize population with available resources.

And therein lies the solution.

Fighting terrorists with authoritarianism, with bombs, with drone strikes, with tanks and boots on the ground never works. Terrorism is like the Hydra – cut off one head, two more grow in its place. It’s an ‘ism’ not a person, or even a group of persons. War, violence, extraordinary renditions, torture – these reactions by governments only create more terrorists.

(And terrorists, if they truly wanted to be revolutionaries – freedom fighters – would confine their attacks to military targets, thus garnering support instead of fear, from their civilian populations.)

To put an end to terrorism, we must first accept it will take some time. This cesspool was not created overnight – it will not be cleaned up overnight. We must take positive steps globally to address population control. And we must take positive steps globally to address the inequitable distribution of wealth.

We must live up to our ideals when it comes to the rule of law, and not cast aside protections for human rights for the sake of the illusion of security.

If a handful of people commit a heinous crime – does that justify turning away 10,000 innocent victims seeking refuge? If it does, we are the ones who have lost our way.

Once upon a time, we held the ideal that it was better to not convict 10 criminals than to send one innocent person to jail. Now, it seems to be better to send 10 innocent people to jail than release one criminal.

Governments react to terrorism with their own version of terrorism. While those in power stay in power this way (at least for awhile) it does not eliminate terrorism.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The true equal and opposite reaction to terrorism is love. Love balances hate. Tolerance balances rejection. Acceptance balances exclusion. Faith balances fear.

And by faith, I do not mean religious faith – but faith in a positive outcome. The masses have yet to embrace this level of faith – the level of faith necessary to overcome the ‘us against them’ attitude; the level of faith necessary to not see everything as an attack against their religion. The masses are still controlled by the messages propagated by the few empowered from birth by the wealth of their progenitors.

Fight terrorism with love. It’s not a new idea. It’s just one that’s not been tried since the son of a carpenter suggested it some 2000 years ago.

I’m Briseadh na Faire, and I’m running for President (all satire aside); a vote for me is a vote that won’t be counted, because the two-party system has rigged the process to prevent the counting of write-in candidates who don’t jump through their hoops.

Meanwhile, there’s this:


The Watering Hole, Monday, November 16, 2015: None So Blind

On Friday, November 13, at approximately 9:20 PM local time, a group of well-armed criminals began a mass murder of completely innocent people in Paris, France. There were people from many countries killed, including America. More than 120 people died, not counting the killers, at least two of whom detonated bomb vests killing themselves and one other person total. While suicide bombers attacked a stadium where the President of France was attending a football match, several kilometers across town gunmen opened fire on cafes and bars killing fifteen people. They got in their cars and calmly drove down the road where they got out and killed at least five more people dining in a restaurant terrace. Witnesses say they got in their cars and, again, drove away slowly, calmly. About a mile away they opened fire on an other establishment killing at least 19 people. A third group of attackers converged on a concert hall where an American rock band, Eagles of Death Metal, was performing. They began systematically shooting people and when the police arrived, they began a two-hour-forty-minute siege that ended with at least 89 innocent people losing their lives. Another suicide bomber detonated himself taking no one else with him. By about 12:30 AM local time (6:30 PM EST) it was over. In all, at least 129 innocent people were killed by these ruthless, deluded criminals. My heart goes out to their families and friends. I can’t pretend to know what going through something as horrific as this is like.

And, yes, I am calling them “criminals,” not the “t-word.” I refuse to frame these criminal acts the way the perpetrators want them portrayed. To do so would be to fight this conflict on their terms. They want people to be afraid, and the right wing in this country is giving them everything they want. They want the United States and its European allies to to begin flexing their military muscle and reign bombs down on millions of people, killing as many innocent people, preferably children, as possible. The bombing campaigns will then be used to recruit young, disillusioned, easily-brainwashed kids to become killing machines in an effort to exert more control over the people in the region. The recruiters are cowards, of course. They would never strap on a bomb vest and blow themselves up. They get others to do it. And, yes, they are systematically performing deadly acts meant to strike fear in a populace in order to effect political change and thus are, by definition, “terrorists.” Or so they claim. Either way, they are still criminals. And criminals are fought by the police, not by the army. You’ve heard the expression, “When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.” Well, in the same sense, when all you want to use is an army, everything happening around you starts to look like a war. This mindset has to stop.

Conservatives want to use nothing but the army to fight these criminals. They want us to constantly send our brave men and women in uniform (well, they would prefer the women stay behind, but that’s a topic for another post) off to fight fanatical criminals in faraway lands. People who, by the way, will almost certainly never be setting foot on our shores to do the things conservatives say they will do. They recruit other people to do that. The people we’re sending our troops to fight are terrorizing people in other countries. The only people being terrorized here are conservatives, especially the ones who watch Fox News Channel. And, as they so often do, they ignore history and reality to tell you not only who you should fear, but who you should blame for that fear. President Obama.

A little background before continuing. On September 11, 2001, a bunch of murderous criminals carried out a mass murder so effectively that we decided to forget we had a Constitution that gave us certain rights, and begin preparations for a military invasion of a country which had nothing whatsoever to do with those attacks. And to help convince the American people that this invasion was not only justified but absolutely necessary to the very survival of our own country, they used their friends at Fox News Channel to spread a few lies. By the time they were through, a majority of Fox News Viewers believed at least one, and sometimes all, of these three things to be true: 1) That Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (which ones were never quite clear); 2) That Saddam had a working relationship with al Qaeda – the people whom we blamed for the attacks of 9/11 – and that he was prepared to pass of his chemical weapons to them; or, 3) That Saddam and Iraq were involved with the planning or execution of the 9/11 attacks. At least half of all Fox News Channel viewers believed at least one of those things to be true. Not one of them is. And to this day, some conservatives out there still believe at least one of those three false things to be true. Eventually, Saddam was captured, put on trial for killing about 150 people, found guilty and executed. Saddam was a brutal dictator but because of that there wasn’t a problem with groups of wannabe terrorists roaming the country killing people. Once he was gone, his less brutal replacements were unable to stop the infiltration of Iraq by al Qaeda. And the presence of al Qaeda in Iraq gave rise to groups like ISIS. It is an undeniable fact. Had we not invaded Iraq and removed Saddam from power, al Qaeda would never gave gained a foothold there, and ISIS would never have been formed from them. So when Fox News Channel starts spreading provable lies, I get concerned. And what are they saying now? That the attacks in Paris are Obama’s fault.

It started around 6:16 PM, before the events in Paris had come to a conclusion. Courtesy of Newshounds:

CHARLES PAYNE: Many Americans, Ambassador, are sort of frustrated here with the administration for perhaps being too reserved on this issue, for not calling out what everyone else suspects and thinks seriously is going on here and perhaps even emboldening these kind of attacks.

Less than an hour later, Megyn Kelly was “just asking” if Obama was to blame for not being more like Bush. Never mind that the primary reason we elected Obama was to have someone who was less like Bush. In many ways, he was less like Bush. Not all. Anyway…

After that it wasn’t long before more and more Fox Folks started throwing accusations around that if it weren’t for Obama not being Bush, maybe we wouldn’t be having all these problems with ISIS. Yet they will never see that if it weren’t for Bush being Bush, ISIS wouldn’t be around today killing people like the murderous assholes they are.

This is our daily open thread.