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.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 27, 2013: The Acerebralists™ Are Still Among Us


I own a great book (thank you, Jane) called “The Superior Person’s Book of Words”, by Peter Bowler (1985). It’s very funny and has definitions (or explanations) of a bunch of great and, almost always, actual words that describe things perfectly. Not quite Ambrose Bierce, but chosen to effect an air of superiority when the occasion calls for it. Words like

CONTRADISTINCTION n. Why say “in contrast with” when you can say “in contradistinction to”?

There’s another great entry for

EREPTION n. Snatching away. Do not confuse with EREPTATION (creeping forth). Snuggling up to your beloved at the drive-in, you say, “I sense an ereption coming on,” and suddenly snatch the M&Ms from her lap. If it transpires that she has put the M&Ms somewhere else, you will be compelled to perform an ereptation.

The whole book is like that. It’s great. On the back cover can be found this:

ACEREBRAL a.Without a brain. A word for which there would at first sight appear to be no use, since no entity to which there would be any point in applying the term could in fact possess this attribute. (There would be no point in speaking of an acerebral windowsill.) However, recent researches into the central nervous system of the wire-haired terrier have conclusively demonstrated the need for such a word.

I then (technically improperly, I think) applied a suffix to indicate a person who practices or is concerned with something (“-ist”), and came up with

ACEREBRALIST n. A person who tries to think without having the capacity to do so. (i.e. A person without a brain who insists on trying to use it.)

You’ll probably derive your own variations on the theme, but it’s one of those words that you either get it and know to whom it applies or you don’t, and probably never will. Remember, you heard it from me first. Don’t go trying to steal it, Colbert!

[The above was part of a post first published more than six years ago on my original blog.]

Fast forward six years later and a word with what seemed like limited application then is almost indispensable in describing large segments of our society today. What other word best describes the faithful and believing viewers of Fox News Channel? I’ve written about Fox News in my song parodies (here, here, here, and especially here), and yet despite my efforts people still watch that network to get their news. And the sad part is that the Acerebralists™ in America (their target audience) believe every lie they’re told. Whether it’s about Benghazi or polls based on the lies about Benghazi, misinformation about the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down one section of the Voting Rights Act (not all of it), or denying that racism is still a major problem in this country, Fox News knows their audience lacks the brain power to think for themselves (or do their own internet research). If it weren’t for brainless people, Fox News Channel wouldn’t have enough viewers to stay on the air. (BTW, all of the examples I linked to were just from the past few days on Fox News Channel. The rest of the year is no better.)

But cable TV news is not the only place dependent on Acerebralists™ to make a living. Right-wing talk radio not only counts on them for their audiences, they even employ some Acerebralists™ as on-air hosts. I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. Those guys aren’t stupid, they’re just plain evil in all sorts of ways. I’m talking about people like Bryan Fischer, who once regaled his audience with tales of his bravely fighting off demons, who thinks Liz Cheney isn’t anti-gay enough to be a US Senator, and who thinks it’s your patriotic duty (as Americans) to worship God. You can read about soem of the others at Right Wing Watch (A Project of People For the American Way).

And maybe all of that wouldn’t be so bad, wouldn’t be so detrimental to the country, if there weren’t any Acerebralists™ in Congress. Unfortunately for us as a nation, there are. On just the anti-immigration front, there’s Rep Michele Bachmann, who predicted that if any kind of immigration reform legislation passes, the Republicans will lose the House of Representatives because President Obama “will wave his magic wand” and declare that all immigrants have the right to vote (he can’t and won’t); Rep Louie Gohmert, who thinks that not only are black people “embracing” the Republican Party, but that “Hispanic voters will do likewise once they understand that the GOP wants them to learn to speak English and assimilate so that they don’t have to work as ditch diggers.”; and Rep Steve King (IA), who thinks that most of the undocumented immigrants are “130-pound” drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes.” [Not to be confused with Rep Peter King (NY), the famous terrorist supporter.] Acerebralists™ can truly feel they have one of their own (or, in this case, at least three) representing them in our Congress.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the Acerebralists™ in your life, the ones who watch Fox News Channel, or even the ones in Congress, or anything else you wish to discuss. I only ask that you use your brain, which I know you have because you’re here at The Zoo right now.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 30, 2013: Is the U.N. Really Coming to Take Our Guns?

To hear some people on the Right tell it, the United Nations is going to be sending troops with light blue helmets door to door to confiscate your guns. But is that even remotely true? Well, I did start this post with “To hear some people on the Right tell it…” so that should be a clue. The answer is a simple “No,” but if you want something more complicated than that, then “No, and can I have some of what you’re on?” The United Nations is not about to do anything of the sort. In fact, it would be just as accurate to say that the Wicked Witch of the West is sending her flying monkeys to everyone’s house to confiscate the guns of law-abiding citizens and to fling poo at them. Let me be as clear as I can be: The United Nations is NOT going to take your guns, nor are they going to fling poo at you. Period. Anyone who tells you differently is either deliberately lying or sadly misinformed. Speaking of deliberately lying or sadly misinformed, Fox News Channel is helping to spread the fear that the U.N. is coming for your guns. And they are joined by, who else, the National Rifle Association (which, contrary to what any of their leadership says, actually lobbies on behalf of gun manufacturers, not gun owners.) But more on that later.

Back in July of last year, the United Nations met to discuss the international arms trade and how they could help keep guns from getting into the hands of bad people (like, you know, terrorists.) Contrary to early reports from the right, flinging poo was not on the agenda for these meetings. From that meeting emerged the Arms Trade Treaty, “to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms.” And it makes sense. If you want to stop guns from getting into the hands of bad governments and international terrorists, you need the cooperation of everybody involved, otherwise the bad guys could just go to the country that didn’t sign the treaty and get their guns from them. This negotiation would have started sooner if not for the Bush Administration, which opposed the treaty on the illogical and unsubstantiated claim that “national controls are better.” Fortunately, the Obama Administration reversed that position. So the U.N. did meet but were unable to come up with an agreement. So they agreed to meet again this past week to conclude the work done in July. It’s important that the United States be a part of any such treaty because we are, by far, the largest exporter of arms in the world.

Much of the opposition to the treaty (and it didn’t all come from the U.S.) was over the issue of national sovereignty. There are some countries that have constitutions guaranteeing their citizens certain rights. (Quick quiz: Name one such country.) The fear was that an international treaty would override those rights. Well, I can’t speak with any authority on what other countries’ constitutions say, but I can promise you that no international treaty can ever supersede the United States Constitution. If it did, it would be struck down by our own Supreme Court (and then be forced to gay marry a treaty from another country.) But, to make sure that wasn’t an issue, our own State Department issued, what they call, “red lines.” According to the dictionary, red lines are “lines that are colored red” (well, that was no help), but they are also what you could call “deal breakers.” To allay the fears (real or imagined) that this treaty would empower the U.N. to send their famed “blueberries” to your door, the United States State Department issued these key red lines:

KEY U.S. REDLINES
——————————————————————————–
The Second Amendment to the Constitution must be upheld. There will be no restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution. There will be no dilution or diminishing of sovereign control over issues involving the private acquisition, ownership, or possession of firearms, which must remain matters of domestic law.

The U.S. will oppose provisions inconsistent with existing U.S. law or that would unduly interfere with our ability to import, export, or transfer arms in support of our national security and foreign policy interests.

The international arms trade is a legitimate commercial activity, and otherwise lawful commercial trade in arms must not be unduly hindered.

There will be no requirement for reporting on or marking and tracing of ammunition or explosives.

There will be no lowering of current international standards.

Existing nonproliferation and export control regimes must not be undermined.

The ATT negotiations must have consensus decision making to allow us to protect U.S. equities.

There will be no mandate for an international body to enforce an ATT.

So you’d think that would satisfy those “gun enthusiasts” (a/k/a “gun nuts”) who fear the U.N. is going to be coming for your guns. But, sadly, no. You see, removing the controversy by explicitly stating that the United States will not be party to any treaty that takes away your Second Amendment rights is too inconvenient for a network that wants you to live in fear. And that’s why the folks at Fox News Channel conveniently ignored that statement and pretended it didn’t exist. Instead, they reported the opposition to the treaty as if its rationale was based in facts. They reported the lies that the treaty could be interpreted as giving the U.N. the right to come to your home and take your guns as if they were old, settled issues (which is a common tactic of theirs.) That the industry that stands to lose a lot of money is opposed to the treaty should come as no surprise, nor should the fact that you’re not hearing their chief lobbyists, the NRA, explain it that way. Instead we get the lies. But we also get surprises.

For example, the National Rifle Association and Fox News Channel are vehemently (dare I say “violently”?) opposed to the Arms Trade Treaty. You know who else is, to the point of possibly thwarting the whole effort? Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Yes, you read that right. Fox News is on the same side as Iran, North Korea, and Syria. And they say we’re the ones who are un-American. And that we fling poo.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss the Arms Trade Treaty, Fox News, the NRA, poo-flinging, or anything else you wish to discuss.

Watering Hole: Monday, December 31, 2012 – Hillary Clinton Hospitalized Sunday with Blood Clot

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Many news organizations, including Reuters, have reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been admitted to a hospital following the discovery of a small blood clot stemming from the concussion she suffered earlier this month.

Many in the right wing media have been trying to say, sometimes in a roundabout way and sometimes directly, that she was faking her concussion to get out of testifying about what happened in the Sept 11 attack on the Benghazi Consulate. Of course, there is no basis whatsoever for these accusations, but when did the truth ever stop the right wing from saying anything? Fox News hasn’t been shy about questioning the veracity of Secretary Clinton’s claims or the seriousness of her injury. While she was following doctor’s orders and getting bed rest (a smart thing to do after a concussion, especially when you were sick when you got it), some Fox News people have wondered aloud (and on camera) why she still couldn’t testify as scheduled on Benghazi. (I’m no doctor, but I’m guessing the brain damage prevalent at Fox News was not the result of concussions, but simply a prerequisite for being hired to work there as an on-air “talent.”)

Bill O’Reilly dismissively said, “If She Was In The NFL I Wouldn’t Let Her Play, But I Think She Can Make A Phone Call.” And former unconfirmed G. W. Bush UN Ambassador John “I Am The Walrus Mustache” Bolton even pushed a story about how diplomats lie to get out of meetings they don’t wish to attend.

Fox News contributor John Bolton told host Greta van Susteren that when foreign service officers “don’t want to go to a meeting or conference or event,” they have “a diplomatic illness. And this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band.”

And Fox’s Laura Ingraham mocked Sec. Clinton’s condition saying, “We Are Now Calling This The Immaculate Concussion.” It’s actually pretty ignorant of them to say, “No one knows where she is.” Of course people knew – she was at home, as previously reported, where her doctor’s told her to stay. O’Reilly even said where she was later in the segment.

It’s time for Fox News to start apologizing for accusing the Secretary of State of faking her concussion so she wouldn’t have to testify regarding the Benghazi attack. And they’re not the only ones. Soon-to-be former Congressman Allen West said that she was trying to get out of testifying with a bout of the “Benghazi Flu.” To her credit, Fox’s Greta van Susteren has pushed back on these accusations saying, “I don’t agree with any of my (Fox News) colleagues or anyone else who is a tad bit sarcastic on our air about Secretary Clinton’s health.”

Given his well-documented obsession with Hillary Clinton, we can only imagine what Rush Limbaugh has said on the subject. We have to because none of us here can stomach listening to that blowhard.

Surely their apologies are imminent. Yeah, just as surely as I’ll be sworn in next month to replace Secretary Clinton.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Hillary’s concussion, Rush’s obsessions, O’Reilly’s brain damage, or any other topic you wish. And from all of us at The Zoo, please enjoy your New Year’s Eve celebrations safely and responsibly.

McChrystal’s Balls – Honorable Discharge

The media questions Rolling Stone’s access to Stanley McChrystal, and Gretchen Carlson knows what it’s like to have Obama’s tough job.  She makes “executive decisions” on a daily basis.   Fortunately for us, her decisions have no impact on governing our nation.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Around To Shout

A long, long time ago, in a college far, far away, I awkwardly sat in on one of my first dorm parties. The stereo was playing “Roundabout” by Yes. I didn’t know much about rock and roll, having grown up with parents who preferred country and western. The old country and western, with the twangy voices and such. Not today’s rock and roll-style country that the younger folks, and even some of the older folks, enjoy today. I knew I liked the song and said so to the guy next to me. He looked at me and said, “You’re normal.” Little did he know…

If I do say so myself, I prefer this version of the song to the original, because my lyrics make more sense. You can actually tell what the hell my song’s about. It’s about Fox News Channel, of course. I hope you enjoy it. (I apologize. I could not find a satisfactory video for this, but I think you all know how it goes. That would make you normal. 🙂 )

Around To Shout
Original words and music “Roundabout” by Jon Anderson, Steve Howe
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider

They’ll be around to shout
The words will make you have your doubt
They spend the day this way
Continue reading

The Cowardice of Conservatives

News Hounds has uncovered a gem. If you want to know what today’s Conservatives are like, just listen to the people who claim to speak for them. Now, I have a hard time understanding how Conservatives think (which inspired me to write “Conservative” below), and I just can’t reconcile the nonsense I hear out of people like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and the philosophy of Conservatism I heard preached by conservative giants like Barry Goldwater. One thing Goldwater always said Conservatism was about was Continue reading