Tragedy in Ft. Lauderdale.

As of this writing, five people are dead and eight remain hospitalized after a gunman fired a barrage of bullets in a baggage claim area at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida. The alleged shooter was taken into custody, and the airport was (and still is) on lockdown.

When the news first broke earlier today, my heart did too. My first thoughts went to the survivors, and to the loved ones of those who were killed and injured. I hope they get all the support and assistance they need after a(nother) senseless tragedy. Especially those with medical expenses that our wonderful society likes to charge to hapless victims of injury and illness.

My next thoughts were not quite so empathetic.

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Squirrel attacks in Florida senior center, 911 call: “people are bleeding.”

People, I just don’t know what it will take to get through to the world’s citizens about the extinction-level threat posed by the Sciuridae menace. You would think it would be enough that they’re relentlessly attacking our critical infrastructure, infecting us with the fucking plague and stealing our beer. Now, as part of their escalating terror campaign, they’re jumping on, biting and scratching hapless senior citizens. [Read more…]

#muschniwogdowis of the day: Syria.

Today’s report in Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves (#muschniwogdowis) follows.

The United States violated its ceasefire commitments with Russia, flew four military aircraft and a drone out of Iraq and bombed the shit out of a fragile Syrian Arab Army position at Deir ez-Zor, killing over 60 soldiers and injuring more than 100 others. Earlier in the day, Syria announced the arrival at the base of 1,000 additional soldiers to help liberate the surrounding region from ISIS control. A statement from US Central Command said “U.S. surveillance had been ‘tracking’ an Islamic State fighting position ‘for a significant amount of time before the strike.'” [<- o.O] An anonymous US official from the Department of Defense said the US strike “appears to be an intelligence failure.”

Whoops?

150,000 civilians (still) live in the Deir ez-Zor region, which has been held under ISIS control. While the Syrians and Russians have been hitting ISIS targets in the region for some time, the US had done absolutely nothing about that until yesterday.

For a…slightly different view, let’s hear what Russian envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin had to say:

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Nine Eleven.

I wasn’t going to write anything today about September 11, 2001. I haven’t done so for the last few years, and before that I never said much about it anyway.

But just so you know: I watched the towers burn and then fall that day. I helped my work colleagues evacuate 30 Rockefeller Center that morning, when we still weren’t sure how many hijacked planes were still flying or what landmarks they might still target. I breathed the acrid, yellow air that hung over Manhattan for days. I brought flowers and candles to my local fire station in Hell’s Kitchen, and I wrote sad and grateful messages in a big book they kept there on the sidewalk.

From a high floor at 30 Rock, I heard bagpipes day after day after day after day. The funerals at St. Patrick’s cathedral—so, so many goddamn funerals— could only be seen from the north side of the building, but it seemed no matter where you were, you could always hear those bagpipes. I still recall those days vividly whenever I hear bagpipes.

I find this subject very, very difficult to write about, talk about or think about, and I’m pretty sure I know why. It’s that I am still processing the events of that day, and the wars, opportunistic power grabs and unconscionable greed unleashed over the last fifteen years. It was and still is traumatic.

But it’s a different kind of trauma than any I’ve every experienced, before or since. All of the others were strictly personal. September 11, 2001, and my government’s actions since that day, have profoundly affected not just me, but my city, my country and much of the world. And I have come to realize that the way I am dealing with the grief, the rage, the insights and revelations that come later whether you want them to or not, is much the same: I make art. I make a life. I write.

It is not lost on me that when I write about abortion rights and feminism and rape and abuse, I am also saying something about my own life. And when I write about politics, war, religious conservatives and conservative Democrats, I am also saying something about September 11, 2001.

If I have learned anything on my journey that I can share with you, it’s this: find joy in your day. Today and every day. Bring joy to others where you can. Otherwise, the terrorists really do win.

__________

Justice is the only worship.
Love is the only priest.

Ignorance is the only slavery.
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now,
The place to be happy is here,
The way to be happy is to make others so.
Robert Green Ingersoll

peacesign

PEACE.

Ask Iris: How is Sam Harris wrong? Part 1.

A friend and Loyal Reader™ forwarded me a recent screed by Sam Harris. He asked if I would be willing to indulge him in letting him know what in it, if anything, I think is “objectionable, disagree with or find otherwise ill-advised.” Harris’s post, entitled “What Hillary Clinton Should Say about Islam and the ‘War on Terror,’” is written in the form of a proposed speech that he would like for the Democratic nominee for president to give before the November election. “Its purpose,” Harris says, “is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern.”

I did a debunking of Harris almost two years ago on this very topic. It was a tedious exercise, mainly because like all right-wing conservatives and reactionaries, he bases his irrational, evidence-free, simplistic, black-&-white views and arguments, such as they are, on falsehoods and factual inaccuracies that are a cakewalk to disprove. The task was all the more unbearable because I’ve always found Harris an unoriginal and uninteresting thinker and a witless and dull writer, so much so that I’m genuinely amazed he is not a regular op-ed columnist for the New York Times.

That said, he is certainly an incendiary polemicist. Or he tries to be anyway, but for me he comes off as smug and comically uninformed as any ordinary Fox News host. Except for a few items that popped up in my feeds, Harris had largely dropped off my radar. Those sure were a couple of doozies, though. Last year he made his jaw-dropping claim that far-right fabulist and then-presidential candidate Ben Carson is “one of the best people” on the subject of Islam and terrorism, even as Carson’s “own advisers admit [he] struggles with grasping basic facts surrounding international conflicts.” Before that, Noam Chomsky—who is the farthest thing from an unoriginal and uninteresting thinker or a witless and dull writer—ate him for lunch. Oh, and then there was that one time I made a bobblehead of Sam Harris for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

harrisbobblehead

Researching for today’s post, however, I came across many more Harris grotesqueries that I was fortunate enough to miss, ignore or block from memory: support for racial profiling, torture, preemptive nuclear war, demanding that the US government admit that it is and ought to be “at war with Islam” and that “The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.”

Sensible fascists. Jeezus.

A decade ago, Harris wrote that Muslim immigrants to Europe exploit the Western values of their host countries by “demanding tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques.” He is inexplicably unaware that, in accordance with his much-touted “Western values,” his fellow US citizens not only demand “tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques churches“—and also happens to be the foundational principle upon which US “civilization” is and has always been based—they fucking receive it. He’s also unaware that immigrant populations assimilate to their host culture within a few generations—well, at least if they’re treated decently, for instance by having their host country not declare war on their religion or its presidential candidates threatening and demonizing them.

I honestly don’t know why I am undertaking this task again. Maybe because I find it troubling that anyone but a Fox News viewer would take the guy seriously on this issue, when conducting a cursory investigation into the facts and evidence for yourself will reveal how completely and utterly wrong he is about a unique nexus between Islamic religious ideas and terrorism (and misogyny), as well as how unethical, irrational, irresponsible and dangerous it is to promote such falsehoods. Maybe I’m doing this because I have some unhealthy masochistic tendencies I really should bring up in therapy. Maybe it’s because I like honoring the 1940s-era pianist and comedian Oscar Levant who said, “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

Well, regardless, now I’ve gone and done it. My comments and edits to Harris’s latest…whatever it is are in blue.

SPOILER ALERT: Sam Harris is still wanking all over the same, tired hobbyhorse. He has learned nothing. And he likely never will.

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