The Presidential debates

Most people I know agree that the Presidential Debates this time around have seemed a bit different from in years past. There has been an extremely stark contrast in tone between the Democrats vs. the Republicans. There has been a sort of train wreck, Jerry Springer Show vibe emanating from the Republicans, with the attacks on each other, vitriolic and dramatic statements, and all-around off-the-wall extremeness creating a spectacle that is admittedly sort of entertaining. I say, “sort of,” because in reality it’s quite alarming to consider that any of these GOP hopefuls would attain the highest office in the land.

If we manage to put aside the carnival of the absurd feelings we get aside, and look more analytically at the one-liners and the topics that have created a stir in the debates thus far, we might actually look at the whole mess as a sort of sociological experiment. We might determine what strategies the two party system rely on- their game plan. What makes your average Republican get off their Lazy Boy and head for the polls? What makes a liberal decide they should sit down their mocha frappuccino and fight inertia for a few minutes on election day?

Since our culture is all about sound bytes and one liners -delivered to us in easily digested form by the media, I’m going to examine some of these comments from the latest Republican debate to see what they really reveal. Then I’ll talk about what the Democrats covered briefly, because I’m sure most of you tuned in to watch Hillary, Bernie, and Martin O’Malley.

From the recent Republican Presidential Debate in Charleston, South Carolina, on January 14th:

1. Birther theories -Ted Cruz and Donald debate (most ironically) who is ineligible to hold the office. This is pure Ultimate Karma™ since Cruz and Trump have attacked Obama his whole Presidency on wild speculations about his place of birth.

*Video Removed

2. Gun control -or the lack thereof – Trump and Chris Christie make statements to appeal to the gun-slinging NRA crowd. Here, Trump says that “gun free zones are a feeding frenzy for sick people.” and “The guns don’t pull the trigger. People pull the trigger, and we have to find out what’s going on.” As if we need to know what’s going on any further before we decide that selling guns willy nilly is probably not the best choice…

 

Christie referring to Obama’s recent executive actions on guns: “The American people have rejected your agenda and now you’re trying to go around it. That’s not right. It’s not constitutional, and we are going to kick your rear end out of the White House come this fall.”

Christie throws in a little extra bravado just to appeal to the base who love the tough-guy routine. (Even if it’s obviously just an appeal to rabble-rousing morons.)

 

3. Being angryTrump: “I’m very angry, because our country is being run horribly. Illegal immigration is beyond belief. Our country is being run by incompetent people. Yes I am angry.”

This statement received cheers, even though there was absolutely no evidence given for the assertion of the country being run horribly other than to throw in the hate-mongering part about immigrants.

Trump: “We can’t be the stupid country anymore. We’re laughed at all over the world.”

Trump ramps it up a notch from Bobby Jindal’s 2013 statement that the Republicans “Stop being the stupid party.” Now the whole country has been rendered stupid. Another example of projection? Pointing the finger at others who are doing everything wrong in order to take away the focus on the solutions to problems and the example that you yourself make? Can there be any doubt that the world is laughing at Donald Trump?

4. Muslims/ terrorists / Isis (These groups are sadly interchangeable to the GOP.)

Jeb Bush responds to Donald Trump’s assertion that the US ban all muslims. (Which is of course, totally absurd, but considered just fine with many in the GOP base.)

Jeb! asserts that Trump is “unhinged,” but yet Trump’s poll numbers went up 11 points in South Carolina. Jeb reveals that he understands why voters would be “angry and scared.” The hate-mongering of Donald Trump works because it appeals to the GOP voter’s fears and allows them to hate others out of a need for security. They are evidently VERY insecure people.

Trump: Finishes his talk about how his anti-muslim statements are ok: “We need security.”

5. Being strong/ not perceived as weak

Trump to Jeb!: “We don’t need a weak person being President of the United States, ok? That’s what we’d get if it were Jeb. I’ll tell you what. We don’t need that. We don’t need that.”

The easiest way to attack Jeb is to accuse him of being perceived as “low energy” or “weak,” but it’s never said why he is perceived that way. Because the GOP base will not follow somebody who uses logic rather than shows of machismo and aggressiveness. They are the party of appealing to bullies and bullying behavior is considered a sign of strength. Trump knows this and bullies Jeb! for all to see on National TV, and they love it.

Now if we contrast the latest Democratic debate: January 17 at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, we can see incredible differences. Not only in tone, but in content. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did clash a bit more than in past debates, but the tone was respectful. Sanders and Clinton openly remarked on their respect for each other. This is something we have scarcely seen from candidates of the GOP, aside from a brief moment in September of last year when Trump and Cruz appeared to get along. That bromance is now long gone, with Trump now stating: “Look, the truth is, he’s a nasty guy. He was so nice to me. I mean, I knew it. I was watching. I kept saying, ‘Come on, Ted. Let’s go, OK.’ But he’s a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.”

The topics veered away completely from those of the GOP debaters, who focused almost exclusively on guns and war with Islamic countries or with each other. The topic most ignored by the GOP:

1. Climate change This topic is at the top of the list for Clinton and Sanders, but not even really touched on by the GOP, because admitting to climate change would be admitting that something affecting the oil industry would have to be done.

2. Actually doing something about gun violenceWhile Hillary and Sanders do differ on their approach to gun violence, they both want to do something to stop the chokehold that the NRA currently has on the country. They both know that steps must be taken to reduce gun violence, and that doing nothing is not an option anymore, unlike any of the GOP, who are clearly going to do whatever the NRA would agree with.

3. Health careClinton and Sanders disagree on the path to improving health care. But all the GOP want to do is to destroy what we have in place with Obamacare, even though they have never proposed anything of merit themselves -ever!

4. Raising minimum wageAll of the Democratic candidates know that raising the minimum wage is essential. Bernie and Hillary differ a touch in that Sanders wants $15 bucks an hour specifically, but they know workers need a living wage. This is something that GOP candidates actively fight.

5. Cooperating and helping immigrants, including muslimsThe Democrats know that alienating whole groups of Americans does not make our country stronger, but weakens it. They know that we must get help from our muslim citizens in the fight on terrorism. Alienating them as Trump has done creates more hostility and opens the door for more violence on our soil. Immigration reform is also seen as something essential -not building grand walls that do nothing but make us look like idiotic fascists.

6. Break up Wall Street, fighting against the corrupting influences of big money on our governmentThe Democrats are the only party who are identifying the actual enemy in our country, and that is Citizens United and the effects of a wealthy few taking control of our government. While nobody is more outspoken than Bernie Sanders on this issue, Hillary is also clearly aware that steps need to be taken to stop the oligarchy. It’s out of control, which is why so many Americans are responding to Bernie Sander’s messages. Martin O’Malley seems the most out of step on this issue, stating that he doesn’t think we should pinpoint the wealthy as being a problem, but rather work will all groups of people.

At no time do we wonder if Hillary, Sanders, or O’Malley are going to make personal attacks on each other. In fact, Sanders refuses to be pulled in to make personal attacks on Clinton. There is a sense of decorum and respect that gives us more confidence in these candidates ability to hold office as President. There is no fear or hate-mongering. There is inclusion. It’s acknowledged that the issues facing minorities, such as #Blacklivesmatter, is important for all of us as a Nation. We are all in this together, and we are stronger when we don’t try to divide people according to their National origins, religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

There is a sense that we can confront the big issues, like climate change, with a commitment to finding the best solutions. There is no feeling that this issue will be swept under the table, out of reluctance to change, or because the oil industry is holding us hostage for profit. Science matters to these candidates. Finding solutions to real problems, instead of making us fear others, is the approach that Democrats respond to.

While the approach of the two parties is diametrically opposite, I leave you with one problematic question. Why do the tactics of the GOP: fear, hate and war-mongering, ignoring anything other than what is derisive, and what makes a funny sound byte – Why does these things work so well to energize the GOP base to get out and vote against their own self-interests? Why do so many Democrats fail to show up and vote? Is it because the drama of the GOP media, rather than the objective factual approach of the Democrats stirs more people into taking action? It the media, who the GOP usually derides, actually working in favor of the GOP, where quick one liners from Trump result in rising poll numbers and the death of Jeb’s candidacy?

One thing is clear: Trump knows what the GOP wants, and delivers it in high ratings, and rising poll numbers. He knows how to play the game. It is also clear that Bernie Sander’s enormous success with small campaign contributions from average citizens is showing that despite all odds, a base of thinking Democratic liberals, especially millenials, is becoming energized. Will they take action in 2016, or will most of the country allow the tactics of the GOP to deliver us a President that has gone to complete extremes? If that happens, then game over and checkmate. We have lost to sensationalism, one liners, sound bytes, and the divide and conquer tactics of extremists. It’s our move, and our game to lose. Let’s show them that intelligence, factual information, and tolerance and support for each other is the real winner.

Republican Climate Change Denialism – Lies, Lies, and More Lies!

In previous blogs we have discussed the virtual Mathematical impossibility of every Stupidparty member of the House Energy committee (31 of them) being so Stupidparty that they actually believe the climate is not warming. A far more plausible explanation is that they have been corrupted by financial contributions to their campaigns. Yes there might be a few genuine skeptics  – we deal with Senator James Pinhole here. In this second piece on climate denial we shall take a closer look at the actual Science. This article also points out some of  the religious confusions that Stupidparty disciples resort to. But such confusions would rapidly be cleared up if they had a) a better understanding the the real Jesus and learnt that the New Testament God, the Christian God, is very different from the old Testament God and b) if they could simply handle some basic guidance from the Pope:

“When we exploit Creation, we destroy the sign of God’s love for us.  In destroying Creation, we are saying to God, `I don’t like it!  This is not good!’  `So what do you like?’  `I like myself!’  Here, this is sin.  Do you see?”

Pope Francis is saying that humanity’s destruction of the planet is a sinful act, likening it to self-idolatry. Let me repeat – to destroy the planet is a sinful act. No, the Pope is not ripping America – he is ripping the sandy foundations of the Stupidparty house, that is made of straw – and the big bad Pope has just huffed and puffed and blown that house down.           Do you see?


How a Congressional Snow Ball, Tainted Science, and Religious Fundamentalism Convinces Republicans to Deny the Reality of Climate Change
By Jason Newell

Inhofe Holding a Snowball

A few years ago, on a cool Southern California evening, I stepped outside to catch a glimpse of a lunar eclipse—the moon was, without a doubt, awe-inspiring. My lady, who was standing beside me, began to ask questions regarding the moon, and space itself (we both completed courses in astronomy at the University of Oregon). As I began to respond, a neighbor proceeded to stand beside us, and, to our surprise, joined the conversation. At one point, my lady asked the following question: “tidal forces, from both the Moon and the Sun, create oceanic tides, correct?” I was about to provide an answer, but I was quickly cut off by my seemingly spry neighbor: “I don’t get into those things–they are all predetermined. Anyway, how can we even prove it?”I was aghast: my neighbor had not only cut me off, he cited Biblical pre-determinism in order to explain physical concepts. But, knowing my propensity for responding to objectively dubious statements, I touched on the scientific method, astronomical instruments, and theoretical truths—he peered back up to the moon, shrugged his shoulders, and stayed mum. What this story demonstrates, and, I assume, millions of other comparable Right wing arguments, is a tendency for some individuals to bypass logic and science; as well as, of course, blindly adhere to principles of predeterminism to get a good night’s rest.

You see, this is the simplistic route–accepting things as they are. And, that is why conservatism (that is, the extreme form) neatly coincides with predeterminism: if God has determined every outcome, why bother? Change is—not only impossible—it runs contrary to His commands. To put it bluntly: Progressive change is the antithesis of scripture.

One may respond to my assertions with: “so what, how does predeterminist ideology impact a nonbeliever?” Answer: it has a tight grip on the contemporary Republican Party. However, after allocating time to research the Biblical clauses relating to the environment and climate, I found this gem:“The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws,    violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left” (Isaiah, 24).

Wait, come again? Contemporary translation: “if you destroy the Earth by polluting it with mass amounts of CO2, I [God] will raise the temperature of the Earth [with the greenhouse effect] so its inhabitants are literally cooked alive.” While citing a short excerpt from the Bible may be perceived as cherry picking, this clause highlights a sheer contradiction. This clause, in a sense, gives humanity freewill—humans have the capacity to consciously destroy the earth, apart from God’s predetermined sequence of events. Why, is it the case that Jon Inhofe refuses to mention this portion in his bewildering congressional speeches?

A while back, Inhofe expressed his views regarding climate change (while presumably holding a snowball in his hand): “The hoax is that there are some people that are so arrogant to think that they are so powerful that they can change climate. Man can’t change climate” No, Mr. Inhofe, your conclusive statement is arrogant. Rather than blurting out unproven statements; let me invoke some facts and logic to address right leaning arguments regarding climate change.

Argument One: “It’s cold outside; therefore, the climate is cooling.”
First of all, the fight against climate change is an issue of comprehension: weather and climate are two separate terms—they are not conveniently interchangeable.


Ted Cruz Climate Change Denier

Our good friends at NASA have a straightforward explanation: Weather is what atmospheric conditions are over the short-term, while climate is how the atmosphere behaves over relatively long periods of time. For some odd reason (cough-Fox News-cough), a large amount of people confuse the two terms. Remind you of anything? Does debt vs. deficit ring a bell? The point being: if one does not understand, or refuses to accept, scientific terms, how can a rational argument ensue?Furthermore, while the East Coast has been bombarded by snow storms, this blip, even though it seems lengthy when one resides within its path, is a weather event. These storms, in no way, represent the average, yearly temperature: within the last ten years, the NOAA determined that the two highest globally-averaged temperatures—recordings began in 1880—were 2007 and 2015 (temperatures were recorded during the month of January). Moreover, since 1980, the Earth has been experiencing a foreboding rise in temperature:


NOAA Global Mean Temperature Over Land and Ocean

                                                                          (https://www2.ucar.edu/sites/default/files/news/2014/201301-201312.png)

“Miraculously,” this is a trend that appears to coincide with CO2 emissions: 

20th-21st Century CO2 Emissions Increase

                                                                         (http://stupidpartymathvmyth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/TrendsGlobalEmissions.png)

Even though the old maxim, correlation does not imply causation, should be noted, ignoring the parallel between the increase of C02 and the rise in global temperature, is, in my opinion, doing a grave disservice to the Earth. The fact is: the yearly, global temperature is exponentially increasing, at an alarming rate.

Argument Two: “The Hockey Stick theory is incorrect”

Hockey Stick Climate Change Theory Chart

                                                                                   (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/90/CO2-Temp.png)
In 1998, climate scientist Michael Mann released a paper that graphed global temperatures, of the last 1,000 years, to demonstrate the recent warming trend. (The historical trend in temperature appears to resemble a Hockey Stick.)  His theory goes as follows: in the last thousand years, the average global temperature has remained relatively level—with the exception of a cooling period that started near the end of the Middle Ages—until the 20th-century. This theory is widely acknowledged by the scientific community (i.e. a scientific consensus). However, in an attempt to discredit this theory, contrarian scientists focus on a Medieval warming period (which was followed by the Little Ice Age), which, on face value, seems to refute the argument of an exponential temperature rise.More specifically, the contrarian argument centers on global warming being a natural occurrence, whereby temperature fluctuations are a non-human phenomenon. Nevertheless, the causes of the Medieval warming period do not include contemporary causal factors. There may, have in fact been a rise in temperature, but it was likely localized, i.e. not global. Regardless, what is crucial to understand is: the Earth does in fact emit its own carbon emissions, through natural forces, such as volcanic explosions, but the driving force behind the recent warming is most likely man-made carbon emissions (97% of climate scientists concur with this assessment).

But the Earth, through natural processes (plant growth/ocean absorption), for the most part, cleanses itself—in contrast, carbon emissions brought about by human activity, lack a natural remedy. This means, humans are adding to the net amount of CO2, without attempting to offset the greenhouse effect. As mentioned earlier, even if one assumes the hockey stick theory to be a tad suspect: the cause of the two separate periods of warming is presumably different. Humans, in the Middle Ages, did not have the industrial capacity to impact global climate—but, from Industrial Age, until now, the recent periods of immense growth have been the catalyst of increasing carbon emissions. (By the way, the warming period of the Middle Ages was caused by the sun.)

My determination: If mankind lacked the capacity to pollute to the same extent in the Middle Ages, then the cause was unique to that era. In the contemporary era, it is a scientific fact that humans are increasing net carbon emissions. Therefore, while Medieval warming had separate causes, the current warming trend includes a whole new factor: human created emissions. (Even more worrisome, the cooling sun is partially masking the Earth’s meteoric temperature rise.) Disregarding a new causal factor as false due to the fact that there was a previous warming era—with dissimilar contributing factors–is lazy and quite frankly, bad science. 

Argument Three: The climate change, middle ground fallacy.      

Climate Change Middle Ground Fallacy

                                                                             (http://www.skepticalscience.com/2012-SkS-Weekly-Digest_5.html)

Wei-Hock Soon's Corrupt Corporate Connections

The Right also has a very narrow lense in reference to the “science” it cites. From the Right’s perspective, a few contrarian scientists, at point A, create a middle ground argument (point B), when contrasted with the 97% consensus, at point C. However, there cannot be a numerical middle ground (point B) when the three values are placed side by side (A —–> B <—– C)point A is too low of a value for a middle ground argument to be cogent, therefore, B is nonexistent.

One such scientist, Wei-Hock Soon, is a proponent of the solar activity global warming theory, which centers on sunspots being the causal factor. And while the Earth’s temperature does partially fluctuate due to UV irradiance, solar activity has dwindled over the last 30 years. Therefore, another causal factor, other than the sun, is contributing to the increase in global temperature.Disappointingly, Wei-Hock Soon’s work—science that may have proven beneficial to the scientific community—was marred by funding from the fossil fuel industry.  According to the New York Times, “At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.” So what was seemingly a good intentioned attempt to provide contrarian science, should now be labeled as corrupt Right leaning propaganda.

No matter who you are, disclosing your donor, especially in a highly-regarded profession, is a moral expectation. Failure to do so implies a conflict of interest; one where the profit motive of major energy companies distort and cloud an attempt to create compelling, objective science. As a consequence of Soon’s research grants, his work should be viewed as unfairly biased—a determination that the majority of scientists have already given.

The argument of reasonable doubt should be applied when an actual middle ground exists—a few contrarian scientists, presumably propped up by big oil, fail to provide a reasonable numerical value. Once again, the Right naively relies on scientific falsities—and those good old logical fallacies—in order to propagate a fabricated agenda.

Argument Four: “Well, I’m not a scientist!”


Stupidparty We Are Not Scientists

We have all heard if before from the Right: “I’m not a scientist, but, I still want to dictate America’s environmental and energy policy.”

(I constructed the non-italicized portion of the quote.)

Welcome to the GOP’s mantra—if a GOP congressman is not a ________ (insert profession here), one should not address an issue involving the said field.  However, the mantra, in reality, requires a slight modification: if a GOP congressman is not a ________ (insert profession here), one should completely disregard the relevant issue in public, but when legislating, they need to do so as if one is an expert in the said field. 

Personally, I find ceding authority on an issue to an expert to be a virtue—one that can place a check on one’s ego, and at the same time, produce more pragmatic outcomes. While Democrats, along with the President, have ceded authority to the scientists working within the climate change field; the GOP, on the other hand, has rejected the consensus to favor the economic aims of the fossil fuel industry. And when grilled on either the campaign donations received, or the bills proposed, the GOP is quick to retort with, “But, I’m not a scientist.”

Despite the appearance of outward ignorance, the GOP is simply playing dumb. More specifically, the Republican Party can bypass contentious and pressing environmental issues by absolving themselves of any responsibility–talk about weak leadership. But here is the real problem: the current congressional makeup is dominated by passive Republicans, who choose to sit on their thumbs, while the Earth’s temperature is rising; oceans are warming (and being depleted of wildlife); sea levels are increasing; and lastly, but surely not least, pollution is literally choking the developing world.

Even if it is, one day in the distant future, shown that human emissions were not the primary cause of climate change, the cost of instituting climate change initiatives, when compared to the cost of losing the only known habitual planet (our Pale Blue Dot, a name coined by the late Carl Sagan), will–assuming we are the primary cause—be considered chump change in comparison to the value the Earth.

Incidentally, these non-scientists are obstructing legitimate climate change proposals that may mitigate the global rise in CO2 emissions, with one such justification being jobs. I can concede that drastic climate change measures may stifle growth in certain sectors, especially in the fossil fuel industry, but the investment for cleaner energy sources exists–a whole $27 trillion dollars of it. Once business starts to move in a more eco-friendly direction, then maybe, in a delayed fashion of course, the GOP will finally alter their faulty rhetoric. Because we all know that they follow the corporate cash.

December Republican Debate Exposed GOP As Joke on National Security

With its focus on national security, the mid-December Republican debate, though a month past, can still serve as a stark reminder of how silly and insubstantial leading Republicans are when it comes to dealing with problems like ISIS and Putin, and how ill-fit and unqualified they are be President of the United States. It can also still serve as a stark reminder of how different they are in both substance and style from leading Democratic Party members.

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @bfry1981)

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

AMMAN — I apologize to my readers that this has not been put out sooner, but life, the holidays, all sorts of things can get in the way. Yet the serious issues raised by the mid-December Republican debate have not gone away, and are still just as relevant then as they are now, thus, this analysis, while a month after the event, is still relevant to the election and to the issues of security and foreign policy. The security-oriented debate was perhaps the most banal and predictable Republican debate yet. Most candidates said nothing novel or new, and simply repeated soundbites that have grown to be as repetitive as they are hollow and hyperbolic. On issues of international security, the Republicans are as loud as they are on any issue, and provide as stark a contrast to the Democrats as they do on any other issue, too. It is worth taking a brief look at the content of the debate (though almost nothing new was said), and then to contrast what leading Republicans’ present vs. what the Democratic frontrunners present.

Gov. Jeb Bush competently called for safe zones and a no fly zone and spoke out against Trump’s Islamophobic ideas repeatedly. You almost had to feel bad for him: one of the least extreme candidates on the Republican side with roughly the most relevant experience has failed to launch repeatedly and is going nowhere fast. Sen. Rand Paul thoughtfully noted that America must be restrained, especially with Russia and notions of regime change, so as not to make things worse, and spoke out against surveillance. Gov. Kasich sounded moderate (except when he called for a Gulf War I-style invasion to take out ISIS), but said nothing terribly memorable or impactful. After these moments, apart from a somewhat interesting kerfuffle over surveillance, most of the rest of the debate was just hot-air bombast. And all these candidates, who are among the most substantive of the field depending on the issue, are all doing terribly in the polls (except for Kasich in NH, who is polling respectably in NH relative to everyone but Trump) and don’t seem poised to win anything.

Now, for the leaders: Dr. Carson just seemed to be the Donny of the debate: out of his element (what is surprising is that so many people don’t realize just how out of his element he is). I recognized him as woefully unprepared for prime-time as of the first Republican debate, and though his star has faded from his peak at the #2 spot behind Trump, I still feel Carson’s popularity with so many Republicans is a justified basis for my sustained contempt for those very Republicans, and by contempt I am referring to my feelings for them supporting someone who is so clueless when it comes to policy and politics.

As for the rest of the candidates, they pretty much tried their best to do their best John Wayne imitations, because in their minds, complicated geopolitics and dynamic terrorist movements operating in complex social, political, ethnic, and religious spheres call for Hollywood-inspired, simplistic solutions embodied by tough-talk soundbites and cowboy posing (their elevation of Reagan to the level of semi-deity should leave no doubt about this). These other candidates—Trump, Sen. Cruz, Sen. Rubio, Fiorina, and Gov. Christie (the first three now representing the top three candidates nationally)—almost farcically and comically competed as to who could sound the toughest against the terrorists. “KILL!” “DESTROY!” “CARPET-BOMB!” “HUNT DOWN!”” blah blah blah…

One of the most nonsensical moments came when Cruz, who had earlier recklessly said he wanted to find out “if sand can glow in the dark,” was asked if he would “carpet-bomb” Raqqa, ISIS’s “caliphate’s” “capital,” even though there were hundreds of thousands of civilians there; his response was that he would not bomb a city but, instead, would bomb where the ISIS soldiers were (HINT: THEY ARE IN RAQQA THE CITY, TED!). Yes, just another moment when the rhetoric was exposed as wholly inappropriate to the situation, and yet, almost invariably, such extremist statements were met with wild applause from the Republicans in the audience. Fiorina, lying and misleading as much as ever, made it clear that she was an expert on national security because she named the Sixth Fleet… by name! Rubio sounded completely foolish when he (sensibly) noted that the main fight against ISIS had to be carried out by Sunni Muslims in the Middle East, then just moments later criticized Obama and Clinton for “leading from behind” and “outsource[ing] foreign policy,” apparently oblivious to the stupendous contradiction involved. So even though Rubio was often making more sense than the other leading candidates, he had plenty of moments when matched them in ridiculousness. Yes, these candidates stumbled over each other trying to sound as macho as possible in order to win the support of their childish Republicans base.

At this point, it’s useful to be reminded of some clear contrasts between the Republicans and the Democrats on foreign policy (especially for all the fools who claim there is no difference between the two parties):

1.) Hillary Clinton, the democratic candidate with the most relevant experience and the most moderate positions, is the frontrunner, and has at least a 90-95% chance of winning the nomination according to statistics prodigy and super-accurate election predictor Nate Silver (he got every single state’s choice in the 2012 presidential election correct in his predictions); on the Republican side, the candidates with the least experience and most extreme positions are leading and, combined, dwarf the support of experienced, more reasoned moderates.

2.) For all their tough talk, top Republican candidates have offered very little specifically that would do now differently than Obama; they say they want to bomb ISIS, but Obama is doing that; several say they want push Sunni Muslims to lead the fight against ISIS with the promise of more aid if they do so, butObama is doing that; they say they want to arm the Kurds, but Obama is doing that. The main differences amount to how they would talk about ISIS (more John Wayne/Reagan-esque posing line delivery!) and what they would do in terms of refugee entry into the U.S. All this more or less applies to the situation with Russia and Ukraine, too: you can count on Republicans to come up with needlessly provocative bombast even as they struggle to fault the specifics of his overall strategy. Thus, in general, the nebulous Republican criticism of Obamahas more to do with semantics and style than with actual policy, and their “solutions” have proven maddeningly lacking in specifics. They basically say they will continue Obama’s policies and strategy, just more intensely and forcefully, ignoring the potential negative consequences of going too far. In other words,they have learned nothing from George W. Bush’s Iraq War.

3.) However, one clear difference is that Republicans in general are far more willing to deploy American troops on the ground in harm’s way, and, it should be added, without any exit specific exit strategy, and are, in general, willing to rely more on force while disdaining diplomacy (see their response to the Iran nuclear deal), than are Democrats.

4.) Another clear difference is that Republicans, in general, seem less concerned with inflicting civilian casualties in fighting ISIS than Democrats

I suppose it is easy to see why the leading Republican candidates are able toappeal to less educated voters with a cartoon understanding of the world that think the solution to Putin and ISIS is to for America to be more like John Wayne. Again, their hero Ronald Reagan is basically a second-rate, wannabe John Wayne, so this should not be any surprise. That so many Republican voters are falling for this silly nonsense is just another indication of the vast gulf between Democrats and Republicans in terms of seriousness and credibility on the major issues of the day.

NRA, GOP Gun Disinformation Completely Debunked by these Maps, Charts

Here is another great piece By Brian Frydenborg. Again, like so many days—the issue of the day is Guns, Guns and Guns—and it is about time people stopped talking claptrap. Stupid and bigoted opinions are deadly. Learn the facts. Also on the issue of Terrorism—you do not respond to terrorism by being terrorized. Deh. For old geaser’s who won’t go to the shopping malls this Christmas, or worse for those who feel the need to carry a gun—grow a spine! Grow some balls! Bad guys have money and means—stuff will happen. The IRA (with tacit support from various US politicians) was bombing London all the time—it did them no good, because Londoners refused to be terrorized. Not once was anyone stupid enough to say “give me a gun”, or repulsive enough to say no more Catholics, or no more Irish. I will be adding another editorial in the mid point of Brian’s piece.

Patrick Andendall

Yes, people kill people. But guns and laws make a huge difference in how many people get killed and the data clearly demonstrates the NRA and Republican narrative is myth-based fantasy, not fact-based reality.

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @bfry1981

The following is an expanded chapter from the brand new short-but-powerful eBook Needless Deaths, Inexcusable Responses: Missives on Guns, Policy, and Politics in America,  available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and inePub format!

December 2nd, 2015 update: it is not without some satisfaction that I note that the short piece I wrote highlighting this data was deemed to be such a threat to “the cause” that the NRA officially wrote a response, one which, predictably, was rather unconvincing, engaged in a bit of ad hominem behavior, and actually did not even address the data in my article, their points not negating mine when the data is more closely examined than the casual presentation it is given in the NRA response (e.g., they write that in states with lower gun death rates, there are higher rates of other types of murder but fail to note that these higher rates do not come anywhere close to making up the differences between the overall murder rates between states with lower gun death rates and states with higher gun death rates, or that European nations and others do not even come close to making up for the lower guns deaths in their countries with non-firearm deaths;  see the NRA’s response here for yourself if you care to after going through my piece below).

Like any dangerous product—cars, airplanes, explosives—sensible regulation of guns clearly plays a positive role in reducing both misuse of this product and the number of deaths resulting from such misuse.

The map itself was part of a scholarly study by researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital and published this March in JAMA Internal Medicine:

JAMA Internal Medicine

The map is not without exceptions and outliers, but the general trend is clear: States with more gun regulations had lower rates of gun deaths, and states with less gun laws had higher gun death rates, both in terms of suicide and homicide. That’s certainly not the message we get from the National Rifle Association (NRA) or from gun-rights advocates.

Lax gun control laws in Stupidparty states contribute to higher death rates associated with firearms.

Smartparty states take the lead in gun law strength and thus, exhibit fewer gun deaths than Stupidparty states.

In the related study, the strength of gun laws was rated on a scale of 0 to 28, and scores ranged from 0 (Utah) to 24 (Massachusetts) (Image Credit: JAMA Internal Medicine):

Comments by Patrick Andendall – I replaced the Chart Brian prided because it was hard to see and since it was an academic graph (the resonance was lost anyway) but I have left the link to the original source material if any one is interested.  But also another big point is being lost here—yes gun controls clearly are having an impact—but gun controls across the the nation are just pathetic when compared to the rest of the world, so let us look at that for one moment:

Stupidparty states are dragging the rest of America down in firearm related deaths.

Finally Gun apologists go on about their Quentin Tarantino meets dirty Harry fantasy that Mao, Stalin, and Hitler could have been prevented if only the peasants (or in the case of Germany the Jews) had had guns. No serious thinker, no Jewish survivor, no one still alive having experienced Mao would have come to that conclusion. The remedy to peasants or Jews with guns would simply be to march into a village were gun owners lived and tell every one without a gun to leave and then wipe out the town. That is how terror works. It seems to be a lot easier to terrorize the US -one Muslim couple and suddenly every runs in fear, forcing other to flock to ISIS. What morons:

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Direct causation could not be determined, but at the very least, such a strong correlation should make it clear that existing public policy in many states with lax gun laws comes at a high price: more dead mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and others.

In addition, higher firearm ownership rates were also heavily correlated with higher firearm fatalities, and lower ownership rates were correlated with stronger gun control legislation.

Now, if you’re going to say, “Well, that’s just ONE study!” To that, I will retort that the Center for American Progress released another study in April that pretty much said the same thing, and that showed that 10 states with the weakest gun laws had over twice the rate of gun violence as the 10 states with the strongest gun laws. Also, in 2011, a writer for The Atlantic found, with the help of a colleague, that the presence of gun laws in states had a strong correlation with less gun violence, as the chart and map below also illustrate.

The Stupidparty voter share constitutes the largest correlation towards gun deaths.

Stupidparty states are dragging the rest of America down in firearm related deaths.Martin Prospoerity Institute

An even more recent article from just a few months ago with excellent data visualization by National Journal staffer Libby Isenstein pointed out the exact same trend, and laid these trends out in several charts, one of which showed every single state ranked by its gun death rate and showing which states have gun laws/restrictions and which do not; the resulting trend is undeniable and obvious (as before): more laws and restrictions correlate with lower gun death rates.

It is clear which states are Stupidparty states by the amount of gun laws and restrictions each state has.

States with no additional background check laws have a higher gun-related homicide rate.

States with stand your ground laws have a higher gun-related homicide rate.

(“Stand your ground” laws refer to laws that empower residents to be free from prosecution when using deadly force for self-defense anywhere under any circumstances, whereas states without such laws mean a person has to attempt to flee and disengage from the altercation before resorting to deadly force unless they are at home or on their property.)

States with easier access to concealed carry permits have a higher gun-related homicide rate.

One point on these charts: you might notice that that Washington, DC, is something of an outlier for “states” with strict gun laws; that is because it is not a state, but a single city, and gun crimes in general are much higher in urban areas than in rural areas, and DC has no rural areas to balance out its average.  Additionally, is neighboring and close to states with much laxer gun laws, which means that it is easy for people from those states to traffic guns into DC, and virtually all (e.g., 92.8% in 2010) guns used in crimes in DC are traced to these nearby states or others.  DC’s tough gun laws over a city-size area can do little to stem weapons flowing in from surrounding jurisdictions (say, in Virginia) with lax gun laws.  Comparing a city like DC to a state is a bit like comparing apples to oranges for these and other reasons.  In fact, it is easy to single out numerous U.S. cities and find that they have comparable gun murder rates to some of the more violent “Third World” developing countries, which is disturbing and also an example of comparing two very different things.

Many U.S. cities share similar gun violence rates to many developing countries.

Some final food for thought: Building on an earlier Harvard study, a brand new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that the greatest factor that determines gun suicide rates by state was not mental health issues, but rather gun ownership. And when it comes to gun ownership rates, well, the U.S. is No. 1 by far.

The U.S. is by far the world leader in firearm ownership.

CNN

Leaving the gun laws as they are in states with the highest gun death rates is akin to pulling the trigger on thousands. Some states are better at this public policy issue than others, and it’s time for the laggards to learn from the high performers.  The time for action is long overdue: as Sen. Chris Murphy (CT) tweeted after San Bernardino, “Your “thoughts” should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your “prayers” should be for forgiveness if you do nothing – again.”  New York Times columnist Timothy Egan echoed this sentiment in a column titled “No More Thoughts and Prayers.”  Or, as The New York Daily News cover aptly stated, “God Isn’t Fixing This.”

Stupidparty assumes prayers are the answer to our country's gun violence problems.

But sadly, we’re doing nothing at the federal level whatsoever when it comes to regulating guns; as Nicholas Kristof titles his New York Times column,“On Guns, We’re Not Even Trying,” thanks the alliance between the NRA and the Republican Party that is determined to do nothing when it comes to regulating guns.

If you think I’m wrong (and by I mean these numerous peer-reviewed studies), the burden of proof is on you to provide counter-evidence. Not just ideology.

Comment by Andendall: The first act that needs to be undertaken is a full on assault on the NRA. They are an insidious organisation, and any politician Stupidparty or Democrat who takes their money is accepting blood money. Clinton and Obama have only just figured this out, but I spell out the reasons in various pieces that I have written about. Nothing good can happen while the NRA is not recognized for what they really are. 85% of the NRA membership would accept that if they only knew how the process worked. They must resign and join a different Gun advocacy group, because the NRA should not be allowed to the table until they reform themselves.

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You Say You Want a Revolution

Angela Brill, The Mean Progressive  is back, with a very thought provoking and timely warning. What differentiates us from Stupidparty? Critical thinking, coherent thought, substance, intellectual integrity, lack of bigotry.  Any person who sinks down to one sentence of verbal abuse, with out real substance or intellect -is no better than Stupidparty. That is how they debate, that is how you know you have won that debate. And there is nothing more dangerous than such losers hiding amongst us. Strongly supporting any specific Democratic candidate is great, harness that passion -but do not allow it to aid Stupidparty. It is easy for me to be holier than thou—since Jim Webb pulled out of the race, and I do not label myself as a Democratic -or anything for that matter. So this revolution, our revolution, must be fact based, intelligent and strategic -the primary goal is to remove Stupidparty – not to promote ones personal pet opinion the expense of the primary goal.

Angela Brill, The Mean Progressive is a writer on the far left whose focus is primarily the Stupidparty (who she calls Regressives). 

November 8, 2015 is exactly one year before our next big election. I guess for those of us who are paying attention and passionate about our political landscape, the date will offer a marker by which we will measure our accomplishments. We have a year. For those of us who have been at this for a while, a year is not a lot of time. For those of us on the left, a year might as well be a decade for as much as we need to accomplish. But I can hardly tell that when I listen to some of my brothers and sisters in the party. I hear a lot about revolutionTintinc800 these days. It might be written as an exciting time for future generations to learn about in history books. Or it might very well be another year where what could have been simply wasn’t. Again.

With our gerrymandered maps and questionable annual election returns, it feels as if a revolution will be our only hope. Last week our national elections set us back even further because we on the left can hardly be bothered to go out every time. (I mean really). To be honest, its not evident that we all want a revolution. It appears that the radical among us are more interested in arguing the finer points of our objectives than actually doing anything that would be revolutionary.

The left loves to argue. Its one of the downsides of being the intellectuals. We have a lot of opinions and historical references and love to hear ourselves talk about them (I’m not pretending that no one is reading this and I am not one of those people). We do, however, create our very own obstacles when we do this; especially when the arguments we seek or create are within our own party.

Several months ago I wrote a piece condemning the Regressive Party for thinking women would flock to Fiorina (read here) because she was born with the same parts as we were. I was chastised by a woman who kicked me out of her feminist group for having been so closed-minded as to ignore transgendered people who were not born with the same parts. If her condemnation wasn’t enough, she spent what must have taken a full hour to type me a book about how ashamed of myself I should have been. I wonder how much of that time she could have directed toward someone who wasn’t already fighting for women’s issues to make them aware of the movement and its necessity.

A couple of weeks ago I was, again, berated by people calling themselves feminists because I was excitedly promoting the then-unreleased movie, Suffragette. Within minutes I was determined to have not only been a detriment to the feminist movement, but also, a racist. I wrote a piece about it (read here) because it was beyond my comprehension how people could be so misguided and I received many replies about my own determined narrow-mindedness. The majority of my replies came from people who read my article down to the point where I talked about my having been called a racist and they stopped there to interject having never (quite obviously) made it to the end of the piece where I imagine most people capable of both reason and introspection would realize I am, in fact, a feminist and hardly racist. That piece had people who demand they are feminists coming at me for two days to argue with me. Again I wonder, how much of that time could have been focused on arguing with someone who needed to hear your argutINTINC801ment?

I stopped arguing with RWNJs many months ago. They are exhausting and although they will probably be a lifelong curiosity of mine, I do realize they have no capacity for critical thinking so I will never have an opportunity to offer them revelation. My only mission now is to offer rationale to those who are capable of understanding it. I find that those conversations are growing harder and harder with many on the left now, too. Last month I was sent a private message from a young (very young) man who was inviting me to join his FB group where the actual objective was to talk shit about one of the two main candidates for the Democratic ticket next year. Initially I replied respectfully (believe it or not) and said that I had not yet determined which of the candidates I was going to vote for but that even when I do, I would not want to participate in destructive conversations about the one I had not chosen. He promptly told me that I was an idiot and that I obviously don’t understand politics or how important this upcoming election is. [Sigh…] Of course, I then took it upon myself to educate him about the history of the Democratic party and our myriad failures and before I was done telling him what an arrogant little snot he was, he blocked me from FB. okay…

I have had to put messages up in my groups telling people that if they want to create dialogue only meant to disparage one of our candidates I would block them. People are not even thoughtful enough to realize that if the meme they are posting has attribution on it from a right-wing group, they are literally perpetuating the Regressive Party narrative. There is nothing more discouraging than looking at our uphill climb and realizing how many of our fellow Dems we are going to have to drag up that fucking hill to get to the top.

I am a Democrat. I will support the Democrat who ends up with the nomination. I will bust my ass for whomever gets the nod like I do every 4 years. If you cannot say the same, then you do not want a revolution. You are literally creating the exact path the sick hateful sonsofbitches on the right need to wiggle any one of their beyond-crazy (some I comfortably call evil) candidates into the White House. And do not be mistaken. This is not just a fight for the White House. 2016 is our chance to get back the Senate. If we can convince enough people that the left is the only alternative when they go into the voting booth next year, we actually can make a change. No change will be made, however, if we all spend our time fighting with ourselves and demanding that the rest of the left see every candidate and issue through an identical narrow prism. That is POISON. Period.

We will get a national down-ticket revolution next year if we join together and continue to remind those around us of the shit that is coming out of the right. Daily I have people tell me, “Oh they know. Americans know what is going on.” No. They Don’t. They don’t want to know. They are ignoring what is going on because the in-fighting is exhausting to them so they choose not to listen. When we perpetuate the nastiness we are just as unbearable as the RWNJs. Pause with that for a minute, because I am right (from over here on the far-left). When we behave like radicals we will be ignored like radicals. If we can manage to rally like champions, that is what we will be. You decide. But fucking unfriend me or leave my page if you don’t want to hear about what it takes to actually have a revolution because I can’t imagine I will have anything else to say for the next 365 days.

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Time to Really Separate Church and State!

Did the Constitution fully separate the church from the state? I submit that America embodies a legal fallacy that denies a true separation of church and state. If an elected official believes in a god, and that God is the ultimate guide in one’s life and persuades the individual while conducting public business, does that not infect our democratic process with religious thought? It most definitely does and why we have elected representatives fighting agaPictureinst gay rights, science, global warming, and secretly oppose the long-term reality of Earth remaining in a good standing order, because their God is out to destroy the world through an Armageddon scenario.

Can one see the bigger problem? Should America allow humans into the democratic processwho fantasize that God’s final purpose is to destroy Earth during a superior battle with Satan? And should that type of human be placed in charge of atomic buttons and launch codes? Humans love to lie and we tend to keep things hidden. You know what else we do?

We pull from Freud’s unconscious mind and not all of that is positive behavior. The hidden agenda of helping God destroy the world just might surface at entirely the wrong time by a commander-in-chief disturbed by religious grandeur. We should go one step further; religious humans with bizarre beliefs should not be part of a presidential cabinet as an influence to war in general. A massive Armageddon war in their eyes would only prove their God is real, and proving their God real, has been an in-disposable theme within themselves and to others. American religious fervor simply does not have the gallantry to yell God is Great! – in a psycho type of manner. But trust me, that theme is there and remains a major component in all God-based thought. It merely lays dormant inside America because most of our culture now accepts science-based thought.

Our advanced society has muffled that annunciation through the wonderful science programming on cable networks and costly higher education. This virtually provides the clue on how to properly address the religious fervor in the Middle East through education. But here at home, this is not the time to let things run their course. We can improve education by updating the medical knowledge of delusional disorders, to cover all bizarre thought that contradicts the external reality in which scientific fact correctly interprets. What a nice clinical way of saying, our communities must start teaching that religious wiring in the head is a delusional thought system that harms reality.

Neil deGrasse Tyson hits the nail on the head.

Mental healthcare currently defines delusional disorder in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM IV TR): Delusional disorder is an illness characterized by the presence of non bizarre delusions in the absence of other mood or psychotic symptoms. It defines delusions as false beliefs based on incorrect inference about external reality that persist despite the evidence to the contrary and these beliefs are not ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture.

Here is where mental healthcare has made a severe mistake. A delusion is a delusion, and it does not become a non disordered thought because many people believe it and make it a culture. A delusion actually becomes more dangerous by stating that if a delusion is held by many, then it is considered normal. This is a subjective miscalculation representing a lack of scientific fact concerning external reality, that is not integrated into the final analysis of a belief system, due to the popularity of usage, and thus, bizarre religious belief is normal.

Let me make this really clear: In this day and age, it is not normal to believe that Earth was created in six days. It is not normal to believe that Earth is 6000-years-old. These are delusions and they do not become real, regardless if many people believe them. Humans who believe these concepts have serious issues with reality. And the unnerving aspect, many who have twisted reality are involved in the operation of our country. See the problem?

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To prevent harm to reality, America certainly would not elect a president or congressmen who thought space aliens fathered our species and will return in the future to carry some or all of us away. How is that any different from humans believing that a god through rapture, will magically suck them up into heaven, just because they’ve asked for forgiveness over the minor occurrences of life and their original sin of birth? Obviously, we would never allow someone to lead our country that required mental healthcare to escape his/her alien heritage, but we certainly look the other way and grant a pass to the delusions of religious humans.

If Washington, D.C. was filled with only humans awaiting a space ship to whisk us away, pork-belly projects would be building massive landing stripes for their arrival. If Washington, D.C. was filled with only born-again Christians running the nation, they’d all be working with their God to make sure the end of times a reality. Instant heaven would be very alluring, when the delusion begins to muse those dreamy gold bricks lacing the streets from here to eternity.

For American democracy to finally break the church from the state, humans seeking public office must be vetted by proper questioning. It would be fair for the hosting media outlet conducting a presidential debate to ask the following questions. The answers are pertinent to the overall sanity of an individual. This is how we filter some of the negative energy harming American democracy. The questions expose the more dangerous born-again faction of Christianity that harbor multiple issues with reality, and will highlight the moderate Catholics who have a foot in reality.

The list of proper questions to ask if America wants to find intelligent leaders:

Do you believe Earth was created in six days?
Do you believe Earth is only 6000-years-old?
Do you believe a snake actually talked to Eve?
Do you believe that God once flooded the entire world?
Do you believe a man built an ark that saved every living creature from this massive flood, and that is how life continued?
Do you believe that God will destroy the world twice, through an Armageddon scenario?
Do you believe in Rapture?
Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
How does your God communicate these concepts to you?
During the past year of 2015, or in previous years, has your God told you these things directly?

The follow up to the last questions concerning communication:

So, you believe the ancient texts written by primitive man over modern science, and more important, over man’s ability to evolve into a higher state of intelligence? Wouldn’t that make you a reflection of a human incapable of evolving higher intelligence, simply by dismissing man’s ability to learn? And if that is your true nature, an inability to learn what more intelligent men have discovered; how could that possibly qualify you to be President, when the President will need science and all the new ideas that the human race has recently learned?

Any answers of yes to the above questions, is proof that we do not want these humans involved in the running of our country – AT ALL! America cannot afford leaders who have learning disabilities from delusional thought that block the very basics of commonsense science. They will not bring anything worthy to the table and eventually default to the utterance of primitive thought that befuddles most issues.

The final truth: Primitive thought cannot heal the conditions on Earth. It will require scientific thought with real and non delusional answers to revamp our planet. Only the humans who believe in the power of science must win office during this critical stage to save Earth. This would drastically cut the delusional humans from politics who harm reality. The crazies may run for office, but now we can ask the right questions to vet them.

Earth is endangered by a new strain of fact-resistant humans... aka the Stupidparty.

Oh what the hell, let’s go here to:

Please you smart aliens up there in space light years away, I implore you to stop for a visit and share your million-year heritage and save us from ourselves, just don’t eat us. The human species holds a better chance of this happening than the biblical version of the second coming of Christ. Empirical evidence from Hubble is hard to swallow for many, and it shouldn’t be. What the current revelation from the sky of truth actually reveals, is that the education system is not superior or more persuasive than the church’s presentation of dogma, and too many humans still suffer their severe lessons. If education and mental healthcare were doing a better job, none of the silly ideas within religion would exist.

To cover the other bizarre belief of a wicked Satan that causes a factitious God to enter Earth for an almighty end, the universe is naturally destructive and this nature is the real flip of a switch garbage disposer to all life. Those poor dinosaurs, they never saw that comet coming, but we can! That is how intelligent life has become on planet Earth, well; at least some of us believe the scientific proof of how life can end.

The religious infection to American democracy is very adamant about not caring for science. It’s a good time for all Americans to start paying attention to what the scientists are proving today. And by removing the church people from the state, many more will hear the modern message a lot clearer.

We must not let our children become indoctrinated into ancient falsities in the face of objective truths.

Don’t be a Dodo: Why voting Republican is a vote for our own eventual extinction

We all have those friends and acquaintances that like to say, “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, because the system is all screwed up. Politicians are all corrupt, regardless of their party affiliation.” Ok maybe not exactly in those words, but you get the drift. They like to persuade you and others that inaction, or that your choices of who to vote for, are essentially redundant -that you are wasting your time to even bother – that you are even foolish for thinking that you can make a difference by going out and taking the time at the voting booths.

Let me counter all that apathy with an adamant rebuttal: Never has it mattered that you vote, and vote Democrat, more than it does this year, in 2016! Now by now you have likely heard that the Supreme Court Justices are aging fast, with four of them already 80 or fast approaching it. The next President will be in position to place people who will share their ideology on major issues. Those Justices currently don’t have term limits, which means we would be stuck with the likes of another Scalia for the rest of our lives if we don’t vote Democrat. That alone is cause enough to get off your butt and vote.

But let’s look at something that you might not have considered, until you glanced at the Title of this article. With none of the GOP candidates currently hoping to run our country believing in climate change, that equates to this: None of them will work toward countering the imminent doom of the human race. I won’t even pretend that the earth itself cares one tiny bit about whether we go extinct or not. It’s us who must care, and it’s us who are responsible for taking action, if it’s not already too late. Educated people, religious or otherwise, must take responsibility for the earth.

Those of us who definitely care about the future of our own species, our children, and grandchildren, can’t possibly comprehend how people who call themselves ‘conservatives’ somehow manage to leave conserving the earth’s environment off the list of things to worry about. They would rather worry about exploiting the remaining resources, capitalizing on anything they can, and disregard and distract from the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activities. That’s not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination, for one of the most powerful countries on earth to voluntarily elect a person who trashes the educated and informed concerns of the scientific community worldwide. To do so wastes precious time, and we have wasted far too much time already.

I won’t even bother to foray into other alarmingly important topics, such as losing the Civil Rights the LGBT community has gained thanks to Obama, or our access to more affordable health care. Those are topics that are extremely worthy, but when you come down to it, the largest and most important distinguishing reason to vote for a Democrat in the White House, is that not doing so may well allow the time we need to turn climate change around to slip away. Our Civil Rights and health care will mean nothing if our climate is uninhabitable. With the earth’s oceans turning so acidic, that corals may dissolve by 2050, we are facing an extreme set of circumstances to say the least. We simply can’t afford to sit idly by and ignore the facts for one more month, let alone one more year.

I consider that many liberals are good at abstract thinking, but for many people, they just can’t comprehend that human activity can cause such a large problem for our species. To make it a bit more concrete, consider the American Bison or Buffalo, which numbered 30 to 60 million in the 1500’s. By 1884, only a few hundred thankfully remained. There is no doubt that was due to the exploitation and reckless disregard of American immigrants, otherwise known as “settlers.”

Two years ago also marked the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the once most numerous bird in North America, if not the world. This bird accounted for 40 percent of all avian life on the continent, and yet largely because of public disregard, and the thinking that we couldn’t possibly have an effect on the seemingly limitless and bountiful populations of those animals, Americans decimated and drove them completely to extinction by 1914. Human activity, and apathy toward the environment, and the preciousness of our fellow animal species, resulted in extinction. Granted, many people many not see the value of a bird, and how can we expect them to if they don’t even care about their own species?

Geneticists may bring the passenger pigeon back to life in a way, but who will bring our own species back when there aren’t any of us left to care? The time to care is now, and as Bernie Sanders said, we have a moral obligation to confront climate change. Those in the GOP who would rather turn away from this issue are simply unfit for the office of the President.

Send snacks!!! Judge Roy takes state of Alabama as last US refuge for bigotry

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Possibly taking a cue from a lawless militia group who took a fancy to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and decided to call the whole place home sweet home, Judge Roy Moore, of Alabama renown, decided to follow suit January 6, 2016. Kim Davis, the fiery upstart county clerk, was likely to have been an inspiration for this latest spectacle, as well as “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” former Governor George Wallace.

Claiming the entire state of Alabama a Refuge for Bible-based bigotry, he declared that the Supreme Court was not so supreme, though previously he had seemingly valued their opinion. As recently as March of last year, Old Roy had declared that his state’s standoff with same-sex marriage had credibility derived from SCOTUS, but not so much anymore. Today is a new and wildly free day. In fact, to “clarify the confusion” on the matter, Roy found it a lot more advantageous to just set up camp as top authority on the entire state grounds. To hell with the Supremes and those pesky LGBT Alabamians still calling the state Sweet Home.

Nevermind that we all know this is just another spectacle, meant more as the final bleating call of a rare and majestic dying species of Southern defiance and unparalleled buffoonery. The call that is becoming increasingly muted and dispersed, even in the backwoods of the South.  Nevermind that the progressive thinkers residing in the state gasp in horror as they watch Roy continue to paint the state with that same broad and crude paint stroke that attempts to equate a rebel flag with some sort of noble enlightened heritage. For now we are going to pretend that this is all going to work out in favor of Roy, a besieged Oregon bird sanctuary, a country clerk who doesn’t have to do her job because Jesus, the Tea Party, or for Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Jeb!, Marco Rubio, or Rick Santorum’s Presidential dreams of Theocratic grandeur.

And along the same lines of thinking as a militia taking over an isolated and unpopulated outcamp in Oregon without apparent forethought, please send snacks. But nothing too sugary because it get’s Roy even more agitated than usual. Son Caleb E. Moore asked for more“boats and hoes” if you could spare them among a few other items we won’t mention. It seems the items on the wish list just might grow a bit extensive! It is a whole state after all, but hey, we all know states like Alabama are the most dependent on handouts anyway. Things might just work out for Old Roy after all. One can dream of sharing the wonder of a wild and free refuge for the ultra-conservative Bible Thumpers, unfettered by the constraints of a world in which diversity exists…where the call of the bigot can still be heard and admired by a dogged, tenacious, and paltry few. Roy has a dream.

GUEST POST – Commercial Culture Wars

Over the last year, we watched as American conservatives threw tantrums and staged multiple faux outrage jamborees (or what they thought were sensible protests) over and over. These tantrums seem oddly and disproportionately centered around food and tv commercials. Such is the way with conservatives -always awaiting their next directive from their favorite authority figures -who send them to post perfunctory disapproving comments on social media. They are always at the ready to threaten that they, who they still believe are a superior moral majority, will not give their dollars to those companies that support diversity, and especially not to the LGBT community. It’s also very telling that their protests are almost always done with cookie cutter cut-and-paste responses that they have been told about by their chosen authority, without any basic research on the facts of the particular matter -something that makes trolling a smorgasbord of delight for the liberal social media crowd.

A few of the commercials that stirred the rallying cries of the far right this past year were a Cheerios commercial, an It Gets Better campaign for suicidal teens from Doritos , some gay dads featured for charitable work in a magazine, a Tylenol commercial, a Campbell’s Soup commercial, or somelesbians eating some yogurt. This is just a few. One of my favorites was the protest of Target stores for not directing people to toys with signs so they would know which gender would like a Barbie. It was an amazing year for trolls on social media, because conservatives were losing their shit on a daily basis over some food commercial or another. They were sent into battle by right-wing darlings like Mike Huckabee, or Pat Robertson, or Franklin Graham, or one of the 2016 GOP Presidential hopefuls – sadly and disgustingly. I’m sure you can recount your experiences on social media and how astounding it was each time the right wing crowd staged another faux outrage hoopla. I wonder if they felt that they had accomplished something?

Recently a British fan of our page let me know that in the UK, two ads that were quite prominent never received any attention at all. Nothing, in comparison to the US. Which begs the question: Why is it specific to the US that advertising is such a battleground for inclusion and diversity? These two commercial exaples are: Gareth Thomas, a Rugby player who made a commercial about telling his team he was gay.

From our friend in England: “When Gareth Thomas came out there was a positive news take and the usual small minority of negativity. The only comment I read on the  Guinness ad was positive. Also look at the comments on YouTube. The Gareth Thomas ad had 905 likes and 58 dislikes. The comments are mostly positive.”

Another example is this ad about a black football coach buying a house with his impregnated white wife (or girlfriend?) Our English friend: “The Halifax advert receive no mention in the press and I can not remember a single comment from anyone. I will post on my page to ask if anyone can remember any comments at all. There may have been something somewhere and we have many right wing racist political parties. . But they have no real audience. The advert had 19 comments, most negative. There were 5 likes and 14 dislikes. In a nation of 62 million people only 19 cared enough to protest on YouTube.”

So compare and contrast: Americans losing their collective Cheerios over just seeing gay couples depicted on TV, vs. England, where hardly a brow is raised. It is perplexing that here in the US, the staging ground for the Culture Wars revolves around TV, but on the other hand, maybe it tells us that superficial battles, distractions, and silliness is actually more important here. And why would that be? Could it be because GOP politicians have been using hysteria, fear, and hate to rally their base for decades? It seems pretty clear to me that all the hype around these ads is a symptom of the larger problem: Americans are content to be distracted by wedge issues rather than confront important issues affecting the whole population. We are being divided, and it’s working. Until we recognize our common humanity and work for the benefit of all in society, we will continue to make mountains out of molehills.

Republican Criticism of Obama’s Sound ISIS Strategy Myopic; GOP Ideas Help ISIS, Endanger Americans

Just because Obama’s ISIS, counter-terrorism, and Middle East strategy is complex and will not fit on a bumper-sticker or in a soundbite does not mean it is not a good one, and a bit of time trying to understand it will reveal that Republicans criticizing Obama’s strategy are dangerously unfit for office, as their alternatives betray a total lack of understanding of the basic dynamics behind ISIS, terrorism, and the Middle East, with Republican policies certain to make ISIS stronger and expose Americans to even more danger.

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @bfry1981) December 14th, 2015

The White House

AMMAN — Though a common refrain among Republicans for some time, in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, we are hearing with renewed forcethat Obama cowardly refuses to call out our enemies “by name,” i.e., he avoids calling them Islamic or Muslim extremists terrorists, avoids saying that we are “at war” with “radical Islam.” The rationales Obama’s critics suggest as to why he apparently does this range from a cowardly, timid sense of liberal political correctness all the way to claiming that Obama actually sympathizes with the terrorists and/or is a Muslim himself.

There is something of a legitimate point encased behind the more incredulous claims made by the Republicans: that Obama is avoiding emphasizing the Islamic character of the terrorists and the fact that they are Muslims (some people would like to argue that these extremists committing terrorism are, in fact, not Muslims because of their extreme actions, but the sad truth is that while all faiths have violent extremists that the majority of their co-religionists would like to disown,these extremists do find inspiration for violence from those very faiths and their faiths’ history, traditions, and texts, and must, in fact, be owned by these faithsand their co-religionists whether they want to own them or not). But the Republicans’ point itself is a myopic one because Obama’s decision to avoid emphasizing the Islamic aspects of ISIS is, in fact, based on a very sound overall strategy to deal with the groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, etc.

As usual, the Republicans can’t see the forest for the trees and are way off on their strategy; I don’t even mean this in a pejorative sense, but in a demonstrably-provable-trend sense of the Republican Party being incredibly myopic and short-sighted in its approaches to a whole host of issues, both in terms of foreign affairsand domestic issues (and that could be a whole series of separate articles).

Before we continue in assessing Obama’s approach and choice of language, we must realize that there are other actors on this stage: the terrorists themselves. And we must understand what they want.

Now, some of the readers might at this moment begin to get emotional, and accusations of this writer here being a “terrorist sympathizer” might be forming in some minds. To that I would inquire, “Does a detective ‘sympathize’ with a murder suspect when trying to establish a motive, when trying to investigate and learn about this person?” No rational person would say that this is the case; rather, it is a basis of good police-work to know as much as possible about suspects and their motivations. Well, it is absolutely no different with terrorism.

Understanding the Forces Behind Terrorism’s Success/Appeal

Much has been made of an Atlantic article by Graeme Wood titled “What ISIS really wants,” and it will be addressed shortly; but the mother-of-all articles to come out since 9/11 regarding terrorism would have to be Mark Danner’s “Taking Stock of the Forever War,” written for The New York Times Magazine. In this landmark article, released on fourth anniversary of the attacks and when America was well into its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a sickening truth was made plain for all to see if they had not yet realized it…

Bin Laden and al-Qaeda played the U.S. like a harp.

What is incredible is that, in the very nature of how the U.S. conducted its war in Afghanistan, the U.S. more or less avoided the trap al-Qaeda was hoping to set. But not so with Iraq…

See, bin Laden’s and al-Qaeda’s philosophy and aims are hardly inscrutable; they had, rather, made their aims clear with statements known publicly for many years. For bin Laden, there was the “near enemy:” the non-Islamic regimes ruling over Muslim lands, whether they were democracies, monarchies, or dictatorships. These regimes were supported by the “far enemy:” distant, powerful governments in the West, with the United States leading, that supported the “near enemies” with military, economic, and political aid. In terms of bringing about the ideal system—Islamic governance based on the Golden Age of early Islam—attacking the “near enemy” regimes would be fruitless without first addressing their major Western backers. The plan was simple: draw the West, especially the U.S., into a lengthy ground war in at least one Muslim country, one that would inflict casualties on Western forces, sap Western economic strength in the process, and leave Western publics war-weary enough that when the West eventually withdrew, Western appetite for intervention in the Muslim world would be exhausted or at least vastly reduced and the path for toppling the “near enemy” regimes would be clear Western road blocks cleared or minimized.

In the initial American intervention in Afghanistan, the entire U.S. approach was designed to be minimalist: the Taliban was brought down by air-power and U.S. Special Forces aiding local fighters. It was not until Obama’s presidency thatlarge numbers of U.S. troops were deployed to Afghanistan (and that was largely an attempt undo some of the damage of the Bush Administration’s policies). Thus, the U.S. spent relatively little money there and exposed itself to only minimal damage and risk.

This was not the case with Iraq, and though there was also a bit of a minimalist approach initially adopted there, that quickly devolved into a costly disasterrequiring far more troops over a longer period of time to mitigate the damage. But much damage had still been done: much higher casualties were incurred than American leaders told Americans would be the case; the war cost much more than advertised as well, and also lasted much longer; in late 2008, America elected one Barack Obama as president largely because of his anti-war stance and his pledge to withdraw from Iraq.

As for al-Qaeda, the Iraq War was many ways a dream come true: while it never established the caliphate it dreamed of, its 9/11 attacks did start a chain of events that most certainly did sap American economic strength, did cause many American casualties, and did cause a war weariness in the American psyche that has meant the country is today far more reluctant to intervene in Muslim countries than it was in 1990 during the Gulf War or in 2001 and 2003, when the Afghanistan and Iraq wars started, respectively. After the Iraq invasion of 2003especially, terrorism became far worse; Al-Qaeda itself saw its stature, number of operations, and membership increase dramatically over the course of both wars, and far more people are killed by terrorism today than before the Iraq invasion. By invading Iraq the way Osama bin Laden wanted, we performed exactly the part he laid out for us, and we suffered many of the consequences he hoped we would.

What enabled the U.S. to mitigate what could have been an unmitigated disaster, though, was not U.S policy in supporting a Shiite-dominated Iraqi government: it was the murderous extremism of al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch (which began calling itself the “Islamic State of Iraq” late in 2006 as part of a coalition with other jihadist groups) against not only Shiites but also many Sunnis that alienated many Iraqis and drove them into the arms of U.S. forces during the “Surge” and the “Sunni Awakening” in 2007, combined with a major adjustment in U.S. counterinsurgency strategy that placed Iraqi civilians first. The local al-Qaeda branch’s actions also created tension with al-Qaeda HQ: Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, wanted their Iraqi branch to focus on U.S. forces and to avoid attacking Iraqi civilians. But al-Qaeda in Iraq/Mesopotamia, first led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and later others, focused on creating a civil-war in Iraq by targeting civilians in an overtly sectarian manner, and also by broadly targeting any civilians who did follow their extreme, strict version of Islam (except submissive Christians). Al-Qaeda was crushed by local Sunnis fighting alongside U.S. forces.

The model for defeating terrorists that emerged here would be a key component of what has come to define Obama’s approach: win over locals to your side, and fight side-by-side against terrorism with such support. Partnering with local communities this way became so effective that towards the end of the “Surge” forward, the newly minted “Islamic State of Iraq was” rarely more than a nuisance for Iraq until the year 2013, over a year after the U.S. had fully withdrawn from Iraq. Its resurgence was due mainly to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s extremely sectarian policies that would drive the same communities that had aided in the fight against al-Qaeda/the Islamic State of Iraq in 2007 into open rebellion against Maliki and Iraqi’s government at the end of 2013. Under those conditions, the formerly titled Islamic State of Iraq, now calling itself ISIS (an acronym meaning Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham/Levant, encompassing also Syria, Lebanon, and other areas) and now formally broken away from al-Qaeda, came into Iraq and entered an alliance of convenience with many Iraqi Sunnis against Maliki’s oppressive Shiite government.

This put the Obama Administration into a quandary: it have moved to fulfill Obama’s campaign promise to withdraw from Iraq, and if Obama was going to be sucked back into conflict in Iraq, he and his administration were going to be damn sure to be careful and that the conditions under which it would reenter conflict in Iraq would make sense for its overall goals for the region. The core of this strategy was moving away from the U.S. shouldering the majority of initiative, burden, and responsibility for fights against regional extremism and also away from larger invasions, wars, and occupations like those that were initiated and (mis)prosecuted during the (W.) Bush Administration, all while moving towards America being a friend, supporter and ally of the local and non-oppressive forces in the region fighting extremism.

When people complain about Obama “not having a strategy” for the Middle East, they clearly seem to have missed this obvious strategy here, as exemplified by virtually all of the Administration’s actions and inactions in the region for some time. This strategy is quite sound, as 1.) it avoids making the U.S. the main target as would happen when having its forces lead, 2.) it allows the fight to be properly framed primarily as a local vs. extremists fight, rather than a U.S./West vs. Muslims conflict, 3.) it helps to avoid generating more extremists by assisting with less-oppressive local partners rather unconditionally supporting more oppressive regimes.

This last point is particularly important in light of the Arab Spring, but also in general; many of those behind terrorist attacks against Americans—including most of the 9/11 hijackers—are from countries with oppressive governments that are supported by the United States; hence, the “far enemy” supporting the “near enemy” rhetoric. Even without completely ending it relationships with oppressive regimes—an ideal if impractical approach—the Obama Administration has been careful to distance itself from such regimes in the Middle East, at the very least avoiding the warm embrace of past administrations. Egypt is a good example of this, and so is Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, but perhaps the best example is Iraq…

When Maliki’s Iraqi government asked for heavy U.S. assistance in the face of ISIS’s onslaught last summer, Obama knew that it was Malik’s own oppressive, heavy-handed policies targeting Sunnis that had largely created the crisis. If Obama had unquestioningly come to the aid of Maliki and his government in Iraq when it was seen as brutally oppressing Iraqi Sunnis, Obama’s assistance would have just played into ISIS’s strategy of framing the conflict as the U.S. and Iraqi governments merely being forces of oppression against Sunnis. Rather, Obama knew it was crucial to U.S. interests and strategy not be seen as aiding in Maliki’s oppression, and told Maliki that he would need to change his ways, or, failing that, told the Iraqis they would need to find a new leader worthy of American support if such support was to be forthcoming; Maliki did not swerve his course under heavy U.S. pressure, but Iraq’s political establishment did and forced Maliki out for a new, far less divisively sectarian Dr. Haider al-Abadi. As I have written before, Obama’s withholding of support for Maliki’s oppressive government to bring about major internal Iraqi changes was a consummate diplomatic victory that was a win for America, Iraq, and the region. If Obama had come to Maliki’s aid without demanding the Iraqi government treat Sunnis better, that would have been a gift to ISIS and further inflamed sectarian tensions and added to ISIS’s legitimacy and support among disaffected Sunnis. Basically, Obama has signaled an end to doing dictators’ dirty work for them, and leaders that go past a certain point of heavy-handedness will find America more hesitant to help them than before.

Going back to the earlier analogy of a detective investigating a murder suspect: as I have noted before, violent crime and terrorism are actually similar problems with similar solutions; in the short term, force and deterrence is important, but in the longer run, “soft power” approaches that involve community and international development emphasizing human rights are even more important. Obama is mocked for even suggesting this, but those doing the mocking only reveal their own myopia and disqualification from having anything to do with U.S. counterterrorism policy.

Obama’s Strategy

This leads up to the central aspects of both Obama’s Middle Eastern strategy andhis ISIS/counterterrorism strategy, with Iraq as a springboard: gone are the days when Middle Eastern regimes would avoid tough political compromises with minority or disaffected ethnic, religious, and political groups, waiting for the U.S. to bail them out with military aid and sometimes military action that would simply beat these groups into destruction or submission; from Lebanon to Israel and Palestine, to Iraq and Yemen, to Syria and Egypt, many of the recent and also past conflicts revolve around a government oppressing various groups and using force, rather than politics, to achieve a “solution.”

With Obama more than any other president, American aid the degree of itdepends on whether regimes use politics over force. Obama distanced himself from Maliki, and has also distanced himself from Egypt’s oppressive Sisi; though Syria’s Assad would be a good ally against ISIS, America working with Assad has been ruled out based on his morphing into a mass murderer. At east rhetorically, Obama has even clashed repeatedly with close ally Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his heavy-handedness with the Palestinians. The clear reality is that these regimes and others were able to use (the expectations of) American support and/or American military action to continue oppression carte blanche.

Now to Graeme Wood’s important article about ISIS: If bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s main aims was a long struggle to drive out western support for non-Islamic regimes with the hope of establishing a caliphate in the distant future—emphasizing the here-and-now-struggle over the caliphate—then ISIS’s focus is different: its people want to be the barrier carriers and enforcers of what to them is the only acceptable version of Islam (one based closely on Koranic text and theology), purifying the world with the blood of the non-compliers (ISIS’s expanded definition of takfir apostates) and to use this status to build both a following and a caliphate here and now, with the eventual, more distant goal of fulfilling apocalyptic prophecies. Their power, then, begins with them claiming the mantle of Islam, the “true” Islam that will stand up to the West.

Thus, even if it does not find itself supported by a majority of Muslims, it is also undeniably Islamic; as noted earlier, most religious people are not extremists, but all religions have their extremists and religion in general tends to intensify and barbarize conflict. More than anything else, ISIS wants and needs to be associated with Islam.

Which bring us to the other main aspect of Obama’s Middle-Easter and ISIS strategies: when defining and speaking about groups like ISIS, the smart play is tode-emphasize their Islamic nature. Conflicts are not won with each side presenting objective descriptions of each other and each other’s characteristics and motivations; they are won with convincing and resounding narratives that almost never tell the whole story. Propaganda, or information war, is often crucial to victory, and this has been true for thousands of years. That does not mean that it is often best or advisable to engage in fantastical, blatant distortion, but in the case of ISIS, on the part of the West, it must mean to go out of the way to do as much to separate ISIS from Islam as possible in public statements and speeches.

Obama did not win the presidency by being a stupid man, and, in general, is not stupid, but very shrewd, even for all his flaws. Of course he knows that ISIS is Islamic and his unwillingness to associate ISIS with Islam is not out of any sense of political correctness, timidity, or cowardice: rather, it is a very important and necessary part of a sound strategy to counter and eventually defeat ISIS. By going out of its way to not associates radical extremist Islamic jihadist terrorists with Islam, the Obama Administration has been able to hurt terrorists’ narratives all over the world; bin Laden himself wrote of this (and the arena of narratives is one of the crucial battlefields of this war). One of our most important allies in this conflict, King Adbullah of Jordan (a mainly Muslim country in case you did not know), is completely behind this strategy.

ISIS’s apocalyptic vision called for a great final battle in northern Syria between itself and a great (Western?) army of “Rome,” the final showdown between faithful, true Muslims and the kuffar infidels before the end times. The more some prominent Republicans constantly associate ISIS and terrorists publicly with Islam, the more they “shamefully…blur the line between [normal] Muslims and Islamic extremists,” the more they question and apply scrutiny to all of Islam and all Muslims, the more they call for massive U.S.-led military (ground) operations against ISIS, the more this gives ISIS’s murderous extremists exactlywhat they want, the better they can sell their narrative, the more recruits they will find, the more successful they will be.

We saw this happen for al-Qaeda when we invaded Iraq, the aftermath of which saw a swelling of al-Qaeda’s rosters and of terrorism worldwide. We seem to be particularly amnesic with regards to history, and, especially of late, with counterinsurgency and picking quality allies. In the Vietnam War, America backed a regime unworthy of its professed values or the Vietnamese people, one that had no respect for human rights, and the population turned against America and the South Vietnamese government. Another example is American support for Iran’s Shah, and America is still paying the price for that support. Now,Republicans are calling for more robust support for Egypt’s oppressive PresidentAbdel Fattah al-Sisi against Islamist insurgents there, including an ISIS affiliate. They seem blithely unaware that such support might actually empower the insurgents fighting against Sisi’s regime. In fact, if the U.S. were to go back to robustly aiding dictators who show no regard for human rights, it will prove ISIS’s propaganda true: that America and the West are teaming up with non-Islamic oppressors, who together are working against the masses of regular Muslims.

And, crucially, more people will line up to fight us than if we were to be more careful about who we strongly supported, to whom we gave weaker support to, and who we did not support. Iraq’s recent history proves this: the Sunnis in Western Iraq fought with American forces to defeat al-Qaeda in 2007; in 2014 they fought with ISIS against a Shiite government in Baghdad, led by Maliki, that shared no power, offered no compromise, gave no quarter to Sunnis, all while using the security forces of the state to promulgate violence against Sunni leaders and villages. Iraq’s Sunnis were willing to fight against extremists Sunni Islamic terrorists when they believed they would get a fair shake in the Iraqi political system; when they instead were forcefully and deliberately marginalized, many of them allied with the same terrorists they had recently fought.

Instead of accommodating aggrieved groups and working out long-term compromise, these regimes will just use American support to get away with literal murder, fueling even more instability and conflict in the future. This was a major lesson of both 9/11 and the Arab Spring, but the myopia of the Republicans leaves no room to even acknowledge this. Instead, Obama seeks to force these regimes to engage in political compromise—the only way to defuse the sectarian tensions raging across the Middle East today—by using American aid as leverage. By pushing these regimes to become something that locals will see as governments worth fighting for, there will emerge local government forces of Muslims with enough motivation and legitimacy (in addition to American and Western support) that can stand up to ISIS and deprive ISIS of the narrative and territory on which it feeds and survives. Obama correctly understands than an organization like ISIS cannot be defeated by America: it must be defeated by the Muslims and governments in ISIS’s sphere of operations, and America can be there to help, butit must be the locals who lead. A big part of any success will be the degree to which ISIS becomes divorced from Islam in the minds of the region’s Muslims. The foolish Republicans and others who do not understand how important this aspect is to the regional dynamics and ISIS’s ability to both absorb and project power only empower ISIS in the long run.

Conclusion

The above describes Obama’s broader strategy for dealing with ISIS, counterterrorism, and the Middle East. It is a complex, nuanced strategy for a complex, nuanced problem. To be fair, the Obama Administration has hardly been perfect in its messaging of its complex strategy and how its components fit together. Yet the strategy is also hardly rocket science, and even a modest understanding of Middle Eastern dynamics reveals that it is not only the best strategy, but the only one that yields a good chance of long-term success andshort-term progress against terrorist extremists like ISIS. Particularly troubling is the dominant Republican view, that if a strategy cannot fit into a bumper sticker (Trump’s “bomb the shit out of” ISIS) that means it is not (and that there is no) strategy; also, their idea that the solution to complex foreign policy problems should be modeled on John Wayne westerns. Among many other reasons, these are reminders why the Republican Party and their leading candidates are not fit for high office, let along prosecuting a global fight against ISIS and its ill-intentioned brethren.