brain corrosion? what brain corrosion?

Over the weekend I read a few of the right-wing political nut job conspiracy theory blogs. Now some of you are probably saying, “Dude, what the hell is wrong with you? Reading that stuff will corrode your brain.” That’s a legitimate question and a legitimate concern. My answer is that it’s important to read this stuff occasionally. And since I only read it occasionally, I think I’m pretty well protected from brain corrosion.

But why is it important to ever read right-wing political nut job conspiracy theory blogs? This is why: some of the crazy shit that you find in the RWPNJCT blogs makes it way, in some form, to real news outlets. I’m not just talking about FoxNews; I’m talking actual news outlets. Like The New York Times or National Public Radio. That sounds like a conspiracy theory right there, doesn’t it. But it’s not. It actually happens.

Remember that Pizzagate insanity? The conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was involved in a Satanic pedophile sex ring based in a DC pizza parlor that was connected to other nearby businesses through a series of tunnels in which kidnapped children were kept for ritual sexual abuse? That began on RWPNJCT blogs, and eventually made its way to legitimate news. Granted, the more legit sources reported on it as a conspiracy theory, but even that sort of reporting brought the lunatic idea to a wider audience. Some folks, not paying close attention, only knew that NPR was discussing something about Hillary and a child sex ring.

The stink of that shit lingers. A post-election poll by Public Policy Polling showed that 9% of registered voters believed Hillary was involved in a child sex ring; 19% said they ‘weren’t sure’. One of every five registered voters said they weren’t sure whether or not Hillary Clinton was lurking in tunnels diddling little kids. That’s fucking nuts. And guess what — 46% of Trump voters thought it was true.

The Russians helped promote that theory, of course, but it’s still scary as hell that so many people were willing to even consider it. So if you want to know what sort of crazy shit might be coming down the conservative lunatic turnpike, you have to occasionally take a peek into the RWPNJCT blogotoilet.

Then–FBI Director Robert Mueller and then–Deputy Attorney General James Comey in a practice conspiracy. indicting the CEO of Enron — Feb. 2004

And hey, bingo, it didn’t take long to find one. This is Early Stage conspiracy theory, so it hasn’t entirely coalesced yet — but the framework is coming together. Here it is: James Comey and Robert Mueller are in a conspiracy to bring down Comrade Trump.

What? Evidence? You want evidence? I got your evidence right here, pookie.

  • A noted right-wing conspiracy theorist named Jack Posobiec (who also promoted the Pizzagate nonsense) said, “I’m told Comey did not keep his memos on FBI systems as he testified.” Posobiec also tweeted “Comey now claims he deleted his original memos.”
  • Therefore the Comey memos don’t really exist.
  • Or if they exist, they were written after he was fired.
  • Which means Comey lied under oath when he testified that he wrote the memos contemporaneously after meetings with Comrade Trump.
  • Also Comey claimed to have given the memos to Mueller.
  • Comey cleared his prepared statement with Mueller before he released it.
  • Also Comey and Mueller are both career law enforcement/FBI types, and are considered to be friends.
  • Therefore Comey and Mueller are both members of the Deep State and part of the conspiracy dedicated to destroying Comrade Trump.

But wait, you say, if Comey wants to destroy Trump, why did he re-open the Hillary email fuss, thereby making it more likely Trump would be elected? I’m so glad you asked.

  • The October letter announcing the re-opening of the case was released because it would hurt Hillary less than the leaks he knew were coming.

What leaks, you ask? Shut up. Here’s more evidence of the Mueller-Comey conspiracy.

  • Comey and Mueller have known each other for years and worked together on several “investigations” all of which were directed at rich white men. Conspiracy!
  • Comey met with Mueller behind closed doors before he testified. There’s no public record of what they discussed. Conspiracy!
  • Comey testified he gave one of the memos to a friend to be released to a news agency in order to get a Special Counsel appointed. His friend Mueller was then appointed Special Counsel. Conspiracy!
  • Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein had the authority to make the appointment because Attorney General Sessions recused himself. Therefore Rosenstein and possible Sessions are either members of the Deep State conspiracy against Trump, or are unwitting accomplices, or just useful tools (to be determined). Conspiracy!
  • Mueller has refused to recuse himself from the investigation even though Comey is a friend of his, which is a clear conflict of interest, further demonstrating Mueller is part of the Deep State anti-Trump cabal. Conspiracy!

What? That’s not enough? You want more evidence? Damn, you people are hard to satisfy. Okay, how about this?

  • Comey actively colluded with Loretta Lynch to obstruct the Hillary Clinton Campaign and was a major player in the FISA unmaskings. He parted company with Lynch when she was stupid enough to get caught meeting with Bill Clinton in a biz jet on the tarmac in Phoenix because he figured the jig was up and Lynch was going to bring him down with her. That’s why he went public on Hillary. Comey’s testimony to the Senate was one part trying to intimidate them with a ”if I go down, I’m taking as many of you with me as I can” and one part advertisement to turn states evidence against Lynch and others.

That ought to be enough to convince even the most skeptical observer. But if you still need more evidence, there’s this:

Conspirators plotting against Trump with Kenyan imposter in June, 2013.

Hah! Explain that photograph. If that doesn’t convince you there’s a conspiracy, then nothing will. Which makes me wonder if maybe you’re part of the Deep State anti-Trump Clinton-Obama Pedophile Death Squad your ownself. I’ve never heard you deny it. And if you deny it now, why should I believe you?

What are you talking about, brain corrosion? That you’d even suggest my brain is corroded is more evidence that you’re in cahoots with Mueller and Comey and Hillary. I need to tweet about this.

 

asshats unleashed

I don’t recall the first time I came across the term ‘Trump Effect’. I do recall being irritated by it, though. The ‘Trump Effect’ — it seems much too polite. On the other hand, I have to admit it’s an incredibly efficient use of language. You can say the ‘Trump Effect’ or you can say ‘the pernicious, aggressively belligerent, multifarious forms of bigotry and hatred and bullying that have been unleashed by the campaign and election of Donald Trump’.

As far as that goes, even the phrase ‘multifarious forms of bigotry and hatred’ is an efficient shorthand for ‘misogynistic, Islamophobic, racist, anti-intellectual, homophobic, anti-poor and working class, trans-hating, xenophobic, anti-science, climate-denying, white supremacist, social venom’. So basically, it’s either this:

The ‘Trump Effect’

or it’s this:

The pernicious, aggressively belligerent, misogynistic, Islamophobic, racist, anti-intellectual, homophobic, anti-poor and working class, trans-hating, xenophobic, anti-science, climate-denying, white supremacist, social venom and bullying that has been unleashed by the campaign and election of Donald Trump.

As somebody who makes a living with words, I’ve got to go with the Trump Effect. But whatever you call it, it’s real. It’s easy to dismiss asshats like the guy below as a sort of aberration — something outrageous you see on Facebook or YouTube but don’t expect to encounter in real life.

But you’d be making a mistake if you dismissed these fuckwits. I live in a mostly white neighborhood, in a mostly white city, in a mostly white state. I know this shit happens, but I almost never witness blatant racism in my mostly white daily life.

Then a few days before Thanksgiving I found myself in a small specialty shop that sells batteries. There were two other customers when I entered the shop: a young Latina getting a battery for her phone and a young white guy buying a battery for something or other. The white guy needed to give the clerk some information in order to get a lifetime guarantee for his battery. When asked for his name, the guy spelled out his surname.

“Busch. Like the beer. The American beer. I’m as American as the beer. Voted for Trump too.”

He looked the Latina when he said he was American as the beer. After saying he’d voted for Trump, he said “Whoops!”, made a mocking face like a boy who’d said something naughty, then laughed. The Latina just ignored him and paid for her battery. I was still standing there thinking ‘What the fuck? Did that actually just happen?‘ when she left the shop. Nobody said anything about it — not me, not the clerks. We just all stood there blinking.

trump-angry

Then it happened again, the Trump Effect. On Thanksgiving. Everything was prepared and timed to be on the table a short while after the guests arrived. One of the guests, a woman I’ve known for three or four years, was the first to show up. She looked around the kitchen, smiled, and said “You must have worked like a little nigger getting this ready.” Again, I did that blinking in disbelief thing. Then I said, “What did you just say?” And she laughed, sort of embarrassed. I said, “Don’t ever say that again.” And she sort of laughed again. Other guests arrived and I let it go.

I like this woman. She’s a friend. I’ve seen her take time off her job to care for a sick friend. I’ve shopped at the Planned Parenthood Book Sale with her. I’ve seen her be kind and thoughtful and giving. Now I’ve heard her say nigger and our friendship is tainted, possibly ruined. Trump didn’t make her a racist; she must have held those views before Trump arrived on the political scene. But I do believe Trump’s election allowed her to think it was okay to say nigger in the company of friends. I do believe the Trump Effect gave her tacit permission to voice views that she’d held in check before.

I suspect this is going to happen more often, but now I’m prepared for it. At least I hope I am. It’s a shame, but I have to be prepared for it. I can’t allow people I think of as friends to make racist or hateful comments around me. I can’t stay quiet when I see sexist, homophobic, or hateful behavior taking place in public places. I cannot allow this shit to be seen as acceptable or normal.

I absolutely hate that it’s become necessary for me to do this.

corruption, probably, right?

A couple of days ago I responded to a comment about the ‘rampant corruption’ of the Clinton Foundation. Basically I said “What corruption? Show me the corruption. Show me anything like actual evidence that there’s corruption.” Because, you know, there wasn’t any corruption.

Today I got this in my email:

If theres no corruption how come the new york Times is writing about the corruption.

I’m not sure why this person refused to capitalize New York but did capitalize Times, but let’s just ignore that. There was a link to this article by Eric Lichtblau: Emails Raise New Questions About Clinton Foundation Ties to State Dept. That sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it. I mean, questions are being raised! Questions! So I read the article, on account of I wanted to find out what those ominous questions were and why they were raised. You might want to read the article your ownself, just to reassure yourself that I am NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Are you ready for this: Okay, here we go. A guy named Douglas J. Band, who’d worked as an adviser to President Bill Clinton and was still working for him as part of the Clinton Foundation, sent an email to Huma Abedin asking for diplomatic passports for himself and two other aides to Bill Clinton. They’d all held diplomatic passports during their earlier tenure at the White House. Abedin responded that the issue would be ‘figured out’. This is how Eric Lichtblau characterized the exchange:

Mr. Band did not explain in the email exchange why he and the others needed the diplomatic passports, and Ms. Abedin did not ask.

A mystery! Surely if everything was above-board, Band would have explained exactly why he and his buddies needed those passports, right? And if Abedin wasn’t complicit in this conspiracy, she’d have asked why they needed those passports, right? So obviously something untoward, possibly sinister, and certainly majorly corrupt is taking place here, right? Right?

Nope.

Band and the other two wanted those diplomatic passports because ordinary citizens can’t get into North Korea without them. Wait…what? North Korea? Why would these people want to go to North Korea? Obviously something untoward, possibly sinister, and certainly majorly corrupt is taking place here, right? Right?

Still nope.

Bill Clinton was on his way to North Korea to secure the release of two American journalists — Euna Lee and Laura Ling — who’d been falsely imprisoned as spies. The two women had been held for more than five months, and had just been sentenced by a North Korean court to serve twelve years at hard labor. Band and the others wanted to go along on the diplomatic rescue mission. Which is why they asked for the diplomatic passports. And since the State Department knew this rescue mission was going to take place, Band didn’t need to explain why they wanted the passports, and Huma Abedin didn’t need to ask them why the passports were needed.

clinton-gore-ling-lee

And guess what? Because nobody at the State Department could see any necessary reason for Band and the other two aides to accompany the former president, their request for diplomatic passports was denied. Which is why they’re not included in the photograph of two newly free journalists smiling and crying.

Got that? These guys asked for diplomatic passports in order to enter North Korea to help imprisoned journalists — and were denied. And how does the new york Times characterize this humanitarian request?

Emails Raise New Questions About Clinton Foundation Ties to State Dept.

New questions, my pale pink ass. There are NO questions at all to be raised about the Clinton Foundation or its ties to the State Department.

Here are some questions that should be raised: 1) Who the hell is Eric Lichtbrau? 2) How the hell is he employed as a journalist? And 3) What the fuck is wrong with the new york Times?

battle of fuckwits

Jeebus Caramba! Donald Trump is going to Mexico! That’s bizarre enough on its own, but wait…he’s going there to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto. And if you’re wondering if this is the same President Enrique Peña Nieto who publicly compared Trump to Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, the answer is yes.

Almost nobody in Mexico likes Trump. Almost nobody in Mexico likes President Enrique Peña Nieto. This is like mixing snot with pus. Nothing worthwhile can come of this. This meeting makes no sense in any rational universe. Maybe Enrique Peña Nieto thinks he can humiliate Trump, thereby finally making him popular among Mexicans…despite the fact that his invitation to Trump has made him even less popular. Or maybe Trump thinks he can humiliate Enrique Peña Nieto, thereby making him popular…among the people who already like him?

Donald J. Trump meets with Mexican President President Enrique Peña Nieto

Donald J. Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto

Seriously, on the surface this move looks completely fucking insane for both parties. I have no idea why they’ve agreed to meet, President Enrique Peña Nieto must have been drunk when he issued the invitation. And Donald Trump — well, who the hell knows why he does anything. They’ll very likely both come off as…wait.

Wait just a minute. Is there…could it be possible…what if…?

What if they’ve both made themselves immune to iocaine powder?

i had no idea, mostly

Because waiting for online customer support wasn’t quite painful and annoying enough, I decided to see what I could learn this morning from the patriots at FreeRepublic. It was, as always, enlightening. Or maybe endarkening.

Here are a few of the things I learned.

— I’ve learned Planned Parenthood runs “a national dead-baby-body-parts chop shop” and apparently is staffed and supported by “millions of homely man haters.” I had no idea.

— I’ve learned our borders (they refer to borders — plural — but only appear concerned with the Southern border) are totally open in order “to allow the free flow of drugs. Our rulers must be making piles of cash from the drug cartels.” I honestly had no idea.

— I’ve learned that “Billionaire tycoon and maverick Donald Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help” to get elected as President of These United States. This makes “Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Jon Corzine, to name just a few” nervous. Therefore, you shouldn’t “be surprised if Trump has an accident.” Except, it won’t be an accident. “They will kill him before they let him be president.” I had NO idea; you can’t pin this one on me.

— I’ve learned that it’s curious how the “USA has elected an enemy agent twice in a row…. its as if our country has suddenly decided to commit suicide? don’t people even care about (if they have any?) their children anymore?” This guy isn’t sure why this is so, but suggests “maybe its something in the water (or fast food burgers, or?)” I had no idea. None at all.

It's the hamburgers maybe?

It’s the hamburgers maybe?

— I’ve learned Al Gore’s daughter, Karenna, (who was recently arrested for protesting the construction of Spectra Energy’s West Roxbury Lateral pipeline) isn’t considered to be attractive by conservatives. They believe she “looks like an oGre under a bridge.” This is possibly because she “doesn’t have electricity anymore and can’t put on makeup.” However, they kindly offer suggestions on how to approve her appearance for future arrests: “Plastic surgery, face lifts, fillers and botox are your friends, girl… Or a paper bag.” I had no idea (that you should capitalize the G in oGre).

Karenna Gore arrested for protesting without makeup.

Karenna Gore arrested for protesting without makeup.

— I’ve learned a great deal about Hillary Clinton. For example, she “associates with the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks” and has transferred “to Russia a large portion of our uranium reserves – after receiving $140,000,000.” I’ve learned “she is a Treasonist.” Yet the compassionate patriots of FreeRepublic are concerned about her health. It seems her “disappearance from the debate stage” wasn’t because she had to walk farther to the rest room, but according to “a law-enforcement source with inside connections” she actually “was missing from the stage due to health issues stemming from a previous brain injury.” I’ve also learned “Hillary is not your neighborhood girl.” In fact, it turns out she’s a serial killer who has “over 100 dead bodies in her path to the White House.” But the patriot who revealed this ugly truth isn’t terribly worried about becoming her next victim; he has warned “any Clinton spooks out there intending to silence me as you have done to over 100 others, make sure you are more heavily armed than I am.” I had no idea about any of this, although I was pretty sure Hillary wasn’t from my neighborhood.

Wait...Waco too? What?

Wait…Waco too? What?

— And finally, I learned there are “several thousand to approximately eight million Islamic fighters inside the United States” and each and every one of them is “being welcomed by Obama,” who is the not-so-secret “active Head of the Moslem Brotherhood in America.” Not only that, it seems “Obama gave 5 MILLION federal hires top security clearance. Guess who?” (Did you guess Muslims?) Again, I had no idea (especially considering there are only three million Muslims in the U.S. — which means the other five million are totally in disguise).

I do, though, have one idea. I have an idea these folks might be supporting Donald J. Trump? Just a guess.

hillary fbi scandal omfg you guys

Hillary is NOT going to prison, you guys! Who could have predicted this? Nobody could have predicted this! This was totally unpredictable! Nostradamus on his best day could not have predicted this!

Well, okay, anybody who read actual news accounts of the email scandal rather than all the opinion pieces could have predicted it. The facts are surprisingly clear. Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009 and almost immediately asked for a secure phone like the one the National Security Agency provided for President Obama. The NSA said no.

Clinton and her staff said, “Oh, c’mon, let me have a secure phone.” The NSA said, “Nope, sorry.” The Clinton folks said, “Okay, how about if you just give a few high level staff a waiver, like you did for Condi Rice and her staff?” The NSA said, “Yeah, no, we don’t do that anymore.” The Clinton folks got a face-to-face meeting with seven senior State Department staffers with five NSA security experts, and said, “Guys, we really need a secure phone system.” The NSA said, “What, you guys are still here? Okay, you can give Hillary one of these.”

Sectera Edge

Sectera Edge

The Clinton folks said, “Are you fucking kidding me?” The NSA said, “Sure, it’s clunky and weighs almost a pound, and yeah it’s so awkward our own IT techs think it’s difficult to use. Oh, and the trusted display–the one you have to use for secure communications is really, really, really tiny. Also, it runs on Windows CE, which is a wee bit slow (because the operating system was already 13 years old in 2009). And by the way, the State Department will have to buy and install a whole new secure server infrastructure in order to actually use it.” The Clinton folks said, “Yeah, I don’t think so.”

Here’s a question: have you ever tried to cook a new dish while reading the recipe? It’s a fucking nightmare. You’re trying to caramelize the onions, while slicing up the peppers, and you know you bought Mexican oregano recently–where the hell IS it? It’s chaos. Now try to master a new communications device that has a notoriously steep technological learning curve while conducting negotiations with world leaders in crisis situations and simultaneously maintaining timely, sensitive international communication. You’re going to end up scorching some onions.

And remember this: Hillary Clinton is a grandma. Did you ever have to help your grandma with technology? You know what that’s like.

hillary_blackberry

This is NOT to excuse Clinton. She chose convenience over security (and also, what the hell is that pin she’s wearing? Looks like some sort of Star Wars medal). Her reasons for choosing convenience may be understandable and her decision might have been naive at the beginning, but Jeebus Krush at some point she and her staff had to realize they were taking ridiculous risks with security. What she did was stupid and probably negligent, but it didn’t rise to the level of criminality.

So no, anybody who’d paid attention to the actual facts of the situation couldn’t have been surprised by the FBI’s findings. Still, a lot of folks are upset that Hillary wasn’t charged with a crime. Okay, maybe upset isn’t the most accurate term. Let’s go with livid. A lot of people are livid. No, not emotional enough. A lot of people are fucking furious. There we go. A lot of people are fucking furious at the FBI, at James Comey, at the entire government of These United States of America, and at the whole combustible universe.

The folks who are most upset? Conservatives, of course, but also the Bernie or Bust folks. Yesterday I spent a bit of time scanning the reactions of those two groups: the right-wing cranks at FreeRepublic and the Facebook page for The People for Bernie Sanders.

So here’s a little game. I took some verbatim comments from each group and I’ve included them below. You try to guess which quote came from which group:

Yesterday we celebrated our Independence from a tyrannical government. Today we were reminded that those in charge are above the law. Nice.

After today I can carelees how the corrupt FBI director can or cannot say. He is a sell out.

this is the last straw. We WILL NOT accept that woman for President. Absolutely, positively not, under ANY circumstances.

Any idiot can see that the fix is in and this whole damned thing stinks to high heaven.

The United States of Corruption.

No indictment, No Justice!

That FBI ruling was a joke. It’s obvious the rules don’t apply to Hillary Clinton. No punishment for enemies getting a hold of top secret information because of you? No punishment for lying under oath? It’s so obvious the system is rigged for her.

Hillary needs to go to court and be tried by the people!!!!

How about outrageous, scandalous, corrupt beyond belief? The entire upper echelon of our government is composed of oath-breaking traitors.

Comey goes through the facts, finds the evidence, shows her lies, says that top secret information was left unprotected, and then says not to prosecute. The follow through was not congruent with the set-up. She’s guilty of negligence, she put top secret information at risk, which was illegal, they could easily bring charges. And who cares if Clinton has a ton of lawyers to fight it, she did this crime as Comey stated, and doesn’t deserve the presidency.

Is there not ONE HONEST person in this government?? I am beginning to think NO! GOODBYE AMERICA!

If Hillary is elected this November, then there is NO DOUBT this country is over.

Can’t have a racist or corrupt wall street WHORE as president!!!

SHILLARY FOR PRISON

Because of Hillary E-mails she can be Blackmailed as President from our enemies who have already hacked her server.

It’s not a very fair game, because I don’t recall which comments are from which group. I deliberately mixed them up. But the level of vitriol against Hillary is pretty much the same from both groups.

Here’s the thing (well, the thing as I see it): most of the ‘scandals’ directed at Hillary Clinton (and her husband) are bullshit. Republicans have investigated the shit out of any rumor or suspicion that touched the Clintons in any way. Seriously, back in 1997 when Bill was still in office, Republicans launched an investigation into the Clintons’ Christmas card list. I am NOT making this up. They held hearing for days, they called more than thirty witnesses to testify under oath, demanded 40,000 documents about the Christmas card list. Nothing came of it, of course. I don’t even remember what the hell the point was. But it allowed Republicans to spend a month of so on television, talking about yet another Clinton scandal that was being investigated by Congress.

HillaryDevil

You spend a quarter of a century launching bullshit investigations and claiming Hillary is the devil, some proportion of the public is eventually going to start believing there must be horns or a forked tail hidden away somewhere. This email business is one of the few incidents grounded in actual behavior that merits actual criticism. The criticism has been massively amplified and exaggerated, but this time some measure of it is deserved.

That doesn’t make it criminal. The FBI made the right call. And the furor over the FBI decision is less about national security than it is about twenty-five years of raw, partisan vilification, and the willingness of some segments of the public to believe bullshit just because it’s repeated often.

And can you guess what the Republicans are going to do in response to this? I’ll bet you can. Go ahead, you guys, take a guess.

Right. Good guess! They’re going to hold investigative hearings to find out if the FBI is part of the conspiracy to keep Hillary out of prison. Watch the news, hear all about the New Hillary FBI Scandal. They should be able to keep — oh, let’s call it FBI-gate — in the news cycle until the election in early November.

(Stay tuned for Clinton Voter Fraud-gate, due to be released in mid-November!)

been thinking all day

People tell me I think too much, and they’re probably right. But that’s my tool. Thinking about stuff doesn’t allow me to impose any order on the world (not that I’d want to), but it makes the disorder tolerable and often amusing. Thinking is what I do to keep from becoming discouraged, or depressed, or angry. And what happened in Paris is enough to discourage anybody, to make anybody depressed, to make anybody completely fucking furious.

Consider the astonishing cruelty of this attack. Targeting regular folks out having fun for an evening, and doing it deliberately and without pity — that’s the very definition of cruelty. The thing is, I don’t believe these terrorists were lacking in compassion and humanity; I believe they purposely rejected compassion and humanity. Which is infinitely worse.

It’s damned hard not to give in to rage, because at times like this rage is so very attractive and seductive. There is, in most of us I suspect, at least a small kernel of burning cold fury. There’s the desire to make somebody suffer. It would cathartic to be able to lash out, to make some sumbitch somewhere pay.

paris attack 1

The best way for me, personally, to get around all that is to think. To try to comprehend why this happened. It’s not easy. Hell, it’s damned hard to care enough about the motivations of the terrorists to ask why it happened. The massacre of so many innocent people feels like it must exist outside of any possible why. I mean, is there any answer to why that could possibly make sense to anybody?

And yet, if we ever want to stop this sort of shit from happening (or at least reduce it), then why is a question that has to be asked and desperately needs to be answered.

We won’t find the answers in ISIL’s claim of responsibility. It didn’t happen because Paris is “the capital of prostitution and obscenity, the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe.” It wasn’t because of “hundreds of apostates…gathered in a profligate prostitution party.” You could, I suppose, debate whether or not it had anything to do with “the cause of Allah, in support of His religion and His Prophet.” The vast majority of Muslims would disagree with that view of Islam, of course — but it can’t be denied that a twisted version of Islam is at the center of ISIL’s worldview.

But there’s something about ISIL that almost everybody seems to overlook. We’re used to seeing Islamic terrorism through the lens of al Qaeda. But here’s a true thing: al Qaeda was all about religious ideology. Sure, they talked about some day creating a new Caliphate, but mostly they were (and mostly still are) interested in changing the way Muslims think and see the world around them. Al Qaeda was stateless, a shadowy extremist presence that existed largely outside of borders.

ISIL, on the other hand, is about seizing territory to establish an actual geographic Caliphate — an Islamic state with cities and towns and fields and a population. Where al Qaeda had widespread terrorist cells, ISIL has a fucking army. Al Qaeda’s war was a terrorist propaganda war. ISIL is primarily focused on fighting a ground war.

For the most part, ISIL has fought a conventional Middle East guerrilla war. Not much different, really, from the one fought by Lawrence of Arabia against the Ottoman Turks. Highly mobile forces that require the enemy to stretch out its defenses. Surprise attacks using classic swarming tactics that overwhelm towns and villages. Aside from the shift from camels to Toyotas, the biggest difference in ISIL’s approach and Lawrence’s is the now common use of suicide tactics. Suicide bombers create confusion and chaos, and in turn that makes it easier for more conventional military tactics to succeed.

Suicide tactics may be effective in this sort of limited ground war, but they use up people. Even in a highly motivated religious army like ISIL, there are a limited number of folks willing to blow themselves up. Because of that, ISIL has to continuously recruit potential ‘martyrs’. How do you do that?

Advertising. High publicity events. Theatrical events.

paris attack 3

In Syria or Iraq you can send eight suicide bombers to create enough chaos to allow your forces to assault a small village or town and seize control. But as a result, your army is now somewhat depleted in numbers AND you possess a small village that somebody has to defend. That small military success doesn’t do much to help you gain new recruits. And if your goal is to control territory, you must have an influx of new fighters.

However, if you send those same eight suicide bombers to Paris, you get the entire world’s attention. More importantly, you get the attention of young, disaffected Muslims in France, and Germany, and England, and Spain, and the United States, and Russia. Young disaffected Muslims who see a small band of dedicated Islamic warriors taking on the great nations of the world — attacking their cities, bringing down their planes (let’s not forget ISIL is also almost certainly responsible for the recent bombing of the Russian airliner). These are young, disaffected Muslims who’ve been living in Western media-driven cultures, where they’ve seen who knows how many movies celebrating the heroic adventures of fighters facing overwhelming odds — and either winning or dying gloriously.

That’s seductive for young folks. How many young men (and yeah, it’s mostly young men) have joined the U.S. military because they’ve been seduced by movie versions of war and combat? It’s no different for young Muslim men.

There are other reasons for the attacks in Paris, of course, but they all come down to recruitment. There’s the intent to spark a harsh response against Muslims by the people and/or the government of France, which would radicalize the Muslim population, which would lead to — that’s right — more recruits. There’s the ‘we can strike you anywhere’ braggadocio, which is classic Evil James Bond Empire stuff — which also draws recruits.

But we have to remember that attacking Paris and bringing down passenger planes is secondary (or even tertiary) to ISIL’s goal of establishing a physical, geographical Caliphate in the Middle East. The only way to defeat a ground army is on the ground. And if Western nations send their armies to fight a Muslim army in the Middle East, that will create still more recruits for ISIL.

Which means the Western world is largely fucked until some sort of Arab coalition steps up and takes on ISIL. Which isn’t impossible, but not very likely in the foreseeable future. And that brings me right back to being discouraged, or depressed, or angry.

Yeah, maybe people are right. Maybe I do think too much.

But I also think this. Most people are decent. Most people are fundamentally good. And no matter how many ISILs and White Supremacists and hateful fanatics there are in the world, they’ll always be vastly outnumbered by decent people. That’s another thing that keeps me from being discouraged, or depressed, or angry.