You Say You Want a Revolution

I think that everyone agrees that the death of George Floyd was a heinous act of murder and that the officer responsible, Derek Chauvin, ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. This is a literal no-brainer. I would also like to think that everyone agrees that looting and rioting are bad things, unlikely to have positive results. Somehow, this is not as obvious. There seem to be a fairly large number of people who have been taking to social media to excuse, justify, and encourage the rioters.

These people don’t really seem to be all that concerned with Black Lives. They don’t seem to care much about the Black lives that are destroyed when Black neighborhoods are burned down. Instead, they seem to be most interested in living out some role-playing fantasy of revolution. Since these people are fools who don’t have any idea of what they are leading the country into, I am going to explain just what living in a country where the people have decided they would rather kill each other rather than live in peace is really like.

Is this what you want?

Wars, revolutions, and civil disturbances are interesting to read about in history books. Movies and books make war and revolution exciting, glamourous, even romantic. Who wouldn’t want to be like Luke Skywalker or Katniss Everdeen, leading the good fight against the Evil Empire? Real life is very different. In real life, civil conflict is not exciting and glamorous. It is frightening, ugly, and brutal. Just look up some of the places in the world where the people have decided that they prefer to kill each other than living in peace. Here is a shortlist of recent examples; Syria, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, The Congo. There are many more. Look up the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the Mexican Revolution for just a few, not so recent examples. You do not want to be living in a country that has torn itself apart. Trust me, you really don’t.

Let me give you an idea of what it is like to live in a country where people have decided it is better to resolve their disputes violently rather than peacefully. Let’s imagine you are living in America about ten years from now.

You wake up early to go to work. It used to be about a thirty-minute commute into the city to the office, but that was before the Uprising and the fighting. These days you never know how long it will take if you can make it at all. There hasn’t been much fighting in this part of the country lately. Just the usual terrorist bombings and attacks by the Resistance forces hiding out the country. The government says they have the situation under control and the Resistance is losing. They have been saying that a lot.

On the way to work, you have to veer into the next lane to avoid the crater left by the bomb that went off last month. They say the Resistance was targeting a military convoy. If so, they must have set the timer wrong because the bomb took out three cars full of people going to work, just like you. You saw the explosion from a distance. You were late to work that day because it took the emergency responders three hours to clear away the wreckage. They had to be careful. Sometimes the Resistance plants second bombs to kill the people trying to save the victims.

You are stopped twice at military checkpoints. Each time you show your ID to the soldiers and explain that you are on your way to work. You try to keep calm and not act suspiciously. Under the State of Emergency, the police and military have the power to detain anyone they suspect of aiding and supporting the Resistance for seventy-two without charges. Each time, the soldiers check your ID against the online database and let you pass. It is getting harder to move around these days. You are lucky to be working in the same county you live in. If you lived in another country they would be checking your ID more closely and asking if you really need to cross a county line to work. It is very difficult to cross a state line these days. You would need to demonstrate a legitimate need to travel to receive your travel permit. This is all very inconvenient, but if it helps stops the terrorists, maybe it is worth it.

At work, you overhear some of your co-workers talking about politics and recent events. That can be dangerous. Expressing sympathy for the Resistance could get you a visit from the police if you are lucky. If not, you could simply disappear one night. No one really knows what happens to the people who disappear, though there are stories. Maybe they are shot and buried out in the country. Maybe they are taken to work camps in North Dakota. Who knows? Its also not safe to show too much support for the government. The Resistance has been known to assassinate people who speak out against them. You are just glad you have no close family in the police or military. More than one cop or soldier has come home to find the mutilated corpses of his family waiting for him, murdered as a lesson or in retaliation. It’s best to stay quiet and mind your own business.

You have to stop at the grocery store on your way home. There is not much on the shelves and what little there is, is terribly expensive. War and terrorism play havoc with supply chains. You also have to stop at a gas station to refuel. You hate to do this since gasoline is over $10 per gallon, after the refineries in the Gulf were blown up. Before you can pull in, you are stopped by policemen. They ask you to get out of your car so they can search it. It seems that the Friends of the Earth have taken to leaving car bombs at gas stations to fight global warming or something. Its strange, but last winter was the coldest you can remember. Maybe that was because you couldn’t afford heating though.

 

At home, you turn on the television. the President is giving a speech about the recent capture of a major Resistance leader. He looks old. He has been president for a long time, almost nine years. The Uprising began right after the last election. Resistance fighters seized control of several American cities and declared themselves to be the Socialist Republic of North America. Fighting broke out all over the country. The Capitol was bombed while Congress was meeting and the twenty surviving members of Congress voted unanimously to suspend the constitution and grant the president emergency powers. The President ordered the military to take back control of the cities by any means necessary. The Uprising was crushed but the Resistance lived on. The fighting has continued to the present day.

The power goes out abruptly. This is a regular occurrence. Maybe a power line was cut or a transformer blown up. Maybe no one has the time to keep up maintenance on the infrastructure anymore. You decide to go to bed early. As you lay in your bed, you hear the distant sound of gunfire. The Resistance has emerged from their hiding places and is fighting the military. You hope the fighting doesn’t spread to your neighborhood like it did last year. Its hard to get any sleep in the basement, hoping no one decides to loot or burn down your apartment building. With that thought, you drift off to sleep.

Does this sound like fun or exciting to you? Is living in a country that is fighting itself likely to improve anyone’s life? And keep in mind that that was a fairly optimistic scenario with the government was mostly intact and fighting limited to terrorism and guerrilla war. I can imagine worse scenarios. Imagine how bad it would be to live in a country with no functioning government, just rival gangs or militias fighting it out all over the country. Or imagine if different factions of the US military took different sides in a civil war. How would you feel watching a race-based militia doing door to door, dragging out your neighbors who happen to have the wrong skin color and shooting them in the street? How would you like fleeing for your life from such a militia with nothing but the clothes on your back? Do you think you would enjoy living in a refugee camp because your home was bombed?

Revolution is not exciting or romantic. It is terrible. You do not want to be living in the middle of a civil war, yet that seems to be the way our country is heading. We have got to decide to step back from the cliff. No matter how bad you think the president is, or how much you think the Republicans or the Democrats are screwing things up, the alternative is far, far worse. You say you want a revolution. You have no idea what you are wishing for.

Israel Treats Wounded Syrians

If anyone wonders why I tend to support the State of Israel over its enemies then they should read this story from Israel Hayom which I found courtesy of Jihad Watch.

Israel Defense Forces troops brought a wounded Syrian couple to Poriah Hospital near Tiberias Thursday night. The couple, residents of the embattled town Daraa, arrived with gunshot wounds in their legs. The male is 27 years old and his wife is 23 and in the early stages of pregnancy.

While the two did not have life threatening wounds, the two have been through an immense amount of duress recently: Two months ago, the couple lost their daughter two weeks after she was born. “Because of the gunfire and the siege on our town in the Daraa area, we were left with no choice but to deliver the child at home — and the medical condition of my baby deteriorated,” the woman told Israel Hayom. “All our pleading at the [Syrian] army checkpoint to go to the hospital did not help. We went back home and our daughter died there.”

Eight days ago, the couple was struck with another tragedy. Their village came under attack, “artillery bombardment, gunfire, and planes bombing from above,” the woman said. “In the evening my brother came and took us, my mother and two other wounded people and we tried to flee the village. During our exit from the village we were fired on by the army and my brother was killed before my eyes. We managed to escape back to the village and were treated in a field hospital. But the wounds got worse — until my cousin took us to the border and we got into Israel for treatment,” the woman said. Her brother, 19, fought with rebels trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Currently the couple remains hospitalized, both in the same room. The woman is struggling with being away from her family, but admitted that she did not expect such friendly treatment from her enemy. “We were surprised by the treatment and dedicated medical care we got in Israel,” she said. “We hesitated coming to Israel, because we were taught to hate it. We were taught this is a brutal enemy state, but we learned that reality is different. People here have a conscience. Our enemy is in Syria, not in Israel. If only we could stay here.”

The couple were not named in the article and their faces were concealed in the photograph. I suppose it would not be safe for them if it were known that they spoke well of the enemy.

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What would have happened to a wounded Israeli if he fell into the hands of any of Israel’s enemies? Maybe, he would be given medical treatment, and maybe not.  Judging from the recent, and not so recent history of the region, it would be foolish to expect decent behavior from the people of the region, they have been taught to hate their perceived enemies for so long. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where human rights are respected and the only country where you can expect people to act decently. The Israeli are a civilized people and Israel’s enemies are barbarians. I am going to support the civilized people over the barbarians every time.

 

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The Sound of Silence

A long time ago, back when I was in fifth or sixth grade, my class went on a field trip of sorts to the Hanover College Library. We were supposed to be doing research for some project or other. when I had gathered the books and materials I needed and sat down at a little table, I discovered that I couldn’t concentrate. Something was wrong. After several minutes, I realized what was wrong. The place was silent. I don’t know if the walls and ceilings were made of some sort of sound dampening material or if it was some design of the building, but there was no sound at all. As a person who has grown up in our mechanized era, constantly surrounded by noises and machinery, I found silence to be unnerving. It was almost as if the absence of sound was aloud and distracting sound of its own. I hated the silence. (Incidentally, years later I found the library at Indiana University to be very loud. Somehow the ventilation system was always making loud knocking noises and swooshes of air. I loved it and could spend hours happily reading there.)

In politics recently, I have noticed a certain lack, especially as we seem headed for military action against Syria. Where did all the peace groups go? Whatever happened to Code Pink? Where is Not In Our Name? Where are the massive protests against Obama’s wars? Why are there no demands that Obama be tried for war crimes? Why isn’t Maureen Dowd proclaiming the absolute moral authority of grieving parents? (That “grieving mother” opposes military action against Syria, by the way. Cindy Sheehan may be a left wing loon and a lover of dictators, but at least she is consistent.) Why are policies that caused outrage while Bush was in office now greeted with silence when done by Obama?

I have an idea. Maybe I am too cynical, but could it be just possible that all of that outrage was simply for political posturing? Could it be that it was not so much Bush’s policies they opposed but Bush? Could they all be a bunch of hypocrites. It does seem odd that all of these anti war movements disappeared almost the same day Barack Obama was inaugurated. Come to think of it, notice that the Occupy Wall Street movement with its 99% against the 1% only lasted as long as the wealthy Mitt Romney was running for president. Maybe I am getting paranoid as well as cynical. The silence does seem odd, though.

Going to War in Syria

It would seem that we are preparing military strikes against the Assad regime in Syria. I can’t even begin to say what an incredibly stupid idea this is. Yes, it is deplorable that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against the rebels. Yes, the current government of Syria is a vicious tyranny that has violated the human rights of the people of Syria and it deserves to be overthrown. The problem is that the rebels are Islamist fanatics that want to impose Sharia law on Syria, that are allied with al-Qaida, that they have been massacring Syria’s Christians, and that they will very likely to be as tyrannical and vicious as the Assad regime.

There are no good guys in this conflict. Both sides hate us. Both sides have links to terrorists. The last thing the Middle East needs is another Islamic state, yet that seems to be just what Obama is trying to achieve. We need to just stay out of this.

Aid and Comfort

Sarah Palin has some good advice about aiding the Syrian rebels.

WASHINGTON – Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin criticized the Obama administration’s decision to supply weapons to the rebels in the civil war in Syria today, arguing that the U.S. should “Let Allah sort it out” until there is a stronger leader in the White House.

“Militarily, where is our commander in chief? We’re talking now more new interventions. I say until we know what we’re doing, until we have a commander in chief who knows what he’s doing, well, let these radical Islamic countries who aren’t even respecting basic human rights, where both sides are slaughtering each other as they scream over an arbitrary red line, ‘Allah Akbar,’ I say until we have someone who knows what they’re doing, I say let Allah sort it out,” Palin said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference.

Of course, Palin is just an ignorant snow billy from Alaska who cannot properly appreciate the subtleties of Obama’s foreign policy.

Meanwhile, our newfound allies in Syria have been massacring Christians and blowing up Shi’ite mosques.

It is important to realize that the Baathist regimes in Syria and Iraq have maintained their power by placing minorities such as Christians and heterodox Muslims in powerful positions in their governments, at the expense of the Sunni Muslims. Now that the regime in Iraq has been overthrow and is tottering in Syria, the situation of these minorities have gotten much worse as the Sunnis have sought to exact revenge. There are no good guys here and helping either side would be giving aid and comfort to our enemies.

 

Crossing the Line

The Obama administration has determined that the Assad regime in Syria is using chemical weapons against the rebels and so has decided to send arms to the rebels. As CBS News puts it.

The Obama administration has concluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s government used chemical weapons against the rebels seeking to overthrow him and, in a major policy shift, President Obama has decided to supply military support to the rebels, the White House announced Thursday.

“The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition that will involve providing direct support to the [Supreme Military Council]. That includes military support,” Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes told reporters.

President Obama has repeatedly said that the use of chemical weapons is a “red line” that, if crossed, would be a “game changer” for more U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.

“The President has been clear that the use of chemical weapons – or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups – is a red line for the United States,” said Rhodes in a separate written statement.

“The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” he continued.

In terms of further response, Rhodes said, “we will make decisions on our own timeline” and that Congress and the international community would be consulted.  Mr. Obama is heading to Northern Ireland Sunday for a meeting of the G8 group of nations; Rhodes indicated the president will consult with leaders of those countries.

“Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity,” Rhodes said.

To date, the U.S. policy on Syria has primarily focused on offering the rebels nonlethal assistance and humanitarian aid.

I think that this is a very bad idea. There are no good guys in this conflict. On one side there is a vicious secular Arab nationalist/socialist government that has an awful human rights record. On the other side there are rebels who are Islamist and almost certainly have ties to al-Qaeda and will probably impose Sharia law on Syria. Neither side is likely to be grateful for any aid we provide and both sides hate us and the West. As far as I can tell our only options are staying out of this conflict or, if we’re feeling especially cynical and Machiavellian, to keep the fighting going as long as possible.

And then there’s this from the Los Angeles Times.

Two years into a civil war that shows no signs of ending, the Obama administration is considering resettling refugees who have fled Syria, part of an international effort that could bring thousands of Syrians to American cities and towns.

A resettlement plan under discussion in Washington and other capitals is aimed at relieving pressure on Middle Eastern countries straining to support 1.6 million refugees, as well as assisting hard-hit Syrian families.

The State Department is “ready to consider the idea,” an official from the department said, if the administration receives a formal request from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the usual procedure.

I don’t think this is a good idea either. Hasn’t the bombing of the Boston Marathon taught us anything about the wisdom of allowing refugees from war-torn Muslim countries? We really do not need to import more radicalized fanatics who hate us into this country. In fact, I would suggest, as a matter of policy, that no Western country accept Muslim immigrants under any condition and the Europeans should consider ways of evicting the immigrants who are slowly taking over their countries.

 

 

Photoshopping Syrian Style

From Yahoo News. Syrian president Basher Assad swore in the new governor of the city of Hama, Anas Abdul-Razzaq Na-em.

See anything wrong with this picture? It looks funky because the whole thing is a crudely done forgery.

Enterprising journalists and bloggers soon spotted key discrepancies–such as the telltale way that the table between the two men appears to cast an improbably glossy shadow on the surface of an oriental rug, and eerie way that Naem (the figure on the right) casts no shadow in his surroundings whatsoever. The UK Guardian solicited an opinion from its “imaging expert” Drew McCoy, who noted further that “two pictures may have been merged to make it seem like the men are in the same room, with the one on the right positioned fractionally higher than the one on the left. This becomes clearer when you look closely at the floor, which is distorted. The right hand side of the picture has been stretched downwards into place to line up with the left side (which is not distorted).”

The Washington Post noted further that one of Naem’s shoes “appears to be sticking out in front of the table leg,” even though the rest of his body is position behind the table leg. And McCoy’s counterpart at the Post, Dan Murano, seconds McCoy’s judgment that a closer examination of both figures shows few of the signature traces that actual humans display when actually captured on film–such as stray hairs. Instead, the figures of both men have perfectly unruffled outlines. The photo, Murano concluded, “looks as if someone selected the the bodies and heads with the lasso tool and then adjusted the contrast and brightness, leaving a black outline at the tool’s selection boundary.”

What kind of a Dictator has minions who can’t even provide good faked photographs?  It’s shoddy work like this that makes it hard for your fellow tyrants to take you seriously.  I guess it is hard to get good help in Syria these days.