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DirkGently

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 04:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

Journal Archives

Yeah. No. What he said was wrong.

- We DID go in to grab their resources. Check Cheney's pre-war divvying up the oil fields for energy companies

- We left the country an ungovernable shambles, still on fire and wracked by destruction

- We absolutely did NOT abide by international standards of anything. We kidnapped, tortured, and murdered people without charge or proof of wrongdoing -- and that's according to US.

Obama did not cause the Iraq war. Obama did not vote for the Iraq war. But he tried to defend the indefensible, and in so doing muddled the facts and rationalized and dissembled.

Did he have any choice? Maybe not. Every time, forever, that the U.S. tries to tell another country it is selfishly and inexcusably using force on another country under a transparently fake rationale, there will be Iraq. Not our first crime of that sort, but it's the one we will never be permitted to forget.

This is another reason we should have prosecuted the war criminals. If we'd ever planned on being taken seriously as any kind of moral arbiter of responsible international citizenship, that is what we had to do. We didn't. HE didn't.

Of course, if he apologized unreservedly, Republicans would pillory him for being "weak."

But "context" doesn't help anyone here. Iraq is a flaming pile of bad that America created, and its shame cannot be swept aside or excused or explained or talked around. We are a non-entity in the world of self-righteous international conduct, and there is nothing Obama can do about it, but that doesn't mean his attempts to do so succeeded, either.

It is what it is. An inexcusable, inexhaustible reason to call America a hypocrite any time it tries to judge another country for horrific aggression in the name of freedom.

Not his fault. But not within his power to repair, either.

That is good stuff. And very much needed.

Everyone saying they'd prefer wildlife to live safely in clean, expansive natural habitat is right. But we can't give them that right now.

What we can do is evolve our sensibilities and shift into a mode where we focus on protecting and rehabilitating species and educating people while treating captive animals as humanely as possible. We screwed things up for them -- the least we can do is try to reduce or even reverse the damage.

And I think conservation efforts are helped enormously when people are able to see and appreciate live animals. Not stuffed and mounted, not tortured in a circus or ill-treated in a cramped zoo, but managed by professionals whose first priorites are conservation, study, and proper treatment. Just seeing an animal being carefully looked after in a healthy environment reinforces the type of relationship we're all saying we're supposed to have with the rest of the natural world. People who have only seen animals on television or mounted in a museum may never feel the connection that leads them to value other species and want to fight to protect and preserve them.

There is a small nature conservancy near where I live. It's actually moved to a more spacious site that I have not yet seen, but in its original form, it was small and cramped. The animals were all rescued -- from highway accidents or from misguided owners of exotic "pets." The enclosures were simple cages, but they were clean, as large as the facility could manage, and lovingly equipped with all the comfort the under-funded staff could manage. The lemurs had hand-made hammocks and climbing wires. The Arctic Fox someone thought would be a good apartment pet had boxes to hide in and planks to climb. Every animal was healthy and energetic and happy to see the workers there. You could go and look for free, but they took donations. We went to help them with promotional photos for their website and custom credit cards that generated small donations with every purchase.

Had they been shut down, all of those animals would be dead, period. The brain-injured racoon who couldn't keep her balance in trees anymore, the one-eyed Horned Owl, the Sherman's Fox squirrel injured on the road, the bobcat, the panther. Lemurs, herons -- the West African Tortoise who would follow you around her giant pen hoping for a bit more lettuce. That fragrant Arctic Fox that looked a little like a cute puppy dog, but was a wild thing to the core. All abandoned or injured. All taken in and cared for relentlessly, no questions asked.

The people working there were straight-up animal lovers, nursing baby squirrels in their living rooms and scrambling for donations of food and material to keep things going. I've got to go out see their new place soon and see how they're doing.

I think "enslave" is a bit too anthropomorphic a term.

You keep using it, so I'm thinking it's central to your thoughts here. I don't think it's entirely applicable.

It's true we're still learning the extent of intelligence among other species, and there's no question there are great depths of emotion and familial ties and "culture" in a lot of species. And there's no question cruelty is wrong.

But the inhabitants of the ant farms and bat houses are not composing essays on their years of cruel imprisonment "against their will." Their psychologies, however dignified and meaningful, are not the same as ours. They do not necessarily perceive living in a human-created habitat as "enslavement" any more than they they think of killing a competing animal's offspring as "infanticide" or chasing a weaker creature away from a meal as "stealing."

I've heard people suggest that domestic animals like dogs and cats and cows are "enslaved" as well. Do you think that's true? Does the cat in the windowsill, or the dog running in the backyard, who would likely run away if given a choice, resent her confinement the way a person captured and shackled would?

I think we can empathize with our fellow creatures, and understand that cruel treatment is an evil unto itself, without taking the added step of imagining that every species we encounter is imbued with exactly the same concerns about self-determination and free will that we have.

Animal intelligence is alien to ours. We learn more all the time about the complex needs of various animals -- for space, for familial and friendly contact, for stimulation -- but we are not the *same.* All creatures do not share all of our sensibilities or moral or philosophical imaginings. They live closer to basic survival than we do. A goat in a pasture with good food and water is probably a pretty happy goat. A spider in a well-appointed terrarium or a fish in a spacious aquarium is probably living as good a life as it could want. And in many cases, the world we have left them outside the enclosure is likely far less benign. No one poaches a captive rhino for its horn.

An Orca in a 35-ft deep tank, cut off from familial ties and forced to breed and perform? No. Big cats confined to a few dozen square yards, or great apes in cages or small enclosures? We know better now.

But "enslavement" is probably not the issue. Enslavement is a concept for people, concerned with motivations and freedom of choice and a lot of other ideas specific to our culture and our psyche. We know things the animals do not. We impact the world in ways they do not. We are in a position to study and protect and conserve and educate, and have responsibilties that do not concern the other creatures around us.

Our job is to be more aware and more sensitive and to be better caretakers of the world than we have been. If that means elephants "confined" to hundreds of acres in Tennessee, or captive breeding of the last handfuls of great cats, or trying to understand just exactly HOW smart apes or cetaceans are through experimentation and study, we need to do that, and not confuse their reality or ours with ideas drawn from our specific way of experiencing the world.

We are animals ourselves, but we are unique in our impact on the rest. They may be better than us in a number of ways. But we don't do them any favors imagining they think and feel exactly as we do. We have to try to do right by our environment, and it's far too late to approach that job by not interfering at all.

I like Kornacki, Hayes, & Maddow. A lot.


They're speaking at a higher informational level than most of the talking heads, with varying levels of ideological discussion mixed in. I keep learning things -- real information -- watching them, which is incredibly refreshing compared to talking heads that just paddle around in the shallow water.

And they're also doing real journalism. Rachel brought the Virginia governor's corruption problems to the fore. Kornacki broke important chunks of Christie's bridge & Sandy shenanigans. I don't see anything from either the right, or from pure journalism, doing what they're doing in terms of informing, debunking, and to varying levels, arguing progressive viewpoints. Moyers, probably, but he's not on enough.

I think Matthews and O'Donnell bring too pure a political vibe, which can be tiresome, although they're good for to get an insider's view of politics.

But those other three are something special in my opinion, and they're a good mix. Kornacki's a real reporter, Hayes is a magazine-style writer / thinker with a relentlessly rational point of view, and Maddow is a brilliant broadcaster and polemicist who's great at pinning down and annihilating rightwing nonsense in a really satisfying way.

I worry that MSNBC doesn't know what they've got or isn't satisfied with the way ratings are building, dumbing down Kornacki with that silly gameshow and having Hayes beg for Facebook likes.

They've got a real halo building around the network with these three. No one else is pulling off this level of work. I hope MSNBC doesn't screw it up chasing people afraid of big words and bored by complicated "facts."
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