Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

The monuments men…

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

…and women—to all those misguided individuals jumping on the careening bandwagon of indiscriminately tearing down monuments, I understand the sentiments. After all, people like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were traitors to this nation while defending an ugly, racist economy based on slavery. Slavery and human trafficking are despicable crimes that aren’t justified by the nefarious concept that some humans aren’t humans at all but possessions.

That said, I’d rather place monuments to Confederate traitors in museums where the tale of their terrible deeds is completely displayed for all to see. My reason is simple: I’m not sure people know about Lee’s or Jackson’s life stories and how they came to be traitors. Lee was a graduate of West Point, after all, but the U.S. military was racist right into the 20th century. Germany turned some famous concentration camps into historical sites so that Germans and the world would never forget the Nazi atrocities. We need to do the same with slavery and those who tried to tear the Union apart in support of it.

But let’s be reasonable about this. Historical figures like Washington and Jefferson and other Founding Fathers did a lot to jumpstart this nation. Their peccadilloes aren’t excusable, of course, but they were so much more than slave owners, and they weren’t traitors to the U.S. In fact, our country wouldn’t have existed without them!

What’s more worrisome are the sneaky politicians and power-grabbers jumping on the anti-monuments bandwagon and encouraging crowds to tear the monuments down. An egregious example is Bill DeBlasio’s desire to tear down the Columbus statue at NYC’s Columbus Circle, home to Lincoln Center. Guess what? He’s the mayor of NYC and—surprise, surprise!—he’s running for reelection. Just as Trump panders to his base of alt-right, KKK, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi crazies, DeBlasio panders to his base too. And he stokes the fires of division by doing so.

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White House cleaning?

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

It’s amazing that many were demanding that only Steve Bannon be fired. Julia Halin, Stephen Miller, Ben Shapiro, and other alt-right sympathizers (if not card-carrying members) on the White House staff should be fired along with Bannon, but his would be like Hitler firing his staff—Goebbels, Goering, Heydrich, Himmler, and others. Until we’re rid of the two guys at the top, Pence and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, order won’t be restored.

I don’t envy Kelly. He looked like he was in existential agony as he listened to his boss’ rants a week ago about equating the counter-protesters at Charlottesville with the thugs from the KKK, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other violent racists and bigots. Peacefully protesting the plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee? I’ll admit that some people went to Charlottesville without violence on their minds among those right-wing hordes, but the moment they heard chants of thate and saw confederate flags and swastikas, they should have walked away. Those words and iconic symbols of bigotry and hatred automatically implied violence would ensue.

The far-left is somewhat at fault. Antifa meets violence with violence, and even the ACLU enables it by calling this demonstration of hatred and bigotry violence free speech. Any permit given to these groups is a permit to do violence.

Are there any real differences between the car-attack on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas and the one in Charlottesville? Names for hate groups are arbitrary. You call them ISIS or neo-Nazis or whatever, but these are just names for rabid dogs that must be put down, not by more violence, but by enlightened leaders and smart laws.

The president and some members of his staff and cabinet are neither enlightened nor promotors of smart laws. They’re just the opposite. While the president can throw close staff members under the bus (five so far) to satisfy those demanding he fire them (he did it mostly to eliminate those who were stealing his thunder, of course), those actions don’t really clean up the White House. Catain Hook, the president, and his Mr. Smee, the VP, will still be there.

No, the only democratic solution possible is to cut off the two heads of the snake in 2018 and 2020. The first blow in 2018 will give control of the House and Senate back to responsible people. The second blow will eliminate a wannabe dictator and all his cronies who have been rendered impotent by a hostile congress.

The new president campaigned on draining the swamp in DC. Instead he and his cronies have poisoned the waters of the swamp even more by enabling and promoting bigotry, hate, and domestic terrorism. The electorate should take on the role of a political vacuum cleaner and sweep out this dirt that’s stinking up the White House and return it to the people.

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Rembrandt’s Angel (a mystery/thriller from Penmore Press). To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece? Scotland Yard’s Arts and Antiques Inspector Esther Brookstone goes the extra mile. She and paramour/sidekick Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent, set out to outwit the dealers of stolen art and recover “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a Rembrandt painting stolen by the Nazis in World War Two. Their efforts lead to much more, as they uncover an international conspiracy that threatens Europe. During their dangerous adventures, their relationship solidifies and becomes a full-blown romance. See the review and interview at Feathered Quill. This book is available in ebook format at Amazon and at Smashwords and its affiliate retailers. It’s available as a print version at Amazon, B&N, or your favorite bookstore (if not there, ask for it).

And so it goes….

Monday Words of Wisdom: Special Edition…

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Domestic terrorism in Charlottesville is on my mind. Alt-right, neo-fascists, white supremacists—call them what you will, but the vehicular homicide committed in a narrow street in this beautiful college town is no different than what occurred in Nice or elsewhere as terrorists use vehicles as weapons to maim and murder.

The U.S. president doesn’t have the moral spine to call it what it is and denounce these groups because he panders to those criminal elements in our society. He needed these fanatics to vote for him and encourages them at every turn, and still does, from his birther nonsense to his racist and anti-immigrant policies His son-in-law claims to be an orthodox Jew—how can he support a father-in-law who won’t speak out against torchbearers marching through the UVA campus, the university created by Jefferson, chanting anti-Semitic, racist, and Nazi slogans like “blood and soil”?

His own party’s members have stated the obvious and said what a sitting president who really cares about the country should have said. Ted Cruz, Orrin Hatch, John McCain, and Marco Rubio are GOP leaders who said the right thing. Terry McCauliffe, governor of Virginia, though, probably made the best statement against far-right instigated domestic terrorism, but he echoed the sentiments of these GOP leaders made before and after the incidents.

On a stage where Trump couldn’t change his B&B ways (that’s “bully and braggard”), his statement was an anemic prattle about violence from all sides without mentioning which far-right wingnuts started the violence or the domestic terrorism perpetrated by one particular fanatic by smashing through a crowd, sending people flying and one woman to her death. And he ignored the media’s questions about whether he supported those hate groups, an attitude perhaps implying that he does—or does he hate the media so much that he can’t bring himself to answer such questions. At a time of crisis when a president should denounce these fanatics and try to bring the country together as MaCauliffe, the mayor of Charlottesville, and others tried to do, Trump completely failed.

We have had hatred and bigotry in America ever since the birth of this nation and before, but never have we had a president who enables it and panders to those who spew their vitriolic slogans. No, he more than panders to it: Bannon, Miller, and others in the White House are part of the government now—a legion of fanatics on the president’s staff! If Narcissus le Grand really wanted to show he doesn’t condone this hate, racism, bigotry, and violence, he would fire every one of them! For one who’s so good at firing, why doesn’t he kick the fanatics out of his White House staff? But he won’t. They all form part of his political base.

Il Duce dares to compare himself favorably to Lincoln. The GOP has shunned Lincoln for a long time, but this president is the worst of them all. The great presidents of American history wouldn’t condone any of these fanatics’ actions. And they would be wondering how insane the American electorate has become to have put this B&B president with dictatorial ambitions in charge of our lives.

Of course, the majority of Americans didn’t vote for the nativist, divisionist, and despotic Trump who calls himself a populist. Does 33% support, many with sympathies for the alt-right as a CNN interview with Trump supporters in Clifton, NJ’s Tick Tock Diner showed, deserve to be called populism?

Hitler was a “populist.” German industrialists loved him, anti-Semites loved him, and almost all Germans at the time supported him because he was going to make Germany great again. It’s no wonder that Germany no longer tolerates the kind of hate speech heard in Charlottesville. “Seig heil” can land you in jail there! Perhaps we should learn from their mistakes; better still, we should learn from their cures.

The far-right Nazi-style rhetoric and violence in Charlottesville and elsewhere in the U.S. wouldn’t be allowed in Germany today. Bannon, Miller, and the organizers of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally would probably all be in jail. This isn’t a question of free speech. It’s a national need to put neo-fascists inciting people to commit murder in jail. How could we have sunk so low to allow these people to get away with this? Perhaps we should start calling our country “Amerika” and play the “Ride of the Valkyries” instead of the national anthem?

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And so it goes….

Apocalypse redux…

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Redux = brought back, revived. We’re talking about the apocalypse again. Apocalypse is the event. While a dystopian society can cause it or be its aftermath, post-apocalyptic is reserved for the aftermath. There is a resurgence in these themes now. Everyone knows the reason: what’s happening in the U.S. right now as well as across the world has frightening parallels with 1930’s Germany, Italy, and Spain as well as with the darkest days of the Cold War. There’s nothing religious about this apocalypse.

Most dystopian, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic tales in the past were associated with the two world wars or the Communist threat. Brave New World was dystopian; Ape and Essence was post-apocalyptic. Even The Time Machine was post-apocalyptic. 1984 and Animal Farm were dystopian. Later sci-fi novels like Not This August were post-apocalyptic. Many classics can be found in these subgenres. Many soon-to-be classics like Wool are too. They all are warnings about what could happen. It’s common that interest in books and movies in these subgenres reflect troubled times in the world.

The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the world. As that hand on the Doomsday Clock inches toward midnight, these sci-fi subgenres become more popular. Some readers ignore them, burying their heads in the sand by reading schmaltzy romances and fluffy adventures that avoid most serious themes of any type. Which group is right? Beats me. I just tell stories. If one of them comes out apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic, so be it. Almost all my stories have serious themes, though, but not all of them are in the aforementioned subgenres.

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Irish Stew #57…

Monday, December 19th, 2016

International

Let’s go to war! Cyber warfare, of course. Maybe Obama actually said to Putin, “We can do stuff to you,” but he’s been like a turtle swimming in molasses with his actions against the Russian despot. And it’s not just Putin’s hackers. We should declare cyber warfare against all hackers. The bozos who stole more than 1 billion plus users’ info from Yahoo (obviously not just U.S. users are represented) and are selling it on the dark web should be tracked down and thrown in jail. Edward Snowden should be kidnapped in Russia and brought back to a firing squad. X Manning (I don’t know what to call her/him, so I’ll use X) should join him.

Screwing around with idle threats, Mr. President, will not clean up the internet. Stop this now, or it will only get worse. If it comes to turning power plants off or creating run-away nuclear facilities or crashing multiple commercial planes, it’s too late. Let’s get NATO involved too, because this war is international and Europe is threatened, although they might be too complacent to realize it.

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Irish Stew #56…

Monday, December 12th, 2016

[It’s been awhile. I use this potpourri of news when I want to make a lot of mini-op-eds about current affairs—hence the name. Or, if you like, my Irish temper blows, and then I stew. Because I already had a political op-ed set for tomorrow about the healthcare crisis, I decided to pair this with “Monday Words of Wisdom” and clear my writing to-do list a wee bit. Let’s go to it…]

International

More Saudi duplicity. I’ve often railed against the duplicitous Saudis in this blog. Sometimes I feel like a voice crying in the wilderness. Here’s yet another example of their duplicity: while we’ve been fighting the Taliban, among others, in Afghanistan for years, the Saudis have been playing both sides, but more in support of the Taliban! To quote a recent Times article: “Saudi Arabia is critical [in Afghanistan] because of its unique position in the Afghan conflict: It is on both sides.” Was Machiavelli a Saudi? They represent the primary source for destabilization in the Middle East and are indirectly (if not directly) responsible for countless tortures and murders of innocents. They are NOT our friends.

Taiwan calling. This is one case where government intervention was required—lots of it! During the election, Trump bloviated a lot about his loathing of the People’s Republic of China (like many communist naming inventions, it’s not a republic and certainly doesn’t belong to the people). He took a congratulatory call from the Taiwanese president. Big deal! Irony?  Obama can call a brutal and murdering dictator in Cuba and Trump is criticized for accepting a call from a democratically elected leader?

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Abdullah bin al-Hussein…

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

He’s King of Jordan and not a terrorist.  (I almost chose that name for a terrorist in one of my books.  What a mistake that would have been!)  I’m not into monarchs and dynasties, not even political ones, but he and his country represent the one shining star of sanity in a very troubled region.  Sixty Minutes, that venerable CBS news program, started its new season with him, and justifiably so.  In the interview he spoke candidly.  I came to admire this man whom I now consider a hero for not only his country but all the sane Muslims of the world (they’re in the majority) who want nothing to do with the torturers and murderers who call themselves jihadists.  It’s a wonder he’s still alive.  The region has a bad rep for killing anyone who speaks out sanely against terrorism and those who practice it.

I feel he’s a brother who understands the same things I do about how the West’s counterterrorism policies are ill-conceived at best and downright stupid most of the time—we’re riding a train into a dark tunnel with destruction waiting at the other end.  Radical Islam is NOT a geopolitical problem involving a few countries here and there.  We can’t chip at it here and there and hope to ever win.  As an example, the King pointed out that ISIS was (and is) losing ground in Syria and Iraq, so they moved into Libya and began exporting terrorists to Europe.  Everywhere a local economy in the Muslim world is failing (including Jordan’s because it’s receiving and/or taking care of thousands of refugees while besieged on all sides), angry, desperate young men take up arms against their scapegoat, the West, stirred up by psychotic leaders who don’t give a rat’s ass about those young men’s lives or anyone else’s.  ISIS and al Qaeda know these men are open to indoctrination and training and go about doing it.  At the same time, they do their best to create the economic conditions where hatred and intolerance can flourish.

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International headlines…

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

[When I can’t wait to comment…]

Empty threats from the Saudis. Obama and the Saudis aren’t happy with the congressional override of the President’s veto.  The U.S. Congress did their job for once; Obama put another nail in the coffin of his legacy.  And, of course, the duplicitous Saudis are making threats.  Let’s do a search-and-destroy mission of two major ones:

(1) The Saudis threaten to sell off all their U.S. holdings.  Ho-hum.  It doesn’t take a Nobel Prize winner in economics to understand that such an action would hurt them more than us.  First, in the short term, let’s be generous and say they get 70 cents on the dollar.  That’s still a huge loss!  Second, in the long term, why do they have these assets?  They’re hedging a downturn in the oil market!  That’s already occurring.  The U.S. doesn’t need Saudi oil.  We’re even exporting to Venezuela!  The Saudis’s U.S. investments and elsewhere represent a life insurance policy for their 6th century kingdom.

(2) The Saudis threaten to taper off on their counterterrorism efforts.  Huh?  That’s laughable.  The duplicitous Saudis foment terrorism and spawn terrorists.  Their religious schools, where they teach the murderous form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, are the prime tool for their pro-terrorism efforts.  15 of the 19 9/11 terrorists, and my interpretation of Saudi royals fleeing the U.S. after 9/11, and the many hints in those infamous 28 pages Obama tried to keep out of the news, are enough to tell me the kingdom is guilty of aiding and abetting the murder of almost 3000 people.  The Saudis could contribute to the world’s counterterrorism efforts by getting rid of these schools, for a start.  And we have no business beefing up their military so they can kill Yemenis and whoever else they consider threats to Wahhabism.  We’d be more effective beefing up Jordan because King Abdullah actually is carrying the fight to ISIS while the Saudi royals sit on their fat you-know-whats.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Saudis were supporting them.  But maybe not—they already have their 6th century caliphate!

And what about Obama’s claim that Americans will suffer around the world. (1) Maybe they should, if they create mischief, mayhem, and murder. (Read Stephen Kinzer’s 2007 book Overthrow for background.) (2) The 9/11 is very specific.  No reasonable person can deny that.  The unreasonable ones, here or around the world, can go to hell!  Will they sue us when a Predator does the job the Saudis should be doing and takes out a known tourist.  Let them try!

Putin the Terrible. Tsar Ivan’s going to lose his nickname before long.  Tsar Putin is far more terrible, because he has a mighty police state and military machine behind him.  The SVR kills his regime’s enemies with impunity (watch for those umbrellas, folks!), the FSB makes the KGB and Stasi look like amateurs, and the Russia’s military-industrial complex feeds off unrest narcissist Voldya creates in the rest of the world.  Were you surprised when the Danes announced on Wednesday that Putin was responsible for the murder of 298 innocent souls on that Malaysian plane that dared to fly over Ukraine?  The case is iron-clad: the Russian-sponsored separatists asked for and got the deadly SA-11 antiaircraft system.  It was ferried in overnight and left the next day, and ever since Putin and Russia Inc. have been denying their complicity.  This, folks, is Putin the Terrible’s Lockerbie, and we can only hope that his fate will be the same as Qaddafi’s.

And so it goes…

A double standard for data collection…

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

I can’t believe it! A news item in one of my favorite progressive newsletters, Common Dreams, aligns it with the movement to pardon Snowden.  “’Pardon Snowden’ Campaign Takes Off as Sanders, Ellsberg, and Others Join” is an absurd article and this movement is ridiculous when you consider that Snoweden is as guilty of treason as Aldrich Ames, Jonathan Pollard, and Bradley Manning. Ames, a CIA analyst, spied for the Soviet Union. Pollard, a Naval intelligence analyst, spied for Israel. Manning, an Army analyst, and Snowden, an NSA analyst, were just spies who got their kicks from releasing classified information.  They’re all traitors who should be in jail for life (in such cases, I think that’s a more just punishment than a firing squad, but I’d go along with the latter). They’re all people who are indirectly responsible for many Americans’ deaths as well as the deaths of America’s supporters against our enemies.

Mr. Obama could put another nail in his legacy coffin (#1, a veto of that anti-Saudi bill, was considered last week): he could pardon Snowden. I doubt he will. In spite of his successes or failures in combatting terrorism (there are many in both categories), he probably likes the idea of electronic surveillance—actionable intelligence is the ubiquitous point of failure in our battle against terrorism, both foreign and domestic. But he might give a nod to all those faux-liberals in the land who support him and have put Snowden on a pedestal as the great American patriot and folk hero. You’d think the ex-NSA analyst could walk on water.  Maybe he can, using his inflated narcissism as a life raft?

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Obama has a few days left to pass test #1…

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Obama will add a new nail in the coffin of his legacy if he fails the following test: He only has to wait until September 23 to pass up vetoing the bill that would allow 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia. For once, Congress threw partisan bickering aside and passed this bill in the Senate and the House by a margin wide enough to override his veto…if they stick by their guns. Of course, it might just be a ploy by GOP members to make Obama look bad, so Congress will have their own test to pass if Obama keeps his promise to veto the bill—Congress should override in that case.

Obama’s legacy isn’t something candidate Clinton wants to hitch her wagon to by any means. His efforts to give affordable healthcare to more Americans were doomed from day one due to his Faustian bargain with the insurance companies and Big Pharma. Obamacare’s woes continues as a consequence (hence the Bernie Sanders quote in yesterday’s “Words of Wisdom”). I’d always argued for a single-payer system (not even Medicare is single-payer, by the way, despite Sanders’s pushing it for everyone), so all I can say is, “I told you so!” On the international front, his push for TPP is a slap in the face at all American workers. And he was in charge of cleaning up Bush’s mess in Iraq and blew it, not Clinton, because he left a vacuum there for ISIS to fill.  So, maybe his legacy is intact after all, one similar to Pete Rose’s—no Hall of Fame for Obama either: Lâche, infame, je te blame!

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