This past Sunday Night President Obama gave a speech, from the Oval Office — delaying Sunday Night Football — in response to the brutal murders of 14 people in San Bernardino. He acknowledged the F.B.I. was investigating the crime as terrorism. Which should be pointed out to the right wing nuts that still claim the president isn’t calling it terrorism or that he is soft on terrorists.
Eh, there’s no convincing the nuts; the evidence has been there for nearly seven years; many people have even criticized the president for being too harsh, in regards to drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. But ask any so-called conservative and they’ll tell you the president is doing little or nothing.
In his speech the president said:
“Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. In the process, we’ve hardened our defenses — from airports to financial centers, to other critical infrastructure. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have disrupted countless plots here and overseas, and worked around the clock to keep us safe. Our military and counterterrorism professionals have relentlessly pursued terrorist networks overseas — disrupting safe havens in several different countries, killing Osama bin Laden, and decimating al Qaeda’s leadership.”
Here’s what I always find entertaining, in a “You-are-so-deluded” sort of way. The so-called conservatives love to say, “George Bush kept us safe”
No, actually he didn’t. Bush and his team got a thorough briefing on Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda when they were transitioning into the White House; Bush’s National Security Advisor, the wise old Condoleezza Rice was given almost daily updates on the topic — with report titles of “Bin Laden Determined To Strike U.S.” — and good old Condoleezza shit on that because dang it, we needed a missile defense system — Star Wars — instead.
Then Al Qaeda hit us on September 11, 2001.
They sent troops to Afghanistan after the Taliban leaders refused to give up bin Laden, got him boxed in at Tora Bora … and then let him go. It seems their real target, the only one that mattered to the Bush neo-con crowd was Saddam Hussein so they started a war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and got us sucked into it for eight years.
Which, because of the Bush Administration’s ineptitude, went from disbanding the Iraqi army, that helped start the insurgency, to the present — ISIS, or ISIL.
I would say George W. Bush didn’t do anything to keep us safe and as the long run has proven, he’s made the U.S. even more vulnerable to terrorism.
But I digress.
The president expanded his explanation of this war on terrorists and terror networks like Al Qaeda and ISIS.
“Over the last few years, however, the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase. As we’ve become better at preventing complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turned to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009, in Chattanooga earlier this year, and now in San Bernardino. And as groups like ISIL grew stronger amidst the chaos of war in Iraq and then Syria, and as the Internet erases the distance between countries, we see growing efforts by terrorists to poison the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino killers.
For seven years, I’ve confronted this evolving threat each morning in my intelligence briefing. And since the day I took this office, I’ve authorized U.S. forces to take out terrorists abroad precisely because I know how real the danger is. As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people. As a father to two young daughters who are the most precious part of my life, I know that we see ourselves with friends and coworkers at a holiday party like the one in San Bernardino. I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris. And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.
Well, here’s what I want you to know: The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power.”
It’s much easier to blow up targets in Iraq and Syria than it is to combat terrorism on the Internet. The hacker group “Anonymous” recently tweeted they took down over 5,000 ISIS-related Twitter and Facebook accounts last week. And that probably was just scratching the surface.
The first thing we need to do to stop homegrown terrorists like the two who committed the murders in San Bernardino is by shutting down their ability to communicate, a very difficult task in this digital age. Anyone can buy a little burner phone every two or three days to evade eavesdropping technology.
They can open new social media pages from various locations as well. I know several people that have multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts, not to mention email accounts. It’s a way a lot of people do business. Terrorists, be they Muslim, Christian or [pick a religion], can do this as well.
That’s the big trick in this fight against terrorism: stopping their lines of communication.
On Monday Assistant Director In Charge of the Los Angeles Bureau of the F.B.I., David Bowdich, said the shooters had been radicalized for some time, but they didn’t know when, where or how they got radicalized. He emphasized the Internet is the most prolific recruitment and training tool used by terror groups. All they had to do was a little studying of the various terrorist group websites to learn how to make bombs and how to use weapons.
Bowdich said the two had been to firing ranges to practice with their weapons, once just days before the murders.
They also know the two assault rifles (there were five weapons in all) were bought be a friend of the male shooter, four and five years ago. They don’t know if that guy had any knowledge of what the two shooters were planning.
This is kind of funny, in a “we’re-not-laughing” sort of way: people have been screaming, some actually screaming and others on social media, “THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T TAKE ANY SYRIAN REFUGEES!”
The irony being, Syed Farook was an American-born citizen and his wife legally here on a spousal-type visa. Neither one of them were refugees. Donald Trump, the leader in the GOP field of presidential candidates said we should have a database to register all Muslims in the country … yeah, sort of like the Nazis did with Jews in the 1930’s. He also suggested the government spy on mosques and keep them under surveillance.
Ben Carson suggested we register all Syrian refugees, as they could be “rabid dogs.” Then the Republican-led House of Representatives voted to require a religious test for all Syrian refugees, giving preferential treatment to Christians.
Really, the House of Representatives.
A CNN reporter, Elise Labott, who was on the job reporting this news tweeted, “House passes bill that could limit Syrian refugees. Statue of Liberty bows head in anguish.”
CNN promptly suspended her for two weeks.
And of course both Trump and Carson think we should return to torture as a means of interrogation.
The two frontrunners in the Republican Presidential Primaries. Well, Carson isn’t much of a front-runner anymore. He is beginning to fade. Apparently his lack of knowledge on any topic related to being president finally bit him in the ass.
There’s a lot of hysteria in America right now, fed by the very real fear there are Muslim extremists already here in the U.S. Just like there are Christian extremists already here in the U.S. Millions of them, as a matter of fact. One of them, Robert Dear, committed murder at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.
Maybe we should register all Christians as well.
Let’s not forget Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and his timeless bit of nitwitery: “I don’t hear anyone talking about bomb control.”
He was on Fox News (of course) talking about the San Bernardino shooting. So here’s a little education for the Senator: the bombs made by the two killers were homemade bombs, the type anyone can make, the type I first learned about while in junior high school many years ago. Pipe bombs have been around for decades and have been used by domestic terrorists for decades.
Second: because bombs are intended solely for killing large numbers of people, we do restrict who has access to them; in other words we do have bomb control. But, as I learned in junior high school, anyone can make a bomb, with a variety of every day house hold items. We were so proud … until it didn’t blow up.
Now, Ted Cruz doesn’t want to be left out of the mix. At a campaign rally on Saturday he said, “We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out!”
Goddam, you gotta love a guy that can talk like an action movie hero! Man, let’s start calling him Rambo.
So, later in the day on Monday Trump was having a campaign rally on a retired aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Yorktown. He proposed banning all Muslims from America. All Muslims? What about citizens, people who were born here, as Muslims? Would that include members of the military who happen to be Muslim and serving over seas, in combat zones?
An NBC reporter asked the Trump campaign those exact questions and their reply was, unequivocally, yes. If you’re a Muslim and trying to come into this country — even if you are an American-born citizen serving in the military — you are not welcome.
A couple weeks earlier when Trump suggested we force Muslims to register in databases — including American-born citizens — a reporter asked him how that was any different than the Nazis in Germany forcing Jews to register with the government. Trump’s reply: “You tell me.”
Okay, gladly. It’s no different at all. It’s the same; it’s fascist demagoguery, vilifying one segment of society as scapegoats for whatever ills have befallen the populace. We saw how that worked out for the Nazis, Europe’s Jews and the rest of the world.
So Trump doubled down on the Yorktown, telling the crowd, “We have no choice.” Calling for a “… total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.”
That’s about as un-American a policy proposal we have heard from anyone, which is saying a lot because Ted “WE NEED MORE GUNS!” Cruz is out there saying the strangest things.
Besides fighting terrorism, the president said we should pass common sense gun laws that can slow down the killing in America and that’s what really brought the gun nuts out.
“Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.
“We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures. But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — no matter how effective they are — cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do — and must do — is make it harder for them to kill.”
Of course that makes sense. People in other developed countries probably think, “Yes, any sane person knows that.”
But this is America; sanity isn’t one of our strong suits, especially when it comes to firearms. You have Ted Cruz frying bacon on the barrel of an AR-15, Wayne LaPierre and Ted Nugent of the NRA whipping up their brand of demagoguery, convincing their followers that evil Obama is about to take their guns away! Not to mention the millions they spend lobbying their lackeys in Congress to do nothing. They even got Congress to ban the CDC and NIH from studying the effects of gun violence! Nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population is for common-sense gun laws, but this small segment of society is able to control Congress. Now that’s a powerful damn lobby.
The president hasn’t taken anyone’s guns away in nearly seven years and it’s not going to happen in the next 14 months. But LaPierre and his lackeys have the gun nuts in America convinced there is a secret plot to disarm the citizenry. It’s really good for gun sales, which is who the NRA really represents: the weapons industry.
When the so-called conservatives tell us the president isn’t doing anything to stop terrorism, or isn’t doing enough, point them in the direction of reality. And then ask why the Republican-led Congress hasn’t passed a bill authorizing war in Iraq and Syria? The president has been asking them for that since 2011. But, the big, bad tough guy Republicans have been too afraid to get their hands dirty. They’re afraid it will go sideways and we’ll be stuck in another protracted war in the Middle East and they will have to accept part of the responsibility.
The GOP is all talk. They like attacking women’s health issues, or trampling all over our civil liberties with the Patriot Act, or banning Muslims from America (Jeb Bush was all for putting Muslims in a database) and they definitely like bashing the president, almost to the brink of treason (supporting foreign leaders over our own president), but actually take concrete action to fight terrorism? That will never happen.
President Obama’s speech from Sunday Night.
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.