Jun 142016

pulse-orlandoWow, what disturbing news I woke to Sunday morning. We’ve been there in the past, and we’ve been to the Plaza Live where Christina Grimmie was killed, as the Orlando Gay Men’s Chorus performs there. So far, we’re not aware of any friends or acquaintances who were involved, but it is a tight enough community, I’m sure we at least have friends of friends who are.

This will all be kind of a random collection of my thoughts on this, so be understanding if I’m more incoherent than usual.

First, let’s clear up something about the role the shooter’s religion played, and whether this was an Isl?mic terrorist act, or as one “friend” on Facebook called it, Jihad. According to FBI Director, James Comey, the shooter came to their attention a few years ago when some folks at the Court House where he was working security, contacted the FBI after he made claims about being part of Al-Qaeda. They determined he was just making the claims in anger, and as something a threat. Kind of like kids who claim to be in a gang, when they aren’t.

Of course, we all know now about his call to 911 claiming loyalty to the leader of ISIL, and mentioning the Boston Bombers. The Boston Bombers claimed to affiliated with Al-Qaeda. So, why does this matter? Well ISIL and Al-Qaeda are mortal enemies. He basically pledged allegiance to two diametrically opposed groups, Shi’a Hezbollah and Sunni ISIS. I think this shows the guy was either stupid, or too consumed by his rage to consider what he was saying, he just wanted to seem like a big guy on a big mission. I believe this takes all wind out of the sales of those trying to make this some sort of international terrorist event. It was not. Continue reading »

Sep 112011

I seem to be called on often to give the prayer at the end of our Sunday School class. We just started a study of the Beatitudes, and of course the 9/11 commemoration services were all over the TV and radio this morning. Just before going into Church I heard President Obama at the Memorial in New York read Psalm 46. I try to make the prayer topical with current events and the lesson, so this is most of what I recall saying:

Father God, at this time of remembrance you are our refuge and strength, but we confess our sin of fear…rational fear and irrational fear which has caused us the mistrust and suspicion of our neighbors and brothers and sisters around the world…a fear that has driven us to war. You are the God who bends the bough, breaks the spear, and burns the chariot in the fire. You are also the God who has called “blessed” the peacemakers. Send us out in peace as peacemakers. Amen

Everyone is writing something about 9/11. Plenty will write words more fitting of the occasion, so I’ll leave my discussion to this prayer.

Bin Laden and His Family

 Politics, War  Comments Off on Bin Laden and His Family
May 112011

I’ve been torn about the action against Bin Laden and how the situation has been handled. My attitude is that every reasonable effort should have been taken to capture him alive and try him in a U.S. Court. Of course, I realize a lot of people don’t think we should give fair trials anymore, and I understand there would be risks. Also, I wasn’t on the ground at the compound.

Once he was killed, however, I think there was an issue with what to do with the body. I hope he did receive some religious rites. Everyone is entitled to that, and I think a burial at sea was most likely the best solution. There’s no real need to release the photos. There are people who will make all sorts of claims regardless of whether or not the photos are released.

I think I understand some of the spontaneous celebrations that broke out, but, maybe because of my background, I don’t think it’s right to celebrate a death. It’s just not my thing, so it’s not something in which I would have participated, but as I say, I understand it.

Now let’s look at the already rising tide of conspiracy theories:

  • The first one seemed to be that Bin Laden was killed 10 years ago and kept on ice. I’m surely not buying that. George Bush and Darth Cheney would have been pounding their chests. How silly to think otherwise.
  • Now Iran claims he died a natural death a couple of years ago. His family is giving every impression he was still alive on the day of the attack, and there seems no question that one of his son’s and a wife were killed.
  • He’s still alive and being questioned. This could be within the realm of possibilities, but there would have to be a lot of people in on that, making it pretty hard to maintain the secret.
  • It wasn’t him, and he’s still alive and well and living in Miami. Again, not completely out of the realm of possibilities, but as noted above, a lot of people would have to be in on the hoax, and that makes it a difficult secret to keep.

But now we have his family complaining that internal laws might have been violated. Could be, but despite being a stickler for that sort of thing, they’re not going to get a lot of sympathy from me. The guy sent out tapes and statements claiming responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, so I’m confident of his guilt.

And they have the nerve to release the following statement, “”We maintain that arbitrary killing is not a solution to political problems and crime’s adjudication as justice must be seen to be done.” Seriously? A son of Bin Laden has the nerve to condemn “arbitrary killing.” Some people don’t have the moral authority to say some things, even if what they are saying might be correct. This is one of those cases.

I think it’s just to close this chapter, and move on to whatever is next.

Nov 122009
Joshua Basso

Joshua Basso

Just when you thought it was safe to go back outside, the craziness has returned with a vengeance. It’s hard to top Washington for lunacy, but we’re trying hard here in Tampa. Hopefully there’s stimulus money for cultivating crazy. We seem to be going for a grant.

We start out this morning with 20 year old Joshua Basso. Now we all know it’s hard times for everyone, and Josh is apparently getting hit by the  economic downturn. He was out of minutes on his cell phone. But Josh was horny and creative (a dangerous combination), so he called the only number that would work from his phone, 9-1-1, asked some very personal questions about the dispatchers body, then asked if he could come to her house for sex (allegedly). When the police arrived at his boarding house Josh was, not surprisingly found locked in the bathroom. They called his cell number to confirm it was him, and he immediately turned it off. Unfortunately, the officer knew how to turn it back on…darn it. As bad as this is, we can only award Josh our runner-up award as creep of the day.

Jasen Bruce

Jasen Bruce

The First prize goes to a Marine Reservist, Jasen D. Bruce. It seems that Jasen was hanging out in the Channelside district here in Tampa when a man with a beard, robe and sandals (and speaking broken english) got out of his car and asked Jasen for directions. Jasen, being a good Marine and immediately recognizing a terrorist threat when he saw one, jumped to action, hit the guy with a tire iron, then chased him down the street and tackled to beat a little more of the fear of god into him (allegedly). Greek Orthodox Priest, Alexios Marakis, is expected to recover, and we’re all safer in Tampa now thanks to the vigilance of Mr. Bruce, and the Judge who let him out on bond.

At various times during his interview by police, Bruce gave the following stories:

  • The man tried to rob him.
  • The man grabbed Bruce’s crotch and made an overt sexual advance in perfect English.
  • The man yelled “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” the same words some witnesses said the Fort Hood shooting suspect uttered last week.
  • “That’s what they tell you right before they blow you up,” police say Bruce told them.

Now normally I’m fine with bond, but it appears Bruce has a violent history. A couple of years ago he pled guilty to beating the crap out of a two truck driver. But the good Jasen went on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show here in Tampa this morning, where all purveyor’s of violence apparently go for repentance. While admitting to the guilty plea, Jasen says he was just defending himself after the truck driver hit him with a chain. (Witnesses at the time didn’t exactly see the same set of events as our Mr. Bruce though.) Of course Bruce had to set the stage for his defense on this charge, and what better defense is there than the good old self-defense/ gay panic defense. The troubling part of that is, Bruce’s initial story was that he mistook the Priest for a middle eastern terrorist (because they’re all terrorists you know), but after two days and a little time to clear his head…he now realizes that Father Marakis propositioned him and felt him up. And why wouldn’t that be true, we all know about how all the Priests are gay molesters (Oh, yeah…I forgot, that’s the Catholics…oops.)

But as crazy as those two are, the Grand Prize for Pubah of Crazy goes, this week, to the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission. This is the group which oh so valiantly carries on the crusade for those oh so persecuted Christians (which have about an 80% majority in this country). They are compelled to challenge to the recently enacted “revisions” to the Hate Crimes Prevention law. Note I said, “revision.” That would be because there has been a hate crimes bill on the books for nearly 20 years…and who did it protect…let’s see, that would be Christians.

So what’s their oh so Christian plan? Well, they are going to get on the steps of U.S. Justice Department and try to incite people to beat the shit out of Gay people, so they’ll get arrested under the “thought crimes provision” of the act (never mind the little problem of there not being one of those in the law). Given that they never wanted to just revoke the whole law. They want the right to kick the shit out of gay people, but don’t want gay people to have the equal right to kick the shit out of them. WWJW (Who Would Jesus Whoop)

Mukasey Says They Knew About 9-11 Call

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Apr 012008

Speaking at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco last week, Attorney General Michael Mukasey said one of the dumbest things ever to come out of this scandal ridden Administration. He was making a speech trying to stir up support for the FISA bill with telecom immunity, where he basically claimed that U.S. Intelligence apparently knew a call came from Afghanistan safe-house to a phone in the U.S.

Before 9/11, Mr. Mukasey said, “We knew that there had been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn’t know precisely where it went. We’ve got” – here the Attorney General paused with emotion – “we’ve got 3,000 people who went to work that day, and didn’t come home, to show for that.”

Keith Olberman called him out on the statement:

The government knew about some phone call from a safe house in Afghanistan into the US about 9/11, before 9/11, and even though it had the same FISA courts and the same right to act against international targets in 2001 as it does now, you didn’t do anything about it? Well, this would seem to leave only two options. Either the Attorney General just admitted that the government for which he works is guilty of malfeasant complicity in the 9/11 attacks or he’s lying. I’m betting on lying. If not, somebody in Congress better put that man under oath right quick.

You could send him to Gitmo, I suppose.

How about a little Congressional oversight here.

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

Airport Security Follies

 Crime, Culture, Society, Travel  Comments Off on Airport Security Follies
Dec 302007

The New York Times has a great Op-Ed about the foolishness of the TSA security screenings at airports. It points out, as most thinking people have to come realize that this is mostly feel-good theater that does no actual good at preventing another terrorist attack.

They point out the fallacy of our fearless leaders’ claims that the planes of 9/11 were hijacked “using box cutters.” I’ve said all along, as does the article, that the hijackers took advantage of the hijacking template created in the past, where passive resistance was the approach to end a hijacking, and the pointy objects they used as weapons really didn’t matter. Today’s hijackers would face a very different sort of reaction from the passengers and crew.

The article addresses the silliness of the 3 oz. container rule.

The folly is much the same with respect to the liquids and gels restrictions, introduced two summers ago following the breakup of a London-based cabal that was planning to blow up jetliners using liquid explosives. Allegations surrounding the conspiracy were revealed to substantially embellished. In an August, 2006 article in the New York Times, British officials admitted that public statements made following the arrests were overcooked, inaccurate and “unfortunate.” The plot’s leaders were still in the process of recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers. They lacked passports, airline tickets and, most critical of all, they had been unsuccessful in actually producing liquid explosives. Investigators later described the widely parroted report that up to ten U.S airliners had been targeted as “speculative” and “exaggerated.”

You see, the point is that terrorism needs to be handled by law enforcement and intelligence activities (as it was in the London case). As the authors note, once a terrorist has reached the airport, it’s usually too late. Not only have most of us inadvertently passed through security with “banned” items, but a deadly sharp point can be fashioned from any number of things available once one is on the plane. (Just watch one of these prison documentaries on MSNBC sometime.)

Unfortunately, the government has crafted the system to protect itself and be self-perpetuating. If one protests, you are usually marked for questioning and additional screening, and could wind up on the no-fly list…so no one protests. Recently, they’ve announced silly rules relative to taking along spare batteries. Who knows when the stupidity will end.

Oct 312007

According to a report in the USAToday, the Terrorist Watch list now contains 755,000 names. Approximately 200,000 names have been added each year since 2004. Obviously this raises a ton of concerns by those interested in civil liberties. The list is quickly headed to a million, and it’s shear size makes it impossible to use it effectively.

“It undermines the authority of the list,” says Lisa Graves of the Center for National Security Studies. “There’s just no rational, reasonable estimate that there’s anywhere close to that many suspected terrorists.”

Now why does Ms. Graves think our government gives a happy damn about that. (Rational, reasonable…not words I associate with the current Administration.) Cheney would prefer that everyone besides his Haliburton and Blackwater friends be put on the list. It’s like these sexual predator registries. Every person that’s ever committed a crime that involved their genitals gets on the list. Get caught peeing in public…get put on the sexual offender registry. If you’re a teenager and you have sex with your teenage girlfriend, off to the sex offender registry.

If I go to the FDLE sex offender website and put in my zip code, something over three hundred hits come back. Now what am I supposed to do to try to protect against that many people. This terror watch list is the same way. This is the classic American penchant for overreaction. It cannot be effective. If there are nearly a million terrorists already in this country, we’re doomed.

Just more idiocy from the Department of Homeland Stupidity.

Oct 212007

The KingdomWhen a terrorist bomb detonates inside a Western housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, an international incident is ignited. While diplomats slowly debate equations of territorialism, FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) quickly assembles an elite team (Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman) and negotiates a secret five-day trip into Saudi Arabia to locate the man behind the bombing. Upon landing in the desert kingdom, however, Fleury and his team discover Saudi authorities suspicious and unwelcoming of American interlopers into what they consider a local matter.

Peter Berg

Action, Crime, Thriller, Drama

Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Ashraf Barhom, Ali Suliman, Jeremy Piven, Richard Jenkins, Kyle Chandler, Frances Fisher, Danny Huston, Kelly AuCoin, Anna Deavere Smith, Minka Kelly, Amy Hunter

FBI Agent Fleury’s crew finds a like-minded partner in Saudi Colonel Al-Ghazi, who helps them navigate royal politics and unlock the secrets of the crime scene and the workings of an extremist cell bent on further destruction.  With these unlikely allies sharing a propulsive commitment to crack the case, the team is led to the killer’s front door.

This movie ends up feeling like an episode of ’24’. The cast are great though especially Piven and Foxx, but Cooper and Garner seem criminally underused in the film. The film is harrowing in parts and the scenes involving Bateman and the extremists are some of the most tense scenes seen .

The Kingdom is exciting, well acted and tense but almost ruined by the restless hand-held camera-work. I simply do not understand why some directors think that this technique adds anything to a movie. Presumably it is intended to replicate a documentary style by conveying a sense of urgency and excitement but the effect is simply headache-inducing.You get no time to focus on any one scene as the camera twitches from one angle to another.

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Jul 292007

In his weekly radio address Bu$h demanded that Congress update the laws governing electronic surveillance. Now why would George give a damn about whether the law is up-to-date or not. It’s not like the Cheney/Bush Administration is following any of the laws anyway.

Jul 192007

This didn’t even make a splash in this country. I found the story on the British Guardian website. Seems that Bush signed an executive order giving the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to seize property and assets of anyone the Administration determines to be aiding terrorists.

President Bush unveiled an executive order that allows the administration to block bank accounts and any other financial assets that might be found in this country belonging to people, companies or groups that the United States deems are working to threaten stability in Iraq.

This goes along with the idea that they can declare you an enemy combatant, and strip you of your Constitutional Rights as well. Yep, after a mere 230 years, portions of the Constitution (or the whole thing I suppose) can just be suspended by Executive Order of King George. Of course Whitehouse Spokesman Tony Snow promised it would only be used against terrorists.

When will we put a stop to the madness? When will Americans demand that their nation be returned?