Prove Me Wrong — PLEASE!

Joe Biden has promised to do everything in his power to heal the wounds that divide the people of this nation, to bring unity where there is only separation and hate.  I fully believe he will try, but we all have to do our part … he cannot do it alone.  And today, it seems to me that nearly half the nation does not want unity, though they claim they do.  Perhaps they are defining ‘unity’ as everyone bending to their own views.

In an early morning text from a friend, there was this …

“… the “new” President call 74 MILLION Americans…. white suprematists. He’s off to a great start. Unity? I think not a chance in hell now.”

And that was only the beginning.  Senator Rand Paul said in a morning interview with Fox News …

“If you read his speech and listen to it carefully, much of it is thinly veiled innuendo. Calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book. Calling us people who don’t tell the truth.  ‘And going forward we’re not going to have manufactured or manipulated truth.’ That’s another way of saying ‘All of my opponents manufacture or manipulate the truth and are liars.’”

And speaking of Fox, ol’ Tucker Carlson just had to throw a bucket of fuel on the fire, saying …

“Now that we’re waging war on white supremacists. Can somebody tell us in very clear language what a white supremacist is? Biden has now declared war. So, we should know specifically and precisely who exactly he has declared war on. We have a right to know that innocent people could be hurt in this war. They usually are.”

Joe Biden offered an olive branch, and some republicans are determined to destroy it rather than accept it.  It’s almost as if they take great pleasure from the current atmosphere of hate and divisiveness.  Biden wasn’t looping Republicans generally in with white supremacists and extremists. Carlson is doing that. Paul is doing that.

I’m sure there is a large contingent of republicans who are hopeful that Biden can, in fact, lessen the tensions, find common ground on the issues that divide us, and helps us find the path to mutual respect, but they aren’t speaking loudly enough, if at all.  The only republican voices I’m hearing are those who aren’t even willing to give peace a chance.

From an OpEd by Philip Bump writing for The Washington Post …

It’s important to note that this is clearly not what Biden was talking about. He was talking about the rise of white nationalist extremism and violence of the sort that has been manifested occasionally in recent years and which the Department of Homeland Security (under Trump) identified as the most significant terrorism threat in the country. He was talking about the sort of extremism that contributed to what happened at the Capitol.

There is some undercurrent of sympathy among Republicans generally for what happened there. Most Americans reject the mob’s actions in storming the Capitol, though, as a Washington Post-ABC News poll found, 15 percent of Republicans at least somewhat support the storming of the Capitol itself. A HuffPost-YouGov poll taken shortly after the attack found that most Republicans viewed the mob’s actions as being mostly right or simply having gone too far in pursuit of a valid point.

I remember a time when being a republican or a democrat was not a divisive feature.  Sure, there have always been ideological differences – hence the reason for two distinct political parties.  But it wasn’t the thing that defined us, as it appears to be today.  This nation is split in half, though not by any physical boundaries, but rather by prejudice and intolerance.  President Joe Biden wants to start to put us back together, but it can only work if people on both sides of the issues are willing to make it work.  Taking his words, twisting them to mean something entirely different, then spewing hateful remarks is not the answer, people!

I call on every person, whether democrat, republican, or independent, to give Joe a chance, for Pete’s sake!  Within twelve hours of him taking his Oath of Office, people were already denigrating and swearing that they would not even listen to his actual words, would not be open to trying to help make his attempts at healing the Great Divide work.  Do these people actually crave violence, want a damn civil war?  I’ve said many times in the last four years that this is no longer a country I recognize.  I was hoping that would change under a President Biden, but it can only change if we all want it to.  Do we still have any shared values in this country?  Today, I have my doubts.  PLEASE prove me wrong!

Dr. Fiona Hill cautions all on civil unrest fomented by the outgoing president

Fiona Hill … a woman of great courage and one who remembered her oath to the Constitution and to the people of this nation when she testified before Congress in October/November 2019. Today, she cautions us, and we would do well to listen to her words of wisdom. Thank you, Keith, for sharing this!

musingsofanoldfart

Dr. Fiona Hill is one of the most credible public servants who risked a great deal by testifying of her concerns regarding the coercion of Ukraine to benefit the president.* In article called “Former Trump official Fiona Hill: ‘President’s actions have put us on the brink of civil war'” by Justine Coleman of The Hill, she cautions of more civil unrest. Here are a few paragraphs along with a link below.

Former Trump National Security Council member Fiona Hill on Monday said that President Trump’s ‘actions have put us on the brink of civil war’ after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol last week.

Hill, who served as the senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, called the Capitol raid a “coup” in aPolitico op-ed, saying that a coup does not need to be a ‘sudden, violent seizure of power involving clandestine plots…

View original post 311 more words

CHAOS!!! TERRORISM!!! INSURRECTION!!!

By now, you all know of the chaos that has reigned all afternoon in the Capitol, halting the electoral certification process and causing turmoil throughout the nation.  Our friend Keith often reminds me that name-calling gets us nowhere, wins no arguments.  While I both respect and agree with him, today my fury, my rage, have taken over and I shamelessly call Donald Trump and every single person who voted for him in November stupid jackasses.

chaos-6The hordes, incited by none other than the Idiot-in-Chief, have vandalized the Capitol building, broken windows, shot at least one person, injured multiple police officers, and say they are planning to “occupy the Capitol through the night”.  Were it my decision, I’d instruct police to arrest every last one of them, and then go find Trump and arrest him, too.  Yes, my friends, I am angry … I am furious.

Meanwhile, Trump remains, as of this writing, largely silent, for this was his plan all along.  One of his aides, noting the frustration of his staff at his negligence, said …

“If we could throw him [Trump] to the angry mob, we’d throw him to the angry mob now.”

Trump has been urged by many to publicly order the mob to disperse … instead, he told them “We love you”WHAT THE SAM HELL????

chaos-2Every one of the people protesting in Washington today should be in jail.  Don’t ever again ask me not to say that people who voted for Trump are stupid, because they ARE.  They are stupid, they are evil, they are terrorists every bit as much as was Osama bin Laden!

I have a few questions about today, starting with WHERE THE HELL were the police?  The masses that descended on DC today were no surprise … we’ve heard Trump ‘inviting’ them, egging them on, for weeks now!  Even I was smart enough to know these terrorist bozos would show up with their guns, so where were the cops???  Second question is … what would have happened if this had been a Black Lives Matter protest rather than a pro-Trump protest?  Think long and hard about that one, my friends, and then try to convince me that this isn’t a racist, bigoted nation.

chaos-4President-elect Joe Biden, who WILL be inaugurated as President in two weeks, was more controlled than I am in his statement a bit ago …

“At this hour, our democracy’s under unprecedented assault. Unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times. An assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself. An assault on the people’s representatives and the Capitol Hill police, sworn to protect them. And the public servants who work at the heart of our Republic… Let me be very clear. The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America. Do not represent who we are. What we’re seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now.

Threatening the safety of elected officials, it’s no protest. It’s insurrection. The world’s watching. Like so many other Americans, I am shocked and saddened that our nation, so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy, has come to such a dark moment.”

This is how a president speaks, my friends.  This is the president I am looking forward to having in just under two weeks.  But meanwhile … the FBI, Homeland Security and every law enforcement agency must work day and night to ensure that the chaos, the tragedy of today is not repeated on January 20th as Joe Biden takes office!  If needs be, if possible, we need to invite NATO security forces to protect not only Biden, but every member of Congress and the Supreme Court, for Trump and his band of idiots have proven there is no low to which they won’t sink.

Grumpy

Don’t you just love it when you wake up grumpy?  Good thing I wrote Saturday Surprise last night, else it wouldn’t have been written.  So, how about I share my ill humour so you guys can be grumpy, too?


Personae non grata …

European Union (EU) officials have compiled a list of countries whose residents can visit the EU when it reopens its borders next week and guess what?  The U.S. is not on that list.  Nothing political about the decision, simply common sense.  The United States has failed to get a handle on the coronavirus, new cases are surging, and the EU doesn’t welcome us because of the high risk involved.  Russia and Brazil are also excluded.

Despite Mike Pence’s assurances that everything is under control, the daily new case tally keeps breaking records.  Yesterday’s new case total was 47,341 … nearly 50,000!  Until the past week or so, the death toll in the U.S. was over 1,000 people daily.  It has dropped slightly to around 600 per day, but it is only a matter of days before it is back in the thousand range.

Foolishly, Trump demanded that businesses re-open, even against the advice of the experts, and equally foolishly, the people of this nation felt their right to go out and have fun superseded safety.  This is the result … we are now banned from traveling to the EU, and if Boris Johnson & Co in the UK have any sense, we will also be banned from travel to the UK.  We have already been banned from traveling to Canada.  We are, essentially, stuck in this virus-infested, fool-driven nation with a clown running the show, a ship of fools controlling our well-being … or lack thereof.


And the real terrorists are …

A new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) last week titled “Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States”, determined that the problem of domestic terrorism in the U.S. is primarily from the far right.  The report says “the majority of all terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994, and the total number of rightwing attacks and plots has grown significantly during the past six years”, with the far right launching two-thirds of attacks and plots in 2019, and 90% of those in 2020.  Surprised?  You shouldn’t be.  All that talk about ‘antifa’ is just that … talk.  Or perhaps an effort to distract from the real threat of white supremacy.

The report also shows the far left has been an increasingly negligible source of attacks since the mid-2000s.  Those of us on the left fight our battles with our voices, not our guns.

In February, a report by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reported that cases of circulated propaganda by white supremacist groups in 2019 had more than doubled from the previous year, and the 2018 figures were 180% higher than 2017.  About two-thirds of the total propaganda incidents in the new report were traced back to a single white supremacist group, Patriot Front, which the ADL describes as “formed by disaffected members” of the white supremacist organization Vanguard America after the Charlottesville rally in 2017.

Is it purely coincidence that these groups have expanded only since Donald Trump took office?  I think not.


Justice?  We’ll see …

Well finally ol’ Roger Stone is going to prison … or is he?  Stone, convicted on charges of repeatedly lying to Congress and intimidating a witness to impede the House’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, was sentenced to 40 months back in February.  Stone had already received one delay on reporting to prison when he was first sentenced, and last week he requested yet another delay … until September 3rd.  He cites the coronavirus as his reason.  However, Judge Amy Berman Jackson has had enough of the Stone/Trump show and ruled that Stone must report to the federal correction institution in Jesup, Georgia, on July 14th.

But, unfortunately for the cause of justice, Donald Trump appears to have his pardon pen fully inked and ready to go.  Just this morning, he tweeted …

“IT’s TIME TO #PardonRogerStone”

So, if I had to lay odds, I’d say that Stone will, just like another corrupt Trump crony Michael Flynn, be a free man by the middle of July.  Stone has been a nasty piece of work since he was a very young man and has only gotten more insidious as he grew older.

Sadly, ‘justice’ is no longer defined in the United States as it once was.  Today it does not matter if you are guilty or innocent, corrupt or not … it only matters what Trump thinks of you.  I never thought I’d live to see the day when the United States became a banana republic, but that day is here.


Y’know … it’s really hard to stay grumpy when there is an adorable little squirrel just outside your window eating the bird seed and every now and then looking right at you.  It’s funny, but the birds don’t seem bothered by him in the least … they just go right on eating, perfectly willing to share their food, even though he doesn’t quite look the same as them.  Is there a lesson for us in that?squirrel

A Terrorist By Any Other Name …

On February 15th, just over two months ago, Christopher Paul Hasson, a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and white supremacist was arrested after federal investigators uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition in his Maryland home.  His plan was, in his words …

“I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.”

Christopher-Hasson

Christopher Hasson

Hasson had a ‘hit list’ that included almost every journalist who has been critical of Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and most of the democratic candidates for president in 2020, among others.  He had been searching the internet for the home addresses of two Supreme Court justices.

Now, if Mr. Hasson had been an immigrant from anywhere in the Middle East, he would have been labeled a terrorist and treated accordingly, right?  But … Hasson is Caucasian, and thus rather than calling a spade a bloody shovel and charging him with domestic terrorism, what did the Department of Justice do?  They charged him with weapons and drugs violations … not plotting to murder, not terrorism, just weapons and drugs.  But wait … now for the really great news …

Judge Charles Day

Judge Charles Day

On Thursday, United States magistrate Judge Charles Bernard Day of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland decided to grant bail to Mr. Hasson and release him from jail pending trial.  If he had been charged with domestic terrorism, as would have been right and proper, he would not be eligible for bail or release, but since he wasn’t, his public defender argues that her client hadn’t made any direct or specific threats to harm anyone. She said prosecutors are seeking to punish Hasson for “private thoughts” that he never shared.

“They have not come forward with evidence that Mr. Hasson is a domestic terrorist because he is not.”

But listen carefully now to a part of her reasoning … she compared Hasson’s racial slurs and targeting of Democrats and the media to similar views that Trump has taken and said his hit list “looks like the sort of list that our commander in chief might have compiled while watching Fox News in the morning.”

Does anybody care to give me that argument again that Donald Trump’s horrendous attacks on those he perceives as his ‘enemies’ are not causing harm?  NEVER in the history of this nation have we had a president who bullied as he does, who referred to our free press as “the enemy of the people”, and who threatened any and all who cross him.  NEVER! 

When Trump was asked his opinion of the Hasson case, he replied that he thought it was ‘sad’.  When asked if he believed some of his harsh language might have played a part in Hasson’s plot, he replied that his “language is very nice”.

Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe is one of the names on the list.  His wife and fellow anchor, Mika Brzezinski, is understandably upset, saying …

“I think Trump’s doing this. How can I not do that math in my mind that the attorney general is making a clear decision here to make sure the lives of people who are being targeted continue to be in danger because they will not put together the pieces of this case? A stockpile of weapons, a list of people that he wants to kill. Are you serious? There’s no way not to let this guy walk? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Oyer also said Hasson has had a lifelong interest in firearms and likes to hunt and target practice. She said the number of guns he owned isn’t unusual in North Carolina, where he lived for years before moving to Maryland.  Oh for Pete’s sake … give us credit for not being totally stupid, Ms. Oyer!

Hasson-stash

Part of the stash found in Hasson’s home

And thus, because Hasson was not properly charged, he will likely walk out of jail one morning next week, a free man, at least until his trial.

Hasson pleaded not guilty last month to charges of illegal possession of firearm silencers, possession of firearms by a drug addict and unlawful user, and possession of a controlled substance. He faces a maximum of 31 years in prison if convicted of all four counts in his indictment.  Thirty-one years.  And a conviction on all counts seems unlikely at this point, even though the evidence is plentiful.  But think about something else.  Even if Hasson is sentenced the full 31 years … wait for it … Donald Trump could pardon him.

I shall leave you to ponder on that one.

Dodging Bullets …

“I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.”

Hasson-wife-son

Christopher Hasson (left) with wife and son

Those are the words of Christopher Paul Hasson, a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and white supremacist who was arrested after federal investigators uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition in his Maryland home last Friday.  Authorities say he intended to launch a widespread domestic terrorist attack targeting politicians and journalists.

But WAIT!  Weren’t we told that the “national emergency”, the threat to our well-being, our lives and safety was at the southern border, and that the terrorists were Latinos crossing the border from Mexico and Central America?  And before that, weren’t we told that all terrorists were people who came here from the Middle East?  Wait, wait, wait … I need some answers here!  Somebody has obviously lied to us!

The authorities said Mr. Hasson had been amassing supplies and weapons since at least 2017, developed a spreadsheet of targets that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and searched the Internet using phrases such as “best place in dc to see congress people” and “are supreme court justices protected.”Hasson-spreadsheetMr. Hasson served in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993. He was then on active duty with the Army National Guard for approximately two years. He began working for the Coast Guard in 2016.  But … we are supposed to be afraid of our Muslim and Hispanic neighbors???  Can somebody find a logical explanation, for I have scratched my head until it bleeds!

Here is a partial list of some of the people Mr. Hasson had in his crosshairs …

  • Richard Blumenthal
  • Cory Booker
  • Chris Cuomo
  • Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Kamala Harris
  • Chris Hayes
  • Van Jones
  • Tim Kaine
  • Sheila Jackson Lee
  • Don Lemon
  • Ari Melber
  • Ilhan Omar
  • Beto O’Rourke
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
  • Nancy Pelosi
  • John Podesta
  • Joe Scarborough
  • Chuck Schumer
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Maxine Waters
  • Angela Davis

At least five of those names are democratic candidates for president in 2020.  At least four are well-respected, notable journalists.  Others are members of Congress.  This man planned to completely eradicate the most prominent democrats in our government and turn Washington D.C. into total chaos.  And what, I wonder, would Donald Trump or his mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders have said if he had succeeded in his plot?  What would Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association have had to say?

Hasson-stash

Part of the stash found in Hasson’s home

Hasson was also planning to use biological weapons such as the Spanish flu, botulism, and anthrax to “kill almost every last person on the earth” followed by attacks on the food supply.  An email found on his computer said …

“Liberalist/globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples esp white. No way to counteract without violence. It should push for more crack down bringing more people to our side. Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch. Looking to Russia with hopeful eyes or any land that despises the west’s liberalism. Excluding of course the muslim scum. Who rightfully despise the west’s liberal degeneracy.”

Chilled yet?  See, here’s the thing: They caught Christopher Hasson before he could put his plan into action, but how many more are out there?  Yes, sure, he’s a lunatic, a mentally unstable person.  But folks … he was a Lieutenant in the Coast Guard!  He had served in the USMC!  And nobody realized that he was unstable, that he was dangerous, even lethal.  He lived with his wife.  Surely she saw his growing stash of weapons, surely a woman to whom he had been married for decades saw something in his behaviour!

On November 9 2018, just two weeks after the October 27th Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting, police in Washington, D.C. arrested Jeffrey Clark.  Jeffrey and his brother Edward were believed to have ties to the Pittsburgh shooter and Edward had killed himself on the day of the Pittsburgh shooting. When they entered the Clark’s home they found hollow-point bullets, “ballistic vests and helmets,” a “marijuana grow” operation and a Nazi flag. A noose dangled from a bunk bed, a small toy hung by its neck, and a flyer was found promoting the neo-Nazi organization known as Atomwaffen Division.

Jeffrey Clark, according to federal prosecutors, had saluted the killings and had fantasized about killing blacks and Jews himself.  Here is a flyer that was found in Clark’s home …Jeffrey-Clark-flyerAnd let us not forget that last October a Florida man, Cesar Sayoc Jr., sent mail bombs to thirteen democrats including Senator Cory Booker, former Vice-President Joe Biden, actor Robert De Niro, Senator Kamala Harris and former DNI James Clapper.

These are isolated incidents and fortunately thus far none have succeeded in their goal to create chaos, murder and mayhem.  But consider this … all it takes is for one of these people with hate in their heart to succeed.  Sooner or later, if we don’t squelch the hate levels in this nation, if we don’t find ways to unite rather than divide, one of these plots will succeed.  Terrorism?  Yes, this is terrorism at its worst, and the perpetrators are not Muslim immigrants from the Middle-East.  The terrorists are not Latinos fleeing violence in Central America.  The terrorists are U.S.-born citizens with bigotry and hate as their driving force.

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump over-stepped his power and declared a “state of national emergency” as a political ploy to build a wall along our southern border to keep what he refers to as ‘terrorists’ from entering the country.  I’ve got news for him … the real terrorists are already here … they have always been here.cropped-pogo.jpg

*Additional information about Hasson and the charges against him

‘We Have Met The Enemy’ Redux

I was disgusted this week as the media strove to turn 23-year-old Mark Conditt, who was responsible for killing two and injuring several others in Austin, Texas over the span of three weeks, into something softer, gentler, and kinder than the evil persona he was.  He was a murderer, a terrorist, and yet if you read the various accounts of him, you might catch yourself thinking of him as a Linus Van Pelt twin.  “Quiet,” “shy,” and “kind” are not words typically associated with a terrorist, and I am offended by the attempts to portray this man as “disturbed”, “conflicted” … almost as if he were the victim.  Oddly, this morning I was reminded by Facebook of a post I wrote exactly a year ago that addresses this as well as I could do so today.  And so, while I rarely repeat my posts, I thought this one as apropos today as it was a year ago.


We Have Met The Enemy And …

Much has been said in the last fifteen years, since 11 September 2001, about terrorism and terrorists.  President George W. Bush used it as justification for the Iraq War, the invasion of Afghanistan, and torture abuses. Trump has instilled faux fears of terrorism into U.S. voters as a part of his campaign effort.  Now he continues to use those fears to justify his ban on Muslim people entering the U.S. in search of a safe haven.  But who, really are these ‘terrorists’ everybody is so afraid of?

They are not the refugees that come here trying to find a better life, a place where they and their children will be safe from the daily bombings that are a part of life in their home countries. They are not the women you see in the market wearing their hijabs.  They are not the people gathering in the local mosque.  So who, then, are these ‘terrorists’?  I think you will be surprised by my answer:

pogo

That’s right … the terrorists in the U.S. are, for the most part, walking among us unnoticed, while we are busy fearing the woman in the hijab or the man with the long beard and olive complexion.  Let us look at a few of these real terrorists, shall we:

  • 51-year-old Adam W. Purinton who shot and killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an immigrant from India, for no reason other than he didn’t want immigrants in “his” country.
  • American-born Omar Mateen who killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in June 2016 at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in an apparent hate crime against LGBT people.
  • 21-year-old Dylann Roof who killed nine people, all African Americans, at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. His reason?  “We already are the second-class citizens. That’s the problem. Y’all raping our women, and y’all are taking over the world.”
  • Jeffrey Allen Burgess, age 54, attacked an Indian man seated next to him at a bar in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, last November for the crime of … again … simply being of Indian descent.
  • Richard Leslie Lloyd, age 64, set fire to a convenience store owned by a U.S. citizen of Indian descent. His reason?  When he was in the store a few days earlier, he couldn’t find orange-pineapple juice, and it was then he noticed the skin colour of the owner, and assumed (incorrectly) that he was a Muslim.
  • Edgar Maddison Welch shot up a pizza parlor last December in Washington D.C., because he believed a fake news story that a kidnapping ring was operating from within the restaurant.

Not a single one of the above were immigrants, none were Muslim. The list goes on … and on … and on.  And there are rallies to promote this brand  of terrorism, venues where they are starting out young:  Earlier this month at a Trump rally in Maricopa County, Arizona, the following comments were said against protestors:

  • “If she’s Jewish, she should go back to her country,” a 13-year-old said of a protester.
  • “This is America; we don’t want Sharia law. Christian country.”
  • “I just want to let them know that I can’t wait for the liberal genocide to begin.”

The people committing these acts and calling for violence are terrorists just as surely as were Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, three of the 9/11 highjackers.  Donald Trump claims it is important to refer to terrorists as “radical Islamic terrorists”, but the reality is that in this country, terrorists are far more likely to be “radical white Christian terrorists”.

These, folks, are the faces of terrorism in the United States.  Take a close look — see any similarities? These people, and others like them, will NOT be kept out of the country by Trump’s travel ban. The people who will be kept out by the travel ban are innocent people seeking refuge, while the real terrorists are already here.

The reality is that most terrorism by Middle-Easterners is committed against those in the Middle East, not the west.  The U.S. has not, with the exception of 9/11, seen large-scale terrorist attacks and we are not a primary target of Daesh, no matter what Mr. Trump tells us.  But his rhetoric played well with the masses who, apparently, wanted to believe in an identifiable threat that was not themselves.  But when we are looking for that threat, when we seek to identify the real terrorists in this nation, we need to look inward rather than outward, for in the words of Pogo, we have met the enemy and he is us.

Meanwhile, Back On Page 23 …

I’ve mentioned a few things lately that have gotten lost in the maelstrom of trumpantics that takes up most of the media space and sucks the energy out of us.  Here is yet another of those buried-on-page-23 stories that we need to be aware of.

They called themselves ‘The Crusaders’.  Their real names are Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein.These three men are among the most despicable dregs of society, for they are haters of Muslims and plotted, in 2016, to murder hundreds of Muslims in Garden City, Kansas, for no other reason than that they were Muslims.  Fortunately, their plot was discovered and the men were arrested before they were able to carry out their plan.  Their trial began this week.

The plot began sometime in 2016 and was planned to take place after the election on November 8th, because all three were ardent Trump supporters and they didn’t want their actions to hurt Trump’s chances. The plan was to use homemade bombs to blow up both the mosque and an entire apartment complex in Garden City, home to a large contingent of Somali immigrants.  Stein, the apparent ‘ringleader’, is recorded saying, “The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. If you’re a Muslim, I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head.”

They had framed a document, a manifesto, as they called it, to be released after their heinous plot had been carried out, and they believed it would show their terror attacks to be a ‘patriotic defense of the Constitution’, and they hoped they would inspire others to commit similar crimes.

Their plan was fashioned after the one perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City in 1995.  They planned to park trucks loaded with explosives at the corners of the complex, placing bombs disguised as trash receptacles, and laying explosives in the duct work. They spoke of shooting survivors, after leveling the buildings. Their plot fell apart when Stein met with an undercover FBI agent and tried to make a deal to obtain C-4 high explosives, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and even an Apache helicopter.  He was arrested two days later.

The trial began in Wichita Kansas with jury selection on Tuesday and is expected to last six weeks.  The three are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. Stein also faces a weapons-related charge and Wright has an additional charge of lying to the FBI.  All three have pleaded ‘not guilty’.  Now, there was a time when this trial would have been a no-brainer, the three would have been found guilty and begin serving their appropriate life sentences.  That was back in the day … this is now, and nothing is so simple.

The defense attorneys appear to be portraying their clients as the ‘victims’, rather than the perpetrators.  They argue, among other things, that …

“If you all think back to the summer of ‘16, that was a very difficult time. The media fed this division by reporting on it non-stop. Rarely did you hear anything good about … a politician. Hate ruled the day. It was into this mix that we land.”

Yes, well, literally all of us were exposed to those stresses, but it didn’t drive us to plan to murder more than 100 innocent people.

In his opening statements, Richard Federico, one of the defense attorneys, claimed that the plotters in this case are the FBI, and the victims are, in fact, the three admitted Muslim-haters.

Defense attorneys argued the case is “uniquely political” because much of the anticipated evidence is in reaction to the 2016 presidential election. They contended the case will require jurors to weigh evidence regarding whether the alleged conduct constitutes the crimes charged, or whether it is constitutionally protected speech and assembly and implicates the right to bear arms.  Seriously???

The three men were largely influenced by the garbage they saw on social media, and they fell for the many conspiracy theories that abounded during that time.  Stein’s attorney, Jim Pratt, says his client believed that Walmarts linked by underground tunnels were being turned into FEMA camps and that whatever the result of the ‘16 election, Obama was not going to move out of the White House, but would instead declare martial law.  The men’s Facebook pages are loaded with pictures, memes and blurbs from Fox and other far-right sites that put forth theories that 9/11 was an inside job, Burger King follows Sharia Law, and President Obama was the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Two things stand out for me about this case and the trial.  The first is that, in light of the Russian propaganda and now the new revelations about propaganda by Cambridge Analytica, we can see that there is a secondary danger.  Such propaganda surely may sway voters, but it can also plant seeds in minds that may be less than stable and thus provide fertile ground, and those seeds can sprout into something lethal.

And the second thing is that as I said earlier, this should be an open-and-shut case, but it won’t be.  Not so long ago, the FBI would have gotten the presumption of innocence among law-and-order lovers. But with distrust of the “deep state” prevalent, with the rise of white supremacy, and the FBI under near constant attack by Donald Trump, I’m not so sure we can expect common sense to be the rule of the day here.  This, then, is why this case bears watching, for it may set a precedent … perhaps a dangerous one. Do you think there aren’t more like these three out there?  Think again.

Nothing To See Here Folks … Nothing At All

His name is Michael Christopher Estes … a name few of us have ever heard, even though he planted a bomb in the Asheville, North Carolina airport just over a week ago, on October 6th.  Now why do you think you’ve never heard of Michael Christopher Estes and his attempted bombing?  Look at his picture and see if you can guess.

estesIf you guess that this event was under-reported because he is a white man, you would be right.  Had he been Muslim, of Middle-Eastern, Hispanic or African-American ethnicity, this news would have played 24/7 on all of the major media outlets.  Trump would have been screaming ‘terrorism’ at the top of his lungs, claiming it supports his call for a Muslim ban and a border wall, and the name Michael Christopher Estes would, by now, be a household word.

You can read the details of the story on NPR, for it is not my purpose to re-tell the story.

This is not the only one this year that we likely didn’t hear about:

  • In February, a Florida man named Mark Barnett allegedly created improvised explosives to plant in Target stores along the East Coast as part of a profit-driven bomb plot. Someone he allegedly attempted to recruit to his plot turned Barnett into authorities and he was charged in federal court; his federal case is ongoing.

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  • In July, Luke Mullen was arrested after allegedly making bomb threats against the Colorado Springs Airport; police say he had four explosive devices and a machete inside his vehicle.

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  • Also in July, a blast outside the Bixby Air Force Recruitment Office in Oklahoma caused property damage but no injuries. Benjamin Roden, a former airman, was arrested and is facing federal charges in connection with the incident.

Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos


  • In August, Elijah Blankenship in Ohio was arrested and charged with creating multiple homemade explosives. His arrest came shortly before an anti-racist vigil in honor of the victims of the Charlottesville, Va., attack, but court records don’t indicate whether there was a connection to the event.

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  • In September, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that Douglas Kennedy of Tifton, Ga., was charged with manufacturing explosive devices after a bomb went off in the parking lot of the Tift Regional Medical Center; no one was injured. Kennedy had allegedly constructed and detonated at least three other bombs, none of which hurt anybody.

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For the most part, these stories were only reported locally, did not receive national attention in the media, and received no mention from anybody in the Trump administration.  Even the conspiracy theorists Jones, Hannity, Limbaugh and their ilk were silent on this one! The case of Estes would still lie buried in the archives of the Asheville Citizen Times newspaper if it were not for civil rights activist Shaun King, writing for The Intercept.  Since King’s article was published on October 11th, the story has been picked up by the mainstream media, including the New York Times, USA Today, Salon, NPR, Fox News, CBS News and others.  Nearly a week after the fact.  Would any of these outlets have published the story were it not for Shaun King’s article? I think we know the answer.

White males committing acts that might otherwise be labeled ‘terrorism’ do not elicit the attention of Donald Trump, and these days if Donald Trump does not have something to say about an event, then it is not newsworthy.  White males committing crimes is of no interest to Trump because it does not fit his agenda.  I get that, and I have low expectations of Trump anyway. But frankly I expect better out of our press.  I expect our press to push these stories, to inform the public so that Trump’s blind-faith followers can no longer deny that most acts of terrorism in this country are actually committed by white citizens, not Muslims, not Latinos, but white, male citizens.

I have come out in defense of our free press many times in recent months, and I will continue to do so as long as I have breath, for I firmly believe that the freedom of press to investigate and report, to keep us informed, is the very core of our democracy.  I believe that if we allow government to place constraints on the media, we will too soon become much like Turkey – a democracy in name only.  However, with that freedom comes a responsibility to act as a free press, to report all the news, not just the news that has Trump in the headlines, or about which Trump is tweeting. By ignoring these stories, the press is playing directly into Trump’s hand.

Fortunately, the bomb that Estes left in the Asheville airport was found and defused by police before it could do any harm, but that and the other cases I mentioned had the potential to cause serious harm, injuries and even death.  When he was arrested the following day, Estes told police that he was “preparing to fight a war on U.S. soil” and that this bomb was but one part of that war. That, folks, should frighten us a lot more than the refugee from Syria, the laborer from Mexico. How is that not newsworthy, yet every word that spews from the mouth of Donald Trump, is ‘breaking news’?

I understand that the mainstream media are for-profit organizations, that they are in business to make money, and that as such they must use their resources to report the stories they believe the people want to see.  But to ignore these stories, to give them less attention simply because it was a white male rather than a Syrian or a Mexican who committed the crime, is wrong.  We must hold the press accountable to report all the news, not to cherry pick and report only what Trump is doing.