Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “terrorists”

Mitigating Scandals By Passing The Buck

A few weeks ago I wrote a few pieces about my pre-campaign for political office, probably the U.S. Senate then, but now I aspire for higher office.  My pre-campaign is like pre-approval for a credit card — it is not yet approved and my campaign is not yet announced.  However, I have been learning a lot by observing the current administration’s approach to what lesser politicians would perceive as criticism.  President Nixon could take lessons from President Obama.

President Nixon thought he had to admit or deny accusations about Watergate.  President Obama is way more cool than that.  He actually jumps on the bandwagon of the accusers.  He embraces the opportunity to empathize with his critics.  He is very upset by what has happened in Benghazi, what has been done by the I.R.S., and what has been done by the F.B.I.  He is appalled, just like the rest of us.

President Nixon was concerned that the famous “buck” which President Truman had said stopped in the Oval Office actually did stop there.  President Obama has a very different viewpoint.

He is unapologetic about not protecting the ambassador killed at our embassy in Libya.  He is appalled that it happened and he is appalled that anyone would blame the State Department or the military or him.  He wasn’t at fault because he did not really know what all was going on that fateful night.  It was his night off.

Apparently, the buck has not stopped at all.  It was no one’s fault, not even terrorists.  The people who attacked the embassy might not have been terrorists as we commonly use the word.  They were terrorists in a very complicated sense of the word “terrorist” that is so complicated that the denial of this tragedy being caused by terrorists for too long was, well, due to a misunderstanding.  It is complicated, like I said.

What I have gotten out of it is that there are real Al Qaeda terrorists, whom President Obama assumed we all were suspecting, when in actuality the terrorists who performed the terrorism at Benghazi were merely wannabe terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda without being official card-carrying members.  It is an important distinction to our president but I’m not smart enough to understand the distinction or why it is important.  Initially we were told that it was a mob upset by a movie.  Then it was a terrorist act by non-terrorists.  Now it is terrorists who are responsible, but not Al Qaeda terrorists — they know better than to do any terrorist acts now that President Obama has Al Qaeda on the run.

President Obama is also appalled by the I.R.S. having targeted conservative groups.  Some might say that was done under his watch, making him responsible.   Those who say that are silly Trumanites who still believe the buck stops with the President of the United States.  This president is appalled just like the rest of us who are not the president.  He is just like us.  He read about it in the papers.  No one told him what was going on.  He is very appalled.  He is not to blame, of course.  He don’t know nuthin’ about it.  Ignorance is bliss, they say.

Well, President Truman did not say that ignorance is bliss.  He said, “The buck stops here.”  He should have said, if only he was not so dang forthright, “I only know what I read in the papers and now that I read what my administration has been doing, I am appalled.”  That is smart politics.    I am catching on to the modern style of leadership.  Accountability is out of style.  Empathy — that is the ticket!

Don’t say that you are sorry for what you have done or not done.  Instead, say that you understand how those of us in the general public “feel” because you feel however they feel.

President Obama and I, a pre-candidate, feel the same.  We feel the same as each other and we feel the same as the general public feels.   We have empathy.  It is easier than leadership because it is reflective and reactive.

President Obama is a lawyer.  So is the Attorney General, Eric Holder.  So am I.  The President, Attorney General and I are all appalled that the F.B.I. violated the privacy of Associated Press reporters.  We all agree that should not have been done.  We did not know and, now that we do know, the three of us are feeling sad even though we are not at fault.   I am under the impression that the F.B.I. is a rogue organization that none of the three of us control.

When I am elected, I too will make it a point to not know about such things.  I would make it my job to not know.  Whoever is in charge of the Justice Department should do something, if we only knew who is in charge.  I used to think the President and the Attorney General were in charge of the Justice Department, including the F.B.I., but it was long ago that I took American Government in high school, Political Science in college, and Constitutional Law in law school.  I was probably absent the day the teachers and professors covered the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

I am not (yet) in the chain of command, but it is comforting to know that if I become Attorney General or President, I will not be to blame for anything as long as I am suitably appalled by what my subordinates did, or failed to do, which I won’t know about until I read it in the papers.  And, to go beyond my mentor, if elected, I pledge to never read newspapers or listen to the news.

I am also practicing my best sincere look with appropriate body language.  In the photo below I am demonstrating my transparency by gesturing with an open hand, indicating my, you know, openness and, I guess, honesty.  Who wouldn’t vote for an honest-looking cowboy who empathizes with how every American feels?

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Misunderstanding Jihad

Let me get this straight.  Two brothers, living in America, one a naturalized citizen who recently pledged allegiance to the United States of America, are allegedly responsible for the bombs that killed three and injured dozens more at the Boston Marathon, because by killing and maiming Americans, Russia might relent and grant independence to Chechnya, a region where Muslims reside?  Surely I am missing something.  What is the connection between the Boston Marathon and freedom for followers of Islam in Russia?

I turn to my extensive readership.  Please, if you can, explain it to me like you would to an eight year old.  The eight year old boy who was killed probably did not realize that his death would serve to free Chechnya, which, of course, it won’t.  It likely was not a cause he knew about.  Neither did I.  I still don’t understand the connection between the terrorist acts and accomplishing such a goal.

If it was something else, a bigger cause, I don’t understand that either.

I can’t explain Islamic Jihad, but from what little I have gathered, it has something to do with killing infidels like the eight year old child attending the Boston Marathon and the two women who also died.  I don’t see how that would accomplish much in terms of bringing more converts to Islam because I doubt those innocents and the dozens injured, some maimed, have been interfering with Islamic recruitment.

To the contrary, the cowardly actions of terrorists seem to me more likely to repulse decent people of any religion.

Jesus said on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  I certainly don’t know what the Tsarnaev brothers were doing and I doubt they knew either.

I am impressed  that they were identified so quickly.  I congratulate the law enforcement agencies involved.  Perhaps it will be a deterrent to would-be terrorists in the future.

“Let Justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

Perspectives on a Problem

Is it the best time or the worst time to debate gun control in the immediate aftermath of a gunman killing innocent schoolchildren?

A mentally ill young man used guns to kill little children, an unthinkable tragedy.  There is no debate about whether the killer’s murderous actions were evil.  What he did was certainly criminal.  We have laws against murder.  We have a commandment against it as well.  Still, murders occur too often, in spite of the laws and commandment.

Mental illness of some as yet undefined sort is the cause of the crime.  As a nation, we can, I suppose, do more for the mentally ill.  We could do more, perhaps, to identify potentially violent people in order to stop them from harming others if not help them with their illnesses.  We do not have a law or commandment that “Thou shalt not be mentally ill.”  Even if we did, it would not stop mental illness.  Rather than a law against being mentally ill, which is futile, we can have legislation about improving how we deal with those who might be a danger to themselves or others.

It is easier to focus on objects rather than persons.  It would be easier to control who gets guns than who gets to be mentally ill.  Certainly it is easier to pass laws than to stop crime or mental illness.

We have in the Bill of Rights to our Constitution a guaranty of  “the right to bear arms.”   See  the Second Amendment.  It cannot be ignored, but it is not an absolute right.  It is not intended to promote crime.  It is intended for protection of our citizens.

I have some things to say that will alternately please and offend each side of the gun control debate.

First, I will remind the gun control advocates that even banning guns altogether will not prevent evil acts of killing.  My wife taught a middle school student who used a hammer to bash in the heads of his mother and grandmother.  Timothy McVeigh used a van rented from U Haul to kill dozens with a bomb.  We have daily killings with knives.  Recently, in China there were horrible multiple murders at a school — by a person using a knife to slay his young victims.  We do not talk about outlawing hammers or vans or knives.  It is clear that it is the person using those items who is the criminal, not the items themselves.  It is more like drunk driving.  Cars are not illegal.  They are useful.  The crime is  operating a motor vehicle when drunk because that is dangerous to others.  Also, we do not have anything in our Constitution about the right to transportation via motor vehicle.  Therefore, it is even more perilous to curtail a constitutional right than a mere convenience.

The debate about gun control would take a different turn if a citizen bearing arms had protected victims of violence.  What if the Aurora theater shooter had been shot by a movie goer shortly after he started shooting innocent unarmed people?  What if the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School had shot the killer rather than bravely lunging at him unarmed? Then one person would be using a gun to protect people from a person using a gun for evil purposes.  The Second Amendment is for that purpose of protection.

Having said all that, I acknowledge that guns are more efficient weapons than hammers and knives.  The shooter  in Connecticut would not have killed so many if his weapon was a hammer because it would be easier to overpower and stop him.  On the other hand, a car bomb driven into the school or a plane crashing into the school would have been even more destructive.

I also note that automatic or semi-automatic guns are more dangerously efficient than weapons which require pulling the trigger for each shot and reloading individual bullets rather than using ammunition clips holding many bullets that can be fired in seconds.   The military-type assault rifles are not meant for hunting, but can be used either for mass killing or protecting from mass killing in order for it to be a fair fight.  Executing unarmed first graders is obviously not a fight at all. However, the Founding Fathers contemplated a citizen militia when including the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment.  The idea is that citizens should be armed in order to protect themselves and also protect our nation from enemies.  I add that protecting ourselves and others from well-armed murderers might justify citizens being armed with military type weapons.  Decent citizens are wary of how criminals might use such weapons for evil.

Similarly, our country is wary of other nations who want to develop nuclear weapons and other “weapons of mass destruction.”   Why?  Because we don’t trust how they will be used by others.  The more destructive the weapon, the scarier it is.  We all get that, even without being scholars of the history of military weapon development.  The U.S.A. tries to prevent other nations from possessing nuclear bombs because the more who have such weapons the more dangers exist that they will be misused.  We argue against proliferation of such weapons.

I understand and probably agree with the arguments against proliferation of dangerous weapons.  I am an NRA member and a SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) member and gun owner.  As the U.S.A. trusts itself to possess nuclear weapons as a deterrent against our nation being attacked, I trust myself to use guns for recreation or, if necessary, protection.  I sure don’t want mentally ill people to have access to guns like I do.  I sure don’t want criminals to have guns, nor do I want terrorists to fly airplanes into buildings or use car bombs.

The problem is that we don’t know who is a criminal until the crime has been committed.

We live in a world with many law-abiding people and some evildoers.  We are literally engaged in a war between good and evil.

The children who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School were victims of evil.  When President Lincoln dedicated the cemetery after the Battle of Gettysburg, he urged his listeners to “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”  Let us, the living, highly resolve that the little children who were murdered in Connecticut shall not have died in vain.  Let us do what we can to make our country a safer place.   May God give us wisdom to make changes that are sensible and effective.  They won’t be easy or simple.

Life’s Challenges

Presently, there is a wildfire in our county, Larimer County, Colorado, near Fort Collins.  It has been named The High Park Fire.  This wildfire has burned over 43,000 acres, an area that could contain both the cities of Fort Collins and Boulder.  The fire is not in the cities, that is just a size reference.  The fire is burning in the mountains where there are many trees dead from beetle kill and the underbrush is dry from lack of snow and rain this spring.  So there is plenty of fuel.  And wind has fanned the fire out of control.

Over 100 structures have been destroyed, including homes, of course, but not all are homes as the count does not distinguish between residences and outbuildings such as barns, sheds and garages.  Regardless, that is a lot of property loss.

One life has been lost.  A 63 year old woman, who had twice been called by phone to evacuate, either chose to stay or did not receive the messages.  It is sad that she died in the mountain cabin that she loved. 

Many others, hundreds, have evacuated.  They are dealing with the fear of the unknown about whether their homes will burn.  Others already know their homes have burned.  Others have been allowed back in.  Others on are pre-evacuation alert.

There is an evacuation center at the county fairgrounds.  It used to be at a middle school but had to be moved farther from the fire due to smoke.  At the fairgrounds, large animals of evacuees may be kept as well.  Small pets were taken to the Humane Society until filled to capacity.  Now a vet clinic is taking overflow.  Many of the evacuated folks are staying with friends and relatives.  There are kind people helping those in need in addition to Red Cross and Salvation Army.

The real heroes are the firefighters, of course, ranging from local volunteer fire departments to professionals from other states.   The number keeps growing as the fire has grown.  Today there were more than 500 firefighters, including “boots on the ground” and pilots of planes and helicopters that drop retardant and water on the flames.

There are many to praise and no one to blame.  The fire was started by lightning, not even negligent humans, and especially not evil terrorists like those responsible for 9/11/01.

The Bible says that “It rains on the just and the unjust.”  I pray it will rain on this fire.

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