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Archive for the ‘Radical Islam’ Category

“Hey, we bagged the guy who planned the terrorist attack in Paris!”

“No kidding. You really got him?”

“Yeah, had to shoot him in the leg, but we got him. Now we just have to interrogate the son-of-a-bitch and see what else they might be planning.”

“Oh, man, that’s great!”

“Yeah, we found a number of suicide vests in his apartment. See ya later.

“Yeah, later.”

Less than two days later, what happens?

“Breaking news…There have been two bomb explosions at Brussels-Zventam airport outside of Brussels and another in the underground train system. At this moment, 21 are known dead…update…36 are now known dead, and ISIS is claiming credit”

Was this a real conversation? I don’t know; I wasn’t there! I didn’t shoot the son-of-a-bitch in the leg. I’m not a member of any Belgian law enforcement group, but I cannot help but wonder…Did you beef up security at the airport, railroad stations, underground transit terminals, and other public places that daily draw crowds? The minute he was in cuffs, did it occur to anyone that perhaps other cell leaders might start thinking about changing their time tables? If the answer is, “We cannot afford to have a continued heavy presence in all of these places,” then I have to believe that Belgium, like nearly every other nation will continue to be shocked every time another guerilla attack of this nature takes place.

“Suicide vests in his apartment?” What the hell is that? “Oh, hi…Mary…this is Abdul….yeah, fine, thanks, and you (pause). Oh, that’s great. Hey, listen, we finished your vest. Yeah, that’s right, the one with the Semtex in the back. Yeah, that’s the one. You can come over anytime and pick it up. Oh, by the way, has Hassan told you your target yet? Wow, that’ll be spectacular…yeah, right. Okay, we’ll see you later tonight then. Okay, Mary, see you later.”

This is the world in the early 21st Century. Would it be an open phone line? No, of course not. Would the conversation have been that blatant? I really doubt it. Could it actually happen just like that? You bet your bottom dollar it could.

We. Are. Living. In. A. World. Of. Terrorism. And. A. World. Of. Hatred. Why is this so? I do not have a clue. Political candidates in the United States say that Americans are angry. Are the Belgians angry? Are the Spanish angry? How about the British or the French? Are they angry? It would seem so because terrorists – I guess these are the angry people – are setting off bombs to kill those who aren’t angry; who are innocent and haven’t done one damned thing that they deserve to die or be maimed.

What is the ultimate goal of these terrorist people and groups? It can’t be world domination…well, I don’t think that’s what it is, so we have to ask, “What is the end game,” and the answer is that no one, the terrorists probably included, knows what the hell it is. For now, it appears that all that want to do is create world panic about who will be next. “The main and principle goal of the Islamic State that ISIS tells their new members is that to establish an Islamic State that will encompass the Arab world and after that we go to other countries.” Wasn’t Hitler’s goal to get back the lands the Germans lost after WWI and then get the rest of Europe? I believe that was the original plan and, as has been asked many times of many people about many things…”How’d that work out for ya?”

Am I being simplistic in my thinking? Yes, deliberately so. There is so much that none of us know about Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham or ISIS. Can we identify how their religious beliefs differ from those of other forms of Islam? Sure we can, but that makes no difference. It appears that in the end, this religious sect wishes to rule the world as they see the world, and they will achieve that goal through the spreading of terror around the world until every single person conforms to their beliefs. As a consequence, total destruction of this group is the only answer, and the only way to achieve that is a vigilance level that we have yet to reach.

My simplistic sense tells me that the FBI, Homeland Security, or any other federal agency with a terrorist task force, could walk into an apartment in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or even Washington, D.C., and find bomb-making equipment, perhaps even a few unclaimed suicide vests. They could do that if… but where would that lead? So we will continue to follow Thomas Jefferson’s advice that, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” and we other nations will do the same.

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It’s difficult to understand why law enforcement, city, state, and federal, as well as the President of the United States, took so long to state the obvious about San Bernadino. I just don’t comprehend what is so difficult about seeing this couple, dressed as they were, not being immediately identified as ‘terrorists.’ However you wish to slice it, this was a terrorist act. It certainly terrified the crap out of the people who were being shot and those ducking for cover. With the discovery of the ammunition and pipe bombs in the house occupied by that couple and their baby would indicate preparation for a ‘terrorist’ attack. So we’re at war. Is there anyone in the USA who doesn’t understand that? Are there actually people whose heads are stuck so far up…in the sand that they aren’t aware that Americans are considered by some people who actually live and work here, as the enemy. Take a look at Dylan Roof who thought that blacks were taking over America. Can you understand why an ignoramus like that would think such a thing? Who does he see on television when the President speaks? Who does he see when the Director of Homeland Security speaks? Granted, the kid is probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he’s probably just a wee bit prejudiced against black folks in the first place. Someone said to me the other day, “I saw a family of Muslims in traditional dress coming in the store and I didn’t panic,” as though that was a major friggin’ achievement. It’s clue time…this country is filled with all sorts of people; some came here to escape terrorism and want to live peaceful lives. Others are here but are nothing but crazy fucking assholes who are influenced by other crazy fucking assholes and who will go out and kill anybody they see who is not dressed or look exactly as they do. They do have sufficient smarts to make certain they kill at a gathering…just walking up and down the street is not going to give one maximum exposure nor maximize your kill rate…riiiight!

To top off our understanding that we are at war, we have public panic purveyors like Donald “I-can-fix-everything-but-I-won’t-tell-you-how-because-I don’t-really-know-what-to-do” Trump. I find it truly difficult to understand how this man became a billionaire. The only thing I can think of is that he bullied his way to riches; he was the loudest shouter in the room; his face got so red, his opponents thought he was going to literally explode and shit would be flying everywhere since he was so full of it, so they gave in. It’s all I can think of. He speaks such ridiculous bullshit that no one in their right minds could possibly believe what he says. And yet, what is he doing? He’s appealing to the frightened, the uninformed, people who don’t know, or care to know, understand or care to understand other cultures. These are the folks who believe that blacks eat only fried chicken and watermelon; they may see hummus in the store so that’s what “they’ eat; Asians eat only fish and seaweed or some other shit like that. They don’t know, and one who preys on their fears such as Trump becomes their hero. The media is proving to be just as gullible. Trump speaks; it’s a sound byte they have to get on the air before the competition. Don’t react; don’t cover, and see how long Trump stays in this race. The media are “feeding Seymour” and he continues to grow. If the media ignore him, Trump will be within his rights to demand an equal amount of time as is given to other candidates; that is his right. However, the minute his talk becomes inflammatory, as it has been through most of his campaign, cut off the microphone; he has overstepped his bounds.

On November 8, 2016, America will go to the polls to elect a new President. That is eleven months from this very day. Should this country, in its ultimate stupidity, elect Donald Trump, I will make every effort to move to Nova Scotia and to renounce my American citizenship. I have little doubt that the world will become a nuclear wasteland before his term of office has ended.

Lone wolf terrorists on American streets will become more identifiable and stopped as we move along in our war. At some point, they will be identified before they enter the country. ISIS or some offspring of it will continue to function in the Middle East. It is only when America says, “Enough, solve your own problems,” that we will be able to breathe easily again. If “secure the homeland” is a dirty turn of phrase, forgive me. However, I don’t want to see more gold star flags hanging in more windows than are already there. We can “preserve, protect, and defend” the United States of America by putting our own nation first and let other nations solve their own problems.

The United Nations appears to be a useless group of foreign representatives suckling at the American teat and little else. Let us move their headquarters to someplace like Belgium, Luxemburg, or Lichtenstein, and see how quickly they dissolve or get their collective acts together to solve the world’s problems. America is too rich and too developed a nation to be playing host to a bunch of spies and neer-do-wells. Is this laissez-faire attitude going to work? No, because it will never receive bi-partisan support, nor will Wall Street allow it to happen. It would be nice to give it an honest try; to attempt to make other nations wholly responsible for their actions. We can’t; we’re America. We’re the supposed 800-pound gorilla in the room. That’s why poor families raise cannon fodder and we cry crocodile tears when they’re blown to pieces. If we really cared about our young men and women, we’d be expanding our efforts to keep them out of harm’s way rather than putting them directly in its path.

We have a great many problems in our own country that are in dire need of solutions. We need solutions to our problem of poverty. We need solutions to our problem of racial injustice and profiling. We need a unified, national police force that is fully trained and fairly paid. We need to stop teaching our children to pass some damned standardized test and teach them what it means to be a citizen of this country. We need more, better trained, and again, fairly paid, teachers. We need term limits for members of Congress to weed out the do-nothings, hangers-on, and radical assholes who somehow find their way into Congressional seats every now and then. We don’t need equalization of wealth, because if you’ve got the brains and ideas, God Bless You for making the money you’ve made, but we do need workers who are paid above a poverty level to build what you’ve designed or to sell what you have made. We need equal pay for equal work. We need to stop treating women like second-class citizens by telling them what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Our problems are tremendous; they’re hard to solve and they will continue to get harder until and unless we take some positive steps to address them. However, remember this: Over half of the Pilgrims who made the voyage on the Mayflower died before a year had passed – OVER HALF – yet the rest didn’t just lay down and die. Seventy-five thousand colonists died in the Revolutionary War; that’s 1 in 20 what we now call Americans. Yet, the men who signed the Constitution didn’t give up and say, “Screw this; take it back England.” No, the problems of their day were no more or less complex than the problems we face today. Sure, the world’s a smaller place, and the problems are terrifying. Problems of the magnitude facing the Pilgrims and the colonials and that guy who lives down the street from you today are daunting, but they can be solved. That’s our job – yours and mine – to chip in and ask what we can do to help solve those problems. No, I won’t give you the Jack Kennedy tag line; you can do that for yourself. I will say a couple of things: “If you see something, say something,” and “Don’t listen to fear-mongers and loud mouthed know-nothings like Donald Trump, because he’s not worth your time.”

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“Christians want to save all refugees.”  Yes, that was the title on an e-mail in my SPAM folder tonight. I didn’t open it, nor do I have any idea of the message. My answer is simply this: “I’m a Christian, and I don’t wish to save all refugees. Some of those refugees are merely ISIS fighters taking advantage of the opportunity to infiltrate another nation until they can create an incident such as happened in Paris. Thank you, but no thank you.

So far, terrorists have attacked office buildings and the nation’s top military installation in the United States. They have brought down a plane holding 224 Russian citizens returning from vacation. They have brought down a U.S. bound plane over Lockerbee, Scotland. They have bombed trains in Spain; busses in London, buildings in Beirut, and I don’t even know what the hell else they’ve been responsible for bombing or how many people in total they have killed. No, no, no, no, it is time that this is stopped…permanently.

The thing about ISIS or ISL or Daesh, or whatever you may wish to call these people, the only true description of them is that they are world terrorists. Whereas most people don’t really look forward to the prospect of death, these idiots appear to welcome it because they believe it will make them martyrs, and they are wrong. What it will make them is dead. Now, I believe in a merciful and loving God. They believe in Allah which, from what I can determine, is merely another time for a single God. However, my loving God has a bit of a temper. He has a commandment. I’ve seen it listed as high as five on the commandments chart, but it could even be six or seven; it goes, “Thou shalt not kill.” Now, in war…real war, not this bullshit war that’s killing and maiming innocents as well as military, and by people who are as crazy as bedbugs on steroids, God sees a meaning. He wasn’t too keen on the Germans in WWI or WWII, but this he could understand. The current war…mmm…that I believe is pissing him off, particularly at the bedbugs. They may think of themselves as martyrs; I believe God sees them as bedbugs…He doesn’t like bedbugs. ‘Nuf said?

As Christians, most of us have turned the other cheek enough times that we’re really getting a bit tired of it. For us, this is just another infestation that must be exterminated. Problem is that they’re all over the place in the Middle East. They have, however, made a couple of mistakes. The first and most critical of these mistakes is that they have pissed of President Putin of Russia. This former KGB headhunter is not one you should piss off, but they claimed to have brought down the homeward bound vacationers heading for St. Petersburg, and that didn’t sit too well with Prexy Putin. Then, they pissed off the French, and that really didn’t sit all that well with the French. Other than the March, 2011 shooting at Frankfurt Airport and a single individual with a knife – he died – Germany gets an ‘A’ for seeking out and thwarting threats in its own country. Anyway, it would appear that most of the civilized world is really upset with these people who think martyrdom is a good thing. As a consequence, it seems that we’d be doing them a favor by having the air forces of every nation just bomb the daylights out of them 24/7/365. Would some innocents die? Of course they would, but which is worse, death as an innocent and welcomed into heaven or living under a regime for which “cruel” is far too polite a word?

These people are not going to stop until they are stopped completely. The United States is a big country. Its major cities are on high alert for terrorist threats. These terrorists are not stupid; they know this to be true. They also know that the borders of the United States are about as porous as a sieve. It cannot all be guarded, and we will not build walls to shield ourselves; we are an open society. Just as there were multiple attacks in Paris, I envision multiple, simultaneous attacks on small towns as the next step in the terrorist playbook. They may not have the power to kill many people, but these attacks would scare the living daylights out of the general populace. I’m not trying to give terrorists any ideas, but I sure would try to listen to everyone in my community when he, she, or they say something doesn’t seem right, or a stranger has been looking around the town. You see, this particular …what did I call it…oh, yeah, this bullshit war, is not being fought on one front. It’s being fought in every corner of the known universe. It’s being fought wherever terrorists believe they can do just that…create terror. Those who believe, “Oh, it can’t happen here,” have their heads tucked deeply in the sand. That’s too bad because when it does happen “here,” they will become terrified sheep rather than pissed off lions. We live in different times. The days of sitting on our hands, believing that it won’t happen to us are over. It’s time to wake up and smell the cordite.

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The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have issued a warning to parents that ISIS is using social media to influence young Americans to join them in fighting for…for what? For an independent Islamic state; for a chance to get their heads blown off by an Iraqi, Iranian, Jordanian, or anyone else who sees Isis for what it Is…a bunch of trigger-happy idiots who are interpreting – I should say misinterpreting – what the Quaran actually teaches. They can make all of the claims that they wish, but the fact of the matter is that if you hate this country so much, go, get out. Live the dream; become a terrorist; but understand this…those are not toy guns that are firing back at you. If you get hit by a round from anything other than a Kalashnikov – I don’t care if it hits your little finger – you will probably die, as much from the shock as anything else. This is not a game that is being played. It is not a television show where you get shot and killed one week and miraculously recover by the third episode. If our children are being radicalized by ISIS on social media, we have some very real and very serious problems.

What is this “radicalization” of which we speak? According to one of this country’s most senior terrorism authorities, radicalization is “the process of adopting for oneself or inculcating in other a commitment not only to a system of [radical] beliefs, but to their imposition on the rest of society.” By imposing their beliefs on the rest of society, he is speaking of the use of violence, which in this case means those who don’t believe as the radical believes, must be punished in order to make them conform.

Why and/or how does radicalization to the point of condoning or actually participating in violent behavior occur? No one really seems to know despite the amount of research that has been done. What actually changes in a person that causes them to accept this violent manner? Most research dictates that change goes through a variety of stages. The first thing that must occur is that the potential recruit must think that an injustice or humiliation has occurred. It might be something as simple as seeing pictures or videos of dead civilians when America was fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. These horrible sights may be blamed on American air strikes even if that is not an accurate portrayal of the horror. Over a period of time, the recruit is provided with motivational sources that make him or her more likely to believe in violence.

Research appears to show that “An individual’s search for identity may draw him or her to extremist or terrorist organizations in a variety of ways. The individual may be searching for a purpose or goal in life that defines the actions required to achieve that goal. A violent act may be seen as a way to succeed at something that makes a difference. The absolutist, “black and white” nature of most extremist ideologies is often attractive to those who feel overwhelmed by the complexity and stress of navigating a complicated world. Without struggling to define oneself or discern personal meaning, an individual may choose to define his or her identity simply through identification with a cause or membership in a group.”

Think with me for a moment about the youth who join gangs. What is their primary need? It’s a sense of belonging to something; of connecting with others who feel similarly, ie, that they have been dealt a rotten hand in life (injustice or perhaps some form of humiliation); that they are searching for some form of identity, eg, gang tats or signs, and; that they are willing to be violent in order to be recognized.

There are many other factors that appear to influence recruits to become extreme terrorists – in this day and age we think of Muslims, but they are just the latest in a long line of violent extremists – including the need for a mentor or leader. This mentor may be someone who is articulate and who shares the recruit’s values on the Internet. In the case of the Muslim jihadists, it might be an imam or other religious authority that condones violent behavior because of the manner in which they interpret the Quaran.

Another factor that has proven particularly successful for recruiting terrorists is the Internet. ISIS and other terrorist groups before them have produced some pretty slick videos that make it hard to ignore their messages. All it appears to take is an unhappy or dissatisfied individual, capable of violence, who is seeking something “better” for his or her life.

Parents may think they know their teenagers. Few do. You take it from here.

 

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I’m attempting to put my teaching hat back on as it relates to law enforcement. The police officers whom I taught over the years ranged from the very, very serious to those who looked on what they were doing as just another job – I never really understood the latter group – that they would get up and go to each day. I could have been reading them all wrong, but perhaps it was just that they didn’t believe I couldn’t understand them because I wasn’t a ‘cop,’ a word more common among them than ‘police officer.’ Be that as it may, my job was to teach them to understand how to work in teams, rather than as individuals, and how to understand the underlying problems that contribute to the larger and more visible problems that they see on a daily basis. When asked to describe the major problem in their community, I would always ask, “Why,” why is that the major problem? What causes that to become the major problem? In other words, we would break the problem into its various elements, finally reaching the point of understanding that the perceived problem could not possibly be solved until the underlying problems had been taken care of.

As I watched the 60 Minutes report on the terrorists who have been attacking in France and in Denmark, it occurred to me that these types of attacks will become as great an epidemic as ISIIS or ISIL or whatever the hell you wish to call them because there is an underlying problem that first must be solved within each country…Why do these homegrown terrorists have such hatred for the nation that spawned them? What has caused their anger? Do they feel that their nation has rejected them? Persecuted them? Done nothing for them (and what do they expect the nation to have done for them)? At some point they have been radicalized against their own nation. Why? How? What is at the very root of their hatred?  It’s quite easy to say that there is a certain part of the population in any area that feels the world has forgotten about them or doesn’t give a damn about them. They drop out of school the minute they turn 16 because they don’t see the value of education. In addition, there is money to be made on the street and “It ain’t flippin’ burgers at the arches.”

Have we, as a society, failed this group of people? Have their parents failed them? What and where is the problem? Until the very basic problem is identified and the road is paved toward solving it, we can expect to see more homegrown terrorists in every country in the world because the terrorists abroad are way ahead of the good people of the nations in propagandizing and converting dissatisfied youth to their side of the street.

The French found out the hard way about who is and who isn’t dangerous. Said and Cherif Kouachi, along with Amedi Coulibaly were well known to French Police as young thugs who had served time for various crimes. Contacts within prisons helped to convert these three young people to violent radical jihadists who could take their hatred out on their own country. In Denmark, Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, the 22-year old shooter, was another home grown terrorist with a record as a local criminal. Okay, where are the commonalities here? What is the basic problem? All had police records from a young age; hell, plenty of kids have that and grow up to lead good lives (I happen to have a sealed juvenile record, and I haven’t done too badly); what brings these four people together or does anything? These are the questions that are facing law enforcement officials all over the world.

In the case of the French shooters, so much appears to be known about their lives that perhaps they could be used as models with certain base characteristics to help law enforcement organizations to put together some type of profile. Nah, that would be too easy, to unsophisticated. Perhaps it might also be too overwhelming a task because of the number of (a) youthful offenders who have served time, come out, and are now lost; (b) the number of recruiters in prison who have already converted some of those in the ‘a’ category who have now gone to ground; and (c) the dearth of people in the law enforcement system who are unable to keep track of the youthful offenders because they have a caseload that would choke an elephant.

“It’s impossible to keep track of all the possible,” I’ve been told. My answer to that goes back to the outset of this very essay…Why? Why is it impossible to keep track of all of the possible? Is it a lack of trained personnel? Is there a personnel pool out there that is being underutilized? How are we using our military police personnel who are being released from active duty? How about those who may be coming back as wounded warriors who are finding it difficult to adjust?  Somewhere, somehow, there is an answer to keeping better track of those who may be preparing the same thing or worse that was done in France and Denmark. The ACLU wouldn’t care for it a whole hell of a lot, but I’d rather be more protective of our general citizenry than less.

Let’s start asking the right questions and let’s begin a campaign to protect all Americans from facing more attacks on this wonderful place we call home.

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I really don’t know when or how it started…but I’d really like to know. What did we do to cause such hatred and such terrible acts of violence by radicalized Muslims?  Ah, let me see; how much time do you have and how many pages will it take for me to condense this into something readable?

The initial answer is that Muslims, as a group, don’t hate Americans. They don’t understand our definition of freedom of speech versus the definition in other countries. They don’t understand how France can tolerate the insulting of Mohammed while denying Muslim women the right to wear a veil. They don’t understand how publicly denying the Holocaust in Germany can earn you a prison sentence. They don’t understand how it’s a crime in England to set up a web site to criticize an individual. In other words, freedom of speech in the West differs so markedly from that in the Middle East, and part of the hatred stems from that misunderstanding. That, however, is only a minor reason for the distrust and hatred of nearly everything Western.

One of the major reasons for western hatred appears to be anti-Semitism. The general feeling appears to be that Israel has no right to exist. In addition, the thought is that whenever it’s a choice between Israel and any Muslim country, the West is always on the side of Israel and never on the side of anything Muslim. With the rise of al Quaeda and ISIS – sorry, President Obama, but despite your claims, both are very much alive – US sentiment toward radicalized Muslims appears to have degenerated into a distrust of anything dealing with the Muslim community abroad. The tragedy in France has only served to reinforce that feeling, both here and abroad. Western citizens are asking the questions, “Are there any sleeper cells in our cities,” and if so, are they getting ready to raise havoc in Berlin, London, Barcelona, Brussels, or once more in Boston?

Radicalized Muslims believe – and they are absolutely right – that America speaks from both sides of its collective face. After all, we were once great supporters of Saddam Hussein and our “ally,” Iraq; we then tossed him to the dogs on March 23, 2003. We also supported Dictator Mommar Gaddafi until he no longer served our needs. The same was true of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. How can we possibly face these people when we lie directly to their collective faces; when the people we support indiscriminately kill their own citizens by the hundreds of thousands. In other words, we have a foreign policy that absolutely defies logic in the mind of the average Muslim.

I don’t believe the Muslims fully understand many of the things that we do. Why, for example, do we marry outside our own bloodlines? To a true Muslim, this is bastardizing the family’s blood. In an article by Nicolai Senills, entitled, “Cultural psychology: How Islam managed to stay medieval for 1,400 years,” he states, “Together with massive inbreeding — 70 percent of Pakistanis, 45 percent of Arabs and at least 30 percent of Turks are from first cousin-marriages…” Such marriages in Western culture would cause more shock than same-sex marriage has done in the United States. In Islam, of course, such sin would be met with death.

Radicalized Muslims believe the West to be decadent and in need of cleansing, and they believe that it is their obligation to do so; to impose the writings of the Quran on those who do not follow its teachings. Okay, that’s a bit off the wall, but why then does ISIS want an Islamic state where only those “true” to the teachings of Islam may live? Why do they attack kosher food stores? Kosher is the food of the Jews, and what do the radicalized Islamists feel about the Jews? You’ve got it…kill ‘em all!

We live in an uncivilized world. We came to the ‘new world’ as uncivilized peoples, killing the natives, stealing their land and despoiling it. We did all of this in the name of progress and civilization. Progress and civilization my ass; we did it in the name of greed and avarice. Now we have allowed that greed and avarice, that corruption and moral decay to infect us just as much as the tribal living has infected those of the Middle East. Do I blame the radicals for killing 2,996 of our innocents on 911? You bet your boots I do. However, I cannot blame them for their hatred; we’ve brought much of it on ourselves. I would suggest that the West wake up to the fact that until we fully understand the extent of the hatred toward us, there will be more and more attacks. This is a fight to the finish. The radicals may be reasonably few in numbers, but the damage they cause, not only physical but psychological, are showing them to be winning the current battles.

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Writing about something is not the same as knowing about something. I have always admired good reporting as well as good fiction. John Powers of The Boston Globe was a hell of a writer when he was covering sports. John is a huge man, towering over me, but his insight into what took place at almost any sporting event made the reader feel that he or she was actually in the arena, not as a spectator but as a participant. My dear late friend, Bob Parker, was a wonderful fiction writer who drew the reader in from the first sentence and kept the reader enthralled until the last period was place.

I am about as far from a John Powers or Robert Parker or any of the wonderful writers we read on a daily basis. Like many of you, I struggle to gain and maintain the reader’s interest. It shows in that, if really lucky, I have two or three readers a day. It’s an ego thing, and I’m the first one to admit it.

Think about everything that is happening in the world today. We still have stupidity in Washington, with a President who feels he can do no wrong…and he’s wrong; a Congress now controlled by a single party, but I don’t see much taking place other than the Keystone Pipeline which is just going to line a few more pockets of the one percent; our judicial branch is, at best, confused about which issues belong before them and which should be left to the states for a final decision.

On the world front, we have the horrible executions of the French satirists at Charlie Hebdo and the assassination of four police officers by known radicals who were allowed to walk the streets freely and who got the martyrdom that they desired after their horrible onslaught. Sure, I could do my research online and read everything there is to read…like over one million articles, most of which are as accurate as would be teats on a bull, but that doesn’t give one the right to put together an accurate Reader’s Digest condensed version. Perhaps the most odious and despicable post-episodic thing taking place now is the race between al Qaeda and ISIS over who takes the “credit” for committing this hideous act. Is it fodder for the writer in me? By writing about this crime, I merely lend credence to the fact that no one, anywhere in the world, at any time, is safe from these half-crazed lunatics who are exercising their childhood fantasies of killing with no more respect for the beliefs of true Muslims and the Quran than the Bible-thumping idiots of the Westboro Baptist Church have in their beliefs about Christianity.

So what is left for me, in the few years I have remaining, to garble about? Should I talk about the 2016 race to become the next sucker in the White House? I have finally – gad, but it took a long time – figured out why smart people don’t run for president…their egos are not large enough, or as Clint Eastwood once put, “A man just has to know his limitations.” The really smart person allows the puppet to become the titular head and then the puppet-masters, eg, Citibank, the pharmaceutical lobbyists, the farm folk, and several others sit back and tug on a few strings to get the puppet to do their bidding. It’s wonderful to sit at the computer and gaze into the crystal ball. The Republican Party is firmly convinced that the next puppet will be from the GOP, thereby giving both the executive and legislative branches to a group of people who care little for the average American and a great deal for the one-percenters. After all, it’s the one-percenters who write the bills they pass and keep their bank accounts growing. And, what the hell, should a Democrat – by some miracle of God – attain the exalted puppet-post, it will merely be four or eight more years of gridlock. With gridlock, nothing gets done; the press has a field day; and late night comics rub their hands together in glee. While I consider myself an independent voter, I have to admit that someone like Chris Christie of New Jersey could really shake the old-time-DC-boys up; in addition to which, he probably knows where to get rid of the bodies….lots of swampland in New Jersey.

The recent story of the loving son is not something that you find every day. Could one invent such a thing? Perhaps if I was a more creative writer it could happen. However, I’m not that desperate to build a readership. That was just one of those poignant moments that had to be set to paper, and I was honored to have the opportunity to do so…my thanks to those who commented. The opposite of that situation was viewed by Juli yesterday. “Behind you is a mother and son,” she said. “Neither has stopped texting since they sat down.” Of course, we had no idea if they were texting one another, but my bet is that was not the case. Kind of sad, isn’t it? Can you imagine saying to one of your adult children, “Let’s go to lunch and leave our smart phones in the car.” Be the fastest goddamned lunch on record. Yes, I could write about my view on technology (said he, pounding away at the keyboard) but I don’t even know the vernacular for today’s techno-geek…tough to fall behind the times like this.

Well, I’ve almost reached my thousand word limit so to you, my reader (hopefully with an ‘s,’ I bid you a wonderful winter without falls or flu; without slipping and sliding; without icicles or idiots. If you have young children, I hope you will enjoy sledding with them at the local hill. The bumps will be a bit rougher than you may remember, but what the hell, you’ll have wonderful memories when you recall the day over a cup of hot chocolate…don’t forget the whipped cream!

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