I think he just Trumped off the deep end.

Voila_Capture 2015-12-07_05-52-41_PM

I’m sure you’ve heard by now.

Earlier today Trump released a statement where he recommended we ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

I will pause there, to let that sink in…

A ban on all Muslims entering the country.

For some indeterminate time, until we can “figure out what’s going on.”

Not just refugees – that’s so three weeks ago. (And yes, scary to think Paris was only three weeks ago).

Not just a tightening of the Visa waiver program, which many agree is worth looking at on a temporary basis.

All Muslims. Period. Full-stop.

Muslim-Americans that happen to be overseas at the moment, for any legal reason? On business? On vacation? Studying abroad? Helping a sick relative?

Apparently so.

What about Muslim-American U.S. troops stationed abroad, currently protecting us around the world?

In typical fashion, he does not specify.

What about our sports heroes that Obama referred to last night, of which Trump, today on Twitter, can’t seem to think of even a single one…. despite the photos of him with Muhammad Ali, Karim Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquiile O’Neal, etc?

“Oh, he’s okay – let him thru. He’s a good one. I love the Muslims.”

Like the protesters in his audience of late, he alone will pick and choose who stays and who goes.

Maybe rough them up a little, if they deserve it, like that Black Lives Matter guy. After all, what he was doing was “absolutely disgusting.”

Never mind if this is an American or legal thing to do — that is irrelevant.

Can you imagine buying an airline ticket, in or out of the U.S., and being asked to prove your religion before you click “purchase?” How does that work?

What if you like Middle-Eastern fashions, but are an atheist?

What if you were born in the Middle-East and “look Middle-Eastern” and are an orthodox Christian? (Maybe there’s a tattoo you could wear to identify yourself to the authorities).

What if you are a Muslim international airline pilot flying an A-380 from Kuala Lumpur to California? Should we stop you from getting off the plane at LAX and prevent you from going to the Daily Grill in the Tom Bradley terminal before your next flight, in case you might try to slip out the side door and into our Homeland?

But Trump doesn’t have to answer any of that.

Because Trump doesn’t stand for policies, and his followers don’t care.

Policies? You mean those annoying things that politicians talk about where we actually think through ideas about what we might do, and how it would work, and write down stuff to debate, and ultimately disagree or agree on, as a country?

Not for the post-truth candidate. Policies are for wimps. Wimps who probably read, too…

You get the point. He has proven that for his crowd, reality is irrelevant.

Trump has mastered the media. He understands that if each week, he just keeps turning up the ugly rhetoric dial, the 24×7 cable / social media news cycle stays focused on his latest offense, and getting everyone’s reaction, and before they can even finish analyzing the latest spin, half-truths and outright lies, he’s on to the next whopper.

It worked all summer and has carried him through today. Every time he starts to fade from the news,  he comes out with another one, to force his name back into the media cycle.

It happened today. Two polls came out, and one of the two suddenly showed Ted Cruz taking the lead in Iowa. And then his bizarre, rather panicked statement came out, and now that’s all the media can talk about. The “Cruz news in Iowa” gets buried.

It’s so effective because not only does it play to fear, and fear gets votes… but it also completely drowns out the competition, and sucks out all the oxygen in the room. (Jeb! anyone?)

It doesn’t mater if it’s a good idea. It forces everyone onto his battlefield, arguing about the subject within a frame of context that he has dictated. Never mind the facts.

The national media, the political establishment on both sides of the aisle, the talking heads, bloggers, pundits, everyone….  at each turn for the worst, we fall into his trap, then wonder if he has finally gone too far, and finally imploded.

And then his polls go up.

The other day after San Bernardino, he boasted about the fact that every time something horrible happens, his “numbers” go up. He could hardly contain his pleasure that more blood was spilled.

He’s feeding off the fact that the more bad stuff happens, the more of “us” die, the better it is for his brand.

And he’s telling you to be impressed about how smart he is, because he’s honest about that.

That is Fascism staring you straight in the face and daring you to make things worse, because it only becomes stronger. Like ISIS.

Trump has more modern screen-image expertise than any major political figure besides Ronald Reagan (an actual WWII-era movie star and former corporate media spokesperson).

This makes him effective and highly dangerous. He understands ratings, polls, and the need to own the momentum from week to week.

His obsession with the polls is understandable because for him, they are exactly like TV ratings.

If you have 30% of 20% of the country (see Nate Silver / 538), that’s 6% of the country – that’s pretty good, this early out, and you are leading the pack of other shows in your time slot.

If the numbers stay up — keep going. Repeat that formula next week. Start to go down? We need some fresh shock, some new scandal to stay on top. He totally gets it.

If you actually take the time to watch one of these rallies (try You Tube), especially in the last few weeks, it will give you chills.

The tension in the room is palpable. The audience is hanging on his every word, the blood lust audible in their mob chants and cheers.

When the inevitable protester/infiltrator interrupts him, they get thrown out to boos and jeers. He dictates how they should be treated. He even pointed out last week that this makes his rallies “more fun.”

This is Fascism in America.

But remind yourself, it’s also Jerry Springer. You are watching a faded reality TV star with enough money to not care, manipulate the fears of America and the TV news cycle and his opponents as best as he can, and he will say and do whatever it takes to stay on top of the ratings. Even if it only means he sells a lot of books later.

And that formula works for a while, but has to flame out.

Call entire swaths of the audience rapists and murderers? We can afford to lose a few viewers this season.

Suggest we monitor and/or shut down an entire subset of our population? That should get some play.

Rough up protesters? Why not.

Reinstate state-sponsored torture and suggest that even if it’s not effective, “they” deserve it? Let’s run with it this week.

Physically mock the disabled on stage, like a playground bully? Oh I didn’t really mean that — you people are too politically correct.

Suggest we consider killing innocent families, real live women and children, because they might be related to someone who might have been radicalized and turned to terrorism?

After San Bernardino, why not? That will buy us 72 hours of news.

Block an entire religion from traveling in and out of America?

Yes – we have to assume the numbers only go up this week.

But where does it end?

He has painted himself into a corner. There’s not much left, before we get to trains helping people to camps. And that’s before a single vote has been cast.

He is self-funding, has nothing to lose, and as he has plainly said: “I don’t care.” He’ll just go back to being a rich jerk building golf courses.

That’s what his audience loves about him. He has no agenda but his own, and answers to no one but his own ego.

It’s trash television, America.

It’s fun for a while. But eventually we all have to take out the trash.

Just remind yourself that you are being entertained.

By a man who, according to his ex-wife, kept a book of Hitler’s speeches at his bedside:

https://www.rawstory.com/2015/08/donald-trump-kept-book-of-hitler-speeches-on-his-nightstand-ex-wife-claims/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here we go again. Too close to home.

cnn san bernardino

At around noon, just finishing a conference call,  cell phone flashes CNN Alert: active shooting in San Bernardino. Shit, that’s 40 miles from here.

Turn on the news. It unfolds in the way that is clearly becoming far too familiar: people running from the scene, the obligatory helicopter shot / map overlay… “what do we know so far Bob?” / police combing the scene /  “someone get me 5 terrorism experts – stat” / watch the body count go up.

New horror, new details, same format.

Except this time, new wrinkle: active shooters, escaped the scene…shooter(s) with an “s”…maybe 3…black SUV, on the move. Christ.

Sending texts to a friend, getting their perspective. You seeing this? Yeah, I’m at a mall. I’m outta here.

Pull up a map. What time did this happen. They were near two separate freeways, and on the move. Shit – how long would it take them to drive West toward us… even more soft targets closer to downtown LA?

They could be driving right past Pasadena right about now. Every third damn car is a black SUV in LA.

And then – “hey I’m getting texts something going down in Pasadena right now…”

What? Something about a shooting on Fair Oaks near the mall (2 miles from me). Oh no.

Something about locking down schools in Pasadena… Oh God. No… this can’t be happening…

Call the school / you guys seeing this? / yes we are all safe / no we are not on lock down / school will notify parents if any issue / yes other parents have called / no we have no way to validate the rumor about Pasadena… will let everyone know if we hear anything.

Scan every news channel on TV, CNN / MSNBC / FOX and 4 local stations. Everyone covering but nothing about Pasadena.

Grandma calls from across the country… “NBC in New York mentioning Pasadena.”

That’s it. Going to their school. It’s only a 5 minute drive. I don’t want to panic.

But I just saw this movie on TV. Two weeks ago on a Friday, a shooting in Paris unfolding in real time…

Now I AM starting to panic. What do I do? They think everything is ok right now, but how do they know that? Nobody knows anything right now!

Do I sit by, because I don’t want to cause a scene by pulling them out of school early?

Race down to the school while getting texts about Pasadena schools being surrounded by SWAT teams and locked down….oh my God…

Arrive at the school 30 mins before dismissal… street is empty… no car line… playground is empty… kids are all inside. Good. “Shelter in place.” No SWAT teams.

Circle the little residential neighborhood it sits in…all is calm. Just another clear, cool, sunny winter day in California.

I park my car in a red zone 15 yards from the front entrance, positioned so I can watch the two most accessible sides of the school from my car. Put my flashers on… could care less if a cop comes to give me a ticket. “Don’t you have something better to do right about now, officer?” would seem to be the correct response.

Put on NPR and check the cell phone, more stuff coming in. Shooters still on the loose.

But we’re good on this particular street at this particular moment, thank God.

I scan my mirrors. Every SUV, van, Uber black car that drives by, in either direction, I am looking at the driver…

I catch my breath. My heart begins to slow. I think of my kids inside, beautiful, young, innocent, oblivious. Can’t wait to hug them.

A text comes thru – Pasadena situation resolved, suspect in custody, unrelated to active shooting in San Bernardino…

It all feels surreal… is this the world we live in now?

Is this normal? Is this ok?

Why do we have to live like this?

What is our world coming to?

I pray for the victims and their families. Again.

Domestic? International? Workplace grudge? Columbine wannabes?

The facts will unfold later, after the kids are in bed.

Whatever the motive, the guns and the bullets are the same to the victims.

I wonder…. how close does it have to get to our own home and those we love, before we have had enough?

And how many has it already happened to?

Paris, Connecticut, South Carolina, Oregon, San Bernardino…. Pasadena?

When are we, as a country, as a people, as a generation, going to decide enough is enough?

No, all shooting can’t be stopped. And criminals can find ways to get guns. But why do we have to make it easier for them?

Maybe Paris has nothing to do with San Bernardino.

But the math doesn’t lie: countries with more guns have more shootings. Duh.

Our nation is drowning in guns, and sorry, but it wasn’t like this when we were growing up.

To be clear, I am cool with the 2nd Amendment. Self defense, hunting, etc.

And no, Obama the Kenyan Muslim Communist (who got Bin Laden) is not going to take away all your guns, paranoid freaks.

But hey – can’t we all agree to at least make it as hard to get an assault weapon as getting a driver’s license? Or getting on an airplane? Or voting in Kentucky?

And when the hell are we going to agree that easy access to an AR-15 and unlimited ammo and body armor is just not a great idea anymore?

Yes, I did go there. And don’t tell me “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Yeah? Well then heroin doesn’t kill people either, because “people kill people.” Or grenade launchers. Why shouldn’t everyone have access to as much heroin and grenade launchers as they want?

An AR-15 (or Smith & Wesson MMP, etc.) is for killing people, pure and simple. As many as efficiently as possible. An AR-15 round can penetrate a police car door, then go thru the cop’s bullet proof vest,  thru his/her body, out the back of the vest, and thru another police car door.

Thank you for that little tidbit / soundbite from your expert, CNN.

By the way if you want to buy one online, here’s a link:

gunbroker.com

It has no other redeeming qualities, that outweigh the rapid death and destruction it is capable of, such that we should qualify it as a “necessary right” in a modern society.

It’s a weapon of war.

You want war on your street? Well you’re getting it, America.

I said this before, but let me say it again in big bold letters:

THE NRA HAS BRIBED AND THREATENED CONGRESS TO THE POINT THAT PURCHASING SUCH A WEAPON DOESN’T EVEN GET CHECKED AGAINST THE FBI’S TERRORISM WATCH LIST.

Huh? Yeah….

These are the same people that claim the mantle of “national security.”

And what will they say, again?

“Oh well, if they ALL had been packing heat, I bet those shooters wouldn’t have been so eager. The problem is we don’t have enough guns, and we have all these safe zones, too many “soft targets.”

Follow that to its logical conclusion…. They want us to “harden” every “target.” Sell us more death.

Sorry, but I don’t want to live in a world where you have to take a weapon to the local County Health Dept. employee’s holiday party with the bad buffet.

Wake up from this national nightmare, people.

Before this movie comes to a theater near you.

I got a tiny hint of what it might feel like today. And it’s a darkness none of us should ever have to live thru.

May God bless the victims and their families.

 

 

 

 

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Far from over.

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Sadly, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the terror nightmare in the EU is far from over.

It’s a given that we are in for a long slog to defeat ISIS.

Operationally, in the EU, right now, it appears this immediate wave of attacks is not anywhere close to being closed out, after the hell in Paris a week ago.

Belgium has placed Brussels on its highest threat level alert, warning of a “serious and imminent threat.”

At the same time, the French PM is warning of a “possible chemical or biological attack.”

Obviously they have very disturbing information, likely gathered over the last few days as they kick in doors, follow leads, etc.

After 9/11, America went thru a period of shock, mourning, and ongoing fear.

Heroes, the first responders, the smoldering rubble for months, services, flags on every bumper, fundraisers, color-coded threat levels, and all the other stages remembered so well.

But thinking back, there were no follow-up attacks…only the drumbeat of war and revenge.

It feels like something is very different this time.

A shift from a single, world-changing attack model, to a series of ongoing, lower-grade, horrendous acts that mirror what is happening in Syria and Iraq.

But we need to balance our security and principles with this threat. The threat is real, ongoing, and we need an immediate, global coalition to stamp out ISIS.

But when we saw Trump invoking Nazi-like registration for a religious minority of Americans, and then “sort of” walking it back, we get a peak at what American Fascism might look like.

At the same time, Democrats, who only weeks ago signed a letter to the Administration asking to increase Syrian refugee settlements over the next several years, immediately do a 180 and vote for the Bill to pause the program last night. Political cowards.  There is a list of them if you search for it, including a few in California.

Sadly, it looks like things may get worse over there before they get better. We can only hope the police are on it, and the news is all about “plots interrupted.”

Because any more ratcheting up of the fear level, no doubt some of our politicians at home will continue to increase the race-bating, hate-mongering rhetoric we have heard recently… and we still have 12 more months of this before the election.

Some of the things that have already been said, that a lot of people unfortunately might agree with, are extremely un-American, and a very slippery slope.

 

 

 

 

 

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After Paris. Syrian Refugees, Liberty, and Our Security.

7040815-statue-of-liberty-new-yorkIt’s disappointing, but not surprising, to see the hysterics and hypocrisy of many of our so-called leaders right now. Most Republicans and even some Democrats are reacting to Paris with knee-jerk fear and ignorance. Yes Paris is a total nightmare, sad and frightening, and we need to take real action to keep our people safe. But we must balance that with maintaining our principles and resist falling into the trap of the “us against all of them” mentality, which is exactly what ISIS wants. The hypocrisy is everywhere: just two examples: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both the children of immigrants, now want to slam the door of freedom in the face of some of the most desperate people in the world…

syria-refugee-family

And yet they constantly shout about the importance of maintaining our liberty and freedom. Click around and find the latest examples: a mayor in Tennessee has suggested we call in the National Guard to round up refugees who are already settled here. That’s just creepy. Another Republican leader referred to the internment of Japanese during WWII – most of whom were American citizens and had their liberty and freedom totally violated – as an example we need to follow now. Really? What history course did you take? Even “Gentle” Ben Carson made an analogy today… between refugees and rabid dogs.

Instead, dig down deep and ask yourself…  what is really going on here? Isn’t it obvious? They are feeding off our fear, and either ignorant of, or willfully hiding, the facts, in order to advance their own agendas, at the cost of the very American principles they claim to hold most dear.

What most of the American public likely doesn’t know,  or understandably have the time to research (and which they are taking advantage of), and which President Obama and his Administration need to do a much better job of articulating to the public, is this: it currently takes 18 to 24+ months for an individual family from Syria to clear all the checks – including a specially-added layer for anyone coming from Syria, before individually being admitted to the U.S. for re-settlement. There is no auto-approval process. The Homeland Security investigators who clear these people at the end of the entire process can deny them just for getting so much as a “bad vibe” from a guy. These are generally highly-educated people with young families whose lives have been totally devastated by the civil war, who risked death to flee with nothing but what they could carry, and by the grace of God made it out to a neighboring country. They started an application process 18 to 24 mos ago, and stayed in a refugee camp or host country since, then followed through and cleared every step of the process, and nearly always had some family or prior connection here that aided in their security clearance above those being denied.

Think about it: anyone being approved now would have to have started the process BEFORE ISIS took Mosul in the summer of 2014, let alone becoming the monster it is today. It’s not like there are thousands of people boarding planes in Damascus yesterday and landing at JFK and LAX today passing with a rubber stamp through Customs.

Meanwhile, so far 7 of the 8 terrorists appear to have been Belgian or French, not Syrian. The 8th may have been Syrian, Iraqi or who knows: the Germans have said he may have intentionally dropped a forged Syrian passport, which is extremely easy to get in the EU right about now, as a false flag.

Why would they do that, you ask? Lots of reasons. First of all, it was a highly coordinated attack with getaway drivers. The actual killers intended to blow themselves up or escape. You don’t need a passport to cross back into Belgium or anywhere else in the EU, so why carry one? Either you are really stupid (which unfortunately for all of us, it appears they were not)… or you want it to be found.

So that the world will see the West slamming the door to the people they have displaced, making recruiting that much easier. Isn’t that what ISIS wants?

Don’t believe me…. ask someone with a bit more Foreign Affairs experience than both of us combined:  Madeleine Albright:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/madeleine-albright-refugees-isis_564c8cb4e4b06037734bc53d

Meanwhile, anyone with a EU passport, including any French or Belgian national just like the 7 of 8 Paris attackers, can board a U.S. bound plane tomorrow due to the Visa waiver program, and if they are not already on the No Fly list, be in NY by dinner. They can easily then obtain semi-automatic or fully automatic weapons legally by exploiting the gun-show loophole which the NRA and Congress refuses to close, and buy unlimited amounts of ammunition online, with zero background check.

If Congress really wants to protect the American public and prevent a Paris in the U.S., they should start by addressing the Visa waiver program, and then passing an emergency bill to close the loopholes that according to the Washington Post, over 2000 suspected terrorists have used to attempt or successfully purchase guns in the US in the last 10 years:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/16/why-the-nra-opposed-laws-to-prevent-suspected-terrorists-from-buying-guns/

When Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was asked two days ago in a press conference about closing the loophole that allows any person — including those on the FBI’s consolidated Terrorist Watch List —  to legally purchase an assault weapon in the U.S., he pleaded ignorance:

Q: There’s been a certain amount of resurgence in interest over a bill that’s been floating around here about whether people on terror watch lists should be able to legally buy guns in this country. Should they be able to?
MCCONNELL: [Shrugs shoulders.]
Q: On the FBI terror watch list?
MCCONNELL: Yeah, I’m not particularly familiar with that.
Told that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) have pushed legislation on this – the measure was introduced nine months ago – McConnell added, “I’m not familiar with the legislation, so I’ll pass on it.”
conservatives

 

Pretty pathetic, and frankly scary.

As Sec. of State John Kerry stated late today, over 750,000 refugees have been admitted to the U.S. since 2004. Of them, around 12 have been arrested and deported for various reasons. And exactly zero for planning or executing any form of terrorism plot. According to my math that’s an arrest rate of .0016 % and a terror rate of 0.00000%.

Yes it is true that we can never be 100% safe. We are made aware of this all the time. No system is full-proof. And it is probably true that no matter what system we implement, including having the Director of the FBI personally “sign off” on each Syrian and Iraqi refugee, like the feel-good Bill that the House passed this evening, will not prevent ISIS or others from trying to get into the country with bad intentions.

So – wouldn’t it make sense to make it harder for them to get an assault weapon once they get here? They didn’t bring one on the plane.

Said another way – in what world does it make sense that we put people through a 24-month background check and personal attestation by the Director of the FBI – but in small chance that someone slips through, and or more likely yet, that a homegrown radicalized terrorist, inspired by ISIS, decides to take action (France, Belgium anyone?) – that we make it beyond easy to purchase the weapons actually needed to carry out a mass slaughter like Paris?

Can we all agree that it should be – at minimum – at least as difficult to buy an automatic weapon here – especially if you are on the FBI’s Terror Watch List – as it is to carry one onto our passenger planes?

Oh wait, sorry! “Big Government” had a budget cut due to Sequestration, and the Director is too busy… personally signing off on a 24 month background check on a family of three, for us to check the Terror Watch List to see if a known maniac is legally buying a weapon that’s sole purpose is to take as much human life as quickly and efficiently as possible….

Only in the minds of those who want to act tough and prove to their paranoid constituents that they have “taken action to protect the homeland” – but in reality lack the basic political courage and will to stand up to the gun lobby, and make some reasonable adjustments, does this make any sense.

Instead, what do they do? Stoke the fears of the public, slam the door to Freedom, and ask that we forget the very words we have emblazoned on Lady Liberty herself:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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