Cynical Synapse

Mon, 05 Mar 2018

Misplaced Blame—The Failure of Parkland

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel blames the NRA

Image: CNN

Make no mistake: the murder of 17 innocent people, both high schoolers and adults, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, is reprehensible and unforgiveable. Something needs to be done to end such tragedies. We should give that careful thought and decide on what reasonable, effective actions to take based on facts.

Since the February 14, 2018 shootings in Parkland, there has been a hue and cry for more gun control. During the <a href="CNN Town Hall, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel denied responsibility and used the forum to call for gun control reform. The Town Hall turned into a bunch of bullies bashing the National Rifle Association (NRA) even though that organization had nothing to do with the perpetrator of the Parkland massacre.

Despite Sheriff Israel’s claims of amazing leadership, he seems to have only provided amazing leadership failures. He started avoiding responsibility during the CNN Town Hall when the NRA’s Dana Loesch asked why he didn’t use Florida’s Baker act to have the Parkland killer psychologically evaluated. Sheriff Israel’s response:

We’ve talked about the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and some other local agencies, and the FBI getting tips and what have you. America: there’s one person responsible for this act. That’s the detestable, violent killer. He is responsible for this act.

The Sheriff is right about who is responsible, but he also pointed out his office and the FBI both got tips about the killer. He never does answer the question about why his agency failed to follow up on numerous calls about the Parkland shooter. Israel admits his agency got 27 calls. In fact, Broward Sheriff’s Office received 45 calls about the killer or his brother from 2008 to 2017. Most peole don’t have that much contact with law enforcement in their entire lives! These calls should have prevented the Parkland shooter from being able to legally purchase any firearm.

As recently as January, the FBI received a tip about the killer, including his gun ownership, desire to kill people, and disturbing social media posts. Yet, the FBI failed to act. This was a specific tip that should have led to FBI to inform local law enforcement. Oh, wait. The Broward Sheriff’s Office already knew about the troublesome kid who would become the mass murderer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Teachers and the school district knew the Parkland shooter was troubled since at least middle school. The kid misbehaved and acted out, with the seriousness of infractions escalating over time to the point of assault. He was disciplined, suspended, and finally expelled. But the schools and school district never reported him to law enforcement to hold him responsible under the criminal justice system. This may be the result of an effort to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline. Unfortunately, the Parkland shooter’s escalating and continuing aggressive and antisocial behavior should have shown he was not a good candidate to keep out of the criminal justice system.

The warning signs were all there. Violent tendencies. Signs of mental illness. Threatening social media posts. Yet, the actions taken by government authorities at all levels—school, local, county, state, and federal—completely failed the 17 people killed at Parkland as well as their families, friends, and the community and nation as a whole. The answer is not additional laws. The answer is to hold those who failed accountable to ensure the existing laws are followed and enforced. Let’s start with charging hypocritical Sheriff Israel with malfeasance and dismissing him from his post for the gross, amazing leadership failures resulting from his incompetence and arrogance.

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Sun, 13 Nov 2011

“He’s Not a Terrorist Suspect…[He’s] an Enemy Combatant”

Filed under: Candidates, Global War on Terror, Justice, Legal, Media, Politics, War — cynicalsynapse @ 4:14 pm

Anwar al-Awlaki

Ever since US-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a Predator drone strike on 30 September 2011, there’s been a hue and cry from the vocal minority of “due processors” calling al-Awlaki’s killing an unlawful assassination. Folks, this is not rocket science. Al-Awlaki is as much a terrorist and enemy combatant as if he’d been one of the 9/11 hijackers. Citizenship and birthplace have nothing to do with it, whatsoever.

I do not like Newt Gingrich and have not since he was Speaker of the House. Maybe it’s something to do with that position; perhaps not unlike “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Nonetheless, Gingrich clearly articulated the legality of al-Awlaki’s killing during yesterday’s debate of Republican presidential candidates.

Waging war on the United States is outside criminal law; it is an act of war, and it should be dealt with as an act of war, and the correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you.

HT: Legal Insurrection
 

Thu, 13 Oct 2011

Undie-Bomber Pleads Guilty; Implicates al-Awlaki

Filed under: Crime, Justice, Legal, Terrorism — cynicalsynapse @ 4:14 am

Authorities take Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab into custody

The underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up an airliner headed to Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009. His bomb was a mixture of chemicals in his underwear to be set off by adding another chemical with a syringe. After a loud pop and smoke from his lap, a passenger said, “Hey dude, your pants are on fire.” Other passengers subdued Abdulmutallab and flight attendants put him out with fire extinguishers.

Abdulmutallab, who is representing himself, has been rather contentious and disrupting in court proceedings leading up to his trial, which began in Federal District Court on Tuesday, 11 October. Jury selection last week included at least one outburst and Abdulmutallab wearing his prison T-shirt to court.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab listens to US attorney's opening remarks

In a trial that was expected to last 4 weeks, Abdulmutallab surprised everyone by pleading guilty to all 8 charges at the start of the second day. “I’m guilty under U.S. law, but not under the Koran,” replied when Judge Edwards read one of the charges. While entering his pleas, Abdulmutallab read a 6-minute, handwritten statement, including:

We the Mujahedeen insist on attacking the United States because it promotes the blasphemy of Muhammed (PBUH), and the prophets, and because this country continues to support the Israelis in killing innocent Palestinians, in addition to many other [sic] of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Yemen, Irag, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond which this country kills.

So, Abdulmutallab saved us a lot of money by avoiding a long trial. The piece de resistance, however, is his testimony to Anwar al-Awlaki’s culpability and role in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula activities.

I was greatly inspired to participate in jihad by the lectures of the great and rightly guided mujahedeen who is alive, Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, may Allah preserve him and his family and give them victory, Amen, and Allah knows best.

Participation in jihad against the United States is considered among the most virtuous of deeds in Islam and is highly encouraged in the Koran.

Judge Edwards set sentencing for 12 January 2012. Many of his charges carry minimum 30 year sentences, some of which must run consecutively. This may effectively equal his expected punishment of life in prison.
 


 

Wed, 12 Oct 2011

Ron Paul Indulging in a Lunatic Binge

Rep. Ron Paul

Ever since the radical, jihadist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed 30 September by a drone attack in Yemen, Republican presidential contender Ron Paul has been crying foul. He contends al-Awaki’s Constitutional rights, as US citizen, were violated, denying him due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. ls al-Awlaki’s “assassination” a dangerous precedent. Paul stated “there has been no formal declaration of war and certainly not one against Yemen.”

What Ron Paul misses is the fact al Qaeda declared war on the United States in 1998 and we reciprocated in 2001. A state of war has existed between the US and all the branches of al Qaeda ever since. Just because Pres. Obama changed terminology to “Overseas Contingency Operations” doesn’t mean the nature of the Global War on Terror has changed in any fundamental way.

Rep. Ron Paul

Most of us (59%) believe al-Awlaki’s killing was Constitutional. Ron Paul continues his government assassination meme, however. Last week Paul spoke to the National Press Club:

Can you imagine being put on a list because you’re a threat? What’s going to happen when they come to the media? What if the media becomes a threat?

But, Paul’s fearmongering is not new, having reared its ugly head in the last presidential campaign. Today, Paul cites Timothy McVeigh and Nidal Hasan as terrorists whose right to due process was not abridged in contrast to al-Awaki. The difference, Mr. Paul, is they were not part of al Qaeda. The difference is al-Awlaki joined Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and actively aided and abetted the terrorist organization. Al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant and AQAP confirmed his importance, calling him the “mujahid heroic sheikh”.
 


 

Sat, 01 Oct 2011

Hey, Due Processers: Here’s the Smoking Underwear Bomb

remnants of underwear bomb

Almost before the smoke cleared after Friday’s Predator drone attack on US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, there’s been a popular uprising questioning the legality of killing the jihadist cleric. Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul blasted Obama for violating al-Awlaki’s Constitutional right to due process. With just 8% support in a recent Florida poll, Paul was joined by 1%-er Gary Johnson in crying fowl in “assassinating” al-Awlaki. Gag me with a spoon. Al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant, pure and simple. Citizenship is not part of the equation.

Since that’s clearly not sufficient for the “due processers”, consider Ibrahim al-Asiri was also killed in the Predator airstrike. Al-Asiri, then, was in the same motorcade with al-Awlaki, so there is a definite connection. And the FBI pulled al-Asiri’s fingerprint of the underwear bomb remnants. How can there be any question about al-Awlaki’s active engagement in jihad against the US, which clearly makes him an enemy combatant?

al-Asiri's cargo bomb threat

The killing of al-Awlaki, Samir Khan (also a US citizen), and al-Asiri, all members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is both lawful and justified. They were enemy combatants engaged in the fight against our way of life.

Kudos to Republican candidate Rick Perry’s praise for Pres. Obama’s commitment to hunting down terrorists. That’s a radical, and welcome, departure from Paul, Johnson, and those who thought Obama would be soft on terrorism.
 

After seeing the video, I hope the disconnect between Paul’s call for due process in al-Awladi’s case, but no need for same for 9/11 accused becomes apparent. And, forgive me, but every time I hear of Ron Paul, I can’t help but think of Ru Paul.

Update:

03 Oct 2011

It almost seemed too good to be true when I first heard al-Asiri was killed in the Predator strike on al-Awlaki and Khan. Alas, it seems it was more than we should hope for. Yemeni officials said AQAP bombmaker al-Asiri was not killed with al-Awlaki in Friday’s aerial targeting of the terrorist cleric’s motorcade. While there may no longer be a smoking underwear link, the fact remains al-Awlaki served AQAP and was at war with his native country.

Al-Awlaki’s value to AQAP was his knowledge of US culture and his ability at radicalizing, enabling, and recruiting to the jihadist cause homegrown extremists like MAJ Nidal Hassan and the Times Square bomber. Ironically, if he’d stayed in the US, he’d be a criminal (can you say conspiracy?), but since he moved in with AQAP in Yemen, he was an enemy combatant.
 

Mon, 02 May 2011

Karma Exacts Justice on Osama Bin Laden

Filed under: Global War on Terror, History, Justice, Middle East, National security, Politics, President — cynicalsynapse @ 9:11 pm

Deceased Osama Bin Laden

We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.

—George W. Bush
   20 September 2001

Millions of people around the world do not mourn the death of Osama Bin Laden, long considered Public Enemy Number One. To be honest, many are celebrating the terrorist’s death at the hands of US Navy SEALs. For a not insignificant number, such emotions are conflicting, since it’s not a very Christian viewpoint.

Taliban fighters

As I see it, Bin Laden’s death is a good thing. Still, we must steel ourselves against those who might argue against the belief the War on Terror is not over. I’ve already seen a lot of people questioning when troops will come home from Afghanistan and Iraq simply because Bin Laden is dead.

Unfortunately, the reality is Bin Laden is not al-Qaeda’s only bad guys. And the US must be careful to not squander the political capital of Bin Laden’s death.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010

School Denies Flag Rights During Veterans Week

Filed under: Citizen rights, Civil liberties, Government, Hypocrits, Justice, Legal, Life, Paradoxes, Politics, Racism, Schools — cynicalsynapse @ 9:21 pm

Cody Alicea rides bike with a US flag

On Monday, 08 November, Denair Middle School told a student to stop displaying the US flag on school grounds. According to Superintendent Edward Parraz, officials were concerned about racial tensions. Excuse me? The US flag causes racial tensions? I thought that was the Stars and Bars.

Mr. Parraz said the Campus Supervisor told Cody Alecia he couldn’t fly the US flag out of concern for Cody’s safety. Parraz blamed the matter on Cinco de Mayo which, by the way, is not a US holiday like Veterans Day.

Our Hispanic, you know, kids will, you know, bring their Mexican flags and they’ll display it, and then of course the kids would do the American flag situation, and it does cause kind of a racial tension which we don’t really want.

Denair Middle School

Denair Middle School is in mid-central California, southeast of Modesto. I realize all of California has a large Hispanic population, but it’s not like Denair is a border or urbanized region. Thus, it doesn’t follow that Cody’s display of the US flag could be seen as anti-Hispanic or even counter to celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Alecia had been displaying the US flag on his bike since the beginning of the school year, so this is not a new issue.

Today, 12 November, the school district decided Cody Alecia could display the US flag. This was in the face of nationwide outrage and a community march on the school. As a side note, perhaps Fox 40 personnel should undertake some remedial spelling and grammar classes. In any case, Supt. Parraz said:

[The] First Amendment is important. We want the kids to respect it, understand it, and with that comes a responsibility.

Burning constitution

Besides dissing veterans in this week that includes Veterans Day, Denair fails to address the underlying issues. Does anyone doubt this could have longer term impact on society at large?

As a result of the nationwide controversy, Cody Alecia is flying the US flag from his bike once again. Score one for correct over political correctness.

Previously on the US Flag:

Fri, 15 Oct 2010

Probate Candidate Ryan’s Questionable Standards

Filed under: Deceit, Justice, Legal, Paradoxes, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 3:41 pm

Elect Kathleen Ryan and highway sign

Republican Kathleen Ryan is a candidate for Probate Judge in Oakland County, Michigan. The seat she’s running for handles probate, guardianships, mental illness, and family law cases. This responsibility requries someone with experience and the highest moral and ethical standards.

At left is one of Ryan’s campaign signs alongside I-96 eastbound near mile 160. Since it’s in front of the Wixom city limit sign, Ryan’s campaign sign is clearly on public property and the highway’s right-of-way. Giving the candidate the benefit of the doubt, I emailed her campaign to advise them of my concern and request removal of the sign. I became real annoyed by political signs littering the sides of highways last gubernatorial campaign when Republican candidate Dick DeVos’s signs popped up all over state highways like an epidemic of weeds. Here’s the response judicial candidate Ryan sent me:

Thank you for your email voicing your concern. Please be advised that the sign that you refer to is on priovate property where my campaign received specific permission from the property owner.

Despite that reply, does anyone see any irony in the fact the sign disappeared not long after? In any case, Kathleen Ryan survived the primary election. She faces Dana Margaret Hathaway in the general election on 02 November.

Elect Kathleen Ryan near I-96 roadway

Imagine my surprise earlier this week on my homeward commute. A few weeks before the general election, here’s one of Ryan’s campaign signs between the roadway and the fence separating public and private property along I-96. In fact, it’s got to be within about 100 feet of where the one before the primary was. You can clearly see the Detroit Public Television building in both pictures. Naturally, I emailed Ryan’s campaign. No response yet, but it’s only been a day.

Ryan attended Catholic elementary and high schools, obtained her bachelor’s at Notre Dame, and her Juris Doctorate from University of Detroit-Mercy. She lives in Bloomfield Township where the median family income was $144,043 in 2007. Compared to Oakland County’s 2009 median household income of $62,308, Ryan concerns me as being woefully out-of-touch with average citizens who will come before her bench.

Kathleen Ryan

While Ryan has more legal experience and has focused on probate and family law, she leaves a nagging doubt. Ryan claims Dana Margaret Hathaway is inexperienced, but Hathaway’s endorsed by four probate judges compared to Ryan’s two, one of whom is retired. To me, that’s telling and speaks volumes.

Hathaway lives in Birmingham, does pro bono work with indigent clients, worked at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office while in law school, and has cared for two grandfathers with Alzheimer’s. Hathaway’s campaign has is on Facebook and her web site is more personable than Ryan’s. Oh, and, I’ve not seen any Hathaway signs where they shouldn’t be.

Update:

17 Oct 2010

Interestingly, there are a few Kathleen Ryan signs on the westbound I-96 right-of-way between Wixom and Pleasant Valley Roads. I also saw a Thaddeus McCotter sign in this area. My whole pet peeve with this issue of campaign signs along public highway rights-of-way comes from the 2006 gubernatorial campaign when my commute to work was peppered with DeVos for Governor signs. The issue? Why should taxpayers underwrite the cost to remove these signs?

Here’s another interesting observation. Why are the illegal signs all for Republican candidates? I’ve not seen one sign for a Democratic candidate illegally posted along an Interstate highway in Michigan.

Update:

21 Oct 2010

Double the Ryan signs

Ryan’s campaign responded to my email and told me to feel free to contact the “property owner”, giving me a name, but no contact information. I replied asking for contact information. I haven’t received it yet, but it’s only been a couple days.

Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) press release provides guidelines on campaign (and other unofficial) sign placement along state highways and Interstates. The guidelines prohibit signs along limited access (Interstate) rights-of-way. Looks to me, from today’s picture at right, these signs are clearly in the I-96 right-of-way. Perhaps it’s unreasonable, but I’d expect a candidate for the judiciary to be concerned about following the law.

I’m not paranoid, but doesn’t it seem interesting there are now two signs here since I requested contact information?

Update:

22 Oct 2010

In an email response, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) agrees Ryan’s signs are, in fact, on public property:

If the signs are between the freeway and the fence, which they appear to be from the photographs, they are within MDOT right of way, and should be removed.

How can a candidate for the judiciary outright lie to a constituent? Does she think because I don’t have a doctorate or live in an affluent community that I’m stupid? Is she not aware of voter discontent with elected officials who don’t listen to their constituents? And who, in their right minds, wants to elect a judge without the backbone and moral fortitude to do what’s right? What kind of ethics you want exhibited by a probate judge who also hears family law cases.

Experienced she may be, but Kathleen Ryan does not have the strength of character to be responsible for determining outcomes in complex matters for people at their most vulnerable times.

Tue, 01 Jun 2010

Ambassador Bridge Owner Gets Double-Tapped

Filed under: Budget, Business, Greed, Justice, Legal, Paradoxes, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 1:32 pm

Detours remain at Ambassador Bridge

Grosse Pointe billionaire and Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun did not have a good week leading up to the holiday.

First, the Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear Moroun’s case against the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) lawsuit over the Gateway Project. MDOT says Moroun, or more precisely his Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC), failed to provide freeway connections according to the agreed upon designs and signed contract. Unless Moroun takes the case to Federal court, he’ll have to reconstruct connections to I-75 and I-96 at, perhaps, a cost of millions of dollars. If Michigan invested $230 million in taxpayer dollars on the Gateway project, why couldn’t Matty Moroun meet his part of the bargain? Maybe because Moroun built a duty-free store and gasoline pumps in anticipation of his second span, at least partially on land owned by the City of Detroit. Kind of arrogant and presumptuous, don’t you think, Mr. Moroun?

Second, the Michigan House passed a bill to allow Michigan to finance a second, publicly-owned Detroit River crossing (aka bridge). Ambassador Bridge owner Moroun has been seeking Coast Guard approval for a second span. Nonetheless, he claims a second—Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC)—span is not economically viable. What he means is “I want my own second span, but yours is no good.”

No to Moroun's second bridge span

Considering that Detroit-Windsor is the highest volume border crossing between the US and Canada, it’s not prudent to leave a private entity with total control over cross-border traffic. Granted, there is the tunnel, but it’s not really a commercial crossing; trucks use the bridge. And, since Moroun doesn’t want to live up to the terms of the Gateway Project, a public span seems more in the interests of citizens in the region than a second Ambassador Bridge span.

Granted, the Michigan House bill still needs to make it past the Michigan Senate and Gov. Granholm who supports DRIC. Canada has already offered to fund Michigan’s part of the span, to be reimbursed by tolls until paid off. Environmental impact studies are, essentialy, done. This all seems like a no brainer to me.

Previously on the Ambassador Bridge:

Sun, 04 Apr 2010

Fathers Gone Wild

Filed under: Behavior, Justice, Legal, Life, People — cynicalsynapse @ 11:22 am

Jamar Pinkney Sr. being led off

Jamar Pinkney Sr. was convicted of murder in the second degree by a Wayne County, MI, circuit court on April 1st. Pinkney’s lawyer, Corbett Edge O’Meara, admitted he didn’t expect exhoneration. Sentencing is set for 15 April.

Pinkney, who is 37, fatally shot Jamar Pinkney Jr., 15, on 16 November 2009. The elder Pinkney apparently became enraged upon learning the younger Pinkney had apparently admitted to molesting his 3-year-old half sister.

Jamar Pinkney Jr.'s death spot

While I can understand the father’s rage, here’s where the connection breaks for me. After marching his son, naked, from the house, Jamar Pinkney Sr. shot his son, execution style in an open field. The whole time, the boy and his aunt were begging Pinkney to spare the boy’s life.

Nonetheless, the jury took 2 hours and 50 minutes to reach a second-degree murder verdict. Pinkney was also convicted of three counts of assault and using a firearm in a felony. He faces life imprisonment with possibility of parole. Sentencing is slated for 15 April. Hope he has his taxes done.

Joseph Raymond Cox

But Jamar Pinkney Sr. is not the only dad with no respect for his child. Joseph Raymond Cox used his 2-year old daughter to protect him from police Tasers. The resident of Detroit suburb Belleville faced off police a week ago after they were called to Cox’s former wife’s suburban Warren home.

Cox forced his way into his former wife’s home after she refused to let him in. When police arrived, he took “what we call a fighting stance, clenched his fist”, Warren Police Sgt. Heidi Metz said. Police were able to arrest Cox without using Tasers. His daughter was not injured.

Candidate Charlie Sheen uses a child to shield himself from sniper

Cox faces second-degree child abuse, home invasion, and resisting and obstructing police charges as a result. He remains in Macomb County Jail, with bond set at $15,000 cash or surety, pending his preliminary hearing on 8 April.

Kind of reminds you of that scene in The Dead Zone where candidate Charlie Sheen uses a child to shield himself from a sniper, doesn’t it?

HT: theblogprof

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