Cynical Synapse

Sun, 11 Mar 2018

What Is Common Sense Gun Control?

An internet search does not return any specific answer to what “common sense gun control” is. Sure, many people have opinions on what restrictions they would like to see put on guns, but there is no consensus on what constitutes common sense, let alone common sense gun control.

It seems the most frequent use of the term is to shut down discussion. After all, who wouldn’t be in favor of measures to curb mass shootings? Therefore, if you don’t support common sense gun control, you must not support saving lives, especially kids’ lives. Adding “common sense” to gun control, gun reform, and gun safety measures seems to be just a less offensive way of vilifying gun owners.

Since the Parkland, FL, massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the trend has been to label the National Rifle Association (NRA) a terrorist organization or child murderers. How can reasonable discourse, discussion, and concurrence take place in such a toxic environment? We’ve become a very polarized society in which the mindset is you’re either for us or your against us.

The failures of Parkland had little to do with guns, but a lot to do with personal responsibility. The Parkland killer should not have been able to buy a gun, but he was not held accountable for his behavior in school. Yet, the conversation is largely focused on AR-15s (AR is short for ArmaLite, the company that introduced the gun, not assault rifle, as some believe) in particular, and assault rifles, assault weapons, or assault-style guns to some degree. These terms, too, are intended to inflame and place the user on the moral high ground. After all, no decent person could reasonably espouse the killing of others, especially not unjustified like these “weapons of war”. Never mind the AR-15 was developed in 1956 but did not become a military rifle—the M-16—until 1964.

We all want to see an end to mass murders, regardless of the means of perpetrating them. The conversation needs to be open and honest, with all sides willing to listen to the other. While words have meaning, and terms and terminology are important when it comes to writing laws, mocking gun control advocates with “gunsplaining” is an attempt to one-up the other side in most instances. While I’m at it, let me also call for an end to blaming opponents of virtue signaling. The only purpose of this term is an effort to delegitimize the other party by implying they don’t actually believe in their position. Talk about shutting down dialogue.

Since common sense isn’t very common, let’s stop being so adversarial when it comes to common concerns. Gun control advocates need to stop being so inflammatory and high and mighty. And believers in gun rights need to stop being so dismissive and pedantic. Then maybe we can develop practical solutions to keep our children and society safe.

Previously on mass shootings:

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Wed, 07 Mar 2018

Effective Dialogue Requires Some Mutual Respect

Frankly, the near complete lack of willingness by either major political party to even listen to the other is a sad state of affairs in our country. It is symptomatic of the polarization of our society. We need good ideas, regardless of where they come from, in order to develop suitable solutions to the many problems facing the nation today. That requires some open-mindedness and a willingness to listen. That only comes with a “certain degree of mutual respect,” as Virginia state delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpepper) said in session at the state house on March 2nd.
 

HT: The Daily Wire

It’s a short, seven-minute speech with some great points. The Daily Signal summarized seven key points.

  1. Find out if gun-free zones work
  2. Understand the Second Amendment
  3. Make self-defense possible
  4. Consider arming teachers
  5. Stop calling opponents Nazis and segregationists
  6. Continue the dialogue with mutual respect
  7. Admit government failed in Parkland shooting

Successful solutions need reasoned approaches, based on facts and evidence. Emotion, rhetoric, and name-calling don’t advance any cause and certainly don’t yield positive results one could be proud of.

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.

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.
 

Sun, 18 Sep 2011

Constitution Day—Our Way of Life is At Risk

Filed under: Citizen rights, Civil liberties, Congress, Customer service, Government, Legal, Life, People, Politics, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 10:02 am

US Constitution

Yesterday, 17 September, marked the 224th anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. Of late, it seems our Constitution is under attack and the federal government wants to expand its reach beyond Constitutional authority.

As a case in point, from my perspective, the government has no authority to require me to buy health insurance. Or anything else, for that matter. Requiring the purchase of health insurance does not fall under the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. The Constitution is as the center of the political debate:

The struggle over the holiday is yet another proxy in the fight over the proper role of government. On one side are those who embrace an “originalist” view of the Constitution, where New Deal judicial activism started the country down the path to ruin. On the other are those who say that its language — allowing Congress to levy taxes to provide “for the general welfare,” to regulate commerce, and to do what is “necessary and proper” to carry out its role—affirms the broad role of the federal government that has developed over the last 100 years.

TSA montage

The fear induced by the attacks of 9/11 led to the USA PATRIOT act and subsequent losses or restrictions of civil liberties and freedoms. The most apparent aggregiousness is with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and their seemingly arbitrary and inefective rules for airport checkpoint screening.

Not satisfied with just cowing ordinary citizens, the today’s government seeks to silence internal dissenters and whistleblowers. The federal hegemonic conspiracy is no longer a Republican or Democratic construct. Rather, it is the result of the government seeking to ensure its own continued survival despite its citizens.
 

Previously on the Constitution and rights erosion:

Fri, 02 Sep 2011

Islamophobia Unchecked Equals Freedom Unprotected

Filed under: Behavior, Citizen rights, Civil liberties, Government, Legal, Life, Oppression, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 1:00 pm

Anti-Islamic grafitti

As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks draws near, coming on the heals of the end of Ramadan and releases of a couple reports on Muslims in America, it’s easy for conversations to turn to jihadists—Muslim extremists. The truth is extremists of any kind are dangerous. It’s also true the majority of terrorist activities in the past decade were carried out by people hiding behind the Islamic religion. This does not make them Islamists, although some may have been. The Ayatollahs in Iran are real Islamists. Still, the end result is a very real and deliberate undertone of Islamohobia—the fear of Muslims.

A Center for American Progrss report released 26 August describes the funding and efforts fueling Islamophobia. Despite their loyalties, good work ethic, civic-mindedness, and being law-abiding, in general, there is a lot of mistrust of Muslims in the population at large.

Muslim-Americans are, generally, satisfied with current conditions “despite a feeling [Muslims] are being targeted by anti-terrorism government programs.” While we want feel and be secure, we value our rights more. Consider the Old Man’s post about concerns with the hijab:

There’s been a lot of flack over Muslim women wearing their traditional head dress out in the public here in America. One of the latest was at Rye Playland in New York where a group of Muslim women were barred from certain rides because of their headscarves. Do we, the other public, know what banning the religious head dress for a particular religious culture could lead to?

Yeah, yeah! The Old Man is fully aware of the attacks on America, and Americans abroad, by Muslims. But have we taken our revenge too far? It may be appropriate to check people, and even their clothing, for any weapons or bombs in public gatherings or boarding a public means of transportation. But think about this for a moment. If we are to ban Muslim clothing simply because a certain group of people don’t like it, what are we supposed to do about the other religions??????

Amish

Catholic Nums

Latter Day Saints

Orthodox Jew

Mon, 29 Aug 2011

Cold War vs. Cyber War—China Has Already Crossed the Virtual Fulda Gap

Filed under: China, Deceit, Government, Legal, Military, National security — cynicalsynapse @ 6:19 am

11th Cav watching the Fulda Gap

I miss the Soviets. While we didn’t think so then, they pretty much followed the rules and believed in mutually-assured destruction, just like us. While we were concerned the Soviets would come pouring through the Fulda Gap in great armored hordes, it turns out their state-planned and state-controlled economy could not have supported such an imperial expedition. Alas, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ending the bipolar balance of world affairs that had been in place for 46 years.

Post-Cold War, Russia still seeks to be a first-world power. While Russia has much potential, and much in its corner, it’s an even more distant second place than was the Soviet Union. More importantly, as the attacks on 9/11 showed, threats to our national security don’t even need to be nation states.

US 'cyber warriors'

During my studies in the Command and General Staff Officer’s Course (2000-2002), there was a lot of discussion about information technology being the next revolution in military affairs. Proponents believed this to be a strength, while I questioned the soundness of the validity of information as revolutionary. Even ten years ago, I thought connectivity was too subject to interruption.

Today, personnel systems, pay, and logistics are all managed by web-based applications in the US military. Even artillery fire depends on the connectivity of radars with fire direction centers to firing batteries. The problem, as I have always seen it, is the tenuousness of this connection.

China's BluFor

The real threat comes from China. While China is building conventional capability, the real threat is in the cyber realm. China tipped their hand in this regard about a week ago when a Chinese propoganda piece unintentionally showed cyber attack software screen shots.

Intentionally, or not, China substantiated it’s involvment in cyber warfare. If you ask me, this definitely appears to be the “smoking cursor”.
 

Previously on China:

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