Tag Archives: domestic terrorism

Trump scraps domestic terror effort

Does it surprise you to learn that Donald J. Trump plans to toss out an Obama-era program to finance an effort to root out the causes of domestic terrorism?

Yeah, me neither.

That’s the plan, though, as the president reportedly is going to discontinue a grant program created by the Barack Obama administration that was supposed to be funded yearly. But no! The Trump administration said it’s a one-time-only grant. So the Department of Homeland Security won’t keep it going.

The timing of this announcement is stunning as well.

It comes a week after Cesar Sayoc was arrested on charges that he sent pipe bombs to opponents of Donald Trump, as well as to a major media outlet. They’re all Democrats, either politicians or Democratic political figures. Did I mention that two of the intended targets were former presidents of the United States and one of them is a former vice president? There. I just did.

So the president doesn’t want to keep this effort going.

Why is that? Oh, it’s no doubt going to be argued by some — and I can buy their argument — that Trump wants to get rid of it because it originated during Barack Obama’s time as president.

The Countering Violent Extremism Grant spends $10 million annually on efforts to examine the causes of domestic violence and terrorism. Yes, it’s a scourge in this country. Hate groups have gotten more brazen in recent years. The slaughter of 11 congregants at the Pittsburgh synagogue symbolizes what I’m talking about; a suspect has been arrested and charged with 29 hate-crime-related felonies.

But the president wants to discontinue a valuable grant aimed at rooting out domestic terrorism?


Waiting for president to perform unwritten task

Presidents of the United States inherit an array of constitutional duties and, yes, unwritten and unspoken roles they must perform.

We expect it of them when the moment arrives. It almost always does so without warning.

A space shuttle explodes 73 seconds after liftoff and President Reagan consoles the nation in utter shock; another shuttle disintegrates on re-entry and President Bush performs the same duty; a bomber destroys a federal court building in Oklahoma City, and President Clinton steps up to soothe our anxiety; a madman slaughters 20 children and six teachers at a Connecticut elementary school and President Obama wipes away tears of anguish while honoring the victims.

Then, of course, there was 9/11 and President Bush called on the nation to mourn as one and to fight as one.

Someone mailed pipe bombs to Democratic political figures and a major cable news outlet. What do we get from the current president? We hear him fling blame at Democrats, at the “fake news” media, at his foes.

Donald Trump can recite the correct words. He has done so with regard to the pipe bombs that were mailed to his adversaries. He did so again in response to the massacre at the Pittsburgh synagogue this weekend.

I watch him and wonder whether he feels it. I cannot read his mind or plumb his heart and soul. It’s just a sense I get that he doesn’t embrace this role he agreed to play when he took the oath as president of the United States.

Donald Trump hears the calls for civility in our debate. He then accepts campaign rally crowds’ chants of “CNN sucks!” and doesn’t stop them. He doesn’t tamp down the rage among his supporters. He doesn’t tell them to quell the mob conduct.

Members of the administration have condemned the hatred demonstrated in recent days. The president has joined them in condemning the acts of hate crimes against religious groups … only to crack a joke about canceling an event because of a “bad hair day.”

I wish I could hope the president can learn how to perform this task. I cannot. I have lost that hope.

It saddens me beyond measure.

Calling the Obamas and Clintons? ‘We’ll pass’

I want to hand Donald J. Trump a most left-handed compliment.

The president at least had the stones to acknowledge that he won’t do the decent thing as it regards two of his presidential predecessors.

Cesar Sayoc was arrested in Florida by the FBI in connection with a series of pipe bombs sent to various Democratic political figures and to CNN. Two of the intended victims of the domestic terrorists were former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

A reporter asked Trump this week if he intended to call his predecessors presumably to assure them that they are safe and that the administration will do all it can to ensure their safety and that of all Americans.

Trump said, “We’ll pass.”

There you have it. The decent thing to do would be to … oh, you know what that is.


Call for ‘unity’ gives way to more attacks

It’s been quite clear that Donald Trump’s calls for “unity” and “compassion” are as hollow as his claim of being a “self-made” zillionaire.

The president recited the correct words as federal, state and law enforcement officials apprehended a suspect believed to be responsible for sending pipe bombs to the president’s political foes and a major media organization.

Then he returned almost immediately to form.

He blasted Democrats as wanting to take the nation on a track to “socialism.” Moreover, he blamed the media for fomenting the anger that has infected the nation’s political debate.

No mention, of course, of his own role in the anger that allegedly prompted Cesar Sayoc to send out the bombs.

In a more perfect political world, the president of the United States would talk at his campaign rallies about the specifics of his policy proposals, rather than merely attacking those on the other side.

He would, for instance:

  • Articulate why his tax policies would help individuals and families.
  • Explain in detail why the nation wants to declare trade wars with its trading partners worldwide.
  • Line out — with specifics — his view that the nation’s environmental policies haven’t improved the environment and why they’re harmful to job growth.
  • Explain, again with detail and context, why the government is considering an elimination of the term “transgender.”

He won’t do any of that. He will rely on applause lines spoken to fervent crowds of supporters. He will continue to applaud chants of “Lock her up!” when the crowd erupts in anger at Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Trump is sincerely insincere

He’ll continue to applaud a politician who assaults a reporter while decrying “political violence.” He will keep insisting that the media are using the bomb/terror story for “political gain” against Republicans.

Unity, Mr. President? Sure thing. The man’s calls for unity don’t mean a single thing.

Going to name this suspect

I made a command decision regarding this blog some time back that I wouldn’t use the names of mass murderers connected with shootings.

The guy nabbed today as a suspect in the series of pipe bombs mailed to prominent political figures gives me a chance to make an exception.

The FBI, the Postal Service inspector’s crew, local police have taken Cesar Sayoc into custody. He’s been charged, so far, with five counts related to the sending of these devices to various individuals who either have criticized Donald Trump or been criticized by the president.

Why the change of heart? Heck, I don’t know. I guess I just feel like using this guy’s name.

Sayoc faces a prison term of 58 years if he’s convicted of the crimes for which he’s been charged. He’s 56 now, so if he serves a full federal prison term, he’s likely to die in the slammer.

I’ve published the names of other terrorists, such as Mohammad Atta, one of the monsters who flew a jetliner into one of the Twin Towers on 9/11. I’m going to put Sayoc into the same category.

Thankfully, he didn’t kill anyone. But he stands as one of the nation’s most notorious criminal suspects.

It’s amazing in the extreme that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies were able to make this arrest so quickly. FBI Director Christopher Wray said it succinctly today when providing some details into the arrest: Once the FBI obtained fingerprints and DNA from one of the envelopes intercepted, they knew they could zero in quickly on the suspect, Wray said.

It turns out Sayoc has a criminal record. His name is easy to spot on the criminal information data bases available to law enforcement officials.

I take my hat off to the various agencies that secured this arrest. Yes, I know we all have to mindful of the fact that Sayoc hasn’t been convicted of anything; therefore, we have to use the word “alleged” and “suspect” generously while commenting on this guy.

I have a hunch that we’ll be able to remove the qualifiers in pretty short order.

Good work, FBI … you have earned your stripes

I am going to say something that has yet come out of the mouth of the president of the United States.

It’s no scoop, and the folks who will get these good words don’t need them from little ol’ me. I’ll offer them anyway.

The FBI deserves the highest praise possible for the swift work it did in apprehending a suspect in connection with the pipe bombs being directed at Democratic Party political figures.

Donald Trump has yet to say “FBI” out loud in public while discussing the ongoing crisis. He must feel a bit sensitive about the agency because of the work it has done with regard to that other matter, the one dealing with Russia and the 2016 election.

That, though, is not part of this story. The story of the moment is about a guy who’s been arrested for using the postal system to terrorize politicians, CNN, a major Democratic donor, a former attorney general … all of whom have either criticized the president or has been the target of his own criticism of them.

And while I’m on the subject of those who were targeted, two of them happen to be former presidents, neither of whom has been mentioned specifically — by name — by the current president.

Back to my point. The FBI is without question the nation’s pre-eminent law enforcement agency and it is arguably the best in the world. That the agency could zero in quickly on someone using DNA and fingerprint results speaks to the belief among many of us that they have their man in custody.

POTUS equates partisan concerns with big FBI bust

Check out this tweet from the president of the United States. It speaks volumes about the priorities of Donald John Trump.

FBI, Postal Service and local police have arrested a man and charged with committing acts of terrorism against Democratic political figures as well as against CNN.

What concerns the president? He is just so damn worried that the “‘Bomb’ stuff” might be serving as a drag on Republican candidates for public office. He wants GOP partisans to “go out and vote!”

I don’t begrudge the president for urging voters of his party to help elect friendly politicians.

However, I do begrudge the timing of this Twitter message.

As I look back at the message, I am drawn to where Trump says, “Very unfortunate. What’s going on.” I cannot tell if the unfortunate aspect deals with (a) the possibly dwindling fate of Republican politicians or (b) the crime that has been alleged and the acts of terror committed against Democratic partisans and a major news network.


Media are doing their job

The media — broadcast and print — have been vilified and pilloried by the president of the United States and those who adhere to his dangerous view of the media’s role in protecting our democratic system.

Indeed, CNN was targeted by someone or some group that has been assembling pipe bombs. It’s been the talk of the nation, if not the world.

Here, though, is something I want to share briefly regarding the media. They are doing their job in informing the public about what is happening in this investigation and hunt for whoever is responsible for terrorizing various political figures and the media.

I salute them as always for the job they are doing.

I’ve actually learned a great deal from reading and listening to the media coverage of this ongoing crisis.

For instance, I have learned more about the U.S. Postal Services investigative arm and how efficient it is in looking for those who use the USPS to deliver instruments of terror.

I also have learned more about the tremendous capability of the New York Police Department. New York City is where many of the initial packages were discovered; thus, the NYPD has been unleashed in the search for the perpetrator.

Also, I have gotten a keener understanding and appreciation of how the FBI cannot reveal too much to the public while it searches; the FBI doesn’t want to “educate” the bad guy(s) on how to continue their mission of terror.

This is a clear and obvious instance where the public needs an independent media to perform its service to the public, which is to inform us and chronicle the events of the day.

The media aren’t the “enemy of the people.” They are our allies.

Name the ‘enemy,’ Mr. President

Oh, how quickly some of us forget what we say.

Donald John Trump Sr., while campaigning for the presidency, excoriated President Barack Obama for his refusal to say three words in sequence: radical Islamic terrorists.

How can we know against whom we are fighting, he said, if we don’t call them out by name? The former president said he didn’t want to associate the terrorists with a religious faith, saying that they ignored the teachings of Islam, that they are thugs and murderers.

Well, guess what, dear reader. The 45th president of the United States committed precisely the same error of omission by refusing to call out the goons who provoked the riots in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend and who themselves committed acts of domestic terrorism against their fellow Americans.

Trump instead equivocated in a disgusting manner by condemning what he called “violence and hatred on many sides.”

Mr. President, you failed yet another key test of leadership by failing to acknowledge that the white supremacists who gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee were the provocateurs. They were the instigators of the riots. Their message drips with hate, with intolerance, with bigotry.

The president needed to call them out. He needed to mention the words “white supremacist hate groups.” The president needed to do the very thing for which he was critical of his predecessor.

If we’re going to fight against hate groups, then call them all out! By name! Can the president make the same argument to shield white supremacists and racists that his predecessor did regarding international terrorist organizations?

Does he dare do so?

OKC bombing memorial: That's how you do it

My wife and I have visited the Oklahoma City memorial to the April 19, 1995 bombing many times since its completion.

We come away each time with the same reaction: Anyone wishing to memorialize a tragic event needs to visit with the planners who executed this memorial to see how to do it correctly, in exquisite taste and decorum.

It’s on the edge of downtown OKC, where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building stood before Timothy McVeigh detonated the truck bomb that destroyed the structure and killed 168 innocent victims.

It has two outstanding features: a pool of still water and 168 chairs positioned to the side of the pool. Of the chairs, 19 of them are smaller than the rest. They honor the lives of the children McVeigh killed when the bomb went off. The children were attending a day care center inside the Murrah Building. McVeigh drew a figurative bead on those innocent, precious babies when he committed his heinous act.

One wall from the Murrah Building is preserved at the end of the pool. On another wall is an inscription, “9:03,” when the bomb exploded on that horrifying morning.

The good people of Oklahoma City did it right.

If you’re ever traveling through Oklahoma’s capital city, you owe it to yourself — and your children — to see this memorial.

It will move you in a way you might not expect.