No 'terror link' in beheading

This finding from the FBI is going to get the chatterers going great guns.

The FBI says it has found “no terror link” to Alton Nolen, who beheaded a female co-worker in an apparent act of rage in Moore, Okla.

OK, I’ve heard some discussion on conservative talk TV — Fox News, to be specific — that debunk this notion. The talking heads and the experts say the act by itself constitutes a terrorist act. The FBI says otherwise, that it is a “workplace incident.”

Of course, let’s introduce the Muslim element here. Nolen had converted to Islam, so that makes him a terrorist — yes?

Of course not.

The FBI reportedly has gone through several electronic devices in Nolen’s possession and can find no apparent link to known terrorist groups. That’s why it is declining to define the hideous murder as a terrorist act.

According to The Hill newspaper: “Officials have said the Oklahoma attack at Vaughan Foods was likely triggered after Nolen was suspended from the job for making a remark disparaging white people. After learning that he was suspended, officials said, he went to his home to pick up a kitchen knife and returned to the plant.”

Does that sequence sound like an act of terrorism, or is it the action of someone with a serious mental disorder?

I’m open to some discussion on this one.

No 'standing down' at the White House

Leave it to one of the talking heads on a morning TV show to put the Secret Service mess-up in perspective.

It comes from Nicole Wallace, one of the regular hosts of “The View,” the morning gabfest that occasionally takes on matters of substance to discuss, debate and argue.

Wallace, a former Republican “strategist” — someone will have to tell me what that job really entails — took note of the Secret Service detail’s blunder when Omar Gonzalez stormed into the People’s House and apparently got deeply into the mansion before he was subdued, handcuffed and hauled away.

She said that even though the first family was not in the building when Gonzalez stormed the place, it fell to the Secret Service to ensure he didn’t get in. “The Secret Service doesn’t ‘stand down’ when the first family isn’t there,” she said.

Indeed, the presidential security detail has to be on full alert at all times to protect this house/office complex where critical decisions are made almost every hour.

Someone didn’t do his or her job that day. That someone needs to answer for that failure.

Take ownership of this failure, Mr. President

It pains me to say this, but President Obama’s response to the question of how the U.S. got “surprised” by the rise of the Islamic State is disappointing — to say the very least.

I’ve noted before how the president likes to use the first-person singular pronoun references to his presidency. He’s particularly fond of using it when they involved success.

When Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” asked him the other day how he could have been surprised by ISIL’s emergence, the president said: “Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”

There it is: “they underestimated …”

I’m not going to join the right-wing mainstream media chorus in saying Barack Obama has thrown Clapper “under the bus.” But as the blog from the Dallas Morning News notes correctly, ISIL’s emergence wasn’t a surprise to those intelligence officials who were paying attention.

Furthermore, as commander in chief, the chief executive of one branch of the U.S. government, the head of state and government, it falls directly on the president of the United States to be aware fully of these matters in real time, as they are happening.

The president did receive a letter signed by senators from both parties that warned him about ISIL. It was sent to the White House nearly 11 months ago, long before those gruesome beheadings captured the nation’s attention. Now we know what’s stake, yes?

Well, apparently, some legislators had more than an inkling nearly a year ago and warned the White House of the impending danger.

As the Morning News’s Tod Robberson notes in his blog: “Okay, let’s assume that Obama disregarded the letter as partisan hyperbole from the same ol’ critics, namely McCain and Graham. That doesn’t account for the contribution from Levin and Menendez. Let’s assume that Obama was reluctant to react because he didn’t trust the mercurial whims of al-Maliki. How does any of that explain his failure to respond when ISIS clearly was sweeping into Iraq’s Anbar Province in January?”

Well, the president is responding now. I’m grateful for that.

I do wish, though, he would take as much ownership of the setbacks as he does of the triumphs.

What gives with the Secret Service?

Every individual who’s ever run for president of the United States should expect the security detail assigned to guard the first family to be the best in the world at doing that job.

Not “one of the best,” but the very best. The tops. No. 1. The all-time champs.

The revelations about Omar Gonzalez bursting into the White House and then cavorting through the mansion before being caught by a security guard is troubling in the extreme.

Yes, these things have happened before. And yes, given that the Secret Service is populated by fallible human beings, there might be times when even the most secure network on the planet breaks down.

But this is frightening in the extreme?

Some heads needs to roll at the Secret Service.

Are you paying attention here, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, under whose command the Secret Service operates?

Julia Pierson heads the Secret Service. She needs to answer some serious questions about what went wrong. So does the individual who’s in charge of the White House security detail. To date, we aren’t hearing much from these individuals, as they cite an “ongoing investigation” as the reason for their relative silence.

I wouldn’t make so much of this matter, except that the Secret Service in recent years has been caught doing some highly unprofessional things — such as the episode about three years ago when agents were, um, enjoying the company of hookers in South America while doing security advance work for an upcoming presidential visit.

Now this. Omar Gonzalez not only broke through the perimeter but the knife-wielding intruder was able to penetrate deeply into the building.

Failure to secure the house where the first family lives is a disgrace.

WH security breach getting more serious

As if it wasn’t bad enough that Omar Gonzalez bolted across the White House lawn and entered the president’s office/residence before being caught by security personnel.

Now we hear that the Iraq War veteran — who was packing a knife and had several hundred rounds of ammo in his car — got farther into the White House than it was originally reported.

CBS News and the Washington Post report that Gonzalez walked through the entire East Room of the White House before he was overpowered by a Secret Service officer. The intruder reportedly had gotten past an officer when he entered the building.

Something is wrong with the president’s security detail.

Secret Service director Julia Pierson isn’t talking — yet — about what happened at the White House.

But how in the world does someone enter the world’s most heavily guard — supposedly — residence and traipse through one of the key rooms in the building before being stopped?

White House press spokesman Josh Earnest said President Obama stands behind the Secret Service. “The president does have full confidence in Director Pierson and other members of the Secret Service to do their very important work,” Earnest said.

Well, whatever you say, Mr. President.

Millions of out here are concerned about this incident, coming as it does with heinous terrorist organizations vowing to do serious damage to Americans at every level.

At every level.

There needs to be a serious review of every single security procedure dealing with the protection of the first family.


Puppy tales, Part 8

This item clarifies something I wrote earlier, right after we acquired a Chihuahua mix dog from someone who lives down the street and around the corner.

I had written that Toby had been neutered. I was mistaken.

His “equipment” was not as readily visible as I had thought. We took him to the doctor’s office for his first going-over and she noticed he had his tools. “Do you want to neuter him?” she asked. “Yes,” I said.

Well, we did it this past week. We took him and removed his malehood from his little body.

The result? No change in his disposition. We had been told he might be a little, um, moody once we got him home. That has not been the case with Toby. He’s as frisky as ever. We leave the room for 45 seconds room, return and he acts as though we’ve been apart for a month.

Well, since we consider ourselves to be responsible pet owners, we’re glad we had this deed done.

With this post, I think I’ll scale back on the “puppy tales” entries. You know how this is going already. We’re glad we have this marvelous addition to the family.

Our 12-year-old cats, truth be told, are slowly beginning to adapt to life with a new little brother among us.

I’ll let you know if major developments occur along the way.

I’m out.

U.S. not alone in this fight

Barack Obama wants it known that the United States is not fighting the Islamic State one-on-one, nation vs. cult.

The president of the United States said on “60 Minutes” that the country he leads is just a leader in the fight that comprises an international coalition of nations battling a despicable terrorist organization.

I get that.

The harder sell will be to Americans who are likely to perceive that since we’re “leading” the air strikes against ISIL in Syria and Iraq that it, indeed, is our fight to win.

I’m willing to welcome the rest of the world to join us in this war against this clearly defined evil force.

There must be no illusions about how long this conflict will persist. As we’ve learned so painfully, the death of one key terrorist leader such as Osama bin Laden does not by itself necessarily weaken an organization he would lead. Al-Qaeda received a serious blow to its command and control when the SEAL and CIA commando team smoked bin Laden in May 2011. Others have surfaced to take his place.

As the world has learned, ISIL has emerged as a serious world threat.

Thus, the world must fight this menace. That is what the president seeks to do, build a worldwide coalition of nations willing and able to fight ISIL to the death.

It is not our battle to wage on our own.

Economy becomes Democratic trump card

Who’da thunk this could happen?

The economy is looming as the Democrats trump card as they fight to retain control of the U.S. Senate and try to prevent Republicans from grabbing even tighter control of the House of Representatives.

That’s the view, at least, of Juan Williams — one of Fox News’s token liberals.

Williams noted in an essay that President Obama is now using President Reagan’s legendary line from his 1980 campaign when he asked: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Obama is turning that question on its ear for the GOP.

Are we better off today than we were four years ago, or six years ago, or even one year ago?

The answer unquestionably is a resounding “yes!”

The economic reality, though, hasn’t yet registered with Americans, according to, Williams reports. “RealClearPolitics has 55 percent of Americans disapproving of the president’s handling of the economy, to only 40 percent approving.” Why is that? My guess is that the GOP has done a better job of bad-mouthing the economy than Democrats have done talking it up.

The data tell a different story. This past month, we added 142,000 jobs to the economy, but that was seen as a “disappointment.” The previous several months registered more than 200,000 jobs monthly. The unemployment rate is now at 6.1 percent. Manufacturing is up. Exports are up, knocking down the trade deficit.

Will any of this work in Democrats’ favor when the mid-term elections are decided? That remains to be seen.

Still, it boggles my mind that the economy — which seemed to be in such a shambles just three years ago — now has become Barack Obama’s major bragging point.

Who knew?

Dewhurst is pushing the panic button

David Dewhurst always seemed like a reasonable, responsible, reliable Republican.

I didn’t know much about him when he and I met the first time as he ran for Texas land commissioner back in 1998. He was new to the Texas political spotlight. He seemed bright and engaged fully in the nuance of Texas government at many levels.

Now he’s gone to the dark side. He’s joined the nut-case crowd of the Texas Republican Party. He’s now a lame duck, having been beaten for his job by someone who’s even farther out there on the rightest wing of the party, Dan Patrick.

So what does Dewhurst do? Does he recede quietly back into the shadows and wait for his term to end? Oh no. He goes to that Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. and proclaim that Muslims are infiltrating our southern border.

How does he know that? He says Border Patrol authorities have found prayer rugs way down yonder. That means those dreaded “Islamic fanatics” are coming into Texas to blow up buildings, kill people and convert the United States of America into an Islamic nation.

Of course, the federal government denies such rugs exist.

The Texas Tribune reports: “(A) Texas congressman who sits on the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee has argued that there’s no threat of extremism on the border. U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, said during that same panel that top Pentagon officials had denied that there was any threat on the Texas-Mexico border from the Islamic State (ISIS) or similar groups. He added that similar claims were made about extremists crossing into Texas from Mexico during the United States’ conflicts with Libya in the 1980s, which he also mentioned to The Economist in an article published this week.”

Dewhurst always struck me as a studious guy, dedicated to the meticulous detail of legislating. It’s been said of him that he at times lacks the people skills needed to be an effective politician.

After reading his remarks at that Values Voter gathering, he also seems to lack the judgment to keep his finger off the panic button that signals the start of a religious war.

This isn’t a fight against Islam. It’s a fight against terrorists.

Cool it with the prayer rug talk, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst.

Revenge on tap? Who knew?

This is the nature of the enemy with which the United States and other nations are at war.

Al-Qaeda officials vow “revenge” for the air strikes that have hammered Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq. And why are we striking those targets? Because of terrorist acts against innocent civilians.

Al-Qaeda started this fight 13 years ago when terrorists hijacked those airplanes and flew them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The United States, led by two presidents, have sought to finish the fight they started.

There’s no end game in sight yet. President Bush declared our intention to root out the Taliban in Afghanistan. President Obama has followed through.

ISIL has emerged as an offshoot of al-Qaeda and has executed innocents, some of whom in a horrific way.

And now these terrorists are vowing revenge?

Someone will have to explain to me how this makes any sense.