Thursday, May 5, 2011

The next big thing.

OK, so let's look at this, from today's news...

WASHINGTON – Some of the first information gleaned from Osama bin Laden's compound indicates al-Qaida considered attacking U.S. trains on the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. But counter-terrorism officials say they believe the planning never got beyond the initial phase and have no recent intelligence pointing to an active plot for such an attack.

As of February 2010, the terror organization was considering plans to attack the U.S. on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. One idea was to tamper with an unspecified U.S. rail track so that a train would fall off the track at a valley or a bridge, according to a joint FBI and Homeland Security bulletin sent to law enforcement officials around the country Thursday.

And now, this, from My Sick Mind, November 27, 2010...

We are nutty about airports because of what happened on September 11, 2001; but some of it was inherited from prior days. I suppose the reason we scrutinize more heavily at airports is because we're 50,000 feet above the ground. It's hard to run away from something that happens in a moving aircraft. I was on an Amtrak train lately, and before I boarded I had emptied my pockets and readied myself for the full-body search or at least an X-Ray device. Nothing. Just get on a train full of people with a huge suitcase.

Even though there are probably 50 times more people in a typical busy shopping mall than an airplane, we like the odds of being one in a big crowd, so we just let anybody in. And, what's the worst a train bomb could do? Two or three cars de-railed and some injuries. That's not worth inconveniencing the public.

Apparently, al-Qaida figured that out without my help. Now, I'm guessing that the next time I board an Amtrak train headed for Washington, D.C., I'll have to empty my pockets and go through an X-Ray device.

The terrorists win again.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It ain't over until ... well, it's never really over.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Americans are big on revenge. It's part of the reason why movies like "Die Hard" and those Charles Bronson "Death Wish" films were big hits. We like punching back.

While most of us were minding our own business late on Sunday night, we got the announcement that the United States had punched back. Albeit well after the wounds had a chance to start closing, but we punched back nonetheless. That resulted in a jingoistic outpouring of emotions and chanting unseen since the last time the Arabs did something big.

Town squares seem to look the same whether they are in front of the White House or in front of a mosque in Iraq. Extremism always looks the same: People with raised fists holding a flag chanting a slogan.

U S A ...U S A ... U S A.

When it's us chanting it looks good to us. When it's them, it's those crazy Arabs. Perspective is a funny thing. And yes, I realize that thinking and writing these things makes me the worst person in the community. We're supposed to blindly support the effort with liberty and justice for all, except that sometimes there is more to the effort than meets the eye and the liberty and justice are for just us.

Those of you who weren't able to congregate at the White House or the site of the former Twin Towers did your jingoistic chanting either to yourself or to friends you met later. "We got bin Laden," you'd say. Well, we got him and a half. Killed him is more like it, although who am I to quibble with semantics?

When we look past the jingoism, what we are left with is yet another world leader (yes) taken down by force. When it's one of our leaders we react accordingly - with sadness and thoughts of revenge. When it's one of those so-called crazy bastards who make our lives difficult we figure that they got what they deserve.

We don't like to have our lives altered. We like our cell phones, beer parties, weekends, various freedoms and the ability to do as we please without having to go through security or present our identification. We're Americans. If our lives aren't easy, somebody is going to pay.

So we rejoice in the death of an international icon. As with many things, perspective is the key. When one of our political leaders is murdered we vow to "move on" and continue with our mission - or words to that effect. Now that Osama bin Laden has been murdered, we seem to think that it puts an end (or at least brings to a pause) terrorist activities. We fail to see in others what we want to see in ourselves, which is the resolve to maintain our way of life in spite of the obstacles presented.

I'll sit here and wait for the other political shoe to drop, and in the meantime, I will still have to take my shoes off when I go through airport security. Keep chanting, if it makes you feel better, but realize that little has changed except that we got one of them.