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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Huddled Masses 2015

Uploaded: Nov 22, 2015

In France, they call the loss of 129 lives to gunfire a national tragedy. Around here, such a toll is just known as any Friday night. Indeed, on a typical day in our fair land, some 297 men, women and children get shot. But fear not, this is not a blog about guns – it’s about fear, risk and principles.

The French attack does seem to have touched our national consciousness deeply. Much more so than domestic rampages in Charleston, Umpqua, Isla Vista, Fort Hood, Oakland, Tucson, Newtown, Aurora, Binghamton, Blacksburg, Killeen, Jacksonville, or San Francisco. How many of those and other mass shooting tragedies do you recall?

The evidence of national dread is abundant in the apoplexies of GOP Presidential candidates’ attempts to out-tough each other, and the House of Representatives stampede to raise the national drawbridge against a presumed invasion by Syrian infants and infidels, all sporting suicide vests. It’s not one of our prouder national moments, yet.

Most of the current vitriol is directed at Syrians, who have been in the forefront of-late as their horrific national agony exacts a devastating toll on that population. It’s a complex and unfamiliar fight-to-the-death, complete with a brutally repressive minority government, various opposition factions warring against it and each other, with another force of bloodthirsty zealots seeking every advantage. And that’s before you factor-in the proxy powers of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the US and UK, and now, France. Over five million Syrian souls have abandoned their homes and lives, and risked the perils of a chaotic mass migration; many have been further victimized, and not-a-few have succumbed to those hazards.

Neighboring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, to their everlasting credit, have taken-in the vast majority of those refuge seekers – numbers are imprecise, but they are well-north of four million. Some are on their way to other destinations, after being “vetted” by receiving governments in Europe and elsewhere. That said, the predominant media image is of ragged lines of displaced persons, trudging onward toward – where?

Responses to that question seem to animate the current American disquiet. The noisiest of those are variations on the theme of “anywhere but here.” It’s an odd and fearful answer from inhabitants of geography that was foreign to any of our species for eons, and to most of the dominant culture until the most recent century-or-few. It’s also ludicrous in light of the predominance of home-grown terror referred-to above.

It may be worthwhile here to step back and consider how people arrive on these shores, and in what numbers. 34.4 million travelers visited the United States in 2014, excluding persons from neighboring Canada and Mexico (it was 74.8M with them). Included in those numbers are 1.2 million people from the Middle East, last year. We are hardly hermetically sealed-off from the rest of the globe, now or ever.

If we look at refuge seekers as a subgroup, the US admitted about 70,000 last year, including 12,500 Iraqis, 9,000 Somalis, 3,500 Iranians and almost 2,000 Syrians. According to the Homeland Security Office (DHS) that processes such asylum requests, more than 3 million refugees have been resettled in the US since 1970 (including thousands of Vietnamese boat people and the Cuban/Mariel boat lift), utterly without incident.

A joint letter from the bi-partisan former DHS chiefs under Presidents Obama and Bush2 states that the process takes up to two years, and “requires biographic and biometric reviews from DHS, the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, the State Department and the Defense Department; in person interviews; and a final interview at the border.” Both Ms. Napolitano and Mr. Chertoff believe it is adequate.

Now, does any of this mean that the US should let down the guard, and fling wide its gates?

Obviously not, and no one is suggesting anything of that sort. The point is that despite the persistent press images of rag-tag columns of refugees, the US will not be scooping up random Syrians and sprinkling them across the landscape. It’s a process; it’s been happening for many, many years; it’s happening now, and there just isn’t any empirical evidence of impending disaster as it proceeds into the future. Indeed, why would any young terrorist out to make a name go through that arduous process, when there are easier alternatives?

But if the facts to-date don’t allow us to mistake acorns for pieces of the sky, then how might we better approach this kind of issue? You’ll be shocked to learn that I have a few perspectives to offer.

First, one might generally take heart that the modern world is progressively, remarkably safer than it’s ever been, in terms of objective risks to well-being. That said, no risk is ever zero. We do have to accept that the modern, inter-connected world does have its malcontents, and that weaponry innovations make those few folks dangerous. Occasionally, some fatherless individuals will break through and wreak a bit of havoc. It will be individually tragic, but, frankly, not as collectively significant as a war, or natural disaster – or the ongoing slaughter of gun violence.

Should people of goodwill and their governments therefore be vigilant? Absolutely, and always. And they/we are, recognizing that any human system is imperfect. Perfection, in the form of a risk-free existence has simply never been an option - on the road, at work, or even in schools or places of worship, as we’ve seen.

How should the US approach the Syrian refugees? They should be institutionally vetted (and are), and individually embraced (let’s hope). Of course, with twice as many municipalities as Syrian refugees, they may be difficult to find. The wonderful EireAnn Dolan has offered one kind gesture – and I am told that there are stirrings in various religious traditions to provide caring assistance akin to that provided by the Good Samaritan in Christ’s parable. There’s just nothing that dismantles suspicion like individualizing it, through contact.

Finally, we might consider what America’s best angels stand-for, in terms of acceptance and inclusion, and be guided thereby. The Statue of Liberty’s invocation well-states the case. Tests of national principles do not come when it’s easy or convenient. Rather, they come when they come, and how we respond defines our true measure of devotion to them. America’s performance is judged by history.

Some of our collective worst chapters in that history arose out of situations where the national character was tested and failed to measure-up. There are other examples, but the Japanese-American internments spring immediately to mind. This response could be of that ilk, or it could provide a prouder moment – one that not coincidentally rebukes the fulminations of foreign terrorists against this country, its ideals and its citizens.

What’s it going to be? We have it in our power to decide.

Comments

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 23, 2015 at 10:30 am

Tom, I AGREE! GREAT ARTICLE!!!

There's a group of terrorists that you forgot to mention and they sexually abuse of children and vulnerable adults.

Phil Saviano is the whistle blower featured in the movie about the Boston Diocese.

There is a video on line in which he receives a special award for his courage.

Thank you Phil. Gracias.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 23, 2015 at 10:32 am

Phil Saviano award ceremony: Web Link


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Ed, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 24, 2015 at 4:21 pm

ISIS is at war with us, they have said over and over they are coming, they have plans and people in place and will attack us. They have shown on numerous occasions that they are brutal savage cut throats who want to take the world back the 9th century.

The leaders of all our intelligence and immigration agencies say they can't properly vet the incoming Syrian refugees. Why is Obama going against the advice of those who are trying to protect us? He is gambling with the lives of Americans and committing national suicide.

The words on the Statue of Liberty are meant as a welcome for innocent and oppressed people looking for a safe refuge from some horrible place. The majority of Syrians fit this but there are a few who would sneak in under that guise to do us harm, as they did in Europe recently. Are we so naïve to think it wouldn't happen here too?

Sorry to say, but that's why the Japanese were removed from the West Coast and ships carrying German refugees were turned away from our ports during WWII. Yes, rights were trampled on but we had a president who was trying to protect our country during a time of national crisis.

I read yesterday that our President warned the ISIS gas truck drivers with leaflets 45 minutes before their trucks were bombed to get out and run. This was to avoid "collateral damage". If this had happened in WWII we'd all be speaking German right now. To date the US has bombed 116 ISIS gas trucks and Russia over 1,000 - who is fighting the fight here?

That's what we get with a President who was a community organizer from Chicago who's never fired a Daisy BB gun and has no idea how to fight. Take a look a Putin if you want to see a real man, a real fighter.

Sorry for the rant but I'm fed up.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 24, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Putin is of unstable demeanor, right up there at the top as one of the more dangerous leaders in this world.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Nov 25, 2015 at 7:19 am

Hi Ed: If you accept that the WW2 internment of Japanese AMERICANs in camps was somehow necessary or acceptable, we'll have trouble finding common ground, but I'll try.

First, we can certainly agree that ISIS is our enemy. But to leap from there to a Syrian refugee ban just doesn't make any sense to me.

Not sure you read the blog, so I'll repeat that this country has resettled low Millions of refugees from war-torn regions, including Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Viet Nam -- and Syria -- for Decades without Any incident of domestic terror.

It's much, much easier for a terrorist to come into this country by other means -- student, tourist, business, etc. -- than as a refugee -- which takes Two+ years! 1,200,000 middle easterners traveled here last year -- happens all the time. We're talking 10,000 refugees -- less than 1% of that total, under Much more rigorous vetting.

Answer me this -- if I was seeking a route to all those goodies in paradise, or as a terror organization, why would I go the refugee route, and sit-out for two years for an improbable shot at admission -- instead of just crossing the Canadian border -- or the Mexican one -- legally or illegally? Does that make any sense to you?

When you look at the actual case for your approach, it just doesn't hold up to scrutiny. It punishes the innocent, without making Anybody Any more safe. What kind of policy is that? When something has been going on for thirty years without incident, it doesn't disappear just because you didn't realize it has been happening -- every day. There's actual evidence, and it does not link refugees to terror. Period.

I do not know, although I can speculate, where you get your claim about what "all our intelligence and immigration agencies say," but it would have to include the actual heads of the Dept Homeland Security, and they claim the opposite of your statement. Somebody has misled you, because somebody profits from the fear they've inspired.

The rest of the rant is just not relevant, here. I understand the frustration -- because I share it. It's human. But knee-jerk reactions that Don't hurt the bad guys but Do Hurt thousands of innocent men, women and children in desperate circumstances is just not the American way to go. Nobody can Guarantee your safety -- at home, work, school or in church -- but we have an actual 'something to fear' from homegrown terrorists, but not from Syrian refuge seekers. Kindly check out this article: Web Link

In a response on another blog, somebody talks about looking into an American widow's eyes. Do equally-innocent Syrian widows not have eyes? Has he looked at them? Are not their loved ones as precious to them? The little boy on the beach? It's a ridiculous approach, especially when there is an opportunity to relieve -- and much better -- to avoid a bit of that suffering. That poster ought to recognize a case of "hard cases make bad laws" when he sees one. Stories inflame passions, and passion usually makes for stupid policy.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 25, 2015 at 10:01 am

McVeigh: Web Link


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 25, 2015 at 1:11 pm

For now Ed, if you simply run the numbers, the NRA is by light years the biggest terrorist organization the country has ever known.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Dondy Dan, a resident of Birdland,
on Nov 25, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Let's keep score, shall we? Call it the Jihad Bowl.

Pre-9/11

Visa team 19
Refugees 0
US citizen 0
All other: 0.

Post-9/11

US Citizens: 14
Green Cards: 2
Visa team: 2
Refugees: 0.

That's right, folks -- Pogo was right. We're number 1! The Refugees get shut out-- every time. They suck at this stuff. We should leave 'em out of the tournament. Web Link


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 25, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Ed, you are wasting your time here. Mr. Cushing’s purpose is to promote and support administration talking points regardless of common sense or facts. He will ignore any arguments or facts that he cannot contradict. He will lie when necessary. He will use hyperbole. He will offer false choices. He will obfuscate by bringing extraneous information into the discussion, like gun control in this case, then assure us that the article isn’t about gun control.

ISIS continues to state that it will use every method to enter the US to bring us their version of Islam. ISIS continues to point to the refugee crisis as one approach they are exploiting. At least one terrorist in the recent Paris attacks posed as a refugee. Mr. Cushing and the Obama administration suggest that instead we should be looking those who enter the US in other ways. This is a false choice. Given the circumstances, we should be looking harder at every means of entry. Mr. Cushing mentioned a lot of refugee groups that have come to the US in the past and have successfully been resettled. None of them to my knowledge have threatened to do us harm. That is what make this problem different and worth more care and consideration.

Mr. Cushing makes an absurd assertion and lie when he states that we have brought in millions of refugees “utterly without incident”. One only has to go back one month to the congressional testimony of FBI Director James Comey where he stated that a number of people who were of serious concern slipped through the screening of Iraq War refugees, including two who were arrested on terrorism-related charges. Director Comey went on to say that when compared to Iraq refugees, it will be even more difficult to vet Syrians because so little information exists about these people. “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our data,” he said. “I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this.”

Mr. Cushing resorts to hyperbole when he writes about the House of Representatives stampeding “to raise the national drawbridge against a presumed invasion by Syrian infants and infidels, all sporting suicide vests”. The purpose of the SAFE Act is to slow the process down not stop it. It is not a ban as Mr. Cushing alleges. Mr. Cushing fails to acknowledge that 47 Democrats, including his own Congressman John Garamendi, voted for the bill.

But the elephant in the room is the Syrian refugee crisis itself. It is the direct result of seven years of a disastrous foreign policy. President Obama owns the crisis and thousands of people are dying because of it. It will be part of his legacy and a stain on our nation’s history.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 25, 2015 at 3:33 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Ed, you are wasting your time here. Mr. Cushing’s purpose is to promote and support administration talking points regardless of common sense or facts. He will ignore any arguments or facts that he cannot contradict. He will lie when necessary. He will use hyperbole. He will offer false choices. He will obfuscate by bringing extraneous information into the discussion, like gun control in this case, then assure us that the article isn’t about gun control.

ISIS continues to state that it will use every method to enter the US to bring us their version of Islam. ISIS continues to point to the refugee crisis as one approach they are exploiting. At least one terrorist in the recent Paris attacks posed as a refugee. Mr. Cushing and the Obama administration suggest that instead we should be looking those who enter the US in other ways. This is a false choice. Given the circumstances, we should be looking harder at every means of entry. Mr. Cushing mentioned a lot of refugee groups that have come to the US in the past and have successfully been resettled. None of them to my knowledge have threatened to do us harm. That is what make this problem different and worth more care and consideration.

Mr. Cushing makes an absurd assertion and lie when he states that we have brought in millions of refugees “utterly without incident”. One only has to go back one month to the congressional testimony of FBI Director James Comey where he stated that a number of people who were of serious concern slipped through the screening of Iraq War refugees, including two who were arrested on terrorism-related charges. Director Comey went on to say that when compared to Iraq refugees, it will be even more difficult to vet Syrians because so little information exists about these people. “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our data,” he said. “I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this.”

Mr. Cushing resorts to hyperbole when he writes about the House of Representatives stampeding “to raise the national drawbridge against a presumed invasion by Syrian infants and infidels, all sporting suicide vests”. The purpose of the SAFE Act is to slow the process down not stop it. It is not a ban as Mr. Cushing alleges. Mr. Cushing fails to acknowledge that 47 Democrats, including his own Congressman John Garamendi, voted for the bill.

But the elephant in the room is the Syrian refugee crisis itself. It is the direct result of seven years of a disastrous foreign policy. President Obama owns the crisis and thousands of people are dying because of it. It will be part of his legacy and a stain on our nation’s history.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 25, 2015 at 3:34 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Sorry about the double post. A browser message said the data needed to be resubmitted.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Nan Washington, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Nov 25, 2015 at 10:29 pm

@>Ed...

Remember, cushing is a lawyer. He baits people. Don't fall for his skewed views of the world. Debating him is a waste of time because he simply will not debate you. And you are spot on about the fact that he will ignore arguments or facts that he cannot contradict. Look, lawyers try to make sense out of mud. The only thing cushing attempts to make sense of is his lack of sense.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 26, 2015 at 7:32 am

I am thankful for comments like Doug's and Nan's -- whenever 'The Writer' becomes The Issue, instead of 'what he wrote,' it is clear that the blog has hit the mark. So it is that Nan reveals my dark, lawyerly origins and warns that I will not debate the issues -- all the while not raising any issues related to the subject, herself. I'll also let my overlong response to Ed on the issues speak for itself.

Doug hints of some nefarious connection between Mr. Obama and my blog to undergird his version of my untrustworthy 'otherness.' It IS true that the Prez and I often agree, but he's a smart guy and arrives at his conclusions on his own. As do I. And when you lead with an argument that a blog is bad because: Obama!, the reader just has to wonder -- who is the Real idealogue here?

To his credit, Doug goes on to dispute the thesis of the blog -- I'll come back to those in another comment, but right now I am even more thankful for my dogs, who insist that they be exercised. More later.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by numbers gal, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 26, 2015 at 9:17 am

Somebody asked why the US doesn't provide aid to local countries, instead of accepting a very, Very small fraction of displaced Syrians: the answer is that we are: to the tune of low $Billions:

"The United States is providing nearly $419 million in additional life-saving assistance for those affected by the war in Syria. This new funding brings the total U.S. humanitarian assistance in response to this conflict to more than $1.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2015 and over $4.5 billion since the start of the crisis.

The funding supports the operations of the United Nations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other international and non-governmental organizations. It will provide shelter, water, medical care, food, protection, and other necessities to millions of people suffering inside Syria and nearly four million refugees from Syria in the region. It also helps mitigate the impact of the crisis on governments and communities throughout the region that are straining to cope with the mass influx of refugees from Syria." Web Link

Some will say "That's enough." You don't have to look far to see that it helps, and it's part of the solution, but it isn't near enough, alone. This is such a huge humanitarian crisis that it defies easy, glib conclusions. I am proud that some very small piece of my taxes goes there -- hope the asker is, too.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 26, 2015 at 10:04 am

Doug:

"ISIS continues to point to the refugee crisis as one approach they are exploiting. At least one terrorist in the recent Paris attacks posed as a refugee."

No one has ever disputed ISIS' bad intentions. But you assume they will follow through, which is doubtful, here, because the refugee route is orders of magnitude harder than other ways to get in. Further, let's assume they started 6 months ago -- the refugee-terrorist would still be at least 18 months out -- on the infinitessimal chance s/he gets in here (by your numbers 2/768,000 since 2001). No risk is ever zero, but this one is Mighty Close, especially compared much greater risks posed by US citizens, see "Dondy's" Jihad Bowl link, above.

At best, by focusing on refugees, you would take your eye off the real ball. The US situation is thoroughly distinct from France -- you can't just walk here in a long line, for very important instance.

Further, how do you think ISIS wants us to react? If you answered: by doing something inhumane out of fear, you win. This plays right into their narrative: "look at those cowardly Yanks -- they stupidly punish the innocent for no good reason. Join us!"

ISIS is terrible, but let's not turn them into Lex Luthor just yet. Have you seen the great article about their determined quest to get some "red mercury?" It'd be awful if they succeeded -- except for the fact that red mercury does not exist. Web Link

"Mr. Cushing mentioned a lot of refugee groups that have come to the US in the past and have successfully been resettled. None of them to my knowledge have threatened to do us harm." Yes! -- certainly no Iranians, Iraqis, or Somalis have EVer done us harm -- 60,000 Americans never died in a war with Viet Nam, and Cuba has always been a stalwart ally. On some other planet, in some alternate universe.

"... slipped through the screening of Iraq War refugees, including two who were arrested on terrorism-related charges." You don't link the Comey testimony, and I am leery of your interpretations, but it should be noted that those two former refugees, and one other for accuracy, were arrested for aiding terrorism back in their former countries -- not here. They were not planning to harm anyone in the US. That ought to matter to you, as should the fact that screening is only one tool, and the other ones worked. Meanwhile, 14 US citizens actually did us harm.

The blog Was Not about guns -- except for the important purpose of providing context -- and hopefully provoking some introspection about why some people are so fearfully focused on a theoretical threat -- when we've become so accustomed to a much more serious domestic threat that happens all around us, all the time -- 30,000 Americans die from guns, Every Year. THAT makes me afraid -- a few peaceable Syrians? Not so much.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Colonel Mustard, a resident of Diablo,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 8:44 am

It comes down to this: the right wing always talks tough and is eager to send somebody else's kid off to die in a war, but they soil themselves and run for cover over a tee-ninesy risk that something might happen to them.

Bring back the draft.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Ken, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 10:36 am

At Colonel Mustard...

Yeah, kinda like when Kennedy and Johnson insisted on sending more and more troops into Vietnam. let's see... Yup, 50,000 of our guys killed. Know your history. Every administraiton has had it's failings. I will say this, Kennedy, Johnson and even Nixon were smarter than that idiot that currently resides in the White House.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Colonel Mustard, a resident of Diablo,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 10:48 am

Back then, the right wing wanted to use nukes on the native population. Remember the Westmoreland Line?

That was a whole different breed of conservatives, too. They were thinkers -- these guys are just chicken-hawkish demagogues.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Ken, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 11:01 am

Yeah... And your president said the JV team was contained. LOL!!!!!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Fed Up, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 11:07 am

Tom- I agree with most of what you said but I think Nan is right on. You protest it is not about gun control but then tell the popular obama camp line about 30 thousand gun deaths. The fact is 2/3 of them are suicides. I feel sorry for those who would take their own lives but I'm not afraid of them. Now the "low level" offenders Jerry and Barry are releasing is another story.

Web Link


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 11:51 am

Keep in mind that the flip side of suicide is homicide. It's not unusual for folks that suicide to kill others as well...it may not matter if your guilty of anything or not.

People with guns make other good citizens more vulnerable. Still, I'm not willing to surrender my gun to anybody.

If somebody tries to harm me, I know how and when to shoot.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Mr. Cushing’s response reminds me that I have failed to list all of his disreputable writing techniques.

Mr. Cushing often either attempts to impugn opposing news sources or he will assert that an opposing fact is invalid because it is not referenced properly. Or sometimes he suggests that we are just not enlightened enough to understand. Yet he rarely cites sources except for irrelevant or the most obvious ones. In the original article above, Mr. Cushing only cited the well-known inscription on the Statue of Liberty, a list of mass shootings in the US, and an article about some obscure wife of a baseball player. All of his assertions important to his article go unsupported. Mr. Cushing should be pleased to know that FBI Director Comey’s testimony was copied verbatim from a November 17th Washington Post article entitled “Senior Obama Officials Have Warned of Challenges in Screening Refugees from Syria”.

Mr. Cushing, when unable to refute a point, is not afraid to contradict himself if he thinks he might gain from it. Originally, Mr. Cushing asserted that millions of war refugees have been resettled in this country “utterly without incident”. When shown to be wrong, he asserted just the opposite and in some convoluted manner he made my point, i.e. “60,000 Americans never died in a war with Viet Nam”. Mr. Cushing also has an apples and oranges problem.

Apparently, at least according to one comment above, Mr. Cushing has had some legal training. This explains the frequent use of the word “but” to acknowledge and immediately minimize a difficult point. Whenever Mr. Cushing writes the term ISIS, it is always followed by the word “but”:
“We can certainly agree that ISIS is our enemy. But to leap from there to a Syrian refugee ban…”
“ISIS is terrible, but let's not turn them into Lex Luthor just yet…”.
“No one has ever disputed ISIS' bad intentions. But you assume they will follow through…”

Why would someone not expect ISIS to follow through? One reason might be that you hear President Obama call them the “JV team” or believe the president when he tells us they are contained as he did just hours before the most recent Paris massacre or that there is no need to change our strategy.

We need to add exaggeration and half-truths to the list of Mr. Cushing’s disreputable writing techniques. As has just been pointed out, Mr. Cushing writes that “30,000 Americans die from guns, Every Year. THAT makes me afraid”. Mr. Cushing could dramatically reduce his own fear by not owning a gun since more than two thirds of gun deaths are due to suicide. It is also probably just a coincidence that the suicide rate has been on a steady increase for the past seven years. But I digress.

I agree with Mr. Cushing when he writes that whole immigration dispute takes our eyes of the ball. And that is that President Obama’s foreign policy has been a monumental disaster. Whatever your opinion of the Iraq invasion, at least Mr. Bush recognized his failed strategy and took action to clean up the mess before he left office. It worked so well that in 2011 Mr. Obama bragged about it, took credit for it and then pulled all our troops out of the area. In the wake of our sudden departure ISIS emerged, Syria repeatedly crosses a red line drawn by Mr. Obama with regard to poison gas, 200,000 Syrians have died, millions more have fled Syria creating the worst refugee crisis since World War II and Russia has reemerged as a leading power in the Middle East. And that is just about Syria. Quite an impressive legacy for Mr. Obama.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Fed: I'll take it.

Doug: c'mon, man -- you asserted that no Iraqis, Iranians, Vietnamese or Cubans had "ever threatened to do us harm." It's right there in your post. My point was that all those refugee resettlements have been done successfully, despite the harm that had been done to Americans by each regime being fled, including 60,000 dead GIs in Vietnam, and another 4,000 in Iraq. Someone is confused, but I'll leave it to the reader to decide who it is.

Did you forget why we were in Iraq, killing and maiming thousands of our own countrymen and 100,000 others -- in the first place?

But hey -- apparently you also read my prior blog on caucasian suicides, so thanks for that. But you still focus way too much on me -- I have plenty of faults, but they're not the ones you claim. Next, you'll accuse me of kicking my dogs.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

No group of refugees before now has been used or been threatened to be used as a way to bring harm to our country. That is thy important distinction that makes this situation different and why 47 Democrats joined Republicans in calling for a pause, not a ban on Syrian immigration.

Another attempt at distraction: why we were in Iraq.

The focus needs to be on Mr. Cushing because of all the disreputable techniques he must use in order to make his case.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Shoot the messenger, Doug.

Make up whatever you can to try to discredit the writer, the better to maintain your disbelief in things like evidence. Whatever gets you through the night, but please note that pursuing that tack while claiming anyone else is using 'hyperbole' is comical.

As this has devolved into a heckle, I think I'm done, unless you want to being up something interesting, and civil -- see Fedup's post for an example of how it's done.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 27, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

I wish to add false accusations and ridicule to my list of Mr. Cushing's disreputable writing tactics.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Sangret Margar, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 8:46 am

Terror suspect arrested in US: Web Link


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Cindy, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 8:59 am

Tom, why do you allow racist comments (cholo) on your posts?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 9:13 am

Hi Cindy: my general approach is to leave stuff up, and if the publication edited every comment with racist intention, well, we'd be very busy, and several regular commenters would have to be banned.

That said, several people have objected to that particular entry, so I will remove it.

And now: GO BLUE! Web Link


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 9:36 am

cindy...i'm merely expressing an unpopular opinion. How come you are so against Free Speech? My concern has always been the safety of ALL AMERICANS in our homeland? ALL American lives matter...unless of course you don't agree and don't mind seeing the bodies of people of color come back from wars in body bags? Why not share the glory?

I have a suspicion that what drives your beliefs is knowing that the size of the white population in the USA is diminishing and the number of Latinos in the US is increasing! That makes lots of Americans anxious and a racial/ethnic minority. Eventually, there will be a Latino family living in La Casa Blanca! Perhaps sooner than later, a woman President of the United States! How can any good American be against that? What's so tragic in your opinion re: a female American President?

If anybody is racist it's the American population. Lets not ignore the legacy of slavery. It plays out everyday and it's leading advocate is Donald Trump. When he comes out and trashes everybody in creation that disagrees with him, he calls them derogatory names. Is that way cool with you?

cindy...is the Trump your role model?

i rest my case...Cholo the Reasonable...VIVA!


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 9:45 am

some people sure know how to hurt a person...anony


 +   14 people like this
Posted by NorthernLights, a resident of another community,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 10:51 am

Tom has this exactly right. It is shameful that we as a people are so fearful we cannot stand up and play even a small role in caring for those fleeing persecution or the chaos and bloodshed in Syria.

Most of us should have know at least a few refugees; I have gotten to know many. The ones I have known well have been fantastic people, grateful for the opportunity of being in America, knowledgable of world affairs, and staunchly protective of American values, especially the American Dream.

On the other hand, I shall never forget the steady parade of children missing limbs in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, many of whom were victims of the violence in Syria and Iraq. It is monstrous to turn our back on those in need and it is irresponsible to demand that our neighbors and allies bear all the burden.

Our national character is drifting somewhere between the cowardliness of the House vote and the brawls of Black Friday. We need to demand better from our country and ourselves.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Cindy, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 1:04 pm

To Cholo...

Free speech does not equal hate speech. Thank you Tom for removing what some people obviously consider racial rhetoric. But I would like to point something out to Cholo as fact. What you said was not only offensive to non-latinos, it was also disrespectful to veterans - especially those who have fought and died for this country. Look at the breakdown of those killed in wars over the years:

Korea (Killed in Action) Source: Korean Battle Chronology by Richard E. Ecker

Caucasion 18,898
Black 2,145
Chinese 19
Japanese 102
Hawaiian 26
Am. Ind. 77
Filipino 56
P. Rican 187 (White)
P. Rican 23 (Black)
P. Rican 206 (Other)


Vietnam: (Killed in Action) Source: National Archives

White 49,830
Black 7,243
Hispanic 349
Hawaiian 229 (Pacific Islander)
Am Indian 226
Non Hisp. 204
Asian 139

Gulf War (Killed in Action Source: Am. War and Mil. Opr. Stats by Anne Leland

White: 292 (Including Females)
Black: 66 (Including Females)
Hispanic: 14
Am Indian: 3
Asian: 1
Pac Isl: 2

ALL races have fought bravely throughout the history of the United States. The claim stated by Cholo about "Caucasions" no doubt serves as in injustice to ALL of the men and women who have died fighting for this country. Again, thank you Tom for ridding racist content and hate speech from your blog.



 +   2 people like this
Posted by Billie, a resident of Mohr Park,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Billie is a registered user.

I was reading this blog today and was very troubled to see that a poster thought it was ok "rights were trampled" when, in 1942, Japanese Americans were forcibly taken from their homes and imprisoned in concentration camps because "we had a president who was trying to protect our country during a time of national crisis". Not one of those men, women or children were a threat to our country, in fact, many were proven to be heroes. The scary thing is that we have a Presidential candidate who seems to be heading down that dark path with those in America of Muslim faith. What's even scarier is that many in America seem to agree with him. Are we doomed to repeat history once again?

As a reminder of what happened in 1942, I'm re-posting something I wrote for another thread.

Although not the first, nor the last, one of America's most shameful acts was the forced relocation and internment of more than 120,000 *American* men, women and children of Japanese descent into concentration camps. Most of those herded into the camps and allowed to take only what they could carry, were U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens; half of them were children.

"These Japanese Americans . . .were incarcerated for up to 4 years, without due process of law or any factual basis, in bleak, remote camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. They were forced to evacuate their homes and leave their jobs; in some cases family members were separated and put into different camps. President Roosevelt himself called the 10 facilities "concentration camps." Some Japanese Americans died in the camps due to inadequate medical care and the emotional stresses they encountered. Several were killed by military guards posted for allegedly resisting orders." Web Link

Of the more than 120,000 Americans interred in the camps 16,000 men and women *volunteered* for the segregated 442nd Regimental Combat Team serving in the European and Asian Pacific combat theaters. A total of 33,000 Japanese American men and women served in the armed forces during WWII. Over 800 were KIA serving their/our country. Web Link

These men and women served and died in the service of our nation, all while their families were being held in American concentration camps under horrible conditions.

Funny thing is, in Hawaii, where Japanese Americans had been allowed to openly enjoy their language and culture, living side-by-side with native Hawaiians, there were no internment camps. In fact, "[w]hen the Army called for 1,500 volunteers, 10,000 turned up at recruiting offices." Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The American Indians without due process.
Were shot, mutilated, abused, murdered, defeated.
They remain in reservations (internment).


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The American Indians without due process.
Were shot, mutilated, abused, murdered, defeated.
They remain in reservations (internment).


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 3:13 pm

hi cindy: Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 3:15 pm

to cindy: Web Link


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 3:23 pm

para cindy: Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Billie, a resident of Mohr Park,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Billie is a registered user.

Michael,
Exactly what I was thinking about when I said 1942 wasn't the first. As I know you know, not only were Native Americans forcibly relocated on death marches to desert reservations, their whole way of life was under attack. They were denied access to sacred places that tribes had traditionally used in religious ceremonies as well as the use of sacred items like eagle feathers. Powwows and traditional dances were banned. Children were stolen and sent far away from tribe and family to off-reservation "boarding schools" where they were forcibly "Christianized". Their hair was cut, they were forbidden to speak their native languages, and traditional names were replaced by new "American" names. They were abused and beaten in order to "“Kill the Indian, Save the Man”.
Web Link

Anyone think it doesn't happen today? Those schools were still going strong in the 1970s. It wasn't until 1978 that Congress tried to stop it with the Indian Child Welfare Act. It didn't work. Today they call it "foster care". In South Dakota more than 700 Native American children are removed from their homes each year.
Web Link

Native American, Americans of Japanese, African and Mexican descent, Catholic, Irish, Jew, Muslim. Ethnic isolation, harassment, discrimination, segregation, death. Who's next? Who will stand up against it?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 5:54 pm

" They were denied access to sacred places that tribes had traditionally used in religious ceremonies as well as the use of sacred items like eagle feathers."

Not saying they didn't get a raw deal, but some of that couldn't be helped.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

During the period of being denied access while bashing infant heads against trees and rocks, raping the women and murdering the men, "some of that could not be helped".


 +   2 people like this
Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 28, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Yes, being denied access to "sacred" places in some cases could not be helped. And speaking of committing atrocities, native Americans weren't innocent either.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 29, 2015 at 6:38 am

This edition is nearing the end of its run -- from the recent comments above, it is clear that past incidents and courses of conduct in which the nation fell short of its ideals remain painful histories, all around. They stay long after the individual and collective acts of courage and kindness that Americans expect of themselves recede -- perhaps because failures do more to remind us of those high expectations.

We're on the cusp of another decision. So, one more time -- which kind will it be?


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 29, 2015 at 9:23 am

Bob...think about it: "some of that couldn't be helped" and "native Americans weren't innocent either".

duh...please explain your meaning....thank you!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 29, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Tom...At age 73 I don't expect that I'll ever forget images of the Holocaust.

It's not possible to forget in my lifetime.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 30, 2015 at 8:50 am

Doug Miller is a registered user.

It is good that Mr. Cushing is bringing this discussion to an end. The thesis was based on the false premise that Congress was rushing to terminate all Syrian immigration. The bill that passed overwelmingly by the House of Regresentatives only called for a pause in the process to ensure that vetting these refugees can effectively accomplished given a lack of information on this population.

And from today's Wall Street Journal, this headline: "German Officials Warn of New Security Risk: Local Extremists Recruiting Refugees".

And the subhead, "Migrants are increasingly ending up at mosques attended by Islamist radicals, authorities say".


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm

There are many extremists that have attracted/recruited locals. Religious institutions in the USA do it all the time. There are thousands upon thousands of priests that recruit young folks into their seminaries and there's no proof that the recruits become pedophiles. A minority become child molesters but the majority do not.

The KKK continues to attact young Americans who join their ranks and they continue to wreak psychological/physical violence in America. Much of the violence that we hear about today comes from police who attempt to soft pedal killing African America youth. Recent terrorist attacks against Planned Parenthood is by "white adult" males. Not Syrians. They are all home grown terrorists. To the best of my recollection, not one is of Syrian descent.

You seem be trying to instill fear in Americans by tying them to what's happening in Germany? Doesn't fly. If there's anybody to fear in the USA it's white Americans. Not Japanese Americans. Not Thai Americans. Not Philippino Americans. Not Arab Americans. Not Syrian Americans. Not Latino Americans. Not African Americans. Not Native Americans...

give it a rest...your days in the military are O V E R!




 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Paragraph 2, line 3: African American youth.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 30, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I forgot to mention that tens of thousands of American children of every race/ethnicity attend religious services alone and/or with their families. There are thousands of clergy pedophiles who conduct religious services.

I track down pedophile clergy, report them, and many end up in prison. I've been tracking pedophiles for over 10 years and have dedicated my life to this volunteer work

It's my calling.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by numbers gal, a resident of San Ramon,
on Dec 1, 2015 at 9:52 am

Direct from the brand new report on ISIS-related crimes charged in the US: Web Link

"Legal Status

The vast majority of the 71 individuals charged are U.S. citizens
(58) or permanent residents (6), underscoring the homegrown
nature of the threat. Researchers were unable to
determine the legal status of seven individuals."

So, at least 64/71, and maybe All those charged, are citizens or permanent residents, "underscoring the homegrown nature of the threat."

So remind me again, why all the fear and loathing about refugees?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 1, 2015 at 9:55 am

Fascinating article! Thanks...I'll have to study the numbers.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chedou Hicguns, a resident of Blackhawk,
on Dec 1, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Quelle mauvaise forme Missure Cushing,

Here is some information from a reputable source (i.e. not Tom Cushing):

Web Link
Web Link

Let's see, economic policy, complete failure.
Foreign Policy, yea he's awesome at that.

Obama = Woodrow Wilson 2.0


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Dec 1, 2015 at 6:10 pm

It's 'Monsieur' to you, french fry. I doubt you'll like the new edition any better. Domage.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by assignment help, a resident of Los Cerros Middle School,
on Dec 3, 2015 at 11:51 pm


We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work read this

Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Dec 4, 2015 at 8:54 am

Doug Miller is a registered user.

"According to the Homeland Security Office (DHS) that processes such asylum requests, more than 3 million refugees have been resettled in the US since 1970 (including thousands of Vietnamese boat people and the Cuban/Mariel boat lift), utterly without incident." For good measure, Mr. Cushing repeats this absurd assertion in a follow up comment.

Now there are 34 new incidents. Yesterday the Los Angeles Times wrote of Tashfeen Malik, the female Islamic terrorist, "After a background check by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, she was granted a conditional green card last year."

We could not vet someone from Pakistan. But Mr. Cushing assures us that DHS can vet people from Syria.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Dec 4, 2015 at 11:03 am

Doug: vitriol aside, are you arguing for no travel abroad by US citizens? No visas for foreigners? No green cards? I ask, because Neither of this week's mass murderers was a refugee. He was a US citizen -- born here. She had a visa.

The point has always been that trying to keep refugees out punishes the innocent, while making nobody safer.

Until you answer the logic that NObody will take the very difficult refugee route when it's so obviously so much easier to radicalize a local or to come in otherwise -- as this very incident demonstrates -- it remains clear that you're just lashing out.

Your anger is completely understandable -- me too. Your policy choices make no sense.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Dec 4, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Mr. Cushing has great difficulty staying focused.

My most recent comment was specifically to challenge his repeated assertion that the DHS was fully capable of vetting foreigners who want to come into this country. The DHS vetting process was one of Mr. Cushing's defenses or explanations for saying that the risk in allowing thousands of new Syrian refugees in our country is near zero.

We now have seen that even in circumstances where we presumably have better sources (from Pakistan) of vetting information, we were unable to adequately assess an Islamic terrorist who participated in the killing of 14 people three days ago. This fact does not give Mr. Cushing pause.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Dec 4, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Here I thought the purpose of commenting was to discuss the blog's concern for any danger posed by Syrian refugees, and to put that risk in context.

The vetting done of a visa applicant does not even approach the detail and sophistication of that to which refugees are subjected, so the comparison of Syrians with Pakistanis is trivial. I'm frankly not sure why Doug is comfortable with one country group over any other. In reality, nationality -- including our own or Britain's -- is hardly dispositive of terrorist risk.

The import of the blog, of course, with all the relevant evidence contained in it, is that the US has much more to fear from others than it has from refugees, Syrian or otherwise. That point stands, and is only reinforced by this week's tragic events.

Certain of my commenters: Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Brad, a resident of San Ramon,
on Dec 4, 2015 at 10:13 pm

From Michael W. McConnell, Stanford School of Law

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which governs these issues, defines “refugee” as someone who has fled from his or her home country and cannot return because he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of “religion” – as well as race, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. This certainly doesn’t let us use a religious test to filter immigrants out. But it does mean that when we’re deciding who to admit, religion matters.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Dec 5, 2015 at 9:26 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

“The vetting done of a visa applicant does not even approach the detail and sophistication of that to which refugees are subjected…”

How do we know? Mr. Cushing says so.

Except that earlier this year the Assistant FBI Director Michael Steinback stated that there would be considerable risk in bringing new Syrian refugees to the US. In testimony before the House, he was asked, “Would bringing in Syrian refugees pose a greater risk to Americans?” “Yes, I’m concerned,” he said. He added that with regard to Syria, there is insufficient data to conduct an adequate vetting process.
Web Link

Compared to Mr. Cushing, the lesson us common folks have learned from the events the past week in San Bernardino is that we need to be far more careful in granting entry to anyone coming into this country for any reason and under any process. The bipartisan bill recently passed by the House of Representatives attempts to do this.

Mr. Cushing lives in a fantasy world. The vetting agencies that missed the false home address of Islamic terrorist Tashfeen Malik when she applied to come here in 2014 would likely make the same mistake when faced with a new flood of several hundred thousand Syrian refugees.

We also know that ISIS has often stated its intention to infiltrate fighters into the refugee flow out of Syria. And we know that German officials have expressed concern that Islamic radicals are already trying to recruit new refugees.

Mr. Cushing repeatedly writes that no terrorist would follow a process that takes as much as two years. But Ms. Malik had already been in this country about 18 months before she launched her attack killing 14 people and wounding many more.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Reza Bahria , a resident of Birdland,
on Dec 6, 2015 at 9:47 am

Worth considering:

"Compared with Europe or the Middle East, we are relatively geographically isolated, with tight borders and an immense, albeit imperfect, national security system. To believe, in the wake of a terrorist attack, that this will become an everyday phenomenon is a distorted way of thinking — one that will make us unnecessarily fearful and anxious.

This is not to say that there is no danger. To the contrary, one has to acknowledge the horror of these attacks and the terrible uncertainty that there might be further attacks. But we have to find a way to live with this uncertainty and put it in perspective. There is no way to eradicate risk in a free society, even if we are willing to trade some of our liberty for safety. We delude ourselves to think otherwise.

Consider the response of the Norwegians to the murderous rampage of Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right extremist who, in 2011, massacred 77 people.

In a memorial service in Oslo two days after the tragedy, Jens Stoltenberg, then the prime minister of Norway, said: “We are still shocked by what has happened, but we will never give up our values. Our response is more democracy, more openness and more humanity.”

Web Link

Amen.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Dec 6, 2015 at 11:27 am

Doug Miller is a registered user.

"But we have to find a way to live with this uncertainty and put it in perspective."

Not for me. We can and need to do much more. Pausing the influx of refugees from Syria until we can be sure they are properly vetted is one step that does not impact democracy, openness and our humanity.



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