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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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A Brussels forum

Uploaded: Mar 23, 2016

There are an awful lot of people feeling an awful lot of awful over yesterday’s terror attack in the Belgian capital. So I thought I’d open the floor for readers to express themselves on the subject, offering a few of my own thoughts to start.

Although ‘empathy’ is obviously not ours exclusively or even a hallmark of our species, we’d not be what we call human if we didn’t feel it for the innocent victims of this latest atrocity. They didn’t deserve it; many families and their loved ones are in mourning today, and we share their grief.

There’s also a civilized tendency to want to bring the perpetrators to justice. We can stand with most of the rest of the world in our anger and resolve to punish those guilty of such zealotry and barbarism. The ‘asymmetrical warfare’ of terrorism means that there will always be unguarded targets in free societies, that are vulnerable to exploitation by so-called ‘super-empowered individuals.’ They are a fact of 21st century life.

Like the roaches in Houston – you have to do your best to control them, but you can’t expect to win completely. And if you do too much of the wrong things you render your house uninhabitable, and then the leftover roaches win, because they don’t care. In fact, provoking over-reactions is exactly what the vermin of terrorism most aim to accomplish.

There’s also a tendency among Americans to want to fix it, and to assume that total victory is achievable, cheap and somehow our job. That’s where I part company. Even if the Belgian police have shown themselves to be more Clouseau than Poirot, the perpetrators were their citizens and preventing those terrible consequences is their responsibility, as well. This is a world problem, and each civilized nation must both do its part in its sovereign territory, and coordinate with the whole.

As our recent history in the middle east amply demonstrates as well, we need to run the numbers in advance of taking action against terror. On the ridiculous assumption that the US could somehow stamp-out terroristic dissent in the world by “taking out” ISIS, what cost are we willing to pay? Another few $Trillion? My daughters? And since we know the assumption is absurd, shall we do it anyway? With your sons?

Finally, we also have to take our modern world in the context that we find it. Since the recent benchmark attacks in Paris, there have been literally hundreds of horrific terror attacks around the world. They include fatalities in places like San Bernardino and Brussels, but also Ankara, Jakarta, Tunis, Ougadougou, Mogadishu, Istanbul, Mali and the Ivory Coast, as well as routinely in middle east locales.

How do we process those – do we reserve our empathy and our headlines for ourselves and northern Europeans? Are not school girls in Nigeria as precious before the deity as tourists in France or commuters in Belgium? I don’t know how to process those incidents either, except to recognize the need to keep their many victims in our thoughts, as well.

Okay – the floor’s yours, and as anonymous as you wish. I do not expect to chime in, except as I’m addressed specifically. Routine moderating is in force, as always.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by rosalindr@mytrainingdept.com, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 23, 2016 at 2:48 pm

rosalindr@mytrainingdept.com is a registered user.


Humans love dogs because they are so much like us. They are hierarchical pack animals, with an Alpha male leader or to be "politically correct," an Alpha female.

Domesticated dogs and cats rely on humans to be their god or goddess who protects them and provides food, shelter, and sustenance. My cats worship me (most of the time).

Humans create our own system of gods and goddesses who provide food, shelter, and sustenance as long as we worship and obey them. People who are so caught up in their need to please their deity of choice will do whatever they believe will be rewarded, even if it is irrational and destructive.

There will always be people like that no matter what their religion is, and there will also be people who claim Islam is different. But 800 years ago Islam was the civilized religion and Christians were the marauders.


Posted by Tom, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 23, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Since you have posted that the GOP are Jihadists we must let the DNC solve this right? Must be the tea party and Trump/Hitler, The Koch brothers, Fox News, Rush, Christians, old white males that are the cause of all the terror. We should just consider what they say hate speech and build safe spaces to keep them out while we retain them in thought camps.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 23, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

During the 80's and 90's I was traveling in Asia, 80K miles a year. 1993, I was waiting for a plane in Guangzhou to take me to Beijing. When scheduled departure time arrived my plane never arrived. I asked around and leaned that the plane I was waiting for was hijacked to Taiwan by a man with a knive.
That was my first expousure to such an event.

Today with the multiple violent events that Tom mentioned, I am not feeling as comfortable as I was just a couple of years ago. Fortunately I am not traveling to far away places these days.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 24, 2016 at 6:59 am

Interview with Gen Hayden, this AM: Web Link

Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Mar 24, 2016 at 8:46 pm

Doug Miller is a registered user.

To boil it down, Mr. Cushing has no answer to the turmoil that is overtaking the world. At least he acknowledges that it has been getting worse lately. And he says that it is absurd and ridiculous to assume we could do anything about it. Even though we once destroyed the Nazi and Japanese will and ability to make war. The president says that carpet bombing "is not who we are" as a people. Except of course in WWII or the Civil War (without the airplanes). His response is to go to a baseball game, do the wave, dance the tango in Argentina, play golf, go to a fund raiser, play golf, go to a fund raiser. After all, not doing these things means the terrorists have won.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 24, 2016 at 9:03 pm

How many more atrocities do we need to witness before liberals accept that we need to do more than just stick our heads in the sand and equivocate with atrocities in 3rd world countries to the point of inaction? Mr. Cushing talks about the need to "coordinate with the whole" but has written many times against conservative attempts to lower the risk of attack in the U.S. You ask what is the price to pay for action? I ask what is the price of inaction? When your daughters or my sons die in the next attack, will you then change your mind on the benefits of enforcing our immigration laws? On the risks of sanctuary cities and lax policies of non-deportation? Profiling? Stop and frisk? Or other trade-offs between security and the politically correct utopia?

What will it take? 2 more bombings? 10? What if on Easter Sunday there are 40 bombings across the western world? What if ISIS starts kidnapping children from elementary schools in a coordinated fashion - say 2 per state or 100 kidnappings in a single day? These are all hypothetical but the point is there is a threshold where the liberal defense of inaction vs radical terrorism evaporates.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 25, 2016 at 7:02 am

Feel better, fellas?

I promised not to respond to what I wrote. That extends to all those things that you seem to think I wrote, but I didn't.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:14 am

So you did not write Jihad GOP? How can you ever expect and honest debate when you use such comparisons? Have fun at your move on meeting.

Posted by Sue Thayer, a resident of Birdland,
on Mar 25, 2016 at 10:29 am

Move on? Good concept, poster. You have had your say, at least twice.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 25, 2016 at 11:55 am


Tom Cushing is everything that is wrong with our political discussions. The Democrats nor the Republicans are the boogie man. Neither are evil or Jihadists.
Calling democrats un-american or communists is just as bad as calling republicans racists or Hitler. It is a political season and I get that tensions are a bit high but can we not do better than this? I hope we can reject the voices like Tom Cushing and all other hard partisan attack dogs from both sides. There is actually much both people on the left and right can agree on and some we should be able to respectfully disagree on as well. I hope Tom either grows up, or stops writing. I of course defend his right to post and would never call for it to be stopped but just because you can say something does not mean you should. He asks for an honest discussion on an important issue and I will not reward him as a thoughtful response based on his destructive tone.

Dont feed Tom the troll Cushing.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 25, 2016 at 12:28 pm

@Tom: I indicated that normal moderation would apply. That means that posts ought to be reasonably, broadly on-point to the topic. The topic is Brussels. Write to the editor, shout your complaints in the Town Square, drop me a smoking email or howl at the moon -- all perfectly fine.

But here -- it's Brussels. Thanks.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Mar 25, 2016 at 12:32 pm

@Tom: "What will it take? 2 more bombings? 10? What if on Easter Sunday there are 40 bombings across the western world? What if ISIS starts kidnapping children from elementary schools in a coordinated fashion - say 2 per state or 100 kidnappings in a single day?"

Boy, the terrorists really managed to work their way into your brain, didn't they? Yeah, that's how terrorism works: They create a psychological impact in the minds of people far out of proportion with the actual physical damage that they do.

Posted by Grey Lady, a resident of another community,
on Mar 25, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Web Link

Posted by rosalindr, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 28, 2016 at 12:35 am

rosalindr is a registered user.

Interesting link, Grey Lady. It's always easier to blame someone else for threats to our safety than to blame ourselves for misbehaving.


Posted by Grey Lady, a resident of another community,
on Mar 28, 2016 at 7:18 am

And Roz, humans have evolved beyond using our "lizard Brains" for many things, but not in how we look at risks. We are acting like those frogs bathing in the stove pot.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 28, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Breaking: Web Link Zeh guy ze Belgian gendarmes 'ave daytenn-ed 'as a layzense for 'is minke.

Posted by Realist, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Mar 29, 2016 at 12:16 am

Europe is so squeezed. It's like us comparing Santa Rosans inhabiting Orange County. I would not go to Europe today. Even if they had a 'document verification' program, it's not worth the paper printed on. We have to develop some sort of program for verification....for our safety. That is certainly our right and our responsibility to our families. Our massive expanse allows too many openings into our interior.
My grandparents came in through Ellis island. US didn't pass out freebies, benefits, not a cup of coffee....couldn't we had not started collecting income taxes from citizens, no taxes, no freebies. Just personal responsibility. Sounds great to me.
Of course we use to require 'sponsors' too, who were 'responsible' personally and financially for 5 years. There have even been periods of zero migration, back when Americans actually decided what was good for Americans during those periods of time. We use to decide what was good for us!
Today, they line up, pregnant, knowing our government will make us provide for them, no matter our own situation at that moment. Make us pay for them, their college, then tell our kids....'classes are full'.
And.....we certainly wouldn't want to be rude and so bold as to actually 'ask' who, why, and what, they want from here. Really???? better give some thought about reality.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Mar 29, 2016 at 7:29 am

@Realist :"Make us pay for them, their college, then tell our kids....'classes are full'."

For someone who calls himself a "realist", you sure do have a fanciful view of the real world. I think that "Wild Imagination" would be a better name handle for you.

Posted by Realist, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Mar 29, 2016 at 10:22 am

This ISIS moment in history means Americans have a duty to protect our homeland, and our American children. The fact that we allowed the Boston bomber brothers (while we paid college for one) to blow up Americans is a burden we have to address. We must not allow anyone here we cannot verify...absolutely. Just for now, until we develop better verifications.
Watch again the expression of the San Bernardo brother. He knew that he knew. Their sudden escalated hurried steps that day, may be the only reason he wasn't with them that day.
Back to our history of Ellis Island, .... Require American or 5 year residency 'sponsors' responsible the character(legal] and financial (medical) needs before allowing in......like we've done for periods in our past. Only until our technology allows fool-proof verification. We have a right to protect our families.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 29, 2016 at 11:04 am

Realist: Immigrants coming into the USA through Ellis Island had access to fresh water and bathrooms. Children and adults were fed.

Are you and your partner(s) and families prepared to go to war? Or, are you suggesting that others go out and fight/die for your protected loved ones?

I believe that the first people that should go to war are ALL Americans who can stand and walk. White folks should be drafted first, white women and men between the ages of 18 - 70. This is an excellent method to show good faith. Next people of color volunteers. They could be known as America's Volunteer Corps. They would remain on the mainland and not be placed in dangerous positions abroad.

I'm willing to sponsor one immigrant from Latin America. White people would be expected to open their homes to people of color who are immigrants. Lets be fair. There will no genocide of white people who agree.

I've tried my best to be fair and reasonable...i rest my case

Inspired by "Realist"


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 29, 2016 at 11:08 am

ps This is an ISIS moment and we must protect the American Homeland which was stolen from it's original inhabitants.



pololo mololo

Posted by Billie, a resident of Mohr Park,
on Mar 29, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Billie is a registered user.

The refugee immigrant process is the toughest way to enter the United States legally, and usually takes 18-24 months to complete. Should those multiple organizations vetting refugees be extra vigilant against extremists? Absolutely. But that process exists today. Web Link

Our visa programs, on the other hand, need some major work.

As we've seen with the Paris and Brussels attacks, none of the terrorists would have been stopped by harsher immigration laws, cracking down on refugee flows or closing Europe’s borders to foreigners since the terrorists were French or Belgium nationals.

Well, guess what. French or Belgium nationals have access to the US under our Visa Waiver program. This means that all a traveler from any one of 38 countries, including France and Belgium, needs to come into the US is a passport and a ticket.

The 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the UAE. With the exception of one on a student visa, the nineteen terrorists were in the US on tourist and business visas.
Web Link

The Boston bombers were here on student visas. Did you know that "[u]nless canceled or revoked, a [student] visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid."

And then of course, there's the K-1 nonimmigrant "fiance" visa. This is the one the San Bernardino terrorists used. Farook was a U.S. citizen, and his wife was here originally on a K-1 visa. Although Farook had met Malik, if the US citizen proves it would be an "extreme hardship" to meet their fiance "in person, at least once within 2 years of filing [the] petition", they can bring a stranger into the US to marry.

As for the H1-B visa worker program, all the foreign worker must do is have valid passport, complete a visa application form, pay the fee, and appear for the visa interview at nearest applicable US consulate in their country.

It's too bad Congress hasn't felt the urgency to spend a couple of their 132 days at work this last year to pass a bill [series of bills?] that would actually close the security gaps in our visa program. I guess re-naming that post office for a friend, or trying to repeal Obamacare is much more important.

Visa Information: Web Link

Posted by Realist, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Mar 29, 2016 at 7:20 pm

Billie, Thank you for sharing and showing that way too many easy, wide-openings big enough to drive a freight-train of radicalized visitors through. All those too many visas must be 'tightened up" with assorted restrictions, requirements, and verifications.
Still, responsible sponsors should be brought back too.
Cholo, apparently you see things through racist eyes, which seems to cloud any objectivity, thus, hindering intelligent discussions. I never mentioned or considered race in any of this. First, I always follow the words of Martin Luther King....I judge by 'content of character, not color of skin'....that works much better, more fair, and more accurate. 'Character Matters'...great motto too. I think in the case of world-wide radicalized there are a variety of races, it's more about ideas and beliefs, not color. Take off the colored glasses so you can make clearer evaluations.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 30, 2016 at 10:04 am

I disagree "Realist". Please remove your rosy lenses!

In the past, my use of the word "caucasoid" was found offensive by some readers. In an effort to calm those individuals and not re-offend the sensitive, I now refer to "caucasoids" as "whites". How in the world is that offensive?

"racist" NOT! It's called reparations. America owes more than a mere apology to African Americans, Asians, Native Americans, and Latinos/Hispanics. It's little enuf to consider how were can be polite to one another despite our cultural differences.

yup...I agree Cholo!

I strongly believe that my recommendation of volunteering the white community to serve their country with dignity is the right thing to do. yup...front lines...no more no less.

I perceive the "whites" as a violent group of thugs. A war is suited to the personalities of whites. DUKE IT OUT ALL YOU WANT...GO FOR IT...PROTECT AMERICA FROM THE INVADERS! I SALUTE YOU!


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 30, 2016 at 10:09 am

Spelling correction: 3rd paragraph, 2nd line - It's little enuf to consider how we can be polite to one another despite our cultural difference.

ps i rest my case...

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