Belmont Club

The Long Cold Civil War

A few hours ago, president Obama was still unable to provide a probable motive for the San Bernardino attack which left 14 people dead.  “At this stage we do not yet know why this terrible event occurred,” he said.  Now the FBI has officially started a counter-terrorism investigation into the events.


SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The F.B.I. is treating its inquiry into the massacre here as a counter-terrorism investigation, two law enforcement officials said Thursday, based on materials the suspects stockpiled — including explosives — their Middle East travels and evidence that one of them had been in touch with people with Islamist extremist views, both in the United States and abroad.

So it’s terrorism.

The new information may explain why the couple lingered in an industrial area not far from the scene of the attack.  They probably wanted to remain within radio range of a remote controlled bomb they had left at the Christmas party. “Police on Thursday said authorities had recovered a device containing three pipe bombs and a remote control that appears to have failed to detonate at the scene of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.” The follow-on bomb would have caught the rescuers and first responders.

The terrorism investigation rather dampens Steven Salaita’s hypothesis that it was America which taught Farook to be violent. Writing in Salon Salaita says: “Syed Farooq is an American: Let’s stop the Muslim vs. Christian debate and take a look at ourselves. His terrible deed does not spring from an unknowable foreign culture. It is violence endemic to the United States.”   It’s as American as kebab and apple pie. The article continues:


It might make you feel better about your place in the American racial hierarchy. It might alleviate your majoritarian anxieties. It might reaffirm the superiority of your faith. It might make patriotism easier to accept.

It doesn’t, however, help you better understand this world and it certainly won’t keep food on your table. In fact, it deprives everybody of intellectual and economic sustenance.

The new evidence is unlikely to change any opinions.   The evidence was there all along. It was just that nobody wanted to see it. Jake Tapper says the Feds knew Farook had been in communication with Islamic radicals. His neighbors became suspicious after observing a number of Middle Eastern looking men coming and going into his house but remained silent because they did not want to profile.

The NYT article lists some of the alarm bells that should have rung, but didn’t:

Law enforcement officials said the F.B.I. had uncovered evidence that Mr. Farook was in contact over several years with extremists domestically and abroad, including at least one person in the United States who was investigated for suspected terrorism by federal authorities in recent years. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Mr. Salaita is right. Bias is the problem.  Whose is another matter.  But there’s no question about its efficacy as a blindfold; it’s the kind of industrial strength bias which takes decades of negative feedback to remove.  To see how long, it is useful to note that the AP reports Hugo Chavez’s party may experience its first loss in 17 years.


Venezuelans are stockpiling food and putting off plans as the South American country brims with excitement and dread ahead of elections that could hand the opposition control of congress for the first time since 1998.

A loss would end a 17-year chain of electoral victories that the socialist movement founded by Hugo Chavez has often used to defend itself against allegations that it’s undemocratic.

Polls show the opposition coalition holding a 30 point lead, buoyed by voters defecting from the socialist party because of high crime, widespread shortages and triple-digit inflation.

That puts it within grasping distance of a two-thirds congressional majority, an outcome that would breathe life into threats to recall Chavez’s heir, President Nicolas Maduro, and back up claims that his party’s mandate is crumbling. The socialists currently hold 99 of Venezuela’s 167 legislative seats.

It’s also possible government opponents could win the popular vote by a landslide, but fail to gain that super-majority due to a voting system that favors less populated rural districts over opposition-leaning urban areas.

If it takes 17 years of unbroken failure, misery, violence and ruin to persuade once-rich Venezuelans that left wing promises don’t work it will take a whole lot more than a few deaths at a San Bernardino community center for true believers to abandon Barack Obama’s ideology.  The forces which enabled global terrorism are so invested in their fantasy world that little is likely to stop it until it burns itself out.


One can only hope the fever drives out the disease before it kills the patient. We are now told that the San Bernardino attackers wore GoPro cameras to capture their killing moments, in order that they and others might relive and enjoy the carnage at the Christmas party.  [The GoPro report has since been denied] How can anything survive against such relentless hate?

How can anything survive on it?  Fantasy is treacherous ground. Facts — also known as the Truth or the Light — have an inconvenient way of burning through the darkness.   Anyone who walks upon a road of lies will sink into it. They will lose their prosperity, sense of superiority and security until they will walk for miles simply to find a single roll of toilet paper.  Ask the Venezuelans.

Maybe someday we will ask ourselves.

There is a light in the darkness and the darkness overcame it not. A long road. Seventeen years for Venezuela it’s true, but for anyone who begins the journey now it is always x years minus one.

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