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The [Tuesday] Papers

John Kass had had it with spin. He took to his garden. This is what he came back with:

The dead were still being collected at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando - the scene of the worst mass shooting in our nation's history - when I thought I heard something.

On Twitter and the TV news, the facts were slow to arrive but the sweeping conclusions came instantly. Donald Trump, President Barack Obama and other members of the righteous right and left were pushing their agendas.

I recognized the sound of the politics. It was like the barking of dogs.

Sweeping conclusions came instantly. Righteous politicians were pushing their agendas. It sounded like barking dogs.

John Kass would not bark like a dog. John Kass would not make a sweeping, fact-challenged conclusion. He would remain calm. He would bring you reason. He had been to his garden.

Obama's presidential address to the nation began with the proper reverential tone. But then he fell back on political tricks. He used his speech to make a push for gun control.

Because as we all know, arguing for gun control measures is just trickery not fit for policy discussion. How dare he "use" his speech for that - in all of about a paragraph.

(Next week Kass will tell us again that there isn't enough outrage in Chicago over gun violence.)

And he avoided all mention of Islam.

I don't want a war with Islam, and I understand that many on the right would march us down that path or at least isolate the U.S. from the Muslim world.

But the president appears ridiculous here.

The 2009 terrorist attack at Ford Hood, Texas, by U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan - killing 13 people and wounded more than 30 - was deemed mere "workplace violence" by the military under Obama's command. Hassan referred to himself as a soldier of Allah.

Someone appears ridiculous, that's for sure.

"[W]hy is the November 2009 attack at Fort Hood being tried as a case of workplace violence and not as an act of terror? Military law expert Scott L. Silliman says the answer is simple - because the Uniform Code of Military Justice does not have a punitive article for 'terrorism,'" Reuters reported at the time.

"'They really didn't have an option,' says Silliman, director emeritus of Duke University's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security in Durham, N.C. 'He was an active-duty officer. The crime occurred on a military installation . . . It was obvious he was going to face a court-martial.'"

Indeed. He was sentenced to death - a result that should satisfy the right-wing but which might have been put in jeopardy if they had gotten their way.

"Why can't the administration call this an act of terror without charging Hasan as a terrorist? According to a widely quoted Pentagon position paper opposing Purple Hearts for the victims, that would allow the defense to argue that Hasan 'cannot receive a fair trial because a branch of government has indirectly declared that Major Hasan is a terrorist - that he is criminally culpable.'"

That's arguable, but the Army still does not consider the lone attack of a scrambled man to be a case of "international terrorism."

But why are we even discussing this? Because Kass is the one playing a political trick, finding a weak reed to use to mimic the narrative that Obama has been weak on "Islamic terrorism." Orlando is his fault - as will be future tragedies, he makes clear. Nevermind that Obama is currently bombing seven predominantly Muslim countries. Maybe Kass thinks that's just a political trick too.

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"By refusing to say the words 'Islam' and 'terror' in the same sentence, Obama stays his course and looks stubborn and foolish, as if he sees no pattern in the Boston Marathon bombing, the San Bernardino rampage and the Orlando massacre."

No, Obama said this:

"We are still learning all the facts. This is an open investigation. We've reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer. The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism. And I've directed that we must spare no effort to determine what - if any - inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups. What is clear is that he was a person filled with hatred. Over the coming days, we'll uncover why and how this happened, and we will go wherever the facts lead us."

But Kass already knows the facts:

"Self-radicalized terrorists with Islamic ties, born or raised in the U.S., are the new threat. We need a real debate on what to do. Because there will be more attacks like the one in Orlando. You understand this, don't you? The pattern is being repeated."

Don't you understand? We have a new threat. One that can fit the facts of this case.

Except Kass doesn't have the facts. He didn't wait for them like he promised. He became the very barking dog he excoriates.

He retweeted this:

I'll take that as an endorsement.

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It came from the same guy who tweeted this:

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And this:

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It appears to have come to Kass through Bill Periman's Twitter feed, which Kass follows. and is chock-full of good stuff such as:

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And:

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Now, you aren't necessarily who you associate with on social media, but the people you follow - and those who follow you - are surely reflective of something. They are comfortable with you, and you with them. You don't have to agree with all of them - nor they of you - but when bigots are comfortable with you, you've got a problem. When you attract a certain kind of crowd, you may want to step back and reflect. Or step forward and take action. Or you could just let something like this sit there:

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The facts are coming to light now, though, and the story is taking a different shape than the one Kass (and so many others) rushed to. It seems Omar Mateen's self-radicalization was a combination of mental illness and self-loathing homophobia more than devotion to a crazed religious ideology.

The biggest clue to a motive so far is Mateen's father stating his son was angry he had seen two men kiss. As angry as one of Kass's social media fans, one might say. Mateen had been a regular at Pulse - a noted gay nightclub which he had to travel miles to - and had a profile on a gay dating app. Mateen's ex-wife, whom Mateen beat, suspected he was gay - and she wasn't the only one. She also said he was mentally unstable. He was described as "belligerent, racist and toxic."

"Daniel Gilroy, who worked with Mateen at the facility, told Florida Today that he was 'unhinged and unstable. He talked of killing people,'" Politico reported. "Gilroy added that he complained to G4S about Mateen's odd, often bigoted, behavior - to no avail. Eventually, Mateen began stalking Gilroy, leaving him 30 or more text and phone messages per day. Gilroy eventually quit. G4S has come under scrutiny in Florida in the past few years after some of its guards were found to be abusing children in facilities where the company provides security."

He reportedly wanted to be a police officer.

And yes, he had pledged fealty to terrorist groups:

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So what is it we really need to talk about, John? Self-radicalized homegrown terrorists with ties to Islam? Or crazy homophobic bigoted wife-beaters? Perhaps when the FBI closed the books on Mateen - twice - it could have called social services.

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Here's how Kass's Tribune colleague Steve Chapman put it (much better than I):

"Someone trying to affix blame for the unspeakable murders at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning could focus on any number of the killer's traits: He was a young male. He was a gun owner. He was a homophobe. He was, according to his ex-wife, mentally disturbed.

"Any or all of these traits may have contributed to his decision to commit an atrocity. But there was never any doubt that Donald Trump and other Republican demagogues would zero in on another attribute: His Muslim faith. Trump called on President Barack Obama to resign because he 'disgracefully refused to even say the words 'radical Islam.'

"So what? It's not as though Obama ignores that many terrorists are Muslims. It's just that he refuses to equate terrorism with Islam. In that, he's following the example of George W. Bush, who after 9/11 declared, 'Our war is not against Islam, or against faith practiced by the Muslim people. Our war is a war against evil.' By refusing to attribute savagery like this to the religion, both presidents chose to align themselves with the vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful."

And that pattern Kass sees?

"The supposed iron link between terrorism and Islam is a myth. The FBI has reported that 94 percent of the terrorist attacks in this country since 1980 were carried out by non-Muslims. Most mass shootings in this country were not carried out by Muslims."

Nor, it should go without saying but apparently cannot, are other religions exempt from murderous craziness - and not even in radicalized form but in their most basic, standard, accepted version.

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You might say a religious conviction similar to what our staunchest Christians believe is what created Mateen. Maybe Kass should talk about that.

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Why is no one willing to use the words "Islam" and "terrorism" in the same sentence regarding this Indiana man?!

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I don't believe gun control solves this nation's problems with violence, but it's the political trickery Kass so believes he's above that prevents us from taking some measures regarding guns that would help mitigate some of the damage we keep doing to ourselves. Stripping the social safety net of mental health services doesn't help either. Better interventions. And, yes, a foreign policy that doesn't essentially invite blowback. And yes, terrorism. It exists. Let's talk about all these things. With all of us. But only if we're all willing to set aside our most ingrained beliefs upon the learning of new facts.

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And how long, O Lord, how long until the media takes responsibility? How can we hold them to account? Because they get it wrong EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And no lessons are ever learned.

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These aren't the only facts that will come out. Perhaps we'll learn that Mateen was directed by the head of ISIS personally. But by god, journalists at least should pledge their fealty to facts and facts only, not narratives, talking points, rank speculation and presumptions.

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Instead of heading to a garden, perhaps do some research.

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See also on the Beachwood:
* Six Things Americans Should Know About Mass Shootings.

* Why Are Hate Crime Statistics So Poorly Tracked?

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We're in a dangerous moment in America. We all have to hunker down and do some deeper and more careful thinking. It's no time to swim in cesspools.

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Now, on to the rest of the Beachwood . . . .

Brock Turner, The Theater Teacher And Me
Please read this post by a longtime Beachwood contributor:

"What they didn't know, because I didn't tell them, was that I was being raped two to four times a week for two years by my extracurricular theater teacher. I was expected to put out for him on a regular basis and not tell because, he told me, I would lose all my friends and no one would believe me. And, because I was 15 years old when it started, and he was almost 40, I believed him. I was scrawny, my face was prone to breakouts, my clothes were not particularly fashionable, my hair was always a disaster, so why would any man want to rape me?"

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A Message From Alcoholics Anonymous
A note of thanks and a request for continued cooperation.

Chicago CAKE
"An all-consuming fire of comics power!

Business News Is Bollocks
Pinstriped twats working in giant glass dildos.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey, Los Amigos Invisibles, Feed Me, Cathy Santoines, Cash Cash, Vortis, Kaskade, The Island of Misfit Toys, Deadmau5, Zeds Dead, Pierce The Veil, Danny Daze, Steely Dan, Dash Berlin, The Cure, Dillon Francis, Joey Purp & Vic Mensa, Tritonal, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Whitesnake, The Monkees, Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop with Marlon Williams, Blondie, The Smithereens, Lady Parts, Terranaut, Empyreus, Infested Prophecy, and Heron Oblivion.

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From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

Which EPL Team Are You?
We let you know in the first installment of our new column, Breakfast In America.

It's Silver's Series Now
Draymond Green suspension could come back to haunt the NBA.

Get On Board, Son
Baseball finally the radar of Cub Factor's kid.

The Unsavior Is Here
Low expectations for Tim Anderson.

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BeachBook

Big Law Too Busy To Help.

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Industrial Strip Club Chicago-Style Hot Dogs In Hammond Or Something.

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Oak Brook Officials Put Brave Face On McDonald's Abandoning Them.

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Menard's Is Run By An Awful Man.

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Abbott Labs Is A Horrible Place.

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Two Illinois Professors Find GOP Snub Of Supreme Court Pick Unprecedented.

It's barking dogs all the way down.

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8-Year-Old More Mature Than Our Governor.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

But he won't say "Islam" and "terrorism" in the same sentence.

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But he won't say "Islam" and "terrorism" in the same sentence.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Radical troncism.



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Posted on June 14, 2016


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