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Opening Arguments

Fort Hood

What is it they say, God takes care of drunks and fools? He must also keep an eye out occasionally for journalist bloggers, who often exhibit characteristics of both.

At my brother's last week, we didn't get around to our range session until Wednesday, but we had a good time shooting the hell out of paper targets and, yes, some poor, defenseless Peeps. I intended to post about it Thursday morning, having a lot of fun writing about the virtues of revolvers vs. semi-automatics in dispatching the useless critters. But I ended up not doing it, partly because my photos didn't come out very well and partly because I was on vacation and just didn't feel like it. Then on Thursday afternoon came the news of the horrible event at Fort Hood. "Bad taste" is often a matter of bad timing. A blog post that day about enthusiastic shooting would have seemed grossly insensitive, and heaven knows I try to avoid that.

We heard about the shootings from my niece Shelli even before we saw it on TV. Her husband is stationed at Fort Hood, and she wanted us to know that they and the two kids were OK so we didn't freak out when we saw the news. Her son's school is on base, so he was on lockdown for hours after the shootings, but he seemed to treat it as an adventure. But, Shelli said, one of the men from her husband's unit had been one of the ones killed. They knew this even before the Army was releasing names -- a base grapevine is a remarkable thing.

Fort Hood is about two hours from my brother's house in Hill Country, which, strangely, had never occurred to me before. I spent a year and a half there after Vietnam, a couple of miles from the main post at a place called Gray Army Air Base. Now, Fort Hood is said to be the biggest military installation in the world. Then, it was known as the biggest repository of drugs and druggies in the U.S. Army -- it wasn't called "Fort Head" for nothing. This was also back in the days of unrest in the street, and there always rumors that we were going to be trained in riot suppression. But there was no training, and nobody ever even demonstrated, let alone rioted. The closest we came to soldier-town animosity was when we went into a restaurant and annoyed everybody by playing the same song on the jukebox 10 or 12 times in a row.

The post was a good place to decompress after overseas, and the people in Killeen and surrounding areas were generally pretty good to us. It's nice to see that the relationship has continued. It will probably get even better now that off-duty civilian cop Kimberly Munley stopped the rampage before it got any worse, and thank goodness for such people who are in the right place at the right time and don't flinch from doing what they have to. Pretty much the definition of "hero."

Because we were interested only in the news as it developed, my brother and sister and I missed a lot of the usual nonsense that accompanies such a horror. Now of course we're catching up on all that. The hot speculation today is whether Maj. Nidal Hassan flipped out or whether he intended the killings as an act of jihad:

As military psychiatrist trained to counsel troops returning from combat, Hasan's personal history has sparked many theories about why he turned on the very people he was employed to counsel -- killing 13 and wounding at least 30.

Some see this as an act of terrorism, but crime experts and fellow psychiatrists familiar with the military question whether Hasan's alleged actions compare with those of George Sodini, who is accused of shooting 11 women in a Pennsylvania gym this summer, or Seung-Hui Cho 's motives in the 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre.

I don't suppose it matters much in the long run. I've seen enough of serious mental illness to know that it sometimes travels through religious extremism to get to where it's going. It shouldn't be terribly shocking to think terrorism and derangement fit very well together. This is one of those "nobody saw it coming" incidents for which, now that it's actually happened, we can see that there were so many signs that a lot of people should have seen it coming. But what can they do -- lock up everybody who acts strangely and says harsh things about a war he's going to be sent to? I said harsh things about Vietnam when I found out they were sending me there, and probably acted a little strangely, too.

But Hassan is paralyzed now, crippled by Munley's fire. May he have a long, long life. That would be justice, don't you think?


Bob G.
Mon, 11/09/2009 - 10:57am

Sounds about right to me...
(and welcome back)

Larry Morris
Mon, 11/09/2009 - 11:42am

"lock up everybody who acts strangely and says harsh things about a war he

tim zank
Mon, 11/09/2009 - 2:06pm

Terrorist Attacks on American Soil Since 9/11:

George Bush 0 in 8 years.
Barack Obama 1 in 11 months.

This Hope-N-Change thingy is working out soooo well!

Hold on boys and girls, it's gonna be a rocky 3 more years.

Larry Morris
Mon, 11/09/2009 - 2:27pm

I'm glad to hear someone calling this what it was - let's see how it gets "spun", ...

tim zank
Mon, 11/09/2009 - 2:34pm

Oh it's getting spun all over the place. The Lame stream media is portraying him as a victim as usual. We are the intolerant bastards that drove him to it, blah, blah,blah.

It is exactly what it appears to be, a devout Muslim carrying out jihad. Case closed.

Bob G.
Mon, 11/09/2009 - 2:49pm

I suppose this sums it up:
"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
-Mark Twain

Right word being TRUTH, and the "almost" right word being SPIN.
...And DENIAL ain't just a river in Egypt, either.

Nicely said, Tim.

tim zank
Mon, 11/09/2009 - 3:18pm

Wow, It just keeps gettin' better!

Officials: U.S. Aware of Hasan Efforts to Contact al Qaeda


keeping in mind (all my liberal friends) this is from ABC.

Leo Morris
Mon, 11/09/2009 - 4:09pm

And just as an aside: Hassan was shot while in the act of shooting, so there really isn't any doubt about who did what, so will the kneejerk, "sure hope this keeps us from getting sued" media please stop saying "alleged," OK?

Bob G.
Mon, 11/09/2009 - 4:41pm

And just for you gun lovers in the bunch:
Major Hasan used an FN FIVE SEVEN auto pistol firing the 5.7x28 round with a 20 rd capcaity per mag.
It's the same round used in the P90 subgun.
SO, this boy meant some BUSINESS when he opened up.
These rounds WILL do some damage!

FYI, gang.


Mon, 11/09/2009 - 9:24pm

Whatever you said, Bob G.

Some of us don't carry or shoot.

It has been over 40 years since I fired a weapon, and the Army had something to do with that.

Kevin Knuth
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 10:03am


First, he is NOT a devout Muslim- they do NOT believe in violence.

Second: Nice of you to say not attacks on American soil since 9/11....but Bush really dropped the ball on that one, didn't he?

Third: we still don't know what happened here. This guy was mentally disturbed, but that does not make it a terrorist attack.

Kevin Knuth
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 10:05am

Ooops, this just in Tim.....Seems some of his problems were identified during the BUSH ADMINSTRATION!

tim zank
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 10:36am

Kevin, nice of you to weigh in with your usual "I have a hangnail, get me lawyer to sue George Bush, cuz it's obviously his fault" meme. Nice to see it on a local level, I wouldn't want the national Lame Stream Media to be the only ones casting blame on everybody else but the a$$hole actually shooting the gun.

If you're gonna hang the blame for 9/11 on W, you really can't avoid hanging the blame for Ft Hood on Barry, now can ya?

As for not believing in violence, that pesky Koran sure does tell a different story now doesn't it?

Do you think "Alu Akbar" is the "normal" thing shouted out by your average everyday garden variety mass murderer before mowing down 30 to 40 people in uniform?

You might want to stick to just bashing conservatives and digging up dirt on local politicians. To borrow a line from Der Leader, this one's a little above your pay grade.

Kevin Knuth
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 10:57am


You misinterpret what I wrote.

YOU blamed Obama for something that was originally detected when BUSH was President. I simply pointed out that fact.

How about we settle here- Bush is to blame for the largest terrorist attack on American soil EVER. And Obama is somehow responsible because a nut got a gun and used it? These two things are not even CLOSE in comparison.

Muslims DO NOT believe in violence, period. I know many muslims- if you think they approve of violence, then you have lived in Indiana too long and need a bigger view of the world.

I do not know who "Der Leader" is...could you explain? Der sounds German, but I know you are not stupid enough to compare Obama to Hitler...right?

tim zank
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 11:14am

Kevin, You live in a dream world. Enjoy it while you can. Sooner or later all of you apologists will again be "shocked" when another band of "misunderstood muslim fanatics" blows the living daylights out of something else.

It happens about 4 times a year around the world, and inevitably it will happen here again. This is a problem that isn't ever going away, even if you bury your head in the sand.

Tue, 11/10/2009 - 11:30am

I wonder what self-aggrandizing remarks the Ego-In-Chief will work into his words at Fort Hood? Maybe- "But even in sorrow and tragedy we find hope and change. A petite, young mother of three who ran to the defense of America's warriors and the the healing words of America's first president of African descent."

Kevin Knuth
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 11:30am

Tim, I fully expect another terrorist attack in the US. I am not convinced this incident was one.

If you want to say he did it because of his religion, then you also have to say that Christians MURDERING doctors who perform abortions are terrorists too.

Another question- if Muslims are soooo violent- why does the US Military have Muslim Chaplains in the service? You would think that is a bad idea....promoting the Koran while serving the US Military...or maybe, just maybe, you do not know what the hell you are talking about.

tim zank
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 11:37am

Political correctness run amok. I know very well of what I speak. You live in a dream world.

Kevin Knuth
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 12:53pm

The Diane Rehm show covered this today- If anyone has the courage, why not get better informed?


tim zank
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 2:13pm

Better informed? That's rich. I don't need "nuance" delivered six ways from Sunday, I'm a pretty common sense kind of guy.

When a man holding two guns with 20 hot clips in each and yells out "Alu Akbar" (Praise Allah) and proceeds to unload both 20 shot clips into a crowd of unarmed American Soldiers on a freaking military base, I tend to think he may be having a "jihadi" kind of moment. Call me crazy, but I don't think he just got a bad cup o' joe that particular morning.

I'm as informed as I ever need to be about this guy and anybody with the slightest bit of common sense is as well.

It is what it is, deal with it.

And start drawing names for the firing squad detail too, there'd be no shortage of volunteers for that duty.

Kevin Knuth
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 4:55pm

Yes, Tim, you REALLY should listen to it. I am not defending the shooter- but Islam, in and of itself, is a peaceful religion.

Oh, and BEFORE you jump to too many conclusions-http://www.mysanantonio.com/military/69629042.html. What he said is NOT fact yet.

Whatever happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty?

tim zank
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 6:46pm

As Leo pointed out, you can drop the "alleged" bullsh%t when he was shot down while still shooting directly at a room full of soldiers. A hundred or so eye witnesses sort of nullifies that "alleged" crap.

Give him a speedy trial and let Texas do what it does best!

Kevin Knuth
Tue, 11/10/2009 - 10:26pm

Tim, You cannot drop "alleged" Remember that pesky thing called the Constitution? Innocent until PROVEN guilty. I have no doubt he will be proven guilty- but if you believe in the Constitution, you have to believe in all of it.

IPOPA: Some love for Gov. Daniels (and some thoughts on Fort
Wed, 11/11/2009 - 12:13pm

[...] might have more on it later, but with respect to the Fort Hood shootings, Leo Morris had a good point when he said that mental illness sometimes travels through religious extremism to get where [...]

Thu, 11/12/2009 - 12:28am

"Terrorist Attacks on American Soil Since 9/11:

George Bush 0 in 8 years."

WAAAAIT Hold on. 9/11 didn't happen DURING Bush's term? Did he somehow serve from 2001-2009? Is there some sort of *special math* going on here?

"Barack Obama 1 in 11 months."

Maybe, presuming the guy wasn't a wannabe wackjob fundie acting on his own. Which we don't know yet.

But really, if we're automatically blaming the sitting president for any acts of terrorism on US soil, why does Bush get a pass? Because he's "special" in some way? The first one's a gimme... well, except for the first attack on the WTC that didn't bring it down.

Tim Zank, it's a truly special little world you live in.

tim zank
Thu, 11/12/2009 - 8:01am


My apologies to both you and Knuth, I should have realized that by not being specific about the exact number of years we have not been attacked by jihadis under President Bush, (saying 8 instead of 7.2) it gave you an opportunity twist things around and redirect the argument.

Let me clarify exactly what I meant, very slowly, so as not to give you some other way to obfuscate the obvious.

Since Muslim terrorists attacked the US on September 11, 2001, (meaning from that day up until the present time...like today....) there have been no other successfull attacks on American soil (that means the dirt we all stand on within the borders of the US) by Muslim terrorists, until Fort Hood.

So, to be clear, my scorecard should have read:



Does that still confuse you? Is there any part of that which is not clear to you or anybody else?

Thu, 11/12/2009 - 3:28pm

It makes it clear you're some kind of moron. If you're going to blame the sitting president for the attack, Bush gets the 9/11 one on his watch - you don't get to start the timer right there and let him off the hook.

And do you really want to compare thousands dead in multiple-location, coordinated attacks taken credit for by terrorists to 13 dead in a shooting rampage by one person, that may or may not have been terrorist related much less sponsored?

Thu, 11/12/2009 - 3:34pm

You could just as easily say that there weren't any successful terrorist attacks on the WTC/U.S. soil since the unsuccessful 1993 attack under Bill Clinton - until they successfully brought down the towers under Bush's watch.

tim zank
Thu, 11/12/2009 - 5:11pm

You don't read very well do you? The whole point I made revolves around the words "since 9/11"....what part of that can't you wrap your head around...?

There has only been one terrorist attack on American soil SINCE 9/11....That means "after" 9/11....not before, but after. Got it? It's pretty simple sentence structure.

Obviously the larger point I made was GWB kept us "attack" free since 9/11 for those aforementioned 7.5 years. Where as, Barry has been "protecting" the country as Commander In Chief for 11 months and we've already had one terrorist attack. On a military base no less. Unfortunate it happened on his watch I guess, but not surprising, what with all the time necessary for speeches, tv interviews, campaign stops, awards receptions, date nights, golf games, trillion dollar bill signings, spending, monitoring unfriendly news outlets, fudging jobs numbers, having beers with local cops, babysitting Biden, heck the list goes on and on, I know that doesn't leave a whole lot of time for those "war on terror" oops...I mean "man made disasters" that pop up now and then.

September 11, 2001 changed the way this country had to protect itself. It was working pretty well (read: since 9/11) up until a few days ago.

Thu, 11/12/2009 - 9:55pm

I think you're missing the larger point that there had been ONE terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 1993, the first WTC attack.

So you could just as easily say Bill Clinton kept us attack free since 1993 until Bush went and screwed up and let all those people die.

Yes, it's a simple sentence structure Zank. You just want to cherry-pick the point in history in order to make Obama look bad. Don't worry, we get that.