During the past year Sonya Jones was killed picking blueberries; Carla Grow was killed on a family picnic; Megan Nickell died playing volley ball on a beach; and Gage McFadden met the same fate playing disc golf. William Clevenger was struck down rounding up cattle, as was Frankie Roberts walking some dogs.
The killer in all of these cases-----lightning!
In fact, since September 11, 2001 there have been more than 400 people killed by lightning in America, according to the national weather service.
And while we are at it, here are some more facts. During the 14 years between the horrific but flukish events of 9/11 and last week's massacre in San Bernardino, there had been just six civilians killed on American soil by jihadist oriented terrorists. Two were killed at the El Al counter at LAX airport in 2002 and four at the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013.
There were also five deaths from the unsolved anthrax attacks of 2001 that were not likely the work of terrorists, as well as the murderous 2009 rampage at Ft Hood and the killings at the Chattanooga military centers last summer. But most Americans have never set foot on a military base nor do they have any risk of exposure to the special propensity for violence that may be kindled at such facilities.
Yes, we clearly had a lone wolf(s) event last week or what some oafish CNN war storm-chaser described as "do it yourself terrorism".
But the best thing that 318 million Americans can do about that danger is to tune out every single word that politicians have to say about it.
That's because for 99.99% of Americans the risk of being killed or injured by a jihadist lone wolf is lower than being struck by lightning; and most surely it is far less than their exposure to the periodic eruption of mass killings by homegrown psychopaths and demented malcontents that occur with disturbing regularity.
Just in the last four years alone, 105 people have been killed and 100 injured by non-jihadist killing rampages in a dozen different cities from coast to coast. These included the recent events at the Colorado Springs planned parenthood clinic and the Roseburg, Oregon campus, as well as the horrific black church murders in Charleston SC last June, the madness at Newton CT elementary school in December 2012 and the slaughter in the Aurora CO movie theatre in July 2012.
Altogether there have been 26 incidents of mass killings since 9/11 including the Blacksburg Virginia campus rampage which resulted in nearly 50 deaths and injuries. About 425 Americans were killed or injured during these incidents of terror-----crimes committed overwhelmingly by sick young men often harboring white surpremacist or other hate-based motivations.
Would that both kinds of terrorism could be expunged from the land-----the hateful doings of the Syed Rizwan Farooks and the demented mayhem of the Dylann Storm Roofs. But there is virtually nothing that Washington politicians can do about either------except most surely to not make it worse by trying to bomb, drone, invade and occupy the jihadist kind of terrorism out of existence.
After all, is it not evident after two decades now of jihadist style terrorism-----whether quasi-organized, remotely-inspired or lone wolf executed-----that it is fostered by blowback from Washington's imperial mayhem? And most especially the terrible 21st century military violence it has inflicted on the Moslem populations of the middle east?
The fact is, terrorism did not suddenly sprout up from the teachings of a 1300 year old religion, nor from a belated discovery in struggling middle eastern nations that they hate America's freedom, prosperity and materialistic culture.
No, jihadist style terrorism came to America only after Washington trained and armed the Mujahedeen in the 1980s, waged unprovoked war in Arabia and Mesopotamia in the 1990s and fostered the anarchy of failed middle eastern states thereafter.
Indeed, once the neocons fully took power in the 2000 elections, Washington has mowed them down-----Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen------- with the alacrity of a jihadist gunman. Now all these failed states are breeding grounds of terrorism, but none of them trafficked in it until the beltway regime changers had their way with the assorted tyrannts and authoritarians who previously ruled these misfortunate lands.
There probably is no better symbol of that than the fact that in recent months Khadafy's hometown of Sirte has become ISIS' second capital; or that the so-called "government" Washington installed in Baghdad can't even manage to hold Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.
Nor is the Islamic State anything new under the sun or inherently more threatening to the US homeland than was al-Qaeda in its heyday. The only reason it can even posture as a "state" is owing to the endless gifts of Washington and its allies.
That is, the Islamic State managed to occupy a narrow, desolate strip of dusty, impoverished villages on the upper Euphrates in Syria, the desert expanse of Western Iraq, the war-shattered towns of Anbar province and Mosul by dint of seizing massive troves of the best weapons the Pentagon could leave behind after Washington "liberated" Iraq; and by augmenting them with even more lethal firepower seconded to ISIS by killed, captured, defecting and fleeing so-called "moderates" in Syria, who were supplied the latest and greatest US weapons by the CIA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and various and sundry arms merchants and smugglers of the region.
Furthermore, the Islamic State's brutal tyranny even in its backwater redoubts would not last more than a few months without the oil revenues that are smuggled in plain sight through NATO ally Turkey, and by all accounts with the intermediation of Erdogan's own family trading company.
The notion that this crypto-state could actually sustain itself by taking ransoms, selling women into sex-slavery and levying internal tariffs on the virtually non-existent economic activity within its putative borders is pure Washington fiction. Seal the Turkish border, and ISIS' days are numbered.
Moreover, Turkey does not posses the largest military organization in NATO with 500,000 men under arms, 1,000 aircraft and 3,000 tanks because it is incapable of sealing its border. It's border outside the Kurdish controlled northeast is an open air souk for the transit of oil, arms and recruits only because Washington and the West have greenlighted its campaign to overthrow the government of its Syrian neighbor.
If our well-intentioned but feckless President really wants to "eliminate" the Islamic State he only needs to make peace with Damascus; and then to tell Erdogan to scamper back north of his border and seal it off or face expulsion from NATO.
That would do more do extinguish ISIS than all the bombing sorties that have come back 75% loaded with their bombs undelivered to date; or that will be launched in the foreseeable future.
Washington could do three more things to further reduce the already marginal risk of lone wolf terrorism in the homeland. First, stop the bombing and get the US military presence out of Iraq and Syria entirely. No one wants us there-----not even our so-called allies and vassals.
For crying out loud, last week our clueless career warmonger who heads the DOD, Ashton Carter, said he was going to put a few more special forces on the ground in Iraq. Yet lickety-split, the Iraq militias said they would hunt them down, and the puppet prime minister Washington recently installed in Baghdad publicly and pointedly said "no thanks".
And then over the weekend, that very same Baghdad government threatened to bring in Russian forces to help it expel uninvited Turkish-NATO troops from its territory outside of Mosul. To clarify, that would be the same Turkish government that is allied with the Kurdish regional authority in Erbil, but which is making war on the Kurdish militias of northern Syria that Washington claims to be the only effective force against ISIS on the ground.
You truly need a multi-volume playbook to untangle the centuries of sectarian, ethnic, tribal and political history that are embedded in the lands that Washington foolishly believes it can pacify with cruise missiles and high altitude bombers.
Secondly, Washington could acknowledge that there is no coalition of the willing, anyway; its a gang of the unglued. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are in Syria not to defeat ISIS, but to score a sectarian and political victory against Assad and his Iranian-Shiite Crescent allies; and to secure gas pipeline rights that Assad and his Russian backers oppose.
Here's the thing. There has never been a single Shiite attack-----organized or inspired----on American soil. Jihadist terrorism is essentially a poison arising from the Wahhabi-Sunni world-----that is to say, Saudi Arabia.
The way to combat that particular curse is to get the Fifth Fleet out of the Persian Gulf. The cure for high oil prices is high prices and the global marketplace, as has been so well demonstrated by the massive and permanent collapse of the so-called OPEC cartel in response to the surge of shale, tar sands, deep oil and non-fossil alternatives.
Indeed, it just so happens that the oil provinces along the Persian Gulf are inhabited by as many Shiite as Sunni.
So were the despicably corrupt, tyrannical and insatiably greedy rulers of the House of Saud to be forced to hightail it to Geneva in their 747s, their loathsome Wahhabi clerics would be sentenced to an Hobbesian life in the Arabian interior; they certainly would not be in a position to wax any longer on the drippings of Riyadh's oil rents.
Finally, if Obama really wanted to make San Bernardino safer, he would get some gumption in his final 400 days, and tell the Washington War Party that its campaign against Assad and the so-called Shiite Crescent is over and done.
With the Turkish border sealed in the North, the alliance of Iran, Shiite Iraq, the Alawite government in Damascus, Hezbollah and their Russian ally would make short work of the medieval Sunni barbarians crouched along the Euphrates valley.
At the end of the day, the so-called Islamic State's main recruiting arm is not its bloody perversion of Islam, but the bombing campaigns of the US Air Force; and the fighters it fields are retained not by religious zealotry, but by the payroll financed by oil receipts. Stop the bombing and the recruits would dry-up; cut off the oil revenue and its fighters would steadily vanish just as have all unpaid soldiers from time immemorial.
Obama's Sunday night speech was mostly an attempt to placate the War Party and the rabid politicians who feast on its lies and depredations. But he at least made an effort near the end to say what we can't do.
He said Washington can't put boots on the ground and the nation can not throw away its liberties in a fit of Islamophobia and hysteria about terrorism. Perhaps his Homeland Security Chief didn't hear the speech or get the memo. Said Jeh Johnson,
“We have moved to an entirely new phase in the global terrorist threat and in our homeland security efforts.” Terrorists have “in effect outsourced attempts to attack our homeland......This requires a whole new approach, in my view.”
Why, yes it does. They way to lessen even the tiny threat of terrorism that now confronts the nation is to stop Washington's imperial interventions and the blowback it so self-evidently fosters.
There is also one other thing that can be done. We might as well recognize that America is an armed camp; that this unfortunate condition does contribute to the fear of wanton terror and violence that pervades the land; that the Second Amendment fetishism of the Right has precious little to do with real liberty; and that the nation would be far better off without its fevered cult of guns.
At last count there were 300 million guns in private hands in the US----114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, 86 million shotguns and some several millions of military-style assault weapons. This means that about 40% of all the known non-military guns in the world are in the hands of our 4% of the planet's population.
No, this insanely huge arsenal is not about hunting----there are probably not even that many ducks, pheasants, rabbits and deer in America. And its not about self-protection of persons and property by amateur gun-toting citizens. That's why we compact for professional police protection.
At the same time, the mere fact of this arsenal does not give rise to the demented psychopaths, racists and whackos who are responsible for the non-jihadist terrorism and mass killings that recur in the nation. It enables it, but sick people do it.
Still, there have been 400,000 gun deaths in America since 9/11. There is a terrible consequence to all this retrogressive championing of guns and right-wing political crusading about one of the constitution's most vestigial features.
Unfortunately, we now have a culture of guns so endemic and an arsenal so immense that no conceivable further gun control laws could make any difference. Its a hopeless cause----even if a 1787 notion of the right to bear arms is a relic of agrarian society.
At the end of the day, the greatest danger to the homeland is the anti-terrorist hysteria of demagogueing domestic politicians. It is the Donald Trumps, and their like and sundry but less bombastic imitators, who threaten our true constitutional liberties of speech, assembly, religion, property and due process.
It is they who do not recognize that further arming the domestic population to combat the foreign barbarism set loose by Washington's war machine is the height of insanity. The Left's ineffectual arm-waving at the Second Amendment is trivial by comparison.