It’s been three weeks since my last Weekend Update post, and not because there hasn’t been news that didn’t make it into each week’s Friday Five that I might want to comment on, nor news that broke after I’d finished that week’s post, nor big updates to stories I’m commented and/or ranted on before. All of those things were happening, but my energy (particularly my writing energy) was all directed elsewhere.
Since this is the final weekend in 2020, I am tempted to make it an epic one in some way. There were certainly a few stories that have been frequent targets of my commentary (and sometimes snark) that had some big developments toward the end of this year. But first I’m going to jump in a story that fits the category that made me create my very first Weekend Update post: a bit news event that would have been in the Friday Five if it had happened just hours earlier!
Police: Explosion in downtown Nashville is intentional, 41 businesses damaged.
Downtown Nashville explosion knocks communications offline – Human remains found.
Okay, so early Christmas morning several 911 calls came in reporting gunshots in a particular part of downtown Nashville. By the time police arrived, loud speakers inside an old RV parked on a street started broadcasting a warning to evacuate because I bomb was going to explode soon. Police started evacuating people from nearby building. The bomb squad set up a perimeter, and then approximately a half hour after the recording started playing, the RV exploded.
The next story is worth skimming, but the headline falls into, IMHO the “water is wet” category: Expert weighs in on Nashville explosion, says bombing ‘not a spur of the moment thing’. Obviously. Building a bomb takes some time. Installing speakers and some sort of either timed or remote-controlled recording device to play back the message. One (and only one) news article I read said that the voice in the recording sounded like it was electronically distorted. Since the only place I have found video that includes audio warned that the video also includes the explosion, which I don’t particularly want to watch, I can’t say.
Anyway, all of those details were known immediately after the explosion, and one doesn’t have to be an expert to deduce that this wasn’t an impulsive act. All of that takes some planning and work beforehand. Then there is this: Mysterious Twitter Account Posts Video Showing Nashville Bomb Warning and Explosion
. Someone created that twitter account on the day of the explosion, and the only thing the account has uploaded is a single video recording that captures the recording message and the explosion. If this was done by the person(s) who made the bomb, it’s more evidence that this was planned.
I’ve seen people ask if this is terrorism, and the pedantic answer is, “probably.” But that’s because the definition of a terrorist attack is “the calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular objective.” An explosion is violence, and by itself might create fear. But when you add in the gunshots (or gunshot sounds) leading to 911 calls to lure police to the area, the recorded announcement, the posting of the video, and all the other details, those are the parts that show a calculated attempt to create a climate of fear. Without those elements—if the RV had just blown up, we could be debating for a long time whether the bomb had been meant to detonate at that time and place, for instance, or if it was just some fuckwit who was transporting some poorly-built explosives somewhere (perhaps to sell to another fuckwit) and the RV exploded on accident.
Unfortunately, for a lot of people, the word “terrorism” is applied only to acts of violence preformed by specific types of people, so if what you mean when you ask is it terrorism is whether those heretics in a particular nation or whatever are responsible, that’s completely unknown at the moment.
On the other hand, the time and place chosen, plus the warning, may indicate the bombers probably didn’t want to kill any innocent people. The bomber may have been inside the RV, and the bombing was less about creating a climate of fear and more about a person committing suicide and wanting that suicide to make a statement.
Now, people are looking for more RVs: ‘Suspicious RV’ spotted in Cincinnati forces cops to close streets after ‘Nashville bomb’ – but ‘no incident’ found.
I have been careful not to link to any posts or articles or op-ed pieces that speculate about the specific motives of the bomber, or identifying the person(s) involved with any particular political or idealogical group. Because I remember back when the DC Sniper was terrorizing the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area that a number of very smart people (some personal acquaintances) proclaimed very emphatically that the sniper was associated with particular foreign groups and obviously had to be operating out of a sophisticated set of safe houses previously set up. Which was all absolutely and categorically wrong.
One of the reasons a lot of the commenters got it wrong then is because after the first few incidents, police would talk about how quickly they got each area cordoned off and set up check points, but still hadn’t caught the responsible parties. Relying on that information was a bad idea for several reasons: 1) there was no way to know if the police really got each cordon set up before a person could have driven away, 2) there was no way to know if the cordons had really closed off every road, and 3) the police were all looking for the wrong thing.
Note that on number three I don’t say “the police might have been looking for the wrong thing.” Because we now know there was no maybe about it. Because several people reported a white van or box truck driving rapidly away from one of the first shooting sights, cops were looking for people in a white van or truck. And even though they stopped and talked to the drivers of all the other vehicles, each cop was looking for whatever he or she defined as suspicious. And apparently no one’s definition of suspicious was a 41-year-old ex-marine driving a 12-year-old blue Chevy sedan.
Anyway, back to the Nashville bombing: CBS News: Person-of-interest identified in Nashville bombing and FBI at home of possible person of interest in Nashville bomb. This person who lives (or lived) in a Nashville suburb owned an RV that was at least similar to the one that exploded. A Google Maps image from 2019 shows that the RV was parked on the property at the time. AP reporters note that the spot the RV used to be parked in is empty, and the investigators are searching the house and grounds.
Even if it was this guy’s RV (and there must be thousands of RVs out there of the basic make and model, so who knows), we don’t yet know if he was involved. Maybe he put the RV up on Craigslist some time ago and sold it, for instance.
If he was involved, did he pick the neighborhood to place the bomb because of a personal grudge rather than a political reason? Was he inside it at the time? Did he set up the twitter account that posted the video? At this point, we don’t know. I hope we do know, soon. And I hope the authorities figure it out before anyone else gets hurt.
Now let’s look at things that I decided to leave out of the Friday Five.
Trump puts dead Confederate traitors ahead of pay raise for troops because of course he does. The man is totally incapable of any empathy, and he cares nothing about anyone who is hurt by his actions other than himself.
And lest you forget that the pussy-grabber is not an anomaly, he’s not the only one putting a personal agenda above the duty to serve the public: Congress scrambles to avert shutdown after Trump’s stimulus demands – House Republicans broke with the president over providing $2,000 in stimulus checks to Americans.
I apparently can’t escape 2020 without at least one more update about Jerry Falwell, Jr. I’ve written about Falwell’s sex scandal and shady million-dollar real estate gifts many, many times. And I’ve tried most of those times to point out that the reasons those things are worth paying attention to is that as part of the scheme to get rid of a blackmailer, Falwell agreed to endorse the pussy-grabber for President, swinging evangelical support from other Republican candidates to the grifter-in-chief just before the crucial Iowa Causcus, as well as the fact that these multi-million dollar deals he has gifted to the pool boys and trainers involved in the sex scandals are subsidized by taxpayer money (just as his private jet and lavish lifestyle is subsidized by taxpayer money) because it all comes as part of compensation from the various religious non-profit organizations he had, until very recently, been in charge of.
And we have a bit more evidence to back that up: A Trump executive order set the stage for Falwell’s political activities – By discouraging investigations of religious organizations, Trump appeared to clear the way for Liberty University to spend millions on his own causes.
The article is worth the read. I really hope that this executive order is one Joe Biden’s list of those to reverse right away. If the IRS started investigating all the rich conservatives that they have been ignoring, it would almost certainly bring in far more money in unpaid back taxes and tax fraud than the investigations cost. And maybe we’d send some more of these awful people to prison.
I can dream can’t I?
I want to end this on something very silly:
KFC launches game console that keeps your chicken warm. That’s right, Kentucky Fried Chicken teamed up with a hardware maker to manufacture a gaming computer that is sorta kinda maybe if you squint shaped like a bucket of chicken and has a compartment where you can theoretically stick a piece of chicken in to keep warm while you play.
I foresee absolutely no downsides to this idea…