Monday, November 29, 2010

Music Video Monday: Jermaine Jackson

This week's music video is inspired by the idiot who thought he was going to blow up "Portland's Livingroom" on Friday evening for the Christmas Tree lighting. That's right, Jermaine Jackson's 1980s hit "Dynamite" is the perfect song for a blog post on the surprising news that the liberal People's Republic of Portland was targeted in a terrorist plot.

I actually thought about going downtown to the tree lighting ceremony. If I still lived downtown, I likely would have gone, but since I live so far from downtown, I got lazy (it means waiting for the bus in the cold and then riding for 45 minutes). For those who haven't heard the news, the FBI had intercepted electronic communications with a young Somali man who went to school at Oregon State University in Corvallis (about an hour and fifteen minute drive south from Portland). The disturbed young man, Muhamed Osman Muhamud, wanted to activate a car bomb at the Christmas tree lighting, killing and injuring as many people as possible, because in his mind, Oregonians apparently don't take the terrorist threat too seriously. He had ideas of committing an act of terrorism since the age of 15 and had contacted people in Pakistan to become a jihadist. Thanks to our government's surveillance program, they were able to read his emails and have an agent pretend to be the contact person to set the sting operation up.

Seeing the picture, you have to feel sorry for the moron. He looks young. Maybe he was one of those victims of bullies when he resettled in the U.S. If anything, he needed the help of a psychologist, not to be "entrapped" by our intelligence agency. He was simply a mouse being toyed with by the clever cat before chowing down.

I happened to watch the news on Friday night because I was curious to see what the reports of Black Friday would reveal. I'm almost too ashamed to admit it, but I love reading about and seeing video footage of crazy shoppers stampeding the doors of big box stores upon opening hours. Its a reminder of how sick and twisted our fellow country folk are: trampling over each other just to be the first to get at the big sales item! Its capitalistic consumerism at its ugliest.

Confession...I did indulge in my first early morning shopping ritual this past Black Friday. I did not intend to do so, but I saw an ad that Best Buy and Fred Meyers were both selling DVDs of Mad Men for $9.99 each. I was stunned. This is my favourite show, so at that price, of course I wanted all three seasons! I just had to go. Best Buy was the easiest to get to (a short bus ride to the MAX station, several MAX stops south, and across the street), so I went there, though I was an hour after it had opened. I worried that my trip would have been for nothing. I saw a few copies of Seasons 2 and 3 available, so I grabbed them and looked around. I was stunned by how many people were in the store at six in the morning. I've never done the early morning thing because I usually never get up that early. I also saw The Hurt Locker for $9.99, so I got that film as well. The line was super long, but I didn't mind because I had brought along the book I couldn't put down (The Politician by Andrew Young. Review is coming this week). Some annoying ladies were behind me yakking about boring subjects. Then I overheard the girl say that she wished that she had brought a book along like the guy in front of her did (that would be me!). I always have a book (or two) with me wherever I go.

When I got close to the cash register, I saw a section of the store I had missed, where they had cardboard display stands with even more copies of Mad Men. I debated whether or not to get out of line to see if they had season 1 available. This is where being alone sucks. I thought about asking someone to see if they could get season 1 for me, but I didn't want to impose on people's shopping sprees. I figured that I'll see season 1 on sale somewhere someday, or a used copy.

After paying for my DVDs, I was out of there and back on the MAX to the bus. Total time gone: two hours! Total amount spent: $34 (I had also bought a DVD of The Pelican Brief for less than $5). If the typical shopper had my Black Friday spending habits, the corporations would hate us!

Anyhow, Friday evening, when I watched the news, the anchors got into their serious voice and used overly dramatic language. The teaser ads for the 11 o'clock news were manipulative. They said that a major terrorist attack had been thrwarted in downtown Portland. I nearly dropped my pumpkin pie upon hearing the news. WHAT?!? A terrorist attack in Portland? That's crazy! In the news segment, they took their time before they revealed that it was a sting operation and that no one who attended the event was in any real danger. It made me mad that the news was so deliberately deceptive in how they initially reported it. I was also mad that the FBI would use all those people attending the event as bait to trap a disturbed young man into attempting to commit an act of terrorism. He didn't even know how to build a bomb, so the undercover FBI agent had a fake one set up in a van that was parked near the square. All the would-be terrorist had to do was use a cell phone to "detonate" it, which he tried twice before he got arrested and taken away.

As I read the story online, I was disturbed by the whole thing. I'm not a fan of entrapment, though I can understand why its done. However, I believe an opportunity was missed in this act of entrapment. By pretending to be part of the jihad, the undercover agent spent months talking with the would-be terrorist, allowing him to make plans and come up with ways to carry out his plans. How better would have been if the young man was mentored into a more creative, and positive pursuit? If an FBI agent met someone who was planning to commit suicide, would they be a genuine friend or help them plan out the suicide? What the FBI did here immediately brought to mind Minority Report, where people are prevented from committing murder, arrested, and imprisoned indefinitely. All based on the idea in their minds. As Prince once sang in one of his songs from the Batman soundtrack: "If a man is considered guilty for what goes on in his mind then give me the electric chair for all my future crimes."

When I saw the picture of the guy, what comes to my mind immediately is "disturbed", "confused", "victim of bullies." If anyone needed a mentor to steer him in the right direction, he is it. Instead, he faces possible rendition, GITMO, secret military trials, torture, life in prison, or even death. He probably regrets being led into making the worst mistake of his life. Like I said above, he was no match for a bureau that has buildings full of statistics and behaviour profiles on every personality type. He was a mouse being played with before becoming dinner to the clever cats. I wonder how those FBI agents sleep at night. There is a difference between apprehending a terrorist attack in the planning stages or infiltrating a terrorist cell ... and pretending to be a contact in Pakistan to lead a not too bright resettled refugee into planning a terrorist attack that he had no bomb-making skills to achieve.

Because this incident was not kept confidential, we were bound to get news of redneck morons exacting revenge out of their own ignorance and hatred. On Saturday night or early Sunday morning, the mosque in Corvallis was set on fire, though fire fighters were able to put the blaze out and save nearly all of the building (save for one office). The mosque was one that this young terrorist-wannabe attended occasionally. Weird how conservatives always blame the group for the actions of the individual. Its the number one characteristic of conservatives that I dislike (the group mentality, as you can see in many areas. For example, in conservative religious views, God always punishes the group for the sins of the individual, like some Boot Camp Drill Instructor in the Sky. Drop, humans! Give me 50 push-ups before I send y'all to hell because heathen Nick is questioning religion again!). Hopefully the arsonist will be caught so we can post his picture everywhere and make an example of him.

The entrepeneur in me wants to silkscreen T-shirts to sell that would say: "I almost had a blast in Portland for Thanksgiving 2010!" But my sense of humour might be taken the wrong way by uptight, politically correct, humourless ladies who don't get "gallows humour" or snarky irony and biting sarcasm. Welcome to the Portland, where you can be arrested for committing a thoughtcrime!

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