Friday, September 26, 2014


Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton address concerns that

 ISIS is planning a terrorist attack in the city's subway system on Sept. 25 at Union Square.
 Photo: Stephen Yang






(Friday September 26, 2014, NY,NY)  Probably every neighborhood had one when you were growing up; mine did.  There was a kid named John and by 6th grade John was already over 6 feet tall, weighing about 220 pounds and possessed an athletic gracefulness that belied his size.  He was also amazing strong but John was just a little “slow” as was said in those days.  He could have beaten any one of us into a bloody pulp but we always managed to elude him when he was at his angriest.  We could get John to do things for us and, the tacit agreement was that he would leave us alone.  But something always happened, someone always went too far and John would suddenly be on the war path.  No one is certain whatever happened to John.  His family relocated to another neighborhood in The Bronx and we never saw him again.  I was always marveled by just how much crap he would take from us, how much teasing and practical joking before he reached his limit.

In some important ways the United States and our leaders have become like John.  They could decide to bomb specific locales in the Mideast back to the stone age, they can implement all sorts of sanctions, embargoes, as well as more aggressive diplomatic and financial actions but they seem to spend far too much time wandering around as John.  The fundamental problem having the USA as John is that we are allowing ourselves to be lead around by the nose; countries and influences from the other side of the world and the “leaders” in countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and a few of the other “Arab Nations”, have us dangling like a cheap puppet on a string, a string of their control.  It is a troubling time in America to recognize that many in the community of nations do not have the respect they once did for the USA.  Yes, the moral high ground was squandered along with any lingering good will afforded us after 9-11-01 by the Cheney/Bush debacles, but how we got here, to this particular fragile, thorny time, is not pertinent to this discussion.

What is however pertinent is that this Administration seems to believe that they are the puppet masters, that they are pulling the strings orchestrating a clumsy geopolitical fandango where no one knows the rhythm.  To be sure we have not had an effective Department of State since the days of General Colin Powell.  President Obama bears the sole responsibility of choosing Hillary Clinton to be the Secretary of State and only compounded that grievous error when he appointed long time Senator, John Kerry, as her replacement.  Essentially we have been functioning in the world devoid of a consistent, articulated foreign policy and the confusion it allows to seep through the cracks of international relations simply breeds more of the same. 


In a startling act of role reversal, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, warned President Obama that his “intelligence” service had uncovered a plot and that it was the work of extremists originally from the U.S. and France who have been fighting for ISIS. The Prime Minister cited “credible sources” and offered such details that the alleged plots will be strikes on the subway system in NYC and Paris. There is no small irony in this claim.  After over 10 years of combat in Iraq they have a new Prime Minister who is “sharing” intelligence with the United States and France?  Hard to believe but one can imagine why.  With Haider al-Abadi comments he struck the notes most likely to attract attention from the US and France.  With his own battle ravaged country falling apart, he would like to see nothing more than a full out United States led military effort to stabilize Iraq.  Yes, he is pulling the threat of terrorism string.

Since the US led coalition began their latest air campaign designed to “systematically degrade and destroy” ISIL, there has been more intrigue behind the curtain behind which the puppet masters work the strings.  In the wings of that hidden stage are the Saudis, the Turks, the Kurds and of course our most demanding puppet master of all, Israel.  Each of these countries would tell America anything that would instigate a wider war in the region.  It does not take a scholarly diplomat to see what is going on.  Iran is also issuing statements aimed at President Obama to remind him of their presence and influence in Iraq.  Iran was the only real “winner” in the war we fought so valiantly against formidable insurgents and foreign fighters in the towns and cities of Iraq.  Iran has too much of a vested stake in Iraq’s future to allow the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) to hold huge swathes of land, control refineries and pipelines and otherwise stand as an “occupying presence” just as the long suffering people of Iraq were beginning to see light at the end of that tunnel of atrocities, death, and sectarian and religious fighting.


When President Ronald Reagan had successfully negotiated and arms treaty with Michael Gorbachov, the Premier of the USSR, he made a famous comment regarding how the disarmament treaty would be enforced.  Reagan said the only way to accomplish such a historic undertaking was to “Trust But Verify”.  And it was that simple coda that saw us through to the end when the USSR imploded on itself and stood as proof positive that American capitalism was far superior to Soviet socialism.  In the world today, if we are to have any reliable partners in our fight against the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and all the mutant terrorist groups that have emerged in the last 13 years, we must trust but verify.  This comes into play especially when we are fed “intelligence” from countries that, until very recently, wanted nothing to do with us.  

The Saudis have always warranted having a watchful eye aimed at them.  They notoriously play “both sides of the street” as when they banished bin Laden yet allowed him to operate from Afghanistan with access to his sizable fortune.  The Saudis have blocked some of our law enforcement agency’s access to sites where terrorism occurred on their homeland yet have showed a defiant intransigence when asked for military support which is additionally infuriating because we have spent decades and trillions of dollars to train, equip and support the Saudi military.

What we as a City and as a people came to realize in the aftermath of 9-11-01 was that we are alone; we have to do for ourselves what needs to be done.  Foreign allies have no problem assisting in humanitarian efforts, they are willing to provide “fly over” rights, and some have permitted us to use airbases on their soil.  These are all important contributions.  But, until areas of the fiercest fighting have Muslim faces staring down the Islamic State and other groups, we will always be fighting from a point of disadvantage.

Hopefully this bombing campaign over Iraq and Syria yields measurable results in short order.  The term “mission creep” is already being spoken in hushed tones in the corridors of the Pentagon.

A police canine unit patrols the Times Square subway stop on Sept. 25.
Photo: EPA

 New York City and all our elite services from FDNY, PAPD, NYPD, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism Bureaus and all the other special units will keep us safe.  We really have no use for “intelligence” from the Iraqi Prime Minister.  We can just send him a note, “Thanks but no thanks”.

 Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 22, 2014








(Monday September 22, 2014, Washington, DC) If there are any federal officials in the White House and the Secret Service who are concerned with the security of the President, his family, the White House itself and the continuity of government after two security breaches, they should come out from behind whatever bushes they are hiding.  The almost stupefying fact that there could be two serious lapses in security perpetrated by two individual men both within a 24 hour time span, should cause heads to roll and an immediate and thorough investigation and overhaul of the security protocols at the White House and its well-manicured grounds.    How these two illegal incursion onto some of the supposedly “most secured acres” in America leaves some serious questions hanging in sharp relief when held up against reality.  While each event was a different type of threat that they were able to transpire at the White House at all is deeply troubling as well it should be.  President Obama and his family were spending the weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David and were obviously never in danger but did remark that he is “obviously concerned” that these two events happened.  For their part the Secret Service have announced a review of their existing policies, procedures and practices but many in the intelligence and law enforcement community are skeptical that the Secret Service can objectively conduct such a review.


As expanded airstrikes have commenced this week with United states and a handful of allied countries targeting ISIL sites both in Iraq and across the border in Syria, intelligence professionals have been warning of an increased threat to our homeland by those sympathetic to the Islamic State (as ISIL now prefers to be called).  Two of our closest allies, The United Kingdom and Australia have each issued nationwide terrorist threat assessments based on intelligence they have received from multiple and corroborating sources.  The Islamic State has gained a prominence for their utter brutality, ethnic cleansing and their ability to control large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.  They control pipelines and refineries the proceeds from which are used to advance their military arsenal and cause.  Some in the international intelligence and counter terrorism community have repeatedly warned that the “Islamic State is like no other terrorist group we have ever seen before”.   One of the realities of the Islamic State that most troubles intelligence experts is that they have been able to recruit to their ranks young men and some women with
western” passports; the kind of passports that are unlikely to draw attention or increased scrutiny at an American airport.  While there is no way to accurately account for the number of westerners who have joined the cause, most conservative estimates place the number between 160 and 200 individuals and, perhaps, as many as 50 from the United States.

The Islamic State has been the first terrorist organization with a viable global reach to attract adherents and foreign fighters to their cause.  The major concern is that these westerners who have traveled to the war zones in Iraq and Syria might be able to return to their home countries with at least some rudimentary skills in bomb making.  Some believe that the training these westerners are receiving is far more advanced than crude bomb making and that they may be plotting and planning from abroad until they are dispatched back home to perpetrate a lethal mission.

Given this sobering assessment of the current fight against terrorism, it is even more jaw-dropping that a 42 year old man from Texas, an Iraq War veteran, Omar Luis Gonzalez, was able to scale the perimeter fence around the White House and gain entry into the residency before being tackled by uniformed officers of the Secret Service.  He was armed with a knife at the time of his arrest and a later search of his car uncovered 800 rounds of ammunition and y several types of heavy bladed weapons.  Mr. Gonzalez could have been packing an improvised explosive device or some other weapon that could have resulted in a serious loss of life, damage to the White House and world-wide embarrassment for our federal government, the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies who share jurisdiction in Washington, DC.


Just two weeks ago we marked the tragic 13 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  It was in the wake of that colossal debacle by our CIA, DIS, DOD, FBI, INS and the entire host of federal agencies, individually and collectively, that we realized all too clearly the depth of their ineptitude, dysfunction, and lack of cooperation.   
They, all of them, allowed 9-11-01 to happen.  For all the talk of how much safer we are today, we open the weekend newspaper and see that two intruders attempted to gain access to the White House.  Yes, Mr. Gonzalez did penetrate far beyond  the security perimeter and how he was able to manage that feat will be an important aspect of the after action reports and review.

The second individual intent on getting onto the White House grounds was a 19 year old New Jersey man named Kevin Carr.  He drove into the White House entryway at 15th and E streets and removed to move his automobile.  The uniformed guards at that point of entry were able to diffuse the situation in short order.  Mr. Carr was unarmed and posed no serious threat at any time during the episode.  But both of these events beg the most serious of questions and, the American public will not get answers anytime soon.  Now that committee’s and subcommittees in Congress have promised to have a charade of hearings and political showmanship, it is safe to say we may never have a reasonable explanation for what happened here last weekend.


By noon time this Wednesday there will be 193 diplomatic delegations here including 140 heads of state. These world leaders including our President will gather at the UN for its annual General Assembly.  While providing security for this week long event has always been a challenge, a challenge that NYPD has met and perfected over decades, the chaos in the world makes this particular General Assembly that much more potentially volatile both in and outside the UN.  The usual hordes of demonstrators are expected and some of the “Occupy Wall Street” group has already assembled.  Yesterday, New York City played host to upwards of 400,000 marchers for environmental issues.  Despite the enormous, sprawling throng, there were fewer than 100 arrests and the march was generally peaceful.  Of course the UN attracts demonstrators from far afield and has always been considered a “top terrorist target” by the NYPD Intelligence and Counter Terrorism Bureau’s.  Monumental precautions are taken to protect the Assembly at the UN plaza as well as at the various Embassies and Consulates where the delegations will be housed for the duration when not in session.  This can be a logistical nightmare for everyone but this year the inconveniences might be even more stringent than in the past.  


It is far too easy and usually ignorantly arrogant to complain about the small inconveniences cause the general public during the week of the General Assembly.  But, if New Yorker’s could put aside their own hassles and stop to recognize that the uppermost leadership of most of the countries on the earth are visiting our City to conduct business, the inconveniences, real and imagined, should shrivel up and blow away.  We New Yorkers know what it is like to sustain a terrorist attack and, if we all take a moment to see the threats various delegations bring with them to our City, we might not get so aggravated and feel so aggrieved.

If there was a singular lesson to be learned by our government and military after 9-11-01 it was that the broad oceans that define our coasts, that the vast distances that have always separated us from the turmoil of the wider world have no significance today.  The hallmark of asymmetrical warfare is for a lowly party of committed minds working diligently to bring death and destruction to our shores and, for most of these groups; “our shores” are defined by the coastal and inland targets contained within our Five Boroughs.


In many ways tonight is just another routine night for the men and women, the rank and file Officers who patrol out streets, subways, housing projects and all points in between.  They will deal on this night, be they assigned to the ass end of Brooklyn or the farthest reaches of The Bronx as they do every other night day in, day out , 365 days a year.  For many the events that will transpire tomorrow at the United Nations are just another ‘detail’ to make a few overtime bucks.  Some Cops will work barrier detail while others will provide conventional means of protection and security prepared for every and any contingency. 

There are precious few certainties in life particularly in a Cops life but one such certainty will nag on every Cop’s conscientiousness until this travelling road show ends and all the international players return to their homelands.  The specter of terrorism was forged in all of our minds on February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001.  The world has not been and never will be the same as it was prior to those atrocities.  After the death and destruction perpetrated on OUR soil, in Lower Manhattan on a glorious September morning 13 years ago, the “game” has changed; the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been.

The citizens and high profile visitors who will go to sleep tonight in our City do so peacefully as far as their own mortality and is concerned.  Heads of State from the world over can rest comfortably and confident that the fine men and women of the NYPD stand as sentinels, as protective human shields between them and all those who’s designs are to do them harm. In a more better world, dare we not say a “perfect world”, everyone, be they diplomat or dishwasher, bus driver or emissary, would take comfort in the fact that they are protected and that men and women who’s domain is the night endeavor to keep our City safe, sane, and secure.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Roger Goodell, the embattled NFL Commissioner.
Can he survive the raging firestorm of scandal?





(Sunday September 21, 2014 East Rutherford, NJ) There is no small irony in having the NFL and some of its most powerful sponsors suddenly be vaulted to the status of social arbiters and morality guides for America.  The self-serving, sanctimonious, public apologies, and efforts at damage control expose the League for what it really is in today’s America, in our culture and that is gargantuan money making monopoly that has long been able to make and break the rules of their own construct.  Football has become King in the Pantheon of American sports  

For many years there was a prominent axiom thought to be a societal truth regarding the prevalence of domestic violence.  So pervasive was this belief that it made its way into Trivial Pursuit games back in the 1980’s.  The axiom, which has long since been proven to be more urban myth than factual truth was that Super Bowl Sunday’s were the singular days when the most incidents of domestic violence occurred.  This “fact” was allegedly supported by police calls responding to domestic abuse cases, a spike in women showing up in emergency rooms with injuries sustained from a domestic violence incident, and some very poor pseudo-science that was simply unsubstantiated.  Part of this erroneous equation was based on the “fact”, another axiom actually promoted by beer and alcoholic beverage companies, was that more alcohol was purchased and consumed on the big day than at any other day of the year.  Perhaps there is some modicum of truth to this latter point although given the inexorable link between alcohol consumption and spectator sporting events from the collegiate level to the professional, unscientifically examined it makes sense.

The crowds gathered here today for this all important Giants face off against the Texans certainly consumed a substantial amount of alcohol.  The pre-game rituals emblematic of tailgating are usually drink-a-thons be they at college or professional games.  More stringent laws on and off campuses as well as at professional sporting venues have put a dent in some of the most egregious alcohol-related behavior some of which are significant public health concerns.  Still, alcohol and sports in America go hand in hand and between the $10 billion NFL and the country’s largest brewers and distillers, theirs is a match made in corporate revenue heaven. 


By now there is probably not a person in America, NFL fan or not, who is unaware of the recent controversies that several high profile incidents of domestic or child abuse among current NFL players.  Some of these episodes are more disturbing than others.  It seems that an oversized component of this cluster of controversy is more directed at the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his handling of these now notorious events.   Goodell’s inconsistent and clumsy, tone-deaf responses to the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases, just to name two of the highest profile among a rogues gallery of other quick-fisted players alleged to have struck wives or girlfriends, created a backlash that obviously caught the Commissioner, the League and the affected teams by complete surprise.  This was a surprise given how protective the League is about its multi-billion dollar brand.  Once the levee of controversy was breeched, it was not a flood of outrage from within the NFL that caused the Commissioner to put harsher sanctions on the accused players, it was a matter damage control, it was then a full-out effort at public relations and those measures were seen as just that; cosmetic maneuvers meant to burnish a tarnishing image.  But that is what large corporations do; crisis management.

Among the many parallel story lines were the reactions of some of the Leagues and individual franchises most vested corporate sponsors.  Theirs were the natural reactions of those guilty by association; they needed to distance themselves from specific teams and athletes in an effort to preserve the vast revenue streams they enjoy.  But, like the League, their efforts dripped with the whitewash of insincerity. 

Among the first sponsors to express displeasure with how the NFL was dealing with the negative effects of the poorly handled scandals was the brewing giant Anheuser-Busch.  Reports indicate that the St. Louis based brewery has a $12 billion 10 year sponsorship contract with the NFL.  Anheuser-Busch was the largest of the Leagues sponsors to issue a public statement in support of the League adopting stricter sanctions for players convicted of domestic abuse and also announced they’d launch a domestic violence “awareness” campaign while making significant donations to organizations that provide help and support for domestic violence victims.  All of this quite naturally is nothing more than public relations gestures.  Anheuser-Busch has an enormously lucrative and vested interest as being the “official beer” of the NFL.  In most NFL stadiums Budweiser, the most recognizable of the Anheuser-Busch product lines is sold exclusively.

If either the NFL or any of its sponsors such as Anheuser-Busch had ever been concerned about domestic violence before this time perhaps they would have spent some money and bought some commercial time during NFL games when public service announcements (PSA) would be aired calling attention to the issue.  Even during all the years the urban legend about the surge of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday was taken as true, neither the League nor any of its sponsors for that matter, spent a dime advocating against violence in the home towards women and children.  The NFL and Anheuser-Busch have enjoyed an extremely profitable symbiotic relationship for many years. 

Other big time corporate sponsors of the NFL and specific teams including Proctor & Gamble, Radisson Hotels, GMC, Subway, Papa John’s and  Gatorade just to mention of few of the most recognizable.  Some NFL players including talented running backs like Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson also have individual multi-million dollar endorsement deals with companies ranging from sports equipment and apparel powerhouses Nike and Adidas, as well as sports memorabilia dealers and local interests in the cities where their teams are based.  Once the venerable NFL realized they had a full blown image crisis on their hands and that billions of sponsorship dollars might be in jeopardy they launched in earnest their efforts to “protect the shield”, the logo of the NFL.


It has been more than a little discordant listening to some of the NFL’s recent rhetoric.  Given their first response to the Ray Rice case and subsequent events, reactions and clumsy footwork since, the mixed messages emerging have been difficult to decipher.  The NFL has always claimed to have a “code of conduct” their athletes must uphold while simultaneously treating them as high priced thoroughbreds; on some teams as interchangeable pieces on a 100 yard long chessboard, disposable and of worth only in what they can do on Sunday afternoon for 16 weeks of the year.  Yes, this is the nature of all sports from the big time powerhouse collegiate perennial winners, the NFL and other professional Leagues.  But football is a very different game than basketball, baseball, or hockey.  It is a brutal sport and when played at the professional level it is a game of supremely physically gifted athletes blessed with God given talents honed to a fine razors edge by year round conditioning, training, and discipline.

The overwhelming majority of NFL players are law abiding and have never had so much as a minor brush with the law.  Actually, the rate of arrests for NFL’ers when compared to a similar age demographic is far below what it is for young men in general.  This latest statistic was compiled long before this recent rash of scandals.  Not only are these young men expected to perform at a  high level on Sunday, they are expected to abide by the League's code of conduct as codified in a rather lengthy handbook that spells out the rules to avoid some of the off the field perils young instantly famous millionaires have fallen prey to for decades.

One of the more interesting concepts for NFL players to ponder is that of being a “role model”.  This ambiguous distinction is easily understood on the field of play in the form of good sportsmanship and dedication to the game in the gym, film room and training facility.  It becomes less well defined when applied to a player’s personal life.  Yes, many NFL players run charitable non-profit organizations, donate generously to certain causes and otherwise enjoy good standing in their communities.  But of course there is the darker more perilous side to be a young, rich and suddenly famous professional athlete in a big city.  There is the nightlife, the club scene, the groupies, latchers-on, and all sorts of hustlers, charlatans, crooks, and predators seeking only to separate the player from his new found wealth.  Some navigate these shark infested waters better than others but the stories are legion about how many players get sucked into deals and find themselves broke at the end of their playing career.

Part of the problem is how society treats talented young athletes virtually from the time they first demonstrate superior athletic potential.  The coddling of young athletes begins sometimes before high school and these athletes grow up in rarefied air.  Collegiate scouts now begin seeking raw recruits while they are still in high school and via a number of scouting indexes and ranking metrics, rate some of the best high school athletes before they’ve ever shaved.  There seems to be a correlation suggested in how a young athlete develops and relates to the world when from such an early age he receives glowing accolades and praise for what he can do on the football field.  In some profound way the young boys that live in these protective bubbles of athletic renown do not develop all of the social skills that a mature life requires.  This can be manifest in many ways and certainly can influence their relationships with and attitudes towards girls and women.  This is not an excuse for domestic abuse, battery or child neglect and endangerment: not in any way.  However, to simply dismiss it as a side issue without relevance is to ignorantly ignore an inconvenient truth.


For generations the slow-paced, easily understood game of baseball was considered our “National Pastime”.  Somewhere along the way, likely more related to demographics tilting to the younger coupled with our increasingly aggressive culture, the much rougher, “tougher” game of football steadily arose to be the most popular spectator sport in America, hands down.  We found a game to suit our blustery self-imagine and revel in its ferocity.  Each drive, every possession of the ball could change everything.  Each game completed with a victory was just another momentary achievement in a much longer campaign.  There is always next week. 

In no other sport are rivalries fiercer; fans in one city despise those from a rival’s city, at least on game day, as do warring factions bent by their own allegiance and loyalty.  Putting aside some of the more tattered old analogies about this game, it remains fair to say that our brand of football - NFL Football  - transcends much of what sports in general engender in a fan.  Cities are defined by teams, not the other way around.  Fan bases are known as “Nations” as in “Raider Nation” or “Giants Nation”.   

Let’s face it, we are a violent people.  We are a crude, course, aggressive, society swimming in a culture that awards, rewards and celebrates violence in all its myriad forms.  It permeates every aspect of our culture in all forms of entertainment from movies to computer games.  We talk a good game of in-your-face kick ass but shy away from the truth or try to masquerade it by packaging it in the name of sports and competition.  But the truth, the nasty truth cannot be obscured, hidden, or painted over.  The truth is on display 24/7 from coast to coast in every segment and strata of our diverse and disparate society.

We are Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Cops, Lock-up, truTV, Jackass, reality program addicted voyeurs. We are WWE smack down, body slamming, chair throwing, foul-mouthed buffoons.  We are MMA knock out, choke out, knock your teeth out, tap out, ground and pound, bare-knuckle, street, cage and ‘ghetto’ fighting crowds cheering for blood and guts with gusto equal to Romans at the Coliseum.

And then we have our valued and vaunted NFL, our most revered spectator sport, football – American Football.  None of that hands-off soccer bullshit for us; no siree.  We are blindsiding, shoot the gaps, blitzing, man-on-man coverage junkies on game day. With mouths agape, beer in hand with our kids in the other room playing Grand Theft Auto on the latest digital device honing their marksmanship skills and becoming increasingly desensitized, we wait for the next late hit, quarterback sack, crack back, bell-ringing, head shot, take him down at the knees, brain rattling run up the middle.  And, in many ways there is nothing inherently wrong with this.  Football played on the NFL level is something to behold, the physical abilities of the men who earn their living as professional football players are nothing short of amazing.


There are some prognosticators, pundits and observers forecasting that this time may be a seminal “watershed” moment for the NFL as we know it. This is not likely to be the “beginning of the end” for the NFL any more than scandals that have plagued sports from baseball to boxing in the past.  Yes, the NFL will undergo and extensive image repairing campaign, donate lavishly to all the “right” causes, say all the politically correct buzzwords and the game will go on without missing a stride.  The NFL just like the power banks on Wall Street is simply “too big to fail”. 

The League has already made several announcements regarding where they go from here with their policies about domestic abuse.  They have hired a four women panel as ad hoc advisory committee whose effectiveness may not be accessible for some time to come. The megabuck sponsors will flock back once the coast is clear.  The pot is far too broad and deep to keep them from getting their cut of the revenue stream.  Business will return to business until the next scandalous episode.

 Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved