Politicians Say The Darndest Things

One of a continuing series


Who is the most recent politician saying the darndest things? How about Congressman Steve King representing the Iowa 4th District? Here is what he had to say recently:

While chatting today with Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News, Rep. Steve King took issue with the claim that the mounting hostility to refugees is undermining American values. The Iowa Republican said that “the argument that ‘that’s not who we are’ is just one of the mantras that they put out, it’s not supported by logic or rationale.”

“Who we are? We should not be a suicidal nation,” King said. “My wife said this morning, ‘If you had 100 grapes and you knew that two of them were fatally poisonous, would you sit there and eat the grapes until one of them killed you? Or would you decide, I’m not going to take that bunch of grapes at all?’ That’s what we’re dealing with here with the Syrian refugees.”

This is, of course, interesting logic. Pause for a moment to review a bit of irony:

WASHINGTON, March 14 [1989]
Food stores around the country pulled tons of grapes and other fresh fruit from their shelves today as the Food and Drug Administration broadened its investigation of a possible attempt to poison Chilean produce with cyanide.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it had joined the inquiry, which has so far turned up traces of the poison in a small batch of grapes shipped last month from Chile to Philadelphia.

There have been no reports of death or illness from Chilean fruit.

To be sure, Congressman King did not have this particular incident in mind when he made his remarks. It is possible he had in mind the image at the top of this post. That image is from the Facebook site titled Political Correctness Gone Wild.


Supposedly all of this is about political correctness, popularized as “PC.” PC is supposed to be a poke at overly ingratiating politeness—specifically, politeness where politeness is not due. What often happens is that opponents of something wholly pragmatic stick on the PC label to knock off some of the shine. It’s apparent in this instance that is what is happening.

A cold look at the matter of the Syrian refugees reveals some inconvenient facts. See additional details from The Christian Post:

  • The vetting process for refugees, including those from Syria, appears to be comprehensive and as exhaustive as can be made.
  • “The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001.” “[T]hree resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities — and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.”
  • “About 70 percent of refugees who participate in employment-training no longer need public assistance six months after resettling.

But, back to the poisoned grapes. Can I promise Congressman King that no Syrian refugee accepted under the current plan will commit crimes in this country or even plot terrorism. I cannot, and I do not need to. Further, I will guarantee that based on reliable population statistics, some will eventually run afoul of the law, and some will even be convicted of homicide while living in this country.

Does Congressman King want to keep people out of this country on the off chance, credible or not, they will pose a threat? He needs to think again. Such a restriction would have trapped any number of conservative Americans:


This undated photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office shows Eddie Ray Routh, who was charged with killing former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff's Office, File)

This undated photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office shows Eddie Ray Routh, who was charged with killing former Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff’s Office, File)

Knock Knock. These were your neighbors.

We are not finished with politicians saying the darndest things. Keep reading.

Dawn with Thunder

It was twenty years ago today. We were working for a company in Richardson on a project involving electronic warfare, and we were out on the company lot running some tests with a bunch of military equipment and vehicles when somebody brought the word.

“This has Middle East terrorism written all over it,” David informed us back in the office. He was keyed into a right wing outlet. David was that kind of guy.

As it turned out, and quickly, the only Middle East connection was a pair of soldiers recently back from the Middle East. Timothy McVeigh had served with distinction in the recently concluded Gulf War. This was a war waged by several nations and led by the United States military. Saddam Hussein’s forces had been routed completely and in utter disaster. The conflict provided a new definition for the term “lopsided.”

McVeigh came away with not so much a sense pride at his accomplishments as with distress at the ruthlessness of some of our military’s actions. Further events hardened his perspective.

In February 1993, under a new administration, the ATF went gung ho in a raid on a religious compound that was seen as a growing threat to public safety. Government agents and combatants in the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, were slaughtered at the start of the botched operation. There ensued a siege of several weeks, and on 19 April of that year, when the feds began to make their move to end the siege, the religious fanatics, under the leadership of a person named Vernon Howell, torched the buildings, killing nearly everybody inside.

One of those who escaped the flames was Kathy Schroeder, and she was ultimately charged with crimes committed by the cult. Lawyer for the defendants was Linda Thompson:

Linda Thompson (April 26, 1953 – May 10, 2009) was an American attorney, filmmaker, and the founder of the American Justice Federation. In 1993, she quit her job as a lawyer in Indianapolis, Indiana to start the American Justice Federation, a non-profit group that promoted pro-gun and pro-Constitution causes through a shortwave radio program, a computer bulletin board system, and sales of its newsletter and videos.

A video Thompson produced is titled Waco, The Big Lie.


The video, narrated by Thompson, uses the background story of the Branch Davidians and the ATF raid along with selectively edited clips from news media and other sources to paint a distorted interpretation of the tragedy. My copy of the video is about third hand, obtained from Joe Voelkering, former president of The North Texas Skeptics and also a forensic analyst who worked on the case. The following image is from my copy of the video.


Linda Thompson’s narration accompanying this segment leaves no doubt about the message she wants to convey:

The following footages proves beyond any doubt that the tanks intentionally set the house on fire. It proves that the Branch Davidians were murdered.  Watch carefully as the tank backs out of the house. You can see that this tank has a gas jet on the front that shoots fire. You can also see the fire quite plainly. The tank goes into the house twice, and each time as it backs out the fire at the gas jet is plainly visible.

Copies of the video are available on-line, including YouTube.

What is significant is that at the time of the Branch Davidian siege Timothy McVeigh traveled to the site to observe and to proclaim his anti-government position. Michelle Ann Rauch, a television reporter, later testified about seeing McVeigh there:

Q. Is that a photograph that you took in March of 1993 near
Mt. Carmel?
A. I took this photograph, yes.
MR. NIGH: Your Honor, I’d move for the admission of PP61.
MR. GOELMAN: No objection.
THE COURT: Received.
Q. Please tell us, Ms. Rauch, what it is that’s depicted there.
A. This is how I found Mr. McVeigh, when I walked up on the hill. He was sitting on the hood of his car with some bumper stickers that were for
Q. Did you speak to Mr. McVeigh?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. At that point in time?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And did you examine the bumper stickers that he had there?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. Let me show you, if I may, what’s been marked for identification as
Defendant’s Exhibit PP7. It should be on the screen in front of you. Do
you recognize what’s depicted there?
A. Yes, this is another photograph that I took of the bumper stickers on
the hood of the car.
Q. Did you take them on the same day —
A. Yes.
Q. — that you saw Mr. McVeigh?
A. Yes.

My recollection is that Timothy McVeigh obtained a copy of the Linda Thompson video and watched it as many as 50 times. He evidently became convinced Thompson’s version of the events was true, and this hardened his resolve to carry out a vengeance attack against the government. His attraction to right-wing religious groups, such as the The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord was significant:

Timothy McVeigh was tied to several radical religious organizations, however, McVeigh was not yet exposed to the charismatic messages of these groups in his early teen youth and was just joining the Army when the CSA compound was besieged and broken up. Also, the Oklahoma City bombing occurred very close to the 10-year anniversary of the siege of the CSA compound. But the most plausible link is that Richard Wayne Snell, who was executed on the day of the bombing, had planned a similar attack on the Murrah building in 1983 after becoming upset with the Internal Revenue Service. Additionally, Snell was heard taunting jailers that something drastic would happen on the day of his execution. It is plausible that McVeigh may have been mentored by Snell since Snell frequented gun shows, a CSA practice until shortly before Snell made active contact with the group that he is documented to have been a member of. By itself, that is understandable since Snell hid out at the CSA compound between pawn shop robberies. He did not, however, reside on the property. CSA considered him to be a “Patron”. Shortly after McVeigh was released from the Army he became very active at gun shows.

The date 19 April 1995 was significant. It was the second anniversary of the Waco cataclysm. April 19 is also the anniversary of the 1983 attack planned for the Murrah building and the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775, considered to be the first shots fired in the war for independence from England.

McVeigh teamed with a buddy, Terry Nichols, to construct and plant an enormous bomb in a rental truck parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. McVeigh rented a Ryder truck, and he and Nichols loaded it with 5000 pounds of explosive ammonium nitrate and nitromethane. On the morning of 19 April 1995 McVeigh drove the truck to Oklahoma City and parked it in front of the Federal Building. He then lit a 2-minute fuse. A 5-minute fuse had been lit previously while the truck was stopped at a traffic light.

The blast shattered the front of the Murrah Building, which subsequently had to be demolished. 168 people, including 19 children were killed.

McVeigh walked away from his deadly cargo toward where he had stashed a get-away car. The bomb went off as he was traversing an alleyway. To prevent identification of his get-away car he had previously removed the license plates, and as he made his escape he forgot to put them back on. An Oklahoma state trooper stopped McVeigh for the missing plates and arrested him for carrying an illegal gun. McVeigh was still in jail when federal agents traced the Ryder truck to him. He was charged with the crime and executed on 11 June 2001.

And no Middle East religious fanatics were involved.