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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Unindicted Co-conspirators Of The Boston Bombing

 

"We still don't know who did this or why. People should not jump to conclusions before we have all the facts."
        - President Obama, on the Boston Marathon Bombing

Two bombs.

Three dead.

Over a hundred wounded.

That's it.

That’s what we know.

That's the sum total of what anybody knows for certain at this point.

Two bombs. Three people dead so far. Over a hundred wounded.

Got it?

Everything else is random noise in the communication system. 

Anything more than two bombs, three dead, is nothing but speculation fueled by fear, hysteria, rumor mongering, childish self-centered malice aforethought, people that aren’t authorized to speak on the record but can’t keep their goddamned mouths shut anyway, and the fact that we can’t keep raging crazies from buying guns let alone keep them from getting a nationally syndicated talk radio show where they can incestuously breed conspiracy theories willy-nilly free of any responsibility.

Anything more than two bombs, three dead is nothing more speculation driven by a need to fill up whitespace for the sake of filling up whitespace.

Case in point:

This morning The Week's Peter Weber starts out with this:

More than half a day after the explosions in Boston, police still have few answers. That hasn't quieted the speculation.

More than half a day.

Twelve whole hours and the crime still hasn’t been solved?

Twelve hours? If this was TV, Gary Sinise and Kiefer Sutherland would have solved twenty cases by now, including two story arcs involving 9-11, generic cardboard cutout olive-skinned terrorists who hate us for our freedoms, and shady government officials. And they’d have both stopped for coffee and gotten laid too.

Police still have few answers.

Really? The police still have few answers?

It’s been barely been a day, no kidding the police have few answers.  Real world terrorist attacks aren’t wrapped up all neat and tidy in sixty minutes with a squint and a pithy comment and time out for piss breaks.

Jesus Haploid Christ, given the number of these things in recent years, it’s not like Americans don’t have enough working experience with terrorism to figure out a reasonable timeline – but, nope, as usual, the standard issue two minute instant gratification American attention span requires the gaping abyss between its ears to be filled immediately.  It doesn’t matter if that filler bears any actual resemblance to reality at all, so long as the empty space is filled up.  Panic, conspiracy theories, mutating rumors, internet chainmail “eye witness” accounts from people who weren’t there, wild speculation from so-called “experts,” whatever, just so long as we don’t have to be alone with ourselves, just so long as we don’t have to wait.

Weber says, “That hasn’t quieted the speculation.”

And the title of Weber’s article? Who’s Behind the Boston Marathon Bombings, Four Theories.

Instead of discussing why speculation is counterproductive and does nothing more than muddy the waters, or perhaps why there are few answers as yet, predictably Weber goes on to relate that some people are speculating how it might be Muslims, right wingers, the standard issue Lone Angry Man, the standard issue Group of Angry Men, and/or Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

Good thing we’re not speculating, I guess.

You may, if you like, insert a facepalm here.

Sure, when something like the horrific events of 9-11, Sandy Hook, or the Boston Marathon bombing happen, it’s human nature to want answers and to want answers right now.  It’s human nature to slow down and gape at the accident scene. But, damnit, you’ve got a brain, you’ve supposedly got intelligence, intellect, reasoning ability. For crying out loud, use those tools, you can override your glands.

Of course we want answers right now. 

Nobody likes being patient in situations like this. And in the Google Age we’re used to getting those answers immediately – and if they turn out to be right, so much the better.

We want answers. We want justice. We want revenge. We want to know. And we want it now.

So what? I want a pony, and I’m not likely to get that either.

Sit down and shut up.  Stop making it worse.  

Let the professionals do their jobs.

And it does take professionals you know, to figure out what happened. Just because you have an internet connection and you watch CSI and you listen to conspiracy talk radio day in and day out does not actually qualify you as a forensic or anti-terrorism expert – and you ought to be smart enough to know that.

As somebody who has spent the better part of my life in the intelligence field, I can tell you that this period, the immediate aftermath of the event, is far more complex and far more difficult than you can possibly imagine – even if you’ve had direct experience in this sort of thing. The sheer volume of information is staggering, almost incomprehensible. For example, depending on the situation there might be half a million phone records worldwide to look through, cell and landlines, text and data and email and so on, connections upon connections, in this day and age those bombs could have been set off from the other side of the world and watched via real-time internet video. And that’s just one tiny piece of the puzzle. We live in the Information Age, the problem isn’t that there isn’t enough information, the problem is that there is huge giant mountains of it – and most of that is irrelevant or false. But it’s all got to be gone through, every bit of it. And that can’t be done by machines, not really, people have to look at it. Trained people. Experts. Not conspiracy nuts, not just any Joe Shit The Ragman. Actual real educated and trained and experienced experts have to go through the information, slowly, carefully, bit by bit.  And their difficult job is made even more difficult because not only are the investigators literally looking for the mangled pieces of a very tiny needle in a very large, very cluttered, very rutted and very muddy storm-tossed hay field, there are also certain folks who are actively working to make and shovel more hay, wheat, rye, grass clippings, manure, and any other metaphor you’d care to dream up, on top the whole mess.

At best, it’s like Weber’s article, more or less an innocuous roundup of the usual suspects.

Of course the first thing everybody in the world thought was, “Muslim Terrorists!”  Followed by “Domestic Terrorists!” Followed by “Crazy Person With An Ax To Grind.”  Because we’ve all been through this before.

And that’s bad enough, because all of those well intentioned citizens are busy right now clogging the FBI tip line. And, hell, you know, maybe one of them will have something useful.

But at worst, like the crazed cheekbiters at Red State, The Blaze, InfoWars, and on Alex Jones’ Facebook Page with their “Bigfoot,” “Space Aliens,” and “Obama’s Smooth Chocolate Negro Ray of False Flag Gun Confiscation” conspiracy theories, it’s ridiculous unfounded accusations manufactured whole cloth from feverish nightmares.  It’s ridiculous nonsense, idiotic nonsense, the kind of demented doodling that should be called out as the unhinged mental illness that it is.

And it is a sickness,

It’s a version of mass hysteria, a type of group obsessive compulsive disorder, where the afflicted see their own pet bugaboos in everything, in every event no matter how big or small.  And while Conspiracy King Alex Jones himself is unlikely to distract the FBI investigators, he and his fear mongering brethren aid and abet the terrorists by inciting their own weak minded followers to rage and fear and riot.  And then those deluded paranoids clog the system with their conspiracy theories and their bizarre false-flag accusations and their witch fearing insanity, just as they did after 9-11 and Sandy Hook and Benghazi.  It began within an hour of the bombings in Boston.

And of course the media bears some responsibility. Certainly. The empty bandwidth must be filled and since there are as yet no facts, no answers, the airwaves are clogged with speculation and random chatter and irresponsibly unmoderated comment forums. Almost everything you see and read and hear in the media right now is just filler. The information machine is running in idle, gears unclutched, flywheel spinning free, making a squeaking clattering noise and producing nothing but fear and paranoia and wild speculation. Like, for example, interviews today with witnesses to the Belfast IRA bombings of previous decades – which, given the ethnic Irish background of Boston, makes certain completely unsupported connections in the public mind.  Connections that just throw fuel on the wild imaginings of the conspiracy theorists. 

It’s going to take time to figure out who, how, and why.

And you’re just going to have to put on your big boy pants and deal with it.

Even if those responsible walk into the Boston FBI field office right now and raise their hands and confess all, it still requires time to investigate, collect evidence, do the lab work, gather intelligence, analyze the data, run down false leads and bad information, and verify that the people who said they did it actually did do it.

And more likely those responsible won’t admit it, and they’ll have to be hunted down like rats in the walls and unless the police and the FBI get very, very lucky, that’s going to take one hell of a lot of hard work.

The media, the politicians, and the pundits can’t afford to ignore the bombing – and thus appear callous and indifferent and uncaring and clueless and thereby stand to lose readers and voters.   But they’ve got nothing to report, because nobody knows anything.  So they run wild and make things worse instead of demonstrating leadership.

And they do it because the American people demand it.  They want their conspiracy, they want their sensation, they want their pound of flesh and pictures of blood and severed limbs.

The responsible thing to do here, the grown up rational adult thing, is to acknowledge that we don’t know anything.  We will, eventually.  But at the moment we don’t.  And it’s going to take time before we do.  And that is just the way it is. 

When  you deliberately spread fear and uncertainty and hatred as part of events like this, and when you enable others to do so by giving them an unmoderated commenting forum in which to exercise their paranoid ravings, you are engaging in conspiracy to commit terrorism. 

That’s what they call it you know, conspiracy, aiding and abetting, when you help the criminals but don’t commit the act yourself.

Because that’s what they want.

That’s the very goal of terrorism: the contagious and self-reinforcing spread of hate and fear and confusion, terror.

It’s human nature to gape at an accident, to wonder at its cause, but when you actively engage in rumor mongering, when you buy into conspiracy theories, when you create and spread unthinking small-minded irresponsible speculation, you are directly aiding and abetting the terrorists.  No more, no less.

 

Like those first responders in Boston yesterday, the ones who turned their backs on safety and ran towards the danger, it’s time to find our courage and confront the threat head on.

No terrorist, alone or by the dozen, can destroy America. They can snap at our heels, but they can’t destroy us. They can’t even hurt us to any significant degree.

Not without help.

So stop helping them.

Stop conspiring with those who would tear this country apart rather than help hold it together.  

Turn, and face the danger.

Face the danger and stand resolute and know that the day of reckoning will come.

The day of reckoning will come for the cowardly sons of bitches who planted the bombs, and for those who conspire to spread hate and fear and terror.

 

“But make no mistake. We will get to the bottom of this. We will find out who did this. We will find out why they did this. Any individual or responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”
     - President Barack Obama

130 comments:

  1. Thank you, Jim. I was wondering what you would say about the cowardly murders and maimings in Boston, and when, but did not doubt that you would be sane and rational.

    "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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    1. "The truth of things is a supreme food for fine intelligences but not for wandering wits'' Leonardo Da Vinci

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  2. Well now we do know how they were made and delivered. And we know that pressure cookers will be sold like sudafed from now on because, well, it's the easy thing to do and it will no doubt be every bit as effective as the charade TSA goes through to prevent another 9/11 like that's really going to happen again.

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    1. We don't have any way of knowing how effective those measures have been, do we?

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    2. No worries, you'll still be able to get pressure cookers at the gun shows without a background check.

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    3. I genuinely cannot tell if Anonymous (8:40 pm) is asking a question or using a question to defend the TSA's security theater. I have heard it both ways. For those who want to know more about the ineffective nature of the TSA, the harm to civil liberties, and how those billions of dollars can be better spent, I recommend the following:

      Security Theater definition
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_theater

      Security Theater discussed by the person who coined the term:
      http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/11/beyond_security.html

      The harms of post-9/11 security.
      http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/03/harms_of_post-9.html

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    4. I wonder if I will have to register the pressure cooker my mother just gave me. They will have to pry it out of my cold dead hand.

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    5. One of the hardest things in the world to measure is what doesn't happen. We can draw inferences in that we have not had any airline hijackings into buildings since, there have been some apprehensions of potential hijackers, got them before they were able to do the intended damage. But a true measure of what doesn't happen can't be done. So a possible conclusion is that what we have done (yeah, I don't like it any more than you do) with airport security has worked.

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    6. sophie- That is provably not true, reflecting a poor understanding of security, risk analysis and statistics. (Sorry, it's true, but it's not an insult. It just means that you're like most people.) The TSA is responding, poorly, after the fact to the threat of the day. I am not an expert in these fields, but Bruce Schneier *is*, so I strongly recommend that you read what I linked above.

      The short version is this analogy- the TSA's tactics are like putting up a steel door on a nylon tent. There are a dozen other ways to get in. There are also dozens of other nylon tents in the same field, most of which do not have any barrier whatsoever. Attackers are not after airplanes, they are after *people*, after making people feel unsafe. The TSA has in many cases fed the fear (meaningless color codes anyone?, that coincidentally disappeared after GWB got re-elected), but done little except to increase it's own funding. The billions wasted on the TSA and DHS could and should have gone to a few security measures at airports, but mainly towards wide-spread multi-purpose emergency disaster response and much more towards better police work. The FBI and other police agencies world wide have much better track records than the TSA & DHS. Again, I urge you to read the articles linked above.

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    7. Also, Sophie my friend, you need to extend your logic out in both directions. Yes, indeed there have been no planes hijacked and flown into buildings since 9/11. And the rather obvious fact is that there were ALSO no planes hijacked and flown into buildings BEFORE 9/11. So what is the conclusion to be drawn there? None, really, because there's not enough data to extrapolate ANYTHING. IF there had been a long, continuing series of terror attacks using airplanes, and then after the TSA started their invasive and annoying program the attacks dropped to zero, then you would have a pretty good case for a causal relationship. But you got nuthin'.

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    8. I have read these ridiculous comments 'I bet we will now have to register our pressure cookers' and the like all over the internet today. It is so sad to see the number of adults in this country who think they are being clever but only demonstrate a shocking level of immaturity in the face of tragedy.

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  3. Thank you for being the voice of reason. The media is running with this 24/7. I have never understood the rationale behind showing the same scenes hour after hour and having the same "experts" say the same thing over and over.To me it just feeds the fear and paranoia. Your president is being wise-I hope he will be listened to and not maligned by the talking heads who blame him for everything. Everyone should shut up and get out of the way of the experts.

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  4. Well said.

    Danny

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  5. Knocked it out of the park. Thanks.

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  6. Wise words. Great post as always.

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  7. Personally, as a bit of an Aspie, I love me a good hunt for a needle in a haystack. I know it will be tedious, painstaking policework and itty bitty connecting threads that solve this thing. Meanwhile, I am making and awarding tin-foil hats as fast as I can! I am a bit annoyed with the CERTAINTY with which some of the whackos are posting about who dunnit. Thank you for being a gratifyingly sensible and grounded voice, as always.

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    1. Lucky for the President .. he has an alibi

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  8. My sentiments exactly ... well, almost exactly. Ok, lots of similarity to my sentiments - but FAR more powerfully and eloquently stated than I could ever do. Thank you.

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  9. Thanks for this.
    Last night, Rachel Maddow put it in good perspective, discussing recent occurrences and the time it took to solve them:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/vp/51552402#51552402

    I listened to Boston's NPR station for much of the day yesterday, until they began taking calls from listeners - then the facts got left behind and the speculation was rampant. Irresponsible 'journalism.'

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  10. We've just endured two days of interviews with people who were there who are being asked the same leading questions by reporters who gush sympathy about how traumatic, and gruesome, and frightening. Then they're off to interview every doctor at every medical facility and try to get them to say in a dozen ways how traumatic, and gruesome, and frightening. Then back to the anchor who tries to find a new way to tell us what we already know and how we should feel about it-rinse and repeat. Over and over. Can it possibly be good for the human psyche to become desensitized to this? Can we possibly have any other reaction? I turn it off. I have to. Thanks again, Jim, for saying what's been on my mind much better than I could.

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    1. Geez Diana, what do you expect, it's a news channel. That's what they do. But you are right, it's not good for you to watch something this horrible over and over again. My suggestion... turn the channel.

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    2. I saw someone, somewhere, refer to it as "tragedy porn."

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    3. I've done the same thing, turn it off. Usually I watch MSNBC from Alex Wagner on, sometimes merely as background noise, but yesterday I didn't really listen/watch until Rachel Maddow's show, and only watched half of Lawrence O'Donnell (who'd done a walking tour of his hometown Boston suburb, Dorchester, with a resident - it was a bit teary for them, and me).

      I don't watch Fox Not-News.

      I've kept up with the various story lines on Twitter - where I have the option of what I want to ignore, and what I want to pursue.

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    4. Diana, I dislike the continual repeat of the news, but sometimes people tune in who haven't heard it multiple times. I used to travel more than I do now and would have CNN on in the hotel room, so my time/exposure to the news was brief. They have to rerun it, which doesn't make your comment here invalid; I agree that the perpetual rehashing needs to be rethunk and fixed.

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  11. Yesterday and today, listening to NPR on my way to and from work, every show host and interviewee stressed exactly what you are saying, that we don't have enough information yet. They did talk to a couple of experts who said, it might be this, or that, but WE DON'T KNOW YET. And that is what I am hearing mostly on the mainstream news as well. (Even Fox, the couple of times I tuned in.) So there are still some who are NOT inciting to panic.
    I have a few suspicions of my own, but I know that I don't know enough to have an informed opinion, so I will keep them to myself, and wait and see. I am putting this post everywhere I can. Maybe people will calm down. Maybe....

    Living here in the state of conspiracy (AZ),

    NaluGirl

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  12. Thank you. Just...thank you.

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  13. In the midst of all the excitement of these types of events (and by excitement I mean horror, terror, fear, etc) emotions run rampant. Everything from, "if I would have been there with my gun, I would have kept this from happening" to "OMG, I want to buy a farm in a remote area and live off the grid to avoid all the crazies in the world". One extreme to the other, with every other emotion in the book thrown in for good measure. Reason and rational thought become clouded by a wave of emotion that makes us do and say crazy things. At least that's what happens in a RATIONAL person's mind.

    Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case with folks like Alex Jones and those lovely individuals at The Blaze, as well as all the other crazy conspiracy theory based sites. They take the ball, run with it then have it cast in bronze and call it fact.

    Your rational approach and your reasonable response to the events of yesterday are appreciated while all the buzzing of who, what, where, when and why are still be bandied about. Thank you for that. Thank you for being a voice of reason in a sea of emotional chaos.

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  14. Thank you, Jim. It's about time someone spelled it out as clearly and succinctly as you have. Keep on keep'n on, sir.

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  15. Fine sentiment overall. Cheap shot at talk radio when CNN & MSNBC are frothing at the mouth to blame "right wing extremists", but hey...you've got to stick up for your friends. Also interesting you would quite rightly chastise the politicians for sticking their two cents worth in just to get some face time & appear concerned, and then conclude with a quote from the community-organizer-in-chief who has absolutely nothing to do with the investigation other than to try and take credit for it personally. I'd love to see a quick resolution, but don't expect one. Let the professionals do their work and get the hell out of the way. They don't need the entire nation, and especially the press, trying to prod them into an early arrest. Ask Richard Jewell just how well THAT worked out.

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    1. Oh blow it out your ass, Anonymous, I least I own what I say.

      Here's the deal, either provide a direct reference to the part where President Obama attempted to take credit for the investigation or shut the fuck up.

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    2. Amazing what people are willing to say when there is no identity attached to their comments.

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    3. I'm really quite impressed that you could apparently agree while simultaneously expressing supreme antagonism and superiority over the person you're agreeing with.

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    4. A., have you ever considered the POTUS, any POTUS, is in a "no win" situation. If he says nothing he is accused of detachment and not caring. If he offers support he is accused of trying to take credit for something he is not directly involved in, the investigation. President Obama did make an, appropriate I think, statement that the perpetrators would be found and brought to justice. That's it. What is it exactly that he is supposed to do/say?

      .....Oh wait, I know! Maybe he should have been in a staged photograph following THE major event of our lifetime holding a children's book upside down, reading w/ children..... oops, wait, that's been done.

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    5. Greg - ETC(SW) - USN RetiredApril 17, 2013 at 5:19 AM

      No win is a appropriate analogy for this - and Anonymous' comments are exactly what Jim (and Lorigarrett) are talking about. You have this whackobird accusing the President of doing too much and taking credit for other's work. On the other end of the spectrum you have the same predictable folks complaining that he's not doing enough (he didn't say "terror" in his initial response). And, of course, you've got every kind of reaction in between. For crying out loud, this is EXACTLY what any kind of terrorists would want. Instead of the heroism of those who turned to help, or the responsible acts of a President who offers moral support, but stays the hell out of the way, we have people who just fill time (because it's there, like Mt Everest) or actively promote the very divisions that terroists would revel in. They aid and abet the terrorist(s). It appears that the monsters really are here on Maple St.

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    6. What Jim Wright said. Put up or shut the fuck up.

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  16. Another well done post. Now is the time to focus on providing those who were there the medical and psychological help they need. I am a Costco employee and I found out this afternoon that one of the men who lost both legs is a Costco employee in NH. Even though I don't know Jeff, knowing that we work for the same company brings it close to home. Prayers go out to all those who are touched by this horrific event.

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  17. Well done, good piece of logical writing!

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  18. i already have had several friends go off about this, including one "always was a one note song" type... who has determined that its the "evil domestic enemies" at the NRA, because they have kept us from having taggants in our explosives!
    sigh
    everyone going back to their pet enemies list i guess

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  19. No data. No discovery. Agreed.

    But your essay did do a disservice to Bigfoot researchers who are better critical thinkers than the whole lot of conspiracy theorists.

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    1. Consider me properly chastised.

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    2. Yeah, Jim: looks like you put your big foot in your mouth...

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  20. Jim, as usual you stated reality quite eloquently. My heart aches for the innocent people involved in someone's sickness. Worse still is the exploitation of the situation by the news media and our public officials. Cable stations carried none of this thank goodness, so until there's something factual to know I'll stick with those, with the exception of HLN, whose coverage of the "Jodie Arias Trial" is the most disgusting thing I've ever witnessed.

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  21. You know, the worst part of the media frenzy is that the news cycle will have moved on by the time we actually do know anything. We'll be paying attention to something else when the facts we were clamoring for are actually available. And naturally those facts will conflict with the rumors we are hearing now, thus confirming the conspiracy theorists' suspicions of a cover up.

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  22. Thank the Universe for some sane and coherent words.

    The idjits my husband works with have been spouting complete and utter nonsense since this happened. And going on and on about how they hope it was a "Muslim" who did this and not a white person. I'm assuming because then their intolerant, ignorant bigotry would be justified. Or something completely asinine like that.

    So I responded with a biting post on my blog and then have spent the afternoon feeling guilty for what I wrote.

    I kept checking today to see if you had chimed in yet...so I could get a dose of sanity. In the process I ran across blurbs about what some right-wing talk radio hosts had said (mind-blowing, seriously), and listened on NPR to the same things over and over again. Thank the lord I don't have a television in this house so I didn't have to see any of the media reporting on it. My internet connection was bad enough.

    Anyway, as usual, thank you for your sanity.

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  23. The voice in the wilderness, thank you for your level headed perspective Jim. It boggles the mind to read of daily tragedy and catastrophe that the 'news' digs up from the farthest reaches of the nation to try to keep the carnival reader's eyes focused on their rag. With a mass catastrophe like this, you can just see them reveling in the gore up to their elbows. Yes, we need to start saying no, to respect the privacy and dignity of those lost and those who will mourn, and to shut the damn TV/Radio/Newspaper off until they get back to conscientious reporting and journalism. Call me naive, but I hope for the sake of my children and grandchildren we see a return to such days. You give me hope for that possibility.
    Thanks again Jim,
    Duff in nofla

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  24. A friend of mine put it thus today: be less sure. Great post.

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  25. I at first thought that you were overreacting. I mean, yeah, of course crazies are gonna be crazy, but it's not going to be that much worse than usual, right?

    Then a friend of mine told me about someone in their family who was already thoroughly convinced that violent video games were to blame. Without even getting in to what possible logic could lead one to such a conclusion, that's appalling.

    In short, you are horrifyingly correct, and I thank you for it.

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  26. Thank you again Jim.
    You and Patton Oswald brought sanity to the aftermath of this tragedy.
    The timing of your Fraidy Cat post was also quite extraordinary
    When they eventually catch whoever is responsible for this they should be locked in a cell with the walls and ceiling tamperproof papered with images of Martin Richard, to eventually die looking up at the image of him holding his hand painted sign pleading for an end to violence. I don't want to know the name(s) of the perpetrator(s) and would prefer that they are never revealed.

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  27. A*&(&*(men. I haven't got anything more to add than CHILL, PEOPLE, nobody knows yet. If they did, I would be more suspicious instead of less. It's not like the people who did this want to be known, now, is it?

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  28. Thank you for your post, Jim. I've been checking in irregularly today because I knew that you would respond to this horrible event with clarity and sanity. I'm not disappointed.

    My first thought was that the perpetrator(s) is(are) domestic. Exactly who, I don't know and will not speculate about. I remember thinking the same about the Oklahoma City bombing.

    Like Bill Iffrig the 78-year-old runner who was knocked off his feet about 15 feet from the finish line, then finished, with assistance, the race, I refuse to let some nutcake prevent me from living my life.

    Keep up the good work, Jim. It's much appreciated.

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  29. As I said to my niece when she complained about peoples reactions on facebook: Keep it in perspective. 3 dead. How many die each day in car accidents caused by terroristing/texting/drinking? How many die each day from lack of sanitation/clean water? How many die each day from a self-inflicted gunshot wound? How many people die each day from the complications of overeating or smoking? How many? Bonus points: How many people become Nazis each day?
    People make a big deal about extra-ordinary events because each damn day is too depressing.

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    1. Oh, and wait until they discover that what was detonated were just two of North Korea's vast nuclear arse-anal.

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  30. This is 'new' information and gives details on just how long an investigation such as this may take.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/16/boston-bombs-pressure-cookers_n_3093288.html

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  31. Thank you for your articulate-ness. This goes well with Patton Oswalt's and JMS's.

    Keep spreading the sanity.

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  32. " The empty bandwidth must be filled..."

    I think this may be the best line in the essay. Consider the "information highway" from an engineering communications perspective. The greater the bandwidth of the information channel, the larger the thermally generated noise. The traditional way to increase the signal to noise ratio, and reduce the error rate is to apply a narrow band filter around the information of interest. In DSP this implies a longer data collection time. (more words) Sound bites and twitter actually force the opposite, smaller information content. This decreases the odds of correct information being decoded.
    Some may argue that such a large number of samples will eventually come to the correct information decision, but the math that supports that is based on many random samples. Endless repeats (repost, retweet, etc) only serve to skew the information dataset, and may be treated as a jammer type of signal.

    Danny


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    1. As a retired communications engineer in the television broadcast field (in the early 90s I managed the studios at one of the big three in NYC), well put Danny.

      We know (knew) we were putting out endless streams of drivel but the market place is such that if we don't our viewers change channel, that gets expensive fast.

      The broadcast media, as print before, are not there to entertain you or inform you, they exist to sell your eyeballs to the advertiser. Never forget that.

      Delete
  33. The only thing we learn from all the speculation is who the speculator's hate/fear the most. Which, sadly, is NOT new information.

    The main reason most people want to express their opinions publicly before the facts are known is so they can later point to their comment and shout I TOLD YOU SO!

    This is of course entirely human -I have felt the compulsion myself- but also entirely useless except to bolster the ego of the commentator.

    Until the facts are proved, every Joe Shit the Ragman -as you put it- gets to feel correct and prescient and smarter than everybody who can't see how OBVIOUS it is that the killers are (insert your favorite baddie). In that sense most of us are Joe Shit the Ragman, because most of us feel in our bones that the very little we know MUST point to the conclusions we ourselves have already drawn. Even if we keep quiet about it. But then this kind of behavior is also the problem with politics in genera: so many people know in their bones what is true and correct and right about any subject you can name that actual conversation, and therefore useful action, becomes impossible.

    Good thing the investigators who WILL catch these killers have eyes and ears and data banks and meticulous and painstaking powers of observation. It's only in crime dramas that the detective's gut & bones solve the crime. And why is that? Because the audience for crime drama is made of us, Joe Shits the Ragmen, who all get a kick out being told our (lazy) method of 'crime solving' is always best.

    BB

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    1. Well put. I have my "hunches," my "hope it is" culprits, but I'm not putting it out there because they are no more than just that, my speculations. I DID tell my sister, so I will have documented either my knew-it-all-the-time moment, or didn't-see-that-coming let down.

      Delete
    2. BB, I do not understand those that are always so certain in what they cannot possibly know. But I am not sure the certainty stems from wanting bragging rights - I think it is to uphold their worldview come hell or high water. Many will not accept any facts as proved if they contradict their dearly held conspiracy theory.
      But as I say, I cannot understand them. Remember the O.J. trial, and all the people outside the coutrthouse protesting, shouting, and getting in fights because they KNEW the man was (innocent) /{guilty} {pick one]? My thought at the time was "Damn, that driveway must have been crowded", because all these people are so certain about what happened, they must have been there.
      I guess there will also be a fringe who will never accept any evidence that contradicts their worldview in this case, just as we have conspiracy theorists about 9/11.

      Aside from that, I have two comments for Jim:
      Dude, you are a big boy- if you want a pony, go get one! (Just remember you'll have to clean up after him).

      And:
      SMOOTH CHOCOLATE any-kind-of-ray!? Sign me up! Where? Where?

      Brucce

      Delete
    3. Brucce is obviously my Sicilian moniker: pronounced brrru-chay.

      Bruce

      Delete
  34. Thank you, Jim. It is always good to hear your thoughts on these events. Frequently, my husband and I will say to each other "I wonder what Stonekettle will have to say tomorrow."

    You seem to be able to cut to the chase while we are still trying to marshal our thoughts.

    T

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    Replies
    1. Indeed. I enjoy Jim's sober perspective on things like this. In fact, I came here yesterday expecting this post, but apparently I was too early. I came here tonight to see if he had any thoughts on the cowards in the Senate and found this. Perhaps tomorrow (or some other unspecified time in the near future) will yield another post.

      Thanks again for another outstanding job, Jim.

      -another Jim in another place

      Delete
  35. Thanks, Jim, for your post. I had the bad fortune to be exposed to about 2 minutes of Michael Savage on Monday evening, and the introduction to the Blaze just this morning. Yikes! I think your "Fraidy Cats" post was timely, accurate, and the most descriptive thing I have read about those folks to date. Keep 'em coming.

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  36. Now we in Massachusetts can look New York in the face (to paraphrase HRH Queen Elizabeth(later the Queen Mother), after Buck house was hit by a bomb during the London Blitz. It's nowhere near the scale of the 9/11 attacks, but we in Massachusetts have always felt uneasy (guilty) about the fact that 2 of those flights originated at Boston Logan. The best thing we can do, honestly, is to LIVE NORMAL LIVES, do not give those who did this the satisfaction of seeing (or hearing) our fear. The thing I found most amazing was the instantaneous reaction of first responders. The death toll currently stands at 3 because those people on the ground on site ran toward the explosions, rather than away from them, and used any and all means to get the injured to the medical tent as quickly as possible, and the uninjured spectators, rather than milling about in confusion and fear, followed the directions of the police and EMS on the ground and got the heck out of the way so that the trained experts could do their jobs. They also helped to pull down the flag-bedecked barricade that separated the course from the sidewalk, so that EMS responders could get to the gravely injured at both explosion sites. I will live my life, and wait to hear more from the experts, but what I take away is the courage of the bystanders and EMTs on that day. I also believe that the President's utterances have been spot on. The rest is indeed noise.

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    1. I wish the media had focused on the the response by the first responders and others. They should be the story.

      Thanks Jim for your thoughts and to all those (except you know who) who also posted well meaning and thoughtful comments.

      Delete
  37. I was waiting to see what you would have to say about this. As usual, you're right on target. Thank you. Your gift is our gift.

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  38. I wish I hadn't seen the picture of that poor man with both his legs off. It came out of nowhere, uncensored and everything and I don't think I'll ever forget it. I hope that that man was in such shock that when he gets better, he won't remember it actually happening because who wants to live with the memory of your legs being blown off for the rest of your life, flashing back to it at random times.

    ~Grimey

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    Replies
    1. I suspect this happens in our military every day with many soldiers flashing back on the situation, and for WHAT?

      Delete
  39. I notice that people are claiming the bombs were set by Islamic fundamentalists or by right-wing extremists, while ignoring the obvious culprits. Exxon has been catching hell for the last couple of weeks for their continuing oil spill in Arkansas. They have been on the news every night and, despite their best efforts, can’t make the newsmen stop. Suddenly, thanks to the bombs in Boston, they are not even above the fold.

    Think about it: money, technical expertise, and a willingness to act. *removes tongue from cheek*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And now we have the West Texas explosions and fire, so there is something else to speculate about.

      Delete
  40. Are you really concerned about people jumping to conclusions ? You attack "Alex Jones" , but you seem to give a pass to David Sirota, Chris Matthews and Peter Bergen in their comments about "right wing extremist". So much for a well thought out, balanced perspective....


    http://twitchy.com/2013/04/16/salon-contributor-david-sirota-has-fingers-crossed-for-white-male-marathon-bomber/

    http://lobby.cunitedusa.oo.gd/blogs/97

    http://news.yahoo.com/chris-matthews-boston-bombings-domestic-terrorists-tend-far-063028054.html

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/matt-hadro/2013/04/15/cnn-analyst-suggests-right-wing-extremists-could-be-behind-boston-bombin

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    1. Right on the mark, Ken. After such an event, I access all media to try to get a complete view and perspective from all sides. O'Reilly's blurb on what word Obama used to describe the event was grabbing for something, but what I saw on MSNBC was down right pointing the finger at people on the right. Obviously, there is no way this could have been done by anyone else besides a conservative. Although I can appreciate this editorial for what it is, it is also biased. If you want to be a journalist, then be a journalist. Stay in the middle. Both sides can appreciate and admire an unbiased opinion.

      Delete
    2. Uh huh. Read the essay again, get somebody to help you with the big words and the more complex concepts such as the inclusive paragraphs dealing with media in general and public demands.

      I called out Jones in particular because he was first on the conspiracy scene. Early bird gets the worm. There was no jumping to conclusions involved.

      Delete
    3. I'm sorry. Where did Jim say he was giving a pass to anyone jumping to conclusions?

      Delete
    4. Lee, as long as you're asking, ask anonymous exactly where it was that I claimed to be a journalist. Since I've specifically said that I am NOT a journalist, I mean.

      Delete
    5. 'But at worst, like the crazed cheekbiters at Red State, The Blaze, InfoWars, and on Alex Jones’ Facebook Page with their “Bigfoot,” “Space Aliens,” and “Obama’s Smooth Chocolate Negro Ray of False Flag Gun Confiscation” conspiracy theories'

      Where's the "balanced" discussion of those I mentioned ?

      You seem to forget the rush to blame "right wingers" in the New York Times bombing attempt ( http://dailycaller.com/2010/05/04/liberals-accuse-tea-partiers-of-role-in-failed-times-square-car-bomb-attack/)

      The double standard fits and stands....

      Delete
    6. I will give you this, at least you are presenting the illusion of not being full blown biased, like Salon....

      http://www.salon.com/2013/04/16/lets_hope_the_boston_marathon_bomber_is_a_white_american/

      Delete
    7. I am biased, Ken, by definition, and I never ever claimed otherwise. it says so right on the disclaimer and in the commenting rules you didn't bother to read.

      I never demanded that others be unbiased, I suggested that they stop helping the terrorists by spreading fear and conspiracy theories.

      I wonder, did you write to Alex Jones, Info wars, The Blaze, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Salon, HuffPo, and each major media outlet and demand that they met your standards for journalistic impartiality, or is it just me?

      Delete
    8. I only wrote to the the crazy that sidled up next to it and licked it in the ear.

      Delete
    9. That's what I figured. I think you've probably wasted enough of my time for today, how about showing yourself out now?

      Delete
    10. Excellent response Jim! I, for one, want and wait for your biased opinion because I value your skills at analyzing, dissecting and clarifying the basic issues that are buried in the 'noise' of the supposed news media.
      .

      Delete
    11. Jim's considered (if biased) opinion is worth a metric butt-ton of other opinions floating about, IMO. Given his background, I place a lot of confidence in what he has to say, especially in chaos like this. Maybe someday, someone will have the chops to school the Chief Warrant. I will not be holding my breath. But I will watch amusedly while they are deftly punted in the attempt.

      Delete
    12. Abso-f'in-lutely agreed! Plus, Jim, I want the "You Are My God" choice back!!

      Delete
  41. About three hours after President Obama made his first comments, my goofy fingers poked the O'reilly button on my remote. A solid 20 minutes of a talking head wondering why Mr. Obama didn't use the words "terror" or "terrorist."
    " That doesn't bother me." said the stooge, O'Reilly. "What bothers me is, he called it a tragedy. This wasn't a tragedy, a tragedy is like a storm or something."
    Stupid fingers.

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    1. Actually, and I hate to say this, but I agree with O'Reilly. If this had been a utility explosion or some such, then it would be a tragedy. This was a premeditated act of evil.

      That said, kudos to the PotUS for waiting for information before he said anything about it.

      Delete
    2. The two terms aren't mutually exclusive. It was a tragedy. It was also, apparently, and attempt at causing terror. In situations like this, I would hope that the POTUS would not use terms like 'terror' and 'terrorist' which have very loaded emotional associations in the 21st Century, until a good deal about just what did happen is known. Once we have a better idea of what did happen, it will be time for using those terms. At the outset, it's best to be conservative with speech, and save the inflammatory words for when we can target them better.

      Delete
    3. Actually, I have to chime in and disagree (vehemently) with O'Reilly and (respetfully) Lucas M. above. Really, "a tragedy is like a storm or something"? Are you saying that an event are not tragic simply because it is a result of human intention? Let's try to convince the victims, friends and relatives of that.

      By that definition war is not a tragedy, genocide is not a tragedy, fucking "Othello" would not be a tragedy!

      O'Reilly is just once again blowing out his ass what normally comes therefrom. He is making an embarrassingly clumsy attempt to find fault with something (everything) O'Bama said. And in the process he is trying to redefine the English language. He should be called out & kidney-punched by his own fifth-grade English teacher!

      Bruce

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    4. ..."an event IS not"...
      Banging head on keyboard.

      Bruce
      (Not my day for typing)

      Delete
    5. You can make any typing goof you need to Bruce, it was still very well put and perfectly said. O'Reilly really doesn't seem to know how to do much else at this point. He's getting as bad as that tub of wasted space and oxygen, Rush Limpdick.

      Delete
  42. Another excellent posting, Jim.

    I know it wasn't Nessie, she was in my bathtub at the time. Long story, don't ask.

    It should be noted that the GOP has opposed and held up the appointment of a Director of the ATF for almost a year now. They should be held accountable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, it's been six (6) years no ATF Director.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the clarification Master Chief. I should have looked up the specifics.

      Even more disgraceful then.

      Delete
  43. Thanks for the Joe Shit the rag man reference. Took me back to my days as a TIRD (Trainee interred at the Recruit Depot). Joe is what we mostly get when we read the standard conspiracy minded blog. Patience is a virtue. Something we could all strive to possess in greater portions.

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  44. Well said Jim. Reasoned and insightful.

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  45. An articulate and well-reasoned post, as always.

    When the perpetrator(s) of the bombing are caught (as they will be), rather than a media frenzy, all that should be said publicly is, "The perpetrators have been tried and sentenced." No mention of their names or--more importantly--any agenda they might have. Because that is the purpose of terrorism: to spread a message by attaching it to an act that cannot be ignored. While we cannot ignore the act, perhaps we should ignore the message.


    (BTW, this method could be used when dealing with other acts of mass violence, such as school shootings.)

    ReplyDelete
  46. Why should Jim "stay in the middle" as anonymous orders in his 7:52 am post? Like Jim, mr ciejai and I are the same people we were in the 1970's. The mister signed up for the Army in 1975, got out, and signed up again in 1990. Like Jim, we go back home and have the same feeling he gets-- Everybody's so different, we haven't changed. If you haven't read that essay, take a look. Stay in the middle? Which middle? The one anonymous recognizes as the middle? Pfffft.

    Jim, thanks for the pics and links to Shopkat. Looks like she's a cousin of the all-time greatest cat in the history of the world, a vole killing machine who adopted us and stuck around for eighteen years.

    ReplyDelete
  47. This is a well written article with solid points, but there is a lot of unthinking small-minded irresponsible speculation in it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would appear that you've gotten lost on the way to the Yahoo! News site, go back down the hall, turn RIGHT at the troll statue, and exit out the back door, don't let it hit you in the ass.

      Delete
    2. Love your response! If we need a lot of adjectives to prove a point, as Anon. suggests, I would offer creative, literate and devastatingly accurate opinion. Keep up the good work, Jim. We are listening and sharing.

      Delete
  48. Well there seems to have been an arrest:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-boston-marathon-bombings-20130417,0,661252.story

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  49. An arrest is either imminent or has occurred: http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/04/17/boston-medical-center-reports-five-year-old-boy-critical-condition-victims-treated-from-boston-marathon-bombings/gkKXBTqL2jyNhsC2Kz5GyO/story.html

    As an FYI, this is way too close to home: my brother crossed the finish line about 10 seconds before the first explosion and two of my daughters were between the two blasts. Thank you, Jim, for your clearly-worded common sense essay - they help.

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    Replies
    1. The article doesn't say arrests have been made... nothing different that yesterday.

      Delete
  50. Reports of an arrest appear to be greatly exaggerated.

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  51. Thanks. Like some, above, I have my very own personal "speculations," but really? So What?

    I tossed out my old tv about 2 years ago and never got a replacement. Cannot tell you how much more peaceful my life is. Judicious use of radio, internet & print "media," also recommended.

    I happened to be visiting a friend (with tv) when the Newtown horror happened. We watched a bit of tv to find out what happened. After about 10 minutes, I couldn't take it anymore.

    There's no point, unless or until, someone tells us what they've discovered and/or who's been arrested or whatever. NO. POINT.

    The rest is mostly b*llsh*t mainly ginned up to cause fear, Fear, FEAR in our gullible and easily (mis)led populace.

    Enjoy dropping by here from time to time. Can't say I always agree with you, but so what? You make sense. Thanks a lot.

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  52. “Turn, and face the danger” lest we forget and rush to vengeance.

    http://www.popehat.com/2013/04/16/richard-jewell-cannot-accept-our-apology/

    ‘A terrorist detonated a bomb at Atlanta's Olympic Park, during the 1996 Olympic games.'

    ‘For nine years, Richard Jewell labored under suspicion that he'd been the bomber. In fact, Richard Jewell was a jewel of a man, a private security guard who spotted the bomb, informed the police of its existence, and escorted park visitors off the site until the bomb exploded. Jewell was a hero.’

    ‘the FBI, which leaked Jewell as the primary suspect, and CNN, and NBC, and the New York Post, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which took the leak, a perfect story after all, and used it to make Jewell's life Hell on Earth.’

    ‘And to All Of Us, who behaved like beasts toward Jewell, because after all CNN, and NBC, and the New York Post, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the FBI had fingered him as the bomber.’

    ‘The terrorist was Eric Robert Rudolph, who pled guilty to the crime along with a number of abortion clinic bombings.’



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  53. I don't think that he was original with this saying, but Guy Doeh had printed up and passed out hundreds of bumper stickers that said:
    "Fight Terrorism; have a nice day!"
    His children had it engraved on his grave marker.

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  54. Another aspect of the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombing (and I was expecting this one) was that someone immediately tackled a Saudi man who was running away because he looked "suspicious". Countless people running away in fear after a bomb blast but the only person that looked "suspicious" was the brown man who looked like a Muslim. Because it just makes sense that the person detonating a bomb would stand around in the immediate vicinity so he could be injured, too. Right?

    It reminded me of the scene in "Jaws" after the boy was killed by a shark. Immediately, a bunch of he-men went out an killed the first shark they found and brought it back and proudly strung it up on display with much whooping and hollering. Because it just makes sense that it would have to be the first shark they came across, right? The shark expert tried to explain that this wasn't the shark responsible but no one would listen. They weren't interested in the truth - they just had to immediately kill a shark. The shark expert (Richard Dreyfus) had to convince the sheriff to let him cut open the shark and pull out the contents in order to prove to the sheriff that "this isn't the shark you're looking for".

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    Replies
    1. Yes indeed, grab and bash the nearest brown person when something bad happens is the standard Real American MO. If that poor guy had actually been holding or standing next to the bomb, he wouldn't have been in any shape to run away (along with the crowd of white people who were doing the same). Since then, the online white supremacist lobby have been combing through pictures of the audience looking for people who look Muslim, and publicly labeled a 17-year-old boy as the apparent bomber solely because his skin was olive. Anonymous above thinks even-handedness requires equal condemnation of left-wing and right-wing conclusion-jumping; well, no left-wingers that I know of have gone through the crowd photos and publicly accused any white man with a flag T-shirt and a beer gut of being the killer.

      Someone mentioned Richard Jewell above. I recall that the authorities and media only started trying to frame Jewell after they failed in an early attempt to pin it on some Palestinian-Americans from Texas. They were seen getting into a car and driving away after the Olympic Park bombing. Of course that was suspicious, because no white people did anything similar.

      Dewey

      Delete
  55. The perpetrator will be another "Human Being".

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  56. "These aren't the droids you're looking for", and Nazis!

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  57. Well put. And a good reminder that sometimes, no matter how much we crave "information," the best thing to do is to wait. Well, the best thing for those of us who aren't directly involved in the investigation, that is. If you are directly involved, I guess you shouldn't be waiting, but that's another issue.

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  58. Thank you Jim. This is by far the best of the posts that I have read.
    Marie

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  59. Your posts often calm me during "the crap" that happens. This is one of the many I am referring to. Thank you.

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  60. Thank you. Now I really do understand why I have chosen to netflix reruns of "Mad Men" instead of watching the news since the bombing.

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  61. I just wanted to say, this is the sanest piece I've read since the bombing. I was dismayed how quickly talk turned from the tragedy to the standard set of speculation and unfounded conspiracy rumour that we seem to have to hear about ever tragedy these days.

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  62. After seeing the initial reporting of the bombings, my wife told me that she fully expected, over the course of the next few days, that we would all be inundated with reports about pressure cooker bombs, how easy they are to make, where to get the materials, etc. The next morning, starting with the Today Show, began the lessons and tutorials in all that, plus one local news station in Florida who brought on an 'expert' who was explaining how to place them for maximum effect (i.e., they blow out sideways with the shrapnel rather than upward through the lid).
    I know it's not the most sophisticated device in a terrorist's arsenal but is it really necessary to educate all the millions of viewers in the name of "news"?

    ReplyDelete
  63. My new hero - Sgt William Swanton, Waco PD speaking to the media <12 hours after the West, TX explosion - "This is a painstaking process. These people are doing everything they need to do at the speed they need to do it. Not at the speed you want information. So SHUT THE FUCK UP and GO AWAY until we HAVE more information." (I paraphrased the last bit. But that was his meaning.) Tommy D

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  64. I have only one question... what's a faceplam?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just put that in there to see if you were paying attention. Good job (said in my best Hancock impression)

      Delete
    2. When you facepalm so hard, it can be heard axross the room - PLAM!

      Bruce

      Delete
  65. Well, as I'm sure you'll all read tomorrow, at least one of the suspects that the FBI was looking for in relation to the bombing has been apprehended after much mayhem in Massachusetts. The other one is still at large. At least one police officer is confirmed killed at MIT (where tonight's incidents started) and possibly a second one is down as well. I'm sure there will be more information available in the morning. What a mess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looks like one of bombers is dead. And they are two brothers from Chechnya.

      Delete
  66. Dude, I hope you're not getting tired rebutting fanciful theories of the uninformed, because I most enjoy your writing on these topics. However, I would like to request you publish more of the insane comments, with your eloquent responses . Please don't underestimate how fun this is to read. It's such a childish pleasure to read confident fools being confronted, but it helps me relax. Understand if you don't, though.

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  67. I am impressed with how quickly the FBI and other governmental agencies were able to identify the bombers.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Jim, you might want to give this blog a look. http://goodmorninggloucester.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/jim-dowd-responds-to-the-attack-on-the-boston-marathon/

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    Replies
    1. That was awesome. Thanks for the link, Anonymous.

      Delete
  69. Mmm hmmm. Feels good to talk about how smart and tough we are and what we'd do to the perps (now, events having overtaken us, one surviving perp. Assuming it's really him, presumption of innocence and all that.)

    I've seen a lot of Bostonians in print saying basically "this isn't going to change us, or Boston, or the Marathon." Mmm hmmm. Wonder what the security's going to be like at next year's Marathon? Or any other big Marathon in any other big city, going forward. Or 150K bike ride or charity run, you name it. Think you're going to be allowed to have a backpack or a duffel bag?

    ReplyDelete

Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.