By Doug Porter
Now that one Boston Marathon bombing suspect is dead and another has been captured the debate on the right seems to have swung around to arguing over whether or not a trial is even needed before execution takes place.
After all, this is “terrorism” by baby-killing “Muslims”. Be afraid, they say. Be very afraid. And the only rational “fight or flight” response in the conservative mindset is more violence.
Some public officials have called for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to be tried as a military combatant rather than in civilian courts. Others have urged that torture be used, although waterboarding might not be as effective as they dream it might be, given that Tsarnaev has a hole in his throat from a failed suicide attempt.
From Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, via The Hill:
“What do you think of water boarding the Boston killer sometime prior to allowing our doctors to make him well?” Trump tweeted. “I suspect he may talk!”
Others are seeking to use the week old bombings to further other parts of the conservative agenda. The primary strategy for defeating the immigration reforms being considered in the Senate is to stall and amend them to death. From the Los Angeles Times:
A top Republican senator, citing the Boston bombings, warned Friday against rushing ahead with a reform of the country’s immigration laws, as concerns about terrorism appeared to revive conservative opposition to the proposal.
“While we don’t yet know the immigration status of the people who have terrorized the communities in Massachusetts, when we find out, it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system. How can individuals evade authorities and plan such attacks on our soil? How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the U.S.? How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws, including this new bill before us?”
Reflecting on the Possibilities
Not everybody’s being an ass-hat about this. Indeed, media reports out of Boston indicated that, while local residents were glad the seige was over and grateful for the efforts of first responders and law enforcement, there was no rush to judgement taking place.
Glen Greenwald over at the Guardian raises the question of whether this was actually terrorism:
It’s certainly possible that it will turn out that, if they are guilty, their prime motive was political or religious. But it’s also certainly possible that it wasn’t: that it was some combination of mental illness, societal alienation, or other form of internal instability and rage that is apolitical in nature. Until their motive is known, how can this possibly be called “terrorism”? Can acts of violence be deemed “terrorism” without knowing the motive?
This is far more than a semantic question. Whether something is or is not “terrorism” has very substantial political implications, and very significant legal consequences as well. The word “terrorism” is, at this point, one of the most potent in our political lexicon: it single-handedly ends debates, ratchets up fear levels, and justifies almost anything the government wants to do in its name. It’s hard not to suspect that the only thing distinguishing the Boston attack from Tuscon, Aurora, Sandy Hook and Columbine (to say nothing of the US “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad and the mass killings in Fallujah) is that the accused Boston attackers are Muslim and the other perpetrators are not. As usual, what terrorism really means in American discourse – its operational meaning – is: violence by Muslims against Americans and their allies. For the manipulative use of the word “terrorism”, see the scholarship of NYU’s Remi Brulin and the second-to-last section here.
And anthropologist Sarah Kendzior, writing in Al Jazeera, offers an important perspective on the ‘Chechen profiling’ prevalent in the discussions underway about this case:
One way to test whether you are reading a reasonable analysis of the Tsarnaev case – and yes, they exist – is to replace the word “Chechen” with another ethnicity. “I could always spot the Chechens in Vienna,” writes journalist Oliver Bulloughs in the New York Times . “They were darker-haired than the Austrians; they dressed more snappily, like 1950s gangsters; they never had anything to do.” Now substitute the word “Jews” for “Chechens”. Minority-hunting in Vienna never ends well .
David Carr, writing in the New York Times, writes on the many-splendered failures in the media:
If legacy media were falling short, the new order did not look all that promising either. A crowd-sourced witch hunt took place on Reddit, identifying innocents as suspects, and Twitter was alive with both misinformation and outrage at the mistakes. (There were many curiously triumphal posts about the death of old media in Twitter feeds that were full of links to that same old media.)
Speaking about CNN’s misreporting, he continues:
Part of the reason that we still want CNN to be great is that at a moment when information and news seem to have done a jailbreak — bursting forth everywhere in all sorts of ways — it would be nice to have a village common where a reliable provider of news held the megaphone. By marketing itself as the most trusted name in news, CNN is and should be held to a higher standard.
When the news finally broke with certainty — in a sign of the times, the Boston Police Department confirmed it on Twitter before many outlets, including CNN, did — chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” could be heard on the streets. But even as Mr. Obama took to the air to cite the police work that made that moment possible, he talked about the reporting that fell short.
Koch Bros. Media Buying Story Gets a New Life
The New York Times breathed new life this weekend into a story originally advanced in the LA Weekly a while back with an account detailing efforts by the Koch Brothers to buy up the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant. From the NYT account:
Seton Motley, president of Less Government, an organization devoted to shrinking the role of the government, said the 2012 presidential election reinforced the view that conservatives needed a broader media presence.
“A running joke among conservatives as we watched the G.O.P. establishment spend $500 million on ineffectual TV ads is ‘Why don’t you just buy NBC?’ ” Mr. Motley said. “It’s good the Kochs are talking about fighting fire with a little fire.”
Tim Worstall, writing at Forbes, isn’t buying the ideological slant:
Thus the basic idea of buying a newspaper chain in order to change the views of the populace just isn’t going to work. The political orientation of a newspaper is determined the other way around. There would be no point in making the LAT a “conservative” newspaper as there’s only about three conservatives in the paper’s catchment area.
On That ‘Other’ Disaster in Texas
From Reuters we learn that the main Federal regulatory agency overseeing the Texas fertilizer plant that exploded last week had no idea about the amount of explosive chemicals being stored on site. The West Fertilizer Company had failed to report they were storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Fertilizer plants and depots must report to the DHS when they hold 400 pounds or more of the substance. Filings this year with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which weren’t shared with DHS, show the plant had 270 tons of it on hand last year.
A separate EPA program, known as Tier II, requires reporting of ammonium nitrate and other hazardous chemicals stored above certain quantities. Tier II reports are submitted to local fire departments and emergency planning and response groups to help them plan for and respond to chemical disasters. In Texas, the reports are collected by the Department of State Health Services. Over the last seven years, according to reports West Fertilizer filed, 2012 was the only time the company stored ammonium nitrate at the facility.
It reported having 270 tons on site.
Congressman Wants Border Crossing Funding Held Hostage
KPBS was reporting waits of up to 3.5 hours this morning at local border crossings. And if Congressman Darrell Issa gets his way, they’ll continue to wait until his oil company friends get their way on the Keystone XL Pipeline. From the IB Patch:
Issa, a North County Republican whose district includes southern Orange County, told 600 members of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce that if Democrats want the border crossing funds, they’ll have to bend on another border issue—the Keystone XL pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico.
“You can’t be territorial on import and export,” Issa told the luncheon at the bayfront Marriott Hotel near the San Diego Convention Center. “If you want to get bipartisan buy-in on these trade issues, you have to take the big picture.”
Calling the XL pipeline “just as important to the national dialog” as San Diego’s border with Mexico, he said: “Right now, we’re tellingCanada that we will stop the exports of their oil for no particular reason except that we can.”
That’s right. There are no other issues, here. (Each one of those links is to a separate group opposing the pipeline.) Ya gotta love that Republican reality spin.
Heads We Win, Tails You Lose
By now you’ve probably been exposed to stories in the news media about the steady increase in home sales. Why, some analysts are even saying there’s an impending shortage of housing. Don’t drink that Kool-aid. Please.
From today’s Washington Post:
If the chain of easy credit and dangerous leverage that started on Wall Street fanned the housing bubble and eventual crash, some analysts find it disturbing that major investors are the ones snapping up the bargains — and eventual big profits — left in its wake.
“There is the possibility that Wall Street and the banks and the affluent 1 percent stand to gain the most from this,” said Jack McCabe, a real estate consultant based in Deerfield Beach, Fla. “Meanwhile, lower-income Americans will lose their opportunity for the American Dream of building wealth through owning a home.”
Real estate executives say institutional investors — who in some cases are bidding on hundreds of homes a day — account for as much as 70 percent of sales in some Florida markets. Over the past two years, analysts say, they also have accounted for a majority of purchases in other parts of the country where housing prices are rebounding sharply.
Corporations Paying No Taxes: Isn’t This Special?
Some companies aren’t waiting for the TeaBagger-led revolution to reduce their tax load. Why pay taxes when you don’t have to? From today’s New York Times:
A small but growing number of American corporations, operating in businesses as diverse as private prisons, billboards and casinos, are making an aggressive move to reduce — or even eliminate — their federal tax bills.
They are declaring that they are not ordinary corporations at all. Instead, they say, they are something else: special trusts that are typically exempt from paying federal taxes.
The trust structure has been around for years but, until recently, it was generally used only by funds holding real estate. Now, the likes of the Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and operates 44 prisons and detention centers across the nation, have quietly received permission from the Internal Revenue Service to put on new corporate clothes and, as a result, save many millions on taxes.
Another Bunch of Heroes from Boston
Finally, this, from Laura Clauson:
The attention-seeking scum of Westboro Baptist Church, true to form, threatened that they’d be picketing at the funeral of Boston Marathon bombing victim Krystle Campbell this morning. In response, Teamsters from Boston’s Local 25 laid plans to form a human shield. By 8 AM, the Boston Globe reports, 200 Teamsters had gathered at the funeral site.
The Teamsters lined the road leading to the church. According to O’Brien, residents of Medford, where the funeral is being held, reached out to the Teamsters; Local 25 is a long-time, major force in the Boston area. Krystle Campbell’s mother and brother are members of UNITE HERE Local 26, intensifying the local union community’s sense of solidarity and support for all the victims of the bombing.
Apparently the Westboro gang turned tail and ran, according to news accounts. Cool Facebook pic & story here.
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltrain, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day: 1954 – The U.S. Senate Army-McCarthy televised hearings began. 1970 – The first “Earth Day” was observed by millions of Americans. 1978 – John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd made their first appearance as The Blues Brothers on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
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