Saturday, April 20, 2013

Patriotic Anti-Terror Cult Rises Again

Our long five-day national nightmare isn't over till it's over. Now begins Part Two of the long national nightmare of media frenzy, political pablum, the noblesse oblige honorifics from the austerian ruling class to the brave first responders whose wages and ranks they're freezing and whose pensions they're raiding, mindless flag-waving, obsessive-compulsive quoting of biblical scripture. It won't stop, until we all lose interest and it stops.

The stoppage will be sudden and as if by mutual consent of all the players. But do look for non-stop non-stoppage throughout this slow-news weekend period.

Just a bit of preliminary opinionating on What It All Means.

1. The fact that the perpetrators are Muslims will unfortunately give further justification to the Islamaphobic ethnic profilers in our militarized police state. The no-fly list will expand to include Russians, Czechs (whom many are now confusing with Chechens) and all Eastern Europeans with unprononouncable names. FBI agents provocateurs will be able to expand their terror-manufacturing capabilities far beyond the Middle Eastern demographic. In general, the civil liberties of all us will be taking another huge hit. And most of us will ovinely accept it. They'll tell us to run for our freedoms, and we'll run. But we can't hide.  

2. Congress will bipartisanly appropriate many more billions for Homeland Security vehicles, Homeland Security couture, Homeland Security bunkers and fusion centers, Homeland Security sound-blasters and all the other stage props of the intrusive and inept police security state that were put on full, over-killing, terror-theater display on Friday. They will refuse, however, to fund a government jobs program to increase hiring the unemployed in Boston and all other municipalities.

3. With a few rare exceptions, mainstream journalists also clinched their reputations as one amazingly shallow and inept bunch. (the award goes to CNN, which at least had the sense to yank premature arrest ejaculator John King off the air on Friday)

4. U.S attorney Carmen Ortiz is still amazingly on the job in Massachusetts after her outrageous prosecutorial misconduct in the Aaron Swartz case, and has chosen to not give the surviving bombing suspect his Miranda rights. There's already a hue and cry from the usual suspects (Lindsey Graham) to send Dzokhar Tsarnaev to Gitmo as an "enemy combatant" instead of trying him as a murder suspect in a domestic court. By the time he is maybe, eventually, put on trial, actual media coverage will be sparse to sporadic anyway. But the War on Terror will have taken on a whole new life.

5. The bombings might provide a perfect excuse for our political xenophobes to put the kibosh on immigration reform. Unless, of course, their addiction to border drones and cheap household help and farm labor trumps their ideology. Stay tuned.

6. President Obama is looking more and more like President Buzz Windrip (the fascist demagogue of It Can't Happen Here) as he drones on in one church after another, one disaster scene after another, his appeal rapidly eroding as his populist campaign promises devolve into the bleak, harsh double agenda of National Security and Economic Austerity. 

And although more people are beginning to notice his hypocrisy, as well as the victims on the receiving end of our own exceptionally American brand of terror, we will continue to meekly acquiesce in droves as we wave our flags and send our prayers.

Until, as if by mutual consent, we suddenly wake up and smell the cognitive dissonance.


Anonymous said...

"Cognitive Dissonance," an excellent choice of phrase. With all the failures of DHS and the FBI with these two "terrorists," it should argue for the dissolution of Homeland Security as the colossal failure that it is and the money pit that it is. But, of course, only more resources will be thrown at DHS. (BTW the FBI really stands for "Famous But Incompetent.") Isaac Asimov flagged this scenario in his famous "Foundation" trilogy: you cannot statistically predict for a mutant, or, in this case, the act of a single radicalized individual such as the likes of Tim McVeigh. And now these two. But, the hysteria continues....

James F Traynor said...

Karen, I agree totally with your enumerated points. For some reason your mention of police couture particularly bothered me, and that fact has irritated me for some time. And so, yesterday, I examined more closely this feeling I have. It actually goes back a long way to a time when I turned around to find two conservation officers, in black with what were either M-15 or M-16 assault rifles, covering us as we tracked a young male moose who had wandered onto a built up community - constituting a menace greater than the errant animal. What disgusts me about this whole thing is the utter lack of professionalism.

I know this may seem a piddling thing (and it does, even to me in a way). But it is even evident in our language. How did 'at this time' evolve into 'at this point in time'? As a wordsmith I imagine you could point out a lot more. I think this whole thing (police couture, language style) is symptomatic of a delusional shift in our culture. I think we've really gone nuts.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

A fine and very relevant column, Karen.

According to CDC data for 2010 (the last year for which a final tabulation is available), 2,468,435 people died in the U.S. that year. That's 6,762 per day.

2013 death rates and the causes thereof should be very similar. Table reading, elementary math, and minimal thought --- three skills apparently in short supply in the American populace --- should unequivocally inform us that the odds of harm from terrorism within the United States are minuscule, both in absolute terms and relative to the other problems that can do us in. The five leading causes of death are, in order: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, and (unintentional) accidents. Even murder --- let alone terrorism --- doesn't make the "top-ten" list.

Yet the people quake in fear of criminals and terrorists, and have allowed the politicians to manipulate those fears to construct a surveillance/ national security/ militarized police/ penitentiary state.

(Yes, quite apart from the "national security" obsession (usually considered to mean against foreign threats), the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. To see what an outlier the U.S. is in these matters:

Note especially the contrast between the U.S. and Canada or Western Europe.)

Of course, all that concern with enemies foreign and domestic distracts the populace from the true problems of this nation, and genuine solutions. Perhaps most dangerous, though, is that we are building an infrastructure for tyranny. Minimal knowledge of history should make people understand just how dangerous that is, but like reading, math, and thought, historical competency is also grossly inadequate.

horace said...

Miranda rights were suspended for Tsarnaev because of the public safety exemption to Miranda rights.

Denis Neville said...

Why should we care that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is not being read his Miranda Rights?

The Center for Constitutional Rights condemns Miranda exception in Boston Marathon suspect case:

“Like Obama's expanded killing program and his perpetuation of indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo, this is yet another erosion of the Constitution to lay directly at the President's feet. Obama's Justice Department unilaterally expanded the "public safety exception" to Miranda in 2010 beyond anything the Supreme Court ever authorized. Each time the administration use this exception, it stretches wider and longer. However horrific the crime, continuing to erode constitutional rights invites continued abuse by law enforcement, and walks us down a dangerous path that becomes nearly impossible to reverse.”

Constitution, Schmonstitution! Throwing grenades at police was throwing his presumption of innocence under a bus. He’s not even an American citizen at that point. By committing such a horrible act against The United States, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev canceled his American citizenship. Besides, this barely American Mooslim terrorist absolutely does not deserve due process. We’re Americans!!!

And so it begins. There will be plenty of demonizing, overreaction, and further militarizing our local police forces in the coming weeks:

“The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to ‘remain silent.’” - South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, also a trained lawyer, a colonel in Air Force Reserve, and a member of the Air Force’s Judge Advocate General's Corps

Why is it that people like Graham, who spend an inordinate amount of time professing their dedication and fealty to the United States Constitution, are among the first to toss the Constitution out the window the moment it becomes inconvenient to their desires?

No Miranda? It's America, where we will have exactly the rights of the least of among us: absolutely none.

Karen Garcia said...

Maureen Dowd's column this weekend is about how Obama doesn't know how to govern, is inept at arm-twisting to get gun control done. My response:

It's perfectly understandable that Obama couldn't garner 60 votes to pass tepid background check legislation. The unbelievable part is that the 54 "aye" votes didn't constitute a majority.

This failure can be laid squarely at the feet of Harry Reid, who once again shook hands with his pal Mitch McConnell on a deal in which the GOP would play nice from now on. And Obama heartily congratulated the two miscreants for their bipartisan filiblustering.

Meanwhile, two victims of gun violence witnessing the vote were arrested and removed by Capitol police as they shouted "shame" at the senators who sided with the NRA. And Joe Biden unbelievably called for "decorum" in the visitors' gallery rather than for decency from his own colleagues.

In the Rose Garden gun control defeat ceremony, Obama the Indignant acknowledged that our leaders are ignoring the wishes of 90% of the citizens. And then he proceeded to cheerily wine and dine a group of Wall Street Democrats to discuss his grand plan to cut Social Security, despite the wishes of 90% of the people.

It's not that Obama doesn't know how to govern. It's that his real job is to be the personable, neoliberal free-market technocrat who staunchly protects the interests of the wealthy donor class. Emotively nibbling around the edges of focus group-approved social issues, he aims to keep an increasingly impoverished and restive populace happy, hopey, tranquillized and grateful.

It's a big con, and Obama is a true artist.

Jay - Ottawa said...

In addition to Fred’s sound advice about citizens developing a sense of proportion with the help of math and history, Americans must also build a sensitivity to what Karen rightly labels the “big con,” no matter who is pulling it off. Otherwise, we become willing helpers of the corporatists in – what a phrase! – “building an infrastructure for tyranny.”

At Glenn Greenwald’s column of this morning you’ll find a detailed explanation of why it’s profoundly unwise (in a real democracy) to suspend Miranda because of a so-called “public safety exemption.”

Open the door a crack to exceptions on Miranda, and Miranda will be (already has been, and will increasingly be) undercut totally at the discretion of police, prosecutors and judges adept at smoothing the way to tyranny.

Build an exceptional machine against the most despised criminal of today, and you’ll find the same machine rolling over you tomorrow. As Denis sums it up, we shall end up (all of us) with “the rights of the least of among us: absolutely none.”

Denis Neville said...

In New York v. Quarles [1984], Chief Justice William Rehnquist ruled that law enforcement officials need not read suspects their Miranda rights in a situation where immediate public safety is at stake:

“We conclude that the need for answers to questions in a situation posing a threat to the public safety outweighs the need for the prophylactic rule protecting the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination ... In recognizing a narrow exception to the Miranda rule in this case, we acknowledge that to some degree we lessen the desirable clarity of that rule ... The exception will not be difficult for police officers to apply because in each case it will be circumscribed by the exigency which justifies it. We think police officers can and will distinguish almost instinctively between questions necessary to secure their own safety or the safety of the public and questions designed solely to elicit testimonial evidence from a suspect.”

In his blistering dissent, Justice Thurgood Marshall challenged Rehnquist's argument that there was a balancing act between public safety and the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination:

“Miranda was not a decision about public safety; it was a decision about coerced confessions. Without establishing that interrogations concerning the public's safety are less likely to be coercive than other interrogations, the majority cannot endorse the "public safety" exception and remain faithful to the logic of Miranda v. Arizona.”

This would never happen because, as Marshall noted, "custodial interrogations are inherently coercive".

Marshall pointed out that the public safety exception was never anything more than a plausible lie, or as he more diplomatically termed it a "chimerical quest." He wrote that "a public safety exception destroys forever the clarity of Miranda for both law enforcement officers and members of the judiciary. The Court's candor cannot mask what a serious loss the administration of justice has incurred."

The Obama administration supposedly stands for the rule of law and the restoration of America’s legal standing. Yet they will allow investigators to interrogate Boston Marathon bombing suspect without informing him of his rights because they want to engage in the coercive interrogation of Tsarnaev. The public safety exception gives them the excuse to do so.

This is not just about Tsarnaev's rights. It is about the loss of all our rights.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Zee said...

Can't post internationally from Mexico.



Zee said...

I Think i've quoted Uncle Ben similarly.

Zee, Denis

James F Traynor said...

To me the one glaring problem with democracy is the 'tyranny of the majority'. That's why the 5th is there. But in practice it's a hell of a job to keep that in sight, to protect it against demagogues manipulating the enraged public id. That's what really pisses me off about Obama. Considering his legal training and background he should know better and he does. He's just another sleazy bastard.

Outsida said...

Who needs Congress to pass gun control? President Obama makes a far better benevolent dictator than negotiator. He's a stealth kind of guy and a gifted actor. He knows he needs the support of passionately loyal followers to pull off unconstitutional restrictions, ala NDAA, and he's really working the passion lately.

My guess is that Obama secretly welcomes the legislative loss on gun control legislation. He can gain more sympathy and support, and probably more restrictive gun laws later, under the cover of protecting the Homeland.

His true blue Homeland Security family, including Sister Lindsey and Brother John, will undoubtedly be of invaluable help with that one. Congress had no problem gutting the rest of the Bill of Rights when they passed Obama's recent tyrannical NDAAs. It's Obama's ace and he knows it.

Zee said...


Protection from the tyranny of the majority is the reason for the entire Bill of Rights, not just the Fifth Amendment.

It's also the reason for the existence of the Senate and the Electoral College.

And Denis, I see that over at Reality Chex you are a very impractical liberal.

On the topic of the Fifth Amendment, Marie forgets that

"Principle is a terrible thing, because it demands not what is convenient, but what is right."

--Jonathan Turley

Miss Sarcasm said...

Can someone tell me why "THEY" hate us INNOCENT Americans? Why?


Our President won the Nobel Peace Prize! That PROVES we are INNOCENT!


Why do THEY hate U.S.?

We give THEM foreign aid and everything, and this is what we get in return?



Ugly American said...

Miss Sarcasm is right on.

And we don't have a materialistic, shallow, selfish, greedy, hypocritical, vengeful, or violent streak in us either. I just don't understand how anyone in their right mind could ever feel like they don't fit in here in Amerika.

We're not just INNOCENT, we're clueless - and proud of it!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the commentary here. Outside of Miranda rights,I'm not entirely convinced that these guys are even guilty. Yes, I know they said there were gun battles, the MIT officer was killed and the older brother supposedly threw bombs at the police and was wearing explosives--but where exactly did all of those reports come from? We know the press is merely going to run with whatever they're told without any investigation, so what real evidence do we have that these guys actually did it? There are a few things that make me question the whole thing. First, how many people do you know who are going to appear normal one day and then suddenly snap and go bomb someone? The whole manner in which this is portrayed supports even more security since " we really don't know anyone". This so because that notion creates the feeling of insecurity among the populace and moves them towards accepting anything security measures that the government proposes simply because "we don't really know anyone" but "we do know the government", so let them protect us. Secondly, notice how the narrative has quickly formed around this whole event and the supposed motivation of the alleged perps. The one brother is dead and the remaining one is too injured to talk, so this whole narrative has sprung up just around speculation. There is no concrete evidential matter and these guys have been tried and convicted merely on speculation. Also, the last gun battle doesn't make sense to me. This guy is lying wounded curled up in a boat and upon being discovered, can't even muster the strength to get away. How is it that he has the wherewithal to engage the cops in a gun battle? It makes no sense to me and the fact that a narrative has sprung up so quickly that supports an expanded security state and more war makes me highly skeptical of the entire thing. Yes, it could very well be that the thing is as they say, but I really have my doubts.

Pearl said...

Denis: Thank you for all the information you provided to us about the importance of not removing legal rights from people who are believed guilty of heinous acts even when it is obvious. It reminds me of the possible reason among others why McCarthy victims often used the Fifth Amendment to refuse to answer questions for the following reasons. I looked up this part of an official explanation.

"The Fifth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights and it holds that
individuals cannot be required to give the government information which may be used against them in criminal cases........ If an individual is indicted and taken to trial by the government, he cannot be required to testify against himself. The government must have enough information before the
indictment to convict the individual without his own testimony. The Fifth
Amendment protections we all enjoy are thus extremely important to protect us against government PROSECUTION and PERSECUTION. (The large print mine).

Therefore by denying our bomber his Miranda rights, etc. the interpretation of his class of crimes are based on the interpretation of possibly biased people. This, shifted to more questionable interpretations of national crimes such as was believed by the McCarthy supporters, could end in denying these citizens their civil rights.
This is what might have happened to them had they not legally refused to
answer questions (some of the order of have you stopped beating your wife)
by using the Fifth Amendment. This alone was an excuse by organizations to not hire such people as was rampant in the University Community as I personally remember all too well.

We should be grateful to the founding fathers who had the foresight to warn
of possible government bias toward civil rights which are being eroded at a rapid rate by our present administration and I appreciate some
readers mentioning how our president has continued to ignore his education in Constitutional Law.

Had the Miranda rights been available during the McCarthy years, how would this have affected the need for targeted people to use the Fifth Amendment which affected their employment status? And could it have prevented some of the groups like the Unamerican Activities Committee from pursuing their forcible interrogations?

Will said...

Here's a youtube video uploaded last Monday which I imagine will promote some discussion here in the Sardonicky Salon. It's entitled "Active Duty Soldier Illegally Disarmed And Arrested."

CitiZen said...

I ponder a few things about the Boston bombing. First of course is why the FBI didn't recognize the suspects, having interviewed one of them - but not the other? Are we to believe that the the FBI actually did NOT play their usual sting game where they lure and arm their targets with fake bombs then arrest them after the fakes don't go off. Since when did they stop doing that?

Why was the FBI so sure the perps were staying in the area instead of fleeing? Initially they would not release the photos because they 'didn't want to spook them into running' (until the FBI was ready, apparently), like the FBI KNEW they were locals and would stick around.

How about that video at the race that showed a woman in yellow following these two guys, spaced similarly to them, and she too was carrying a heavy backpack. The FBI told the public they ONLY wanted help to identify the two guys, no one else. Many viewers questioned why they weren't considering her as suspicious. Was she an FBI agent? Or are they turning a blind eye again?

When a bloody man was discovered in a boat in a residential neighborhood, why did the local police engage in a shootout instead of involving the entire team first, including the FBI? Did the FBI approve that plan? What was the hurry? He was already down. They knew he was wounded. It's a good thing people record every sight and sound on their phones, or we might still believe only 4 flashbangs were used and not the previous 60-odd rounds of gunfire 'exchanged' by the barely conscious wounded boy. The media reported only the gunfire as flashbangs, BEFORE the actual flashbangs occurred.

Why did they open fire with houses close by when they said they suspected he might have a bomb strapped to him and knew the boat had fuel on board (per the homeowner)? Trigger happy? Someone was sure he had no bomb strapped on?

Why did the police tell everyone to shelter in place and 'not open your doors to anyone except properly identified police', as if the bombers would KNOCK FIRST. Wouldn't they just bust down the door?

I've never seen or heard of a better reason to have a firearm in your home. You never know when they might get the perimeter wrong again. If you live one block outside the search zone, you're on your own. Don't open the door when they knock! Next time there could be a marauding gang or militia. Good luck, folks!

'Boston Strong' is actually the display and control of militarized police, not the house arrest of an obedient city hiding unarmed in their homes. Sounds good though - like something that instills pride and SELLS.

Who trusts or believes anything that the duplicitous government says or does anymore. Only people who are properly frightened into giving up all their rights in exchange for a false sense of security.

Zee said...


Hardly surprising that neither the public nor the police know--or care about--the law anymore in this "age of fear."

Still, a tad bit naive of the soldier to carry an AR-15 instead of a discretely holstered and covered handgun and NOT expect to draw negative attention to himself.

Sometimes it's not worth trying to make a point about one's constitutional rights.

Zee said...


Hardly surprising that neither the public nor the police know--or care about--the law anymore in this "age of fear."

Still, a tad bit naive of the soldier to carry an AR-15 instead of a discretely holstered and covered handgun and NOT expect to draw negative attention to himself.

Sometimes it's not worth trying to make a point about one's constitutional rights.

Jay - Ottawa said...

How these events do bring out the best in us.

Conspiracies or no conspiracies, I'm clear on one thing: the terrorists are winning, thanks to another one of those lopsided 1%/99% dynamics that seems impossible to set right.

The nihilists – or was it the provocateur, make-believe nihilists in the secret spook service? – make the first move. Something seriously violent happens. First-responders do their duty.

But then our best and brightest "Second Responders" take over. With gusto. Who and why become an open-ended, never-ending preoccupation. To cover all the possible answers, our presumed and trusted defenders of the peace launch an all-out war in all directions.

Money, blood, civil liberties, blah-blah-blah down the tube.

Game over.

Will we ever learn? The ploy of nihilists is to get the other side to overreact with greater violence. He who keeps his cool and holds his fire, curiously, wins out in both the short and long term.

Which of the following has or is now overreacting? The media? The government? The populace? Me? All of the above?

CitiZen said...

City-wide lockdown - think about it. No photos, no recordings, no cell phone calls for help or for tips, no witnesses to anything. The official version of events will conveniently go undisputed.

'A law enforcement official says cellphone service has been shut down in the Boston area to prevent any potential remote detonations of explosives'. That's as good an excuse as any.

Kat said...

Yes, yes, yes to everyone's comments and the original post.
Caught Zee's comment about Denis and checked out the source. Well young man, what do you have to say for yourself? Nice dressing down. Actually, it made no sense to me. Hmm... wonder why it was so much easier for Denis to make his point clearly?

Denis Neville said...

“Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip, but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip.” – George Orwell

When it comes to informing Tsarnaev of his Fifth Amendment rights, some of Obama’s most ardent supporters are also buying into the myth that ordinary police process is inadequate for dealing with domestic terrorism (if it qualifies as an act of terrorism). Being incapable of opposing Obama’s deplorable position on civil liberties, they are also unable to resist the temptation to violate civil liberties.

They forget the first principles of government:

“The moral principle of revolutions is to instruct, not to destroy. Had a constitution been established two years ago (as ought to have been done), the violences that have since desolated France and injured the character of the Revolution, would, in my opinion, have been prevented. The nation would then have had a bond of union, and every individual would have known the line of conduct he was to follow. But, instead of this, a revolutionary government, a thing without either principle or authority, was substituted in its place; virtue and crime depended upon accident; and that which was patriotism one day became treason the next.

“All these things have followed from the want of a constitution; for it is the nature and intention of a constitution to prevent governing by party, by establishing a common principle that shall limit and control the power and impulse of party, and that says to all parties, thus far shalt thou go and no further. But in the absence of a constitution, men look entirely to party; and instead of principle governing party, party governs principle. An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” - Thomas Paine, A Dissertation on the First Principles of Government (1795)

Zee said...

I don't have the tools to easily copy the link to the Reuters article but I see that some are "Shocked...shocked!" to learn that the Tsarneav (sp?) brothers did not have PERMITS for the guns that they carried.

I'm guessing that they didn't have PERMITS for their home-made bombs, either.

Throw the book at 'em I say, and make home-made bombs illegal!