“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A few weeks back, we speculated as to why The Department of Homeland Security purchased 1.8 billion bullets in the last 10 months alone. After Boston, we know. The federal government has in place the ability to federalize a standing army with heavy mechanized assault vehicles in any community in the country. The Second Amendment has been reduced to a relic. There is no civilian force that can defy the post 911 US Police State apparatus.

Bombs may rouse a monster

April 22, 2013

An overreaction to Boston could see the US wielding excessive powers against the wrong people.

The success or failure from the point of view of the perpetrators of an attack like the bombing of the Boston Marathon depends on the reaction of those targeted.

The September 11 attacks succeeded as an act of terror because it led to the US fighting disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and sanctioning the use of torture and imprisonment without trial. It turned the US into a more authoritarian state in which civil liberties are curtailed or discounted, and spawned an elephantine and costly security apparatus.

It was depressing to see heavily armed Swat teams with assault rifles and body armour debouching from armoured vehicles in Boston as they used to do in Belfast. Curfews, which people in Baghdad and Fallujah have become inured to, suddenly become acceptable in Massachusetts. In contrast to Northern Ireland and Iraq, this is done to the applause of local inhabitants. The reason for Swat teams and curfews is understandable, but measures such as these get people cumulatively accustomed to accepting without protest an authoritarian government.

Much of the initial impact of the Boston bombing and the pursuit of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will dissipate. Unfolding stories like this swiftly shift from being over-covered to under-covered. Journalists know the feeling of relief and frustration when editors back home decide that the story to which they have been giving wall-to-wall coverage, is old news.

Unfortunately, this often happens at the very moment when the long-term significance of what has happened is becoming clearer. Pundits who have been making embarrassingly premature comments based on too limited evidence may at last have something revealing to say. Instead, they find that the media caravan has moved on and is no longer interested in their views.

An outcome of the bombings will be an enhanced sense of public insecurity, and support for those who claim to be doing something about it. Before the Boston attack there were signs of restiveness in the US at the excessive size of the post-September 11 security bureaucracy at a time of budget cuts.

The FBI, put in charge of investigating domestic terrorism by President Bush, has 103 joint terrorism task forces, supposedly linking local and state police to federal terrorism investigators.

As a result of September 11, the US has the services of the National Counterterrorism Centre, which analyses and collates intelligence for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. This, in turn, co-ordinates and oversees the work of the US's 17 intelligence agencies. Then there is the sterling work of the Department of Homeland Security, which unites the 22 federal departments and agencies that employ 240,000 people.

The creation of a bureaucratic leviathan like this is more likely to impede than assist the gathering and analysis of intelligence. Too many people do not know what they are doing and there are too many layers of responsibility. Such vast organisations are on an endless quest to justify and expand their own influence and protect themselves from rivals. Power delegated to them because of a single crime is seldom reclaimed.
The World Trade Centre's destruction on September 11 is the obvious example of an event used to justify the expansion of security agencies. For a compendium of these events, it is well worth reading the newly published The Annals of Unsolved Crime by Edward Jay Epstein, one of the greatest American investigative journalists. It is a compelling and informed account of how crime and the needs of power and politics intertwine.

Epstein recalls that the kidnapping of the child of aviator Charles Lindbergh in 1932 enabled J. Edgar Hoover ''to expand the FBI, which he had headed since its creation, into a national police agency''. Police arrested a carpenter called Bruno Hauptmann, who had part of the ransom paid by Lindbergh in his garage. He was found guilty of kidnapping and murder. It is likely he was a member of a gang of swindlers cashing in on a crime they had not committed themselves. No fingerprints, fibres, footprints or witnesses ever showed that Hauptmann was in the Lindbergh house. Executed in 1936, he rejected an offer of $50,000 from Hearst newspapers, and another by the governor of New Jersey, to commute his death sentence in return for a confession.

Criminal investigations have become far more sophisticated. But Epstein's account of the FBI's pursuit of the person responsible for the anthrax attacks in 2001 suggests that this investigation was even more perverted by the need to show results. The anthrax, of a particularly virulent strain, was sent by letter and killed five people. Having decided early on that the sender was a ''lone wolf'' American scientist, the FBI pursued several scientists who seemed to fit this profile. One, Dr Steven Hatfill, was so closely investigated (the press alerted to the FBI's suspicions), that he lost his job, contracts, and many associates. He sued the government, a federal judge expressing outrage that the FBI had pursued him for five years without ''a scintilla of evidence''. He was awarded $5.8 million in compensation.

Undaunted, the FBI went after another scientist, Dr Bruce Ivins, offering $2.5 million to his twins to testify against their father. Under pressure, bankrupted by legal fees, drinking heavily and having suffered a mental breakdown, Dr Ivins killed himself in 2008. A week later, the FBI declared Dr Ivins the sole perpetrator of the anthrax attacks, though its gargantuan investigation had turned up nothing conclusive against him and its presumption of his guilt depended on dubious scientific evidence.

The case remains a telling example of how security agencies adopt faulty preconceptions, which become too embedded within the institution to be abandoned without loss of credibility and prestige.

The worst damage stemming from the Boston bombing will be if the security behemoths created or enlarged after September 11, whose effectiveness is in doubt, are rejuvenated and expanded.
Patrick Cockburn is an award-winning Middle East correspondent for The Independent.


  1. - Up to 9,000 law enforcement personnel were in Boston to apprehend one suspect.
    - Dozens of SWAT Teams were deployed
    - Multiple bomb squads made ‘controlled detonations’ of suspect packages.
    - Teams of sniffer dogs were deployed for house to house searches in the wider urban area
    – All Public transport was shut down.
    - Use of Taxis was restricted
    - Access to hospital facilities was restricted
    - Banks were closed
    - Major professional and sporting events, canceled.
    - Police commandeered areas of town as staging areas.
    - Tanks have been deployed to Watertown as part of the police’s operation.

  2. And at the end, the sheeple declared, "What a country!" and sang 'God Bless America.'

  3. Ok, it's been 3 posts, blame the Jews, Israel and AIPAC for it all...

  4. Hardly an event worth mentioning.

  5. And try and get this through your toady, brickly brain. There are two posters here that constantly talk about “the Jews”, you and your psychopathic mass murder wannabe butt buddy.

    Israel and AIPAC are fair game for deserved criticism as both are disruptive to US interests and widely condemned in most of the civilized world.

  6. The most negatively rated countries in 2012 were, as in previous years, Iran (55% negative), Pakistan (51% negative), and Israel and North Korea (both 50% negative).

  7. GlobeScan Incorporated is an international opinion research consultancy. We provide global organisations with evidence-based insight to help them set strategy and shape their communications. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments, and NGOs trust GlobeScan for our unique expertise across reputation management, sustainability, and stakeholder relations. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is ISO 9001-2008 quality certified and a signatory to the UN Global Compact.
    Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in Toronto, London, and San Francisco.

  8. The 2012 Country Ratings Poll was conducted among 24,090 people worldwide, and asked respondents to rate whether the influence of 22 countries was “mostly positive” or “mostly negative.”

    Evaluations of the Jewish state, already largely unfavorable in 2011, have worsened in 2012. Out of the 22 countries polled, the majority in 17 of them view Israel negatively, while only three (the US, Nigeria and Kenya) view Israel positively. In Kenya, negative ratings of Israel fell by 10 points to 31%, while the country experienced an even larger increase in positive ratings of Israel, rising 16 points to 45%.

    Negative perceptions of Israel in EU countries have continue to rise, reaching 74% in Spain (up 8%), 65% in France (up 9%), while in Germany and Britain the negative views remain high but stable (69% and 68% respectively). In other Anglo countries, perceptions of Israel are worsening, including in Australia (65%), and Canada (59%).

    Among Muslim countries, perceptions of Israel have continued to deteriorate. Of particular concern for Israel is the country sitting on its southern neighbor, Egypt, where 85% of the population views Israel negatively, up 7% since 2011.

    In Asian countries, public opinion on Israel is growing increasingly antagonistic. In China, just 23% of those surveyed view Israel positively compared with 45% negatively. In India, overall opinion has shifter from being divided in 2011 to leaning negatively. In South Korea, negative views of Israel rose a full 15% (to 69%), while positive views decreased 11% (to 20%)

    Now why do you think that is so?

  9. That wasn't me Deuce. Look it up. I have been out in the country last few hours.

    Rat is the guy that last talked about the Jews. He is able to identify terrorists by the length of their noses.

    1. I did respond to that absurdity, earlier.

    2. and I will add that we should encourage the abortion of Arab babies

    3. Use them as targets for Drone Practice.

    4. Rememeber the early days after 9-11 when Muslim Scolds would intrude into our blogging backyards to try to get us to hush up?

      Things feel so much more free nowadays, in Blogworld, if not in the Real One.

    5. Although we originally called them Towelheads, Sand Monkeys, and Camel Jockeys, which seem to have disappeared from the lexicon.

      In reality, things are closing in on us.

  10. We definitely need to get Homeland Security under control.

    I have always thought that if totalitarianism comes to the United States it will come from the left, not the right.

    We republicans out my way have no interest in much of anything other than being left alone to live our lives.

    Totalitarianism is not a conservative ideal.

    1. Then why did the Republicans pass the legislation that empowered DHS?
      Why did the Republican President sign it.

      They do not want to leave you alone.

      None of the Federal Socialists do.

    2. The Republicans, including the Wuss, did not want the DHS.
      The Dems insisted on it.
      The Pubs caved, as of course did the Wuss, as per usual.

    3. The Republicans controlled both Houses, the Representatives and the White.

      Of course they wanted it.
      Get your head out of the sand.

  11. Yep, me and Mark Furman, who you posted as an authority, called the noses.

    I believed FOX New, called it for the Caucasus Mountain region of Russia.
    Before anyone else, here.

    Chechnya is Russia.

    As to the Jews of the Caucasus Mountains, that was kind of tongue in cheek, based upon the noses, I supposes.

    1. Ah, tongue in cheek. I see. That explains it.

      Mark Furman, whom I don't like, is knowledgeable on some things. But he made some mistakes in this. After he perjured himself in the OJ trial he moved to Sandpoint. Now he seems to be back east, having moved on up from a radio station in Spokane. I am glad he is gone. Now if only Barbara Walters would sell her summer home, and be gone too.

    2. FOX News said they were Caucasian, that meant they were Russians.

      FOX News was correct, as reported by anon.
      Furman made the nose comment, also reported by anon.

      Still, it'd have been better for Hollywood if it had been the IRA.
      Maybe Brad Pitt could have made a sequel.

    3. ever notice Rat is incapable of admitting he was srong about anything...

    4. I don't even know what srong is.

  12. Out this way in Podunkville, our legislature has already passed a bill banning drones in police work. If Butch hasn't signed it, I am certain he will.

    Maybe Quirk will think a little more highly of us rubes. Maybe his state could even imitate ours. He is the guy that seems to worry most about this stuff, all the rest of us being 'sheeple'. But we sheeple out here have already acted on the drones.

    Go, and do likewise, Quirk.

    1. Will the police be able to buy their video feed from private contractors?

      Or will the police departments and sheriffs be "forced" to lease helicopters and hire pilots?

    2. I don't know the answer to that. The writers of the bill may not have thought about. I haven't read the bill, just the headlines in the paper and heard the clips on radio.

    3. Contracting things out to private firms resulted in tremendous savings in Iraq.

      A model to emulate to achieve efficiency in Government.

  13. WASHINGTON - Some Republican lawmakers want President Obama to declare the surviving Boston bombing suspect an enemy combatant in order to question him without a lawyer and other protections of the criminal justice system, ...

    He is a citizen ...

    Only the President has the Authority to designate him an enemy, per the 14SEP01 Authorization.

  14. These Chechen boys didn't seem lacking for money. I wonder where the money pot was located.

    1. Mom recently was caught stealing $1,600 worth of merchandise.

      Who knows how much she got away with Scot Free?

  15. .

    French prosecutors have opened a judicial investigation into allegations that Nicolas Sarkozy's successful 2007 election campaign received illicit funding from the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

    The inquiry does not name anyone as a suspect, and centres on claims of corruption, influence trafficking, forgery, abuse of public funds and money-laundering.

    It is based on allegations by a Franco-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, who, during questioning by officials in December, said he had proof that Sarkozy's successful campaign was illegally funded by the Libyan regime between 2006 and 2007. Takieddine said the funding amounted to at least €50m (£35m).

    Well, war is an interesting way to get rid of a big debt.


    Sarkozy told Canal+ television on Sunday that the document was a "fabrication" and "disgrace".

    Referring to the international coalition that helped oust Gaddafi in 2011, he said: "Who led the coalition to topple Gaddafi? It was France. I was perhaps the leader. Do you think that if Gaddafi had anything on me I would have tried to oust him?"


  16. Damn!
    That's what I get for having the computer off all day.
    (a first in a long time)

    It's past 6pm, and only now have I become aware of the fact that it is Earth Day.

    I hope all of you excercised your activism for this cause to such a degree that
    my slothfulness will not prove to be significant.

    Perhaps everyone could testify to the good works they've done?

    1. I jogged twelve miles to the recycling station with 40 pounds of crushed aluminum cans on my back that I had earlier picked up from along the highways. Exhausted, I hitchhiked back.

    2. That is admirable, indeed!

      Let's hope some other disciplined disciples here have gathered some firearms and ammunition for recycling, so that in the future, more people can experience the inner peace and calm of being sheltered in place in their homes, unarmed, as armed and dangerous madmen roam the city, as did a million Bostonians.

  17. Tough Summer Coming For Californian Electricity Users

    Rising Prices

    Electricity at the SP15 hub for next-day delivery has averaged $49.70 a megawatt-hour this year through April 18 on the Intercontinental Exchange, the most for the period in five years. Northern California’s NP15 hub has averaged $41.99 this year, the most since 2010.

    The shutdown of the San Onofre reactors boosted prices at the southern hub to an average premium of $7.81 a megawatt-hour against the northern hub, the most in 12 years. The five-year average is 95.65 cents.

    Abundant hydroelectric generation made up for the lost nuclear output in the Los Angeles basin last year, Michael Blaha, the principal analyst of North American power at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. in Houston, said in an interview.

    “There is always a threat of brownouts and blackouts and I think it’s higher this summer because of San Onofre being out and you’re not putting hydro into the basin,” he said.

    1. Californians are gonna have some more brownouts on their shorts again sometime when they get their utility bills.

      Like they did back in the days of The Grey Mr. Davis.

      Renewable energy notwithstanding.

    2. Remember George's Texas Buddy that ripped their asses off on their utility bills.

      In some odd and highly unusual quirk of fate, the poor bastard ended up dying in prison.

      Musta been a co-inkydink.

      ...or act of God.

      Doesn't pay to have Wusses for friends in high places.

      Dems know that well.

      Better to have a Pelosi, Frank, or Obama protecting your rear.

      ...unless you're special forces, or an average citizen.

  18. WRT ethnicity/color, I came closest w/my prediction that they would be white hispanics.

    Turned out they were Caucasian Muslims.

  19. Group linked to Tsarnaev brothers...
    Pair 'specially trained' for attack...
    'No doubt brothers not acting alone'...
    Two from Kazakhstan in custody...

    Boston mayor: Acted alone...


    That mayor's been on top of things from begining to "end."

    As has Big Sis.

    Obama, as per usual, is out of the loop.

    Being above it all.

  20. Red Sox slugger: 'This is our f***ing city!'

    FCC Blesses F-Bomb: He 'Spoke From the Heart'...


    That's the spirit!

    I should be given a little leeway here for my sincerity.

    So I could go back to expressing myself freely and completely.

  21. Rubio has only been in DC for a couple of years, and already his smile makes me wretch.

  22. "Dzhokhar even went to a college party two days after the bombs wreaked havoc at the finish line. According to fellow students, he “looked relaxed” as he joined in a party at the campus on Wednesday night"


    Nice that he got to enjoy some quiet time prior to the days ahead, which were likely quite stressful.


  23. I hope I get some Earth Day Credits for all these low carbon comments.

  24. Fender Bender

    Google Street View shows Aussie couple having sex by side of the road.

    1. They're not doing it for real.

      Well then, we know it's not Sam.

  25. Replies
    1. Good Lord, what are the cities coming to?! That's barnyard stuff.

  26. I've seen the president of the United States bow down before the Saudi king, whose country sent fifteen hijackers to topple our towers. The reason French President Sarkozy is laughing in the photo is because he's reading the "Kick Me" sign on Obama's rump.

    I've seen Obama stand before the United Nations after the jihad-crazed slaughter of four Americans in Benghazi, including our ambassador, and proclaim "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

    So much for America's right of free speech! And freedom of religion! Can you find anything in that bizarre sentence with which the Boston bombers would disagree? No wonder Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was an Obama supporter.

    I've seen Obama's minions arrest and jail an obscure California film-maker for creating a YouTube video that criticizes Mohammed. Incredibly, I then witnessed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempt to blame the hapless guy for inciting the Benghazi slaughter. How about arresting Obama's pal George Clooney for bad acting? That would make more sense.

    I've seen Obama's UN ambassador hustle to pass UN Resolution 16/18, an "anti-blasphemy law" pushed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to make criticizing Islam an international crime. So if you harsh the mellow of Shariah fanatics by critiquing their child marriages, honor killings, homosexual hangings, and genocidal plots to wipe out Israel, you're the one who's going to jail.

    I've seen Janet Napolitano, Obama's Homeland Security Secretary, refuse to use the term "terrorism" and insist on calling jihad-inspired carnage "man-caused disasters." As she helpfully explained to a German interviewer, she selected this term to "move away from the politics of fear" and, presumably, towards the politics of insanity.

    April 22, 2013
    I Saw Something, So I'm Saying Something
    By Stella Paul

  27. Post 9/11 Bush - Obama have nullified the Bill of Rights (including habeas corpus); the US Attorney General claims the right to assassinate US citizens by drone on US soil; all communications will be monitored and cataloged (Operation Stellar Wind), now martial law in a large city, the burgeoning Orwellian Police State, are disturbing and menacing to those with any sense of history.

    I think many of us can see where this is all headed.