Boston Bombing: Links and Commentary

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images. — Guy DeBord

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Here’s the linkfest, tossed in buckets.

Official narrative

Surviving Bombing Suspect In ‘Serious’ Condition — Still Likely Unable To Communicate AP

‘He didn’t try to be a hero’: Stepson of brave Boston boat-owner describes the moment his father found second bombing suspect crumpled and bloody in boat then calmly called 911 Daily Mail

Brothers in Marathon bombings took two paths into infamy Boston Globe, out from behind the pay wall

Police, citizens and technology factor into Boston bombing probe WaPo

Manhunt’s Turning Point Came in the Decision to Release Suspects’ Images Times

Boston Attack Renews Fears About Homegrown Terrorism Online WSJ

Boston bombings expose limits of post-9/11 security WaPo

Bombs frequent in U.S.; 172 ‘IED’ incidents in last 6 months, by 1 count McClatchy (April 16)

Constitutional government, if any

What rights should Dzhokhar Tsarnaev get and why does it matter? Glenn Greenwald, Guardian

Tsarnaev Without Tears: The Legal Way Forward Atlantic

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: The Big Issue Is Not Miranda, It’s Presentment EmptyWheel

How Boston exposes America’s dark post-9/11 bargain Salon (see also Ian Welsh).

Security theater, martial law, and a tale that trumps every cop-and-donut joke you’ve ever heard Popehat

* * *

It has been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon. On Monday we the dilatory paid our taxes and then began to follow the story of a bombing at the Boston Marathon along with everyone else. On Tuesday two of the most powerful and very political economists in the world would have been humiliated by a grad student were they capable of shame. On Wednesday another powerful political economist and policy maker called the moral environment of Wall Street “pathological” and the political system “corrupt to the core” with both parties “in it up to their necks.” And then 10,000 cops locked Boston down but couldn’t find an amateur fleeing on foot from a crime scene while leaving a blood trail. Can’t anybody here play this game? So I’m feeling a bit woozy, and this isn’t going to the best post EVAH, the golden candlestick I send out in the world.

So, okay, three parts. First, I want to put forward the concept — and I know this may come as a shock to you — that the official narrative is not always completely trustworthy. And I won’t even have to mention WMDs, or any discourse that ends in “-er.” Then, I want to put forward another surprising idea: There are many narratives that are not trustworthy, even if unofficial. Finally, I’d like to raise some issues of method, or at least issues about method.

So, about that official narrative and whether you should trust it. In a word, no. Especially you should not trust it when the nice folks from our organs of state security are involved, for the good and sufficient reason that they have a track record of manufacturing the raw materials of narrative — we might call these “events” — to suit their purposes. Anybody ever read James Ellroy’s wonderful LA Confidential? Like that, except reality — making assumptions here — is plus noir plus more densely plotted: “I’m prepared for whatever displays of gratitude [Chief] Parker has to offer,” says Edmund Exley, hero detective, having constructed three alternative narratives for Parker to make an executive decision about and splash on the front pages of The Los Angeles Times (p. 45). Does anybody really believe nothing like that could happen in the city of Boston?

Anyhow, events. Here’s an oldie but goodie from Mother Jones. You know they’re not from the loony left or the tinfoil hat crowd because they publish Kevin Drum, okay?

Over the past year, Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley have examined prosecutions of 508 defendants in terrorism-related cases, as defined by the Department of Justice. Our investigation found:

  • Nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money (operatives can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment) or the need to work off criminal or immigration violations. (For more on the details of those 508 cases, see our charts page and searchable database.)
  • Sting operations resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants. Of that total, 49 defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur—an FBI operative instigating terrorist action.
  • With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings. (The exceptions are Najibullah Zazi, who came close to bombing the New York City subway system in September 2009; Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, an Egyptian who opened fire on the El-Al ticket counter at the Los Angeles airport; and failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.)
  • In many sting cases, key encounters between the informant and the target were not recorded—making it hard for defendants claiming entrapment to prove their case.
  • Terrorism-related charges are so difficult to beat in court, even when the evidence is thin, that defendants often don’t risk a trial.

“The problem with the cases we’re talking about is that defendants would not have done anything if not kicked in the ass by government agents,” says Martin Stolar, a lawyer who represented a man caught in a 2004 sting involving New York’s Herald Square subway station. “They’re creating crimes to solve crimes so they can claim a victory in the war on terror.”

So that’s one reason never to trust the official narrative, and especially not this narrative. Anybody who doesn’t take that history into account isn’t thinking with their brains.

But even when the FBI isn’t building and firing its own gun so it can later put a notch in it, the press — and we, the readers and citizens — often get narratives wrong, especially when there’s a moral panic involved, and especially when black or brown or, like, The Others are involved. Reader petridish remarks:

Psychologists have said that impressions formed during the first hours of a trauma like this are difficult if not impossible to dislodge, even if they are proven completely incorrect. Perhaps that’s what Friday was about….

This past Tuesday, the Ken Burns documentary on the Central Park Five (remember them?) aired on PBS [link added]. Long story short: they were filthy, wilding animals with no respect for human life, there was no evidence other than sensationalist media coverage and conventional wisdom, they were convicted, everyone KNEW they were guilty because the cops and the lawyers and the courts and the papers said so, they did their time. The system worked. Except, THEY DIDN’T DO IT.

Well, that sounds like history rhyming (even if rhymes aren’t proofs but only heuristics). If I had time, I’d check back to the wilding coverage and see we’re still using the same tropes today; I’m guessing yes. Of course, today everything is different because digital.

Well, maybe not. The digerati — and I include myself in this — did not do well at all in this story, with collapse following two separate pathways to misfortune. The first pathway was lay analysis of digital imagery on Reddit, which set out to crowd-source the perp from the online data and got things really, really wrong. Salon:

Remember how thousands of Reddit users and 4chan people spent the days after the bombing combing through every available photo and frame of video of the site of the bombings, searching for the perpetrators, and they found a bunch of guys with backpacks — so many guys they made a spreadsheet! — and (inadvertently) allowed the New York Post to identify, on the front page, two innocent people as the bombers? And remember how when the FBI released images of the actual suspects, neither of them had been spotted by Reddit or 4Chan or any other online sleuth? Well, armed with this new, clearer photo, and giddy from having uncovered it, the message board investigative geniuses then determined that “suspect two” was a missing college student.

I’m going to stop there without mentioning the student’s name, because I don’t want to cause the college student or his family more trouble. Unfortunately, I passed the link on the Reddit work on to Yves for Links, so I played my own tiny role in the crowd-sourcing. (There needs to be a word for crowd-sourcing that goes wrong. Besides “witch hunt,” I mean.) In my own defense, there were other accounts I trusted linking to it, and I remembered depression as a factor in other mass killings by disaffected young men. And it was a story. I’d also done some reading on Reddit’s moderation policies, because they’d done some really good Ask Me Anything sessions, so I was impressed with them and more importantly saw critical thinking being done. But whatever Reddit had going for it clearly wasn’t enough in this case; perhaps there’s no such thing as crowd-sourcing forensics; I don’t know. One might also question the very idea of lay analysis of digital industry: There’s an entire arms race of PhotoShop fakery and detection. Not that the powers that be would ever introduce fake data into the digital stream [snort, rendering the provenance of every digital document critical, and yet often not available].

The second pathway to misfortune for the digerati was Conspiracy Theory (CT). Of course, distinguishing CT from informed speculation on the fly isn’t so easy (even after one rules out certain sites and styles of discourse a priori because WordPress doesn’t have a waldo plugin and you left your latex gloves at home). And, as we see from the Washington Monthly article above, it’s an unfortunate fact that there really are conspiracies. (Of course, by The Sachs Conjecture, the state is owned and operated by sociopaths, so really, what would one expect?) George Washington takes one such down in the Link Fest above, and I fell for another. In Hamlet, Act III, Scene 2, Hamlet baits Polonius:

HAMLET Do you see yonder cloud that ’s almost in shape of a camel?
POLONIUS By the mass, and ’t is like a camel, indeed.
Ham. Methinks it is like a weasel.
Pol. It is backed like a weasel.
Ham. Or like a whale?
Pol. Very like a whale.

Humans have a tendency, which I’m sure was and even may be adaptive, to project patterns onto the world. Sometimes there is a camel, or whale, or weasel in the world; but often, there are only clouds. My particular weasel was the idea that the British 7/7 attack (backpacks, subway) had a signature that was similar to the Boston Marathon bombing; but on examination, and circulation among people more expert in CT than I am, there were only clouds. (I’m not going to link to it, but it’s still up on my site.) Fortunately, this idea was not an especially virulent form of CT, because it was falsifiable (and perhaps as importantly, I framed the discussion that way, and allowed the idea to be falsified. This was painful for me, since I like to be right (shocker, I know) but I also hate to feel taken.

So finally to issues of method. I retain, perhaps naively, the idea that truth is important (see on this point Terry Pratchett’s The Truth). We are enmeshed in a fabulously complex system of bullshit and lies, and it’s not possible to combat that system with lies of our own, or bullshit, no matter how good [lambert blushes modestly] we may be at it; we simply don’t have the budget, or the institutions. So even leaving the moral issue aside (the whole “bearing false witness against thy neighbor” thing), the truth is the only way forward (and not just for “the left,” whoever and whatever that may be).

But the truth, at least for “the news,” seems quite difficult to discern. Events are manufactured by state or corporate actors; our famously free press promotes narratives that have at best a discounted relation with reality (and while experience can help us figure the discount, it’s still subject to arbitrary revision). We ourselves, digerati, crowd-source ourselves into witch hunts or go down the CT rabbit hole. Is there a method — besides constant critical thinking and/or curation — to avoid these issues? We can avoid the news, or at least reduce our exposure to it, by turning off our TVs, but is there a way to make the news (in Robert Johnson’s word) “wholesome”? Good, clean, and fair, like slow food? And all without reproducing another structure with “new boss” sociopaths at the top?

Well, I’m not going to answer questions like that this morning. So I’d like to make a more modest request. I don’t think I’m the only one to feel that I’ve lost control of the narrative; I think the elite feels that way, too. We have, once again, the spectacle of an elephant being stampeded by a mouse. Leaving aside the human tragedy, in historic terms, the Boston Marathon bombing was not the Battle of the Somme, the Blitz, or (as Yves points out) the IRA bombings in London. Somewhere in their withered, austere souls, the powers that be must know this, and sense the shoddiness of their performance. Macbeth:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Yes, I’d say Macbeth lost control of the narrative in a big way. Fortunately, most of us don’t feel that way. That’s because we aren’t elite sociopaths.

So what I would like to know is this:

Is the official narrative of The Boston Marathon Bombing taking hold in the world beyond The Spectacle? That is, the world where human relations are not mediated by images? (I know, it’s hard.)

What does your cab driver say? What does your hairdresser (or barber) say? What do the kids say in school? What do the bar flies say? And so forth.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. mmckinl

    Did the “elites” lose control of the narrative or was this just a trial run to test both the enforcement and the public?

    Already we see entire neighborhoods shut down for domestic disputes while Swat moves in …

    And how about bridges and freeways closed for hours because a busted sack of cement might be anthrax …

    And of course “bomb threats” one of which closed down the Federal courthouse in Boston on short notice last week …

    And let’s not forget those “suspicious packages” that pop up at a moments notice.

    The whole Marathon Bombing exercise was a huge success if the cheering of those crowds were any indication …

  2. gonzomarx

    what’s happen to the carjack victim?

    still no name or interviews from someone who spent an hour or so with the brothers.
    is it me or is it very strange behaviour for the MSM with regard to an eyewitness?

    all i’ve been able to find (from a quick search)is that the brothers tried 3 different cash machines taking out $800 and happened to confess all to the victim before dropping him off (alive!) at a petrol station.

      1. Susan the other

        Good post Lambert. Some of the things preventing my conclusions are: Why did the older Tsarnaev go to “Russia” just this last year? To be sheepdipped. Or not to be sheepdipped. That is the question. (Did Hamlet ever say that?) I think the “Russia” they are talking about was Chechnya because he met up with his “rich Turkish” friends who were all driving big expensive cars and wearing the latest and greatest fashions. So… why is Chechyna figuring so mysteriously in all this. Gosh, could it be oil? Just when we have given the Syrian “rebels” lots of non-lethal aid. Non-lethal aid. And Russia was quick to point out that they were fully aware and had told the FBI that this guy was becoming “radicalized” …because the Russians knew full well what the real target was…. or maybe not. What do I know.

        The other thing I’m very curious about was the assumed accomplice who freaked out the police and they made him strip naked to prove he was not packing dynamite. Where is he now? Released like all those hobos at Dealey Plaza? Sports fishermen aren’t the only ones who do catch and release. If they merely arrested him to give him safe passage, why did they strip him naked? Seems to be considerable lack of communication at the street-fight level.

        And etc.

      2. gepay

        I have read reports of other backpack bombs were found at the Marathon – is this true? Apparently not. I have read that the holdup at a 7-11 was not done by the brothers. I have not read how the MIT policeman was killed other than being attributed to the bros. These guys were apparently intelligent enough to fabricate bombs that worked. This is not easy to do on your own. however they were too dumb just not to think there might be cameras. One of them wore a very white cap that stuck out like a sore thumb. He I believe just went back to his dorm room. Salon: The day after the bombing, Dzhokhar was seen in the gym working out at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, campus. They share the ability with the alleged 7/7 bombers of being world class actors in the sense that nobody that came in contact with them knew or sensed anything. Why did they carjack a Mercedes and then drive to someplace and fill it with guns and bombs while letting the the driver go? Must not of watched very many action movies.

    1. nia holder

      Yes…agreed. How convenient out of all the carnage he is unharmed. I suspected accomplice, neighbor, family or friend.

  3. Brick

    I was thinking the same thing as there are a number of things that make me go hmmm. First I think I must say that my thoughts go out to the families and residents of Boston. I also dont think I am advocating that they are innocent( although I have some concerns). The narrative in the media seems to have become unhinged from the factual information that is coming from the authorities. The things that make go hmmm are :

    I think history suggests Chechens are more likely to hate the Russians than Americans.

    The fundamentalist links seem a bit tenuous to me.

    Arrests which end in a gun battle often occur with those with deep prior knowledge of guns and have a history of violence.

    Checknya is the home of the chechen mafia who are one of the feared criminal groups around the world.

    Boston is renowned for having an Irish community some of which are thought to be involved in organised crime.

    May be the narrative coming from the press is correct, but there seems to be an ammount of sloppy journalism in not exploring other avenues of motivation. Just may be the idea of this being a fundamentalist terror attack is being used to cover up some homegrown unpleasantness. The uneasiness I feel about the explanations I think opens the door to questioning whether due process is being entirely followed.

    1. turbo

      “I think history suggests Chechens are more likely to hate the Russians than Americans.”

      They’re not Chechens. One of them is an American citizen; the other is a legal resident; both have lived here for a decade; both were minors when they arrived.

      Maybe they’re actual, genuine, individual people who are more complicated than the narrow ethnic stereotypes you want them to be?

      Jesus, what the hell happened to this site?

      1. andrew

        (@turbo) Thank you, a sane reply and needed dose of human nuance.

        I am not sure what the value of pressing a big-picture conspiracy inquiry is. If there are concerns about the official response, continuing to insist on due process and clinical cross-examination of specific points in the official narrative would seem to be much more productive. Everybody can get on board with those efforts. A big-picture conspiracy inquiry just opens the door to the traveling roadshow of logical teratologies, making the careful recoil and go elsewhere.

          1. andrew

            “I think history suggests Chechens are more likely to hate the Russians than Americans.”

            That, in the context of the argument being made, is a logical monstrosity, with a whole boatload of unsound cause and effect and racial and historical generalization wrapped up for handy use in building a case. I don’t wish to impugn the intentions of the person who wrote it, because in reality I doubt they are bad at all, but I also think that intentions don’t matter much here. In this context, the statement itself is rotten.

            By teratology I mean the museum-exhibit classification of monstrosities, rooms of rows on display.

            I see that the comment thread has gotten far more combative than it was earlier in the day, and I’m not signing up for that either; my approval was directed at the one comment above, and my second purpose was to try to turn the “what happened to this site?” into a more constructive question, (a) because I care about the site, (b) because I understand where the question is coming from. My third purpose, now, is to let you know that I care about your work and think you are deserving of an answer when you ask me a question. But man, I do think that playing with the foily stuff is playing with fire.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            Thanks. I was wondering it was in some way formal, but it seems like you mean it in the sense of “bullshit that’s so deeply impacted it should be in a museum case” (no offense to original poster).

            Yeah, on playing with foil (fire). Problem is that the foil is all pervasive (right down to the foil the runners wear to keep off the chill after the race).

            There’s really no way to avoid it, so we may as well try to confront it. And the demand for evidence feeds right in to the demand for a legimate Constitutional process.

      2. ambrit

        Dear turbo;
        You think this site is skewed? Just loiter about a bit in any lunch room or work space ‘break room!’ I’ve been hearing little more than versions of “those dirty ____ [add favourite scapegoat here] need to have their a—s popped in the back of the head with a ____ [add favourite calibre weapon here.]”
        Also consider that the MSM seems to be pushing the “foreign devils” meme hard.

        1. LifelongLib

          Maybe Hawaii’s more mellow, but even though I work in a government office connected to (though not part of) law enforcement, quite a number of my co-workers (and I) have expressed puzzlement at what we’ve heard so far of the accused bombers. The general feeling is that they just don’t seem like the kind of people who’d do something like that. Sure, a couple of folks spouted the reflex anti-Muslim attitudes but the majority of us are bewildered by the whole thing.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

            To me the entire episode was a revolting spectacle, regardless where the bombers came from and what their motives were.
            Have Americans really become so utterly immoral and blind to the activities of their own government as to completely ignore the deaths of 11 children by American hands just a few weeks prior; then expend the collective weight & attention of the entire nation when 3 white people die in Boston? The hundreds of thousands of innocent dead in the ongoing AHWT (American Holocaust War on Terra) mean nothing, and 3 white Bostonian dead mean everything?
            Recall that My Lai seized our conscience, stopped the nation and consumed the headlines & the courts for more than a year, and stopped yet another illegal immoral AWP (American War for Profit).
            The icing on the cake of course were the triumphal parties afterwards, with topless chest-thumping Neaderthals chanting “USA! USA!”. Apparently it cost the nation $1 billion to shut down the entire NorthEast, and now there’s more “justifcation” than ever to continue constructing the most frightening police state since Soviet Russia.
            Americans need to take a very hard look in the mirror and ask themselves what kind of people they’ve become.

          2. LucyLulu

            There weren’t just three (actually four with the cop at MIT) people killed, there were also a hundred and sixty some people injured, IIRC, quite a few who lost limbs or parts of them. It was a horrific scene, committed by criminals, whether the Tsarnaev brothers or not.

            And why does it have to either the Marathon bombing or the killings done in the name of the war on terror that horrify us? Maybe it isn’t an exclusive relationship, but that both are senseless and deplorable crimes on humanity. I see no hypocrisy in denouncing both.

            As far as motivations, I haven’t seen or read any coverage in a couple of days but what I did hear (from MSM) was primarily unanswered questions being posed. For example, friends and family having no clue of radical activiy, though apparently older brother was rather a loner and didn’t feel like he fit in. I heard it posited that any Chechan-based anti-US meme didn’t hold much water because, as pointed out above, the long-held resentments in Chechnya are against Russia for repeatedly displacing them from their homeland, not the US. The family was reported to have ended up here and granted refugee status after having been driven out of Chechnya by Putin. Both parents had been attorneys in their homeland. I’m not sure I remember any motivation for the bombings being ascribed to the brothers than to say it was unknown. It was reported it was believed the brothers had killed the MIT cop because they thought the cop recognized them and they panicked, though it was also reported that it wasn’t known for sure. The statements made during interviews with the suspects’ uncle (in MD or DE, one of the two) and mother (visiting in Russia) were described using terms such as “odd” and adding more questions than answers.

            Locking down Watertown I assumed was more about the possibility of unexploded bombs than the manhunt, but I could be wrong about the rationale. I am fairly certain however there were additional bombs both at the race and in Watertown that were controlled detonations. For that reason, I disagree that locking down Watertown and adjacent neighbohoods is excessive. The police can’t search and deem an area clear that is bustling and constantly moving and changing. I would say locking down the entire city of Boston is over the top, however it’s also easy to play armchair quarterback when one has no skin in the game so I’m more forgiving. I have friends and relatives in Boston, they’re pretty upset and freaked out because they all know people who were directly affected by the bombing. OTOH, I also worry about the excessive police state we’re becoming. I can see this used as rationale for more restrictions on our rights by our security hawk legislators and POTUS. My own reasoning would be that if, with all the restrictions we have in place and all the intensive security in force at the Marathon, this can still happen, that we should repeal the Patriot Act et al. as having too low of a benefit/cost ratio. And c’mon, isn’t deeming the suspect in custody an enemy combatant for purposes of withholding Miranda (and practically speaking, gimme a break, any 6 years old kid in this country can recite Miranda, who thinks he isn’t aware of his rights to an attorney?) just a tad ridiculous? Last I heard we hadn’t declared war on Chechnya (yet), not to mention the inconvenient little detail that he’s an American citizen, not a citizen of Chechnya…….. nor does he fall under the alternate criteria of being one of the 9/11 perpetrators (he was 7 then, a little too young to be recruited I suspect).

            The only known misreporting that I recall hearing was the older brother’s age reported as 20 instead of 26. Certainly there may have been more misreportings by MSM that I missed. It could be the entire episode has been staged or misrepresented, of course, or it could have been reported accurately. I happen to believe that both types of reporting occur. For that matter, I’ve found it’s rare that statements with the words “always”, “never”, “all”, or “none” are true. With that in mind, “some” journalists want to get stories right, and there’s sure been a hell of them covering this story. Successfully pulling off a cover-up of a major conspiracy in today’s digital society of this magnitude would be quite a monumental coup.

      3. Brick

        Perhaps its right to pull me up and say perhaps they are individual people who are more complicated than narrow ethnic stereotypes.I would be very surprised if that is not true to be honest. However Tamerlan is quoted as saying “unless Chechnya became independent, he would rather compete for the US than for Russia”. The fact that he was a member of chechen groups on the russian social network site VKontakte, suggests that his heritage was important (but not necessarily relevant). Since I am not chechen and only have chechen ancestry perhaps I am not qualified to comment, so reprimand accepted. I have difficultly understanding why somebody with potentially pro US sentiments would commit such an act though. Not that any of this is relevant since they are of dagestan heritage and it just goes to prove I am susceptable as the next person to questionable information.

  4. craazyman

    “There needs to be a word for crowd-sourcing that goes wrong. Besides “witch hunt,” I mean.)”

    There is. The word is “lynching”.

    It happens all the time in the peanut gallery, here and elsewhere. Thankfully it’s only virtual.

    Anybody remember Richard Jewell “the Atlanta Bomber” from the 1990s Olympics. I took one look at his hapless fat-man trailer park face on the cover of the NY Post and said out loud “There’s no way in hell that guy did it.” I just knew. The dude I was eating lunch with looked at me like I was a communist. How could I doubt the FBI and all the investigators, who’d caught the murderer within days of the crime? Ha.

    At least my friend had integrity to marvel and apologize when it turned out I was right. “You called it,” he said with a sheepish smile.

    What amazed me even more is somehow the powers that be admitted their mistake in that “honest American way” you’d wanna believe is the way it’s done. And let him go, with whatever reputation he still had left. At least he had his life, for what it was worth.

    No clue about these Boston dudes. There’s no doubt in the Newspapers. I get the feeling it’s entirely plausible they did it. Just freelanced it up as a testament to glory and delusion. That happens alot, but usually it doesn’t explode except in people’s minds.

    1. AbyNormal

      Richard Jewell was Gut & Heart wrenching!
      His face was posted on billboards all over Atlanta.
      Tshirts were made an adorned even by toddlers.
      Yahoo’s of every class wanted him dead…preferably by their own sadistic means.

      I’ll never forget…

      “I felt like a hunted animal, followed constantly, waiting to be killed.” r.jewell (died at age 44), rip

  5. Eclair

    Here in rural Warren County, Pennsylvania, where I’m embedded for the week, we don’t pay too much attention to the outside world. On Monday, we learned “the news” from a cousin who called from the outside. It elicited an offhand remark about what a crazy place the world has become.

    Later in the week, my conservative brother-in-law (although very pro-union) mused that, “I just don’t understand them religions that want to blow people up,” and I replied, almost absent-mindedly at this point, “Did you say that about Christianity after Terry McVeigh?”

    Meanwhile, our cousin, who works his farm with the help of the 8 sons of his Amish neighbor, had 10 acres of oats to plant – and his mother to bury.

    The local Amish cabinet-maker built her a plain oak coffin and the 8 Amish boys carried it into the village church.

    The Amish boys board their pair of work horses in our cousin’s barn, because they won’t work with gas-powered machinery, so his fields are plowed and sowed with the help of two enormous feathery-legged horses.

    We talked about the corn to be planted next week. And the vine crops his Amish neighbor will plant to produce summer and winter squashes to be sold in our cousin’s farm market.

    Next winter’s wood – at least a hundred cords – was cut in the winter by the Amish boys and hauled out of the wood-lot and down to the village by the horse team.

    There are two dozen young steer in the barn and a litter of white pigs and a litter of blue butts in the piggery. I went in to visit the pigs; friendly and unaware of their fate, they propped their front trotters up on the rails and presented their heads to be scratched.

    The “outside” world continues on its suicide mission but here in Warren County much of the 20th century has disappeared.

  6. please

    Remember how thousands of Reddit users and 4chan people spent the days after the bombing combing through every available photo and frame of video of the site of the bombings, searching for the perpetrators, and they found a bunch of guys with backpacks — so many guys they made a spreadsheet! — and (inadvertently) allowed the New York Post to identify, on the front page, two innocent people as the bombers? And remember how when the FBI released images of the actual suspects, neither of them had been spotted by Reddit or 4Chan or any other online sleuth?

    I can understand that the crowd sourcing channel with little other evidence to go on, didn’t produce reliable information. But why are we all collectively assuming that the photos released by the FBI are the right one? They haven’t presented any additional evidence. What makes their release any more right other than it seemingly comes from an authority?

    Till today, I haven’t seen anyone explain to me why out of hundreds of people in the crowd, why these two, are more suspect than anyone else. I’m not arguing that the FBI has gotten it wrong, but surprisingly no one seems interested in why they’ve arrived at the conclusion that they got it right.

    1. turbo

      How about you explain the coincidence?

      Seriously: explain how this would work. Explain how the Tsarnaev brothers were not the Boston Marathon bombers, were wrongly suspected by the FBI, but *just coincidentally * had enough guns and home-made explosives to partake in a half-hour long, running shoot-out with the police, which was witnessed by dozens of people and caught by all kinds of cameras.

      Explain that one.

      1. please

        You misunderstand me. I’m not trying to advance they aren’t valid suspects. I am asserting that without a trial that documents evidence, why are people, regardless of ‘coincidences’, eager to accept that this has been resolved?

        Why isn’t there more healthy skepticism until an actual verdict that can be reviewed is handed down by a court?

        1. please

          And more importantly, the burden isn’t on me to explain anything. It certainly is the other way round.

          And no, to my knowledge, I don’t believe there’s footage showing a firefight with the cops where one can actually observe the brothers. Please correct me if I’m wrong, I’d love to see it.

        2. turbo

          Your rhetoric is showing.

          What do you mean “eager”? Mind telling me what the proper attitude toward a resolution is?

          And what is the proper course of action before the conclusion of the trial?

          You’re saying we should not accept that the Tsarnaev brothers did this until the conclusion of Dzokhar’s trial.

          So, what do we do until then? Have another manhunt?

          I mean: are we supposed to pretend that the whole manhunt and shootout never happened and instead proceed as if we’re still where we were on Monday evening?

          The Tsarnaevs are innocent until proven guilty! Therefore…the search for the Marathon bombers continues! Somebody fire up the Reddit forums and let’s go over some crime scene photos!

          Are these the practical consequences of your position? What do you want us to do between now and the conclusion of Dzokhar’s trial in about two years? Be specific.

          1. please

            Hmm, not quite the impression I meant to give.

            By ‘eager’ I meant only the influx of articles (at least on the sites I visit) that have left the impression of a resolution, while I feel its the opposite – the investigation is really only commencing.

            This has nothing to do with reddit or keeping pretenses.

            Seriously am I just off my rocker? Or isn’t that the nature of an inquiry before arriving at a conclusion?

          2. turbo

            The investigation is only commencing?

            Then, how ’bout you chill?

            It’s been two days. Two.

            And here you are demanding the authorities prove to your satisfaction that the Tsarnaev brothers really did it, before any trial, just to explain why they’ve given up the search for the Marathon bombers.

            We haven’t even sponged the blood off the sidewalks. You’ll get all the evidence your little heart desires, and then you can while away your days theorizing all the ways the evidence could be fit together to exonerate the Tsarnaevs and implicate the government.

            But I guess you’re worried the real bombers would get away in the meantime?

          3. Jane Doe

            You are engaging in hyperbole to respond to what are perhaps over the top theories

            Reasonable doubt means the govt must prove its case and the problem right now to me us if this guy is convicted in the court if public opinion will be get a fair trial?

            This question is never an easy one to answer and skepticism isn’t a four letter word

          4. please


            Wow, we really did not get off on the same page…Was my writing really that offside?

          5. turbo

            “the problem right now to me us if this guy is convicted in the court if public opinion will be get a fair trial?”

            That isn’t even remotely the kind of question please is asking.

            Please says “Until I SEE with my own eyes that each of these brothers took off their backpacks and laid them down in the exact places that the bombs were and then walked away without them, I DON’T BELIEVE IT. ”

            What is anybody supposed to do about that right now?

          6. please

            @turbo: Ah, there we go!

            Actually I can see how you could have made that conclusion based on what I wrote earlier but I think I’m comfortable not being able to stitch together the evidence myself and making my own conclusion. I don’t have any fantasies about my competency in that aspect.

            But do you really think my statements so far indicate something about belief? I admit, after being personally myself so spectacularly wrong about Iraq, have shifted readily to a position of skepticism.

            For now the best way I can put it is this way: we can’t confuse the process for the answer.

          7. please


            I’ve noticed you’ve taken a few jabs further down with Lambert – to be sure I really do welcome your criticism if you honestly see a bias or error. If you care to expend the time, put it out clearly.

          8. turbo

            I don’t care about your beliefs. I’m not trying to get at your beliefs at all.

            You asked why we should believe the FBI got the right suspects, and I pointed out that there was a shootout between the cops and the Tsarnaevs. Dzokhar Tsarnave was arrested with plenty of weapons on him. We’ve had some firm ebidence that the Tsarnaevs were in on it.

            If that’s not good enough for you, then I don’t know what you want us to do.

            That’s what I’m asking. Not what you believe, but what kind of action you want.

      2. Dan in KC

        Haven’t you got the memo? You need to spend a little more time at the sites for Alex Jones / Michael Savage / David Ikes, etc.. and you’ll understand that nothing happens in this country without the ‘The Government’ pulling everyone’s strings.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        @turbo — I’m seeing a lot of assignments in your comments, like “explain” in the imperative or “be specific.” This site isn’t big on assignments, because people’s time is their own to command, and not yours….

        1. turbo

          Are you going for some kind of record? Like, you’re gonna hit every possible type of message-board stupidity in one thread?

          You’re getting on me for bossing people around???

          Seriously? That’s the quality of your rejoinder?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Not a “rejoinder,” a note on style and a word to the wise. Every site has its conventions; that is one of NCs. If you want an unmoderated site, the exit to 4chan is that way.

          2. petridish

            Hey turbo, up there a few posts:

            Please says “Until I SEE with my own eyes that each of these brothers took off their backpacks and laid them down in the exact places that the bombs were and then walked away without them, I DON’T BELIEVE IT. ”

            Please didn’t say that. I did.

            An interesting idea is “keeping your head while others are losing theirs.”

          3. turbo

            Well, I’m working class, so for me to navigate a discussion thread is like a chimpanzee tending a fire.

            But I can answer any questions you might have about the truth of any and all media controversies, albeit in a childlike, inebriated sort of way.

  7. affinis

    Love the Hamlet.

    From the people I’ve spoken to in my WI community, I do think the official narrative has largely been bought wholesale and is taking hold.

    A few thoughts of my own – relating in part to the Popehat link (and apologies for some lack of clarity here, since I haven’t thought this through fully).

    I see an increasing (problematic) view, perhaps inherent in the takeover of society by neoliberal thought/ideology, in which people are supposed to be constantly evaluating/calculating risk, seeking to fully control all their risk and take it to zero. Of course, that’s impossible, and the attempt has perverse outcomes. One manifestation/facet of this is the increasing emphasis on fear (e.g. as evidenced by the rise in terms conveying fear in literature, on TV – most programs are now about inducing cycles of fear and temporary relief, etc.). I also see it among students, with parents increasingly seeking to protect their children from all possible harm, etc. (eliminating unstructured play, etc.). In a way, this is what Adorno and Horkheimer are speaking about in Dialectic of the Enlightment – fear and the seemingly-inexorable technological program to increasingly control/subjugate internal and external nature (so as to eliminate all “danger”, mishaps, etc.) – a misguided and destructive trajectory that eliminates our actual humanity, drains all magic from the world, destroys the environment, etc. The neoliberal schemata of a person is inhuman.

    So all of Boston is locked down for the sake of “security” and “citizen safety”, on the rationale that risk must be taken to zero (and no countervailing considerations are allowed to outweigh this). Another example – a cop in the Madison police department recently shot and killed a (very sweet) unarmed neighbor of mine. The core of the story – my neighbor was intoxicated, the cop approached him without identifying himself, my neighbor flailed his arms at the cop (who was literally twice his size), the cop pointed his gun at him, my neighbor backed away, and the cop shot him three times (killing him). It was found to be a justified shooting – on the rationale that my neighbor could have approached the cop again, disarmed the cop, then could have shot and killed him with his own gun. Since the cop said he had some fear of this, and since there was some nonzero risk of it happening (however unlikely), the cop was determined to be justified in shooting my neighbor. Of course, this way of thinking about and privileging “risk” considerations is nuts – but that’s where our culture has gone. [Incidentally, if anyone reading this wants to sign a petition calling for an independent investigation into the case I’ve just described – the petition is here – we could use more signatures.]

    Anyway, we’re moving in a direction that’s inhuman. People are not homo economicus – the belief that we are is a gross misperception. Life is not (supposed to be) about constantly evaluating risk. Always thinking out of fear is inherently destructive. And the attempt to assert constant control so as to take risk to zero leads to perverse outcomes (twelve step programs, Buddhism, etc. have some wise things to say about this).

    1. Kjboro

      Good point about risk — in public safety and law enfircement context

      The opposite is true, though, in markets. There it is all risk all the time — for individuals. Not corporations, of course

    2. Dugs

      I don’t honestly know how to separate-out “security” from “security theatre” anymore. I agree notions of ‘inoculation from risk’ and ‘need for certainty’ are distorting what we think we know about an event, and one question I’m concerned about is what happens to our society in the quest for those two notions. It’s not enough for our security apparatus to “protect us” (whatever on earth that may mean); more important they need to be SEEN as “protecting us,” one result being the wholesale adoption, even by podunk police departments, of ostentatiously lethal military gear, tactics, and weaponry…and the almost certain designation of those of us they’re sworn to protect as “enemy combatants” given the right combination of circumstances. I sure as hell saw this in NYC during the Occupy time; cops festooned with armor, helmets, a thick band of plastic wrist ties lashed to their belts, looking at innocent pedestrians the way a dog looks at a baby rabbit, daring it to make a false move.

      I used to think the human race was evolving, but I don’t think so any more. No, I don’t want to lose my life in a “terrorist attack,” but I also don’t want to lose my freedom from hidden surveillance either. (Or is that horse completely out of the barn by now?)

    3. Dan in KC

      affinis said “..the takeover of society by neoliberal thought/ideology, in which people are supposed to be constantly evaluating/calculating risk, seeking to fully control all their risk and take it to zero..”

      Not to say the rest of your statements don’t have value – but I think you misunderstand the term neoliberal.

      From Neoliberalism is a political philosophy whose advocates support economic liberalization, free trade and open markets, privatization, deregulation, and decreasing the size of the public sector while increasing the role of the private sector in modern society.

      ‘Neo liberalism’ embodies much that conservatives find appealing (however, I think the presence of the word -liberalism- trips them up…but if you look at it from the perspective of false advertising it probably trips up liberals more so and suckers them in to accepting policies they would otherwise resist. cute huh?). A less confusing (and more honest) term would be to use ‘Market liberalism’ in lie of ‘Neo liberalism’.

      If you meant to instead refer to either Classical liberalism or Social Liberalism I still find no such correlation to those philosophies with taking all life’s risk to zero. But I do acknowledge that it is typically used by conservatives who raise it as a straw man argument against Liberals.

      Wanting ‘some’ protections (against polluting companies, cholera contaminated water supplies, unsafe automobile designs, pharmaceutical errors, etc..) is taken to the extreme to mean that the Liberals must want the elimination of ALL life risks (cuz, after all, that would be ridiculous). Using such an argument would be no different than implying that Conservatives don’t want ANY such protections and would rather live in a world where everyone owns at least one gun and can take matters into their own hands if someone does them wrong (right?)

      1. affinis

        ??? You entirely misunderstand what I said. I didn’t say that was a definition of neoliberalism. But a type of “risk culture”, an emphasis on a “risk frame”, is a manifestation/byproduct of neoliberalism.

        There’s an entire literature on this. I quickly googled just to grab a few examples: “Governing through risk is a political rationality of neoliberal governance that has emerged in 1980s.”$FILE/Risk-as-TechniqueofGovernance.pdf

        These aren’t the best examples I’ve seen (I’ve read far more trenchant analyses of the nexus between neoliberalism and cultural domination of the “risk frame”, which in some arenas includes an orientation to seek full control over perceived risk), but they’re random links I could snag with a quick google search.

        Perhaps I’m mistaken, but your statements suggest a potentially limited understanding of neoliberalism. There’s a large literature worth exploring – here’s one decent starting point.

      2. affinis

        “Neoliberalism creates the climate of risk in order to justify its overall politics.”
        Culpitt, I. 1998: Social Policy and Risk. London: Sage Publications.

        “The concept of risk is one of the most significant in modern times….we are living through a period of acute personal insecurity, anxiety and change. The speed of change, pace of life, choices available and vast flows of information undercut solid foundations in our risk-dominated lives. Many people find it increasingly difficult to trust others or even themselves. Our decisions are often fraught with perceived threats and we wonder what will turn out for the best.”

  8. Tiresias

    I watched, appalled, from abroad as all those concepts of the great American myth sold by Hollywood played out in real-life in Boston – the posse on the hunt for the guys in black hats, the great shoot-out and self-elected justice delivered in a full metal jacket eliciting dancing in the streets.

    Innocence until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt in the minds of a jury of one’s peers has become trial and verdict by mass media and popular acclaim. Could the authorities now admit if they had made a mistake or would it all be brushed quietly under the carpet while populist fanfares covered the sound of Justitia weeping?

    Should we not, here, look to Hamlet rather than Macbeth, and the Prince’s difficult eschewing of hot-blooded revenge in favour of coldly deliberate proof and justice?

  9. Claudius

    The problem with narrative is that it’s loaded with semantic problems as each audience (singular and plural) uses the same sets of words but attaches different meanings to them or use different sets of words when talking about the same thing.

    Typically, if we tell two different people the same story we will almost certainly generate two different narratives, each tailored (each calculated) to suit a particular listener at a particular time and in a particular place – generating “socially situated meaning“.

    The task of establishing an official/accepted “Boston Bombers” narrative, therefore, is to establish common linguistic meanings (a common denominator for each audience) by, ideally, establishing new terms that carry no previous or current, commonly subjective or commonly cultural reference other than those (yet to be) provided by the official narrator(s). Terms such as: 9/11, Al Qaeda, Boston Bombers, Asymmetrical Warfare, War on Terror, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs).

    So, that no matter what actually went on in Boston, ‘in reality’ only those events necessary to the official narrative will included these new terms as common semantic and linguistic reference points (diminishing semantic ambiguity and focusing the narrative). The choice of events (those actually deemed necessary for the narrative) and what relates directly to the point of the narrative are referenced only, and other events (that don’t fit the narrative) are excluded (Twin Tower included, World Trade Center 7 excluded).

    Events need not be narrated in the order they happened but can be recombined in an infinite number of ways (many of which may be media specific), as long as it have a beginning, a middle, and an end – but not necessarily in that order. And, the effectiveness of these new terms (and event sequencing) can be measured against criteria such as coherence and internal consistency; finally settling in on a particular narrative that enters the social consciousness and become “definitively” true.

    In short, expect the Boston Bombers (BB) to become a narrative that is a re-presentation of reality from a particular (official) perspective. Expect your taxi driver, hair dresser, media star newscaster and doctor to all start giving you their opinion of what “really” happened in Boston, but don’t be surprised to hear the same new narrative terms and sequence of events.

  10. Goin' South

    I found the spectacle to be a combination of amusing and irritating.

    It made me laugh to watch all those armoured personnel carriers driving around and around with no purpose. It’s obvious that our militarized cops have been equipped for massacring defenseless crowds of protestors rather than manhunts. How is it that the tanks and APCs weren’t involved in the Big Shootout instead of those poor Watertown cops and the MBTA guy? A bit slow perhaps?

    The irritation comes from the banal ritual with which we’re all so familiar. Nothing but greed, fear and bullshit. Our elites, whether it’s the politicians, the media, “law enforcement” or the “security experts” are a disgusting group.

    I kept hoping for a panel made up of, e.g. Glen Ford, Glen Greenwald and David Graeber. Can you imagine it?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The police were armed with those weapons because someone wanted to make a buck and sold them to lazy and greedy politicians. A politician can’t hold a photo-op in front of a better communication system because that’s not sexy. Standing in front of a tank is cool.

      Our cops have been equipped with items they didn’t have but could be sold to idiots and those searching for photo-ops at a premium.

      The other interesting thing is the police lacked the resources to maintain their search or separate Watertown. Everyone was out, too. The police had to sleep which meant the operation needed to be shut down. Dunkin’ Donuts had to be reopened because the police lacked prepared food to maintained operations. The Boston area police did demonstrate the 9/11 police/defense spending surge has largely been a waste.

      1. McMike

        No, it just means that the next big homeland security boondoggle will be an nation-wide program of deploying mobile donut shops, prepositioned in every city larger than 30,000 and stocked for a 30 day period of martial law, and provided (of course) by Haliburton.

        They can set them up right next to the DHS’s semi-trailers full of ammunition.

    2. bob

      Would each of the above get a ride to the debate in a Blackhawk?

      Menino and Patrick appeared to their adororing masses shortly after the blackhawk show. Did they have to take seperate death machines? Was Menino’s specially outfitted for a wheel chair?

      Too much ego for one?

      The people want answers…

  11. JGordon

    Holy crap, 142 IEDs in the US?!? Shoot, after you outlaw guns, you’ll have to outlaw ballbearing and fertilizer and household cleaning chemicals to keep us safe. And after that you will have to outlaw blunt instruments, lest someone maliciously strike someone else with one. Then outlaw cars, since people often run down other people with them, sometimes even on purpose. Then outlaw sodas, because, you know, they make us fat and cause heart disease. After that, getting rid of cigarrettes is a logical step too.

    There are so many things that we could be doing to keep everyone completely safe every single moment of our lives, but we can’t get to all that other stuff unless we make guns illegal too. Damn!

    1. LucyLulu

      What have you mentioned that is illegal? However all are subject to regulation of some sort or other, yet we don’t hear any rhetoric of fertilizer registries, or fear of nicotine or soda being made illegal. We also require doctors complete surgical training before being allowed to do surgery and commercial pilots to be subjected to mandatory drug testing.

      We’re on a slippery slope, ya know. Driver’s licenses and speed limits today. Confiscation of our Chevy’s tomorrow.

      The stance is illogical and hypocritical. The same lawmakers and members of the public who oppose the most benign gun regulation voice no opposition on legislation that erodes our other constitutional rights, e.g. right of habeas corpus, right to privacy, right to protest, protection from search and seizure only without due process, etc.

  12. docG

    Anyone have a link to the famous surveillance footage of the younger brother leaving his backpack at the scene and waltzing off? I’ve been looking all over the Internet for it and coming up empty. Now I’m wondering whether it ever existed or whether someone just made it up. If in fact there is no such documentation, then on what basis did these two guys become THE suspects?

    1. petridish

      ABSOLUTELY, docG. SHOW US THE EVIDENCE. Until I SEE with my own eyes that each of these brothers took off their backpacks and laid them down in the exact places that the bombs were and then walked away without them, I DON’T BELIEVE IT. And any photographic evidence had better be available for analysis for photoshopping by anyone.

      And don’t try to convince me with some bullshit “confession” extracted with waterboarding or electrodes or sensory deprivation. Everyone should know that that’s what’s coming–no Miranda due to a “public safety” exception!! Plain English: we’ll torture this kid until he gives up the story we want to tell and no lawyer or Constitution is getting in the way of our narrative.

      Enough is enough. As far as I am concerned, decades of lying and lawlessness stops here.

      1. docG

        Sorry, petri, I won’t go that far. My skepticism is based on common sense, NOT paranoia. I’m willing to accept a reasonable explanation when one is offered. And see no reason to fantasize based on overexposure to paranoia-based mass media “entertainment” of the sort so many in this country now take literally. I enjoyed “The Matrix,” but I really don’t think I’m being controlled by robots. Maybe you, not me. :-)

        And I’m also very much aware of how the media (not to mention the Internet) can spread false information far and wide. First we’re told these guys held up a convenience store, now I’m reading the store was apparently held up by someone else, but that one of the Chechen brothers can be seen on the store’s surveillance footage, which only tells us they were in the store at some point — NOTHING more than that.

        Does this mean we are the victims of some vast conspiracy? Maybe. More likely, however, that one reporter got the story wrong, and his/her report was picked up by all the others. That’s sloppy journalism, as I see it, NOT conspiracy.

        From what I’ve been able to figure out, thanks to some additional digging, the main reason why the authorities decided to focus on the Chechens was NOT (necessarily) the surveillance footage in question (which might or might not exist) but the report of an eye witness, who claims he saw this guy roughly his age (27 as I recall), wearing sunglasses, and a dark baseball cap, leave a dark colored back pack and walk away, just minutes before the explosion. This description fits “suspect no. 1.” They could then have decided to focus on “suspect no. 2” simply because he’d been photographed along with “suspect no. 1” and the photos of him were a bit clearer and easier to identify.

        That’s my thinking at the moment, but that could change as more info. becomes available. I admit it, I’m a skeptic, and get impatient when nonsense gets put out there by either the authorities or the media, but I also have NO sympathy for those eager to jump to conclusions based on paranoid fantasies borne of naively conceived ideologies, sorry.

  13. turbo

    You’re still screwing up.

    Let’s take a look at your worst problem:

    “I don’t think I’m the only one to feel that I’ve lost control of the narrative”

    Right after you got done talking about how projecting patterns is bad.

    You cannot control the narrative, and your impulse to try is what causes you to impose the patterns you prefer on the data.

    Stop trying to control the narrative.

    And, if you’re going to admit you were wrong, then admit you were wrong. I see you weaseling in photoshop at the end of your social media mea culpa. Photoshop had nothing to do with it. Prejudice and ignorance did. Jesus Christ, Reddit was analyzing photos taken three hours before the bombings. As amateur sleuths, they never thought to ask, “why would the bombers show up three hours early?” No, they just picked out people based on stereotypes and circulated images of their suspects, causing irreperable harm.

    Lastly, you denigrate whole classes of people, in order to pat yourself on the back. Mind explaining how taxi drivers, hairdressers, bar flies, and kids are excluded from the society of the spectacle?

    I think it would be good to hear what exactly makes them so different from you. Be honest! You know, something like: ‘hairdressers, being uneducated and slow-witted and unaware of the internet, have a naive view of the world that is perhaps truer than ours; they’re like children in this way.’

    Sound about right?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Speaking of the cab drivers and hairdressers — They’re different from me because they’re not totally polluted by processing media behind a laptop during every waking hour over the course of many years. They are also different from me because their RL experience is far less isolating than mine by virtue of their work. And I also wanted to know what most people, and the commentariat here is probably not a representative sample, thnk, and whether the narrative is taking hold, Finally, I went wrong on this story badly, twice, for reasons I give. So I want a lot more data.

      Is there a reason you can’t actually answer the question? Should have been easy, “right”? Be careful not to lie, now. Or project.

      NOTE On Photoshop. It’s possible to use a bad method and/or be racist. Of course racism is involved, as I said; see paragraph beginning “but even.” I’m not sure lay phtoanlysis is ever valid, counter examples welcome.

      NOTE You don’t think that the impulse to tell stories is part of what makes us human? I must have gone to the wrong grad school.

      1. turbo

        So another member of the technological elite has purity fantasies about the working class.

        I cannot believe you’re actually looking for the Thomas Friedman truth of things here. And at one remove! You can’t even make up your own ” my cabbie told me the Tsarnaev brothers…”-story, you’re asking other people to do it for you.

        And you’re telling me not to lie? Or to project? Homes, what the hell is wrong with you.

        Here’s a little update on the working class: we have electronics. We have laptops; we have smart phones; we are on them all day long.

        Don’t look to us to find the noble savage, so primitive he can’t even see the lies of elevated society, much less understand them.

        But I haven’t answered your insulting question yet? Let me go find a child and ask him if Dzokhar is guilty.

        Hang on.

        Okay. My neighbor’s kid says ‘Dzokhar’s the bad guy’, so I guess we’ve got that portion of the world beyond the Spectacle nailed down. My upstair’s neighbor is an unemployed drunk, but I don’t want to talk to him, so I guess the Pure Truth of The Bar Fly will have to wait.

        Christ, you’ve got a Brad Delong-level smug, self-congratulatory apologia going on here.

        One more thing: there’s a difference between telling stories and controlling the narrative. Your whole argument here has no goal other than to establish you as part of the media elite that shapes the narrative the rest of the world depends on. You like to think of yourself as an elite, and that’s why you’re trying to establish this narrative that assuages your guilt over having screwed up while at the same time firmly ensconcing you as superior to children and the working class, who happen to share traits.

        Everybody tells stories, but only the elite get to control the narrative, and can’t we understand the burden poor, poor Lambert has to shoulder?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          My “don’t lie” is the flip side of your “Be honest.”

          Thanks for the data. I mean, assuming your neighbor’s kid isn’t simply a rapidly typed rhetorical device.

          However, I prefer my ranting coherent. You’ve accomplished the remarkable feat having a meltdown because some blogger (a) realizes that because he constantly processes the spectacle for such living as he makes, he may have blind spots, and therefore (b) reaches out for a broader view to people who aren’t in the same line of work, and so don’t have the same blind spots and biases. I don’t see how that’s a fantasy of working class purity. Or how I’m calling anybody a “noble savage”? Didn’t I ask you — well, I admit, tell you, following your own style — not to project?

          Of course I know that cell phones and electronic devices are ubiquitous. My biases and blindspots come because of my relation to those devices in the course of the work I do. I don’t see why asking for information from people who relate to those devices in different way than I do is a such a problem for you.

          NOTE As far as my personal goals, once again, please don’t project.

          1. turbo

            If you’re going to put quotes around my words, don’t make a typo. I didn’t write “nobel savage”.

            “I don’t see why asking for information from people who relate to those devices in different way than I do is a such a problem for you.”

            Because you put the working class, drunks, and children in the same category.

            Because you’re claiming that the working class, drunks, and children relate to “those devices” in a way different from the way you do based on nothing but your fantasies about the working class and children.

            I am working class. This does not mean that I am like a child or a drunk when it comes to electronic media.

            You want to say that as a member of the technological elite, you have a special relationship with electronic media? Fine. How come you picked children, drunks, and the working class to distinguish yourself from?

            Why not pharmacists? Why not architects? Why not surgeons? Why not teachers? None of them is a specialist in electronic media.

            No, you picked people who likely have no tertiary education. Gee, how come?

            Children, drunks, and hairdressers. Classic.

            “As far as my personal goals, once again, please don’t project.”

            I’m not projecting; I’m attributing motives to you that I do not share. You’re saying that I’m accusing you of aspiring to elite status, only because I aspire to elite status?

            Be serious. I’m not the one trying desperately to preserve my credibility, because I just took a very public digger on an important issue.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author


            1. Yes, a typo, since corrected. My correction and your comment crossed.

            2. You write:

            Because you’re claiming that the working class, drunks, and children relate to “those devices” in a way different from the way you do based on nothing but your fantasies about the working class and children.

            Which “fantasies” are those?

            UPDATE Adding, yes, I took a “digger,” as you say, not once but twice. I don’t know if you like taking diggers, but I don’t, and when I do, I try to learn from the experience so as not to do it again. So I ask for the views of others who do not have the life experiences I do. I don’t see what that’s a problem for you, but it apparently is.

          3. turbo

            “Which “fantasies” are those?”

            That they have a special relationship to the truth.

            That they are ignorant of the magical ways of electronic media.

            That they live in the real world, far away from the Spectacle.

            Straight-up, bourgeois fetishization.

            You have a lot more introspection ahead of you than you thought you did.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Good, I’m glad I asked for clarity:

              1. Who said “special relationship to the truth”? Needless to say, when I search the thread for the word “special,” it appears in only your comments. Please don’t put words in my mouth. If I’m reading the thread right, I’m already having your “noble” attributed to me, and readers shouldn’t have to straighten that stuff out.

              2. Here’s the question I asked, which says what I want:

              Is the official narrative of The Boston Marathon Bombing taking hold in the world beyond The Spectacle? That is, the world where human relations are not mediated by images? (I know, it’s hard.)

              3. Unpacking this: The Reddit search: Mediated by images (and the Reddit boards, relationships online mediated by images). “The narrative”: Mediated by images of the suspects, the race, the endless YouTubes, and so on. And trying to reverse engineer the truth out of digital media online: Still mediated, inside The Spectacle. And that is the work I do and have been doing for years (in a very not rich and marginal way). And the results of The Spectacle in terms of truth seeking have not been great. Worse, because of the work that I do — for Marxists, that would be my relationship to the means of production — I’m both a consumer and a (re)producer of The Spectacle, and I think wrote some sub-par posts because of my position and role.

              Therefore, I would like to seek out people who are not in the business of creating the Spectacle — that is, who have a different relationship to the means of production — and one-to-one (not through images) and find out what they think. I can’t do a lot of this from my small town, therefore I ask others for help (mediated digitally, yes).

              4. You cannot show that I claim “they are ignorant of the magical ways of electronic media” because I made no such claim. Please do not make false statements about what I write. Unless you’re claiming that producing The Spectacle (see point 3) is the same as consuming it. Are you?

              5. You cannot show that I claim that “they live in the real world” since once again (in a familiar tactic) you put words in my mouth. What I wrote was “the world beyond the Spectacle.” Now, one could argue that nobody gets to live beyond The Spectacle, but if that’s the argument you’re making, please make it. One can also argue that there’s no such thing as the real world. Again, if that’s the argument you’re making, please make it.

              6. I do make the claim that the best way to answer the question I asked — “Is the official narrative of The Boston Marathon Bombing taking hold” — is to, well, ask people about it, and especially to ask people who (unlike me) are not consuming and (re)producing The Spectacle 24/7 for years in their working life. I don’t see why that claim is controversial at all.

              7. As for your remarks on introspection: Please don’t take my inventory and please don’t assign me work.

              Of course, this post was introspective. Glad you enjoyed it. Quoting one of your comments: “Maybe they’re actual, genuine, individual people who are more complicated than the narrow ______ stereotypes you want them to be.” Have you given consideration to applying that idea in all your affairs?

              NOTE Pressed submit too soon. Slightly tinkered with.

          4. Jane Doe


            You tend to make some good points, but your hyperbole tends to defeat them.

            Its not just Liberals who try the Poor and working class as a fetish- the conservatives do as well.

            Neither have a real response to class because most of them are coming from the middle class.

            Trust me, I have tried. I am at this point in the middle class, but I come from a dirt poor background (something that most Americans can’t comprehend), and the conversations that I have tried to have with Conservatives and Liberals end up being the same “they really don’t get it”

            But that being said, there’s a difference here that you aren’t admitting to. Lambert may be not articulating well the point and the writer may be making the mistakes you mention, but the writer does admit the voices need to be heard from.

            That’s not a bad thing.

            Let me add you make a mistake- access to the internet does not indicate how one uses it. The same with media. Humans, regardless of class or race, can only take in some much information. Trying to discuss these issues like we are discussing it takes time (which indicates leisure), and that’s something that if you are poor or working class you don’t always have a lot of.

            That’s not a put down on class. That’s a put down on the rest of the system for putting up so much fog that someone with limited time doesn’t have time to sift through the b.s. to get to the heart of the matter.

            This is what I meant about the savvy below. there’s so much data. That it all becomes a fog even if one has free time to sift through it.

            Ultimately i think you are trying to talk about Liberal and Conservative bias, but then not realizing there’s one in what you are saying. that the poor and working class have the same kind of free time to figure out what’s going on. From experience, I can tell you they don’t. Its not a put down on them that this is true. Its a reflection of how screwed up our system is that they would need a lot of free time to figure it out.

          5. turbo

            “I would like to seek out people who are not in the business of creating the Spectacle”

            Then you should have said that. But you didn’t. You said this:

            “Is the official narrative of The Boston Marathon Bombing taking hold in the world beyond The Spectacle? That is, the world where human relations are not mediated by images? (I know, it’s hard.)

            What does your cab driver say? What does your hairdresser (or barber) say? What do the kids say in school? What do the bar flies say? And so forth.”

            You did not say you wanted to talk to people who do not work in media. You said people whose live their lives somehow outside of the media, who live lives that are not mediated by images.

            Then you gave examples of who such people might be: working class people, drunks, and children.

            As I said before, you could have given pharmacists or achitects or surgeons or teachers as examples–and indeed these are all people who do not work in media. But you did not give these examples.

            You gave the examples of children, drunks, and working class people.

            “Now, one could argue that nobody gets to live beyond The Spectacle, but if that’s the argument you’re making”

            It’s not, and I don’t have to make that argument. The argument you have to make is that working class people, drunks, and children actually live beyond the Spectacle.

            You’re not making that argument, of course. Instead, you’re changing your initial argument to say that ‘living beyond the Spectacle’ actually means “people who are not in the business of creating the Spectacle”.

            “to ask people who (unlike me) are not consuming and (re)producing The Spectacle 24/7 for years in their working life. I don’t see why that claim is controversial at all.”

            That claim is not controversial. Too bad you never made that claim until just now, and too bad a whole lot of people besides children, drunks, and the working class fit into that category. People like pharmacists, architects, surgeons, and teachers.

            But none of those people would be exotic enough for you, would they? No, you need some good, ol’ fashioned Others. People who are kind of scary. People you’d be afraid to talk to yourself.

            I mean: what are you waiting for? Why are trying (and failing I notice) to get other people to talk to cab drivers, hair dressers, and drunks?

            Can’t you take a cab? Can’t you get a haircut? Can’t you belly up to bar?

            God I would love to eavesdrop on that stuff.

            –So…uh…how ’bout them bombinz?!

            –Boy, hell of a week, amirite?

            –Can I touch your hair?

            –I’ve always found your people so spiritual!

          6. JTFaraday

            “Nice coded claim that I’m a racist.”

            Not necessarily. One of my friends is a Viking and she’ll tell you that when she was in Headstart in the early 70s all the kids in her class wanted to touch her hair.

        2. Jane Doe

          I am not always a fan if Lambert but I must say you are being over the top

          I grew up dirt poor and live in the same area with those I knew now

          I don’t see a problem with the last post by Lambert bc most of the time no one cares what the poor think on anything

          1. Jane Doe

            We are also people of color here. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak of my experiences, which should not be extrapolated beyond my experiences.

            There are several strains, often coming from the same people (4 at this point), about the situation. On the hand, there was some passing concern over the situation- “was it a terrorist plot?”

            But that also quickly turned into the power of the police here. Or as I heard several times, this seems like overkill in response to one man.

            There’s a fear in that statement.

            When you take into account the poor and the working class, you also have to think of race when it comes to the police and the power of the state.

            A lot of the dialogue is focused on the police power. Whereas Turbo seems to trust it way too much, there is an inherit sense of not trusting with the few to whom I am talking. We live in a world where cops can and do frame you.

            That’s why I mention fair trial above. the evidence looks bad for the remaining living suspect, but I want a trial where we aren’t taking away the right to Miranda, etc so that we can find out what happen as best as the legal system will allow us to find out what’s happening.

            Trusting the “guilt” as a given because of media narratives is a problem. As I mention below, in this media culture, where several people on Thursday night had been tried and convicted on sites like Reddit brings that home to me.

            I didn’t even mention that to the 4 that I talked to. It was just a lot of instinctive stuff on their part ‘Lord, this is an overkill like 9/11″

            Saying all that, I wonder if President Obama gave a public endorsement would the 4 have said the same thing? I don’t know the answer to that one. They have been really hard core supporters in the past, whereas I am at the point where I think he’s nothing but a Trojan Horse to convince black people to say and do things against our own interest. But that’s not relevant I suppose because I can’t know how they would feel.

            Ultimate the problem by the way here is that in the media- the poor and the working class despite internet access and tools really don’t have a voice.

            There is quite often a lot of people speaking for them on the left and right rather than to them.

          2. turbo

            “A lot of the dialogue is focused on the police power. Whereas Turbo seems to trust it way too much”

            Where have I said that I trust the police?

            People I know witnessed the bombing. People I know heard the shooting of the MIT cop. People I know heard the Watertown shootout.

            I walked the streets during the lockdown.

            And now everybody’s telling me that only saps buy the media and government line that the Tsarnaevs are proper suspects?

            This whole discussion is baloney, not just because you’re looking for truth by stereotyping people, but because you are not considering what the practical consequences of the discussion are.

            What do you want us to do?

            Like, if my barber thinks the Tsarnaev brothers are innocent, what do we do?

            Does Greater Boston need to have another manhunt? What are you asking of us? What more can we do?

            One of the reasons for the lockdown was to capture Dzokhar Tsarnaev alive. We voluntarily enabled the lockdown, and Dzokhar got captured alive. He will stand for a civilian trial.

            Apparently, that’s not good enough?

            We also need to prove, by gathering evidence from children, drunks, and cab drivers, that we’re not a whole town full of suckers?

            And we need to provide this evidence to the people who smeared Sunil?

            This is the most utterly disgraceful thread I have ever seen on Naked Capitalism.

          3. Jane Doe

            People you k now were in the middle of a crisis, and now comes the process of piecing together what actually happened.

            The last few days didn’t help in that regard. If you think it did, you don’t understand human nature, regardless of class.

            I’ve been in the middle of violence. I can’t tell you everything that was happening because there’s thing called adrenaline. It starts to pump through the body. Flight or fight kicks in. You do what you can do. but the idea that you are perfect witness under such stresses is unrealistic.

            I don’t know if I am allowed to curse here, but I am whom I am: I don’t give a shit what you do. I am not Lambert. I don’t need to respect you or what I see to be manipulations here.

            Its reasonable to say “wait and see and not convicted in the court of public opinion”

            If you think its not, you are the fool, not me.

            The idea that its better for you to feel the situation is settled, rather than continuing the fact finding process even after the initial fear of danger has worn out will get you dead far faster than my opinion that its important to keep looking at understanding what’s going on. That’s if we even ignore the justice aspect in which you seem to be saying its better to be certain than to make sure we got the right people.

            No one saying the guy should be set free. So your hyperbole is that of a child trying to lash out and win a debate. What is being said is “be skeptical’ Which is what you should be in the first place when it comes to finding both justice and greater safety.

            All that being said, one of the more nasty aspect of the post here by you is the idea that your experience of being working class or poor, or experiencing a one off act of violence, is somehow more important than the working class and poor people that I know. that their experiences with violence and the cops are to be ignored. That no one should question.

            Again I am not lambert so I am going to say it like I say things: Screw that and screw the horse you rode in on trying to tell us not to be skeptical until a fair trial and process has occurred.

          4. Valissa

            @turbo – I completely agree with all your points. But then I’m a Watertown resident, so that may have something to do with it. Many people here are using the incident to bitch about their political pet peeves and don’t seem to care much at all about the multi-faceted human side of anything that happened. On Friday I posted some comments about what was going on, which people seemed to see as an excuse to project their own issues on. People did not seem to believe that I could be both highly concerned about the increasing surveillance society that will come out of all this and yet still be sympathetic to the police situation and the authorities attempts to catch the bad guys. So I have not commented further on my own feelings about the whole incident, and will probably not in the future because all I will get from it is shit, like you have been getting here today. At least all my friend and family called and expressed concern. I heard from friends that I’d lost contact with years ago, and that part was great.

          5. Jane Doe

            One other point-

            When someone keeps talking about their feelings on an incident when others are trying to figure out w hat actually happened, that’s already a sign that we aren’t having the same conversation.

            The case for or against the suspect isn’t your therapy session for what happened. It can’t be. It has to be about trying to figure out guilt or or not guilty. If it isn’t it creates the change for more injustice and less safety.

          6. AbyNormal

            @Val, Jane’s point is worthy of a repeat:

            When someone keeps talking about their feelings on an incident when others are trying to figure out w hat actually happened, that’s already a sign that we aren’t having the same conversation.

            ***The case for or against the suspect isn’t your therapy session for what happened***. It can’t be. It has to be about trying to figure out guilt or or not guilty. If it isn’t it creates the change for more injustice and less safety. (!!!)

          7. Valissa

            “others are trying to figure out what actually happened”

            bwahahahaha… that’s what’s going on here, you all are playing detective? Based on the MSM articles and blogger posts you are going figure out the whole situation? [ad homininem –ls]

          8. Valissa

            Furthermore, many here are expressing strong feelings. Most every comment I managed to get through has strong feelings behind it. So throwing around the therapy tag is a bit ironic, IMO. Obviously I don’t belong in this thread and probably should have kept my mouth shut.

          9. Lambert Strether Post author

            @Turbo writes “We also need to prove, by gathering evidence from children, drunks, and cab drivers, that we’re not a whole town full of suckers?”

            Richard Jewell and wilding episode in Central Park — where officials targeted working class people, I might add — show that the official narrative isn’t always the correct one. That’s why it’s important to keep an open mind.

            And if you care about things like due process, then you want to be questioning evidence. Do you?

            * * *

            I also wish you would stop distorting what I wrote. I want to find out whether the official narrative has taken hold, and therefore I propose to ask people who are not involved in producing what they think. I don’t see why that’s so controversial. Nobody is aking you to do anything, so if you don’t want to participate, don’t.

            * * *

            As for the worst thread on NC, it’s a big Internet. Everybody should have the right to seek their own happiness.

          10. Valissa

            @Lambert – to clarify, I have no issue with your post. You did a fine job on that. But I did feel turbo was being jumped on unfairly so I spoke up. Again to clarify, I did not mean to say I agreed with every single point he made, but that in general I was sympathetic to his position.

            My comment that you added to, as not addressed to you, but to Jane’s nasty little remark about feelings and therapy. I know that everyone, including myself, wants to try and understand what has happened. But people’s political beliefs do distort that process. Recent research areas for me are related to military issues, increasing surveillance and how bureaucracies operate. The marathon incident has been a great front row seat from which to see my research stuff acted out. Being in the middle of it effected my thoughts in unexpected ways. It’s something that I would liked to talk about more here, but now don’t see the point.

            Peace all!

          11. Lambert Strether Post author

            @Valissa Well, that’s a shame, because the research would have been helpful to readers.

            That said, I’m not clear if my desire to vet the evidence (and the desire for Constitutional due process that goes along with that) is one of the “pet peeves” that you mention.

          12. Valissa

            @Lambert, most of my research insights come from reading numerous things over time and slowly ruminating and putting pieces together. I cannot give specific links or quotes for most of it, though if I looked hard enough I could probably find something. I have observed that when others here have given observations based on years of experience or thought but haven’t provided hard evidence that they often get jumped on for that, esp. when their conclusions don’t jibe with current liberal/progressive ideology. It seems that in blog comments, links to other peoples thoughts are required to justify one’s own beliefs.

            I may at some point start a blog where I put forth some of my musings and reflections on life and staying sane and happy in the increasing totalitarian bureaucratic state based on my research, but I’m still thinking through a lot of things.

          13. Yves Smith


            A few law school professors like to stage someone running into the classroom and steal something, like the professor’s watch on the lectern, and run out. The class is asked to describe what happened, and in particular, to ID the perp.

            The robbery, of course, has been taped. After hashing out what they think they saw, the class gets to view again (in slow motion) what actually happened.

            Without exception, a crime with a roomful of eyewitnesses has a lot of people getting much of it wrong.

            It is astonishing how unreliable our own memories are of fast-moving, dramatic events. So your confidence in YOUR OWN IMPRESSIONS is overdone.

            See here for more details on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony and how easily it is influenced:


          14. turbo

            Yeah, Yves, thanks for the Freshman Intro to Misperception. That’s sweet.

            ‘Course I can think of another example that brings home the point more forcefully.

            Did you hear about how people looked at pictures of Dzokhar Tsarnaev and Sunil Tripathi and thought they were the same person?

            These were still photos, I’m talking about, and people got to stare at them for a considerable length of time, yet they still didn’t see that the two were not the same person, much to the chagrin of Tripathi’s family.

            I think that’s a more apt example of misperception, don’t you?

          15. turbo

            Your media analysis is really important to the Marathon bombing investigation and the trial of Dzokhar Tsarnaev.

            Please keep working this case like you think Dunning-Kruger is some kind of dare.

          16. Yves Smith


            You were the one who reported on supposed first hand experience. I’m simply reminding you that isn’t as controvertible as you make it out to be. Then you proceed to get pissy with me, as if I am somehow dissing you, when regular readers will tell you that a diss from me is far more pointed.

            As for the mistaken ID (which I believe was also taken up by some MSM outlets), it was the police who put up the suspect photos and asked for the help of the public. The unfortunate side effect was that instead of reporting suspicions to the authorities, the mistaken IDs got bandied all over the web.

            I don’t understand what your belligerent tone is all about, frankly. You’ve come here as a new commentor with a tremendous chip on your shoulder. You’ve also set up a ton of straw men in terms of what this discussion (and discussion here generally) is about.

        3. Jane Doe

          The moving target is interesting.

          First it was a lack of sensitivity to the working class and poor.

          That having’ failed its now we don’t feel for your because you are a special snow flake.

          Again I speak for myself only, but the idea there’s something so unique about you (this is taking on a 9/11 fetish) that we aren’t suppose to use the same legal system we used in the case of other mass acts of violence is not a matter of us trying to push pet theories. its the reverse.

          You are pushing pet theories in the face of common practices that have worked out well in all other legal instances.

          What in your mind separates you from what happened with the other acts of mass violence? What makes you the special snowflake that means ideas like fair trial should be thrown out the window?

  14. dearieme

    I did wonder why The Powers That Be were so keen to support foreign stereotypes of America, first the tendency to hysteria, and then the Keystone Cops.

    1. bob

      Watching NECN, the local cable news in Boston, was painful. They had on the order of 100-200 police milling around the press camp. That apparently didn’t look right, so they lined up the state toopers and tried to make them march. At one point in an apparent “about face” they all turned in different directions, guts bouncing off each other.

      It was much more funny than any keysone cops episode.

  15. affinis

    >I retain, perhaps naively, the idea that truth is important
    For me, that’s a core belief/value.

    >Is there a method — besides constant critical thinking and/or curation — to avoid these issues?
    I don’t know if there’s a general method, but a few additional rules of thumb that I find useful myself (to avoid rabbitholes):
    Parsimony (simplest possible explanation more likely true),
    Likelihood (thinking probabilistically – considering the probability of a sequence of events – likelihood of each element and the joint likelihood),
    People do stupid sh*t (just because someone did something that’s obviously stupid from my own perspective doesn’t mean that a more complicated explanation – involving intelligent rationale choices – is required),
    Systemic forces (a conspiracy is not required where systemic forces will suffice – e.g. Chomsky recognizes this in his explanations – e.g. Manufacturing Consent – and I think he generally gets explanations right),
    Preferencing robust explanations (relative to fragile just-so stories) – which sort of goes with likelihood,
    Trying to avoid the usual cognitive biases (and trying to consistently interrogate my own thinking to check for them).

  16. Winston Smith

    There was an interview with the uncle of the two bombers on NPR where he said that even if there turned out to be a religious connection, that it was “fake”; the real issue he said was that the kids were frustrated at their lack of success.

    What really strikes me about media coverage of the bombing is how different it is from coverage of profit motivated crimes that kill and injure comparable or vastly greater numbers of people. Think West, Texas, the BP oil spill, etc. Someday it will occur to the terrorists that if they rob a bank in the haze that occurs in the aftermath of a bombing and claim that as their motive, they will receive much more sympathetic treatment from the press and the criminal justice system.

    If they introduce sufficient randomness, indirection, and obfuscation and make wise political donations, they won’t even be prosecuted.

  17. Jack Rabbit

    We have the most expansive, and expensively well equipped digital-Stasi-appartus in history, full spectrum corporate control of the Web and the consumer dynamic of fear creating a powerful source of profit and motivation exceeding any other. Of course, every type of bubble collapses.
    People are getting blown up on a daily basis, lives ruined by the what passes for criminal justice (the US leads the world in human warehousing) bankruptcies, unemployment, housing and basic survival that is met with total, 24/7 indifference.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Please use a different handle in the future.

      I have consistently used “Jackrabbit” on NC for years. Your use of “Jack Rabbit” may lead some to think that the comment is coming from me.

      1. AbyNormal

        damn, glad you pointed that out…recently ive notice this happening more often around here.

  18. Brindle

    Interesting read, with good photos that can be enlarged. I know Global Research can be kind of “iffy”, but I think this piece asks good questions.

    —“These men were unidentified, professional contractors apparently augmenting public servants at the Boston Marathon, present before and after the bomb blasts in the direct vicinity of the incident.

    After the blasts, whether it was their intended function or not, they appeared to be searching for something under the bleachers before being joined by what appears to be the FBI bomb squad.
    The FBI and the city of Boston has so far categorically failed to provide any information on these highly suspicious individuals.”—

      1. Elisabeth Spenser

        Lambert, could you kindly tell me which link above is the Washington’sBlog piece that debunks the Craft pics/CT? Maybe I’m still tired from being up all night last Thursday watching on live TV the surreal hunt and shootout going on just across the river from my house, but I can’t seem to find it. Thanks!

  19. Sammy Donovan

    Some of the more credible screeching post 9/11 was that the Gov’mint allowed it to happen, some that of noise included testimony from a career destroyed FBI agent. Knowing and doing nothing is just so much like the epidemic of mortgage fraud. Again, no explosives were used, but close enough for the end result of carnage.

  20. Ziggy

    I’ve been thinking about ways cut through the noise – official and unofficial – in a developing story like this one.

    One idea is to employ a simple daily timeline.

    Each morning list the ten most important questions. Add links or responses as credible, sourced info becomes known.

    Maintaining the 10 question limit, add new questions each day as the story unfolds, advance relevant questions that aren’t answered from previous days, revive older questions whose previous answers require modification or dead end questions that are no longer relevant, as necessary.

    At least this way there is a tangible, graphic paper trail that can be referenced at a glance. Limiting the number of questions helps reduce the tendency to follow too many rabbit holes. From the questions and answers, a narrative will emerge. That’s the theory anyway…

  21. Brooklin Bridge


    Your points about not trusting what government, or what officialdom, tells us are excellent particularly because that should be obvious, after lied-about unnecessary pre-emptive wars, warrantless unconstitutional assassinations, Presidents getting away with unconstitutional torture and abuse of prisoners, and one could go on and on; it should be obvious to EVERYBODY that US government LIES, but obviously IT IS NOT (dammit).

    Anything our government tells us is probably a lie and anything the media tells us is certainly a lie and both are directed at us by corporate whores for whatever their perceived interests. The only given is that those interests are NOT our interests.

    Your self examination is praiseworthy, but then it is also consistent with your blogging generally just as the opposite is true of NPR and the main stream media. If anyone is going to beat themselves up, it should be and will not be them. I wish NPR would apologize for one of their programs where the NPR-as*-wipe just couldn’t wait to make the comparison to the attack by Palestinians of the 1972 Olympics Games in Munich before anything, ANYTHING, was known about who was responsible for the bombing at the Boston Marathon or why (and Claudius, don’t use BB, Base Ball, Brooklyn Bridge, Bucky Beaver, Bargain Basement, Boston Bruins and so on – it’s insidious and inaccurate. Try out: (BATBM) Bombing At The Boston Marathon if you must be clever). But while I’ve been holding my gag reflexes ever since Bush declared “Mission Accomplished”, and Obama declared Bradley Manning guilty before any trial, I’m certainly not holding my breath that they ever will apologize for what they consider a feature (a terrorized, obedient, authority loving public) and not a bug.

    1. deep6

      But my community wasn’t terrorized by the government after the bombings. Everyone was upset and focused on getting in touch with people they knew lived in the area or were running/attending the marathon to make sure they were okay. After that, people still went to work. They went grocery shopping. They went to the movies. Boston is a tough city and people went about their lives. It wasn’t until Friday morning when — surprise! — the MBTA was shut down and cabs were ordered to stop driving in the city (an order which many of the cabbies did NOT listen to, as I got picked up in one to get to work because the red line wasn’t running). A coworker had plans to go to the Red Sox game that night and when it was cancelled and had no public transit access I had to give her a ride through four different Boston neighborhoods to get her to a friend’s house. There was still traffic on the roads. IN BOSTON. The only areas where people really shut themselves in were the specific areas in Watertown/Cambridge where the police were searching, and university campuses near the original bomb site (like Emerson and BU) and MIT, where the campus police officer was shot. Other people chose on their own to stay home or if their work was shut down for the day did not come into the city. There was no crazy terrorism of the city by the government. The media sensationalism of Friday’s events is completely obscuring the normalcy of what many of us still went through (despite constantly tuning into the news to find out more of what was going on) and mischaracterizing in scale and severity the power the police actually used. No civilians were accidentally shot. There were no raids resulting in mass arrests and no shake-down of students in the various university systems. Seriously. I agree it’s important to critically analyze any government action, but this conspiracy theory-like B.S. that you spew that you should never believe/trust government is quasi-anarchist paranoia. Give this kid a fair trial in a place OTHER than Boston. Get him a good lawyer. A whole team of lawyers. This whole thing should be legit and above-board. I personally feel safer now that he’s caught, assume by his THROWING EXPLOSIVES AT POLICE AFTER A CAR CHASE THROUGH CAMBRIDGE, and by his failure to turn himself in to police to prevent any further chaos/mayhem that he is guilty and will go about the rest of my life in Boston believing that, unless some seriously powerful evidence is uncovered during his trial that would suggest otherwise. Not everything is Iraq. Not everything is corporatist. Not everyone in government is a fraud. You must be scared to breathe every day.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Give this kid a fair trial in a place OTHER than Boston. Get him a good lawyer. A whole team of lawyers. This whole thing should be legit and above-board. -deep6

        Not reading the suspect his Miranda rights is a great start to your disingenuous “reasonable” sounding suggestion and belies the truth about whether or not I’m “spewing” “[…]conspiracy theory-like B.S.” And as to “conspiracy theories”, that is simply a Pavlovian loaded phrase used by people such as yourself to brand any observation as “nut case” whether accurate or not. I am not arguing that what our government is doing is a conspiricy, and you know it. I am arguing it is naked all out class warfare and they are using this incident for all it is worth.

        Look at Rahm Emanuel crying out for surveillance cameras,

        And he is hardly alone. Look at this obsequious piece by the Wall St. Journal,

        These are facts, the owners (Wall St.) and government are using this incident and will continue to do so OPENLY to attack civil liberties and to traumatize citizens into accepting that as normal. That the lock down of an entire city for such an incident is normal for you is not my concern.

      2. Jane Doe

        If saying that people will use crisis towards their own advantage is a conspiracy, then I guess the vast majority of the human race is a conspiracy, since that’s something that we all do. We see an advantage or something we can use to advance our goals, and we use it.

  22. McMike

    For me the really galling thing, the really appalling thing, is the underlying premise here is that our existing century-old system is inadequate. Yet no evidence has been put forth that it is inadequate.

    The rationales put forth for abandoning our civilian/Constitutional system are entirely preemptive, prospective, and precautionary. In truth, there is no rationale actually offered; they just claim the power and utter weak justifications over their shoulder as they leave – mythical “ticking bomb” scenarios more fitting to a TV drama, and assertions of “global battlefields.”

    This is the same “dialog” about warrantless wiretaps – a non-dialog in fact – where the natural extension of the argument is that it is not about degrees of Constitutional control and checks, but rather the starting point of negotiations from the State is that there must be NO CONTROLS OR CHECKS. Not even the slightest control or check is acceptable to Bush and Obama. (Contrast this with Obama’s starting point on negotiations over bank regulation – in which he already ceded the opponent’s full claims in his first offer).

    In other words; we must abandon our Constitutional system because IT MIGHT BE inadequate. Because, in the views of the elites, it would expeditious to do so (never mind that the framers specifically did not want our leaders telling us what is expeditious, or for us to take that just on their say-so).

    We never start with a specific articulation about specific points in the current civilian system that are a problem and then move progressively towards a list of solutions to that system. No. The government just plops down an entirely new (fascist, totalitarian) regime, without discussion of previous problems, and says HERE’S THE NEW SYSTEM. So suck on this.

    But that is what it boils down to: without debate or review, and without proof that the existing system is inadequate, we are told we must abandon our system because the leaders want to, and just BECAUSE THEY SAY SO.

    Boston is simply another post-9/11 Patriot Act. They take a moment in time when popular passions are high, when no one dare stand up and make waves, and use that moment to seize truly stunning, epic, changes in anti-democratic power.

    The pattern is well established now of course. And should you be conspiracy-minded (or merely view our leaders as opportunistic), it is also clear that this pattern is right out of the playbooks articulated by Orwell, or Nazis, or Economic Hit Men, or Shock Doctrines.

    The bombing is in fact entirely capable of being handled by our exiting civilian/constitutional system. But without debate, the totalitarian state security system has announced that it has sole jurisdiction to “disappear” this case down into the right-less/state-less/window-less secret system.

    Now, I know some people are allergic to the right-left thread. But it is a fact that the right spent the last couple generations mocking Miranda and whining about Habeas Corpus and cheering Bush rendition and torture. And now that all is coming home to roost. The lines are all crossed now – massive surveillance, martial law, waived Miranda, and now finally and fully an unapologetic open complete rejection of our constitutional/civilian system.

    I am trying hard not to be hyperbolic or excitable here. But I can’t help but thinking I have been watching the evaporation of the United States, right before my eyes – not the culture wars version that has held the imagination of the right, but a methodical deconstruction of the philosophical, legal and procedural system that was put in place by our nation’s founders.. And the last few threads are being cut right here and now.

    1. banger

      In fact, 9/11 could and should have been handles as a police matter with assistance of other agencies and should have been investigated using forensics and all the traditional means of criminal investigation–instead it became “war” which of course it wasn’t even remotely. The reason no real investigation was carried out–not even anything resembling the Warren Commission was that it was obvious that elements of the government had to be involved not matter whether it was a flat out false-flag or that someone in government had to have helped the terrorists. The fact the government did not allow a normal investigation into any of the events makes a prima fascia case that they had a lot to cover up.

      As for the Boston event–come on, three people were killed as opposed to the worse incident in Texas–to shut down an entire city to practice marshal law in a major metro area is very strange indeed. I’m not even looking into this incident to see whether the official story makes sense or not–I don’t really care–I’m done with all that–all I know is that other people I know are talking about how this must have been a staged event–I find that the most fascinating turn of events as far as this incident is concerned–of course I live in the South where people take Alex Jones very seriously.

      1. McMike

        I agree that at some point it no longer matters whether the events are staged or merely cynically exploited, or some flavor of both.

        The end result is the same: miss-direction of attention, miss-allocation of resources, avoidance of accountibility, profiteering, and unwinding of democratic restraints on power.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      The other amazing thing is that all three branches of government as well as the media, ALL of them are so complicit. All of our so called checks and balances are failing at once and not just miserably but like tiny blocs of sand that cave instantly at the onslaught of mere ripples.

  23. banger

    I’m struck by a few conversation I’ve had how much skepticism there is for the current version of the story the authorities have given us on this weird event.

    Are people just fed up with the media circus at last? I have no idea if this was yet another false-flag event to further lock down the police state. 9/11 certainly was one of a long line of such events–but not every one of these events is false-flag. People do flip out and act in a crazy way.

    I am actually not that interested in the answer to that question–I’m more interested in people’s reaction to it and the deep suspicion people have of anything the authorities say where I live in the South (where Alex Jones has a stronger influence than in the rest of the country).

    1. McMike

      Seems to me that the south is the epicenter of being taught (through relentless repitition) to (1) don’t trust the government, and (2) don’t trust the media.

      The finesse is of course to get them to stay on the reservation when necessary (such as, for example, support for the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, etc).

      This exemption happens I think when the pundits like Limbaugh and Fox news get in allignment with the government. Both of these outlets positioning themselves somewhat remarkably as non-mainstream alternatives – when in fact they are more like the safety-valve sub-programs in the way Neo is perioidicaly introduced into the Matrix. In any case, at those points, the meta-narrative is suspended.

      The cognitive dissonance results from the partisn dimension – during the Clinton and Obama administrations, there is a full-court press on illegitimacy, treason, and conspiracy memes. But that lever is then thrown in the opposite direction for Republican administrations or for the periodic issues when elite unanimity is required.

      That some grinding of the gears results for a segment of the population is to be expected.

      Each throwing of the lever leaves a few folks behind who fall off an edge into puppet-string nihilism or deep conspiracy paranoia.

      Of course, some folks also fall off in other ways, and actually have an awakening to the propganda itself – catching a glimpse of the great (and terrible) Oz which pentrates the consciousness.

      1. banger

        The virulence of anti-government attitudes among young and old is pretty amazing. I feel it’s not just because of right-wing propaganda. No major right wing media outlet wants anyone to actually question authority, particularly the security apparatus–in fact, it is the job of Fox and Limbaugh et. al. to tout the virtues of the military and police to make sure order is maintained–but I think now people are going beyond their minders and are questioning everything–on balance, I think it may be a good thing. As you know, probably, I am very much opposed to the current government and believe it is illegitimate–not because of Obama or birth-certificates either.

  24. David Petraitis

    I don’t know. I somehow have a problem with this focus on “the narrative” that seems to me to be a post-modern affectation. A bit twee the Victorians would sniff.

    I agree at a certain point: What we deal with within the heads of the real people (your cab driver and barber, Lambert) is a profound mystification. They are somnambulised into performing their daily rounds without a revolutionary thought, which might proceed to action, in their heads. This is of course supported, even caused, through the propaganda of the power structures.
    But what the awakened ones realize (sometimes to their own frustration) is that these structures and systems are there to exert power. Power as Max Weber described it is the ability to have your own way, you will, in spite of opposition. That when confronting the power, the aroused people will face violence privately from the oligarchs and publicly from the state.
    As per your piece from Robert Johnson, if we are faced by an oligarchy that is tending to steer the ship toward the rocks. Then the people will rise up, and will be confronted by that power system violently. The only question is how this will play out. I fully expect us to have a scene again in the future where US polices forces fire upon unarmed citizens. Whether or not this wil galvanize more action or more soma drinking is still an open question. After Kent State, the yuppies went into soma.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t claim to be one of the enlightened ones. And I vehemently reject the “somnambulised” view. If there’s a lack of revolutionary fervor, I think that’s down to the left not being able to break through TINA with a TIA of their own, though Occupy seemed to have been a start, along with the Walmart efforts and a lot of efforts whose ground truth (I am betting) we will never see.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Adding, “twee” “the narrative” may be, but Victorian it is not. I encountered it first in the political blogosphere in the Bush years. I used to think of it as what the press did. Now I think of it as one of the work products of the political class.

    3. Yves Smith

      1. Propaganda is US creation that started in the early 1900s (Alex Carey’s Taking the Risk Out of Democracy chronicles its beginnings) and didn’t get to the UK till later (IIRC the 1920s). So the Victorians didn’t have our concerns. They lived in communities with shared norms where media were less important as sources of information and the idea that media could be a vehicle for social control would have been novel.

      2. I really doubt the US will go the way of revolution. Even if people become agitated enough to Do Something, we’ve done such a good job of instilling individualism that I see it as very difficult to create any sort of mass movement. Plus look at how an incipient mass movement, Occupy, was squashed (not that Occupy is dead, but it has morphed into local efforts that I don’t see coalescing into a national effort). I think we’ll see more random violence by individuals and small groups.

  25. Brooklin Bridge

    The one question you will never hear from the administration, from any politician, or – heaven forbid – ever ever from the as* licking main stream media (the only truly amazing thing about them is how they can read the tele-prompter at all with their heads so deeply buried in the as* cheeks of the powers-that-be) is how has this incident and others like it have not happened sooner given the thousand and thousands of innocent lives taken by our constant wars and drone attacks and other such instances of US sponsored terror. Our government and the corporate world that makes it open and close it’s lying mouth are hell bent on subjugating and crushing half the population of the world and making the poorest members of the other half pay for it. The thinner, more hair brained the excuse for doing so, the more powerful they feel.

    These horrible unconstitutional injustices may have nothing to do with the bombing at the Boston Marathon, but guaranteed if it turns out they did, you will never hear about it in that light. We are now on the exact same path as Israel. We will tighten our security, our government will destroy and we will relinquish our civil liberties with zeal, we will increasingly cry like babies about how mean everyone is to us, the media will compete with every more dramatic soliloquies about, How oh how could anyone want to do this to us??? until we are simply a pathetic, vacuous self parodying and self paralyzed joke of a nation – albeit, unfortunately, an immensely powerful and destructive one.

  26. Working Class Nero

    As someone who read every book on the Kennedy assassination up until the mid-eighties, I am never one to have too many qualms about discussing a conspiracy. But the theory has at least has to make some sense. I think many people here are disappointed that it ended up being Islamic terrorists and so are grasping for conspiratorial straws. The opposite thing happened in Newtown massacre, many on the right went to ridiculous lengths to not have to deal with the fact that an Aspergy / gun nut / video game freak really was trying to get the highest score body count with real guns and real kids.

    The Powers That Be have two main preoccupations right now; jamming through the Permanent non-Elite Poverty Act, aka the immigration bill and achieving regime change in Syria through an alliance with Al Qaida-type Jihadis. They have absolutely no interest in having an albeit legal immigrant and his recently naturalized brother slaughtering infidels in major US urban centers.

    And to hold on the one hand the idea that the government cannot be trusted (totally agree) but that on the other hand citizens are the moral equivalent of lynch mobs for using crowd sourcing media to seek the truth is a bit schizophrenic to say the least. Reddit was co-founded by Aaron Swartz after all, and it empowers individuals to have access to streams of information outside of official channels. No doubt there was some over-zealousness in the rush to figure out who planted the bombs. The people who were misidentified suffered no real harm and to the contrary, if people do think they were damaged, a fund can be set up for them. A security guard down in Atlanta became a folk hero a month or two ago and a fund was set up for him.

    The real question is Cui bono, to whose good was this attack? Certainly it was not to the US government’s good. Some say it was an exercise to help pacify the US population. But as seen from the outside where the Americans are already seen as quite tame to their political masters, if the US population got any more docile they would fall into a collective coma.

    But Russia may not be too upset about this attack. In Syria the Russians are on the verge of losing a client regime which will be replaced by one more to the liking of Saudi Arabia and the US. Given that Israel created Hamas and the US created Al Qaida, it is not out of the question that Putin’s and his boys control a “radical” Imam or two down in the Caucuses who were able to radicalize the older brother. Not that Russia cares about US immigration policy. As Napoleon said: when the enemy is making a mistake we must take good care not to interrupt him. And this attack, featuring a legal immigrant and a naturalized citizen, will not be enough to derail the immigration deal. But there is no doubt Russia would like to create some political pressure on the US for making an alliance in Syria with Jihadists. And having warned the US in advance doesn’t hurt either. The fate of Syria is hanging in the balance and so this attack could potentially have a positive impact for Russia there.

    1. McMike

      I get your point, and looking for other beneficiaries is important.

      But there is no shortage of beneficiaries right here on our own soil. Even if he US is in a coma, it is important to keep the sedatives flowing. And to flex the muscles from time to time.

      I personally am not inclined towards the narrative of a full false flag attack with fall guys out of central casting. But I have a hard time eliminating scenarios that involve a lot more gray areas, such as agent provacateurs, such as early suspicions that get buried due to politcal concerns, or co-conspirators whisked away for realpolitiks, or simply highly scripted and heavily manufactured offical narratives that take advantage of events like these to push forward preexisting wish lists and toggle preplanned positions.

    2. AbyNormal

      a ‘fund’ or new cash cow…

      “While the government can tell you that I am an innocent man, the government’s letter cannot give me back my good name or my reputation.” richard jewell

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      As for Reddit, schizophrenic or not, that’s how it turned out; read the quote and the link.

      As for Jewell, you feel that being hunted down like an animal isn’t a real harm?

      1. Working Class Nero

        I totally agree on Jewell, that witch hunt did serious harm. But we have to remember it was the MSM, backed by leaks from US officials that fuelled that spectacle; not Reddit. In fact had Reddit existed at the time there is a chance that citizens would have had enough power to clear Jewell. It’s pure speculation on my part of course. But surely you are not suggesting that the Jewell error by the MSM and Government should somehow reflect badly on Reddit or on individuals trying to actively interact with their society instead of passively depending on the government?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          No. But I think the bottom line on Reddit is that the outcome was very bad, and some thought needs to be given on why that was so. My reference to Jewell was in response to the idea that there was not (or could be no) harm.

    4. banger

      Interesting ideas and certainly cui bono should be on everybody’s mind. I don’t see what Russians would have to gain though.

      I think it’s a mistake to think that the U.S. population is that tame just because most Americans are kept in the dark about what is actually going on in the world–the American mainstream is shut like a trap allowing no real deviation from the virtual Central Committee that seems to hold sway over them. But, in areas of the South and West/Southwest there’s an increase in rather radical notions about authority. There is no American populism on the left, in fact, barely a left at all–thus other forces have come in to fill the void of opposition to the system. Those forces are on the right–but not a European style right but a very unique for of “conservatism” that has recently made some major change: 1) it is anti-authoritarian; 2) it believes the Federal government is coming close to being an occupying force and they believe the goal of government is to tyranize and destroy American society for the globalist agenda; and 3) that arming yourself and making plans for the surviving future social/political/economic crisis is the sane thing to do. Not that there are huge numbers of these sorts of people but there are increasing numbers and plenty of fellow-travellers. These people do not trust the mainstream including Fox and are looking for alternatives. Sadly the left is to insular, un-imaginative and mainly interested in cultural issues and looking down their noses at people they consider uncivilized yokels to take advantage of this movement.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        “Sadly the left is to insular, un-imaginative and mainly interested in cultural issues and looking down their noses at people they consider uncivilized yokels to take advantage of this movement.”

        I agree in general* — though not for the part of the left that’s Occupy, or Walmart for example — though I think the more people on the left abandon the Democratic Party the better. The Democrats breed all sorts of bad habits. The “I’m smarter than you!” trope is pervasive among the Maddow and NPR-listening crowd, and if you read Bob Somerby it’s just not so.

        The right (assuming binary left/right) is very sound on food and also local sovereignty. These are two things the left should be able to connnect with them on (especially if you throw ending the empire into the mix). And as for #2, yeah, isn’t it obvious?

        NOTE * Hard to be sure, though. The left gets very little coverage at all, even something as inoffensive as single payer.

        1. banger

          Well–ok, but why does the left get so little coverage? It’s not just that the corporate press won’t cover it–in fact, they covered Occupy because it made a big noise. And then what? Occupy fizzled because it was not able to galvanize enough people to go beyond Occupying public space and move into real political action through organizing the left which remains utterly chaotic and helpless–mainly because we don’t have a real vision.

          As for single-payer–that wasn’t even the issue–the issue was would we be willing to create a sensible and logical system that worked efficiently with lower costs? The left did not emphasize that the current system doesn’t work because it is corrupt that any system modeled on Britain or France or Singapore would work better than this one because the criminality that dominates our medical industry is kept out of the system.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Well, there’s “the left” and the left. The single payer advocates got shut out of the debate by “progressives” running interference for Obama. There’s still plenty of action at the state level, though, and not just in VT.

            That said, no, single payer advocates made their case on money and lives. We didn’t focus on criminality. What did you have in mind? By The Sachs Conjecture, the health industry is run by sociopaths, so I guess it would be odd if there were no criminality.

      2. LifelongLib

        Well, this is the same South that didn’t like the federal government for freeing the slaves, ending lynching, and giving black people the right to vote. It matters WHY you don’t like the federal government.

  27. Malvo Mk. II

    Kudos for the strident debunking you’ve provoked. It would seem that you’re getting under Mary Margaret’s skin. She doesn’t want you to harsh her show trial, which is going to be tricky. The populace is on to all the classic CIA tricks. Blackmailed defense counsel throws it? Guilty plea secured by treachery? Shitcan the evidence? We’ve seen it all before. In these jaded times a Sirhan Sirhan or a James Earl Ray trial won’t cut it, it’s not good enough for government work anymore. Swinish CIA protege Carmen Ortiz has her work cut out for her.

    Fortunately the state of the art for scary boogieman show-trials has advanced, in the same way that MILSPECs develop, by incremental modification. The template is looking like a Malvo, (also edit the link to see nwsltr46 through nwsltr48) with the significant refinement that the evil mastermind is dead and full of holes, leaving the little lost lamb to sit there alone in a sedated, befuddled daze.

    Remember sitting for months watching Malvo in the dock? Oh wait, that was OJ, nevermind. You heard squat about it, but the forensic hijinks in Malvo are really instructive.

  28. jal

    Nobodyhas mentioned that the bomb sniffing dogs were not use at their apartment because they had gotten the flue.


  29. allcoppedout

    Good piece Lambert. It’s interesting we still have to reflect in metaphor and absence of facts. I’m not sure, thinking as an ex-cop, the brothers did it and fairly convinced if they did they were not acting alone.

    They were there. But then they lived in the vicinity. In CCTV and other footage one would expect to see them carrying backpacks and then not carrying backpacks, even perhaps leaving them in the vicinity of the bombings. It seems turning over their drum (flat) has come up dry. They guy whose car they jacked seems a key witness – little on him so far. Little on the sad killing of the MIT cop. The robbery at the 7/11 – but it wasn’t them, though they were there.

    The first shoot out with cops – does it come a couple of days after the bombing? There seems to have been a lot of highly inaccurate gunfire. Compare this with the British hot pursuit of the innocent Brazilian lad at Stockwell. Here a completely innocent, unarmed lad on his way to work was gunned down after being in the clutches of a large police officer. The Boston cops, with more reason to act lethally (being shot at), overpower and cuff the elder brother. The younger one runs the older one over (and doesn’t die in a hail of bullets) and gets to run away. There is no sign the brothers wore body armour.

    When the (half-dead?) second suspect is found by a civilian (no cops seem to have been able to follow him from, or kill him leaving the first scene)in an obvious place not found in the ‘scrupulous search’ despite blood. No brave officers here get in close (nor would I). Its stun grenade time. Details are missing here despite the thermal imaging – was the gunfire heard one-way? I don’t understand how the brothers lived so long.

    Where were they between the bombings and the kill/capture incidents? How do they arise as suspects? I doubt this was through ‘meta-data analysis’. I doubt this horrible incident is as ludicrous as the tale we were told of brave officers chasing Jean Charles de Menezes as he leapt barriers in the Underground – defused only days later when he was revealed as an unconnected Brazilian as the shabby details unfolded. My guess is they were known to a degree not being admitted – not withstanding claims about FBI involvement. For all we know at this stage they could have still been under surveillance as cops brought them down in the hope they would lead to the next link. We followed known IRA bombers for months and years, “balancing” public safety against risk they would bomb again while we were looking. We killed some suspects in Gibraltar in a manner that makes the taking down of the brothers look decidedly unclinical. I mean no criticism of cops acting in the heat of action. We screw up everywhere except television. If we were following the brothers we wouldn’t be admitting this anytime soon – denials are justified to prosecute the continued enquiry. Statements they were acting alone can be justified later as part of a necessary blind and the cool fears of the public.

    I think the idea of comparing media coverage of this kind of incident against ‘economic coverage’ might be productive. We might find a means of finding the signal in the noise.

    1. Furzy Mouse

      Good rundown…not enough evidence yet to convince me…..could be another FBI entrapment…..None of the reports reveal how the authorities concluded that these 2 brothers were the bombers… where is the hard evidence? And what about all the blogs and pics of Men In Black operating at the Finish Line, and first hand accounts of a bomb drill, with canines, being conducted that day by the Boston police?

      1. banger

        You’ve probably heard that their mothers claims that the family was under close FBI scrutiny for several years–I’m not sure what that means but there it is. For the record, the FBI has a long history of corruption and political intrigue so I believe nothing that comes from that direction.

  30. barrisj

    Slightly OT, but not too…more American idiocy on the “war on terror” front:

    Illinois man tried to join Al Qaeda-linked group, FBI says

    CHICAGO – A suburban Chicago teenager has been arrested on terrorism-related charges and accused of seeking to join an Al Qaeda-affiliated group in war-torn Syria, the FBI announced Saturday.

    Abdella Ahmad Tounisi was arrested Friday night as he attempted to board a flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Turkey, which borders Syria, the FBI said. He hoped to join Jabhat al-Nusrah, a group fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in a bloody civil war.

    There are no links between Tounisi and the Boston Marathon bombings earlier in the week, the head of the FBI office in Chicago, Cory B. Nelson, said in a statement announcing the arrest.

    Tounisi, a U.S. citizen, bwas snared in an Internet sting after contacting a sham website set up by the FBI that purported to hook up would-be fighters with terrorists, the federal complaint says.

    The 18-year-old Aurora man was surprisingly frank about his lack of fighting experience.

    “Concerning my fighting skills, to be honest, I do not have any,” he allegedly wrote in one email written this year, according to the complaint. “I’m very small … physically but I pray to Allah that he makes me successful.”
    Tounisi is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, he faces a maximum 15-year prison term.

    “Concerning my fighting skills, to be honest, I do not have any,”

    Feel safer? Now, everybody should know by now that Jabhat-al Nusrah is for all practical purposes the military wing of the FSA, and whose fighters are the most skilled and experienced when matched against government forces. Sure, the Americans consider al-Nusrah a “terrorist organisation”, but nevertheless all that “nonb-lethal” aid that is pouring into Syria is by all accounts being shared out with all the anti-Assad factions, including al-Nusrah. Once again, the US is looking at blowback, and the sheer magnitude of hypocrisy is staggering, even by contemporary American standards.

    1. banger

      Al-qaida has a long history of involvement with U.S. intel services that predates 9/11. In fact, U.S. support of radical Islam goes back to the 1950s. Personally, I believe Al-qaida is, to a certain extent, an intel operation concocted by Saudi, Pakistani and U.S. intelligence. Most para-military and “terrorist” groups have foreign sponsors–you don’t function in the real world without either major support from organized crime (organized crime and CIA have been married since the old OSS days) or major intel agencies.

      These little arrests of half-wits who are no threat to anyone other than themselves are made for the same reason that all vice arrests are made–to justify a budget and make it look as if someone is doing “something”–that scam goes back to the earliest days of law-enforcement and always has worked like a charm on the rubes.

  31. Joe

    FBI does its job by getting the suspects damn efficiently and without imposing ‘martial law’ (Police/FBI/Swat/Military were all incredibly courteous and focused only on getting the suspected bombers… they didn’t give a shit about your drugs/pornography/meds… living in Cambridge, I left my house freely and wandered down streets, I wasn’t harassed or even talked to by the police outside) while Lambert & other conspiracy nutjobs instigated online crowds to hunt innocent people & armchaired their way into debating about how this ‘lockdown’ is just a way for the government to… whatever it is you think they give a shit about (newsflash, you’re not as important as you think you are).

    [ad hominem]

    But then again, I guess I’m just one of the poor lost sheeple who just doesn’t understand.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I asked the same question on my own site (where the mention of the bar flies came from) and the answer was the same: “I left my house freely and wandered down streets.” Of course, that totally contradicts the images of the empty Charles River Bridge, which communicate lock down in a big way visually. So that’s why we need ground truth.

      NOTE As for “the FBI does its job,” did you read the Mother Jones material? How the FBI does its job is really a question.

      1. barrisj

        Oi, Lambert, not to be too overly petty, but thanks for the acknowledgement for the Debord quotation.

      1. Joe

        Um, yes?

        It’s obviously unfortunate that it came down to a door-to-door search, but did you not notice the 180+ casualties, the hostage-taking, and the shooting at & lobbing of bombs at police officers by the suspects? That hardly makes a door-to-door search in *one* town a “police state”.

        Oh btw, they got the suspect they were looking for and left.

      2. issacread

        I was wondering how the dogs handled these swat team door to door searches esp considering the increasing reports of police shooting people’s pets around the country often in searches of the wrong address.

    2. Jane Doe

      You know with Turbo- I thought this over the topness was just emotional stuff coming out- but then I see your comment and I wonder if its something else.

      This reads like some of the conservative sites I visit where the conservative treat the poor and working class with a kind of strange attitude like there is something great about being working class or poor

      Its neither great nor bad. It is what it is. The fact you and other poster keep framing it as some kind of nobility is creepy. Its neither.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        “Noble,” if you will check back, is not my word. “It is what it is” is just what I feel. There are a lot of things that are what they are.

        But “what it is” is going to be different and the difference lends perspective. And I think understanding those differences is good and desirable for me and for readers. And there’s no way to understand the differences without asking about them.

        (That said, being working class is a hell of a lot more noble than being Jamie Dimon, right? Or one of those mortgage servicers who steals people’s homes?)

        NOTE Which comment, Jane? We’re having a thread about class, and everybody says that’s forbidden for Americans, so no wonder it’s hard. (And it is, after all, my duty as a writer to get the words right, so if I’m failing there, I’d like to know.)

        1. Jane Doe

          There seem to be many unconnected arguments being made.

          The “noble” comment was really about how both Liberals and Conservatives middle class voters tend to talk about the working class and poor. Its a button that’s being pushed. There’s nothing particularly noble, or more self aware, of less self aware, or less noble than any other group. There are sociopaths, there are people who moral etc. The difference,a nd its the one that matters is economic power and time. Those are the real values that are tested when it comes to class.

          I don’t consider class about morality. its about economic power.

          The point I am trying to make very badly is that there is nothing wrong with being skeptical here about what’s happening. That’s a separate button from class though. as is race. they can help us understand somethings, but not others.

        2. Yves Smith

          I run the risk of stepping in this myself, but I had thought what Lambert was calling for was readings from people who weren’t heavy consumers of digital media. My mother and both my brothers would fit into that boat.

          Since the really heavy consumers have expensive toys like iPads and Androids, this can be presumed to fall along class lines. But what is class? We do have a sharply defined “elite” these days, but beyond that cohort, things are so precarious for the rest of the upper middle and middle classes that I am not sure where the lines outside the elite are. In addition, there are a lot of people who are heavy Internet users who are poor (such as my recently deceased uncle who spent the last 25 years living below the poverty line). I don’t see this request as strongly as a class issue as this seems to have been assumed to be. But I think the conversation around this issue has been instructive.

          Two elements I think have been missed here:

          1. I know some people in Boston who have spoken up here think the police reaction was warranted and they don’t see the response (in terms of what the “lockdown” actually meant) was all that bad. The problem I have is that this to me looks like overkill. And remember, I was in NYC during 9/11. I keep coming back to my experience living in London in 1984, when IRA bombings were a regular event. You had a ongoing, declared terrorists threat, from people who blended into the population, yet the authorities did not go into intrude on civil liberties mode.

          2. Because there is a political angle (the civil liberties issue, plus the militarization of the police), the narrative IS important. And IMHO the reason it went out of control was the police putting up the video asking the public to help ID the suspects. Everyone here seems to forget that the intense scrutiny started with the publication of the images of Suspect 1 and 2. The public was INVITED to investigate and hunt down people.

          1. Jane Doe

            Your comment is quite remarkable and thoughtful, both in its succinct description of our transformation into a security state, and in its description of how I am failing to explain class in a way that captures its current complexity. I will have to think about what you have said. I don’t really have a response right now.

    3. jrs

      “But then again, I guess I’m just one of the poor lost sheeple who just doesn’t understand.”

      Yea probably. The thing is that people who ask a lot of questions, question authority or the official narrative or whatever are often going to be wrong (not that I know what the truth is here). It comes with the territory. Whereas all you are offering is you knew the offical story was right all along because. I’ve heard really good critiques for taking a more mainstream view but they are usually historically based etc..

  32. McMike

    Sort of a tangent, but… here’s some interesting footage as the 4/20 shooting police reaction evolves.

    Watch closely, and you can see a number of undercover cops involved, which is of to be expected at a pot rally. A few seconds into the video and a number of officers running in from the perimeter are clearly apparent. It is not as visible on this video because it starts a bit late, but the most interesting thing on the footage they showed on the news last night was of the people in the crowd during the first few seconds who were NOT running away. I of course immediately thought undercover cops, but it could also be that they were just too baked…

  33. Elliot

    This BBC article is full of disappointing weirdness, from the as yet unseen (by anyone?) video of them leaving backpacks, to the 19 yr old likely never being able to speak –I told you those flash bangs scrambled his brains.. :( — to it being a weapon of mass destruction (I’m old enough to remember when that meant nuclear weapons)
    … it appears to me that TPTB scared themselves so much they will soon inflate these boys into the Antichrist himself, instead of pathological criminals

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, Bloomberg reports — do we have anything from the guy himself? I could have missed it — and that was very early on. Was the explosion afterwards instantaneous, do we know?

      1. Furzy Mouse

        finally at bit of what might have led the FBI to the suspected bombers…Bauman stood there by the bag for 2 1/2 minutes before the bomb exploded..

        Just before 3 p.m. on April 15, Bauman was waiting among the crowd for his girlfriend to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. A man wearing a cap, sunglasses and a black jacket over a hooded sweatshirt looked at Jeff, 27, and dropped a bag at his feet, his brother, Chris Bauman, said in an interview.
        Two and a half minutes later, the bag exploded, tearing Jeff’s legs apart. A picture of him in a wheelchair, bloodied and ashen, was broadcast around the world as he was rushed to Boston Medical Center. He lost both legs below the knee.
        FULL COVERAGE: Boston Marathon Bombings
        “He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, ‘bag, saw the guy, looked right at me,’” Chris Bauman said yesterday in an interview.
        Those words may have helped crack the mystery of who perpetrated one of the highest-profile acts of terror in the U.S. since the 2001 assault on New York City and the Washington area, one that killed three people and wounded scores.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Well, as long as we’re examining everything…. I focus on “two-and-a-half minutes” (and we’ve raised other timing issues). No knock on Bauman — I’ve seen, and not posted, the uncropped photos — but if somebody dropped a bag in front of me, looked me in the eye, and then walked away, I would sure find that a little odd, especially in these days of “If you see something, say something.” Try waiting for two and a half minutes right now and you’ll see that’s a long time subjectively. No, “Hey! You left your bag?” Or do students, say, just routinely drop their bags on the street in Boston? (Maybe they do; I’m asking. But I’m not hearing “Is it OK if I leave this here?” or anything. Wouldn’t that strike you as odd? To me, it’s just one more little detail that doens’t add up. Maybe the fog of war, maybe not.

          [Adding the quote:

          While still in intensive care, Bauman gave the FBI a description of the man he saw, his brother said. Bauman’s information helped investigators narrow down whom to look for in hours of video of the attack, he said.

          So we don’t have Bauman’s brother saying anything. We have him (unless he was present) saying that his brother said what the FBI said his brother said. That’s problematic; check out the Mother Jones link above. Could be true, could be false; on the Bloomberg story we don’t know.

          Now, I haven’t read all the stories, so readers will correct me, but what the Bloomberg story does not say is whether Bauman’s account is first hand, or second hand — say, from the FBI agent who was also present in the room while Bauman was heavily drugged.

          NOTE Not foily. CT is not falsifiable, which is why it’s so virulent. Readers, falsify away!

          1. Yves Smith

            I raised this issue with someone in Boston and he said this isn’t as weird in the Marathon as you might think, that people leave packages around the midway point so they can give runners water and a snack. But that’s the middle of the race, not the finish line.

    2. jrs

      Is this the only evidence on which these guys are suspects? It often seems so. One guys description? All that security camera footage and they are relying on someone’s description? I guess the footage couldn’t have been comprehensive?

      1. petridish

        That would be one “heavily drugged” guy. And, by the way, according to this article, Bauman identified Tamerlan–black hat and sunglasses–as the one who looked him in the eye and wore a white hat. Picked him out from a photo array presented by the FBI while he was in intensive care and, well, HEAVILY DRUGGED. (They had PHOTOS.) A manhunt ensued.

        Have any of these people ever been to an American airport where leaving a package unattended is a hangin’ offense?

        But not to worry, Deval Patrick is on the case. They have a video of the perps which, although he’s never seen it, is “chilling, frankly.” He was briefed, frankly. No need to waste time viewing, frankly.–Boston.Marathon-Governor/?cid=hero_media

        To summarize: “not a trace of any explosive, incendiary or other bomb-preparing equipment or residue, no evidence of terrorist activity, and no weapons.”

  34. Furzy Mouse

    Lambert…one fact stood out from the start in the Marathon bombing…the bombs were apparently made to maim at a low level, waist down way…so, perhaps not to kill outright…there has been little commentary about this…accident, or deliberate? If deliberate, that suggests to me that “others” were involved.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Boston’s hospitals are on top of each other, and it was a holiday. A good deal of the population wasn’t out and about. Other communities wouldn’t have been able to be so successful dealing with the wounded.

    2. Yves Smith

      I think a bit much is being read into that. You put a backpack on the ground because it is less conspicuous there. How could you leave a backpack at waist height, which would have presumably resulted in more deaths and fewer maimings, without making the package (and the perp) more obvious?

  35. alex morfesis

    over 100 people died that day in automobile accidents…

    and die every day…

    of which at least 20 could have been saved if people were required to actually know how to drive instead of the handing out of licenses to kill as if it were free usda cheese at the local storefront church…

    not to be disrespectful of those who died, but a bunch of left over fireworks from the 4th of july would have done more damage…

    history is full of people who were driven into an early grave by a society hell bent on accepting the narative…

    joe hill, etc…

    the facts are they were not smart enough to run to the nearest tv station and surrender or to go on skype and find some third party to tell their story to…or at least no one has suggested they tried to walk in for questioning…

    innocent or guilty or just hypnotized by some third party lunatic into doing something stupid…

    gladio, stupido or some other suite 8f clowns…remember, even at tienanmen, the communist party had to drag in some malitia from another part of the country who did not speak the same dialect as those who were protesting…

    seriously, the weak need to spread the fear of omnipotence to insure no one notices how truly weak they are…

    I am much more likely to get run over by some senior citizen from kanukistan here on US 19 running to make sure she does not lose her favorite seat at the bingo parlor then finding myself in the exact spot when some pea shooter bombette burps up.

  36. jrs

    lambert, great piece, good references with the Mother Jones piece, one of the most reasonable pieces on this topic out there.

    I’m thinking a lot along the same lines today, thinking about narrative (btw sure wish Silber was writing again – he choose a great blog title among other things!), thinking about how we make sense of the world.

    I figure the narrative of many people here, and other good places like Greenwalds columns, Chris Hedges writing etc., is the corruptness of the system, the increases in the police state, etc.. And it has been how I have made sense of the world since well, the passage of the NDAA (with barely any media coverage), that was *my* particular breaking point. I’m sure everyone has their own. Sure I hated many things about W. Bush, sure I thought the political system was brain dead bonehead foolish in not addressing long term crisis like climate change (but I think I really did see it as foolish rather than viscious). But NDAA was a breaking point to eventually switching over to some deeply malevolent view of how the whole system works. Because I had to find some reality map that made sense of what was going on, after the trauma if you will, because that view shook my much more benign view of the system, constitutional rights all out the window, without coverage or protest? WTF! It shook my view of the media I think even more than of the politicians (who are supposed to be corrupt afterall, but media is supposed to report stuff right?). And I never regarded myself as particularly naive before, but I guess I was.

    So if you come at the world with this worldview, the media chooses what to cover and not (it certainly seldom mentions climate change even with things directly relating to it), it’s selective, with an agenda (just like it barely mentioned the NDAA). That real attempts of the people to change the system from the ground up will meet every effort at being derailed (so occupy not only met much police force, but had people trying to assasinate them, I traced to the source document there, sure seems so). What does that tell you about protest in this country? That whole secret laws seem to be getting passed without much coverage (the TPP). You already feel off the reservation so to speak, and in a minority (but you might not be, maybe in fact “everybody knows”), and the feeling of alienation is itself media illusion. So when you see things like a whole city shut down and pictures of tanks in the street you are horrified. And I don’t so much believe in any conspiracy theory (I really don’t), as doubt official narratives. The truth could be anything, the truth is out there. But some of the conpiracy theorist were really getting pretty bad, citing things with no proof etc.

    And so I get into arguments with people who see shutting all Boston down as perfectly normal. And well I’m not saying it’s ok, I still think it’s not, but I begin to see again the presence of my often invisible narrative. Of how I see things like that through my view of the system (ugh viscious system just normalizing people to police state ..) whereas others see necessary precautions that aren’t entirely new (they aren’t, given prevous shut downs for storms etc.). And in the confrontation I question my narrative and knowledge of the world, humble again, in all I don’t know. Not that I’m not also mad as hell ….

    1. bob

      Link to transcript-

      STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let me ask you more about that lockdown. Because some have suggested that it was an overreaction to lock down the city, was actually giving the terrorists exactly what they wanted. Are you convinced it was necessary?

      MENINO: At the time the decision was made, it sure was. I had information that there was other things going on during the decision that was made. And I agree with that decision at the time, because of the information we had. And at that time, we found a pipe bomb in another location in the city of Boston, another individual was taken into custody in another location. So there was many activities going on. And so to bring it to — so we can have a clarity of this situation, we brought people together and said, okay, folks, please work with us.

      Aside from “another bomber”, Who made the decision to lock down the city? Put a name to it.

  37. bob

    Getting inside his head…literally

    “But they suggested investigators would be remiss if they did not autopsy Tsarnaev’s brain for signs of CTE. The disease can only be diagnosed through post-mortem forensic tests of the brain.

    “I hope to God they do the special testing,’’ said Dr. Robert Cantu, a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine.

    1. jrs

      Yea someone suggesteed that to me: boxing destroyed his brain. Just an off the cuff remakr. And it made a lot of sense.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I love the URL. It’s in the Sports Section!

      UPDATE I shouldn’t have been snarky; I’m thinking back to other events that originated as Sports Stories, like the Olympics of…. Too many years ago for me to remember. In fact, the sports reporters were great.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It makes sense. Sports reporting has to compete with people just deciding to read the scores and not wanting to read about games they just watched or can find out the score. Also, people identify with their teams or favorite players, not with ESPN anchors. Take the cable news networks. Democrats identify with MSNBC, Republicans with Fox, and Centrists (morons) with CNN.

        If the Pats happen to be on the Fox broadcast, I will watch the Fox broadcast before CBS, the current broadcaster of most AFC games.

        The athletes rotate in and out of the lime light more often, and pro athletes like to give quotes to reporters from their schools or areas.

        Sports reporters have an incentive to do a good job in the classic sense. If I wanted sensationalism, I would have MLB Network and would have been giddy as an idiot when Neil Diamond sang his creepy song about pre-teen Caroline Kennedy.

  38. mikkel

    I don’t know anything about the bombing to comment, but do believe that whether there is more to the story or not isn’t that important.

    When the US started bombing Libya in support of the rebels, a friend sent a long post from a supposed ex-intelligence op that said it was because Qaddafi had decided to cut off the Brits from dominating the oil scene.

    He asked if I thought it was true and I said that I had no idea, but the fact is that it was entirely plausible based on the history of geopolitical intervention.

    The plausibility is the most important aspect, because it drives the destruction of trust in the government and official narrative.

    I know many people that are eminently reasonable in all facets of life that have nearly reached black helicopter status when it comes to the government (the impending martial law part of it, not the laughable UN boogey man part). I can’t exactly discount anything they say on its face.

    I decided a few years ago that the validity of any crisis was immaterial, since the “solution” is the exact same: increased resilience through relocalization, permaculture, etc. If you feel you can’t do that where you are (I couldn’t) then hopefully you can move to where you feel you can. If not, then talk to people that are relocalizing in a similar environment and see if they can help give ideas to reinvigorate.

    Then when something bad happens, it doesn’t become an energy drain that causes paralysis through speculation, it is invigorating and even more work gets done.

    It’s possible I’m just deluding myself, but I’m much happier and have inspired about a dozen people to do the same, with the promise of our work affecting many more soon.

  39. spaciba

    Remember how that guy Gallagher, who at one time was mildly funny, used to wind up these contraptions with giant mallets, and leer at the watermelon, building up suspense or comic timing or whatever? Well, Sibel Edmonds has been eyeing the big juicy watermelon that is US government felony war crimes and aggression, and now PHFULF-SPLAT, and the crowd goes wild.

  40. LizinOregon

    When I read Alex Pareene’s piece, I had two thoughts. First, it took me back to a long-ago course in grad school, Crowd Psychology. And whether the new technology and crowd-sourcing tools are prone to groupthink and stampedes.

    My second thought was to wonder at how useful a tool it could be for the police state to recruit the general public to “help” with the search for the “enemy”. What a wondrous feeling it is to be part of the apparatus that keeps us safe. I used to have a brother-in-law that went on secret missions around the world in the 90’s and remember having a pathetic, romantic notion of being in the know about something made important by being secret. Now I look back in horror.

    Lambert was generous to share his thoughts. I continue to ask myself what is the rush that sharing before thinking is becoming the norm.

  41. The Sandman

    I have been involved with dozens and dozens of injury reconstructions of all kinds, e.g., crashes, explosions, building collapses, train wrecks, assaults, etc. Most were relatively short-lived with one or two victims. Sometimes the circumstances leading up to the injury were quite compressed, other times they involved connected events spanning hours, days, months and even years. Not once did the evidence fit together perfectly. Not once were there no contradictions in eyewitness accounts, scientific analyses, the physical evidence, etc. Not once did witness testimony remain the same over time. The more complicated or numerous the causative factors, the greater the seeming contradictions. Once motive became an issue, the possibilities, and seeming contradictions, multiplied again. Time and time again, the simplest and most logical explanations seemed most convincingly to solve the puzzle. Yes, there were exceptions, but rarely. I am not one to dismiss any reasonable hypothesis regarding the bombers’ motive, nor one to be convinced of the suspects’ guilt before more information is disclosed. But rank speculation and conspiracy theories seem to offer the least likely path to the truth, as elusive as any search for the truth may be. For example, people are suspicious that the hijacked driver hasn’t yet come forward. Or that the bombing suspects confessed to him, then let him go. Or that Mr. Baumann “thought” one of the suspects left the bag unattended for as much as two minutes before it blew up. Or that an unattended bag was permitted to sit undisturbed at such a public event. Are these “facts” really evidence of some vast conspiracy that the media has swallowed whole? Or is some simpler, more benign explanation available? That the hijacked driver doesn’t want to become a celebrity or a taget? That it is easier to kill someone you have never met by dropping a bomb near them rather than shooting them, unarmed, face-to-face, after talking to that person. That what seemed like two minutes was actually much less, or if it wasn’t, that a sports bag lying near the marathon finish might not seem like such an unusual sight? Sure, we should all keep our antenna up, and think critically, but we also shouldn’t became armchair conspiracy theorists either.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ve been trying to draw the line between critical thinking at CT, and I think it’s that CT ends up not being falsifiable. These happens in little, where CTers have a consistent habit of saying “Go off site and look at this video! And then you will understand!” (not falsifiable in this community, and a conversation stopper to boot), and in large, where you end up with conspiracies (I don’t know how to put this) balloon wildly in space or time. As if ever doorman in Manhattan would have to be involved in the conspiracy, or there’s some sort of secret lineage that goes back 1000s of years, starting on Mars. (Not giving concrete examples so as not to get into them.)

      So, if you can show assertions being made on this thread that are not falsifiable, that’s CT and they should be zapped. (I think “We just can’t know” is an acceptable true answer, because the fog of war is real).

      I’ve got a couple of problems with what you say:

      1.) If you’re saying that NC posers are “armchair conspiracy theorists” — if you’re not addressing NC, then why are making a general proffer? — that’s a pretty broad brush, and I think it’s really unfair to swipe Naked Capitalism with it. Show me where we’re endorsing known Alex Jones stuff, for example. Craft’s presence was Alex Jones, and I not only knocked it down in comments, I added a debunking in links.

      2.) A false claim of CT is often a thinly veiled demand to “STFU because the authorities did their job.” Obviously, such a claim would be imcompatible with an informed citizenry, so I’m glad you’re not making it.

      3.) If you will return to the post and read about how the FBI operates, you will see there is plenty of grounds for suspicion of the authorities motives and techniques for cases like this one. Although I accept the reality of the fog of war, I also reject the idea that we should throw up our hands, forgot about testing evidence, forget about due process, and sit back and enjoy the spectacle instead of acting like an informed and engaged citizenry. That doesn’t always work well (see Reddit) which is why I raised the question of method.

      1. Claudius

        I don’t see that your comment to The Sandman is germane to what’s being conveyed.

        The Sandman is simply making a point, from an extensive first account experience, that the genesis of tragic events is, more often than not, mundane in origin; more so than conspiracy theory might lead us to believe. And, that seem to be a reasonable assertion, particularly, as nothing is said about CT being implausible or even impossible, must less not falsifiable – just, it’s a “least likely path”.

        With the best intentions, I think you’ve been pushing on this “critical thinking and conspiracy theory distinction” piece of string on this thread for a while now, Lambert. We get it! The collective “man on the street” narrative was a nice idea……Time to let go, perhaps?

        1. Jane Doe

          Why should Lambert let go?

          Are people who aren’t skeptical going to stop being certain?

          1. Claudius

            Jane Doe says:
            Why should Lambert let go? Because, as is being demonstrated here, the “collective man on the street narrative”… as a source of truth is proving almost mythical. Which, in the context of a previous exchange (thread: ‘Manufacturing Consent’) has more pertinence, perhaps:

            ‘Lambert Strether says:
            antonym -> acronym?
            Primary sourcing is very, very hard. It’s very hard to reverse engineer truth out of bullshit. The quest for a non-mainstream business model continues…

            Claudius says:
            Mainstream media as an antonym to the pejorative term “MSM”
            So, the quest for a non-MSM business model continues…

            Reversing engineering truth from bullshit is possible .. The NSA’s primary source data-trawling is a testament to that.

            The problem of course is that those who want to reveal the truth don’t have the computational means – just a collective consciousness of the blogosphere.’

            Jane Doe says:
            ‘Are people who aren’t skeptical going to stop being certain?’
            I hope not. Skepticism is the precursor to seeking truth… and some of the methods, such as ‘the scientific method’, work well, other methods not so well.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            @Claudius Have you given consideration to the idea of proving what you assert? Who is to say “mythical”? If I say it’s useful to me, and other commenters (as they evidently did) engaged in discussion, why would you have a problem with that?

            Second, please don’t distort and straw man. I’m not trying to construct “a collective man on the street narrative”; you’ve got me confused with Reddit. The question I asked was: “Is the official narrative of The Boston Marathon Bombing taking hold in the world beyond The Spectacle?”

            There’s really no way to answer that question without allowing people to speak. Again, not mythical.

            NOTE Edited.

            UPDATE Adding: You propose to apply the scientific method to current events? Can you give an example of what you mean?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Failing to “let go” seems an odd way to characterize responding to a commment. One of the responsbilities of a poster is to maintain the threads. Are you suggesting I should close comments?

          Adding… “more so than conspiracy theory” smuggles in the petitio elenchi that I refute. I claim the post is not CT and give a standard. I claim to have avoided CT in the thread as best I could; I show where I took action to debunk it. It does no good to wave the bogeyman of CT about; really, it and “let go” sound like a shorter STFU. Of course, you’re not saying that. Right?

          And I for one find the personal experiences (when I could elicit them) useful. Your mileage apparently varies. That’s fine.

          1. Claudius

            “Close comments?” Certainly, no! I’m all for the opportunity for anyone to express their ideas through comment – whether “good” or “bad”.

            “more so than conspiracy theory”, is the phrase I use to paraphrase The Sandman’s comparative analysis of the likely mundane explanation versus unlikely conspiracy theories. Neither The Sandman (I believe) or I claim you or this thread is promoting conspiracy theories. And, to make it clear, I don’t. I see no evidence of it; quite the opposite.

            “let go” …. See reply to Jane Doe above. But, in addition, reading through the thread I have the impression (perhaps incorrectly, fine) that you are promoting a personal project (again, fine) to get to the real narrative of the Boston Bombing before an official narrative is promoted (something we exchanged on, above), by eliciting (working class, consumer/producer…..the Turbo exchange, fascinating) comments of personal experience (useful in this context). A commendable idea – and one you have “defended” several times. But, given the nature of the comments, and the attempt to strip out the CT tangents, it’s been a hard, if not impossible task. I certainly have no clearer, more distinct or better narrative better than, say….Huffington Post (a stenographic facsimile).

            The “time to let it go” was empathy; certainly not STFU (which, maybe simple projection, but I nevertheless resent you implying it).

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            As shocks and crises increase, as I believe they are bound to, we had better take the task of sorting CT from critical thinking seriously. It’s not easy. I remain puzzled by the insistence that “armchhair conspiracy theorizers” are to be deplored if, or rather, since there is in fact no CT going on in this thread, but then I’m allergic to general proffers addressed to the air.

          3. Claudius

            As always Lambert, you’re (along with Yves) a convivial and interesting host. I appreciate NC, the diversity of its readers and the robust and, often, well intentioned exchange of ideas. See you anon.

  42. Ms G

    Gov. Patrick and Mayor Menino publicly state that threat to public safety is over and that the 2 brothers acted alone. No more “public safety” exception possible. Assuming Dzhokar will ever be able to speak again.

    Gov. Deval Patrick — Asked about any further threat to the public, Governor Deval Patrick, also appearing on “Face the Nation,’’ said “all of law enforcement feels it is over. … You can feel the relief here at home.”

    Mayor Menino — “All of the information I have is they acted alone, these two individuals, the brothers,’’ Mayor Thomas M. Menino said on ABC’s “This Week.’’

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