Saturday, April 20, 2013

Last Call

And the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto completely loses it in an epic tinfoil screed blaming the Boston Marathon bombing and basically everything wrong in the last century on the "thuggish majoritarianism of the Obama-era left".

The left's and the media's reflexive search for right-wing perpetrators is not unique to this attack. Indeed, it's not even unique among attacks this week. On Tuesday the office of Sen. Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, received a letter containing ricin, a toxin derived from the castor oil plant. United Press International reported that the Anti-Defamation League "said ricin . . . is popular with domestic extremists. . . . Many ricin incidents have been attributed to homegrown extremists, particularly right-wing groups such as anti-government extremists and white supremacists. Other ricin incidents have been unrelated to any specific ideology, the ADL said."

A suspect, Paul Curtis, was quickly caught. On Wednesday the Jackson Clarion Ledger published a photo of him, posing with a bumper sticker that reads "Christian and a Democrat."

It is true, of course, that some terrorist attacks are committed by white supremacists, antiabortion extremists or others on what is called "the extreme right." It was not unreasonable to consider that as a possibility when Boston was bombed.

What is unreasonable is the impulse to blame mainstream conservatives, including the Tea Party, a diffuse mass movement that has never been linked to any violence. Never forget that after the Tucson massacre of 2011, the New York Times editorialized that "it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible"--even though it was already known that the killer had no political motive.

What the hope-they're-white crowd really wishes for is a reason to treat their domestic political adversaries as enemies of the state.

Where do I begin with dismantling this textbook case of projection?  Should I start with Taranto complaining about his voicelessness against the "media" when he's penning the day's top op-ed in the Wall Street Journal?  How about his rage over the Tea Party and conservatives being unfairly painted with broad strokes while in the same article he is indicting all liberals, all of the "media", all Muslims, all Democrats, and all Obama supporters as "thugs" and "fascists"?  His blithe dismissal of criticism of a Tea Party movement that has "never been linked to any violence" when even a cursory search pulls up dozens of incidents and his own article references abortion clinic bombers and white supremacists?  His utter contempt for the 90% of Americans who supported background checks for firearms as having "no organic reality" that is a "sign of weakness, not strength"?

It amazes me that a national newspaper would be employing Taranto at all at this point, considering how completely bonkers he has become.   Instead, like Jennifer Rubin's daily disgraceful slop at the Washington Post, he gets a platform to spew nonsense that should rightfully be laughed out of the room.

The problem of course is that tens of thousands of people read both of them daily and millions agree with them.

More Texas-Sized Hyprocrisy, Disaster Edition

Meanwhile in Texas, it turns out the fertilizer plant that exploded and killed at least a dozen people and decimated everything in half a mile of the detonation should have been inspected not just by OSHA, but by Homeland Security.  You know, if the plant's owners had bothered to tell anyone they had explosive material that Homeland Security needed to know about.

The fertilizer plant that exploded on Wednesday, obliterating part of a small Texas town and killing at least 14 people, had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Yet a person familiar with DHS operations said the company that owns the plant, West Fertilizer, did not tell the agency about the potentially explosive fertilizer as it is required to do, leaving one of the principal regulators of ammonium nitrate - which can also be used in bomb making - unaware of any danger there.

Fertilizer plants and depots must report to the DHS when they hold 400 lb (180 kg) or more of the substance. Filings this year with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which weren't shared with DHS, show the plant had 270 tons of it on hand last year.

To recap then, Texas knew literally that the plant was explosive and dangerous.  They ignored telling the DHS.  The company ignored telling the DHS. They had 1350 times the required amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the facility and said "No, that's not a problem."

And now at least 12 people are dead.  Democrats at least see this "self-regulation" as a problem.

A U.S. congressman and several safety experts called into question on Friday whether incomplete disclosure or regulatory gridlock may have contributed to the disaster.

"It seems this manufacturer was willfully off the grid," Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement. "This facility was known to have chemicals well above the threshold amount to be regulated under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act (CFATS), yet we understand that DHS did not even know the plant existed until it blew up."

So no,  these guys broke the law.  They broke the law and people died because of it.  But Republicans will almost certainly come out and say that "oversight failed" and that OSHA should be cut or eliminated since it "obviously cannot stop" workplace related accidents like this.

Government designed to fail by those who want it to fail are surprised it ends up failing.  Amazing.

We Don't Have A Department Of Precrime, People

So everyone asking "Why didn't we arrest and deport Tamerlan Tsarnaev two years ago?" needs to understand at that point he hadn't committed any crimes, and you need to just sit down and shut the hell up.

The FBI admitted Friday they interviewed the now-deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev two years ago and failed to find any incriminating information about him.

As first reported by CBS News correspondent Bob Orr, the FBI interviewed Tsarnaev, the elder brother of at-large bombing suspect Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, at the request of a foreign government to see if he had any extremist ties, but failed to find any linkage.

Both Tsarnaev brothers were legal permanent residents of the U.S. There is no evidence so far that either brother received any tactical training.

CBS News correspondent John Miller reports it is likely Russia asked to have the elder Tsarnaev vetted because of suspected ties to Chechen extremists.

The FBI is likely to have run a background check, running his name through all the relevant databases, including those of other agencies, checking on his communications and all of his overseas travel. Miller reports that culminated in a sit-down interview where they probably asked him a lot of questions about his life, his contacts, his surroundings. All of this was then written in a report and sent it to the requesting government.

The guy was clean then.  If it turns out later that more evidence is out there to the contrary, then we'll take a look at it then.  But in 2011 this guy got paid a visit.  What happened between then and now, I can't tell you.

Rampant speculation on the other hand, without the fact?  Zero percent of that helping anyone.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

In non-Boston related news...

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