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Friday, May 3, 2013
Current Affairs ... Politics ...

It’s rather unfortunate what the politics of democracy can do in modern America, with its non-stop, instantly-connected, big-money news media. We have a news industry that uses modern technology (web sites, blogs, cable and satellite TV, etc.) to turn important news about our nation and its leadership into entertainment, and thus into a big-money maker. To be entertaining, there has to be lots of non-stop action and lots of conflict. Kind of like a Roman circus with its on-going gladiator battles and sacrifices of prisoners to wild animals.

Instead of real gladiators and man-eating lions, our media capitalists and political bosses take issues of national importance, things that really could use some thinking and calm discussion, and instead formulate extreme positions of blame and counter-blame between the Democrats and Republicans. This is in hopes of increasing “the power and glory of the party”, and the return on investment of big media firms. Al Gore is not far off the mark when he says that democracy has been “hacked”.

The investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing has definitely been co-opted by this media/political circus. The Boston bombing was a much smaller event than the 2001 al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center — and yet, in many ways, it is even more insidious and foreboding. Big attacks such as the 9-11 hijackings that are planned out, financed and coordinated by foreign conspiracies don’t seem to get vary far anymore. The US and other developed nations have put in place an intelligence network that has had much success in picking up signs of such efforts and snuffing them out early on. But home-grown, loose cannon terrorist efforts like the ones carried out by the Tsarnaev brothers last month are harder to detect. It really behooves our government and its leaders to figure out what happened as objectively as possible.

But instead, the Tsarnaev brothers almost instantly became another arena for political jockeying between the Dems and the GOP and their media patrons (Fox News vs. MSNBC, Drudge Report vs. Huffington, etc.). This is not good for the long-term safety and security of our land. I really wish that the politicos and their partisan-pundit cheerleaders would just let the FBI, DHS and CIA do their jobs. Unfortunately, they feel the need to kick mud at each other. Republicans such as Rep. Peter King seem to be jumping at the notion that the Tsarnaevs are part of a dark, extensive, world-wide Islamic conspiracy to bring the nation down.

The Democrats and their supporters keep saying or hinting that the Tsarnaev’s were just some nut-jobs working alone, not in anyway a part of any supposed “clash of civilizations”.

FWIW, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. I doubt if Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his subservient little brother were a part of some nefarious domestic “sleeper cell” with on-going ties to international Islamic radical groups, one that is lying low, awaiting its next chance to impose mayhem at a public event. On the other side of the coin, the Boston explosions were a bit too well executed relative to the criminal capacities (or lack thereof) that the brothers exhibited once the FBI dropped the dime on them. Once ID’ed, they acted much more like dumb, run-of-the-mill criminals than cool, brilliant terrorists. Their ability to build and blow up some nasty bombs in a public square, and their ability to put together stash of other bombs and weapons for later jobs, required some real-life training, preferably military experience, and not just a few hours perusing some jihadist web sites.

Furthermore, their bomb and weapons cache, along with Tamarlans’ recent international travels, did require a fair amount of cash – cash that this family didn’t have. Tamarlan was a sporadic pizza delivery guy, but mostly unemployed. His father fixed cars in the streets for a few bucks here and there. His wife had a baby and was trying to get by on welfare, subsidized housing, food stamps, and working as a home health care assistant. Some Republican-friendly commentators have gone as far as to suggest that the brothers financed their travels and ordinance projects with government assistance.

I don’t think that these people realize what it takes to raise a child and keep one’s self alive in an urban area these days. Government subsidies are quite meager. One report indicates that the father and brothers and wife received about $100K in benefits over 10 years; that’s $10,000 per year. But keeping a family of 4 or 5 going at the poverty line costs well over $20,000 per year, and a full-time minimum wage job doesn’t provide much more than $10,000 in take home pay per annum.

But give the GOP nut-jobs credit for thinking about money. I think it is possible that Tamarlan had “solicited donations” for his jihadist project. It also seems very possible that he had received personal training from someone with military experience. And the reports that the Russians and Saudi’s were tracking him further bolsters the theory that the Tsarnaev’s, although acting on their own inspiration and without direct orders from a “central command”, did find ways to present their own “proposals” to interested parties, who provided enough training and possibly funding to make the Tsarnaev’s dangerous. If that is true, then our government needs to find out a lot more about who and how future “self-jihadists” would obtain such help. And it has to be able to do so objectively, without the need to be ‘politically correct’ with either the hawks or the doves.

Thus, in the case of the Tsarnaev brothers, it’s time to stop following the politics, and start following the money.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:53 pm      

  1. Jim, I can’t agree with you more on this. MCS

    Comment by MCS — May 4, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

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