57 Responses

  1. Thanks for the link jnc, I thought Vanden Heuval was a little too restrained but her points were good.

    And here’s Ian Welsh on Boston and an increased police state.

    http://www.ianwelsh.net/brief-comments-on-the-boston-bombing/

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    • From the article:

      As Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black once wrote, “The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our republic.”

      Does anyone here actually believe this? I think that the government keeps far too many things secret and routinely abuses the “national security” excuse in order to do so. But I find the idea that military or diplomatic secrets are never necessary in the name of national security to be foolishly naive, to the point of absurdity.

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  2. Agree w/Scott. Also, one man’s whistleblower is another’s snitch. The messenger always get’s it in the end. Just human nature I think.

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  3. I just read Black’s concurring opinion linked in the WaPo piece and it mostly just sounded like a great and spirited defense of the First Amendment. I sort of liked it.

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    • lms:

      I just read Black’s concurring opinion linked in the WaPo piece and it mostly just sounded like a great and spirited defense of the First Amendment.

      I didn’t read the whole opinion, so I defer to your opinion overall. But that particular line that was highlighted I find irritating, especially coming in the context of a judicial opinion. It simply wishes away the fact that two competing values are at odds, and thus evades rather than eases the difficulty of the issue. It pretends to being a high minded principle, when in fact it is ignoring the very thing that is at issue.

      It reminded me of Obama’s campaign demagogy (in ’08) through his routine use of the formulation “I reject the false choice between X and Y”, when in fact the choice between X and Y was almost inevitably real and mutually exclusive. In the case at hand, the need to keep certain information out of the public domain in the name of national security is real, and such a need is in direct competition with the need/right of a democratic electorate to be informed about what its government is doing. I don’t think that pretending that the dilemma does not exist, as Black (and Vanden Heuval) does, is either useful or praiseworthy.

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      • I confess that I am not quite sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I think it is an appalling snub for the acting US government not to send any of its representative – and a high level one at that – to Lady Thatcher’s funeral. On the other hand, having Reagan era pols represent the US at the funeral seems a more fitting – and sincere – tribute.

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  4. I think it’s fine if the US Ambassador attends in addition to Baker & Schultz. They are perfectly fit representatives of the United States.

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    • jnc:

      They are perfectly fit representatives of the United States.

      In fact better, I would say, than the alternative. Hence my mixed feelings.

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  5. I thought that was what Vice-Presidents were for. What is Joe doing more important than picking out a black necktie?

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    • yello:

      What is Joe doing more important than picking out a black necktie?

      Apparently being point-man for gun control legislation.

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  6. I think on a case by case basis there are always going to be reasons of National Security to retain secrecy on some level, obviously, so in some cases we probably agree Scott. In the case referenced by the Black quote it appeared, to me at least, that he was arguing for the right and responsibility of a free press in a specific case but also more broadly as a defense of the BOR. I’m obviously no legal scholar though. I can’t seem to muster any outrage about it.

    And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. In my view, far from deserving condemnation for their courageous reporting, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers saw so clearly. In revealing the workings of government that led to the Vietnam war, the newspapers nobly did precisely that which the Founders hoped and trusted they would do.

    I don’t think either Black or Vanden Heuval were necessarily pretending a dilemma does not exist as they were both judging individual cases, one before the court at the time and several examples in recent years where Vanden Heuval believes the heavy hand of the Executive branch came down too hard. I believe that probably stifles dissent more than we might want.

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    • lms:

      In the case referenced by the Black quote…

      The Black quote didn’t reference a case. He seemed to me to be articulating a general principle.

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  7. Scott, the Black quote was directly from a concurring opinion in a case before the Court. Vanden Heuvel linked it in the quote itself.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0403_0713_ZC.html

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    • lms:

      Scott, the Black quote was directly from a concurring opinion in a case before the Court.

      I understand. But that doesn’t mean the principle he espoused is applicable only in that singular case. Indeed, it isn’t much of a principle (and hence doesn’t work to justify his decision) at all if it applies only to the case at hand.

      One can disagree with Black’s principle without disagreeing with his ruling in that specific case. And I think Black’s principle is ridiculous on its face. Of course there are instances when keeping information out of the public domain – which is necessarily at the expense of an informed electorate – provides real security for the republic.

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  8. One can disagree with Black’s principle without disagreeing with his ruling in that specific case

    Okay Scott, I’m not going to argue with you over a difference of opinion on that basis. I already agreed with you that there are instances when keeping information out of the public domain is necessary. I’m not seeing the basis for your outrage based on what you’ve pointed out so I’ll just leave you to it.

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  9. I’m not outraged

    That’s probably true………………I’ve seen you when you’re actually outraged. I apologize for the characterization.

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  10. Yeah, that gamma radiation is nasty business.

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  11. I can honestly say that it wouldn’t matter to me if George Bush, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama said this………………..I’d still like hearing it.

    From the president’s remarks:

    We also know this — the American people refuse to be terrorized. Because what the world saw yesterday in the aftermath of the explosions were stories of heroism and kindness, and generosity and love: Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, and those who stayed to tend to the wounded, some tearing off their own clothes to make tourniquets. The first responders who ran into the chaos to save lives. The men and women who are still treating the wounded at some of the best hospitals in the world, and the medical students who hurried to help, saying “When we heard, we all came in.” The priests who opened their churches and ministered to the hurt and the fearful. And the good people of Boston who opened their homes to the victims of this attack and those shaken by it.

    So if you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil — that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid.

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    • Yes, LMS, we see this every time the Missouri R. floods, for instance. Folks come from 50 mi. away to help sandbag, or to bring food, or to volunteer in shelters.

      Houston temporarily took in 200k from Katrina and permanently over 100K. Austin temporarily took in 20k and permanently about 5k. What Houston did was something no other city in America could do; nevertheless the spirit of the helping hand was felt then as far away as Albuquerque.

      I always embrace the American ideal at times like these. We even do this for foreign catastrophes from private donations and volunteers.

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  12. I was thinking about whoever did this today and thinking what cowards they are compared to the people they injured and those who responded. A trauma doctor from one of the hospitals who operated on several who lost limbs yesterday was amazed at how grateful the survivors were just to be alive when they woke up after surgery and what spirit they showed. Amazing. And then on the other hand these cowards make a crude bomb, drop it in a crowded area and then walk away knowing they’re going to be blowing the legs off people or worse. They’re not exactly suicide bomber are they, dying for a cause, no matter how twisted?

    I wouldn’t say this anywhere else as I don’t like to jump to conclusions, and I’m not trying to make some sort of political statement or anything, but doesn’t it seem as though the target itself points to an International, hate America sentiment? I’d be surprised if there were a domestic connection.

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    • lms:

      but doesn’t it seem as though the target itself points to an International, hate America sentiment?

      Yes, but for a whole bunch of stupid reasons, Salon is hoping it is a white American.

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      • I am hardly the Star Wars aficionado that some of you are, so I am prepared to be lambasted as a naive fool, but I thought this was a good observation:

        I once saw Mark Hamill in an interview say that he felt that Luke Skywalker, his iconic character in Star Wars, should have come back in the third film with a crewcut–a signal that he was no longer a whiny adolescent but a scarred bad-ass who was ready to die for a cause. George Lucas, wrong as usual, nixed the idea.

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  13. George Lucas, wrong as usual,

    ‘Nuff said.

    Mark Hamill had been in a serious motorcycle accident between ESB and RotJ. A bolder look would have suited him well.

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  14. I haven’t read the Salon piece but I will. I know that a lot of people in the media and perhaps even law enforcement and regular citizens jumped to conclusions about the Saudi kid here on a student visa though who ended up being a victim. We all need to be careful I think.

    People on the right and left will ultimately behave badly both before and after we discover who did this. I’m actually trying not to read too much about it because I get so discouraged with my fellow Americans. I hope they figure it out soon and capture someone.

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/04/the-saudi-marathon-man.html

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  15. I have the original “Star Wars Trilogy” on VHS still and enjoyed all the movies immensely. Most of us girls fell in love with Hans Solo rather than Luke Skywalker, hahaha. We recently watched them with our grandson. After that meh. Sorry.

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  16. “Mark Hamill had been in a serious motorcycle accident between ESB and RotJ. A bolder look would have suited him well.”

    I thought it was between the original and ESB, hence the whole wampa event where Luke is mauled.

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  17. Look at J, puttin’ his geek on!

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  18. Drudge’s Headline (via Tweet):

    @DRUDGE_REPORT: Weiner’s poll rising in NYC mayor race… http://t.co/QheTjV4QbF

    Delicious.

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  19. They hounded the anthrax suspect into suicide thus forever tainting the closure of that case. I’m sure they will find someone to pin the ricin letters on.

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  20. (Reuters) – A letter addressed to President Barack Obama contained a substance that preliminarily tested positive for the deadly poison ricin, authorities said on Wednesday.

    News that the letter to Obama was being investigated came as a flurry of other reports of suspicious letters and a package caused the evacuation of parts of two Senate buildings and set nerves in Washington on edge.

    The letter contained “a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin,” an FBI statement said. But the statement added: “There is no indication of a connection to the attack in Boston,” where three people were killed in bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

    The Secret Service said the letter to Obama was received at a mail screening facility on Tuesday.

    The mail facility that received the letter was not located near the White House itself, Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said in a statement.

    “The Secret Service is working closely with the U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI in this investigation,” Donovan said.

    It seems like one big event like this or 9/11 brings out more crazy people. I heard somewhere that they believe they know who sent at least one of the ricin tainted letters but I don’t know if it’s actually true or not. Do people think these letters are actually opened by the addressee?

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  21. Just saw this from Reuters also.

    CNN and Boston Globe are reporting that investigators believe they have identified a suspect based on surveillance tape from a Lord & Taylor department store. A law enforcement source has confirmed this with Reuters.

    http://live.reuters.com/Event/Boston_Marathon_Explosion

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  22. There is a more nuanced interpretation to Hugo Black’s comments . In particular, the phrase at the expense of informed representative government suggests a balancing act. Not that there should be no secrets, but that deeming something secret should be carefully considered. It is possible to have some secrets (say, the social security members of those in the SES) that do not come at the expense of informed government.

    Agreed that Obama or Biden should have attended Thatcher’s funeral. Both Prince Charles and then-PM Blair attended the corresponding funeral for Reagan.

    ßß

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    • Agree with you about AJ HB’s statement being one of balance. However, he was, to my recollection, the most ardent 1st A. advocate of any AJ in my lifetime. So he would have set the bar higher on permitting a national security exception than any other Justice, or than I.

      Won’t judge the Thatcher funeral protocol. It could range from intentional snub [bad] to MI5 saying privately “Don’t come.” [OK]. If there are admissions out there that evidence an intentional snub, I will join in the judging.

      West,TX,is a little Czech heritage town about 20 Mi. from Waco on I35. Great bakeries. CzechFest. The fertilizer plant self reported as “safe”. I am not a fan of increasing EPA and OSHA investigations by 100fold, which is what it would take to have independent annual reports on every potentially dangerous site in America. I am a fan of self reporting. Deterring fictional self reporting generally is thought to be a job handled by prosecution for fraudulent self-reporting. Any other ideas? Some states have eager regulators, of course. TX does not, and on the whole I am OK with that. Eager regulation, in my lawyer experience, overreaches and often punishes the guy who is trying to do right, because he is not hiding anything.
      West, TX

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      • Mark/FB:

        Agree with you about AJ HB’s statement being one of balance.

        I think you are reading your own sense of things into what Black wrote rather than taking it for what it actually says. I think, like you apparently do, that a balance between the need for government secrecy and the need for the electorate to be informed is required, and what that balance should be is the very heart of the problem. But Black’s statement says nothing at all about this balance, and is in fact claiming that clashes between secrecy and an informed electorate should be settled in favor of an informed electorate as a matter of principle rather than as a prudential matter depending on the specific circumstances of the individual case. Such a claim implies the absence of a need for balance.

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  23. Wow, couldn’t sleep and turned on the news. Massive man hunt unfolding.

    We were right about the international connection but they were legal. Interesting they’re possibly Russian or Chechen. One dead. It sounds like they had lots of fire power.

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    • I was supposed to go to Boston tomorrow. Looks like that’s not going to happen.

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      • Boston is a great college town but this weekend might not be the best time to show it off.

        I have an aunt and an uncle up in Boston. The uncle is in Arlington which is only a few miles from Watertown. This whole thing is unfolding like some Tom Cruise movie complete with all the paramilitary extras.

        Chechen radicals always sound like the choice movie producers make for villains when they want bad guys who sound scary but don’t want to really offend anyone.

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        • yello:

          Boston is a great college town but this weekend might not be the best time to show it off.

          Understatement of the year!

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    • BTW, Watertown, where all this happened last night (and apparently is still happening), is about 2 or 3 miles from the Boston College campus, just on the other side of the Mass Pike and the Charles River. I was planning on going up there tomorrow to show my daughter what a great place Boston would be to go to college next year. Hmmm….

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  24. Wow Scott.

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  25. Life changes for people after an event like this. Our daughter was supposed to take an international trip after 9/11 through her university and her roommate’s father, who was in law enforcement, convinced us not to allow the girls to go.

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    • lms:

      Interesting. We were scheduled for a vacation with another family in Tuscany 3 weeks after 9/11 (I was living in London at the time.) The other family cancelled, but we decided to go anyway. I figured there was probably no safer time to travel…security was heightened, everyone was aware of what was going on around them, plus the likelihood of another event so quickly afterwards was, I thought, remote. So we went. It was one of the best travel experiences I ever had. Airports were empty, immigration lines were short, tourist destinations were not crowded. It was fantastic. Really glad we didn’t cancel.

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  26. I know our daughter wishes she had gone but we decided to listen to the law enforcement guy. She’s traveled extensively since then and is climbing Kilimanjaro in August this year.

    Hey I just heard they’ve stopped an Amtrack train from Boston to CT looking for a third suspect or accomplice. Don’t know if it’s true obviously. The manhunt broadens. Everyone on the east coast be careful. Amazing a couple of guys could create this much havoc.

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    • Amazing a couple of guys could create this much havoc.

      I just said exactly the same thing to a colleague of mine.

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  27. Just to do my patriotic duty as directed by our commander-in-chief, in October of 2001 I extended a previously planned day trip to NYC into a weekend getaway. It has been the only time before or since that I have been able to afford the Waldorf Astoria.

    I’m leaving in a few hours for New York City this weekend. I imagine security up there is also going to be on pins and needles. I was in NYC the weekend of the Times Square bomber but was in a different part of town when all the excitement occurred.

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    • yello:

      I imagine security up there is also going to be on pins and needles.

      Probably on higher alert, but nothing too visible at the moment. Grand Central Station, an obvious place for stepped up security, was pretty normal yesterday afternoon and this morning. (Although this morning I went out the back entrance, and so didn’t actually go into the main station.)

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  28. My husband’s first reaction when he got up this morning and heard all the news from last night and early this morning was……………….”they let him get away?” “Too bad it didn’t happen in LA, he’d be riddled with bullet holes now.”

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    • lms:

      “Too bad it didn’t happen in LA, he’d be riddled with bullet holes now.”

      I suspect that is ultimately how it will end up, but it would be very useful to catch him alive if at all possible. My guess is that it won’t be, unfortunately.

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