Boston bombing: Why to expect bad fallout on two fronts

boston-marathon-explosion-03April 24, 2013

By Chris Reed

The fallout from the April 15 terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon continues. Initially, the primary reaction was tired partisan attempts to imply the fault was either somehow a) the president’s fault because of his foreign policy or b) the Republicans’ fault because of the sequester. Then the focus was on the mainstream media’s series of gigantic mistakes on alleged key developments in the investigation — something longtime MSM critics found both enjoyable and unsurprising.

But now that one suspect has been killed and another is in custody, and the big thinkers are divining what it all means and how we should react as a nation, watch out.

At least for civil libertarians and for fiscally sane policy wonks who watch local government in California and elsewhere, the consequences of the attack are likely to be troubling and disappointing.

Enabling those who seek executive power without limits

On the first front, the attack has encouraged the advocates of the surveillance state and emboldened those who believe limits essentially no longer apply to the power of the executive branch.

It is one thing to believe that every effort should be made to track the communications and activities of suspected terrorists. But it is another thing to believe that there should be literally no limit on the amount of information the government is allowed to clandestinely collect on everyone else, even the obviously innocent. And it is wholly another thing to believe that the U.S. government has the right to kill not just foreign suspects but U.S. citizens abroad without trial or due process — especially when those Americans are not engaged in activity posing an imminent threat to U.S. interests.

Yet neither party truly opposes this assertion of near-unlimited government power. Democratic objections to the George W. Bush administration’s excesses vanished when he left office — even as the Obama administration in many ways exceeded Bush 43’s overreach. Republican objections to Obama’s policies — at least from GOP veterans who were mega-hawks post-9/11 — seem expedient and insincere.

Just six weeks ago, however, Sen. Rand Paul demonstrated that the American public didn’t want unlimited government power and a president to be judge, jury and executioner. The first-term Kentucky Republican’s filibuster over the Obama administration’s stunning claim of unlimited drone assassination power won broad support from the U.S. public, according to polls, and prompted a rare concession from the Obama administration: Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement that the federal government did not have the right to rub out Americans in America who weren’t threatening anyone.

For civil liberties, war on terror worse than normal war

But Boston has blunted Rand Paul’s message. The case for a government security apparatus unconcerned with constitutional niceties once again seems strong to many shaken Americans.

alan-bockThe warnings of my former Orange County Register colleague, the late Alan W. Bock, seem more prophetic with every year.

In the run-up to the beginning of the U.S.-Iraq war in 2003, Bock told me that wars are always an occasion for governments to vastly increase their power and to expand the dimensions of what is allowable conduct, but that the war on terrorism might be particularly destructive to liberty.

Bock believed that the undefined, apparently never-ending U.S. global war on terror triggered by 9/11 might leave the federal government in a default mode in which it never stopped seeking expanded power.

A decade later, a Republican president and a Democratic president alike have shown Bock’s fears were valid.

When veneration of public-safety officers carries a literal price

The other fallout to fear from the Boston terrorist attacks may seem far more parochial and seemingly minor. But it is neither petty nor minor. It is the strong possibility that the heroism of the “first responders” to the bombings will translate into additional political clout for public-safety unions who are in many cases the main threat to the financial stability of cities and counties in California and across America.

The veneration going to law-enforcement officers and firefighters is similar to that accorded our military service members since the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91. But those in the military haven’t been able to use this veneration as a club to win labor agreements that provide automatic raises from the government even as it pursues bankruptcy, as is the case with public-safety workers in San Bernardino.

After 9/11, this veneration reached extraordinary extremes. It provided political cover in an era in which pension spiking and manipulation at the behest of police and fire unions exploded at the local government level, enabled by the dot-com boom filling pension-fund coffers. In that period, when I wrote skeptically about public safety pensions at the Register, the terrible events of that Tuesday morning in Manhattan in late summer of 2001 were often thrown back at me. This was nothing new in Orange County, where public-safety employees know they will get the benefit of the doubt because of their images.

Now the veneration that police and fire personnel count on is revving up once again.

But while appreciation for the heroism of first responders is appropriate, political exploitation of that appreciation to pry money from tottering cities and counties is crass and depressing. Unfortunately, based on what we’ve learned in California, such exploitation is an absolute certainty in coming months and years.

For those who believe in liberty and solvent local government, the fallout from April 15 is to be dreaded.


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  1. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 24 April, 2013, 14:14


    I started getting sick of that around early 2002, perhaps six months after 9-11, having heard “heroes” for the billionth time and seeing how firefighters from far-flung places like B.F. Egypt were coat-tailing on this.

    Reply this comment
  2. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 24 April, 2013, 16:00

    I’m about ten years past caring about our sacrosanct “First Responders”. To begin with, they are usually not the first responders to an emergency. Ordinary private citizens are the real first responders. Case in point – 8 years ago my wife’s VW van caught fire in front of our house. While she ran inside to call the fire dept. I went to work with the garden hose and put the fire out in about 5 minutes. 10 minutes later the fire truck pulled up. A firefighter picked up the garden hose and gave the smoking remains a perfunctory squirt of water and then they left. Thanks for the help boys, be sure and send us the bill.

    Another fact to ponder is that every year private citizens justifiably kill about as many criminal predators as the police. The only difference is we don’t have the luxury of sovereign immunity when we screw up, and we can be sued in civil court even if it was legitimate self defense. Cops have no such worries.

    Yesterday I listened to several prominent L.A. area radio shows cover the $4 million civil settlement awarded to the two newspaper delivery ladies who were ambushed by LAPD during the Dorner manhunt. No mention was ever made of any criminal wrong doing or negligence by the police, nor was there any talk of even the slightest punishment or reprimand for the trigger happy cowards who could easily have killed their innocent victims. Thank goodness most cops are incompetent marksmen.

    Reply this comment
  3. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 24 April, 2013, 23:24

    Even Greenhut acknowledges that appreciation for the public safety personnel who respond to crises on your behalf is appropriate. He just doesn’t want to pay the market price of that particular service.

    I’m always surprised to read all of you losers here at CWD and at places like Free Republic when you write about how you could be just as brave, dedicated or heroic as the police and firefighters you see on TV. Perhaps you should have chosen a life of service instead of nursing your various grievances. You’d be happier and would at least know you’d done something important with the brief time we all have on this Earth.

    Reply this comment
  4. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 24 April, 2013, 23:25

    My apologies. Reed, Greenhut, Seiler — they’re pretty much all the same since they all came from the Orange County Register.

    Reply this comment
  5. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 25 April, 2013, 07:47

    “….Perhaps you should have chosen a life of service….”

    Skippy – So how do you explain the 2000 people who show up to test for a single firefighter position?

    Are we a society chock full of Albert Schweitzer humanitarians? (funny….it doesn’t feel like it)….

    Or do the 2000 applicants recognize it for what it is……the gravy train of all gravy trains?

    Is it both? Perhaps. But far more the latter than the former.

    Reply this comment
  6. Douglas
    Douglas 25 April, 2013, 08:59

    ” So how do you explain the 2000 people who show up to test for a single firefighter position?”

    Same way you explain this:

    “McDonalds Hires 62,000, Turns Away Over 938,000 Applicants For Minimum Wage, Part-Time Jobs”

    Probably many of the same people applied for BOTH jobs.

    Reply this comment
  7. Hondo
    Hondo 25 April, 2013, 09:20

    Geraldo was saying that we may have to give up wearing backpacks. How bout we stop importing mass murders from Murderstan or from all the other terrorists home bases, instead. The good liberals from Mass. disarmed the state, then Obama(and Bush) imported mass murders into the country and failed to deport them after they were told several times by Putin that these guys were bad news.
    Hell, if a few people getting killed was the standard, then Chicago and Detroit would be under martial law every weekend. But those are ‘dark’ people getting murdered, there. Obama don’t care about them.

    Reply this comment
  8. The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System
    The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System 25 April, 2013, 10:15

    LOL— All my little buddies have “first responder envy”.

    It’s in DSM 5 right next to “Acute Beck Syndrome NOS”……

    zzzzzzzzzzzz…..shuffle on back to your cubicles little buddies.

    Reply this comment
  9. BobA
    BobA 25 April, 2013, 21:08


    In my view, a badge and a gun is a license to kill. Cops can shoot and kill you for any reason and with the proper justification, they can get away with it.

    Just a few months ago, there was an incident here where I live where a lady heard someone in her back yard. When she went outside to investigate, a cop mistook her for the person he was chasing after and shot her 6 times. She was lucky to live through her ordeal and that cop is still on the job.

    I’m not that worried about terrorists because I know what their intentions are. What I’m more afraid of is someone who is suppose to uphold and enforce the law hiding behind their badge and murdering people with impunity.

    Reply this comment
  10. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 25 April, 2013, 22:24

    Right, Bob. Cops are just randomly killing people anytime they want all over the place every day. Have you suddenly gone as stark raving mad as the Donkey?

    Reply this comment
  11. fish
    fish 25 April, 2013, 22:48

    LOL— All my little buddies have “first responder envy”.

    Ah Ted …..that warming and life affirming rush to the nether regions when you see a man in uniform…..good for you.

    Bold of you to “come out” in such a public forum.

    Time to change the “handle” though….The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System….. isn’t that a little “butch” for a man taking his first step into an alternative lifestyle.

    Reply this comment
  12. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 26 April, 2013, 09:05

    I agree with the first part of Reed’s commentary. It amazes me how so-called “conservatives” who salivate over the sacred Second Amendment to the Constitution are willing to ignore the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and other safeguards which protect Americans from government abuse.

    But I am shocked that his unabashed hatred of unions has driven him to declare that the rightful praise of the first responders is nothing more than a plot by their unions to enhance their pay and benefits.

    Apparently he thinks that the first response in Boston would have been better if it had come from some private company that submitted the low bid.

    The real reason Reed hates first responders so much is that they are often the most effective advocates against the right-wing attacks on government and public servants.

    Reply this comment
  13. BobA
    BobA 26 April, 2013, 11:24


    You’re entitled to your opinions but you’re not entitled to distort the facts.

    Reply this comment
  14. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 26 April, 2013, 12:35

    BobA says,
    Just a few months ago, there was an incident here where I live where a lady heard someone in her back yard. When she went outside to investigate, a cop mistook her for the person he was chasing after and shot her 6 times. She was lucky to live through her ordeal and that cop is still on the job.
    Sounds like this lady should have stayed inside if she heard a suspicious noise in her yard! Let the police come and investigate it. I have never had a bad experience dealing with police officers. Which makes me think, Hmmmmmm, what have you people done to have such bad attitudes toward police officers? It must have just irked the hell out of you seeing thousands upon thousands of people lining the streets cheering on the first responders. And a grateful nation waving flags and thanking god they live in a place protected by such brave and wonderful first responders!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  15. BobA
    BobA 26 April, 2013, 18:50


    You and I have differing views on police. I might surprise you to know that I have a relative that is a retired police detective and he is just as wary of some trigger happy rookie cop.

    No, I don’t hate all cops but like my relative I am also wary of rookie street cops because as he has confided in me, they tend to get too pumped up in pursuit of a suspect and tend to be too quick on the draw. That’s when accidental shootings occur and there have been to many lately. That is unacceptable from people who’s job is to serve and protect the public at large.

    You may be oblivious to that fact or don’t care because it’s not you getting accidentally shot. But I assure you, most honest decent and hard working people who obey the laws do care. It is cold and callous of you to cavalierly dismiss this issue as people having bad attitudes towards police officers.

    And for the record: I don’t see the utility or the need to cheer people who signed up for a job that puts their lives in harms way. Brave and wonderful? You sound like a girl.

    Reply this comment
  16. The Rt Rev Ted Steele
    The Rt Rev Ted Steele 26 April, 2013, 19:13

    Bobo— I imagine bobo as the sort of guy who, when he calls 911, and he will one day, will be hysterical. Wet pants, shrill voice, possibly vomiting. But that’s ok.Young, fit, brave, first responders will still answer the bell and if need be, lay down their lives for poor, stunted, dark, sad, dull………Bob-o.

    It’s so frustrating being alive….isn’t it Bobo?

    Reply this comment
  17. The Rt Rev Ted Steele
    The Rt Rev Ted Steele 26 April, 2013, 19:15

    Fishlips— a wee bit homophobic are we?

    LMAO BFF—- You just keep on giving! Fish is a GREAT name for you little buddy!

    Reply this comment
  18. fish
    fish 26 April, 2013, 22:52

    Fishlips— a wee bit homophobic are we?

    Homophobic….? Hardly. I thought I would pay you a compliment for bravely in a public forum announcing your wanton lust for…as you put it…Young, fit, brave, first responders. Teddy context is important. I can wish you well as you embark on this new exciting phase of your life…can’t I?

    Really Teddy if your not ready to announce these things to the world you should learn to be more circumspect.

    Reply this comment
  19. BobA
    BobA 27 April, 2013, 08:48


    Careful my friend. Me thinks Teddy enjoys getting smack around if you know what I mean.

    Reply this comment
  20. fish
    fish 27 April, 2013, 08:57

    Now BobA we need to be sensitive to Teds issues. Stapling a change of sexual orientation onto his already tortured psyche has to be stressful.

    Reply this comment
  21. The Rt Rev Ted Steele
    The Rt Rev Ted Steele 27 April, 2013, 16:15

    Fascinating reveal here—- BOTH homophobes came out together— Fishlips and Bobo! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm—-and a——-lol

    Reply this comment
  22. BobA
    BobA 28 April, 2013, 09:23


    You protest to loudly. Own the truth. Nobody here cares about your sexual preference so keep it to yourself. All that’s relevant here is opinions for which you have shown time and again a remarkable lack of coherence or logic in anything you’ve written to date.

    Perhaps if you stopped childishly lampooning other people’s opinions and started offering rational and logical counter-opinions, people wouldn’t feel the need to ridicule and belittle you.

    If you disagree with someone, articulate an opposing opinion and let’s start from there.

    Reply this comment
  23. fish
    fish 28 April, 2013, 11:19

    Fascinating reveal here—- BOTH homophobes came out together— Fishlips and Bobo! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm—-and a——-lol

    Honestly Tedz sometimes I don’t know why I bother. Here I am trying to help you with your issues and the best you can give me in return is: “Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm—-and a——-lol”

    Son, you’re beyond the “normal” blog poster level of help….you have reached the community outreach stage!

    1-877-kars for TEDZ
    k-a-r-s kars for TEDZ
    1-877-kars for TEDZ
    donate your car today…

    Reply this comment
  24. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 28 April, 2013, 16:25

    Wow— Bobo and Fishlips can’t stop — they LOVE me—– Boyz—- Did you each enjoy posting your weekends away with me? WOW!

    It’s just that easy folks!

    Reply this comment
  25. fish
    fish 28 April, 2013, 17:20

    It’s just that easy folks!

    He’s right folks it really is that easy. Internet jousting with Teddy takes only moments a day….the equivalent of shooting dairy cattle with a high powered rifle….there’s no real satisfaction…no sport…..but the eventually cattle stop braying about their lust for first responders and higher taxes after awhile.

    You really are a sad little Teddy aren’t you?

    Reply this comment
  26. Ted Steele, Nuculer Fizzicyst
    Ted Steele, Nuculer Fizzicyst 28 April, 2013, 21:31

    He’s a carp.

    And I do it all folks with a 3 word sentence! Viola! So easy I’ll do it in haiku!–

    The fish, dull normal
    tries to insult but can’t
    living a sad life.

    Oh My!

    Reply this comment
  27. fish
    fish 28 April, 2013, 22:15

    His inner friends

    their voices never silent

    meds ineffective

    Tedz….you’re right those are fun.

    Reply this comment
  28. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 28 April, 2013, 22:53

    Hey– my little buddy googled haiku!

    Hurry!!! ™

    Reply this comment
  29. Hondo
    Hondo 29 April, 2013, 08:13

    Just like it is legally impossible to fire pedophiles in Kali public schools, it is legally impossible to deport a known terrorist in the USSA. Rejoice in our freedom to be raped and blown up. Holder said citizenship for illegals is a human right. That is why Boston happened.

    Reply this comment
  30. fish
    fish 29 April, 2013, 09:28

    Hey– my little buddy googled haiku!

    Mine was better.

    Reply this comment

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