Over-reaction?

Loved this Michael Cohen piece in the Guardian about the over-reaction in Boston.  Now, I think it is somewhat hubristic of me to suggest I know better than law enforcement in Boston, yet basically shutting down one of America’s largest metropolitan areas over a single wanted man strikes me as excessive any way you slice it.  For one, once you’ve established that he may not be in the much more circumscribed area of Watertown– which was reasonable to shut down– it seems that he could be almost anywhere.  If he made it out of Watertown, he could certainly make it out of downtown Boston.  Turning this whole city into a ghost town seemed like way overkill.  Anyway, Cohen:

But Londoners, who endured IRA terror for years, might be forgiven for thinking that America over-reacted just a tad to the goings-on in Boston. They’re right – and then some. What we saw was a collective freak-out like few that we’ve seen previously in the United States. It was yet another depressing reminder that more than 11 years after 9/11 Americans still allow themselves to be easily and willingly cowed by the “threat” of terrorism.

After all, it’s not as if this is the first time that homicidal killers have been on the loose in a major American city. In 2002, Washington DC was terrorised by two roving snipers, who randomly shot and killed 10 people. In February, a disgruntled police officer, Christopher Dorner, murdered four people over several days in Los Angeles. In neither case was LA or DC put on lockdown mode, perhaps because neither of these sprees was branded with that magically evocative and seemingly terrifying word for Americans, terrorism.

To be sure, public officials in Boston appeared to be acting out of an abundance of caution. And it’s appropriate for Boston residents to be asked to take precautions or keep their eyes open. But by letting one fugitive terrorist shut down a major American city, Boston not only bowed to outsize and irrational fears, but sent a dangerous message to every would-be terrorist – if you want to wreak havoc in the United States, intimidate its population and disrupt public order, here’s your instruction booklet.

Meanwhile, Tomasky takes on similar ground in response to a Cohen tweet (presumably before he wrote the full post).  Note, he wrote this before they caught the guy:

If the argument is that it’s for people’s safety, well…okay, but how many people could this guy really kill? On the day that he set out to kill dozens, he fell well short of that. And what are the odds that any particular individual would cross paths with this guy? When did telling people to use caution and venture only where necessary stop being enough?

And how long is this going to go on? Through the weekend? Seriously? What if the guy is long gone? What if he killed himself somewhere and his body isn’t found for days? What if he killed himself and there is no body–he threw himself in an incinerator? Is Boston going to live in perpetual quasi-lockdown? I suppose everything happened so fast overnight and morning rush hour was coming and they had to make a call. But is this really book procedure? It’s a bad signal and a large-type invitation to others to shut down other cities.

In discussing the situation with David early Friday evening, I actually speculated that he might already be lying dead, exsanguinated, somewhere.  Turns out, I was not far from the truth.  I read one report that suggested he might have only lived a few more hours.  A better job securing the tarp on the boat he snuck into and he might have been lying there dead till weather good enough for that homeowner to go boating.  And in that case, what should the city of Boston be doing?  Anyway, certainly glad it all worked out in a timely manner, but I do think this sets a very dangerous precedent.

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Photo of the day

Behold presents the daily lives of Sumo wrestlers.  Pretty cool.

08_Takasago_Tagonishiki

Chef Tagonishiki prepares lunch at Takasago-beya.

Paolo Patrizi

Local government is better. Except when NC Republicans decide otherwise

You know how we’re always hearing that local government is better.  The federal government has too much power.  Government should be closer to the people, etc.?  Well, the Republican legislature in NC is not so much into practicing what they preach.  Great column from the N&O’s Rob Christensen:

For years we heard conservatives say that the government closest to the people governs best. But they were talking about Washington. When it comes to Raleigh, the new Republican majority has not hesitated to use state power to advance their own agenda – even if it means disregarding local sentiment.

Most people still believe in local community control. A recent national poll conducted by Mason-Dixon found that 37 percent of those interviewed put the most trust in their local governments, as opposed to 22 percent in their state government and 12 percent in the federal government. Among Republicans, the local lean was even more pronounced.

But that is not how this legislature has been governing. Consider some examples of big-government conservatives:

• The Raleigh City Council and Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue worked out a lease deal, which included many community leaders who had been working for years to transfer the ground of the old Dorothea Dix mental hospital into a city park. The Senate Republicans said ‘Sorry, we don’t like the deal,’ and are currently in the process of blowing it up.

• For decades, Charlotte has run Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The legislature is now seizing control of the airport and setting up an independent regional authority. Raleigh knows best.

• Asheville’s water system is likely to be under the control of a Metropolitan Sewage district without compensation, despite protests from the city. Raleigh knows best.

• Consider the “Big Gulp” bill filed by three North Carolina lawmakers. They are seeking to block any North Carolina city or county from adopting a New York-style law banning the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. Regardless of the merits of the issue, why is the legislature dictating to towns what laws it can pass regarding soft drinks? Raleigh knows best.

• Legislation has been introduced that would bar local communities from restricting proposed modifications and additions to cell phone towers. Raleigh knows best.

And there’s plenty more examples, too.  These guys are truly mad with power.  And there really is something to be said for giving local governments some discretion so long as they’re not abusing it.  Ugh.

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