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       The ongoing hunt for the Marathon Bombers has a surreal quality at this point on Friday, where a conclusion of sorts is shaping up in Prime Time on Friday evening. If someone wanted to script an action-adventure mini-series, it's hard to imagine a story line that could top what has unfolded over the last five days, absent zombies and/or nuclear weapons.

       Could there be any more clichés at this point? An opening act of terror followed by heroes rushing into danger. Anger and frustration as authorities launch a massive effort to uncover the perpetrators - and deal with a press frantic for news to keep their audiences enthralled. 'Experts' of all kinds filling the airwaves with all kinds of nonsense; the usual suspects taking cheap shots at their own pet hobbyhorses.

       The mandatory moment of sorrow, resolution and inspiration as leaders gather to promise justice will be done. The break in the case as suspects are identified and the public is asked to help. The 'human interest' angles that emerge while the hours pass without a break. The breaking news... that fails to pan out.

       And then the dramatic moment when the chase begins. Shootings, bombs being thrown, bullets flying in every direction, more casualties including one of the suspects. An entire city locked down while hundreds of police and troops carry out a man hunt. A press conference after hours of fruitless searching. Then, just as everyone is starting to stand down and breathe again, gunfire heard in the distance, sirens and flashing lights, police closing in. Tweets saying "Suspect in custody. Stand by for further info."

        For the people who have lost their lives, the injured, the families and friends, the reality is too painful. This is real for them in a way that will never emerge through a TV screen for the rest of us. Lt. Col. Robert Bateman has a few words of advice for those who haven't quite grasped the reality of bullets in motion. A small excerpt:

6. In the real world, I have converted a sedan into a convertible, quite easily, using bullets. Not even a lot of bullets either. If the other guy is firing anything with greater hitting power than, say, a .32 (Google .32 caliber, .45 caliber, 5.56mm and 7.62mm...I can't do it ALL for you) it will go through things. Metals, woods, sheet-rock? No problem. Your front door will not protect you, at all. Nor will the walls of a normal suburban house, nor the three Sheet-rock walls beyond that. In a car, the only thing that really stops most bullets would be the engine block itself. All the rest of the body of a car, well, basically tin-foil. All those cop movies you remember from the 70s, when they hid behind the opened door of their patrol car and shot at the bad guy? Yea, no. Do not think that works. That is stupid, and nobody but actors in Hollywood actually does that.
         Forget what you see on TV or in the Movies. Forget the NRA fantasies about guns making you safe. Read the whole thing. Meanwhile...

           It now looks like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been captured alive, but wounded. How severely is not known. Will he survive long enough to supply some answers? Will he live to face trial? Will there be more arrests? More surprises? Will the story go in unexpected directions?

           Will we ever find out why?

           The horror, the death, the fear is almost too much. It can be all-consuming. People are applauding as the police pull out. They can get on with their lives for now, some of them anyway. The heroism, the courage, the determination on display in the last five days shows how the worst of human nature brings out its opposite in that old  paradox.

          There is evil in the world. No question about that. There is also good. Sometimes neither of them can be ignored. They reach out and rip us from the comfortable ruts we build for ourselves, the chains of habit and deliberate inattention. Events drive us with their own inexorable logic till some kind of conclusion is reached. And then we try to go back to our lives.

         But good and evil are still out there, whether or not we are paying attention. A fertilizer plant blows up in Texas, and people wonder if maybe things should have been done differently over the years. If they wonder at all - picking through wreckage takes a lot of concentration. A group of politicians in Washington ignores the will of the majority of Americans in order to defend our right to kill and maim each other with firearms - and the profits of those who sell them. Indianapolis deals with weather, even as there are arguments over whether or not climate change can be blamed for what's going on. A supreme court justice mocks the idea of voting rights as some kind of unreasonable entitlement.

       The world is made by the people who show up for the job.

UPDATE: Charles P. Pierce has a couple of pieces up at Esquire that capture far better than anything I could write a sense of what happened in Boston, and the import of it for the rest of us. Guns Along The River: A Late Night In Watertown is a compelling picture of Friday's events.

It was a day that began with a guy coming home from work and wandering into a firefight. It was a day that ended with another guy coming home from a day beside the ocean and wandering into another one. It was a day on unearthly quiet along the wooded paths along the river. It was a day of rumors and doubt, and heavy weaponry around the Target and the Best Buy. It was a day of sheltering in place. It was a day in which the essential geography of my life — "Hey, there's the place where I blog every day!" — turned into a place of dark corners and of rustling in the underbrush. And it ended with cheers rising from an old cemetery where buried are some of the casualties from Bunker Hill.
The Day After -- Midnight On Franklin Street is a meditation on where things will go from here.
The sawhorses were comforting because the events of the past week are now getting fed into a number of gigantic maws, none of which are likely to do the rest of us any good. They are being fed into the big media maw, with speculation now completely rampant as to what launched the Tsarnaev brothers on their crime spree. While Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was still at large, with a few notable exceptions -- coughNewYorkPostcough -- big media went out of their way to appear responsible. Now, though, with the younger suspect on a respirator at Beth Israel, all the shackles were off, and we spent the day hearing wild speculation of what may have been behind the murderous doings in and around Boston last week. The events also are being fed into the maw of big politics with the federal government invoking the "public safety" exception to the Miranda ruling in connection with a 19-year old who is, at this moment, breathing through a tube and who, anyway, by all the evidence available at this moment, appears to be still little more than Dylan Klebold with a funny name and a pulse.
The reality of what happened this week in Boston is already well on the way to being ground up like so much raw innards along with handfuls of spices and other additives, to be stuffed into the sausage casings of the assorted political agendas out there. Raw truth does not suit the American palate, not after years of media junk food.

Originally posted to xaxnar on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 06:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (57+ / 0-)

    Thanks to all those who put their lives on the line to bring this phase of the nightmare to an end. Thanks to all those who don't treat reality as something to sit back and watch, but instead go out there to shape it to a better end.

    If this week of horror has shown us nothing else, it has shown that those who would tell us this nation can't accomplish anything, that government is useless, that we're on our own, that we can't come together as a community are a far greater enemy than troubled individuals with guns and bombs.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 06:45:29 PM PDT

    •  News is seen (7+ / 0-)

      as entertainment. I hate it.  That it's framed in a very black and white, us vs. them , Go Team U.S.A!!!! is even worse.  This isn't the (%^#$&  Super Bowl or gag, NASCAR!!!
      The dumbing down of our collective IQ marches on.  News at 10. *angry

      "I have to go... There are two gay men knocking on my door asking me if I need any abortions or marijuana. Diary, this may be my last entry" Facebook hysteria after 2012 election

      by pitbullgirl65 on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 06:18:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I spent a lot of time (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar

        yelling at the Tee Vee Machine this week. And not at the bombers, but at the stations, anchors and television reporters who fell instantly into the dum-dum-dum drama rut, using inflammatory language where none was called for, using dramatic music and stentorian voice-overs as if we were watching a trailer for the latest Die Hard sequel, or resorting to cliches because, dammit, thinking up original questions to ask or original observations to make on a real-life situation is just Too. Damned. Difficult.

        FEH.

        This was real, you well-groomed and polished mannequins. People died, people were blown up, people lost limbs, people were scared shitless in their own neighborhoods, people were shot to death in their cars, and all you could do was mouth the threadbare and wornout catch phrases you automatically resort to because it's easier than committing acts of actual journalism.

        The worst thing? A lot of this was LOCAL REPORTING. Folks who supposedly know their beat, who supposedly bring some local insight to their converage. And what do they do? Act like they're auditioning for Fox News, complete with egregious reporting errors and the ever-popular jumping-to-conclusions-without-a-shred-of evidence-because-it's easier to apologise-than-to-get-in-there-second methodology.

        How much do I hate most television "journalism"? I hate it with the white hot hate of a thousand suns gone nova.

        "The truth will set you free...but first it'll piss you off." - Gloria Steinem

        by Sharoney on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 06:37:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Kinda Hope the Pilot's not Taken Up for a Series n (23+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 06:54:44 PM PDT

    •  This type of series is supposed to be export only. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NancyWH

      However, you can't stop your competitors from stealing your ideas...

      Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

      by No Exit on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 04:34:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You just know, for a fact, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NancyWH

      that some pale, skinny twentysomething is hunched over his laptop right now, furiously typing a draft of his screenplay for the dramatization of the week's events.

      How do I know this? Because I went to grad school in LA, where friends in the film school would lean over and tell me, in a low, conspiratorial voice, about how their idea for a new tornado/hurricane/tsunami movie got scooped by some asshole over at Columbia Pictures/Universal/Paramount. "Now they've gone and done that, the market on hurricane movies is saturated. You can only have so many hurricane movies, and then it's on to the next disaster."

      Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

      by Dale on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 10:46:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ditto! This bears repeating! (0+ / 0-)
      Kinda Hope the Pilot's not Taken Up for a Series
      You know the storyline will, in one form or another, be portrayed in all kinds of TV shows.

      Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggg...!  TV is already so bad I watch fewer than half a dozen shows, plus Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and on Hulu (I refuse to pay to receive stupid commercials I hate and pay for TV channels I'd never watch under any circumstances, so see no reason to pay for them).

      I find I no longer have the patience to deal with glorifying common criminals by fiction writers elevating them to cult-following status.  They are dangerous (usually) men who are then revered by all the fanatic morons out there who lack the balls to be real men but who desire some kind of way to become the center of someone's world.  Psychologically, these twerps are boring and their stories make for bad TV shows and dialogue.

      Their criminal actions are the "adult version" of a kid throwing a temper tantrum to become the center of attention.  'Better negative attention than no attention at all,' they seem to think.  If they didn't harm other people and other people's property in the process, fine.  Killing and injuring others for the sake of this "adult temper tantrum" is the wrong way to get attention.

      Thanks Media Morons.  This guarantees I'll continue to keep my TV off for many months to come so I can avoid your Silly Sensational Headlines & Boring Fictional Accounts about a boring little criminal twerp who isn't worth the time of day to report on beyond a minute or two of "reporting" to tell us the outcome of the trial.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 03:44:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  not enjoying the show, but (12+ / 0-)

    enjoyed the hell out of this diary

    especially this

    The world is made by the people who show up for the job.
    I'm too scared to venture into the Fox "News"-o-sphere, or even Facebook for that matter, to find out how the unexpected directions subplot is panning out. I might just lose what is left of my faith in humanity.

    Thanks for this xaxnar

    "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro"

    by gravlax on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 07:00:00 PM PDT

  •  It's creepily reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451 /nt (10+ / 0-)
  •  I liked the season finale. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, Matt Z, NancyWH, DRo, NonnyO, xaxnar

    But I don't think I'm interested in another season.

    Repeal the 2nd amendment.

    by Calouste on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:15:25 PM PDT

  •  I'm just glad I slept through the night (6+ / 0-)

    Watching the show all day today was enough. If I had seen news break before going to bed last night I probably would have watched straight through.

  •  I was in Midtown on 9/11 (12+ / 0-)

    and Rudy immediately got all his testosterone up.

    But the truth is, you really can't cower. It took far too long for Chinatown to recover -- yet recover it did.

    One of the first responders was the fire station at about 50th St. and 9th Ave. -- not too far north of my apartment.

    Many of them died.

    Boston will recover. Will get over this. Not soon, but...the human spirit is resilient.

    All my condolences for the bereaved and the maimed.

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 01:08:13 AM PDT

    •  9/11 was two things, at least (7+ / 0-)

      You and I had months of 9/11. Television 9/11 was something different. The millions who experienced the thing at home got it in narrative arcs, very convenient ones, and they were already thinking "Who do we bomb" while we were avoiding the smoke.

      Everyone is innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 04:53:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, Don't fuck with Boston. Always I am skeptic (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Sharoney, Youffraita

      of LEO, I've seen some shitful things. How this was handled, from bombs going off to the capture, should be a texbook for the rest of the country.

      The unsourced, unreasearched tweets, the multiple diaries with the word "breaking", the speculation on this site was hurtful and stupid. A commenter suggested a plan for next time.

      I suggest a mothership diary WHERE INFORMATION IS sourced, GODDAMIT.

      Yes, we will recover. Please DO NOT contribute to the Red Cross, contribute to "The One Fund, if you are able and are so inclined. I have not heard of a fund for Texas. John Hancock insurance company that supports the Marathon, seeded The One Fund with a million dollars.

      It would be nice if some oil company or top 400 person from Texas dropped a bit into the pot.

      Now I've got some home made cards to send. I wish I had a gazillion dollars to put inside them.

      At doctor ran the Marathon, then went and did trama surgery into the night. I can confirm at least two other doctors that ran the Marathon then treated people.

      I can confirm that vets of the Mideast expletive were there to treat people. One commented about PTSS returning.

      Little Martin? That peace picture? His teacher was doing a learning moment about Traynor(I hope I am spelling it right.)  h/t noweasels.

      We adults have failed our children. I don't have children of my own. I am reminded of a man that was asked at the Wall. "Which of the Vietnam soldiers is yours?"

      The man replied, "All of them, son, all of them."

      2012-2016 President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senator Warren. For a LIFETIME, federal judges. Get the filibuster changed. Steamroll. http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

      by CuriousBoston on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 02:50:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Dorner saga had a similar schedule (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, salmo, NancyWH

    Ended on a Friday in primetime.

    Oust Walker May 8th - Vote Arthur Kohl-Riggs

    by Milhawkee on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 03:30:42 AM PDT

  •  The function/rhetoric of police (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gc10, xaxnar, thea lake, NancyWH

    I do not mean the police themselves.

    The narrative of police, as we worked it out at the end of the 19th century, and as we modified it during the 1920's when retelling prohibition stories, is to appear where a society has been made dysfunctional, to insert first principles, to strip away all other elements of society except the Hunt, and expose maximum threat to society before the resolution and establishment of the pre-crisis status quo.

    So, all is well. The bomb goes off. Regular business must be suspended, and all normal life must get off the streets. The agents of social order, police, then use violence against violence to prevent violence. The spectacle (I'm talking about narratives, remember) allows for the alleviation of anxiety about the tenuousness of social order. The "why" gets given so that the audience can see that there was nothing really wrong with the status quo, the capture is made or the sacrifice, and then we all come back out of our homes, grateful and wiser.

    The detective, on the other hand, is a social physician who must detect the hidden ill. The police show us that all works, that the overt crises can be solved.

    The shaping of the narrative, or the coincidence of events, in this case has conformed to the narrative. I have no reason to think the narrative trumped reality at this point. But that narrative. . . man, is it ever strong.

    Everyone is innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 04:51:10 AM PDT

  •  the wife said it was just like "the hunger games" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH

    Out of my cold dead hands

    by bluelaser2 on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 07:15:55 AM PDT

  •  Escapist Reality Television programming (5+ / 0-)

    Terror Porn.

    It affects us all, but no-one held anyone in front of a television set with their eyes propped open with toothpicks.

    I cut off my cable and don't miss CNN one iota.

    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both - Louis D. Brandeis

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 08:07:20 AM PDT

  •  When one person who was sheltering in place (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH, CuriousBoston

    got on the phone and called Diane Sawyer and she asked that person to look out the window, I turned off the TV.

    I am glad that person didn't get shot in the face, but it wasn't Diane Sawyer's fault they didn't. Good grief. Asking someone in the middle of a fire fight to look out the window. That is why reporters need to keep back.

    She has the job because she knows how to keep talking. But even she doesn't know when to go back to regularly scheduled programming.

    guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

    by 88kathy on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 09:22:34 AM PDT

  •  I didn't see as reality programming at all. . . (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, NancyWH, CuriousBoston

    I saw it as news(as the local stations were broadcasting it - we only briefly put the cable networks on).

    If you were far enough away perhaps it could have been considered reality programming, but if you are close enough then it does take a whole different meaning.

    We don't get Patriots Day off, so we weren't able to see the marathon in person.  My wife has been a spectator a few times(in the scream tunnel).  When you see the bombing on TV and can precisely identify where it took place and the last time you walked by the area. Asking yourself what will you think the next time you walk there. It isn't reality TV.

    We don't live near Watertown, though we have friends who were in the greater lockdown zone. However, when you look at the TV and realize where the final standoff was, is a side street you drive by on the way back from the dentist. It isn't reality TV.

    When you see the news about the MIT police officer and realize you could have seen the family in town or at Town Meeting. It isn't reality TV.

    •  Anyone that can connect this to reality tv is both (0+ / 0-)

      watching too much tv, and has zero empathy.

      2012-2016 President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senator Warren. For a LIFETIME, federal judges. Get the filibuster changed. Steamroll. http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

      by CuriousBoston on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 02:53:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I found the whole thing more than (0+ / 0-)

    a little nauseating, including the way it was treated here on dKos.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 11:07:52 PM PDT

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