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Column: Boston Marathon Bombing – A Week of Highs and Lows

Now that we have had a chance to catch our collective breath, there are lessons to be learned from looking back at the week that had all of us addicted to news.

Highs:

If the point of a terrorist attack is to create fear, the bombing of the marathon certainly didn’t scare some of the people who were closest to it. The reports of marathoners running the additional two miles to the hospital in order to donate blood show why terrorists are destined to fail. These murderous efforts will be thwarted because there are people around who pull together and literally go the extra mile.

The apprehension of the second suspect only five days after the event demonstrates what effective coordination of local, state, and federal law enforcement can accomplish. They were from the government and they were there to help; and guess what? They did. We need more of this from all government operations, and it starts by refusing to elect people who believe government can only be a bad thing.

Lows:

There was an awful lot of hay made about the 20 year old Saudi student whose apartment was searched in the hours following the bombing. His “crime” was being from the Mideast and doing the perfectly natural thing of running away from a bomb that just went off nearby. He was, of course, completely exonerated but not before Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post printed his name, leading to death threats and the like. The Fox News owner’s high profile newspaper also got the number of people dead wrong and printed photos of completely innocent people under the headline “Bag Men”.

Arkansas State Rep. Nate Bell tweeted that he wondered “how many Boston Liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?” Not only was the timing of his tweet pretty insensitive, which is the only thing he has apologized for, he completely missed the point. The only people who should have AR-15s, special law enforcement units, handled the situation. More people in their homes with AR-15s would have only caused unnecessary trouble during the house to house search for the suspect. No one, except soldiers in a warzone, ever needs a high capacity clip. It is now clear that the suspects compiled their arsenal without having to undergo a background check, which likely would have raised flags given the dead brother’s past investigation by the FBI. Oh, and you can thank the NRA’s congressional team for killing a bill that would have put tracing chemicals in gunpowder that would have led authorities to the point of purchase, and perhaps to the suspects themselves, before they panicked and killed MIT Police officer Sean Collier.

The full-on saturation of cable news spent most of the week speculating and chasing bad leads. CNN’s completely false report that a “dark-skinned” suspect had been arrested and was being brought to the courthouse was the most egregious sin, but there were also all the important stories that were given short shrift. The bombing did not produce any real news after Monday until the videos and photos of the suspects were released. During that time we barely heard anything about the whack-o Elvis impersonator sending poisoned letters, the disgraceful filibuster of commonsense background checks for guns, and the case study of the dangers of deregulation that was the Texas fertilizer plant explosion.

Column: Power Lines, Preparation and the Private Sector

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