Terrorism: America loves to go after ‘the bad guys’

The city of Boston was on lockdown until about 8 p.m. Friday, when reports flashed across the television news that “Suspect No. 2” had been found. After a grueling day-long manhunt, the Boston Police finally found him. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, was severely injured in a boat in someone’s backyard in Watertown, Mass. Tsarnaev was quickly taken into custody and remains in the same Boston hospital now where many of his bombing victims lay in serious or critical condition. His fate remains unknown, but he could face the death penalty.

Reports have been coming in that he was brainwashed by his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police early Friday morning. It’s also said that the younger Tsarnaev ran over his brother with a car he was driving to flee from police. The rest of that day, Boston remained in lockdown mode, not one movement in sight. Very untypical of hustle and bustle Boston, however, once it was confirmed that he was found, people left their homes and celebrated his capture, their Boston victory.

I spoke with a gentleman from Arnold, Mo. Greg, a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University and a runner in this year’s Boston Marathon, is now a permanent resident of Boston. He had a difficult time recounting the events that took place Monday, as I imagine many would. Though there was one thing that he said had stuck out in my mind and reminded me once again that Boston is a tough city. This was Greg’s first time running in the marathon. He’s previously been in eight before qualifying to run in the Boston Marathon, but he said that Monday’s tragedy won’t stop him from running again. He said he has no plans of stopping. That was inspiring. The resilience and the spirit of the people of Boston continue to keep me awestruck.

Greg shared how he finished the marathon more than an hour before the blasts. He says he was far away from where it happened on Boylston Street, but that from where he was standing, he could see the blasts and knew something was very, very wrong. He adds that unfortunately, he knew a lot of people who had crossed the finish line at the four hour mark — the same time the bombs detonated, and many others who didn’t get a chance to finish the race.

Greg says that’s devastating. He says as a runner, training for many months, preparing for a major race and then not being able to finish is heartbreaking. But he remains hopeful, and despite the tragic events, he believes even more people will try to run in next year’s marathon, including many who have never run a marathon before. His philosophy is this: If we live in fear, they win. We can’t let them win. We can’t live in fear. The runners come from a tight-knit community. They will keep running and they will not be stopped from doing what they love. He calls that a victory for the marathon and the city of Boston.

Another tragedy happened last week that has been overshadowed by the Boston bombings: A fertilizer plant in West Texas, exploded, killing 14 and injuring 200. There was minimal news coverage on something that would normally take precedence in the news. Generally, if there are more fatalities, it becomes a higher priority of news coverage. Because of the situation in Boston, it overshadowed the devastation of West, and those 14 families that unfortunately lost loved ones. I’ve had talks with many about this. And really, it all just boils down to one thing that sticks out in my mind: You don’t mess with the United States. In numbers, the fertilizer plant explosion caused more casualties, but the twin bombings in Boston were an act of terrorism… and we just LOVE to go after the bad guys. Very um, American, I suppose. We need to raise our guns to prove once again how tough we are. (And by guns, I mean our arms… no, not those, physical arms.) We need to raise our “guns” to show our strength, and show off to the world why we’re the No. 1 superpower on this earth.

It’s no surprise to me how in such a time of anguish, there’s always something positive to bring to light. There are many people who are looking to reach out and help the victims of the Boston Tragedy, or the West Texas tragedy, but may not know where to donate. Here are a few I’d recommend to those who would like to show some support.  http://wearebostonstrong.org/index.html and  https://onefundboston.org/

Mary Farucci is a reporter for Missourinet and is a 2012 graduate of Emerson College in Boston, Mass.

Kerfluffle

This is Bob Priddy reporting from Kerfluffleland.

A Kerfluffle is a fuss and a fuss is a matter of worrying over trifles.

Governor Nixon got his Fruit of the Looms in a big knot yesterday afternoon when reporters didn’t ask him questions about what he wanted to talk about, just after he had read a stemwinder of a Medicaid expansion speech to a rotunda full of folks who thought his words were golden.

His message in the rotunda was similar to the message he’s been preaching all over the place about the need for the legislature to approve Medicaid expansion.  So what he was doing was hardly new–or news.

What was new –and what was news–was that the speech came shortly after he had told the Revenue Department to quit scanning and keeping records of people with concealed weapons permits.  That’s been an increasingly important issue as the legislature questions the operations of the department’s Motor Vehicle Division and the division’s collection and retention of a lot more private information than ever before demanded to get a driver’s license or any other kind of state identitification card. In recent days when he had paused long enough for a reporter to ask him about the increasingly strident accusations of misdeeds by his Department of Revenue, he wandered through a set statement that amounted to saying nothing was wrong.

When reporters kept trying to get a clear understanding yesterday of what he had done with his CCW order and why he had not done other things or why he decided only people with concealed weapons permits should not have those documents scanned and kept, he began to sputter and charged the entire senate committee inquiry into deparatment operations was a “kerflulffle” designed to take attention away from Medicaid expansion.  He sputtered a few other things about CCW permit holders and then bolted for his office with the intrepid Phill Brooks trying to ask another questions.

 AUDIO: Nixon

There are plenty of people, however, who think the whole revenue department document scanning and retention operation is something more than a trifle.  There are those in the capitol, particularly those who have pronounced Medicaid expansion a dead issue despite the governor’s tub-thumping for it, who might argue that the Medicaid rally was a kerfluffle  intended to take people’s minds off privacy invasion concerns.  One person’s kerfluffle is another person’s cause for war.

We’ve been around long enough to know the capitol is stuffed with kerfluffle from January to mid-May.  My isue is a crisis. Yours is kerfluffle.

Accessibility has never been a priority for this administration.  Managing the message HAS been a priority.  In Jay Nixon’s case, it’s always preferable to read a speech than to answer questions about what he’s doing and why.

So Nixon does something that alters the actions of his revenue department.  But it’s only one action on one of the issues that has Republican legislators in both chambers in a mini-froth accusing the department of violating public privacy and state laws.

Nixon decided to let reporters crowd around in a corner of the rotunda for a few precious minutes after his big speech and went off in a huff when the reporters didn’t want to talk about another Medicaid expansion speech but instead start asking why he did one thing but not another; what was his reasoning for doing what he did, and does he think more action should be taken.  There was no time and apparently no inclination for a quieter, more organized discussion with reporters in his office of Medicaid or of the revenue department.  So he got urinarilly agitated and stalked away because reporters preferred to ask him about what was new–and news.

Bob Priddy, from somewhere in Kerfluffleland.

The Long goodbye

Brian Long has said goodbye to his job as director of the Department of Revenue about four months after Governor Nixon appointed him.  He says the strain on his family caused by the month-long investigation of his department is the reason he is stepping aside. 

His department has been under intense investigation by the Senate Appropriations Committee because it started gathering personal information from Missourians getting driver’s licenses and other state ID cards and keeping it in a database.  Some of the allegations that have been thrown around have been easily made and less easily proven.  But in the end the key is a rule the department should have promulgated to remove any doubt about the legality of what it has been doing.  But it didn’t make that rule. 

The wobbly-wheeled Revenue Department wagon had been sent on its way by Brian Long’s predecessor who was appointed to an administrative hearing judge’s job the day after sending a letter to Homeland Security that has been pounced on by Senator Kurt Schaefer and his appropriations committee. They read it as the state saying it is complying with the Real ID law although Missouri has a law saying it will not do so.  Long argued the letter was intended to show the department that Missouri was doing some things the Real ID law requires but is prohibited by state law from doing others, and hoping the feds don’t start banning Missourians from airline flights because it can’t fulfill all of the criteria for adopting Real ID.  Perception, however, is in the eyes of the committee.

Long might have been able to remove some of the pressure if he had told the committee last week that he was going to order a halt to the information-gathering.  But he said he was not ready to make that commitment.  He didn’t explain why and the committee didn’t ask why–and perhaps it should have.

His position was not helped by the department’s lack of candor about how accessible this personal information is to others.  And when it was mentioned last week that a list of people with concealed weapons permits was made available to a federal government agency, the committee jumped on that issue with both feet.   Guns are involved.  The federal government is involved.  A list of people with guns is involved.  A federal agency got that list.  It couldn’t read the files, though.  But it got the list and it took three weeks for the Revenue Department and the Department of Public Safety to admit it.  

We don’t know why the department has handled this investigation as it has.  We don’t know why Brian Long didn’t want to commit to solving the problem last week.  Some of this stuff is pretty complicated and pressure comes to bear from several directions.    

Some Senators say others caught up in the questioning should join the private sector.  Senator Rob Schaaf has suggested that Long was thrown under the bus by the Nixon administration, although the governor’s spokesman, Scott Holste, told us the resignation was not requested.  But in our years of covering statehouse politics we have seen plenty of people fall on their sword to try to end a controversy.  

There is some sympathy, even among his critics, for Brian Long.  It appears he inherited a situation ripe for political controversy and tangled with a powerful group of legislators. 

Brian Long has been in state government for a long time in a number of different roles including a couple of years as state budget director and as the head for several years of the Council on Public Higher Education.  He’s been a career bureaucrat and administrator—two positions that merit more respect that the public and some politicians give them–for a long time.  This is the first time we recall any controversy about what he has done.  To be hit this hard after so many years of competent service is difficult to take.  The circumstances of his departure from state government are unfortunate and disappointing but the reason for it—to take his family out of unaccustomed and harsh spotlight–is proper.  

Somebody, somewhere in or out of government, is going to get a good man–soon, we hope. 

In the meantime we wait for the next shoe to drop, the next card to fall, and perhaps the next head to roll.