September 05, 2007

Unreasoning Hysteria as the Default Position (II): Indescribably Joan

[Updated below.]


(remarks concerning an earlier episode in the multipart saga, The Attacks that Portend The End of Civilization and the Destruction of, Like, Everything!)

"You're all trying to destroy me! You're all against me, you bastards! You broke my heart, and now you want to kill me! But I won't let you, do you hear me? I won't let you! I'm going to live, damn you, I'm going to LIVE!" -- Joan Crawford explains the rationale behind the Global War on Terror
Among the numerous futile and profoundly counterproductive effects of the manner in which the Forces of Good and Light have chosen to conduct the Global Battle against Evil and All Bad and Nasty Thingies, perhaps the most offensive are what we might categorize as the assaults on minimally decent aesthetics. Every time another of these all too predictable events occurs, I feel as if I'm watching a movie from five or six decades ago, a film that was crudely imitative, fourth-hand trash the first time and that only gets worse and cruder with each repetition.

So we have these remarks about today's episode from Fright Theater, or Eeeek!:
"The lesson from this is the danger is not just abstract, it’s real," Chancellor Angela Merkel said to reporters in Berlin. The consequences of an attack, she said, would have been "indescribable."
I dunno. I think Joan described them very well.

But let's take pity on the hacks who have to come up with this stuff, and see what the latest is from what Mel Brooks refers to as the Department of Rotten Riting:
The police in Germany have arrested three Islamic militants suspected of planning large-scale terrorist attacks against several sites frequented by Americans, including discos, bars, airports and military installations.

The suspects — two German citizens and a Turkish resident of Germany — were in advanced stages of plotting bombing attacks that could have been deadlier than the terrorist strikes that killed dozens in London and Madrid, police and security officials said Wednesday. They said the possible targets included the busy Ramstein air base and the Frankfurt international airport.

"They were planning massive attacks," the German federal prosecutor, Monika Harms, said at a news conference, outlining a vast six-month investigation. She said that the suspects had amassed huge amounts of hydrogen peroxide, the main chemical used to manufacture the explosives used in the suicide bombings in London in July 2005.

Ms. Harms said the two German suspects were converts to Islam who had trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan. They had 1,500 pounds of hydrogen peroxide to make explosives, which they had hidden and were preparing to move when they were arrested on Tuesday afternoon. Officials said they also had military grade detonators. German and American officials said that such indicators made them suspect connections to Al Qaeda.
So okay, at least these suspects had "huge amounts of hydrogen peroxide" and "military grade detonators," which is much more than the suspects had at the beginning of this past summer.

That's assuming, of course, you believe a word any Western government says on this subject to begin with. Yes, I know there are Bad People in the world who want to do us grievous harm. At this point, however, skepticism in massive quantities is absolutely required when confronted with these stage-managed presentations about the latest Threat to Destroy All the Universes Forever and Ever, for these reasons among others:
All this conjecture assumes, of course, that major elements of this plot were not dreamed up and initially suggested by government agents trying to "protect" us, that the "truth" was not tortured out of a suspect and the like, as Scott Horton pointed out has been the case in every similar incident in recent years.
But I see that the producers of Eeeek! have learned a few things:
One of the three men fled and, in a scuffle with a police officer, wrested a pistol from his holster and shot him in the hand before he was subdued. The officer was slightly wounded, officials said. Residents described the raid, by an elite police unit, as something out of an action movie.
Clever scoundrels. When they want you to be scared out of your diapers, they make sure it's like a movie -- so, you know, the target audience will think it's real. "Hey, babe! It's just like The Brain that Ate Germany! It's gotta be true!"

On the other hand, when they don't want you to notice that they've destroyed any and all semblances of liberty and republican government, they make certain it's not like a movie. Without the requisite frame of reference, most Westerners, and most Americans in particular, can't figure out what the hell is happening. "I never saw anything like this on teevee. Whuuuuuuh??"

Let's note this, from later in the NYT story, about one of the possible targets of the suspected terrorists:
Ramstein is the largest American air base here and a transportation hub for troops deploying to Eastern Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
It seems to me, and I could certainly be completely wrong here, that if the United States didn't insist that it had the "right" to direct events across the entire globe, and if our leading politicians didn't constantly instruct other nations as to what they may and may not do, and if we didn't maintain an empire of approximately 1,000 bases in 130 countries around the world -- and if, you know, we didn't invade countries that never threatened us and kill a million or more innocent people, and then repeatedly warn of further and still worse destruction against another nation that doesn't threaten us -- maybe, just perhaps, people would stop planning attacks like this.

Simpler version: if we stop murdering them and blowing their shit up, maybe they'll stop trying to kill us and blow our shit up.

It's just a thought. And for God's sake, Joan deserves a rest, don't you think? Give the poor woman a break.

SCARED BY THE STUPIDZ: Honest to God. With every one of these big "scares" over the last several years, once you learn some crucial details, the entire "scare" evaporates into complete nothingness.

From Left I on the News, we learn (from this article):
"There were no concrete targets," Deputy Interior Minister August Hanning told journalists in Berlin. "But the German police are speculating that Frankfurt airport was one of these targets."
No concrete targets. Maybe styrofoam? Rubber? Linoleum? Ohhhh, no actual targets that the terrorists had specifically chosen. Ohhhhhhh.

And here's my fave detail (from another article):
The men — two German converts to Islam and a Turkish citizen who prosecutors said shared a "profound hatred of U.S. citizens" — allegedly obtained military-style detonators and enough chemicals to make bombs more powerful than those that killed 191 commuters in Madrid in 2004 and 52 in London in 2005.

Frankfurt International Airport and the nearby U.S. Ramstein Air Base reportedly were the suspects' primary targets.

Prosecutors indicated police defused the danger earlier in the six-month investigation by stealthily substituting a harmless chemical for the raw bomb material amassed by the suspects. They said police moved in Tuesday when the alleged plotters seemed ready to try to make bombs.
And if they had made bombs and then used them...oh. A "harmless chemical" will make, erm, a big cloud of smoke? A magic show kind of, "Poof"? It also appears that the fearsome suspects never even figured out that the switch had occurred. Scary stuff.

And yet the "news" story begins by ominously warning, in its very first sentence, of "'imminent' bomb attacks against Americans in Germany..." Yes, they put the quotes around "imminent," and no wonder. Perhaps, "imminent magic tricks"?

If I were of a skeptical frame of mind, I might think that various governmental officials are trying to scare the crap out of their citizens on the basis of next to nothing, only so that their governments can consolidate and expand their oppressive, authoritarian rule over and control of the people they "serve."

Nah. Couldn't be that.