Boston con­tin­ues to be a city run by bel­liger­ent ass­hats. Last week it shut down sev­eral major trans­po­ra­tion routes in order to han­dle the Imminent Dire Threat of LEDs; now they’ve man­aged to bully Turner and its adver­tis­ing agency into pay­ing $2 mil­lion in resti­tu­tion for Boston’s own over­re­ac­tion to the battery-​​operated signs.

Last week’s events caused a major dis­rup­tion in the greater Boston area on many lev­els — crip­pling pub­lic trans­porta­tion, caus­ing seri­ous traf­fic prob­lems, neg­a­tively affect­ing local busi­nesses and per­haps most sig­nif­i­cantly, cost­ing Boston and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties thou­sands of dol­lars,” [MA AG Martha] Coakley said.

That’s noth­ing com­pared to the cred­i­bil­ity lost by the Boston fuzz, but putting a dol­lar amount on that won’t be quite so easy. Half the set­tle­ment will go to defray agency costs; the other half is for future Vaterland Homeland Security measures.

Over the week­end I had some time to think about what hap­pened, and I’m still pretty solidly con­vinced that the author­i­ties in Boston went way, way over the top. While it could be argued that a non­func­tion­ing device hang­ing in a pub­lic space (com­plete with wires and such) might be regarded as poten­tially threat­en­ing, once it had been col­lected and destroyed — pretty stan­dard fare for bomb squads — even a cur­sory exam­i­na­tion would have shown it to be harmless.

The point being, of course, that fol­lowup reports of other devices in sim­i­lar loca­tions shouldn’t result in the sorts of shrill hys­te­ria we saw.

And sup­pose these things really were destruc­tive in nature. How, exactly, was the Bostoninan reponse meant to be a civil defense mea­sure? Fomenting panic for hours and shut­ting down major trans­porta­tion routes is hardly con­ducive to main­tain­ing civil order — nor to evac­u­at­ing any affected areas, should it be necessary.

I’m aware that some of the 11 September ’01 hijack­ers left from Logan Airport, and for that rea­son Boston is pos­si­bly a lit­tle gun­shy still; but New York City was a major tar­get — and that city had also been spammed by the adver­tis­ing cam­paign, and didn’t react in any way like Boston did.

Thus, with some of the dust set­tled, it seems pretty clear that a lot of the fierce scream­ing we’re still hear­ing echoes of really is a case of embar­rass­ment — well-​​deserved — on the part of Massachusetts pub­lic offi­cials: Trying to blame oth­ers for their own lack of sen­si­bil­ity or thoughtfulness.

Speaking of which, Il Duce is back in Fantasyland. He’s pro­posed a bud­get this year of $2.9 tril­lion dol­lars — with a straight face! — and sug­gests that the Fed will be deficit-​​free by 2012.

Yes, that’s right: Borrow-​​and-​​spend Bush is pre­dict­ing, despite his run­away Iraq débâ­cle and insane tax cuts, that it will take just five years to neu­tral­ize a $413 bil­lion debt. The one he sank this nation into in about the same amount of time.

His plan does not have fans.

The president’s bud­get is filled with debt and decep­tion, dis­con­nected from real­ity and con­tin­ues to move America in the wrong direc­tion,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D. …

The fed­eral deficit hit an all-​​time high under Bush of $413 bil­lion in 2004. It has been declin­ing since that time and the 2008 bud­get projects it will con­tinue to decline and show a sur­plus in 2012, three years after Bush leaves office.

To accom­plish those reduc­tions, Bush would allow only mod­est growth in the gov­ern­ment pro­grams out­side of defense and home­land secu­rity. He is propos­ing elim­i­na­tions or sharp reduc­tions in 141 gov­ern­ment pro­grams, for a sav­ings over five years of $12 bil­lion, although Congress has rejected many of the same pro­pos­als over the past two years.

In other words, by decreas­ing tax­a­tion at the rate of $160 bil­lion a year, Bush plans to magic up the money needed to cover a $400 bil­lion short­fall — and he’s not even look­ing at what’s going to hap­pen to this nation in the next few years, when 78 mil­lion Boomers start retir­ing … and expect­ing benefits.

I’m not sure what the prob­lem is here. I mean, I don’t know what Bush doesn’t seem to grasp. The only way his asinin­ity could pos­si­bly work would be for Iraq and Afghanistan com­bined to cost only (“only”) $145 bil­lion in 2008, $90 bil­lion in 2009, and noth­ing at all there­after. We’d have to have absolutely no other inter­na­tional crises of any sort,* no inter­nal health or wel­fare fail­ures — mean­ing that the H5N1 cases in the UK now must not spread to the US and cer­tainly must not mutate into human-​​infectious form; and of course we’ll have to have no Katrinas.

He’s toss­ing dice, folks, and he’s bet­ting us against a house that is absolutely crooked, in the sense that real­ity cheats, if you hap­pen to live in an imag­i­nary world.

And we’re in for some seri­ous shit here. Exxon has begun look­ing into carbon-​​control tech­nol­ogy — appar­ently vol­un­tar­ily — and today in NW AZ we’re hit­ting 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is sup­posed to be the cold­est time of the year, and it’s abun­dantly clear that envi­ron­men­tal change is tak­ing place and accelerating.

Yet this Textard thinks things will be per­fectly smooth and pre­dictable over the next half decade.

Just like he thought things would be back in 2000.


* Presumably Iran and North Korea will sim­ply evaporate.


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