Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A botched response

"Mooninites" don't even like pipe bombs.
by Kevin John Sowyrda

If Ted Turner had any guts - and he has a cargo ship load - he'd personally renege the sham deal with Boston to cough up two million dollars in needless reparations which are intended, in truth, to assuage the embarrassment of political egos and appease constituents who are led by the most vividly incompetent constabulary in the world, second only to the Aruba Police Department, as we all viewed and suffered last week.

The Turner TV Network caved after days of Hellish publicity following the January 31 public safety meltdown in the Hub; when public officials deemed Turner's Cartoon Network advertising gadgets to be a massive terrorist bomb plot. The fourteen devices 'apprehended' by police in Boston depicted something called a "mooninite", who is a character from the cartoon network. Yeah . . . just the symbol the terrorists have been using for years.

So instead of playing kiss-you-love-you with Attorney General Martha Coakley, I think Turner would enhance his cult like status in America - and for once in a positive way - if he jaunted over to the Moakley Federal Court House and turned the tables - filing a federal law suit against Boston for infringement of free speech. It would be nice to have a public, federal trial to find out why Mayor Menino and his Keystone Cops needlessly created a mass hysteria, which is just the mentality the Bush Administration wants us to be exercising these days. And Menino is a Democrat?

The conclusions police officials decided to hastily make last Wednesday were potentially dangerous, and certainly inept and definitely costly. Boston proved that we have the equipment and manpower to respond to emergencies, but that we lack a crucial ingredient to preparedness - the intellectual prowess and the psychological demeanor to discern between a clear and present danger and something purely innocuous.

A pile of blinking signs spread across the Hub to promote another brain numbing cartoon network program was never going to turn Boston into a mushroom cloud. Somebody at Schroeder Plaza has been watching way too many episodes of "24".

Since I'm not Matt Damon I don't break bread with a great many al qaeda members, or even sympathizers thereof, but I dare suggest their incendiary devices of choice are limited to the torsos' of fanatics and very unremarkable containers - which will not likely blink for your attention or give you the finger, as the "mooninites" did. Simply put, there was no 'm.o.' here, indicating a terrorist attack; which is exactly why none of the other cities where the advertising blitz occurred on the same day went to Def con One as we strangely did. If Peter Sellers were still alive he'd resurrect his Dr. Strangelove character and make a movie and a few million out of this.

Of course, Police Commissioner Davis would justify his department's "the sky is falling" mentality by reminding us of the Tufts-New England Medical Center incident. It occurred just as police were panicking about the Turner Broadcasting blinking advertising signs. Two very fake pipe bombs had been discovered at the Longfellow Bridge and in an office at the hospital; allegedly the dirty work of a former hospital employee. Accordingly, the police operated under the false premise that there was a relationship between the fake bombs and the "Mooninites". This argument is sheer sophistry.

First, "Mooninites" don't like pipe bombs. I've asked them. Second, the pipe bombs were very quickly proven to be very "un pipe bombs" and their similarity to the flashing cartoon character is simply nil. Davis lacks a cogent argument that two prank pipe bombs and some blinking boxes spread across the city had any measure of dangerous relationship. The only common denominator is that they posed no real threat. In my opinion Davis was not sufficiently experienced or trained to assess this and needs to quickly recruit some of the real pros at the N.Y.P.D. for his executive staff.

In retrospect, they're calling this the mother of all pranks; guerilla marketing gone a little too wild. And of all the cities where it was implemented on January 31, only Boston's mayor and his Praetorian Guard had a full blown panic attack. What does this say and how should we proceed?

First, Commissioner Davis, if not publicly, should atleast privately consult with the real pros and decide what could have and should have been done differently. Falling prey to very false alerts isn't just costly but dangerous. Second, the mayor was off his game, and that is being overly generous. The only thing more disturbing than his lack of good judgement here was the way he communicated to the national media in the aftermath of the high-octane response. He hardly looked mayoral and he deserved to be the fodder for Jay Leno's monolog, and many others.

Finally, a suggestion to one of the few people at city hall who does not subscribe to the belief that Menino is above the temporal afflictions the rest of us must endure. City Council President Maureen Feeney would be well within her rights to appoint a blue ribbon commission - yes, the council can do this - to find out what medication is best prescribed for a mayor and police department which need to avoid future histrionics. Some say their actions on January 31 were prudent and precautionary. I say it was panic from the top down, and hardly professional.

Kevin John Sowyrda is a political commentator and writer. You can reach him at kevinsow@aol.com and read his daily blog at www.thebostonmemo.blogspot.com

CORRECTION: In my column last week I wrote that City Councilor John Tobin had called for the resignation of Boston School Committee Chairwoman Dr. Elizabeth Reilinger. In point of fact, the councilor had called for Dr. Reilinger to resign from the superintendent search committee only. Reilinger did resign from the search committee this week. I regret the error and stand corrected.

No comments: