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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

03 November 2014

Our Skeptical Society

We’ve become a cynical, skeptical, suspicious culture. We question everything now; we believe little of what we are told, especially if it’s being told by someone in government. Some people actually believe nothing, assuming that every official spokesperson is only engaging in cover-your-ass double-speak in which the Truth is twisted, mangled and camouflaged to the point that it is unrecognizable.

Why is this? I suppose we could trace it back to the suspicions of what the government knew about the impending attack in 1941 by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor that got us (finally!) into World War II. Lingering questions remain: Did President Roosevelt have intelligence that such an attack was planned and he just let it happen? That’s a horrible thought.

Or maybe it’s the result of the revelation about the vastly exaggerated if not fabricated Gulf of Tonkin Incident that got us fully involved in the Viet Nam War. This was the supposed attack on U.S. warships by the “North Vietnamese Navy.” We know now that President Johnson basically lied to the American people and Congress so that he could ramp up the war. And so the country went right along into that unwinnable fiasco. Hey, we seem to love war! (We’ve been denied, and as a nation we seem to want another “good, clear, decisive win” like WWII was. And apparently we won’t stop until we get one!)

Or maybe it was the whole “9/11” thing that got us into this never-ending and equally-unwinnable “WAR ON TERROR!!!!” We were told a certain story by the government about how a dozen or so “Muslim extremist” terrorists commandeered four airliners that fateful day in 2001 and used them for their evil purpose. Anyone who doubts the official story is derogatorily labeled a kook or “conspiracy theorist” nutjob. But many do doubt it…or aspects of it. Were we told the full and complete, truthful story? Personally I do not think so.

And so we come to Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. There on August 9 of this year, an unarmed black kid named Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white policeman. (Although, calling Brown a “kid” is deceptive; he was 6’4” and 300 pounds.) The exact details of the shooting are disputed and controversial. The incident sparked some serious demonstrations and unrest on a scale unseen since the civil rights riots of the 1960’s and ‘70s.

The Ferguson Police Department’s handling of the protests and demonstrations has been controversial and, some would say disproportionate. One of the things the Ferguson P.D. did was to ask the FAA to declare a so-called “no-fly zone” around the city. There is a mechanism in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR’s) which allows this. It is called a “TFR” or Temporary Flight Restriction.

TFR’s are put in place over disasters, natural or man-made. Generally, they exist to keep sight-seers out, which could create an unsafe situation in the air. But restricting access also allows the safe, unimpeded transit and operation of fire-fighting, air ambulance, National Guard or other disaster-relief aircraft. In most cases, a TFR will not exclude aircraft carrying properly accredited members of the news media (the public has a First Amendment right to know, you see). But sometimes even news and media helicopters are kept out. This was the case with the Ferguson TFR.

We learn from a story in today’s Washington Post that the Ferguson P.D. specifically wanted to keep the news copters out…to prevent the media from covering the demonstrations and the P.D.’s handling of them. The TFR that was issued under the specific FAR normally would have kept all aircraft away from Ferguson. But the wording was carefully crafted by the FAA and the Ferguson P.D. to allow other, normal aircraft operation through the area but at the same time keep the pesky news reporters with their cameras out.

Read the story HERE.

The day the TFR was issued, the St. Louis County P.D. said it was not to keep the media out but for “safety” because people were shooting at police helicopters.

There were no incident reports of anyone shooting at police helicopters. (Having said that, it is true that a bullet from a rifle fired into the air might endangered a low-flying helicopter.)

The P.D. announcement was bullshit. The cops merely wanted to keep the news helicopters away. So they lied.

And so we have yet another instance in which it is reported to the American people that public officials lied. Whether or not what they did was justified is beside the point: They lied.

Politicians of the future need not wonder why we don’t believe a word they say.

1 comment:

Bob said...

I agree that sometimes there are outright lies told, as in the instances you referenced. But there's also the matter of perception -- folks see things different ways. In the age if instant information, it's really hard to know what to believe. Excellent insights here, as usual.