Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We Have Seen This Movie Before


Luckily the Dorner movie ended and the credits were running when His Serenity appeared at the entrance to the House and made his way to the podium to speechify for a bit about the State of the Union (it's strong as always).

The shift was seamless.

I didn't really watch or listen to it, nor did I more than glance at the rejoinder by that very appealing Cubano, Marco Rubio (who isn't "rubio" at all!) They say he's quite the accomplished liar and his mother should be ashamed. But that's another story for another time.

The point is that neither of them said anything that meant anything nor do they ever do so at these opportunities for Imperial Display. It's pomp, it's pageantry for its own sake -- and to remind everyone that these people can and will do whatever they want to you at the time and place of their choosing, and you -- by golly -- would do well to sit still and shut up until your time comes.

With the stench of the smoke of what happened to someone who got uppity about it still wafting around in the background of the speechifications, the message was clear: keep your nose clean, your head down, and your forelock tugged at all times. You are not in charge here, we, your betters, are. Don't you forget it.

At least on the CBS feed I was watching online yesterday, the newsreaders remained fairly skeptical throughout the "movie" (one of them actually said the events unfolding was "like a tragic movie.")  They had a newsman on the scene, Carter Evans, someone who was actually eyewitnessing everything as it was taking place, and who was uploading video (from his phone?) from time to time to show the people some of what he was seeing and hearing. So far as I know, he was the only newsman on scene, and he was there by accident he said, having followed the police brigade up the road, and was setting up for a live shot (teevee shot, that is)  when the shoot out started. He saw the deputies wounded no more than a few yards away from him.

The video he put up was stark -- but it had been edited to take out the naughty words and any blood that there might have been. There were also whole scenes kind of mindlessly cut out. Obviously, he got quite a lot of video that his masters at the studio felt it was inappropriate to show. Some of it may have had the infamous words now gone viral: "We're gonna burn him out! Burn the muthafukka!"

Yes. Well.

They did that all right. We've seen this movie before, haven't we?

Of course we have, over and over again, for decades. When a gunman or a rebel cell of some sort is holed up in a compound, even if it is only a trailer in the woods, and the gunman or cell is firing weapons or has fired weapons in the past causing injury or death to the brave men trying to take them into custody, it has long appeared to be policy to "burn them out." Setting fire to the hideout is the time-honored custom, isn't it? One would think it is standard policy by now.

So is the denial.

We'll never know for sure what happened. There will be endless speculation for years to come. A cottage industry of theories will arise. It is ever thus.

Even though CBS LA had a man on the scene, he may not know himself what happened, of if he does know, he may be too scared to say. Retaliation is a bitch.

The newsreaders in the studio, however, maintained a reasonable skepticism regarding just about anything the police and sheriffs and officials had to say, however, and that was refreshing. At least they seemed to be skeptical. It was not, at any rate, the usual media cop-worshiping. Since nobody had reported actually seeing Dorner at this hideout, they wouldn't even accept at face value that it was Dorner inside -- or that there was anyone necessarily inside.

That kind of skepticism is very unusual in the media, so I was somewhat taken aback by it.

But let's assume that it was Dorner, and that the charred corpse found inside the burnt out wreck of a "cabin" -- it was quite a large house -- was his, and that the single gunshot reported just prior to the start of the fire that engulfed the house and the corpse was Dorner putting an end to his own life. Let us assume that's what happened.

Then let us ask my question: Was Justice done?

We start to see how complicated the answer to that question can be. This whole sequence of events might not have happened at all had Dorner believed that the processes of internal discipline and court appeals that he had endured over the past few years (which also seemed to have included his -- involuntary? -- separation from the Naval Reserve just before the start of his mission...) had resulted in Justice. He didn't think so; what purports to be his manifesto (or his last will and testament, depending) says that he felt betrayed, lied about, abused, and the victim of institutional racism and retaliation for trying to do the right thing when he reported to a superior the police brutality and abuse he said he witnessed during the arrest of a mentally ill suspect.

"Everyone knows" how abusive and brutal the LAPD is notorious for being. That's become true of many police departments throughout the land, if it wasn't always the case. Milder forms of this institutionalized brutality -- and sometimes not so mild -- were on nearly constant and universal display during the coordinated suppression of the Occupy demonstrations around the country not so long ago.

That suppression was routinely violent and brutal, something it is still hard for cop-worshipers to deal with. The specific case of LAPD is no less difficult to deal with, for it seems they have learned lessons from being caught time and again abusing their authority (including brutality, murder, planting evidence, and so on) and at other times, it appears they've either learned nothing or have learned how to be as corrupt and violent as they want to be without getting caught.

In Dorner's case, he was inside the department, and it appears he felt the full force of institutional retaliation when he spoke up against abuse he witnessed.

Yes. Well. Anyone who's been "inside" knows the sensation, knows what happens to whistleblowers, snitches, uppity mouthy punks. They get run out, sometimes run over. It is Iron Law -- institutions must protect themselves first and foremost, and anything that threatens the institution must be controlled, isolated and removed.

No matter the "protections" they ostensibly have at law.

So let's acknowledge that in the specific instance of Dorner's firing from the LAPD, he felt that a tremendous injustice had been done to him personally, and he attributed that injustice to the inherent racism and dishonesty of his police colleagues and the institution itself.

He wanted revenge.

His form of revenge was to disrupt the institution through various means, including murder. He partially succeeded at least temporarily. If his intention was to destroy the LAPD, he failed.

If he saw his revenge as Justice, then we could say he was able to obtain Justice. But his personal desire for revenge/Justice conflicts with social and political mores accepted by most people that say that "Justice" is found through legal processes alone, and in Dorner's case -- too bad, so sad -- the legal processes he endured did not produce a result in his favor. If the result of the legal process he went through was unjust, oh well, that's the way the cookie crumbles; he should just get over it and move on.

He didn't. No, he fought back. That's how he got to be a folk/cult hero, something that may have scared the LAPD more than his threats and actions. I never thought they were responding to Dorner as much as they were responding to the public disgust with their behavior -- both historic and contemporary. The fact that someone from inside the institution, though rejected by it, actually took them on and made a huge splash in doing so, regardless of whether he was justified, or whether the action he took was appropriate (to put it mildly) was literally terrifying to the institution, and thus I thought his designation as a Domestic Terrorist was more apropos than not.

Fighting back the way Dorner did, violently and maliciously, with the intent to destroy the institution itself is something that is almost never done in this country. Nonviolent resistance or standard political/legal processes are nearly always asserted as the only appropriate ways to bring change to institutions.

The other path, the violent path, will almost always result in the fiery extermination of the rebel foe.

We've seen this movie again and again. It always ends the same way.

Is it Justice?

Depends on who is doing the evaluation, doesn't it?

Individuals can make profound changes in institutions all by their lonesome, and the methods they choose to do so -- whether violent or nonviolent -- often don't make much difference. If the intention is institutional change, the methods chosen to accomplish change are almost beside the point. But in Dorner's case, the apparent intention was the destruction of the institution of the LAPD, and the method he chose (he described it as "asymmetrical warfare") was both physically and psychologically violent. Institutions and states facing this kind of threat tend to throw up the barricades and to hunker down, and in the end, they tend to unleash mindless and appalling violence against their perceived foe(s). Which is pretty much what we saw in the case of the LAPD facing the threat from Chris Dorner. For a time they lashed out wildly at anything that moved.

The parallels, of course, with the actions of Our Great Nation concomitant with the advent of the Glorious and Perpetual Global War on Terror (which Dorner participated in the Navy) are stark and obvious.

"Bringing to justice" became something of an oxymoron during the most intense periods of that conflict, for all it meant was exterminating anyone and everyone who became targets whether or not they had any role in the conflict. How many thousands, tens of thousands or millions of stark innocents paid with their lives and are still paying with their lives in the name of that kind of "Justice" for attacks long ago?

Revenge and random slaughter is not Justice. Not in any conception of Justice I can imagine at any rate.

Thus it is hard to justify Dorner's tactics as having anything to do with "Justice."

On the other hand, what about the later coordinated and fiery response to his revenge? Was that Justice?

Dorner's threat to the institution was eliminated in a very dramatic fashion, covered live on teevee, witnessed by tens of thousands, and the job was completed before the President's scheduled appearance before Congress in the Imperial Pageant of the State of the Union. All is now well, and we are back to normal. Justice has been done.

Or has it?

Is threat elimination by itself "Justice"? Not to my mind.

The elimination of one more perceived threat to the continued operations of a violent, rotting and corrupt institution is not even remotely related to any concept of Justice I can imagine. And the LAPD is practically the textbook example of institutional violence, rot and corruption.

So ultimately Justice still failed to materialize in this tragic movie.

The ancient Greek tragedians faced a similar frustration and dilemma. Going against the gods produced... results: ugly, disturbing, and often fiery or bloody results. Damnation was certain, but often the innocent were consumed along with the guilty, and the only thing the survivors could do was accept their fate -- or struggle against it and fail. Was the result Justice? In the gods' view, certainly.

For the mere mortals subject to it, the Cruel Justice of the Gods, however... not so much.

Let us reflect on Prometheus...

  PROMETHEUS BOUND from Manatee Idol on Vimeo.


  1. I have no idea who was in the burning home, Che. But whomever it was, when he tried to exit out the back door (to surrender? In any case, that would have been the chance to capture him and arrest him), they PUSHED HIM BACK INTO THE BURNING HOUSE SO HE WOULD BURN TO DEATH.

    Portion of a CNN transcript:

    [...] Our Brian Todd is hearing new information about exactly the sequence of events.

    Brian, what have you learned?

    BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Anderson, I just spoke with Chief Kirk Ellington of the U.S. Marshal Service. He’s a district chief out in California. He just told me that at one point during the standoff, the suspect tried to escape. He said he tried to escape out the back. I’m not sure exactly where the back is in relation to where — you know, some of the pictures that we were seeing, but he said he tried to escape at the back and was pushed back inside.

    Not clear how he was pushed back inside. I asked him when that occurred during the sequence, and he said about the time when the fire started. He also — I asked him about any weapons that he had, what kind of weapons. They’re not sure what kind of weapons that he had in there. It was his understanding at that time when I just spoke to him that there were no hostages in there. But again that’s — that was his understanding at time.

    That’s — I don’t think that’s been confirmed yet by anyone at this point. But he did tell me that at one point the suspect tried to escape out the back and was pushed back inside.

    COOPER: Kyle Martin, whose mom owns the cabin and still with I think on the phone.

    Kyle, when you hear that the suspect attempted to leave through the rear of the cabin, I’m not sure what image you’re looking at right now on television, but — what we’re showing, can you tell me, is that the front of the cabin, the rear of the cabin, what are we seeing?

    MARTIN: Right there from what I’m looking — I’m watching CNN. So it looks like that’s the front of the cabin. That looks like directly down as the — the main road right there.

    COOPER: And –

    MARTIN: The barn — there’s also a barn right to the left of it that’s kind of obscured by the trees.

    COOPER: So you’re saying there’s a number of cabins on this property. This is kind of the main cabin of — and there one — they’re rented out? Traditionally.

    MARTIN: Yes, just rented out, you know, over the wintertime, people go up there and stay. And that’s another thing, too, is when they said he was trying to escape through the back. You know, if he directly runs up — on the TV anyway — there’s other small cabins in there, you know, he can take refuge in.

    COOPER: That was going to be my next question. If he had left through the rear, where — I mean, how big a property is this besides the other cabins on the property? Are there other houses nearby?

    MARTIN: On the property there’s — yes, there’s six and there’s about 10 acres of the property itself. Other nearby cabins of other people are a little ways away. You know, like a mile away or so.

    COOPER: Right. Kyle, stand by if you can.

    Chris Voss, the former FBI hostage negotiator, is also with us.

    Chris, I’m just wondering, as you have watched this play out over the last couple of hours, what has been going through your mind? Or what are your thoughts?

    CHRIS VOSS, FORMER FBI HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR: That’s ultimately the indicator whether or not law enforcement has got an opportunity to talk him out. You can’t negotiate a gunfight or a riot. If he takes the time to stop shooting long enough to communicate, then you find out whether or not he loves himself enough to try to survive to carry on his cause.

    Just as we’re hearing this, the one thing in a strange sort of way I’m encouraged about the report of him trying to escape out the back, it doesn’t sound like it includes him using — trying to use a human shield. So that tends to indicate more that he might have been alone in the cabin, which, of course, would be very good news. -

  2. This whole thing quickly became a Festival of Lies, teri, and I think it will remain such for the foreseeable future.

    I continued to stick with CBS News about it, since they had someone on the scene and all, and it was amazing to see how it morphed over the hours, and whether it was national reporting or local.

    Yesterday, they were saying in some reports that the San Bernardino Sheriffs had deliberately set the fire, and they were playing the recordings from the scanners that indicated as much. A few minutes later, they'd run a report by someone else that indicated "nobody knows" how the fire(s) started. Then there was Carter Evans who would say that he saw the house being torn to pieces by the armored destructor machine, and then after it was mostly demolished, he saw the fire start.

    The stories of the "gunbattles" seem to be heavily embroidered. At first, it was reported there was one shootout; then there was another; then there was a "running gunbattle," and then there were yet hours more of gunfighting at the "cabin."

    Oh, but then it changed. You could only hear the police firing into the "cabin" because Dorner must have been using some kind of sound suppressor on his .50 calibre. Wait. Was he firing at all? Was he even in the "cabin?" Did he actually wound/kill the deputies? What about the forest service rangers initially reported wounded? What happened to them? Has anybody checked with Loma Linda? How many of these wounds and deaths were the result of friendly fire? (Nothing gets the Official Lie Machine into higher gear than friendly fire...)

    The story of the "cleaning ladies" was apparently false. There have been numerous conflicting reports about cars and trucks Dorner allegedly stole and hijacked in his last desperate hours. How many of them are true?

    Dorner was apparently holed up for days in a condo directly across from the media center and official command post at Big Bear -- able to observe all of the action down below. Heavily armed, he never used his weapons on such a target-rich environment. "Oh, don't ask why..."

    Every civilian who says they encountered him on his (apparently) last day at liberty says he was nonthreatening, Monster that he was.

    I've heard some of the scanner chatter, and I'm not sure what to make of it or how to interpret it; some of it does not seem to be related to what was going on up at Big Bear. It seems to have an entirely different focus on an incident taking place on the flatlands below. But I don't know.

    On the other hand, the story of Dorners' thwarted escape from the "cabin" as the fire started has a certain ring of truth to it, but if they were basically tearing down the house around him, and the place was surrounded by snipers as they say it was, I tend to go with the report that he (or whoever was there) was shot and killed by one of the snipers as that fits with the "single shot" heard as the fire started.

    Then there is the story of his CA driver's license found in the rubble.

    Yeah, right.

    It's a Festival of Lies. Pure and simple. And we can assume there will be no reopening of Dorner's disciplinary case by the LAPD or anyone else. Iron Law.