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Category Archives: General
America is a Christian nation. We number about 80% of the population. Yet you would never know it.
An article today in the Washington Post is titled: Christianity in Iraq is Finished. Before we invaded Iraq there were more than a million Christians living peacefully in that country. Now the number is down to at best 200,000. Once we unleashed our dogs of war in part to save the people of Iraq from the horrors inflicted on them by Dictator Saddam Hussein, as President George W. Bush told us, we cracked the shell of a civil society and loosed the tethers restraining evil and the bigoted brutes became emboldened and slaughtered those who held different beliefs.
One Christian member of a congregation in Doura that once had 30,000 families as part of the church membership but is now down to 2,000 said “In Saddam’s time, Christians could worship freely, and as long as you avoided politics you could survive. But since the war we have been attacked, robbed, raped and forced out of both Doura and the country..” That was in December 2013 prior to the Islamic State’s (IS) invasion.
IS forces have driven into the plains of Nineveh where most of the remaining Christians lived and have driven with the support of the Sunni Iraqis the 100,000 or so who remained out under the threat of death.
The relationship between our invasion of Iraq and the destruction of the Christian community that has lived there for 2,000 years is one of those direct “but fors.” But for our decision to do it they would still be living there. My point is that we have an obligation to these Christians Iraqis. Why is it one of the things we are not directly addressing?
Not to be caught up in the mania of the season, the Boston Globe took the time to write an editorial suggesting UMass drop football. It notes that the new NCAA rules allowing the five most powerful college football conferences in the country to pay its players makes it almost impossible for schools like UMass which is not a member of such a conference to field a competitive team.
The Globe is right. Its solution is wrong. I read recently of a better solution. UMass should play a spring schedule competing among teams dedicated to providing top notch football without paid players.
Ted Connolly advocates this in his compelling presentation. He spells out 8 reasons why a “non-big 5 spring league makes sense.” I hate the term no-brainer but thinking through his presentation that best describes his proposal.
One reason I like his proposal is the lull that comes after the football season ends. I know baseball begins but that really doesn’t seem to do much for me during the springtime.
Here’s what an article in January said about American sports.
“In 2014, 35 percent of fans call the NFL their favorite sport, followed by Major League Baseball (14 percent), college football (11 percent), auto racing (7 percent), the NBA (6 percent), the NHL (5 percent) and college basketball (3 percent).
In 1985, the first year the poll was taken, the NFL bested MLB by just one percentage point (24 to 23 percent), but since then interest in baseball has fallen while the NFL has experienced a huge rise in popularity.”
You didn’t need the Harris Poll to tell you this. You knew it in your gut that interest in baseball is declining. 46% of fans call football their favorite sport compared to 14% for baseball. That leaves a huge base of fans pining for something in the spring. College spring football will fill the gap.
The state lost a man who would have been a great governor. The country gained a guy who thought he could portray an image of a warrior because he drove around in a tank wearing a helmet. Had Dukakis grown up in where I had he would have known not to have done that stunt. But coming from Brookline he saw a different world. He saw the world the Globe wants to see; one far removed from what most people know.
I always thought the greatest difference between Quinn and Dukakis was the disposition of the men: Quinn was always smiling while Dukakis always glowered. That was also one of the great separators between Billy Bulger and Alan Dershowitz, the smile. Perhaps it wasn’t that the Globe didn’t like the Irish from the inner city but it just didn’t like people who found enjoyment in life.
Having done in Quinn who was from Auckland Street in Savin Hill, the Globe now must deal with another Irish politician Boston Mayor Marty Walsh who also is from Savin Hill. He lives on Tuttle Street separated from Auckland street by Sagamore and Saxon streets. Tuttle Street is where many of my friends lived. Good guys like Timmy O’L . . . and Tord S . . . and lesser good guys like Tommy D . . . We hung around together, both good and bad for that is how it is in the inner city, finding enjoyment in the company of each other.
The green area on this map is what some believe is the ultimate goal of Dictator Putin. it is to take all of the east and south of Ukraine land annexing it to Russia making Ukraine a landlocked country. How much of his goal he will achieve remains to be seen.
Elmer who comments here has better connections inside Ukraine than I do and follows the news more closely than I am doing. He recently called my attention to an article that set forth the following: “Russia’s military goals are evolving. Moscow’s tactics are based on the principle of razvedka boem, or employing military means to assess an adversary’s strength and willpower.” (my emphasis)
I’ve been suggesting all along that that this is Putin’s mindset. He’s going to go as far as he can go (like they said in Oklahoma about in Kansas City). He will determine this by taking one step, gauging the reaction, and then deciding what to do next.
The article also talked about the genesis of the present situation. “Russia is in shock. Having stated as recently as December 2013 that “Ukraine is now ours,” Moscow suddenly finds itself with no influence in Kiev at all.” I put it another way stating that the Ukrainians decision to fight Yanukovych’s alignment with Russia was a slap in the face to Dictator Putin which he could not let stand.
George Kennan who probably knew the politics of Russian dictators better than anyone in the West told us about them. He said their sense of insecurity is too great, they consider themselves the repository of all truth and as being infallible, and are quick to take advantage of the weakness of others. I’d like to think people who run our country understand this.
A couple of President Obama’s lines gave me an eerie feeling. I asked myself does he really believe this? I’ve heard others say it lately and it seems to me to be the most erroneous statement any person with a smidgen of knowledge of history can make. A logical follow through on it would be to suggest there is no need of anything like a Bill of Rights.
Using it makes me think the president or his speech writers think we are a nation of Simple Simons. Here’s what he said as part of his “few broad observations: . . . After all, the folks at NSA and other intelligence agencies are our neighbors. They’re our friends and family. They’ve got electronic bank and medical records like everybody else. They have kids on Facebook and Instagram, and they know, more than most of us, the vulnerabilities to privacy that exist in a world . . . . “
I guess from that we are supposed to say: “oh, it’s only my neighbors who are doing this so it must be all right.” I’ve written about this before.The great majority of the genocides of the last 2 centuries were carried out by neighbors. It wasn’t invading armies but the people next door.
Where to begin? After WWI I suppose is a good starting point. The Holodomor, aka the Great Famine, introduced by Joe Stalin to suppress the Ukrainian people, the neighbors were used to inform on others so that they could keep their own meager supplies which were eventually taken from them by the special police who were recruited from among the population.
Obtuse according to the Merriam Webster dictionary means:: “stupid or unintelligent : not able to think clearly or to understand what is obvious or simple.”
Where I suggest Americans are clearly coming up short is their failure to see the continuing obsequiousness of those in official positions to the many police forces operating in our land. These police forces not only operate without normal scrutiny, in secrecy, and behind opaque curtains but their most questionable actions are praised and justified by those officials who do this in a knee jerk fashion ignorant of the facts behind them.
Evidence of this is the recent statement of the Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin who justified the killing of Miriam Carey by stating the decision to kill her was “understandable” because Capitol Hill is a “target for those who hate the United States, and someone in a car is a threat.” That seems to encompass a broad range of people.
Durbin’s statement was made without any idea of the facts that gave rise to the killing. Decency would demand he withhold judgment until we know what happened. But in this home of the free and the land of the brave, perhaps Durbin knows he can say anything he wants because we will never truly find out the background of the tragedy.
I’d like to know one simple thing: what happened at the White House that caused the chase to begin? Do you know? The New York Times is content to tell us: “Ms. Carey tried to barrel through a checkpoint outside the White House at 2:12 p.m. She hit an officer who tried to stop her and who rolled over the hood of her car.” That seems to be contradicted by a civilian witness (see Friday’s post) who said Miriam Carey “looked scared or lost” and the Secret Service police officer who was struck by her car was attempting to put a barrier in front of her car at the time of the occurrence.
When I wrote my last post: “Whitey The Ordinary — Just Another Hoodlum Who Didn’t Grow Up” I had no idea of the hiatus that would occur between that post on September 16, 2013 and now. The reasons for the silence are a special assignment I undertook that totally kept me away from the computer and any writing; and on top of that a joyful out-of-state addition to the family.
These events necessitated that I put distance between myself and the subject matter of this blog. Perhaps my post noting the ordinariness of Whitey was an auspicious stepping off point. As time passed and distance widened I began to see more clearly the basic banality of Whitey Bulger the man. Much more interesting than the person are the events that conspired together to take such a commonplace criminal and elevated him to the point he became some sort of criminal extraordinaire. Those are the events I hope to focus my efforts on explaining.
Trying to write anything else about Whitey himself is a waste of time. No man, who has in reality done so little of any merit, has ever had so much trivia written about him than Whitey. What is there about the man that is worth emulating or admiring? Absolutely nothing. He is a debased man devoid of any redeeming qualities.
The only matter of interest that remain is how such a low life came to occupy such a position of prominence. Could it only have happened because of the unique circumstances in Boston? That is a subject worth exploring. But to spend any more time on Whitey the person is of little value.
I’ve been interested in and writing about the uniformity in view-point among the Boston media concerning the matters surrounding Whitey. I did notice while attending the trial all of the Boston media people except one, Dave Boeri, seemed to enjoy a cozy relationship with each other. There was no sense of all being other than on the same team looking at the case through the same eyes and cooperating with each other.
In reading the recent books about Whitey by the Globe writers I noticed how much repetition there appeared to be. It seemed that much of their works came from the same sources. I thought it unusual that four people wrote two books when they could very well have combined and written one, or, each gone their separate way and written four.
So on one hand having figured there was some agreement among the media to produce a uniform story about the Whitey matters it came as no surprise when I read at the end of one of the new books the following by the authors of Black Mass:
“When all of us were working the “Whitey beat” for our respective media, the idea of sharing materials was out of the question given the competitive nature of journalism. It’s refreshing that when a project is noncompetitive and the context is entirely different from the daily news scrum, they did not hesitate to share their perspective or records, primary source materials, and photographs. We’d also like to acknowledge the first-rate work of friends and former colleagues at the Boston Globe who have continually advanced the public understanding of the epic Bulger story.
General Wesley Clark on the Ed Show on MSNBC yesterday made the incredible statement that our attack on Syria is not an act of war. Aside from making me wonder how such a man could rise to the level he did in the military, it shows how the government is pulling out every trick in its book to go after Syria.
Secretary of War Kerry says this act of war is an unbelievable small strike. It is now being supported by Hillary Clinton. and all the leaders of Congress such as Pelosi and Speaker Boehner. How is it that all the leaders are so anxious to take this unprecedented act of war which runs contrary to the view of the majority of the American people?
In attempting to hide the United States’ anxiousness to go to war and minimize what is occurring by describing this action as he did, Secretary of War Kerry said if Syria gave up their chemical weapons in a week it could avoid an attack. My first reaction was why a week? A couple of days ago we were being told by President Obama there was not need for a rush. He said that “an attack would be “effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now.” If we want to avoid a war, give them a month to give up their weapons and say any use in the interim would void all deals.
It is confusing to try to figure out what is at play here. It sure reminds me of the Iraq War with the different reasons for the attack. What do we really want out of this? Yesterday I thought the attack was to punish Syria for having used chemical weapons, not for intending to use them in the future. We were predicating our attack on the heinous murder of the 400 plus children.
1. This is an act of war. We are attacking a sovereign nation with implements of war. It is like the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor, or the Germans invading Poland, or our previous invasions of Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Whatever reason or justification is given it remains an attack on a nation that has not attacked us.
2. The ostensible reason for us now attacking is not that the use of poison gas by Assad is something that is so unique it calls for us to go to war is false. When Iran was our enemy, Saddam Hussein used it against the Iranians and we shrugged.
3. When one nation decides to attack another, the ultimate result depends upon the will of both nations and their allies. When the president speaks of a limited attack, he is only telling what we will do in the first instance. He has no way of controlling the response to our attack. That response, if any, will require us to respond back. That’s how big wars start.
4. This is an unprecedented action by the United States. We are not operating to defend ourselves or with the approval of the UN or pursuant to a treaty or to prevent a an imminent disaster (Libya). It is one step beyond all previous reasons to go to war. Perhaps some day it will be used as a precedent for attacking a country where a friendly dictator is ousted by people we consider hostile.