Regional


In spite of the unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we need to redouble our efforts to exploit the oil reserves located in our coastal waters, beneath the ocean floor. But this effort comes with a caveat and a philosophy. The caveat is that we cannot force petroleum exploration into places where only the foolhardy or desperate would go, especially for purely political reasons. The philosophy part of the equation is that we have extensive exploration and drilling experience in shallow waters along the coast. We need to exploit this experience and exploit the reserves that presently go untapped because of excessive government restrictions.

If we are blunt and honest about our modern lives we are forced to admit that our dependence on fossil fuels is not going to diminish as a result of political speeches with lofty rhetoric. At the present time there are no viable alternatives to petroleum, and gasoline in particular, that combine the energy per pound or gallon along with the convenience of the material. For example, there are electric vehicles that can mimic the performance of gasoline powered vehicles under a narrow set of conditions. But when all is said and done, when the fuel (coulombs of charge) runs out, there is the need for  a not-so-insignificant wait period before the vehicle may be used again. This is the key disadvantage of such alternative energy-based vehicles.

But just focusing on transportation ignores all the other valuable uses that petroleum products play in our daily lives, from chemicals to pharmaceuticals to plastics to electricity generation. In short, we are highly dependent upon petroleum and petroleum-derived products in our modern lives. Without them, we would be leading dreary 17th century existences.

So, to me, the government taking the approach of  ‘retreat at first crisis’ is counterproductive and narrow-minded. It is a situation where the government has become so risk-averse that it threatens the very future existence and productivity of our nation. Having said this I feel that the Gulf oil leak is a tragedy of epic proportions. There are millions of lives that will be disrupted, livelihoods that will be ruined and countless miles of pristine shoreline that will be scarred for a long, long time. And then there is the cost to the wildlife in the area. How many creatures will suffer and die due to the effects of the entrapping oil? It is heartbreaking and it is frustrating.

But let’s not forget what got us to this disaster in the first place. It was government regulations and restrictions that forced oil exploration and recovery into deeper waters. Just on first analysis it is counter intuitive to encourage oil exploration into deeper water without a proven, reliable and foolproof  fail-safe method of preventing such leakages from occurring. This one simple qualification should have been the key to allowing drilling to commence, and should have been the government’s job one. Alas, it wasn’t — just the push to stay away from the shoreline for whatever political reasons. But in life, isn’t hindsight always 20/20??

So now we have a full-blown disaster on our hands. And rather than step back and analyze the root cause of the disaster as a nation, we are taking the easy and expedient path towards a ‘solution.’ We are making a hasty retreat. But history has taught us time and time again, that for every great risk, there is a great reward. But we ned to be acutely aware that associated with every risk is the corresponding disaster that may occur. This is the course of human learning and understanding. Humans (usually) learn from their mistakes, and many of the improvements and advancements to our lives have been accompanied by disasters, and the incremental improvements from this knowledge. In the past, did we experience disaster or failure and quit? Did we abandon our national interests in favor of sniveling political expediency? Did the nations of the world abandon sea travel because of the Titanic disaster? When so many brave men were killed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day during WWII, did we retreat? Did the US abandon space travel after the dual space shuttle disaster — when the ships Challenger and Columbia evaporated before our eyes?

Hell NO!

We grieved the dead, took full measure of the consequences and sought a better way to do things. We took our collective lumps, fixed the problems, re-calibrated our techniques and moved forward. We didn’t retreat — we thought our way out of the problem, and we survived despite the failures and he disasters. Unfortunately, the real world and life are like that.

From here on, before we do any further deep water oil recovery, we need to have a well-thought out method of capping a deep water well if the unthinkable happens, like the explosion and destruction of the Deep Water Horizon oil rig. Isn’t this the most important thing we’ve learned from this tragedy of events? And we desperately need to re-think the manner in which the government ‘regulates’ and ‘restricts’ oil exploration and recovery. Rather than being a tool of political gainsay, the restrictions should focus on safety and economy. Not on cosmetic or NIMBY reasons. We’re presently living through the failings of this flawed thinking.

Until that day happens, then we must substitute shallow water drilling for its highly risky (as we’ve all become oh-so-aware) deep water counterpart. If we are to prosper as a nation and as a people, we need petroleum and petroleum products.

We need to drill baby, drill!

Now don’t you feel reassured that our august President has things firmly under control after his long overdue press conference today? I mean, we know know where the buck stops, who wakes up and goes to sleep thinking about the Gulf oil leak and who takes full responsibility for the lack of resolution to this crisis.

I look at this presser event as either one of two things: Obama’s a betting man and he thinks that the so-called “top kill” technique being tried by BP to stem the flow of crude has a high probability of working, hence he gets the credit for the success if he’s “in charge” if the fix works; or he’s trying to get some bounce in the favorability ratings (which have tanked this week) by using his bully pulpit (and even bullier TOTUS!) to appear presidential.

I’m not sure how much credit he stands to glean from this situation because of the sheer amount of crude that has yet to wash up on the pristine wetlands and beaches of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Over the past 35 or so days since the oil rig disaster, he’s pretty much been the invisible man in the Gulf region…and there is a lot of pent up anger towards him and his administration for a palpable lack of leadership in cleaning up this mess.

Hopefully the ‘mud” that BP is pumping into the pernicious leak will staunch it once-and-for-all. And let’s hope that rather than credit, the people of the Gulf will cry for answers, then results, from the guy who’s “in charge.”

Each time that the actions of my fellow man stuns and shocks me, I just have to say that “I’ve seen everything.” Well, the truly gruesome practices that went on for years at a greater Chicago cemetery make me feel that I have seen everything. This crime was a most heartless and callous act that was perpetrated on unwitting families of the interred.

The four people involved — the cemetery manager and three grave diggers conspired to resell graves at the historic black cemetery site. They would sell the grave site then disinter the body(ies) already present and discard them like debris, and then re-sell the grave site to another unwitting customer. In doing so, they would split the grave re-sale fee and not report the sale to the Arizona-based cemetery owners. In some cases, the four would simply tamp down body the current occupant of the grave site and then simply stack the newly interred over the first remains.

This practice went on for years!

Law enforcement officials estimate that as many as 300 graves have been affected by this re-burial scheme, but the number may rise as more bodies are discovered on the cemetery property. Making things harder is the fact that cemetery burial records were either destroyed or altered by the cemetery manager/ring leader.

This is perhaps the lowest level that a human being can sink. Taking advantage of the final resting place of another human being certainly does earn them, as Jesse Jackson said, a “special place in Hell.” This is probably the one and only time that I agree with Rev. Jackson.

I hope that law enforcement in Chicago literally throws the book at these four sub-humans. They not only have broken the law of the land, they have sinned a great sin in God’s eyes. The families of those whose bodies were desecrated and discarded should expect that justice will be done, and that these four will pay for their crime dearly.

Madam Speaker

Ah, the euphemisms just pile up when I think about this week’s comments made by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi regarding President Bush:

“The Pot Calling The Kettle Black”

“Consider The Source”

“Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Names Will Never Hurt Me”

“To Be Insulted By You Is To Be Garlanded With Lilies”

Etc.

Just to refresh our memories, Madam Speaker distinguished herself by ripping into President Bush during an interview with Wolf Blitzer aired Thursday, July 17th on CNN:

“You know, God bless him, bless his heart, president of the United States, a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject,” Pelosi replied. She then tsk-tsked Bush for “challenging Congress when we are trying to sweep up after his mess over and over and over again.”

Well, this invective is coming from the mouth of the woman whose crowning jewel in her legislative agenda as House Speaker has been to outlaw the 100 Watt incandescent light bulb.

Good for you, Nancy!

Really…the Democrats have raised Bill Clinton’s “politics of personal destruction” to a new, almost intergalactic, level. Speaker Pelosi has the gall to say that everything that the president has done is a failure, yet her legislative success rate is poor and her legislative efficiency is glacial at best. I guess given the nature of this person, what were we to expect. Does this comment signal the the gloves are off and that she (and the Democratic party) have abandoned the Marquis of Queensbury rules when it comes to presidential politics.

See, the Democrats are going to great lengths to associate John McCain with a president whom they have vilified and demeaned for the past eight years. It isn’t an accident that the President’s approval ratings are as low as they are given the treatment he’s been given in perfect unison by the Democrats and the mainstream media. They want us to believe that a John McCain presidency would be in essence a third Bush term. This is the red meat diet that they’ve been feeding the true believers and lefty moonbats at the Daily Kos and at the Huffington Post blog sites. And this is the subliminal message being broadcast to the general populace.

If Madam “I Can’t Get a Meaningful Appropriations Bill Passed Under My Leadership” can’t help Obama win by hook, she’s going to do it by crook! And if by crook means shedding the decorum and dignity of past Speakers by going full-bore ad hominem against the president, then I guess so be it. What has she got to lose?

I’ll tell you what’s at stake for her — her credibility (whatever that is!) and the Congress’ remaining approval rating are at stake. She should be extremely cautious with her vitriol because although the President has an approval rating somewhere below sea level (approximately 28%), the approval rating of the Congress is near the center of the Earth, at 16%. I believe the military strategist Sun Tzu advocated attacking from a position of known power and strength. It seems though that Ms. Pelosi is either not a Tzu adherent or a very poor strategist. Because if she were, she would have kept her trap shut in regards to this latest attack on the President.

I’m a firm believer in “what comes around, goes around” and “you reap what you sew.” I think Ms. Pelosi will have some ‘splaining to do regarding her dismal legislative leadership record in the not-too-distant future. Present day voters and future historians won’t be as kind as the bum-kissing mainstream media and party big-wig types are to her now. And I think that her association and support will hurt and not help the presidential aspirations of Barak Obama. And frankly, in my opinion, that can’t be a bad thing.

The American people deserve better than this insipid repartee from their Congressional leaders (I include the always tactful Harry Reid, President of the Senate in this as well) when there are so many important topics requiring urgent legislative attention. We tend to get the best representation that we deserve.

Given the likes of Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid in their present positions it begs the question: What the hell did we do to deserve these two?

There has been a story circulating on television and on the Internet regarding an Army sniper in Iraq who used a Koran for target practice. The story details the desecration of this book in great detail — in my opinion way too much detail for the “crime” that was committed.

It appears that this story is being told in such detail in order to prove some point. I think the point that is trying to be driven home is that the US military is bad. And that the mission in Iraq is bad…and doomed to failure. The “murder” of this Koran proves this point in spades, apparently.

But to me, the actions of a single US troop does not prove some point or make any particular statement. This desecration could have been done out of frustration (after all there is a one-sided policy of religious respect between Islam and other western religions), or as a joke. Or as an act of bravado. Or by a deranged individual. Or any combination of the previous.

But in the end, regardless of the religious and political indignation in the Muslim world, it was still just a book and minor news at best.

There is a vastly more important story occurring in Iraq that is getting little or no play in the mainstream media (MSM). That story describes the incredible turnaround in combating Al Qaeda and ethnic Iraqi insurgents on a daily basis. Attacks on US troops and Iraqi civilians have decreased by over 70% over the past six months since the troop surge has been in place. And more importantly, Iraqi military units have stepped up in defending their country. One of the more impressive actions by the Iraqi military has been the occupation and securing of the Sadr City section of Baghdad. This one action has been tantamount to pacification of one of the more troubling insurgent areas in all of Iraq.

These are impressive milestones. However, there hasn’t been commensurate coverage of these successes in the MSM. In fact, they seem to employ a “hold on and wait for bad news attitude.” If I had to guess, this strategy would be in play to bolster the anti-war political position of their darling and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate (and president, if they have anything to say about it!), Barak Obama. What else could explain this egregious dereliction of duty when it comes to reporting the news? Because good news and progress in Iraq IS news! It is big news. But is isn’t the foregone conclusion that the MSM and the other anti-Iraq war and anti-Bush left wingers want. So, it just won’t be reported…as though it never happened.

That is until the next Koran is found with bullet holes in it.

I had to pinch myself earlier today! I read an editorial in the Boston Globe that agreed with my feelings for once. This editorial, Education doesn’t take a palace, recognizes that it doesn’t take magnificent buildings to create a meaningful learning experience for our kids. In this piece, they actually use the word “boondoggle” in an apparent reference to the planned $200 million high school in Newton. The wording of this editorial is so “unGlobe” that I’m shocked and delighted that they would take such a reasonable and measured stand on this issue.

I’m an advocate of moderation being practiced when a community constructs a school building. The only trappings of a public school should be modest architecture and bare-bones landscaping. As many folks will attest, the schools of the past were austere and functional — places that contained desks, chairs, blackboards, chalk, students and teachers. And these schools successfully turned out legion Nobel laureates, scientists, educators, writers, poets, engineers and physicians. It wasn’t the edifice that made the student — it was the experience contained within the four walls of the classroom.

These schools of the past didn’t have air conditioning, computers, networks, multimedia systems and all the trappings that make up a modern school. All these things are contrivances — meant to enhance the learning experience. I believe what they’ve done is add little to education except for cost at the bottom line: The cost of the equipment and the electrical power required to run them are expensive indeed. But parents feel good if little Johnny or Sally types out a paper on a computer or learns how to use PowerPoint to give a science fair presentation — even though half of the words are misspelled and the grammar is atrocious. We’ve gone from being results oriented to process oriented.

Add all these trappings to the buildings which contain them and you have a model for costs gone wild. And costly buildings filled with costly equipment inevitably means higher and higher future operating costs. Once the genie is out of the bottle, and we are societally inured to this education process, it is damned hard to put the genie back in its rightful place! After all, what proud parent in their right mind wants their kid to have less than the kids who came before them? I mean how are the future parents in Newton, for example, supposed to deny their kids a learning experience unlike the $200 million “Taj MaHigh School” when it comes time to eventually replace that munificent edifice? This begs the question — What’s next? A billion dollar high school? Where do we end with this escalation in spending and what goal do we have by spending this kind of money on a school?

Like it or not, the example of Newton is the main reason why school department spending is far-and-away the largest line item expense in any municipality. For any given city or town it may not be the building that is a boondoggle, but there are numerous extraneous trappings that have become accepted practice. And these trappings become heaped on one another like layers on a cake. And each layer is “important to the education of the child”…or so say the educators. So municipalities struggle to pay for this education lest they deny all the Johnny’s and Sally’s out there the “best” education that can be given them, and that they’re entitled to.

The problem is, as the Globe editorial writers have pointed out, that we can’t always have our cake and eat it too. We’ve turned what once was a modest and successful enterprise into an untouchable municipal fiefdom. And it will take some time to reverse this trend — but only after we’ve punished ourselves with onerous taxes and fees in order to feed this beast. I guess the old saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” aptly applies to our present predicament with ever-escalating school budgets.

And for most municipalities in Massachusetts, and nationwide for that matter, the pavement is about 100 feet thick and growing thicker every day!

The Boston Celtics!

Last night the Boston Celtics did something that they hadn’t done in about 20 years. They won their 60th basketball game, with a 92-77 win over the catatonic Pacers! It is a gross understatement to say that this has been a turnaround season — last year they Celt’s went a dismal 24-68, displaced at the bottom of the standings only by Memphis at 22-60. But this year’s team has made new believers our of many disenchanted Celtics past true believers!

How did this almost miraculous turnaround happen? Well, the key reason is acquisition of some talented, professional players like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, among many others. Garnett and Allen have signaled that the Celtic management has tired of “wandering in the pro basketball desert”. As a result, management spent a few bucks to revitalize a team on the brink of eternal mediocrity. In Garnett, Allen, Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Sam Cassell and, of course veteran/captain Paul Pierce, the Celts field an immensely talented team. And this extends fully up and down the roster with guys like Scalabrine, Posey, Pollard, Brown, House and Pruitt…they have all contributed to this success.

I like the nose-to-the-grindstone attitude of this Celtics team. They are talented, but they’re not cocky and they don’t portray themselves as thugs or spoiled-brat, bling-laden individuals. They seem like a team whose players genuinely like each other and have committed themselves, top to bottom, to hard work.

And let’s not leave coach Doc Rivers’ steady leadership out of the equation. He suffered through some horrible years with a hodgepodge of talented and mediocre players, but he never experienced a coming together of talent and hard work in his team like he has this year. It’s great to see him finally get the satisfaction and recognition that he deserves.

I haven’t closely followed much Celtic’s basketball since the “Big Three” era. But I do tune in to the games and I follow the personalities. I haven’t seen much in the way of team talent, but rather random groupings of sometimes talented individuals. My hope is that the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics represent the start of a new legacy. A legacy based on hard work, professionalism and talent. They rightfully join the NE Patriots and the Boston Red Sox in this regard.

For the first time in many, many years I’m actually looking forward to the NBA playoffs! Go get ‘em Green!

Following Boston Herald’s columnist Howie Carr’s latest piece “Bio hazard: Gov’s book deal exposes him as author-tunist” there is a top ten list of suggested titles for Gov. Deval Patrick’s (D-MA) new book. I feel honored that my submission, American Idle, came in first!

Funny, ironic titles aside, it strikes me as an example of suspension of disbelief that the hapless governor of Massachusetts can actually fill a book with his life accomplishments to act as an inspiration for others. Given what I’ve witnessed so far from this man as my governor, I can’t imagine that he was ever a raging success at anything else that he did in his “career”.

If he plans to use his election as Massachusetts governor and his “accomplishments” while in office, then this book deal is probably a tad premature. The only situation that I compare this book deal to is one where an unknown mountaineer announces that he is going to climb super-peak K2. He buys all the climbing gear required, hires the Sherpas, flies to Nepal and then, with mountain remaining unclimbed, decides to write a book about his experiences thus far. Probably not a very exciting or inspiring tome. It will come up just a little short of a conclusion — an accomplishment. Sort of the ultimate cliffhanger, n’est pas?

So welcome to the new book from Governor Patrick. The true American Idle! I betcha if you call Barnes and Noble or Borders that they’ll put his book on reserve for you right away!!

OKAY fellow Massachusetts voters, log this week into the most readily accessible recesses of your memory. Please use this memory to guide your voting choices for state office holders when the times come.

Why, do you ask? What happened this week to get me thinking about voting for state pols in the next election cycle?

Two words: revenue enhancement!

The geniuses at the Turnpike Authority, with the assumed tacit blessing of the Governor, have enacted a new (in their words) “revenue enhancement plan” on the Mass Pike. You see in order to pay for the Big Dig, and the scores of toll takers at each toll plaza, the Pike is running a revenue shortfall to the tune of $600,000 from declined speeding ticket fines for the past 16 months. The reason for this shortfall is the fact that the State Police were re-deployed to safety/security details for Big Dig tunnel ceiling repairs and inspections after the tunnel ceiling collapse in 2006 that killed a Jamaica Plain woman.

Hmmmmm, the police shirking their “revenue” targets in order to serve the actual public safety. What a novel concept!!!

But I digress. So now the decision makers at the Turnpike Authority have decided to re-deploy the State Police to their original public safety mission…to further burden and harass the already cash-strapped commuters using the Mass. Pike extension from Allston to Boston. The Staties will be pushed to write $2.3 million in tickets in 2008, up from the projected $1.7 million of this year.

And this new revenue scheme will coincide with the new 25 cent toll increase at the Allston-Brighton toll plaza and the 50 cent increase for the Ted Williams tunnel. Oh joy, oh pleasure! So now they’ve got us coming, going and getting there! And just think of the ungodly traffic jams as a result of the new speed trap. Mark my words, you’ll be paying a “dummy tax” for taking the Pike in the first place and get the added benefit of traffic enforcement-induced gridlock. Bring it on!

I could accept the ramped-up enforcement if there were accident/safety statistics that warranted its implementation. Show me the increased injuries and deaths resulting from the reduced State Police traffic enforcement. This is the proper manner that public safety concerns should be dealt with — by cause and effect. Instead, we get a knee-jerk impulse action, with no real reason for implementation, to save some politician’s or administrator’s ass!

Unfortunately, here in Massachusetts we have to deal with petty tyranny from our legislative and administrative masters. We have to deal with the unbridled ticketing of “speeders” by the State Police on what is possibly the safest stretch of road in the Commonwealth. We have been told in no uncertain terms by the Mass. Turnpike Board that we are sheep waiting for the shear. We are the money tree, just waiting for a stout shake. And they had the cohones to do this in plain-speak…right to our faces.

I beg you to remember this fact is a scant three years when it’s time to elect our governor. Deval Patrick, or shall I call him Marcel Marceau due to his silence on this issue, is proving day-by-day that he just doesn’t deserve our precious votes the next time around. I know it’s relatively early to determine this…but the ticketing/revenue plan indicates the true contempt with which the citizens are held by the “leaders” of our state. Couple this with his inept leadership his first year in office, and it starts to show a trend that should concern the average citizen. It’s up to us to show our displeasure and disaffection with this plan and its supporters, and throw the bums out!!

Dontel Williams

Four-year-old Dontel Jeffers was dealt the ultimate losing hand during his very brief life. He was born into a “family” that so many issues that he didn’t have what could be kindly termed a dysfunctional existence in his short life. His mother couldn’t care for him due to her drug habit, and his father, Elary Jeffers, was deported back to the island of Nevis in the Caribbean in 2005 as a result of criminal charges in a domestic violence case involving a girlfriend. Prior to his deportation, Elary Jeffers had been Dontel’s primary care giver…albeit a mediocre one.

With the departure of his father, Dontel fell into the care of his mother. But this was a short-lived situation, as Massachusetts DSS removed him within months due to her neglect of him and her continued drug use. After a stay at a residential home for neglected and abused children, Dontel, described by staff there as “healthy, energetic, active… and a really cute guy”, was placed in the foster care of 26-year-old Corinne Stephen.

This is where any luck that Dontel may have had finally ran out. He was under the “care” of Ms. Stephen for just 10 days when she took his limp and beaten body to a Boston hospital. Doctors found that among other things, Dontel had been beaten about his face and head, had ligature marks on his wrists, and a perforation in his intestine from a beating — which allowed digestive fluids to seep into his body cavity. This injury, it was speculated, left this child in indescribable pain. But above all these injuries, he also exhibited bruising in his throat from being choked.

To add insult to the injury and death of this little child, back in 2005 his parents fought over who would be the executor of his estate…a position that would allow them to sue the responsible party over Dontel’s wrongful death. It begs the question: Why didn’t they care as much for Dontel while he was alive? Neither parent was assigned executor by a Boston court…but both will likely split the proceeds from any wrongful death suit and the financial award.

Why did such a horrible death have to be suffered by this innocent child??? What did he do to deserve this fate? Did his life mean anything to anybody? Will anything change in the Massachusetts Child Protective Services as a result of this tragedy?

There is some encouraging news that just happened today (December 5, 2007)…his foster “mother” Ms. Stephen was sentenced eight-to-12 years for involuntary manslaughter in Dontel’s death. She had been originally charged with second-degree murder, but prosecutors were unable to prove that Dontel died by her hand. This is unfortunate, because this pathetic excuse of a human being needed to spend a lot more than 12 years in jail. And investigators were never able to get enough evidence on the animal who ultimately tortured and killed this child.

So, the case is closed on Dontel Jeffers. Hopefully, with the incarceration of his tormentor, Ms. Stephen, he finally rests in peace. And hopefully he looks down on us all and forgives us for what happened to him, and the for the pain he endured, during his brief time on Earth.

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