August 2007

The answer is ‘When it pertains to criminal alien trespassers in a Boston Globe editorial or news story’. Now, it might seem that I have an idee fixe when it comes to my negative perception of the Globe. Maybe so…I’m conservative and it is certainly politically left of Marx (Karl, not Harpo!) or Michael Moore. I try to give them a break and hope they find some sort of ideological redemption on a daily basis. But to quote a personal hero of mine, President Reagan, “…there (they) go again.” In a story in today’s (8/29/07) paper, “Immigration raids target violent gang”, the raids and deportation activities in East Boston, Chelsea and Somerville surrounding the violent Salvadoran gang MS-13 are described. In terms of sheer brashness and violence of criminal activities, MS-13 makes the real-life Gambinos or the fictional Sopranos look like the clergy! But the Globe just can’t keep their “big bucket” immigration philosophy, whereby anybody who is here legally or not is thought of as an “immigrant”, out of the equation.

The first half of the story looks at the raids from a law enforcement perspective — in fact they even quote relatives of some of the detainees/deportees as observing that the “operation was quick and efficient.” Hard earned praise for the detestable (at least in the Globe’s eyes) immigration enforcement effort. But the second half of the story is another story, indeed. Here, Globe reporters Brian R. Ballou and Maria Sacchetti cannot help themselves in coloring the story with a pro-illegal immigration tinge while trying to put a human face on the raid. I offer the following quotations to give life to my claim:

  • “The operation paralyzed parts of East Boston, Chelsea, and Somerville.”
  • “The streets of East Boston were barren…”
  • “Rumors ran wild, sending some people into hiding.”
  • “”People are scared…They don’t know what’s going on. They don’t want to go out of their houses. It’s just terrifying.”"
  • “”It’s created a major panic here for no reason,”"
  • “In East Boston, people said there was an eerie calm in banks and stores in Maverick Square.”

Maybe, just maybe, these “reporters” might try to see the story behind the story…that being that if an immigration raid causes such an uproar that it becomes “paralyzing” in the local community, then there may have a lot of illegals living there. But, in “Globe World”, that thought simply cannot occur as it has been driven out of the collective psyche of the staff. All we get is the fact that the law enforcement efforts of OUR governmental agencies caused some illegals (and some legal immigrants) to panic. Oh my!!

I look at all these immigration-related activities as good news. One less illegal mouth to feed or medical expense to pay makes me happy. And having members of violent street gangs, who deal “mostly in drugs, arms, and car theft”, deported can’t be a bad thing at all.

The whole controversy over the removal of a Norway maple tree in Worcester, MA makes me think that the president of the credit union which owns the land (on which the maple grew) missed a tremendous public relations opportunity. Michael N. Lussier, the president of the Webster First Federal Credit Union, had the tree cut down over the objections of the abutters, the Carlsen family. It seems that the Carlsens have enjoyed the ambiance and shade of the tree for a number of years — and they were also awestruck by its physical perfection. Unfortunately, only the canopy of the tree extended onto the Carlson’s property and the tree itself resided on a seven acre parcel of land on which the Webster First Federal Credit Union planned to construct an operations center.

According to Mr. Lussier, the tree “…is too dramatic to fit in the architecture (of the operations center),” among other assorted reasons. Well, yesterday the tree was cut down and removed from the property! Talk about your drama!! I think that this whole issue, pitting a recalcitrant big business executive against a sympathetic family, was the perfect opportunity for Mr. Lussier and the WFFCU to get valuable positive press by coming to some sort of compromise to save the tree; particularly in the present day climate (no pun intended) of renewable, Earth-friendly activities and products. Imagine the bonhomie that Mr. Lussier could have reaped if he were to, say, have announced that the WFFCU was converting the small area surrounding the tree into some kind of contemplative garden for the enjoyment of the future employees. It would have been a win-win situation for all those involved. The Carlsens would have had their beloved tree to enjoy in the future and the WFFCU would have gotten free positive press regarding their actions AND a beneficial recreation location for their employees.

Too bad things didn’t work out…but in the end the only thing lost was a single, beautiful tree. Joyce Kilmer, however, might disagree…

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

I try to understand the reason why prospective home buyers will choose to purchase a McMansion that resides on a plot of land not much larger than your average-sized hanky! I mean, really, what is the attraction of being able to look out the side window and see your neighbor grinning back at you? I think the only reason that new homes are built so damn close together is because the prospective buyers don’t cry “uncle”, and demand that the development density be decreased in favor of improved human factors.

High density development

Just take a look at any of the mega-density housing developments that the big time builders are constantly squeezing out and you’ll see my point proved in spades. House after house after house…scarcely 50 feet apart. As a matter of fact, as close as the zoning bylaws will allow them to be placed. And we’re not talking about austere ranches or modest colonials. We’re talking $350K+ homes! Enormous homes! Homes that look aesthetically awkward on their associated postage stamp lot.

To me, this over “densification” represents a flaw in the local zoning bylaws. It shows that the municipality cares less about the quality of life enjoyed by its inhabitants than it does maximizing property tax revenues. It also shows that builders/developers cannot be trusted to control themselves — greed always wins! Yes, an individual should be able to extract any amount of profit from the enterprise that they’re engaged in. I don’t want any entity determining how much I can charge for my services. But housing and the associated quality of life are basic human needs, and should hold a special place in our society. And to counterbalance the greed exhibited by builders/developers, the municipality should act as an advocate for its citizens. This is a basic function of government, yet we citizens allow it to be routinely abandoned.

For me, I would forgo a larger house in favor of buying more land (like 2 house lots) and siting my downsized home somewhere in the center of the expanded lot. My plan may cost a bit more, but in the end it affords the homeowner more privacy and a better quality of life. After all, who wants to encounter your neighbors, close-up and personal, every time you go outside? Getting good neighbors is a crap shoot. If you have good ones (like I have now), then all relations and situations are harmonious. But if you get a bad one, or worse two abutters — then your life deteriorates to constant conflict and acrimony. Loud music, screaming kids, junk cars arrayed in their yards, lousy housekeeping, smoking near your open living room window, etc. sure wears thin after a while. And before long, familiarity can breed contempt and encourage “liberties” to be taken. The old “Oh, Tony won’t mind if I…” situation. Sure, all these things can occur with a larger lot. But you only have to deal with them when you’re at your property line! Not in your living room or your bedroom!!

I have the Boston Globe’s headlines delivered by e-mail each morning. I don’t do this because I’m a devotee of their razor-sharp insight or overtly liberal viewpoint. Rather, I do this as a practitioner of the Don Vito Corleone viewpoint that one should “…keep their friends close but their enemies closer.” Not that the Globe is my enemy, per se, but their world view and political outlook is generally narrow in scope, slewed far to the left politically and naive in a street-smart sense. With the single exception of columnist Jeff Jacoby, the Globe tends to be my intellectual opposite, and therefore a vocal and formidable opponent to what I think is right-thinking.

The newspaper staff never fails to amaze me with the viewpoint that they take on most issues. Unashamedly liberal, they side with, to name a few: illegal aliens, liberal Democrats, anything “not George W. Bush”, our international foes, the ACLU and any cause that is anti-capitalism. They twist and contort logic into this pretzel of virtual reality. It’s as though the entire editorial and reporting staff were raised in a “bubble world”, devoid of hard choices and tough decisions and insulated from the hardscrabble realities of our habitat, the planet Earth. To them, everything is a black-and-white Utopia. There aren’t any shades of gray — which represent compromise. Rather, we get a pedantic recital of the foibles and flaws of the United States and our capitalist meritocracy here. Hard work, achievement, a clean life and a conservative viewpoint are meaningless, unless they somehow support the Globe’s editorial perceptions. In the finger-wagging world of the Globe, there are no compromises!

I guess my biggest problem with the Globe is that since my birth, I’ve been a resident and have lived in the real world. The real world that: isn’t by nature fair; that chafes at the practice of affirmative action; that well understands the value of a dollar earned; that usually favors the industrious; and rewards initiative. This list of parameters usually escapes the purview of the Globe’s writers, and their value is discounted in favor of a more socialistic mindset. In essence, they don’t just lean to the left, they are tipped on their left side and comfortably lying there!

The fact that they are laying, moribund (at least in world view and perception) on the left of center leaves them unequipped to fully face reality. And since they can’t face it, they make it up! Seems the logical thing to do in “Globe world”. And it doesn’t look like the newspaper is ready for an epiphany, YET! It’s obvious to me and others that clinging to their viewpoint leaves the Globe in the position of becoming “media Shakers”! There’s simply no future in being exclusively anti-conservative or practicing reality alchemy.

So, realizing this fact, for me it’s like watching a crazed mammoth stampeding headlong into a tar pit. A tar pit of its own making. It’s become obvious that the Globe has become inextricably trapped in their skewed world view tar pit. But rather than struggle for its life, it is giving in to the sticky viscosity…soon to become a media fossil.

I couldn’t be happier! But I’m also saddened a bit that blind editorial hubris and false pride will lead to the Globe’s slow but eventual demise in this new reality, buyer’s choice, media marketplace.

pizza can be a fun and nutritious eating experience:

She also reminds you to count your fat grams!

The adherents worshiping at the altar of global warming were taken to the woodshed in Jeff Jacoby’s column in yesterday’s (8/15/07′s) Boston Globe. He did a fine job of deconstructing the religious zealotry and mania that has displaced real science.

I, like Mr. Jacoby, believe that the “global warming” crowd is talking out of both sides of their mouths. They espouse their theory (assumptions of physical and chemical processes are ALL hypothetical by nature), yet they dig their collective heels in and then denigrate any and all folks in the scientific or private communities who have a dissenting opinion — in blatant contravention to the accepted rules of scientific debate and peer review. God forbid that any intelligent, sentient observer may exhibit skepticism or find flaws in the scientific data or reasoning. And why wouldn’t there be reason to doubt “undeniable” scientific data (or at least the manner in which it’s analyzed)? After all, the collectors and keepers of the data are human beings? Fallible, error prone human beings far from the exemplars of perfection. Human beings who lionize a certain Ted Williams because he hit 0.408 in a single season (I remind you that in hitting 0.408 that he MISSED the ball 59.2% of the time!!). Human beings who proffered “infallible” or “undeniable” theories the likes of:

  • the Earth is flat,
  • polio is caused by “bad water”,
  • there is an “ether” of invisible particles holding the universe together,
  • bloodletting was the cure for cancer, the common cold and a migraine headache,
  • the Earth is the center of the universe,
  • eclipses are caused by demons,
  • fossils are only 6,000 years old,
  • radium-infused drinks are good for you,
  • a slave is worth 3/5′s of a freeman (be reminded that all slaves were black and African),
  • and on and on and on…

Why then, given our history of less-than-accurate prognostications and beliefs, does “the preponderance of the scientific community” agree that the theory of anthropogenic global warming is valid and correct? Why do they accept incomplete and error-prone data to validate an “unassailable” theory? There are two likely answers: First is the hubris of a small but influential segment of the lettered scientific community; And second, there is a lot of money to be made in scare-mongering. Exhibit A for the hubris argument is one Dr. James E. Hanson of NASA. This fellow has firmly backed himself into the anthropogenic-induced global warming corner, and is fighting scientific debate and skepticism with emotional and ad hominem attacks. Similarly, one Albert Gore is the example of wealth generated by proselytizing bad news and “irreversible” damage.

Personally, I would be more sympathetic to the arguments of the “global warming” and “climate change” crowd if they sought true consensus, rather than assent essentially at the barrel of a gun. Threats of ruining reputations and discounting scholarly works reek of childlike peevishness. A theory is supposed to hold its own under intense scrutiny and debate. To be irrefutable, they must convince even the most ardent skeptics. Generations of scientists successfully used this scholarly method of review. Some scientists toiled in obscurity because their theories chaffed the sensibilities of the “haves” and scientific dons. Still, others’ theories were rejected because they were flawed or incorrect. But given the test of time, the scientific truth prevails and our society progresses as a result.

Perhaps the fatal flaw in the anthropogenic “global warming” argument is the “over-feminization” of the issue. Hard-and-fast objective analysis is being suffused with emotional scare-mongering and feelings. The result is a hysteria that can grip even the most objective of thinkers, particularly when their careers and financial viability are threatened. This is particularly harmful, from a purist scientific view, when feelings are weighed in equal measure with facts. In Jeff’s article, he mentioned “auto-da-fé” — the religious kangaroo courts of the Inquisition. There were few individuals (save some saints) who could resist the rack or the lash at the hands of Torquemada and his ilk, and so many admitted false guilt for just about any offense for which they were accused. And as a result, the powers-that-be got to parade their ideologically-vanquished around the town square in order to prove their point and to keep the remaining rank-and-file in line! I fear we have a similar situation today, as the “global warming” debate has almost reached a religious level and intensity. Couple that with Hansen’s proclamations of “irreversibility” if we don’t do something soon, and all the elements are there to suggest that we put in place expedient and irrational countermeasures.

I hope that clearer heads will prevail and that a more vigorous debate (meaning both pro and con) ensues where the theory and the data are allowed to speak for themselves, unencumbered by name calling and career-disparaging. Until then, I see global warming as part political football, part religion, part ideology and part raw emotion. We all lose if we allow the scientific discourse to degenerate into street fighting, with various camps defending cults of personality. This would do great dishonor to the likes of Newton, Galileo, Calvin, Rutherford, Einstein and Hawking. And it would set back human progress to the dark ages, which is where we would end up if we fully implemented the wishes of the pro-”global warming” crowd without so much as a whimper of debate.

Every time I’m in Boston and drive by the new greenway where the former elevated central artery was located, I bristle with anger. Not that I’m opposed to green space, or that I particularly hate flowers and shrubs. I’m angry because of the name of the place: The Rose Kennedy Greenway. Why is it necessary for political office to be a self- or family-aggrandizing exercise? Why must politicians have the power to name public buildings, bridges or land after themselves or their families?

We elect politicians to do OUR business, and to watch for and act in our best interests. Not to use their offices to serve their interests! And certainly not to use their positions to create historical totems to their perpetual memory. We have the John Joseph Moakley Federal Court Building, the Evelyn Moakley Bridge, the Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill Central Artery Tunnel, the Rose Kennedy Greenway and countless other taxpayer-funded projects. If we also include buildings on state campuses, you’d think that few, if any members of the general public made noteworthy contributions to society which would result in a building or object being name for them. It’s interesting to note that by-and-large that the politicians responsible for the funding of these projects have had them named for themselves and/or their relatives. And that the best some poor private-sector schmuck can hope for is having a waste treatment plant or highway overpass named for them!

I rail against this practice because the general public doesn’t have a voice in this naming process. Sure, we get to PAY for them…but when it comes to naming, it’s all done at pay grades much higher than our own. I don’t like the practice of naming anything after a relative of a politician. It’s all too cozy, and it reeks of nepotism. In my opinion, if an object is to be named after anyone, it should be someone who’s been dead for at least 25 years. The 25 year time period helps to give a historical perspective to the honoree selected, and allows for a public consensus to be formed regarding the choice. I also think that we should be given the chance to select the honoree from a list of candidates — by a ballot question during a general election. The honoree with the most votes has the object named after them, just as the candidate with the most votes wins the elected office.

But I also feel that the practice of naming things after individuals should be used most sparingly. There are few people of such high and exemplary nature that they deserve a bridge or tunnel or greenway named for them. This honor should be saved for war heroes (Medal of Honor recipients, for example) . And as a rule, such places should be named for groups of individuals, like Medal of Honor Park or War Heroes Greenway. These folks put it on the line, and they deserve the privilege of being remembered in perpetuity for their sacrifice to their country.

My recommendation is that the Rose Kennedy Greenway be renamed the Medal of Honor Mothers Green Space. And perhaps renaming the Tip O’Neill tunnel in honor of Melina DelValle, who was crushed to death because of shoddy construction in the tunnel. Her death will do more good for the general public in terms of future tunnel safety, and so her life should be commemorated though this simple re-naming act.

An editorial in today’s Boston Sunday Globe decries the Real ID as a bad idea for a number of reasons. The writer states that it is too costly, its database will be a haven for identity thieves, and that it may be unconstitutional because the 10th Amendment doesn’t allow for the Federal government to issue driver’s licenses. But I think all these objections are a smoke screen for the real objection to the implementation of the Real ID law: It would once-and-for all identify and separate the legal citizens from the illegal poseurs. This costly, unfunded mandate might, heaven forbid, save its cost by eliminating social “benefits” from going to illegal recipients!!

First, when is a social handout program ever too costly in the eyes of the Globe? In a word, NEVER! In their view, the government has either spent less than is necessary or it has botched the job of distributing the “benefits”. Where in the Constitution does it state that the government has a responsibility to be the cradle-to-grave caretaker of any of its citizens?And don’t we have plenty of unfunded federal (as well as state) educational mandates that we gladly implement “for the children” and fund them to the detriment of other government activities? To me it whiffs of cherry-picking to single out the Real ID as a costly, unfunded mandate in light of the glaring examples of so many others.

Second, when do we ever let the threat of something prohibit us from the activity? If we are concerned about identity theft in the Real ID system (or any system for that matter), can’t we provision it with robust countermeasures and deterrents to make the theft of information much less likely? Or, even better, enact legislation that creates mandated severe penalties (i.e. no judicial sentencing discretion) for those willing to steal another’s personal information.

Finally, I don’t see any or know of ANY Constitutional clause which allows the government to issue Social Security numbers and cards, but that doesn’t sto them, does it? The objection that the law is unconstitutional smacks of piling on with specious, irrelevant facts! And implying that the law is a gross invasion of privacy ignores two facts: the concept of privacy is an inferred right in the Constitution (show me a single passage or clause guaranteeing it!) and any ID system is an intrusion into our privacy, rather than an all-out invasion. True, unfettered privacy comes when we chose to disengage from society, pull down our shades and conduct all our affairs in singular privacy.

Is ANY government program or system perfect? No way! We are a nation of humans and I guarantee you that we will make mistakes. The government isn’t comprised of flawless machines — rather it employs your very human family, friends and neighbors. But to condemn a system under the guise of red-herring issues and excuses, when it really offends ones sensibilities, is disingenuous at best and harmful at worst.

The Real ID program should be given a chance to work, and after an implementation review then we can carp and grouse about the actual problems and drawbacks. Otherwise, I hope the Globe editorial staff starts to get critical of some of the other social programs already in place that have many of their objectionable issues as the Real ID system. Until that time, can anyone say hypocrisy???

Ooh, a prize!

The title says it all. Those are self-affirming words to be sure. I AM SOMEBODY SPECIAL! Stuart Smalley would be proud of me!!

But the back story reveals that my uniqueness comes with a price. I have five small dogs and like other bulk food processing organisms, well, they poop a lot! I also have a small yard. So, in order to spare myself and my wife the indignity of “stepping in it” (or worse, to prevent 20 little feet from doing the same and then tracking the result through the house — ugh!), I do what I euphemistically call “Prize Patrol.” Each day, twice a day, outfitted with my trusty plastic snow shovel and small plastic rake, I rid the yard of it’s unwanted payload(s). It’s a nasty, nasty job but somebody’s got to do it — and daily I remind you. [I even considered hiring an enterprising neighborhood kid to do it, but I already knew what the answer was before I embarrassed myself asking!!!] If you’ve ever watched “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Network, I think you’d agree that the shows’ host, Mike Rowe, would find my endeavor an almost irresistible episode topic!

So, I was thinking this morning as I was doing my ‘job’, “Hey…I’m someone special!” I’m the “King of Kaka”, “Duke of Droppings”, “Earl of Excrement”, “Prince of Poop”, “Lord of Loafs”. You get the picture I’m sure. But isn’t that the way it is with life in general, anyway? I mean, we may have a self-inflated image of ourself and our job. But there is always something that we MUST do that reminds us exactly how “I put my pants on one leg at a time” human that we actually are. It should act to ground us and our self-image, and add a touch of humility to our lives.

My ‘job’ does this for me! It reminds me that no matter how high-and-mighty I might THINK that I am, there is a task that will instantly put me in my place, so to speak. It is my reminder that life puts us all squarely in the you-know-what constantly, and that we must to learn to deal with it with humility, persistence and humor!

Little Joanna Mullins’ brief life was snubbed out in the most unimaginable manner at the hand of her cousin, Ryan Bois. If you look at a picture of this little angel, yes angel, she is the prototype of sweet, innocent little girls. Like any other child her age, she was living in a world of games and toys and play…protected as best as she could be by her loving family. How could her parents imagine in their wildest dreams that she would be abducted, raped and killed from a sleepover at her grandmother’s house? They couldn’t, and more importantly, they shouldn’t have had to worry about this remotest of threats to her safety.

Enter her cousin, Ryan Bois. A loser by all accounts…drug addicted and Hepatitis-C infected…this “drifter” couldn’t get his act together according to those who knew him. But there is no personality quirk or psychiatric disorder that can forgive him his responsibility for the heinous act that he committed last weekend. Can someone tell me one good reason why this assemblage of animated human excrement should be allowed to live? I’m not sure anyone, even in the most rabidly anti-death penalty crowd, can see anything redeeming in keeping Mr. Bois alive.

But here lies my quandary. I want Mr. Bois to be escorted to the afterlife by Mass. DOC officials. I want it to be done without protracted legal appeals. In fact, I wouldn’t object to his execution being shown on pay-per-view, with him being pureed by a giant Mass DOC “Blender O’ Death”, as savage as that sounds. Simply put, the best part of Mr. Bois’ pathetic life will be its end, no matter how it happens…and the only way we should remember his is by the scrawling on the headstone at a simple grave site. However, in order to honor the life of sweet little Joanna, we need to mete out a punishment that really is punitive. Killing him in a timely manner might be too easy a way out for him and others that would learn from his example. Maybe keeping Mr. Bois alive, for the next 40, 50 or 60 years…in solitary confinement with no luxuries and austere feedings, and with a life punctuated by hard, hard labor is the proper way to handle things. He will never look back and have remorse over the magnitude and scope of his crime. Sociopaths like him never do; so we’re really not punishing HIM. But if his incarceration situation could serve as a deterrent for even one potential criminal/murderer, then it might be worth the cost to keep him around.

So, I’m of two minds about the punishment of on Ryan Bois. He really deserves to die, but perhaps keeping his sorry living carcass around may serve the interests of society more beneficially.

Regardless, I will continue to pray for little Joanna and for her grieving family…

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