How low can you get?:
Just noticed this commercial real estate story
over at the Boston Business Journal. I remember when, not so long ago, asking prices were in the absurd $100-per-square-foot range in the downtown and Back Bay. No matter how you look at it, we have a long, long way to go before the economy rebounds around here.
Some quick posts ..:
Some posts on Kerry and our new Bishop Lennon, then I have to go. Besides, nothing else really jumped out at me this morning. Here goes:
John Kerry, front-runner?:
Count me among those who were surprised by Al Gore’s decision not to run in 2004. The nomination was probably his for the taking. But it sounds like his decision came from the gut for a change, not from polls. Clearly, this helps our very own JFK. John Ellis
has probably the best early analysis -- and it sure looks like Republicans are eager for Kerry to win the nomination. They may be right, for Kerry has so much baggage (Massachusetts liberal image, lieutenant governor to Mike Dukakis, the haircut, the ‘JFK’ initials, the association with Ted Kennedy
etc.) and a calculating personality that turns so many off. But Republicans may also be in for a bigger surprise than they bargained for if Kerry wins the nomination. ... I’d like to see other Dems enter the race. Not impressed with the current crop. Not at all.
Bishop Lennon, unimpressive
: He did all the right things, barely
. He seemed to stop right at the minimum that was required. He missed a clear chance to make a break from Law, sort of like Gerald Ford declaring, “Our long national nightmare is over. The constitution works ...” And think: Lennon couldn’t screw up such a bold statement by pardoning Law. ... And so skepticism still reigns
A new neighborhood?:
Hub Blog, an old-fashioned and opinionated Boston sidewalk superintendent, loves these types of stories
. I had heard of these projects along the McGrath-O'Brien Highway, but never quite grasped them amid all the other issues related to the Big Dig. Now I want to know more. What's with the status of the proposed Urban Ring rail system? Sounds cool. Can't wait to see the final plans. (Which, if they pull it off, could also mean thousands of new housing units, not an insignificant matter in Greater Boston these days.)
`Well, we fooled them again':
Are the old boys rallying around Billy Bulger? Sure looks like it.
Just like the old days. Or the current days. Whatever. I expected it from Tom Finneran and the Trav. But I sincerely hope Mitt wasn’t one of those who proudly slapped Billy on the back last week at a breakfast gathering. Here’s my favorite quote from the Globe story: ''‘At a minimum, the UMass trustees should be asking hard questions about whether Bulger's thwarting an investigation or ever aided a fugitive,’ said Dan Glickman, director of Harvard's Institute of Politics and a former Clinton Cabinet secretary. ‘He's got to be very careful with how all this support looks. If he looks like a guy who is not going to do anything to harm a family member, I think people will have different opinions. But if it looks like the old-boy system is at play - `well, we fooled them again' - that's a terrible mistake.’”
‘I have no hatred in my heart’:
Congrats to the Globe’s Charlie Sennott for getting access to Cardinal Law
on his plane trip back from the Vatican, following the cardinal’s historic resignation. The small, telling details in the article are magnificent, such as Law declining to read a weekend edition of USA Today with his own mug on the cover. Law chose to watch an Eddie Murphy comedy instead. (If I were in his shoes, I'd have chosen the comedy, too.) Or the book Law was reading on Iraq. But what’s missing in the article (through no fault of Sennott’s) is a deep sense that Law has a deep sense of what brought this all about. He still has to think about it, he says. ...
... Will he ever get it? I don’t know. Anyone who regularly reads Hub Blog knows I’m a big fan of Margery Eagan. But her column this morning
really is must read for anyone who still doubts the nature of what happened and/or defends the cardinal. The fact is, the cardinal had (and has) a profoundly warped sense of right and wrong. It’s way beyond ‘not getting it.’ ... Even though Hub Blog isn’t a practicing Catholic, Howie Carr’s column this morning
brought home to me how close I still am to the church. I almost fell over laughing reading this column, for I understood and experienced so much of it. At the same time, I thought, “Oh, Howie, you’re in such deep doo doo with the nuns for writing this.” Old habits and thought processes die hard.
‘Thinking too hard’
: Two fun, contrasting pieces in the Globe’s “Ideas” section this morning. This one
is about the perils of thinking too much, with the classic line: ''Thinking hard can lead to a crazy world where I don't know what I'm talking about.” ... I can think of at least one blogger who can sympathize with (and learn from) that observation. ... And then there’s this piece
about people who definitely think too much and don’t know it.
The Saudis and the Kurds
: Last but not least, two excellent pieces on A.) Stephen Schwartz and the Wahhabi Saudis
and B.) the plight of the Kurds
. ... The former is really about the intellectual odyssey of Schwartz, the activist, pundit and author of ''The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror.” What a character. Schwartz tends to prove the theory that it’s really one’s personality that shapes an intellectual outlook, for good or bad. ... The latter is a long piece (that I haven’t finished) about the sad, tragic history of the Kurds, by Peter W. Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador to Croatia and now a professor at the National War College. We’ve let the Kurds down so many times. And there’s no compelling reason to think we won’t do it again.
What is the antiwar movement?:
You know the antiwar movement is in trouble when a committed antiwar person can write something like this.
Key graf: “Protesting wars today seems to be a way to cleanse one's private conscience rather than effecting public change -- a case of opting out instead of getting stuck in and having the hard arguments. Going on an antiwar demonstration has become a way to declare your whiter-than-white credentials, and demonstrating to onlookers that you have cleared your own conscience.” ...
Biotech in trouble?:
It seemed that, earlier this year, we were all giddy that a European pharmaceutical/biotech giant had decided to locate its world research headquarters in Cambridge, showing, as we were told, that Massachusetts has a strong edge in the medical research field. Now we’re being told Massachusetts is losing its biotech edge
, as other states attempt to snatch some of our biotech pie. Two quick observations: 1.) There is a lot more we can do to promote the industry (such as making the zoning and permitting process here more sane etc.). 2.) We’re just going to have to accept that other states aren’t going to sit idly by as we establish an economic agglomeration. Bottom line: Let’s not panic. There’s work to be done, yes. But it’s also normal for upstart rivals to challenge another’s position of strength. ... Post script: Don't you get the distinct impression the biotech industry is angling for a special tax break down the road? ... For those worried about Massachusetts’ economy, check out this column by Tom Keane
. We’re ranked No. 3 in ‘competitiveness’ while still needing to do a lot more on the housing, transportation and financial fronts.
: An excellent, excellent piece by Eugene Cullen Kennedy
on the rise and fall of Cardinal Law, who “signed on to defend the church as an institution, to preserve its cargo and assets and to set lifeboats on the dark sea for the renegade members of his crew instead of for the passengers they abused.” In Kennedy’s opinion, it was all about the preservation, expansion and abuse of church power. And then the unthinkable happened: the unsinkable sank. Great piece. ... FYI: Here’s a look at Law’s caretaker successor, Bishop Lennon
, who today has the most unenviable job in America.
: I must need a new pair of eyeglasses. First, I misinterpreted John Farrell's line about the entertainment industry (see item directly below -- with apology and explanation). And now Dan Kennedy
interprets Eugene Cullen Kennedy's piece this morning (see above link) in a different way than I did. Considering everything else I've gotten wrong in recent days (such as thinking Cardinal Law would NOT resign), I assume I'm wrong on this one, too. (Hmmmm, when was the last time I went to an eye doctor? Two years ago? Three?)
The 'entertainment industry' did it
-- Here's a sincere message from the heart
, but I disagree about the 'entertainment industry' part. Every inch of it. I know I'm supposed to say, 'Oh, yes, it's the entertainment, secular society that did it.' But I ain't going to do it. This was a total, complete, absolute, undeniable failing of a non-entertainment, non-secular Catholic church that said one thing, but did another. Don't point fingers. I will have nothing to do with such a sham. The scandal was the church leadership's own utter, complete moral failing. Nothing else. It's now becoming clear that Cardinal Cushing was involved in this, as horrifying as it may seem (and is) to many elder Catholics. It stretches across decades. Decades. Well before the '60s. Want to open up that can of pre-secular worms? But, nevertheless, here's the message from the reader (and I still agree with so much of it, especially the part about not feeling any sense of triumph or satisfaction, or about the sympathy felt towards honest priests): "I personally do not feel any sense of triumph or satisfaction. Just sadness. All I want to do for today is remember the good priests. As of today, they can begin to get back to what they do and have done throughout the long years of their vocations. ... And last, but not least, patiently enduring the mockery and abuse that is heaped on their vocation and profession by our otherwise oh-so-tolerant culture. Just when they thought they could take a few minutes out of the day to sit back and enjoy a little television in the evening -- they get to be hectored and lectured by the morally superior auteurs of our entertainment industry.”
Writer of above link that elicited my original response
: "Sorry if it came across like I was 'blaming' the entertainment industry; I was more pointing out that the good priests will have to bear a lot of the ridicule and mockery this hideous mess is inevitably going to bring about -- on top of a grueling job, the reality of which virtually never gets depicted with any objectivity or reality in the movies or TV." ... Hub Blog's response: Sorry if I overreacted to you. In fact, I did. My apologies. I thought it was a beautiful piece. But my item still makes sense (though it was sparked for the wrong reason), in that we've been hearing a lot today, at least in Boston, about how gays, Cafeteria Catholics, the secular society etc. are the ones really to blame for the scandal. The 'dope' (posted in the update item below) really set me off. I fear a 'counter offensive' coming from the church and their knee-jerk partisans. They still don't seem to get it, with their talk of gays, Voice of the Faithful, abortion, secularism, Cafeteria Catholicism, Hollywood, as if they can all be tied into a coherent whole to explain away the church's looking the other way in the face of the priests' molesting of little boys. They're looking for scapegoats.
Response of Reader No. 1's No. 1:
"I just think the timing of Law's resignation is of particular interest. With less than two weeks to Christmas, why not roll this announcement out. It may just get the Boston Archdiocese an extra cash boost. Human nature suggests that people tend to be more generous during this time of year. After all, where do people go on Christmas besides to their families and friends for a celebration? They go to church! I remember growing up and even today my parents reiterate that everyone goes to church on Christmas, 'people you haven't seen all year, attend.' So in the spirit of the season, the spin could be, we have got rid of some of the problem, there is more work to be done, so won't you please come and help out those Catholic Charities!"
Law's resignation and sorry legacy
: We got what we asked for
. And now what? The church is still in turmoil. It still teeters on the edge of moral and financial bankruptcy. Its victims are still in pain. Its highest leaders -- and now its ex-highest leader -- still face likely charges of a criminal cover up. Cardinal Law resigned this morning, but he’s left a monumental, historic mess in his wake. His greatest legacy to the Archdiocese of Boston and American Catholicism in general? He and his fellow bishops and cardinals have allowed a rupture to occur within the American church, a rupture that could have been avoided had they acted with genuine concern and responsibility for, of all people, innocent children within their parishes. They didn’t act with genuine concern and responsibility for innocent children. Instead, their genuine concern and responsibility was, first and foremost, directed at preserving and protecting their own power. This is the main lesson many take from the sex-abuse scandal in Boston and elsewhere: When push came to shove, the Catholic church’s leadership didn’t choose to protect the meek and powerless, they chose to side with and protect the powerful. Never again will Boston Catholics fully trust their church, even though many Catholics understandably yearn and hope things will “return to normal.” But it won’t happen. The new “normality” is this: From now on, many parents, if they choose to stay in the church (and the vast majority will choose to do so), will continue to tell their children to believe in God and Jesus, they’ll continue to snap pictures and recall fond memories on the day their children go through their own First Communion, on the day their children have their own wedding ceremonies, on the day their own children have their children baptized into the church. The traditions and mysteries of the Catholic church will live on. But most parents will henceforth whisper dark warnings to their children: ‘Don’t trust the priests and bishops too much. ... Don’t stay alone with them. ... They’re not always going to be on our side.” And this cynicism will be passed down from generation to generation. This is Cardinal Law’s legacy.
Here are some updates:
-- The below mentioned dope might want to listen to the words of the Rev. Edward Vacek, a local priest, who was also just interviewed on NECN. Father Vacek called the resignation "a relief" but "much, much work" still needs to be done to "bring back" the faithful. Asked point blank about Voice of the Faithful's call for more openness in the church, Vacek gave an interesting explanation about how the church, before major changes in the 1800s, used to give much more power to lay people to select their own bishops and leaders. Perhaps that "shift" in power of the 1800s "needs to be, if you will" shifted back again towards the people, Vacek said. But, hey, what does a priest know? He's probably one of those secular Cafeteria Catholics and secret card-carrying member of the Voice of the Faithful.
-- Some dope (didn't catch his name but he was with some lay group) was just interviewed on NECN and accused Voice of the Faithful of not following the "moral teachings" of the church. And he said such "Cafeteria Catholicism" is the root cause, along with the "secular society" it creates, for the sex-abuse scandal. I am not making this up. Yep, Voice of the Faithful and Cafeteria Catholics caused this. Sure. Yeah. Right. Learn something each and every day.
-- Ted Kennedy just spoke of the resignation as the "beginning of a long process of healing" and said it's time to take a "different kind" of approach towards "responsibility" and "accountability" within the church. Good for Ted.
-- Clark Booth, one of the greatest and wisest reporters in Boston, was just interviewed on Channel 5, via phone from the Vatican, and he's (typically) putting this all into historical perspective. He's comparing today's 'earthquake within the system' to convulsions the church must periodically go through every few hundred years in order to purify itself. "Gradually, it's becoming clear these are one of those moments," he said. He's even comparing the current convulsions to events of the Reformation.
Update -- 10:25 a.m.
-- Coverage of Cardinal Law's resignation is being carried live on Boston television stations. ... An attorney for the alleged sex-abuse victims says he soon intends to file more lawsuits, scores of them, involving 30 priests dating back to 1960. About half of the lawsuits will involve priests who currently don't have suits filed against them, he said. ... The victims who are appearing at various press conferences are so poised, so articulate, so controlled in their rage. They're not going to give up. They look and sound so empty and drained but determined. One was asked if he can forgive Cardinal Law, and he just shook his head in a dazed way, shrugged his shoulders, raised his eyebrows and slowly said forgiving the cardinal is not one of his priorities right now. ... Incredible.
Plea bargain time
: Cardinal Law might want to hurry up on the bankruptcy filing. He has other legal problems
to contend with in coming weeks and months. ... It’s getting to the point where the newspapers now have to run ‘summary’ stories
about all the latest sex-abuse allegations, complete with bullet items, similar to the NFL round-up pieces you read on Monday mornings.
: Trying to steal a page from William Safire, Joan Vennochi
‘gets in the mind’ of Mitt Romney. Now, we all instinctively know this isn’t how our Mitt thinks. But does Joan
Multinational corporate marketing pain comes to Boston
: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., whose oh-so-cutesy corporate marketing machine is starting to seriously annoy, is coming to Boston
. Local story line: Coming to the home of Dunkin’ Donuts. Get it? Ha, ha, ha. ... Really, I guess I’m supposed to play along with the cutesy schtick about how much I love or hate Krispy Kreme (sort of like Ken Burns getting all gooey about baseball etc.), but we used to call ‘glazed’ doughnuts ‘honey dip’ doughnuts when I was young and dragged into church with promises of doughnuts afterward -- and I never really liked honey dips. Nor going to church. I always liked jelly crullers. (And I also like Piccalilly relish on hot dogs ... so back off!)
A reader responds
: Someone wrote that he didn't get this item. Let me explain in my best former business journalism lingo: I think the whole Krispy Kreme phenomenon was (and certainly is by now) a tired marketing ploy, not a true story, by a publicly traded, overpriced company that needs to expand in order to keep Wall Street happy. The schtick has been used in other cities -- and too many media outlets bite into it as if it's a big story. So I pulled out my Doughnut Catholicism schtick to counter it. Get it?
Trent Lott-free zone
: Like other blog sites, I’m taking a stand and declaring Hub Blog a Trent Lott-free zone, henceforth. I’m embarrassed I had a Trent item yesterday. There are Trent stories in the Globe and Herald this morning. They’re all over the damn Internet. Find ‘em yourself.
A reader from New Hampshire (yes, New Hampshire -- Hub Blog must be going global) responds
: A reader asks why I wouldn’t want to cover such an important national story. Answer: It’s not because it’s not a big issue (it is), but it’s because everyone else is mooing the same thing at the same time. But I will repeat this
: Conservatives have been in denial for a long time about this guy’s views on segregation. And now they're patting themselves on the back
. (Guess my attempt at at a Trent Lott-free zone has failed.)
Another reader responds -- 12-13-02
: Alan at Tufts says this is a ‘shining moment for conservatives’ because of the way they’ve responded to Trent Lott’s comments. My response: True, especially those conservatives within the blogosphere. But it’s tardy. Trent Lott has been saying, hinting and implying these exact same sentiments for years now -- decades, actually. I don’t have the links right now (I’ll try to get them), but Trent has been telling people for a while that the Republican Party has become, in his opinion, the party with the same ideals as Jefferson Davis. I’m not a Republican, but I do admire it and its history -- and I was very heartened to hear President Bush’s comments yesterday
. This is one of the most interesting lines: “And the founding ideals of our nation and, in fact, the founding ideals of the political party I represent was, and remains today, the equal dignity and equal rights of every American.” I don’t know if Bush specifically intended to rebut Trent’s ‘Jefferson Davis’ opinion, but the president did declare that the GOP is, in fact, the Party of Lincoln. If Lott continues to resist stepping down from his post, people should start asking what he meant by asserting the GOP is the party of Jefferson Davis, whose every ideal Lincoln opposed. Until he leaves (under pressure from Republicans and conservatives, ultimately), enough with the self-congratulations. (Link to Bush’s speech via JE
.) ... P.S. Did anyone else notice Pat Buchanan's defense of Trent Lott last night? Pat, who's another apologizer for Jeff Davis' cause, said something about Trent being subjected to one of the worst 'public lynchings' he's ever seen. What an ironic 'choice of words,' as they say.
: The Puritans won another one
. ... Adrian Walker
has a nice piece on Fan Pier, the Pritzker family’s gross infighting and how Boston handles developments. ... Another delay for the Big Dig
. Where’s the news here? Opening on time is news.
Let him speak
: Knew very little about Tom Paulin, the poet, before the Harvard invite/disinvite/reinvite controversy. This article
, in this past Sunday’s “Ideas” section, shows Paulin is not just another political hack artist, but rather a very accomplished, albeit controversial, poet and scholar of contemporary importance. He was probably invited to appear at Harvard for all the wrong reasons (politics) and definitely disinvited for all the wrong reasons (politics). He should be allowed to speak when he finally arrives (next spring?), without interference from shouting goon squads. Let people make up their own minds, after listening to him, whether or not he’s a brilliant poet slowly morphing into another Ezra Pound.
Trent Lott makes it onto Hub Blog
: Yes, Hub Blog finally gets a piece of the Trent Lott action, courtesy of Derrick Jackson
. Conservatives have been in denial for a long time about this guy’s views on segregation.
Kerry, off to a good start
: Mark Jurkowitz
writes an interesting piece about John Kerry getting off to a good start in his presidential campaign. I think so, too, though that view does clash with this earlier piece by Howard Kurtz
. (I didn’t see Kerry’s “Meet the Press” interview, FYI.) Hub Blog asserts again: No matter what your opinion may be on Kerry’s politics, personality or hair, he’s a bare-knuckles campaigner.
: And make no mistake: Gore's running for president again
. No doubt about it. This is the innocuous clincher.
New business editor at the Globe
: Caleb Solomon, former editor of Wall Street Journal/New England, a now defunct weekly section providing regional business news, has been named editor of the Globe’s business section(s).
It’s a great move by Marty Baron. As editor of the Boston Business Journal during Solomon’s tenure at Wall Street Journal/New England, I can attest to Solomon’s credentials. He was a formidable competitor, even though the BBJ and WSJ targeted slightly different niches. For a while there, WSJ/New England was must read for local business readers -- big scoops, interesting features, quirky lists and data, way-ahead-of-the-curve trend pieces. (For some reason, though, the section petered out towards the second half of its run. Don’t know why.) One suggestion to Solomon: Don’t try to replicate what you did at the WSJ/NE. The old WSJ/NE found a niche in covering, for lack of other words, that murky zone where the private sector meets the public sector. One of the biggest complaints about the Globe’s business section, I’ve found, is that too much of its coverage of business is often in that exact same zone -- and not enough on the harder-to-get news on the private sector side. One of the classic mistakes daily newspapers make, when it comes to business sections, is thinking that they should be an extension of the Metro/Region section and/or that they should appeal to all readers (i.e. more business news out of City Hall or the Statehouse, or yet more banal stories about how to manage your 401(k) plan). Wrong, wrong, wrong. You wouldn’t dare take the same approach towards the sports section. So why take that approach towards the business section? (Can you imagine major pieces in the Globe sports section on how to improve your fielding and batting skills for the local softball league?) The Globe’s business readers are tough, sophisticated and intense -- and they don’t want to read about the best mortgage deal at the local community bank or how to save for retirement. They want the detailed, in-depth dirt on their competitors and industries. Just a tip from an old competitor, Caleb.
Law, Bulger and ...:
Swore I wouldn’t blog again, at least for a few days, on Billy and the cardinal. I’ve sort of overdosed on the subjects and feared I was entering a rant stage. But along comes Eileen McNamara
, who makes a fascinating connection between Billy’s legislative antics on behalf of Whitey and the current sex-abuse scandal in the church. (There are other legislative shenanigans Billy pulled on behalf of his brother, but we’ll save that for later.) ... OK, while we’re on the subject, check out Joe Fitzgerald’s column
in the Herald. It’s significant for two reasons: A.) It shows how elder Catholics, who grew up revering the church and its clergy, are also disgusted with Cardinal Law and B.) It shows how Joe Fitzgerald (no relation), often a knee-jerk defender of the church and Law, seems to have finally noticed the depth of discontent among Catholics, both young and old. ... Might as well read Howie
while you're at it. Brutal. Just brutal. Howie: "Well, Bernie, all I can tell you is, I may be a bad Catholic, but I pay my bills, I've never filed for bankruptcy, and I never wrote a mash note to Father Shanley."
‘Coming apart at its corroded seams’
: Nice heart-warming piece this morning by Brian McGrory
, who starts out: “There are days, weeks even, when our quaint, little hamlet of Boston seems to be coming apart at its corroded seams. ... Other major cities have headlines in their papers like ‘Panel approves new downtown development.’ In Boston, it's all mayhem, all the time.” ...
... Speaking of mayhem:
-- It’s not exactly Paris, 1789-1792, but there are days when it feels like it in Boston. The key line from the rebels
: ‘The priests and people of Boston have lost confidence in you as their spiritual leader.’ ... What’s the rough equivalent of the Bastille in Boston? And when do we start storming?
-- Tom Oliphant
is rightly disgusted with the ‘scandal system’ in America. But Tom is simply wrong on this one. There’s a lot of pent-up frustration in town -- and Dan Burton/grand jury/scandal bashing ain’t going to cut it. (By the way, don’t forget that Stephen Lynch and Marty Meehan serve with the Watermelon Man on the same committee. ... By the way, Part II: And the next time someone quotes the famous question -- ''You felt more loyalty to your brother than you did to the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?'' -- make sure to include Billy’s response -- “I never thought of it that way. But I do have an honest loyalty to my brother. ... It's my hope that I'm never helpful to anyone against him.” And don’t forget the 21 murders. .... By the way, Part III: I think Mitt’s comments about Billy were some of the more refreshing things to come out of a local politician’s mouth in decades. ).
-- At first, I thought this story
was indeed ‘silly’ and ‘desperate,’ as Billy’s attorney characterized it. Then I read Peter Gelzinis’ column
this morning and the mention of Zip’s possible/likely involvement made me wonder. It still sounds absurdly far-fetched, but you have to understand that Peter's colleague once had a personal encounter with Whitey
, who was just looking out for his kid brother when his kid brother was getting some bad press. ... Peter adds: “Look for stories about Burton, the Hoosier whackjob, firing bullets into a watermelon to prove his foul play theories surrounding the death of Clinton aide Vince Foster. Personally, I think firing bullets into a fresh watermelon in the privacy of one's own back yard is a far cry from firing bullets into live bookmakers, rival drug dealers, stubborn girlfriends and potential witnesses such as Brian Halloran or World Jai Alai exec Roger Wheeler.”
-- Joan Vennochi
: “The old Boston is not going gently. As it fights for survival, it clings to power in the highest sanctums of church and state.”
'The Awful Truth,' Part II
: Re: Dan Kennedy’s response
... Re: My Response to Dan’s response
. ... Re: Original Item
A number of responses from readers (abbreviated, obviously):
1.) “I read your entry on the Boston Priest. I can understand your confusion.”
2.) “Still reeling from the shock about Father Foley. Kept thinking about it over the weekend. Your thoughts about it on your hubblog were really poignant and I saw that you got a good reference from another blogger, Kennedy.”
3.) During a non-email conversation with a friend (who reads Hub Blog, occasionally), my friend jokingly (somewhat) suggested that my strong/tepid/confused response to Father Foley was classic Bostonian, and he playfully threw in a few jabs at Billy Bulger for good measure. This was/is my boiled down -- and brilliantly varnished -- version of what I said to him:
“I had less than 24 hours to articulate a response to revelations and facts that I didn’t have a clue existed 24 hours earlier. Billy Bulger has had 365 days X 24 hours X 25 years -- give or take a few years, if not decades -- to articulate a response. Billy talks the loyalty of 19th Century Ireland. I think -- I hope -- I talk the loyalty of early 21st Century, post-Geoghan Boston. Now let's get off the subject.” ... My friend generally and graciously accepted my explanation, but not without some brutal teasing and challenges to have another beer. Ah, friends. ... And I hope this answers a few of the other emails I’ve received asking for further elaboration on the entire affair. And now let's get off the subject.
‘George Bush’s worst nightmare’?:
Very interesting piece on John Kerry
in today’s New York Times. And very interesting opinions among Dems about whether Kerry’s ‘Massachusetts liberal’ image, whether it’s accurate or not, will hurt him. Says the Dem chairman of South Carolina: "He's vulnerable on the criticism that he's a Massachusetts liberal. ... I think that this White House has been very adept at labeling people, and that's a concern. Is it something that he can overcome? Sure." Says Kathleen Sullivan of NH: "John Kerry in some respects is George Bush's worst nightmare. ... John Kerry is not going to let any Republican get away trying to marginalize his credentials as a patriot.” ... The first sentence in Sullivan’s quote is almost laughable. Republicans are licking their chops at the prospect of running against Kerry, but they better be careful about what they wish for. Kerry’s a tough, confident, scrappy candidate who’s indeed ‘eager for battle.’ Ask Bill Weld. ...
‘The awful truth’
: Just noticed Dan Kennedy’s item
on my earlier blog on Father Foley
. Can’t say I disagree with a word Dan says. And, yes, I am a ‘former’ admirer, in the sense that my admiration is now no longer total. Far from it. There was a dark side to him -- ‘the awful truth,’ as Dan aptly described it -- that can never be forgotten when judging his entire career. The questions remain: What happened to that poor woman in 1969? And why did he so readily agree never to see his own children again? His own children
. Think about it. It leads to so many other questions -- all of them disturbing. He’ll remain a dear friend for all the good he’s unquestionably done for me and others, but ...
‘Pity our poor mayor’
: Need to keep it light on the blogging for a few days. Busy with various matters. ... But here’s a great column from Adrian Walker
, a columnist who locals should pay more attention to. You never quite know what he’s going to say. And that’s refreshing. (I also thought I was alone in my growing discontent with Mayor Menino.) Walker’s kicker lines on Menino: “Actually, when you couple the tax proposal with the mayor's dead-on-arrival rent stabilization scheme, you start to wonder if the mayor is now floating trial balloons for lack of anything better to do. It's the illusion of action, as opposed to action itself. Pity our poor mayor. For nine years his timing has been perfect. Now come hard (economic) times and tough decisions. To judge from his recent behavior, the mayor wants no part of it.”
The Gang That Couldn’t Think Straight
: The Boston FBI office has lost so much credibility in recent years that it’s almost impossible to believe its spokeswoman when she denies it bungled the Ptech Inc. tips and investigation
. Me? I’ll gladly take the word of loyal citizens/green-card holders any day against the FBI -- and they say they repeatedly told the local FBI their concerns about possible connections between Ptech and a Saudi terrorist backer. ... You’d think the possibility of, at the very least, terrorist money-laundering at Ptech would raise eyebrows at the FBI. But here’s a partial software client list for Ptech: the White House, the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration, IRS, NATO, NAVAIR, Sprint, US Department of Energy, US Department of Education, US House of Representatives, USDA Forest Service, US Postal Service. But the Homeland Security Department was quick yesterday to reassure us that national security hasn’t been breached. I kind of doubt it, too. But ... there’s this article on the vulnerability of U.S. contractors
in general and this Herald story
on why the potential damage at Ptech can't be so easily dismissed. Let’s not overestimate these terrorists, but don’t underestimate them either. They’re not only ruthless, but they’ve repeatedly shown their operations are quite nimble and sophisticated in their use of the latest technology. ...
... My favorite lines from all of this morning’s coverage (see first link): “The New York Times reported last month that Bruce Gebhardt, the FBI's deputy director, sent a memo to the FBI's 56 field offices, saying he was ‘amazed and astounded’ that field supervisors were not committing essential resources to fighting terrorism. The (Ptech) allegation is the latest in a series of embarrassments for the Boston FBI office, including a failure to follow up on bank robber Gary Sampson's offer to surrender before he went on a killing spree, and the scandal over the agency's coddling of murderous organized crime informants.”
Ah, yes, the scandal over the FBI’s coddling of those murderous organized crime informants ... on to the next item!
Billy takes the Fifth
: It should go without saying that Billy had every right to invoke the Fifth Amendment
yesterday. And I’ve come around to the notion that, to a degree, the Dan Burton-led hearing was indeed designed to catch Billy in a perjury trap. However, during all the Burton bashing of late, I completely forgot that two Massachusetts Congressmen, Stephen Lynch and Marty Meehan, sit on Burton’s committee. Lynch, in particular, is emerging as a mini-hero within these proceedings, which, it should be noted, haven’t exclusively focused on Billy Bulger’s role in the Winter Hill/FBI capers. Check out Lynch’s comments at the end of Peter Gelzinis’ column
this morning. He’s sticking his neck out on this one. Next time Billy et gang start bashing Dan Burton, remember Stephen Lynch and Marty Meehan. ... The clock is ticking on Billy’s tenure at UMass. From a Globe editorial this morning
, reacting to UMass’ rather quick issuance
of a statement backing Bulger yesterday: “But the see-no-evil UMass board apparently has no such doubts. Its loyalty to Bulger is as misplaced as Bulger's is to his brother. Where is William Bulger's loyalty to society, and particularly to South Boston, where a number of families and business people were terrorized and countless lives ruined by his brother's savagery?”
Postscript: FYI, here's the NYT's take
on yesterday's hearing.
You gotta feel bad for all the honest priests out there in the parishes, as they watch the church’s sex-abuse scandal unfold every day. Now they’re talking of a revolt
, sort of. Watch for Law’s crack down.
Yep, Oren Yiftachel
manages to squeeze in a reference to McCarthyism in this oped. Of course. My favorite line: “This is no accident. A well-organized system of Jewish and right-wing Christian organizations (actively supported by right-wing Israeli elements) is working on American campuses, exerting heavy pressure on media outlets, and operating dozens of Internet sites.” ... Dozens of Internet sites? Good God! Is he talking about weblogs, too? No one told me that I might be inadvertently joining a vast-Jewish-right-wing conspiracy by starting this blog. I want my money back! Wait a second. I don’t pay for this blog. ... Listen, Oren does allude to a lot of good points: the Jewish settlements, the growing racial ugliness of many right-wing Israelis; how the Palestinians need a state of their own one day. But what I think the academic Oren is really upset about is that, on American campuses, many students and faculty members haven’t universally embraced a “left-wing” view (I use that term loosely) of the Middle East and that many students and faculty members with a “right-wing” view (I use that term even more loosely) are actually pushing back.
My faith ... tested again
: Have a window of opportunity to blog, then it’s off again.
I don’t quite know what to say about the Rev. James Foley story
. I don’t want to be too personal in this blog. When I started Hub Blog, I set out to write about public policy issues and other assorted shenanigans of importance and interest to Bostonians, occasionally referring to my own personal experiences in casual generalities, such as my having worked as a journalist for 20 some odd years and what I’ve learned from that experience.
But this morning’s news about Father Foley ... it’s very personal. As I write, there’s a photo on my windowsill of Father Foley and I together at a restaurant, surrounded by a group of smiling friends. Father Foley is a dear friend of mine. And always will be. In a way, Father Foley is my only true link to the Catholic Church. One might describe me as a semi-agnostic/cultural Catholic who nevertheless still loves the church for all its rich traditions and mysteries. Father Foley always understood this side of me -- and respected it. He never once urged me to explore my faith or to start attending Mass. He knew it was more complicated than that. Over the years, I’ve had countless conversations with Father Foley -- about faith, God, the bible, the church, golf, politics, history, the best tasting scotch etc. I’ve always been touched by his deep, quiet spirituality -- and moved, above all, by his gentle respect for others’ viewpoints. And I’ve always thought, “Well, if I ever return to the Church as a practicing Catholic, it’s going to be because of people like Father Foley.”
In the past year, my faith in the church (actually, it’s more like an ingrained allegiance) has been sorely tested, as it has for so many Boston Catholics. Still ... I always thought of Father Foley. He was my rock. My only true link to the Church. A dear friend. “Well, if I ever go back to the Church as a practicing Catholic, it’s going to be because of people like Father Foley. ... ”
And now this. When I first learned last night of the trouble he was in and then read this morning’s papers, I wanted to burst out crying. ''It's all true,'' Father Foley told the Globe yesterday. ''Yes, I made mistakes when I was younger but I have led a proper, priestly life since then. ... I should be judged by my whole career, not just what is spelled out in that letter.'' And he has been a good priest. And he should be judged by his whole career. I truly believe him. And I truly believe that he truly believes. I can’t stand to think of the pain he’s now enduring. He’s a dear friend. And always will be. But I also want to know this: What happened to that poor woman many years ago? And what happened to her and his children? Are they well? Have they been cared for? Are they happy? Do they know
? That’s who we should be thinking of now.
“Well, if I ever go back to the Church as a practicing Catholic, it’s going to be because of people like Father Foley. ... ”
What a horrible realization to arrive at -- to know that’s no longer possible. Father Foley was suspended from his clergy duties yesterday by Cardinal Law, who should have resigned at the same time.
: Couple of emails have come in. The first asks whether I knew about his deep past. Answer: No, I didn't. I hope that comes across in my post. The second asks whether I think his acts stack up with other sex scandals. Answer: No, but ... I would like to know the answers to my questions. I don't want the children's privacy violated, I'm just asking questions in general. ... P.S. Strange how all these scandals come back to children, eh?
Update -- 12-9-02
-- See above link
for more on the same subject. 'Complicated' people indeed.
My heart really isn't into it today, but here are some other posts ...
The Petulant Tiger
: There’s this view
of Mayor Menino. And there’s this view
The conservative media
: Check out Dan Kennedy’s
take on the Howell Raines/spiked story controversy. In the past few weeks, Dan’s raised some intriguing points about the conservative opinion media. I disagree with him on many points, but he’s definitely on to something when he talks about the growing power of the conservative opinion media. Hope to write about the subject at a different time. ... Also check out this Instapundit
item on the Howell Raines/spiked story incident. My sentiments, exactly. The NYT is a great American institution. Howell Raines’ ‘crusading’ on every issue he feels strongly about is destroying a bond with so many readers. I have a feeling many NYT staffers are thinking the same thing.
: This just in: Howell Raines now plans to run the two spiked columns
. It took courage to do this -- and that's refreshing and encouraging.
: I'm going to be busy with business and some personal matters for most of the day. I'll try blogging later this afternoon/early evening. ... NECN is carrying the Congressional hearing/Bulger appearance live (yes, Billy is there) as I write. Billy's attorney just tried to postpone his testimony, but the request was quickly shot down. Bulger just got sworn in. He's about to read from a statement. And ... he's asking for a closed hearing. The request was just voted down by the committee. .... Wait! Billy is taking the Fifth Amendment. Howie was right! ...And the committee just adjourned. Nine minutes. Over. Wow. ... And I got to go. (What a news day in Boston.)
Safire on Bulger
: As I've said before, sometimes an outsider has a more clear vision
than we do of ourselves and our surroundings. Safire to Billy's older brother: "Message to Whitey, wherever you are: Loyalty runs two ways. Call your kid brother. Surrender to the F.B.I. through him. Hasn't he laid his career on the line by being fiercely loyal to you? You're an old man now; have you thought of returning that loyalty by saving him from the taint of having helped you? Won't happen. The bad seed is probably laughing at his brother for being such a sucker. "
Laughing? Maybe. But I doubt it. I think Whitey angrily expects loyalty -- or else. He's a gangster after all. ... P.S. Bill Safire, careful how you use the word 'good.' Billy Bulger has a documented record of protecting his 'bad seed' brother's back -- legislative tricks, convenient patronage hires, budgetary cuts at key times at the State Police etc. Billy Bulger "laid" his career on the line years ago, Bill. Minor quibble with an otherwise great column ... Thanks to Brighton reader for the tip. Don't know how I missed it.
: Ellen Goodman
looked all set to break out of form by criticizing fellow feminists over their Miss World comments. And then she pulled a punch. Somewhere. Somehow. Think it was done somewhere in the attributions. Very artful.
Bankrupt leadership: The Globe
, again, is urging Cardinal Law to step down. He won’t, of course. ... The lead on Adrian Walker’s column
this morning: “How can anyone now follow this man? How can any sane person worship at an altar presided over by a cleric who provided the support -- I refuse to call it moral support -- to sick, depraved priests that Cardinal Bernard F.
Law did?” And your point, Adrian? ... Margery Eagan
, well, you already know her point.
What, no backhoe?:
Yeah, it was a ‘dead end’
all right. Peter Gelzinis
finds the timing of the Bulger burial tip just a tad coincidental.
Menino and taxes
: A couple of readers have sent emails asking why I didn't post on Mayor Menino's call for tax/fees increases
on sporting/entertainment tickets, parking, towing, restaurant meals etc. Hub Blog's response: I was too busy with 'leaders' covering up for murders, rapes etc. ... As for the proposed new taxes, I'm not a 'no-new-taxes' type of person. Taxes are needed. I honestly (wait, strike the word 'honestly' -- see items below) believe one can justify tax increases if they're earmarked for specific purposes. ( I favor a gasoline tax if it's earmarked for construction of new rail lines in Massachusetts, for instance.) But the mayor's proposals? Not one, as far as I can see, is earmarked for a specific service. Not one. He's also trying to tie the increases to the budget woes in the suburbs. Whoa. Selfishly, I would support an increase in: A.) towing charges (I live in the city) and B.) restaurant taxes (I'm still peeved about the non-smoking proposal for bars and restaurants -- let the Puritans pay the price for their self-righteousness.) But sporting events? Parking fees? Etc.? Who was it that recently wrote that Menino was trying his best to sqeeze the fun out of nightlife in Boston? Was it the Phoenix? I forget. But that's what he's doing. The mayor is getting old and full of himself. Not quite as bad as Kevin White, another pol who stuck around too long. But it's reaching that point, quickly.
'Bulger and the Watermelon Man'
: Dan Kennedy
has some interesting thoughts on the Bulger affair. OK, I'll concede: U.S. Rep. Dan Burton isn't a saint. He's not my top choice for a sheriff to be leading our Bulger posse. Still, an alleged killer is on the loose, and one of this state's top former lawmakers chose brotherly loyalty over public duty and safety. Let him squirm before the committee. A little humiliation is a hell of a lot better than what others got from Whitey, Stevie, the FBI and, yes, Billy, over the years.
: Yes, yes, yes. Billy is a victim
. He's outraged. Outraged! We need justice. Find that leaker. Meanwhile, his brother, who Billy will do nothing to help find and apprehend, is still eluding justice for his alleged connection to 21 murders. Twenty-one murders. Billy Bulger. What a twisted mind.
Update II: NECN is reporting that, if Billy testifies on Friday, TV channels in Boston plan to carry it live.
: Met a fellow Boston blogger, John Farrell
, for lunch at Legal's in Park Square. Good conversation about blogging, writing, Boston, Billy Bulger, whatever. He has a real cool idea for a fiction series, sort of a science fiction/detective saga, but, no, it's not another X-Files. That's all the details I can give. If there are any interested book agents out there ...
‘Honest loyalty,’ Part II
: Love that phrase -- ‘honest loyalty.’ So, so ... so gangster-like in all its twisted logic. (Nobody talks more about ‘honesty’ and ‘loyalty’ than wiseguys. Nobody is more dishonest and disloyal than wiseguys cutting deals with the feds or plunging knives in the back of friends when it serves a useful purpose. What’s the old Mark Twain line about getting queasy when a dinner guest goes on and on about his honesty? ... ) Anyway ...
Where to begin? Seems like every columnist in town is scrambling to get a piece of the Billy action. But I think the most important story is this: Mitt thinks Billy should testify
... or else. Mitt, Mitt, Mitt. What’s this about civic duty? You’re such a Boy Scout, Mitt. Don’t you know you’re supposed to dodge, weave, fudge and say you really haven’t formed an opinion yet on whether the president of the UMass system should testify before a Congressional committee? I mean, this is Massachusetts, Mitt. You’re a Beacon Hill insider now. Start acting like one! ... Billy is pulling a Ronald Reagan
, who at least had a verifiable medical excuse for his loss of memory when testifying under oath during the Iran-Contra scandal. ... Bulger has a $200,000 a year pension
waiting for him? Two-hundred frigging thousand dollars?
Billy, take Howie’s advice: Grab the loot and scram. Share it with Whitey if you want, but, whatever you do, don’t mutter anything that will get you convicted on a perjury charge. Convicted felons aren’t supposed to get state pensions in Massachusetts (with the words ‘supposed to’ heavily qualified). ... Billy, the clock is ticking at UMass
. Negotiate a better deal if you want. It’s a risk. But go. Just go. ... The code of silence
indeed. ... Loyalty to murder victims?
C’mon, Eileen. He’s not talking about that
type of loyalty.
And now for a different type of ‘honest loyalty’
: Cardinal ‘I didn’t know the extent’ Law knows about loyalty
, too, of the Billy variety, not the Eileen variety. As for the ‘honest’ part, you decide. ... Another Boy Scout
is talking frankly! (Or was -- and years ago, Cardinal.)
Check out yesterday’s items, which were posted late ...
Ah, here are my posts for today -- 12-03-02, 6:30 p.m.:
Better late than never. Wrote these items early this morning. Blogger was down most of the day. Seems like Blogger is trying to pull a Microsoft by nudging us, against our will, toward a pay Blogger Pro system. Can't blame them. We're mooching, after all. Get what you pay for etc. etc. etc. Still, wish they'd just come out and say, "There ain't no free lunch," rather than jerking us around and bragging about how idealistic they are. Here are my blogs for Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2002, nine hours late ...
Meet John Kerry
: It’s always fun to see non-Bostonians forming an opinion about someone we already intimately know -- in this case, John Kerry
(the Globe editorial is extremely innocuous -- typical we-have-to-say-something nonsense). The entire blogosphere is rattling with questions about John, otherwise known here as old ‘Liveshot,’ a nickname used affectionately by some, not-so affectionately by others. Mickey Kaus
got the ball rolling by asking: What it is about Kerry that makes one instinctively dislike him? (Scroll down to find item.) Josh Marshall
jumped on the issue. And so did Instapundit
. Former Boston Globe columnist John Ellis
has patiently tried to explain Kerry to fellow bloggers on several occasions
. Today, the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz
summed up: “John Kerry, it seems, is like one of those Rorschach ink blots: Everyone sees what they want.” ... Personally, Hub Blog is eagerly awaiting the day when it finally sinks in that: A.) The antiwar (of the Vietnam variety) Kerry never really threw his medals over the fence during a protest in Washington many moons ago B.) Kerry filmed most of his Vietnam war exploits for historic and political prosperity. C.) Kerry was Michael Dukakis’ lieutenant governor before becoming U.S. Senator (local Massachusetts Republicans, as I write, are eagerly scrambling to find the most gloriously damaging videos and photos of the two together). ...
... Hub Blog’s local take on Kerry? He’s neither beloved nor hated in his home state. He’s just there. (“To put it mildly, Kerry has a warmth problem,” as Kurtz phrased it.) He’s part Bill Bradley (thoughtful), part Bill Clinton (vain and narcissistic), part JFK (yes, another full-head-of-hair pretty boy deeply influenced and touched by the Camelot image of his youth -- and, yes, Kerry’s initials really are JFK, which some say should mean, ‘Just For Kerry’). Throw it all together and you get a variation of Gary Hart, both the good and the bad. Republicans will score some points by labeling Kerry a ‘Massachusetts liberal,’ though he really isn’t one. He’s taken some daring stands over the years (though one suspects they were taken in part because he’s been eyeing the White House for years). Instead, Kerry’s candidacy will probably fizzle as more and more people are exposed to his personality. But don’t count the guy out. He ran one of the best, most aggressive re-election campaigns in ‘96 against then Gov. William Weld, who at the outset of the race was viewed by many as a favorite to win. Kerry pounded the crap out of the overrated Weld. He’s a formidable foe. His lust for intellectual acclaim and higher office is legendary. He’s a serious candidate who will drive supporters and critics alike absolutely nuts.
A reader familiar with the Kerry/Weld race in ‘96 responds
“First (and this is in Joe Klein NYer piece): Kerry threw the ribbons that went with his medals over that famous fence. So, no, he didn’t throw his MEDALS, but he did throw decorations awarded him by the U.S. Navy for exemplary service. He also threw medals or ribbons given to him by other vets who could not be there that day, which leads to the ‘Kerry threw somebody else’s medals’ story.
“Second, he didn’t film ‘his war exploits’ -- the little of those films I’ve seen are more like home movies of his buddies. A lot of soldiers took snapshots. Kerry was a rich guy even then, so he could afford a movie camera. And saying he made the films for ‘historic and political prosperity’ is a guess, not a fact.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Good points. Let’s take them in order: 1.) We agree Kerry did NOT throw his medals over the fence during the protest, which was the whole purpose of the event; the event wasn’t about throwing medals’ ribbons over the fence or throwing others’ medals over the fence. Ultimately, it was an empty gesture on Kerry’s part. He wanted to have it both ways. 2.) We agree Kerry did film some of his war experiences (exploits, whatever), though I’ll concede he may not have done it as much (or in the style) as I implied. As for his motives for filming some of his Vietnam experiences, it’s indeed anyone’s guess, but, with everything we now know about Kerry, I think it’s entirely reasonable to jump to the conclusion (though not a fact) that he was building up his own PT-109 portfolio for future use, as well as trying out a cool gadget only rich kids could afford at the time.
. The same reader, who regularly reads Hub Blog, also made this suggestion: “I’d love to see less summary and more commentary” in Hub Blog. We agree on that point -- and I plead guilty. Thanks for the tip. ... One other point: Yikes! People are reading this and I’m going to get a good Fisking one of these days if I’m not careful.
Now an update on another issue of importance in old liberal Massachusetts ...
So Billy Bulger spoke to Whitey
after his big brother skipped town in ‘95. A lawyer, Billy didn’t tell his outlaw brother to turn himself in to the feds. But didn’t Billy, as a lawyer, feel a sense of duty to do so -- to the law, to the people of Massachusetts? ''I never thought of it that way,'' said Bulger, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate and current head of the UMass system. ''But I do have an honest loyalty to my brother, and I care about him, and I know that that's not welcome news, but ... it's my hope that I'm never helpful to anyone against him ... I don't feel an obligation to help everyone to catch him.''
Now, one can view these words as a sign of ‘brotherly love,’ as Brian McGrory
sentimentally writes, as if this is still mid-1980s Boston. Or one can view Bulger’s words as those of a gangster, as Peter Gelzinis
non-sentimentally writes in 2002, post-‘Black Mass’ Boston. My favorite quote today comes from Steve Davis, whose sister was strangled to death by Stevie and Whitey in a Southie basement, next door to Billy’s house. “Look, I come from a whole line of brothers,” Davis told Gelzinis. “We always knew what the other ones were up to -- even if we didn't want to know. Don't tell me Billy didn't know what his scumbag brother was up to.”
Oh, yes, his scumbag brother -- and Billy’s documented legislative, budgetary and patronage shenanigans to protect friends of Whitey and punish those who wanted to catch the psychopath. But Billy “It's my hope that I'm never helpful to anyone against him ” Bulger now expresses regret (indicating Steve Davis is right about his prior knowledge of Whitey’s deeds, of course) that he didn’t have a heart-to-heart talk with his older smumbag brother while his older scumbag brother was pulling off all his scumbag capers, including first-degree murders. You know, straighten him out. Ah, brotherly love.
: Cosmo Macero
doesn’t like the fact that John Poindexter might lead the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Cosmo: “The premise alone suggests J. Edgar Hoover has been reanimated for the war on terrorism. Because the starting point for this Mission Unconscionable is a chilling government catalog of everyday American life.And the red flags won't be limited to clumsy consumer purchases of firearms, fertilizer and tickets to Tel Aviv. Consider: The data input list for Total Information Awareness suggests the Pentagon will track Americans' ‘financial, education, travel, medical, veterinary, transportation, housing’ and other transactions. My favorite: ‘Place and event entry.’ Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the government won't be following you." ... John Poindexter. Henry Kissinger. Who's next? G. Gordon Liddy?
: It was an important day
in the history of the Boston media, for it meant Boston would remain one of the few two-newspapers towns in America. ... And was it really 20 years ago? Yikes!
Rating African progress
: Robert I. Rotberg
has a good piece on the need to rate the progress of governing in Africa. Believe me, the government cronies over there pay attention to these ratings. They have an impact. That's why some leaders want to drop them.
Whitewashing ‘theocratic fascism’
: Cathy Young
starts off this morning’s Globe column ('Blaming the victim of terrorism') with this:
“While I generally agree with the conservatives when it comes to the war on terror, there is a worrisome tendency on the right today to impugn the patriotism of political opponents. (Rush Limbaugh calling Senator Tom Daschle ‘Hanoi Tom’ and ‘Tokyo Tom’ for his criticism of the Bush Administration's war policies comes to mind.) But there is an equally real and disturbing
tendency on the left to blame America first and to promote the notion of moral equivalency between Western democracies and their enemies.”
From there, she rarely misses a beat, taking on John Reed, Chris Hedges, Jill Nelson and others on the left who do blame America first and promote the notion of moral equivalency between Americans and terrorists. Her kicker line: “Some so-called progressives, it seems, would rather whitewash theocratic fascism than acknowledge that the West holds the moral high ground in any conflict. Ironically, this repugnant attitude only helps those conservatives who would demonize all dissent on war-related issues. It certainly makes their job easier.”
Rush Limbaugh certainly is a moron -- and his jackass demonizing of Tom Daschle is sickening. Every self-respecting conservative, moderate and liberal should condemn such remarks, just as we should condemn anyone who makes gross generalizations about, say, Muslim Americans, blah, blah, blah. But what’s been said on the left about America and Americans in general since Sept. 11 -- and what’s continuing to be said on the far left, both here and abroad -- is morally and intellectually appalling. On any given day we’re: imperialists, dolts, murderers, environmental rapists, stupid warmongers, immature, arrogant, selfish, obese, racist etc. etc. etc. The only thing I haven’t heard yet from the far left is, “Your mother wears army boots.” ... I recently finished William Shirer’s “The Collapse of the Third Republic," a fascinating inquiry into the fall of France in 1940. What astonished me -- and shouldn’t have astonished me -- was the number of Socialists who effortlessly shifted from the hard-core left to the hard-core right before, during and after the fall of France. They didn’t miss a beat. Their extremism, their narrow-minded fanaticism simply shifted to a different plane of political extremism and narrow-minded fanaticism. We’re seeing a variation of that shift today: Hard-core leftists apologizing for, covering up for, expressing sympathy for, and/or rooting for theocratic fascism. The intellectual bridge that makes this possible? Anti-Americanism.
Update -- 10:17 a.m
.: Not to harp on this point too much (OK, I’m harping too much), but ... Flipped back through William Shirer’s “The Collapse of the Third Republic” and found this passage on France’s Georges Sorel, the ‘penetrating but shifting bourgeois philosopher’ who swung hard-core left, then right, then left and who in 1912 had interesting things to say about a certain Italian who also flip-flopped his way across the political spectrum. Sorel, whose writings influenced this Italian, said of him:
“Our Mussolini is no ordinary Socialist. Believe me, you will perhaps see him one day at the head of a sacred battalion, saluting with his sword the Italian banner. He is an Italian of the fifteenth century, a condottiere
. People do not know it, but he is the only energetic man capable of readdressing the weakness of government.”
Hmmm. Benito. Osama. Excuses. Illogic. Shared grievances. Readdressing the wickedness of America.
Post Thanksgiving, Day 3
: Worked out yesterday, again. Didn’t go to a bar afterward, unlike the day before. Feel very fit and proud. Almost back to pre-T-Day normal obesity levels ... Anyway, today’s Globe and Herald make you feel lucky to live in Boston. I mean, what a news town. Today’s Sunday Globe is one of its best Sunday editions of the year -- scoops, solid local stories, world stories, complicated stories, satisfying stories, interesting stories. The Herald’s Sunday paper ain’t bad either, as they say. There’s a lot of material here. Take your pick. ...
The Sunday Globe ...
Now they’re financially bankrupt
: We already knew they were morally bankrupt. Now they’re on the verge of declaring financial bankruptcy
. Is there an Economics 101 lesson here? ... Key graf: “Moving the church's troubles into bankruptcy court -- if negotiations fail -- would amount to an admission by the archdiocese that it is liable for the claims because of its negligence, according to one of the church sources. It would also mean that Law would no longer have to answer embarrassing questions in pretrial depositions about his oversight of abusive priests, and his lawyers could stop providing plaintiffs' lawyers with damaging files about priests.” ... The last sentence is probably, for Law, the most important consideration.
Chechens and nukes
: Globe reporter David Filipov
reports on how Chechen rebels have repeatedly tried to -- and possibly succeeded in-- obtaining nuke warheads and other nuclear materials. From the story: “John Colarusso, a specialist on the Caucasus region at McMaster University in Ontario, said, ‘I am reasonably certain that they have or had at least three warheads.’” ... Not everyone agrees with that assertion. Still: “The commander of Russia's nuclear arsenal, Colonel General Igor Valynkin, has reported two efforts by armed groups to probe the defenses at nuclear weapons storage sites.” ... ... P.S. One still wonders how Filipov, whose father was killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, holds it so magnificently together. His reporting hasn’t shown a trace of obsessive anger or vindictiveness. His best and only vengeance has been his professionalism: Just find and show the facts. What a reporter.
Another John Rawls tribute
: Quick summary of a great man’s achievements
: “John Rawls's distinctive contribution to our political culture, however, lies principally in his political philosophy - a contribution that is abstract, but also deeply practical.” ... As I’ve said, I didn’t know much about his work before his recent death, but now ... it just makes sense.
Iran’s ‘Second Revolution’
: Agree with Instapundit
on this one: Why aren’t events in Iran getting more attention? As Jeff Jacoby
says: “The extraordinary scenes in Tehran, Tabriz, and Isfahan evoke memories of 1989, when prodemocracy demonstrations drew massive throngs into the streets of Eastern Europe and China. In Europe, those demonstrations led to freedom; in China, they led to the Tiananmen Square massacre. Which way Iran will go - the toppling of the dictatorship or a brutal crackdown on the demonstrators - there is no way to know.”
Housing, sprawl and septic tanks
: I don’t know about this one
. It sure looks like it would promote sprawl in Central and Western Massachusetts. But we also need more housing -- and government regulations, at the local and state levels, have done so much to cause the current housing crisis. The key remains, in my opinion, local zoning laws, not state laws.
Sidewalk superintendents, take note
: As you’ve probably noticed, Hub Blog is an incurable sidewalk superintendent. As I stroll around town, I have an opinion on the style/appropriateness of every new building, every vacant lot, every construction project. Guess it’s my Tonka-Truck gene. This Logan project
sounds cool, and if the description is accurate, I think it’s going to give foreign visitors an awesome first-impression of Boston.
Ah, now for the Herald ...
Reassuring news from the Statehouse
: Can it be true? They’re actually serious about closing the budget gap through logical reform and reorganizations? They may not be successful, but at least they’re trying
. This is very reassuring news about Mitt’s earnest seriousness.
Billy and Whitey
: Both Peter Gelzinis
and Wayne Woodlief
believe Billy Bulger will simply try to ignore the House committee’s subpoena. Peter: “It's obvious: there were far too many points of intersection between Billy and Whitey in those years when one ruled Beacon Hill and the other ruled the local underworld. The brothers looked out for each other in those years when both their fortunes rose exponentially.” Obvious indeed. Wayne: “On Friday, Burton committee chief counsel James Wilson was talking tough. He said the committee will subpoena Bulger and that if he refuses to testify he could be held in contempt of Congress and even jailed. But do not expect to see this Bulger led off in handcuffs. He knows the score on a Congress in adjournment.”
Dominatrix, Part II: Margery Eagan
asks: “Perhaps you, too, read all this and asked yourself: Who are these people, please?” Oh, we at Hub Blog read it all right
-- and we asked the very same question.
Post Thanksgiving, Day 2:
Worked out yesterday to try to shed some of the Turkey Day pounds -- and then afterward hit a bar for some holiday cheer at 3:30 p.m. Didn’t emerge until 8: 30 p.m. Somehow, I don’t think this is the way to lose weight. ... Again, keeping the posts light on this glorious holiday weekend ...
John Rawls tribute
: Hub Blog isn’t overly familiar with the works of John Rawls, but this piece
strikes me as one of the better descriptions of his views on a just society. Rawls died earlier this week.
Open testimony and secret courts
: The New York Times’ take on the never-ending Bulger saga
and Harvard’s ‘Secret Court.’
And last but certainly not least ...
‘Dominatrix pleads not guilty: Kinky Quincy Mistress demure in date with court’
: That’s the headline. Here’s the story
. (The Can’t-Stop-Reading lead: “Acting more the part of Miss Manners than mistress of the dark, a former Quincy dominatrix pleaded innocent yesterday to charges she helped dice up and dispose of a New Hampshire father who died in her homemade dungeon.”)
Update - 10:35 a.m.
: More Boston-area bloggers to check out -- DVZ Isle of Zile
and The Daily Steve
A fat and happy post-Thanksgiving blogger
: T-Day was everything I expected and more. Very content. (Hub Blog even made off with the leftover creamed onions, unbeknownst to rival siblings, who will be quite angry when they read this confession.) Will try to keep blogging light over the next few days. Must go to the gym to sweat off newly acquired bloat etc. Some casual posts for the day (OK, maybe not so light) ...
: Judging by the lead and ending of his story, Nick Cafardo
seems impressed with the Pats’ victory yesterday. Hub Blog wasn’t impressed at all, but I’ll take the win.
Two day-after Thanksgiving views of the American mindset
: In a piece entitled ‘The problem at the root of US-European discord,’ columnist William Pfaff
finds the problem: George Bush, neoconservativism, and Americans’ religiousness. Besides blaming every toothache in the world on Americans, anyone who can lump Madeleine Albright and George Ball into a neoconservative category normally loses me. But I plowed on and found this nugget: “Manicheism had largely disappeared in Europe by the 6th century, although it influenced the medieval heresies of the Cathars, Albigenses, and the Bogomils. Its dualism is an interpretation of existence that has proven persistent and seductive. In the United States its religious expression has weakened, but its influence on the American mind, as it addresses foreign affairs, is stronger than ever” ... But H.D.S. Greenway
sees some of the same religious factors and draws a different (and more balanced) political conclusion. “They (Pilgrims and other early American settlers) were not a tolerant crowd. The equality that Abraham Lincoln would later speak of did not apply then to all races and creeds -- an omission that haunts us even now. But the act of submission and obedience to just and equal laws, the determination to live self-governing lives, was a new concept then, and all too rare in the world even today. 'We must never forget this,’ the historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote, ‘for in the colonies of other European nations the will of the prince, or his representative, was supreme.’” Greenway adds: “The rights, privileges, and aristocratic airs of European courts were not suited to the New World. ‘In Virginia,’ wrote Captain John Smith, ‘a plaine Souldier that can use a pick-ax and spade is better than five knights.’” ... Gee, William forgot to mention all those dukes, barons, princes, princesses, kings and queens -- not to mention assorted Kaisers, Generalissimos, Fuhrers etc. -- who were still around in the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th centuries. Must have slipped his mind during his weighty analysis of lingering 6th Century Manicheism.
A new epilogue for ‘Black Mass’?:
Howie Carr thinks Billy Bulger
is going to take the Fifth when he appears before a Congressional hearing. Howie: “How odd that it takes a Republican congressman from Indiana to hammer the final nail into the Bulger coffin. For once, the Corrupt Midget runs into someone who cannot be bought off with a courthouse job, a low-number license plate, or, failing that, a threat. No longer can Bulger haughtily quote Tacitus or say in his fake brogue that he will address the issue of organized crime score-settling in the state budget only when he ‘deems it appropriate.’ ... Believe it or not, there are still people defending the Bulger/FBI crowd. The book ‘Black Mass’ should be required reading for Bostonians.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving
: Off to watch a high-school football game, followed by the traditional stuff-a-thon at my parents. I have no doubt my Thanksgiving will resemble what Margery Eagan described a few days ago
. And I look forward to every minute of it. Have a great Thanksgiving.
Yes, let’s big-dig ‘em, by all means
: Introducing a new word (and not just a nickname) into the local vocabulary: ‘big-dig’ (v. -- to swindle money from feds, to shamelessly loot, to hoodwink non-Massachusetts residents into paying for local boondoggles -- big-digging
-- We sure big-digged them again
-- / ... Big Dig/big-dig (n.). 1. Name of large tunnel construction project in Boston in late 20th Century, early 21st Century, locally known as the ‘Big Dig’ project. 2. Noun used to signify big projects in Boston paid for by the federal government. -- Oh, don't worry. It's another big-dig. We're not paying a dime.
/ ... big-dig (adj.-adv.) -- to describe the questionable use of fed money for local projects -- Quick, finish the job. They're on to our big-dig scam.
... ) ... With that in mind, it’s good news indeed Mitt is big-digging
the feds again. All the power to him. I don’t want to pay for the 2004 Democratic Convention. Do you?
'Angriest Man in Boston' and 'Liveshot'
: Boston is truly blessed. The number of characters here per square inch can’t be beat. One can only imagine Steve Bailey
nervously eyeing the battery light on his tape recorder as John Silber spewed out the words. ... Who are you going to believe when it comes to John Kerry: Joe Klein or Howie Carr
Response from a Globe/Hub Blog reader
: “Is anyone getting more out of their column right now than the Globe's Steve Bailey? Consistently interesting and newsy stuff. I know Marty Baron comes from a business news background and he seems to be making a big difference in that section.” ... (The same reader also has some comments below, after Reader No. 1's observations, concerning my criticism of Theo.)
Free speech at Harvard
: Alan Dershowitz
and Globe columnist Scot Lehigh
perform a journalistic tag-team maneuver on Harvard over free speech and speech codes. Dershowitz’s mischievous head-lock tactic: Asking whether a typical campus speech code would apply to the words of Tom Paulin or Amiri Baraka. Of course, their words wouldn’t be included in a typical campus speech code -- but that’s the point. Dershowitz: “Clever people can always come up with distinctions that put their cases on the prohibited side of the line and other people's cases on the permitted side of the line. ... The real problem is that offensiveness is often in the eyes and experiences of the beholder.” ...
... Meanwhile, Lehigh argues that left-leaning speech codes are sending the wrong signals to students about their freedoms and responsibilities -- and, in the process, they're weakening the foundation of free speech in general. Lehigh's warning: “With the country drifting rightward in reaction to Sept. 11, left-leaning faculty members may find themselves exchanging the role of censor for that of censored.” ... At first, I thought Lehigh was overstating the possible consequences, but, unfortunately, I think he’s right. Recall the ‘disinvite’ portion of the Paulin dispute and the pressure put on the Cambridge bookstore to cancel the appearance of an author who dared to criticize NYC firefighters. Goon-squad tactics are certainly not unique to the left.
: Ideally, Harvard would seize on all these controversies to make a bold, dramatic policy announcement on campus free speech -- a bold, dramatic policy with an intended far-reaching impact on other campuses. But idealism, alas, is also in the eyes of the beholder, so don’t expect much from the leaders over in Camp Cambridge.
: Just finished reading this article
in my print edition of Atlantic Monthly. Bobby Fischer is off-his-rocker insane.
Mini-Duke, ‘Thanks Dad’ Part II
: We finally get rid of Paul ‘Thanks Dad’ Gaston -- and a short while later we get Mini-Duke
. This isn’t a very fair trade. Thank goodness I’m not the only one
who thinks the Theo move is strange. Very strange. (And what’s up with the Bill James appointment?)... Ah, we do indeed have a new ‘Thanks Dad’ appointment
in Boston. ... The jury is still out on the new Sox ownership, but the Theo appointment combined with this
makes you wonder. ... Margery Eagan
writes about why this is going to be the best but most controversial Thanksgiving in New England since the Big One with Miles Standish. Favorite graf from the column, referring to a local Loud Family’s typical T-Day dinner conversation: “Not only does everybody talk, loudly and all at once during the meal, the game and instant replays, they debate and argue, loudly. ‘You just try and stop 'em,’ says Kevin. ‘Food in their mouths. Drumsticks. And then my sister, the teacher, will be talking all her liberal pabulum. `Who's gonna take care of the poor?' she'll say. `We can't cut taxes,' she'll say. Every year. Drives me nuts.’ ''
Reader No. 1 responds to the hiring of Theo
: "Theo seems no more of a risk than hiring an ex-jock for the post, and perhaps slightly more of a risk than a conventional pick if only because brutal fans will pick on him for his youth the first time someone blows a lead in spring training. I heard Theo interviewed by Dennis & Callahan this morning and there seems nothing that an elocution specialist can't fix (Theo, please stop saying "I guess" so much, and pronounce your "ing" at the end of words). It's a fresh approach, and on-the-field aside, the new management had a good first year with fresh approaches. By the way, I think the BIll James appointment is brilliant. There's a world of difference between James and the rotisserie leaguers his work spawned. James loves the game and he understands it."
Another reader agrees with Reader No. 1
: “Go easy on Theo. I would be careful about taking the Ordway-esque position that the Sox GM job is brain surgery.”
Speaking of Miles Standish
: Always count on James Carroll
to liven up your day.
Blowing smoke in our eyes
: It was always a racket
, involving certain turf-conscious social groups and oh-so eager ad firms. Now the Globe is confirming (sort of) what we all knew at a gut-instinct level: The anti-tobacco advertising campaign doesn’t work, and we’ve been pouring settlement money down the ‘public education’ drain for a while now. (Question: How many McMansions and/or vacation homes do you think local TV and ad execs have bought with their indirect share of the settlement loot?)
: They’re throwing another tantrum
up north. Listen, I think most of the new Homeland Defense/INS laws stink. Hub Blog has a friend who’s about to be deported (they’re not using the word ‘deport,’ but that’s what it is), and it’s unfair. But crossing the border with a gun and without permission, after being warned not to do it again, in the post-Sept. 11 era?
‘What would Jesus drive?’ - Explained
: I’ve been wondering what all the fuss has been about. Alex Beam
explains. Fun piece. And what a stupid issue.
Local Dems in trouble
: You know the Democratic party
in Massachusetts is in trouble when they actually debate this question: “Should the party resolve that it will try to appeal to ‘moderates’ and ‘mainstream’ voters?” FYI: The words ‘moderates’ and ‘mainstream’ were stricken and replaced by ‘all voters.’ ... From the same article: “‘The party has to acknowledge the fact that its hold as majority party is diminishing. The party is shrinking,’ said Secretary of State William F. Galvin, a ranking Democrat who has never been a favorite of party apparatchiks.” ... Apparatchiks. Interesting word choice, but very appropriate when the words ‘moderates’ and ‘mainstream’ are all but declared taboo by the party’s ruling class.
John Kerry, confessor
: Haven’t read Joe Klein’s buzz-generating New Yorker article on John Kerry (I’m not a subscriber and the magazine hasn’t posted the story yet). But here’s the Herald’s take
on the piece. ... Joe Sciacca
This is a big story. Seems the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s
powers are about to expire. Hub Blog’s gut instinct is that the BRA has done more good than bad over the years. Look around. There really is a ‘new’ Boston, as much as I cynically like to poke fun of the word. Sure, the BRA, in its early stages in the ‘50s and ‘60s, acted in almost utopian/imperialistic manner, tearing down entire neighborhoods in the pursuit of ‘revitalization.’ But that early utopian mindset -- in which it was believed government could solve all theoretical problems through centralized planning and blunt force -- reflected a different time. Kane Simonian is long gone. So is Ed Logue, who slowly adapted to new realities as his long term as BRA director played out. Ironically, the ‘new’ Boston was partly created by an acceptance that the ‘old’ Boston had to be preserved. The BRA slowly changed with the times. Maybe the BRA’s powers need to be clipped, but Boston still needs a strong planning/development agency that can overcome the city’s historically powerful neighborhood bosses and interest groups. Otherwise, a lot of things won’t get done.
Religion in America
: Cathy Young has an interesting piece on the role of religion
(i.e. Christianity) in America. It’s a never ending balancing act. And, at times, it's our job to keep both sides off balance.
Jerry Williams is 79 years old?:
It’s pretty obvious even Williams doesn’t think his return to the airwaves
is a good idea. Jerry, hold your head high and just call it quits.
The ad recovery
: Well, this doesn’t bode well
for my job search ...
Throwing money at the problem
: Whatever it takes
. Whatever it takes.
Harvard's 'secret court'
: The fact Harvard University once convened a ‘secret court’
to root out homosexuals on campus isn’t so shocking, as tragic as it was, for it happened 80 years ago. What is
sad and shocking is that it’s still happening
today at another great American institution. Makes you wonder whether the Pentagon understands the 'whatever it takes' mindset of most Americans when it comes to the war ... Note: The Herald did a terrific piece yesterday on the Crimson exposé but I lost the link. If anyone has one, flip it my way.
: Oh, yeah, it should go without saying another (formerly) respected institution is also convening courts
'We don't need to change a thing’
: Interesting piece on how to brand the ‘new’ Boston
for the 2004 Democratic Convention. The best (but ‘minority’ ) view came from Barry Tatelman, of Jordan’s Furniture fame, who flatly said, “We don’t need to change a thing.” The Globe paraphrases Tatelman, “Let visitors see the city the way the natives do, and the visitors will also fall in love with the Hub.” ... Kevin Keller, a professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, advises: “Avoid the left-of-center liberal image and embrace more middle-of-the-road mainstream American values.'' You mean, accurately reflect the true image of the region (i.e. McGovern ‘72 and
Reagan ‘80 and ‘84)? The truth? Not sure that’s the non-Camelot image Dems want to send about the ‘new’ Boston. ...
Catholic pain and anger
: This story is painful to read
. Just painful. Is Monsignor Michael Smith Foster, who was falsely accused of sexual abuse, angry at church critics and accusers? Not really. He’s more angry at someone else. Guess who. Here’s an excerpt from the story that shows why Foster is a class act: “Foster says he has no interest in being ‘the poster boy for the falsely accused.’ Foster says it is the victims of priests, and not him, who deserve the church's undivided attention. ‘What I've been through doesn't compare to what these [victims] have been through. They need to hear how sorry the church is for what's been done. They need the apology. They need healing,’ he said. ‘They need to be reached out to. For people in authority, that's their first obligation.’ Asked if the church is doing better in that regard, Foster responded: ‘On one day, yes. On another day, no.’”... Eileen McNamara
, who deserves credit along with a few others for getting the ball rolling on this scandal, writes today: “Withholding the truth until forced to answer specific questions under oath might be a workable legal strategy (for the church), but it casts doubt on the well-orchestrated displays of public remorse the cardinal has engaged in during the last few weeks.” Casting doubt, indeed. ... This is a no-brainer strategy
. They should obey the law -- or face the consequences -- just like any other citizen.