March 26, 2015
Now that John Fish of Suffolk Construction, the brains and brawn behind the Boston 2024 Olympics in Boston, has been forced into a referendum by grassroots opposition and fiscal watchdogs, the keys to the future of the Games are who gets to write the language of the popular vote, how much money will be spent on television advertising, and how will the political establishment (along with every group of vested interests) try to manage popular opinion?
Normally the lawyers in the office of the Secretary of State would control the language in the referendum, but that does not mean that there will be intense lobbying by Fish and his high priced consulting team to influence the end product. The language could be so obtuse and complex that voters will get lost, even though the official handout will give both sides of the argument. It would seem that the vote language should be crystal clear – let the Games move forward without a nickel of taxpayer money. But some smart lawyers and PR flacks might be able to turn the language around in ways that create opportunities for taxpayer handouts. This referendum language phase of the fight will be the most critical stage of the democratic process.
Then it is on to television, radio, the Internet and social media. Fish and his group have gobs of money ( as witnessed by the willingness to pay former Governor Deval Patrick $ 7500 a day for saying to anyone who will listen that Boston is a world class city). On the other side of the argument the grassroots groups and fiscal watchdogs have zero dollars and will have to use their shoe leather and Twitter to get out the message. As many others have remarked already, we are on our way to casinos in large part because of the advertising money that bought time on the local television channels. Look to be overwhelmed by commercials that show Boston transformed into a world class city with no mention of cost or debt.
Finally, while the Governor and legislative leaders are currently skeptical about the cost issue and taxpayers holding the bag, these guys and gals often get swept up in the frenzy of showing off the Commonwealth, having their picture taken with world class athletes, being interviewed by reporters from every corner of the planet, and of course getting a ton of free meals and drinks in those courtesy tents. Not to be too cynical, but you just can’t trust what these guys and gals say when the chips are down and a the state is caught up in referendum politics.
So be careful, be very careful as we head to a 2016 referendum on the 2024 Olympics, And remember there is no such thing as an iron clad promise or a debt free Games. Somehow, someway, we will pay.
February 26, 2015
If you really want to be scared, take a gander at the recent issue of The Atlantic and the article by Graeme Wood ” What ISIS Really Wants and How to Stop It.” Wood has caused quite a storm among liberals and the Muslim community because he states emphatically that the doctrine and practices of ISIS are indeed Islamic, ” Very Islamic.”
Wood delves deeply into the beliefs of the Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and finds that the beheading, crucifixion, slavery and mass murder of those who are deemed apostates, Muslims and non-Muslims, are deeply embedded in the writings of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers. The establishment of a caliphate in Syria and Iraq is part of their apocalyptic vision as their forces will battle the armies of the west and then destroy them; it is then that they will wait for the end of times. There is even a place where all this end of times will occur, the Syrian town of Dabiq, which is mentioned by Muhammad in his writings.
While Wood readily admits that ISIS has attracted a weird bunch of psychopaths and delusional religious fanatics, he emphasizes that the leadership of the caliphate is applying the most harsh version of Islamic law and cannot be viewed as acting devoid of religious beliefs. Of course the vast majority of Muslims do not hold to the values and vision of ISIS and its apocalyptic doctrine, but to say as President Obama and others have said that ISIS is not Islamic is a misreading of their beliefs.
What is really scary, other than the fact that ISIS is well led, well armed and adept at social media propaganda, is that they are in a real sense a death cult that is following to the letter the dogma of Muhammad. They are ready to die and the killing of apostates is normal operating procedure. There is thus no interest in working toward a diplomatic solution or abiding by international agreements or implementing a cease-fire. In fact the goal of ISIS is to spread the caliphate throughout the Middle East and wait for the war with the west that will usher in the end times.
Wood agrees with President Obama that it would be a huge mistake to put thousands of US boots on the ground and take on the Islamist fighters head on; that is exactly what they want as a way to fulfill their apocalyptic vision. The best strategy is to contain them and let the caliphate die off from a lack of fanatical energy and the disillusionment of the fighters as time will eventually weaken a state that is not expanding and attracting more support.
The take away from the Wood article is that not only is ISIS Islamic, but also that it holds beliefs most in the Muslim world reject( which is why ISIS fighters have no problem killing so-called Muslim apostates). It may be politically convenient for some to get involved in word games about what to call ISIS but the key is to understand what their end game is and what they are willing to do in order to bring about the apocalypse. Religious fanatics eventually destroy themselves from within rather than through a modern day crusade. This will be a long war against ISIS but like the containment policies of the Cold War, eventually a warped ideology will implode from within.
February 4, 2015
The national debate over measles vaccinations has become more than a matter of health and safety. What should have been a simple decision by parents to inoculate their children with the vaccine has become wrapped up with irresponsible libertarian notions of freedom, near religious belief in the “truth” contained in celebrity Internet postings, and a growing refusal by many Americans to trust government to protect and advance the common good.
Unfortunately, this country is going to see more and more of this toxic mix of “Live Free of Die”, Jenny McCarthy’s and Oprah’s phony medical advice and the innate evil of government programs and policies. We now live in a time when political narcissism has run rampant, professional advice is ignored and the revered concept of E Pluribus Unum holds little meaning.
Why anyone would think that unfettered freedom carries with it no responsibility,that television and movie starlets have all the answers to the world’s problems, and that government officials are part of some dark, underground conspiracy needs to check into a facility to have their common sense examined.
It is safe to say that this country will never return to the days when people talked with their doctor about medical issues, freedom was always balanced with order, and government worked to make the entire country stronger, safer and prosperous. There is no doubt that America and Americans face a dangerous range of threats both internal and external, but the measles controversy just added another one – the false notion that personal freedom to solve personal problems by surfing the Net or listening to some charlatan libertarian or ignoring the warnings of government experts has taken hold. Should this false notion continue, we as a nation are in far more trouble than we may think.
January 16, 2015
Every once and awhile my brain is bombarded by a load of questions about the world we live in. I don’t have a ready answer for many of these questions and too often I just conclude that they are so off the wall that they should be ignored as irrelevant. So as we move through the cold of winter here are the questions that maybe you can help me with or at least tell me to ignore:
1. Why is it that the Obama administration insists on using the term “violent extremism” rather than “Islamic terrorism”?
2.Why is it that the new Republican Congress addresses the concerns of Wall Street as a top priority rather than help the middle class get back on its feet?
3. Where is Hillary Clinton?
4. Why are towns and cities areound Seattle banning Wisconsin cheese before the big NFC championship game on Sunday?
5. Why is it that most of the films up for an Academy Award this year have never been seen by most Americans?
6.Why does this country of great wealth have millions homeless and even more millions hungry?
7. If 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history, why aren’t we doing something about this?
8. Why is humorist Jon Stewart of the Daily Show one of the most trusted “journalists” on television?
9. If Pope Francis says he will not judge gays, why should we judge them?
10. Is there any upside to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
And the most important question I have:
Why can’t we all get along?
Please help me answering these pressing questions
January 12, 2015
President Obama probably made the decision on his own, but there should have been someone in his foreign policy team to tell him to get on a plane and march with the million people in Paris. This latest example of being tone deaf is almost as bad as playing golf when a US citizen is beheaded by ISIS. Where is the common sense in terms of creating a positive public perception about the United States and anti-terrorism?
January 9, 2015
In Europe and likely here in the United States the coming months are sure to be difficult times for Muslims. The murders in Paris will only exacerbate an already tense social, cultural and political climate of mistrust in Europe as anti-immigrant movements gain momentum and public opinion polls point to growing anti-Muslim views. This wave of anti-Muslim attitudes will grow right here in this country. The values of tolerance and freedom of religion, key foundations of a democratic and open society in the United States, will surely be tested and probably compromised.
Already the drumbeat of inflamatory commentary is hitting the airwaves as the seeds of mistrust are being planted. Former New York mayor Rudy Guiliani has called for police to be present within mosques to monitor the comments of local imans and the oft-times liberal voice, Bill Maher, has charged that most Muslims secretly support the murders of the Paris editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo as justified because of their satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Sadly, the jump from tolerance to mistrust is short.
These are times when cooler heads and courageous leadership need to be at center stage, not just in the political arena but among reform-minded Muslims. Our leaders cannot fall prey to the inevitable suspicion and discrimination that will accompany the anti-Muslim trend here in the United States. This country continues to be a beacon of hope for those people who live differently, worship differently, and dress differently, but that tolerance and freedom could easily be dismissed as we head toward a country where security trumps openness and diversity.
But Muslims here in the United States also need to push more vigorously for a world-wide reform of Islam. Muslims are indeed a peace-loving people, but their religion has been hijacked by extremist religious leaders, violent terrorists, and delusional and hate filled warriors who want to force a brand of Islam in the Middle East that is severe and repellant. The ” silent majority” of Muslims must openly and vigorously reject these hijackers of true Islam not just in the Middle East but right here in our midst. Islam is not a violent religion but it is being directed too often by those who embrace violence in the name of Allah.
Is is indeed not easy being a Muslim in the western world these days, but if the hijackers are to be stopped both the US political establishment and the “silent majority” must act quickly to protect our traditions of tolerance and religious freedom.
December 27, 2014
As we head into the new year some very odd developments have occurred. Let’s take a brief look at these rather troubling conditions:
The US economy grew at a rate of 5% in the last quarter
The stock market broke the 18,000 barrier
Unemployment is now below 6%
More jobs have been created in the last year than at any time since 1999
The federal budget deficit has dropped to a level not seen since 2006
Consumer confidence is on the rise
The Christmas shopping season was a economic blockbuster
ISIS is either stalled or in retreat
Russia is collapsing from the sanctions and the drop in oil
The Ukraine crisis is no longer a crisis
The Iranians now want to talk seriously about their nuclear program
The Ebola crisis is no longer a crisis
Millions of Americans continue to sign up for Obamacare
In seven states gas is below $ 2.00, many more states will follow
The only conclusion I can come to is that this is all Obama’s fault.