r Letter From Eastie: November 2004
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Collaged view of Boston, from East Boston

Letter From Eastie

News and other items from East Boston, Massachusetts.

Sunday, November 28, 2004


I wasn't sure if the headline for this article should be "Duh" or "WTF?" As you can see, I decided that it had to be "WTF?" I've come to the conclusion that the people in charge of this administration and in charge at the Pentagon are really and truly certifiable. This little excerpt will give you an idea of why:
Hawks push deep cuts in forces in Iraq

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | November 22, 2004

A growing number of national security specialists who supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein are moving to a position unthinkable even a few months ago: that the large US military presence is impeding stability as much as contributing to it and that the United States should begin major reductions in troops beginning early next year.

Their assessments, expressed in reports, think tank meetings, and interviews, run counter to the Bush administration's insistence that the troops will remain indefinitely to establish security. But some contend that the growing support for an earlier pullout could alter the administration's thinking.

Those arguing for immediate troop reductions include key Pentagon advisers, prominent neoconservatives, and some of the fiercest supporters of the Iraq invasion among Washington's policy elite.

The core of their arguments is that even as the US-led coalition goes on the offensive against the insurgency, the United States, by its very presence, is stimulating the resistance.

"Our large, direct presence has fueled the Iraqi insurgency as much as it has suppressed it," said Michael Vickers, a conservative-leaning Pentagon consultant and longtime senior CIA official who supported the war.

Retired Army Major General William Nash, the former NATO commander in Bosnia, said: "I resigned from the 'we don't have enough troops in Iraq' club four months ago. We have too many now.". . .

--Boston Globe

Friday, November 26, 2004

Really not news. . .

Did we really need a report to tell us this? My favorite part of the report is this:

"Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies," the report says.

"The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favour of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states.

"Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy," the report says.

It adds that the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has actually raised the stature of radical enemies of America.

"US actions appear... to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination," the report says.

They could have saved a lot of time and effort and found the exact same thing listening to David Cross,' It's Not Funny CD (cut number 3).

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Well, duh! Who doesn't like a mime?

A new add campaign featuring mimes is being created to educate the citizens of Eastie to stop littering. (Personally, I think they need to bring back Woodsie the Owl--"Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute" ) The campaign is the brainchild of German Velazquez, Columbian immigrant and photographer.

Velasquez believes that many of East Boston's Latino immigrants don't feel genuine connections to their adopted home and therefore are less inclined to take proper care of it.

“We use the same trains and streets as others, but sometimes we don't feel like we belong to this community,” he says. “We not only clean dishes, but we do not have the opportunity to show our artistic abilities; people think we do not have a lot of skills. We need to show that we belong to the city - we love Boston like we love Medellin.”

In order to show Eastie's Latinos how to express civic pride, Velasquez tapped several local actors and artists to help create a public ad campaign - a planned series of television spots, print advertising and in-school educational appearances - that employs mimes to teach civic values to youths and their parents.

In the first TV spot, a boy throws trash at a can but misses. As the trash lies on the ground, the boy walks away but is accosted by a horrified group of mimes, one of whom has fainted. The mimes cajole the boy into properly disposing of his rubbish, rejoice and skip down the street together.

“There's trash on the street, so the mimes embarrass the boy in front of people,” explains Velasquez, who modeled the ad campaign after a similar one in Bogotá. “They teach him that the paper has to be in the can, and then the mimes applaud the good citizen.

“Mimes use the universal language - they use the body. I thought it would be a good campaign, because English is not easy for some people, and Spanish is not easy for others; with mimes, the message is for everybody. And the kids understand. Kids love mimes; they love artistic expression.”

As the campaign's name implies, Velasquez hopes that children will learn to pick up litter not just when mimes are around to scold them; he hopes good citizenship becomes second nature.

“They see that garbage has to be in the can. It's a corrective program now - they pick up what they throw on the ground - and a preventative program for the future - they learn that trash has to be in the can. Then they'll tell their father not to litter, and it'll have a domino effect.

Quoth the youth of East Boston:

Across the street from Velasquez's studio, at Orient Heights T station, some young people expressed skepticism about the upcoming campaign's chances of success. Asked if mimes' reprisals would stop people from littering, Ryan, who declined to give his last name, said, “Probably not. Mimes won't work. They scare me. They scare a lot of people. There's no way to stop people from littering, except maybe paying them, and that would get costly."

“Half the people I know would probably try to jump a mime, unfortunately,” he added.

Another nameless hooligan added, “I don't like mimes. I don't know anybody who does.”

But there are indeed some stirrings of conscience in Eastie. Asked if he would stop littering if a mime asked him to, a young boy named Billy said, “Yeah, because it's not right.”

“It depends on if it's a nice mime or a mean mime,” ventured Billy's companion Mark, before a third, James, yelled, “It's called littering! It's illegal!”

--The Weekly Dig

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Faces of the Fallen

The Washington Post has posted the names and pictures, of all of the service people killed in Iraq since the start of the war. I have really no commentary about this except to say that I think that the Post is doing a good thing. People need to face the reality of this war. Also, kudos to the Post for not forgetting the soldiers who've died in Afganistan.

If you would like to send care packages or letters to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afganistan, check out these sites:



Friday, November 12, 2004

Jesus Dislikes Hypocrites--Lesson #2

Ok, kiddies time for another Sunday school lesson for those of us who may have forgotten what it means to be Christian.

Lesson #2 "The Parable of the Good Samaritan" Luke 10: 25-37.

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?"
He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."
He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live."
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.'
Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"
He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Source: New American Bible (Online), United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Web Site.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Jesus Dislikes Hypocrites.

Having established that I am in fact a Christian, I thought that I would cash in on the Jesus-chic and provide my readers with some Bible study. The title of my course is "Jesus Dislikes Hypocrites."

Lesson #1 "The Story of the Widows Mite" Mark 12: 38-44 (For those of you without the benefit of 9 years of Catholic School that's the Book of Mark, Chapter 12, Verses 38-44)

In the course of his teaching he [Jesus] said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation."
He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."
Source: New American Bible (Online), United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Web Site.

An open letter.

Dear So-called "Christians,"

Lately I've been hearing a lot about you all, but I'm having trouble understanding you. You see I always thought that I was raised as a Christian. It's a funny thing though, because I was always taught to love my neighbor and not only that, but here's a nutty thought, to love my enemy as well. I learned that Jesus loved the poor and the sinners. Somehow, I must have missed the lesson that said that it's ok to hate gay people. And clearly I was absent from religion class the day they taught that even though the commandment says "Thou shalt not kill," what God actually meant was "Thou shalt not kill except abortion doctors and prisoners on death row."

The other day watching one of the morning "news" programs, I saw a perky anchor woman speaking to one of President Bush's "spiritual advisors" who referred to Roman Catholics, as well as Jews and Muslims, as something other than Christians. Now I know that neither Jews nor Muslims are Christians, but Roman Catholics? This sent me into somewhat of a spiritual crisis. All those years of Catholic school, and Easter Sundays, and Stations of the Cross, and all those Christmas buttons given to me by the nuns that said "Jesus is the reason for the Season," must have all been a lie, because all those years they made me believe that I was a Christian. I thought to myself, someone as important as a "spiritual advisor" to the President of the United States, could not be wrong about something this important, could he? But then I remembered that another thing all those religion teachers and priests' sermans taught me was that human beings tend to be fallible. They make mistakes and they must be forgiven for those mistakes. So I forgive this man and all the other "Christians" out there, who have forgotten that Catholics are in fact Christians and have, it seems, forgotten what it means to be Christian.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I believe in Red Sox. . .Democracy? Not so much.

I've been doing some thinking about this blog and I think that I am going to have to expand the topic a little bit. Frankly, Eastie just hasn't been that exciting lately. So, this blog will now record all of the fun and fabulous goings on in and around the fair city of East Boston and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Accordingly, I will now try to comment on the recent presidential election. I made the mistake with the Kerry campaign that all Red Sox fans know means death. And that is, to let yourself believe that your team will win. Now I know that the Red Sox won the World Series, so you might ask yourself why I would make that comparison. Well, as much as Sox fans believe in their team, I'm almost certain that there was nary a one that was not braced for disaster--just so they would not be devastated in the event that it happened. Well, I was not braced for Kerry to lose. I've had arguments with people about the people in the "red states" and the "midwest." I didn't believe that they could ignore all of the mistakes that George W. Bush has made. "Even if you are a Republican," I'd say. "Even if you believed that fighting a war in Iraq is the right thing to do, you couldn't possibly think that W is doing a good job." I mean, I could list about 101 reasons off the top of my head not to vote for W. Turning a surplus into a multi-billion dollar deficit; military families having to hold bake sales to raise money to buy soldiers in Iraq body armor; allienating most of our allies in the world; lying almost patholigically; not firing anyone, let alone Rumsfeld, after Abu Gharib; and on and on it goes. I guess that yesterday's election proved how much I know. Here I am living in my insulated Northeastern cocoon believing that the majority of Americans are way smarter than this corrupt administration gives them credit for. Thinking that the majority of Americans are capable of rational thought. Actually believing that Americans might be insulted by an administration that will lie about something for months and then when they are called on the lie, claim that they never said it. Could I be that wrong? Maybe.

I still think that when it comes down to it that most Americans are much smarter than politicians give them credit for. I think the problem is that they are not given enough information to be able to make a rational decision. Think about it. The mainstream media has become completely incompetent. They are so afraid of the possibility of offending anyone that they refuse to say anything. It's not enough for reporters to just "report." They need to report the truth. Or at least try to get at the truth. To just repeat what the politicians say--on either side--devoid of any analysis is not journalism, it's just parroting. Why even have the press as an intermediary? Why not just have politicians speak directly to the people? Want to say something to America? Just get in front of a C-span camera and spout. Why is it that organizations like factcheck.org will debunk something said by a politician, but that same politician will feel free to repeat the lie over and over again, without any fear that the media will actually call him/her on it? It's no wonder that the blogosphere has become so influential. It seems to me that only the bloggers are doing any kind of thoughtful analysis of what the politicians say.

I don't know how to solve this problem. But I do know that we will now have another 4 long years with George W. Bush for president. When he was "elected" the first time in 2000, I was disappointed, but I thought to myself, it's only 4 years, how much damage can he do? Well, needless to say, I now know how much damage one president can do in 4 years With a so called mandate, no re-election worries, a VP who will probably never run for president, a republican congress, and the possibility of appointing more than one Supreme Court judge, I shudder to think where this country will find itself at the end of 4 years. Perhaps ignorance truly is bliss.
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