Saturday, April 14, 2018

Can We Talk?

The good stuff is last.

We start with the worst:

"Trump launches strikes on Syria over suspected chemical weapons attack" by Helene Cooper, Michael D. Shear and Ben Hubbard New York Times   April 14, 2018

WASHINGTON — The United States and European allies launched strikes Friday against Syrian targets as President Donald Trump sought to punish President Bashar Assad for a suspected chemical attack near Damascus last weekend that killed more than 40 people.

Trump said Britain and France had joined the United States in the strikes, which he said were underway, in a televised nighttime address from the White House Diplomatic Room. He said the allied strikes of precision weapons sought to deter the production, spread and use of chemical weapons as “a vital national security interest of the United States.”

“We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” Trump said.

The strikes risked pulling the United States deeper into the complex, multisided war in Syria from which Trump only last week said he wanted to withdraw. They also raised the possibility of confrontation with Russia and Iran, both of which have military forces in Syria to support Assad.

Residents of Damascus woke to the sounds of multiple explosions shaking the city before the dawn call to prayer. The capital and the hills are surrounded by military facilities, and it appeared that these were among the first targets.

Syrian state television said government air defense systems were responding to “the American aggression” and aired video of missiles being fired into a dark night sky. It was not clear if they hit anything. It reported that 13 missiles had been shot down by Syrian air defenses near Al-Kiswa, a town south of Damascus.

The early reports I got in seeking the truth about what really happened suggested that the missiles were in fact shot down by the superlative Russian defense system and one suspects that is the real reason the attack was a one-and-done. The U.S. military and its mouthpiece media are not going to tell us that, as the first casualty in war is the truth (remember, the German media was reporting that they were still winning the war as in 1944 as the Russians and allies closed the ring)!

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday night that the strike was completed and was designed as a one-night operation. “Right now this is a one-time shot and I believe it has sent a very strong message to dissuade him to deter him from doing it again,” he said.

Well, the world got the message and Mattis needs to check his memos.

Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the airstrikes hit three sites — a scientific research center near Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs and a storage facility and command post also near Homs. 

That would be nice had the Syrians actually had chemical material, 

He said the targets were chosen to minimize the risk of accidentally hitting Russian troops stationed in Syria.

Then the Russians effectively warned them off a wider war.

In London, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain said the allied strikes on the Syrian government’s chemical weapons capability aimed not only to protect innocent civilians, but also to prevent such attacks from becoming an international norm.

Excluding EUSraeli forces, of course.

“We have sought to use every possible diplomatic channel to achieve this,” May said in a statement.

What I find interesting at this point is the total rewrite from print. 

In print I'm told Trump said:

"To Iran and Russia, I ask: What kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children? [You are] most responsible for supporting, equipping, and financing the criminal Assad regime. The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. Hopefully someday we'll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran, but maybe not."

Where do I begin? 

One of the reasons I denounce this government that wages wars based on lies blared from a war-promoting pre$$ is because I don't want to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children.

As for supporting, equipping, and financing mass-murdering regimes, take a look next door at Israel and where they get all their stuff, Don. And if the Jew Lobby doesn't like that, well, take a look south and see Saudi Arabia and Yemen. You know where they got all their stuff, right? U.S. is even assisting them.

He says the nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. Must be why no one wants to be friends with the U.S. anymore, and when I think of who we hang with (Israel, England, France), the judgment is not good.

Then the article picks up nearly verbatim print:

A fact-finding mission from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was to begin investigating the incident on Saturday in Douma, which had been held by rebels before the suspected attack. The mission’s job was only to determine whether chemical weapons had been used, not who had used them.

Related: Trump Launches Attack on Syria Before Douma Psyop Falls Apart

The OPCW would have just rubber-stamped the western charges anyway.

Medical and rescue groups have reported that the Syrian military dropped bombs that released chemical substances during an offensive to take the town. A New York Times review of videos of the attack’s aftermath, and interviews with residents and medical workers, suggested that Syrian government helicopters dropped canisters giving off some sort of chemical compound that suffocated at least 43 people.

Yeah, I'm going to believe NYT hearsay regarding chemical weapons after Iraq. 

Try again!

On Friday, U.S. officials said they had intelligence implicating the Syrian government.


“We have a very high confidence that Syria was responsible,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. She said Russia was “part of the problem” for failing to prevent the use of such weapons.

At the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the world body, accused the Syrian government of using banned chemical arms at least 50 times since the country’s civil war began in 2011. State Department officials said the United States was still trying to identify the chemical used April 7.

President Emmanuel Macron of France on Thursday cited proof that the Syrian government had launched chlorine gas attacks. The same day, the British Cabinet authorized May to join the United States and France in planning strikes against Syria.

Leaders in Syria, Iran and Russia denied that government forces had used chemical weapons, and accused rescue workers and the rebels who had controlled Douma of fabricating the videos to win international sympathy.

On Friday, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said images of victims of the purported attack had been staged with “Britain’s direct involvement.” He provided no evidence.

Actually, they did. They rolled up on some documents and stuff that were left behind when the western-backed terrorists fled. A British soldier was even killed in theater during the last few weeks. 

Besides, even if the Russians are wrong about the involvement, they are right about the fake video. Sorry. One could almost see it as a retaliation for the British linking of the Skripal silliness to alleged Russian involvement in Syrian gas attacks.

Karen Pierce, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, called those allegations “bizarre” and “a blatant lie.”

That's called transference. It's when you accuse the "enemy" of conduct of which you yourself are in fact guilty. Israel does it all the time.

Mattis, Trump’s defense secretary, had sought to slow down the march to military action as allies compiled evidence of Assad’s role that would assure the world the strikes were warranted. Mattis also raised concerns that a concerted bombing campaign could escalate into a wider conflict between Russia, Iran and the West.

By bombing before the investigators have a chance to get there, and screw this good-cop, bad-cop crap narrative!

Before the strikes, the United States had mostly stopped aiding Syria’s rebels, like those who were in Douma, who want to topple Assad’s government. The Pentagon’s most recent efforts in Syria have focused on the fight against Islamic State militants in the country’s east, where it has partnered with a Kurdish-led militia to battle the jihadis.

It is the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops there that Trump said he wants to bring home.

Russian forces and Iranian-backed militias also are deployed around Syria to help fight the rebellion — including the Islamic State and other extremist groups — that has surged against Assad since the conflict started more than seven years ago.

A previous U.S. attack on Syria, last April, came after a chemical attack on the village of Khan Sheikhoun killed scores of people. Trump ordered a cruise missile strike against the Al Shayrat airfield in central Syria, where the attack had originated. The base was damaged but Syrian warplanes were again taking off from there a day later.

That is where my print copy ended the strikes.

Still, the response set Trump apart from President Barack Obama, who declined to respond with military force after a chemical weapons attack in August 2013 killed hundreds of people near Damascus, even though Obama had earlier declared the use of such weapons a “red line.”

Obama ultimately backed off a military strike and reached an agreement with Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. That agreement was said to have been carried out, although a series of reported chemical attacks since have raised doubts about its effectiveness.

Unless you consider the false flag aspect of these attacks, and its not only that Syria was disarmed. The production facilities were padlocked under OPCW and UN seal. Had the Syrians started making the stuff again, the West would have evidence we could actually see. Asking me to believe lying politicians and war-promoting papers ain't gonna get it done, sorry.

Both U.S. presidents have sought to keep U.S. involvement in Syria focused on the battle against the Islamic State, and not on toppling Assad or protecting civilians from violence.

Yeah, right, they gave on a regime change, that's what the NYT would like us to believe. 


The question now for Trump is whether his intervention against Assad will make it harder to keep the United States from slipping deeper into the Syrian war.


Well, we now know that international law no longer means anything.

Okay, this is the article I saw when I first logged into the Globe this morning:

"Explosions rock Syrian capital as Trump announces missile strikes" by Robert Burns, Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller Associated Press  April 14, 2018

WASHINGTON — The United States, France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again, but also stirred up angry responses from Syria’s allies and ignited a debate over whether the attacks were justified.

We can debate things later (hint, hint).

Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the Friday night raids as aggression that will make the humanitarian crisis in Syria worse and called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations’ Security Council. Putin added that the strike had a ‘‘destructive influence on the entire system of international relations.’’

Pentagon officials said the attacks targeted the heart of Assad’s programs to develop and produce chemical weapons.

And the pre$$ accepts that he had them and dutifully reports that narrative.

Syrian television reported that Syria’s air defenses, which are substantial, responded to the attack. Syrians poured into the streets for defiant demonstrations of their national pride.

Yeah, I saw that reported on the blogs, too. That's another reason I think most of the missiles were downed or missed, despite the claims coming from the Pentagon.

President Donald Trump said the U.S. is prepared to sustain economic, diplomatic and military pressure on Assad until he ends what the president called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons. The allied attack set off a fierce international debate about whether it was justified. 


There was absolutely zero, none, nada, zip, over here from Congre$$ or anyone else. Weren't even any antiwar protests today.

On Saturday, Putin reaffirmed Russia’s view that a purported chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma that prompted the strike was a fake. Putin added that Russian military experts who inspected Douma found no trace of the attack. He criticized the U.S. and its allies for launching the strike without waiting for inspectors from the international chemical weapons watchdog to visit the area.

What you are seeing there is the Russians basically saying we aren't taking any more sh*t. We are going to call you out from now on, to help with the screeching from the West making them look like.... gulp.... conspiracy theorists. They know the evidence and good old common sense backs them up.

The Syria attack drew support from the European Union, Germany, Israel and other allies while British Prime Minister Theresa May said reports indicate the Syrian government used a barrel bomb to deliver the chemicals used in an attack on Douma. She said the use of force was ‘‘right and legal’’ in this case.

Why do you think they did it? The aggression doesn't serve the interests of the E.U. or the U.S. Only Israel wanted this.

Mattis said the assault was a ‘‘one-time shot,’’ so long as Assad does not repeat his use of chemical weapons.


So that means anytime the West phonies up or false flags something the missiles will again start flying. 

Not really a one-off then.

The strikes were carried out by manned aircraft and from ships that launched cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea.

That makes me mad because the pre$$ had implied that it would take a few more weeks to get the assets in position -- when they were already there!

Will the deceit and deceptions ever cease?

Mattis disclosed that the U.S. had not yet confirmed that the most recent suspected Syrian chemical weapons attack, on April 7 in the Damascus suburb of Douma, included the use of sarin gas. He said at least one chemical was used — chlorine, which also has legitimate industrial uses and had not previously triggered a U.S. military response.

He said the targets selected by U.S., British and French officials were meant to minimize civilian casualties. 

You know how you do that? 

Don't bomb!

‘‘This is difficult to do in a situation like this,’’ he said, in light of the volatility of chemical agents.

Yeah, hit the storage facility and send that stuff up into the air instead.

So how long can you hold your breath, Syrian? 

What do you mean you don't have to?

Defense officials from the countries involved in the attack gave differing accounts of how much warning was given to the Russians, Syria’s powerful ally.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. did not coordinate targets with or notify the Russian government of the strikes, beyond normal airspace ‘‘de-confliction’’ communications. But the description from an ally described things differently.

But French Defense Minister Florence Parly said that ‘‘with our allies, we ensured that the Russians were warned ahead of time.’’ 

Please tell me it's the French guy lying and not an AmeriKan general.

At a Pentagon news conference alongside Mattis, and with British and French military officers beside them to emphasize allied unity, Dunford said the attacks targeted mainly three targets in western Syria.

And they still couldn't get their story straight, ha-ha!

Dunford said missiles first struck a scientific research center in the Damascus area that he said was a center of Syrian research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology. The second target was a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs. He said this was believed to be the main site of Syrian sarin and precursor chemical production equipment. 

Oh, now they are claiming the Syrians also have biological weapons! 


The third target was a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and an important command post, also west of Homs, Dunford said.

British leader May said in London that the West had tried ‘‘every possible’’ diplomatic means to stop Assad from using chemical weapons. ‘‘But our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted’’ by Syria and Russia, she said.

‘‘So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime,’’ May said. ‘‘This is not about intervening in a civil war. It is not about regime change.’’

When they say it isn't about the money, it's about the money.

If anything, maybe this will bring May and her craven government down and open the door for Labour.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement that a target of the strike was the Syrian government’s ‘‘clandestine chemical arsenal.’’

The Syrian government has repeatedly denied any use of banned weapons.

The decision to strike, after days of deliberations, marked Trump’s second order to attack Syria. He authorized a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit a single Syrian airfield in April 2017 in retaliation for Assad’s use of sarin gas against civilians.

Mattis estimated the latest air campaign was about twice the size of the 2017 strike. He added that the U.S. expects the Syrian government and its allies to conduct a ‘‘significant disinformation campaign,’’ which the Pentagon would rebut with additional information Saturday morning.

The air campaign could frustrate those in Trump’s base who oppose military intervention and are wary of open-ended conflicts. 

I don't consider myself part of that crowd; however, I have been more than sympathetic to him and over the last few days I've found myself giving up on him.

Trump chastised Syria’s two main allies, Russia and Iran, for their roles in supporting ‘‘murderous dictators,’’ and noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed a 2013 international agreement for Assad to get rid of all of his chemical weapons. He called on Moscow to change course and join the West in seeking a more responsible regime in Damascus.

Like I said, regime change per Yinon and PNAC is still the goal here.

What I would like to note is that ASSAD is NOT a DICTATOR! 

He WON an LEGITIMATE and CERTIFIED ELECTION a few years back, remember?!

The U.S. missile strike a year ago, which targeted the airfield from which Syrian aircraft had launched their gas attack, was meant to deter Assad from further use of chemical weapons. Since that did not work, a more intense attack would aim to degrade his ability to carry out further such attacks, and would try to do this by hitting Syrian aircraft, military depots and chemical facilities, among other things.

The strikes that hit early Saturday in Syria came hours before inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were set to arrive to inspect the site of the apparent attack.

The strikes appear to signal Trump’s willingness to draw the United States more deeply into the Syrian conflict. Just weeks ago, Trump said he wanted to end U.S. involvement in Syria and bring American troops home to focus on the homeland.

And then, strangely enough, Assad launches another chemical attack. 

Make sense to you? 

Cui bono?

The participation of British and French forces enables Trump to assert a wider international commitment against the use of chemical weapons, but the multi-pronged attack carries the risk of Russian retaliation.

OMG, you get a couple of blackmailed sycophants by your side to provide a fig leaf of cover and the Zioni$t War Pre$$ calls it a coalition.

In his nationwide address, Trump stressed that he has no interest in a longtime fight with Syria.

‘‘As other nations step up their contributions, we look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home,’’ Trump said. ‘‘And great warriors they are.’’ 

I'm tired of presidents telling me they look forward to the day when the troops can come home and then leaving after 8 years with them still out there.

The U.S. has about 2,000 troops on the ground in Syria as advisers to a makeshift group of anti-Islamic State fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. They are in eastern Syria, far from Damascus. A U.S.-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes in Syria since September 2014 as part of a largely successful effort to break the IS grip on both Syria and Iraq.

The grip has been broken.


Neither of these next two pieces made it into print:

"Trump’s strikes on Syria risk retaliation, escalation in a war he wants to avoid" by Paul Sonne Washington Post  April 14, 2018

Last week, President Trump promised to withdraw from Syria. This week, he opened a new front against Syrian leader Bashar Assad that risks drawing the United States into a broader conflict there.

He broke all his promises faster than any president I can remember!

By attacking Assad late Friday, the Trump administration sought to warn the Syrian leader against continuing to use illegal chemical warfare agents, following the gassing of civilians near Damascus last weekend.

The administration calculated that the need to send a signal to Assad over chemical weapons outweighed the possibility of provoking a response from his allies, Russia or Iran, on the battlefield in Syria, elsewhere in the Middle East, or even in cyberspace.

The risk, analysts say, is that the United States would then end up in a cycle of escalation that entangles the American military more deeply in the Syrian conflict than the administration intended.

There are some who want that.

‘‘Given the linkage between Russia, Iran, and Assad, an attack that we would consider limited and precise might be misconstrued by one or more of those three parties and justify from their perspective a retaliatory strike,’’ said retired US Army Lieutenant General James Dubik, a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War. ‘‘Then what do we do?’’

Possible scenarios for a retaliation include attacks by Iranian-backed militias against US forces in the Middle East, stepped-up incidents against US forces and their allies within Syria, or ‘‘asymmetric responses’’ such as cyberattacks entirely outside the theater itself.

It remains unclear whether the strike will prevent Assad’s forces from turning to chemical weapons in the future as the leader seeks to extend his reach across the country while consolidating gains in the civil war.

Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Syria and fellow at the Middle East Institute and Yale University, said military action would deter Assad’s forces from using chemical weapons only if the United States conducts follow-up strikes when new atrocities occur.

Robert Ford was in charge of death squads in Iraq and Syria.

‘‘I don’t think, in order to make the deterrent stick, that this can be the last attack,’’ Ford said. The former US diplomat, who said Assad’s forces were using chemical weapons in part because they lack manpower, predicted the Syrian leader ‘‘will test us — and we will have to do this again.’’

Trump promised that the strikes wouldn’t necessarily be a one-off. ‘‘We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,’’ the president said in an address at the White House late Friday night.

So even all this one-off stuff is a lie to get us all to relax, in what can only be characterized as a massive manipulation and chain jerk of the American people.

Some who support the strikes say that even if they fail to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons in the future, they will send the message that the international community is watching and intends to enforce the ban on chemical weapons that countries instituted after World War I.

But the military intervention also comes as Washington has all but given up on seeking the removal of Assad more than seven years into Syria’s civil war. Trump wants the Pentagon to withdraw US troops after the Kurdish-led militia Washington is backing in Syria finishes off the remnants of the Islamic State terror group.

All but given up, huh? 


The departure of US troops, military strategists say, will probably pave the way for Assad’s consolidation of control in the country, backed by Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

I don't think we are leaving. We never do.

The result is what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described in congressional testimony on Thursday as ‘‘contrary impulses.’’ On the one hand, Trump wants the United States to have nothing to do with Syria. On the other, he wants to dictate norms of behavior on Syria’s battlefield that upset him when violated.

Those who take a dim view of selective strikes in response to chemical weapons usage say the United States has given up trying to ensure the departure of Assad, which means his forces will continue to kill whomever they wish as they consolidate control, even if they do so with conventional weapons.

‘‘As long as you have a strategy that leaves Assad in place and allows him to slaughter his people as he sees fit, he is going to do so,’’ said Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. ‘‘And he is probably going to use chemical warfare agents.’’

OMG, they are now turning to a leading Iraq War liar who was absolutely convinced there were WMDs in Iraq!!

So he is at AEI now, huh? 

Isn't that the opposite end of the political spectrum from Brookings?

But for Washington to stop Assad from killing his own citizens more broadly, ‘‘we’re getting closer to a regime-change scenario because he’s bombing almost every day,’’ said Ford, the former US ambassador. ‘‘To me, that’s drawing us in. I have zero confidence that we could control where that goes then.’’ 

I thought they had all but given up, WaComPo?

Yeah, I AM sick of the distortions, deceptions, and outright lies!

Pollack suspects that the Syrian regime and Iran won’t retaliate against the United States because they are ascendant on a battlefield that Trump has promised to leave, and they won’t want to engage in any action that could prevent a US departure that would amount to a big win for them.

That calls into question the validity and veracity of the alleged chemical attack!!

Btw, we aren't leaving. I know so because the Washington ComPost is telling me we are.

Russia could have more of a motive to retaliate, Pollack said, even though before last year’s attack on Assad’s airfield, US forces warned Russia in advance. ‘‘Russia is the wild card out there,’’ Pollack said, because President Vladimir Putin’s interests are bigger than Syria.

Meaning Russia can stand up to the U.S. and make it back down.

The strike also raises thorny questions for Trump administration officials about why they are willing to intervene when Assad uses chemical weapons against civilians but won’t act in instances where his forces are killing far more with conventional weapons.

Look at the goddamn Washington ComPost call for a f***ing invasion!! 


So what is Capitol Hill saying?

"‘Neither constitutional nor wise’: Mass. Democrats slam airstrikes on Syria" by Jacob Carozza, Alana Levene and Felicia Gans Globe Correspondents and Globe Staff  April 14, 2018 

If it was not constitutional, and it wasn't, then he needs to be arrested and impeached.

Massachusetts’ all-Democratic Congressional delegation swiftly criticized President Trump’s Friday night announcement that the US had launched missile strikes in Syria in retaliation for an apparent chemical attack on civilians last week.

“Tonight’s U.S. military strikes on Syrian government targets are neither constitutional nor wise,” Senator Ed Markey, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. “Attacks such as this on another country without Congressional authorization are unconstitutional, and they push the United States closer to what could be an interminable, all-out conflict in Syria.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Twitter that the United States should be part of a “planned, coordinated multilateral effort” to respond to the chemical attack.

They were. French and British went along for the ride.

But, she added, “The Constitution gives Congress the power to authorize military action. If @realDonaldTrump wants to expand American military involvement in Syria’s civil war, he must seek approval from Congress — & provide a comprehensive strategy with clear goals & a plan to achieve them.”

All of a sudden they are concerned about their war powers!

US Representative Seth Moulton of Salem, a veteran of the Iraq War, said Americans should be asking what the country’s strategy is in Syria.

“Anyone who uses chemical weapons should be stopped. That includes [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and the Russians. But we’ve seen this before, we’ve tried this response before, and it clearly failed. We need a strategy, Mr. President, not a series of contradictory tweets,” Moulton said on Twitter.

Representative Jim McGovern of Worcester called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to let Congress debate war authorization legislation.

“International community MUST hold #Assad accountable for killing civilians & using chemical weapons in #Syria. After 15 months in office, what is @POTUS strategy on Syria?” McGovern said on Twitter.

Representative Michael Capuano also demanded on Twitter that Ryan allow debate on a military action authorization measure. “A few missiles won’t stop Assad and it risks broader conflict,” Capuano said.

Representative Joe Kennedy III said on Twitter, “Assad must be held accountable for his horrific use of chemical weapons on his own people. But we don’t put our troops in harms way without a strategy. Pres. Trump must present one to the nation and Congress must vote.”

The responses from Bay State congressmen largely mirrored those of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who said that while the chemical attack demands a “strong, smart, and calculated response,” Trump should come to Congress to secure authorization for military action.

“One night of airstrikes is not a substitute for a clear, comprehensive Syria strategy,” she said in a statement.

Not all Democrats were completely against the airstrikes. Some were simply wary that airstrikes won’t help unless the US also develops a more comprehensive strategy.

That first sentence is so strange because in reading what Markey, Warren, Moulton, McGovern, Capuano, and Kennedy said, they really were not against the airstrikes. They are concerned that he didn't come to Congre$$ for approval. They are not saying they would have voted it down. 

How slimy can you get?

Now for the Democrats who were for the operation:

“The Assad regime’s brutality cannot go unanswered,” US Senator Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, said in a statement. “With the assistance of Russia and Iran, Bashar al-Assad has committed mass murder against his own people. I support these air strikes, done in coordination with our allies, but remain adamant that the administration must develop a comprehensive strategy for ending the Syrian civil war. Tonight, I once again call on the White House to issue a clear policy on Syria and urge the Senate to pass legislation to this effect.”

US Senator Chuck Schumer, of New York, made a similar, but brief statement.

“A pinpointed, limited action to punish and hopefully deter Assad from doing this again is appropriate, but the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria,” he said. 

They sound just like the alleged antiwar Democrats. 

WTF, Globe?

Republicans appeared to largely support Trump’s decision.

US Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he supports both “the action and objective” of the airstrikes.

“The planning for this robust operation by the United States and our allies was clearly well-considered,” he said in a statement. “It is evident that the President was provided with a number of options, and that our forces executed a challenging mission.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the administration’s “decisive action in coordination with our allies.”

“There should be no doubt that Russia and Iran have blood on their hands, and their partnership with Assad reveals the true nature of their regimes,” Ryan said in a statement. “The United States and our allies must continue to seek ways to hold Assad’s enablers accountable.”

And what does our special friendship with Israel say about us, lame duck?

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise also applauded Trump’s decision, writing in a statement that “President Trump is right to assert that the Assad regime’s evil acts cannot go unanswered, and the nations that enable Assad’s murderous acts – namely Russia and Iran – must be put on notice and held to account.”

US Senator John McCain, of Arizona, said he hopes the strikes “impose meaningful costs on Assad.”

But some Republicans joined Democrats in speaking out against the strikes.

“I haven’t read France’s or Britain’s ‘Constitution,’ but I’ve read ours and nowhere in it is Presidential authority to strike Syria,” said Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, referring to the two nations that Trump said were joining in the strikes.

Justin Amash, a Republican congressman from Michigan, called the strikes “unconstitutional, illegal, and reckless.” The next speaker of the House “must reclaim congressional war powers as prescribed in Article 1 of the Constitution,” he said.

I'm all for that!



And if he doesn't have authorization, lock 'em up:

"Career criminal held in officer’s killing as Yarmouth mourns" by Milton J. Valencia, Travis Andersen and John R. Ellement Globe Staff  April 13, 2018

BARNSTABLE — Court records show that Thomas M. Latanowich, 29, a career criminal with more than 100 cases to his name, a litany of charges for stabbings, drugs, and gun offenses, who was unwilling to go quietly, had been arrested repeatedly in recent years, including on charges of strangling a pregnant woman and stabbing a man at a traffic light. He was on probation for gun offenses, but he had largely avoided jail time since 2014.

The realization that someone with such an extensive criminal past had remained free, despite repeated encounters with authorities, ignited outrage among grieving members of the law enforcement community Friday.

Maybe now is not the time to mention the recent soft on crime push from the State House?

In town, the grief over Gannon’s death mingled with outrage.

“Everyone that I’ve spoken to, they’re angry that this guy had so many prior arrests and he was still walking around,” said Philip Wallace, a town councilor. Sean Gannon was a rising star in the Yarmouth Police Department, “was a fine young man in the prime of his life, and to have it taken away like that is just tragic.”

“It’s terrible, it’s terrible,” Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said Friday. “Is it frustrating? Of course it is. He, like many criminals, had guns. How did he get the firearms? He’s a criminal.”

If you fire off the bigger guns of government you are applauded, and harangued if you don't.


Also seeGannon remembered

Found that upon the turn-in, and some lives lost get way more attention than others.


You kids and your ire will just have to wait. We have cop down.

Okay, you ready to run?

"Here’s what you can and can’t bring to the Boston Marathon" by Matt Stout and John R. Ellement Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff  April 03, 2018

Five years after the harrowing day when two bombs detonated at the Boston Marathon finish line, public safety officials said Tuesday they are prepared to handle a wide variety of threats when the 122nd running of the event takes place April 16.

Speaking to reporters, leaders of federal and state public safety agencies along with Boston police and Transit police said they have made adjustments to their security plan in wake of the use of trucks by terrorists in France and the Las Vegas shooter, who fired deadly shots in a rain of destruction from a hotel room.

But, they stressed, no one in local, state, or federal law enforcement has any information suggesting there is a current credible threat against the thousands of runners who will participate in the race and the tens of thousands more who will cheer them on.

They always say that!

For that reason, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt Schwartz said he believes this year’s Marathon will remain what it has historically been: a family event.

The head of MEMA is Schwartz?

“We are doing everything we can to encourage people of all ages to come out on Marathon Day, and along the 26.2 miles, to view the race, cheer the runners, and celebrate Patriots Day,’’ he said at a press conference held at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel.

Schwartz provided some specific security measures that the public must follow:

■ No backpacks.

■ No coolers, and no coolers on wheels.

■ Clear bottles are allowed up to a maximum of 1 liter in size.

■ Bring personal items in a clear plastic bag.

■ No glass bottles of any size.

He also requested that the race course and spectator areas should be considered a “no-drone zone.” “Do not bring drones and fly them above the course or over any spectator areas,’’ he said.

Law enforcement will deploy three tethered drones to help monitor security during the race and will install a large number of traffic and security cameras along the route, he said. A unified command center will be established.

Schwartz said up to 8,000 state and local uniformed police officers along with uniformed National Guardsmen will be deployed in high-visibility fashion along the 26.2 miles. He urged anyone who spots something that appears out of the ordinary to notify the nearest public safety official.

At least the mask is off the police state.

Ridge said police will be on the roof tops of building and “blocker trucks” will be deployed along intersections as a bulwark against terrorists in vehicles. A security checkpoint will be set up near Audubon Circle and anyone who does not bring a bag with them will get through quickly. Bags will be searched individually, he said.

Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green spoke of the terrorist attack on April 15, 2013, that killed three people and wounded more than 260. “Everyone in this room can remember where they were, who they were with, and what they were doing,’’ he said. “We banded together, struggled through it, and came out stronger.”

Green said there is no credible threat against the MBTA. “But we cannot become complacent,’’ he said. “We are asking our riders and our employees to be our second set of eyes,’’ Green said. “Nothing is too small.”

Thomas Grilk, executive director of race operations for the Boston Athletic Association, said he was confident that the runners and the spectators will be safe given the professionalism of the law enforcement community focused on the race.

The safest thing to do is not go.

“When man plans, God laughs. Something always happens,” said Grilk. “And perhaps never more than in a massive outdoor event even with 50,000 athletes, almost 10,000 volunteers, hundreds of thousands of spectators . . . down both sides of 52 miles of roadway.”

Did he just say that? 

Implying that the hand of God reaches down and allows terror attacks as he laughs? 

Not the kind of God I believe in.

He added: “And yet knowing that things can happen, we are immensely grateful for the people who are on this stage and in this room. They’re ready both to prevent things from happening and being altogether prepared if something does. No matter what, no matter how unimaginably horrible it may be, their performance resonates around the world.”

That sure is cryptic!

Enjoy the race!


Is it just me, or was that a rather cavalier attitude towards potential terror? 

Must mean no one allegedly gets their limbs blown off this time.

Yeah, good thing the transit police will be there:

"Veteran transit cop allegedly assaulted, threatened railroad ticket agents" by Evan Allen Globe Staff  April 13, 2018

Transit Police Officer James Floyd was only minutes into his paid detail shift at North Station last month when he allegedly walked up behind an unsuspecting commuter rail ticket agent, grabbed her by the shoulders, and thrust his pelvis into her buttocks.

The young woman was captured on surveillance video walking away in shock, according to court documents, before returning to confront the 22-year department veteran. In response, Floyd, 60, offered her a knife and suggested she could stab him, then threatened her with his baton, prosecutors said. Minutes later, he allegedly repeated the attack on another young woman.

Floyd was arrested Friday morning and pleaded not guilty shortly afterward in Boston Municipal Court to two counts of indecent assault and battery, one count of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and one count of intimidation of a witness.

Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum requested a bail of $10,000, but Judge Thomas Horgan released him on personal recognizance and ordered Floyd to stay away from the victims and the commuter rail stations where they work.

Both of his alleged victims, ticket agents with Keolis, reported the alleged March 29 assaults to their supervisors immediately. MBTA police officials sent Floyd home.

In short order, Transit Police opened an investigation, and witnesses and surveillance video corroborated details of the women’s account.

Floyd resigned his position April 6 to avoid facing termination, according to a person with knowledge of the events.

His attorney, Claudia Lagos, said her client had a long and decorated history as a police officer, starting in 1986 in Winthrop and later in the Transit Police. He had received several awards, she said, and was honored for saving the life of a man who had been stabbed. His extended family is full of police officers and firefighters, she said.....

Hero just snapped, huh?


I don't know how he is going to get out of that one.

I'd say drive in yourself but.....

"RMV sets aside goal of service in 30 minutes as Real ID snags continue" by Adam Vaccaro Globe Staff  April 11, 2018

On March 26, the state began issuing the license, which complies with stricter federal rules, and drivers immediately faced major delays, some as long as five hours. On the first day the new licenses were issued, the average wait time for any transaction at a branch office statewide was more than two hours.

To obtain a Real ID, which after October 2020 will be the only acceptable driver’s license for boarding a flight, motorists must provide several documents, such as proof of citizenship or legal residency. The Real ID can only be obtained in person. Standard Massachusetts licenses can be obtained online.

New state rules also require drivers to provide more documents when they renew a standard Massachusetts license, even if they don’t opt for Real ID. The state has also installed new software to facilitate the changes.

The combined effect: licenses are taking longer to renew. It takes employees longer to review the documents, and they are still getting used to the new software system and licensing processes.

State motor vehicle offices everywhere have a reputation for slow service, an image so ingrained that in the animated film Zootopia, the local branch is staffed by sloths.

But before the launch of Real ID, the registry had some success in fighting that image.....

That what is a newspaper's function these days, IMAGE MANAGEMENT for the MA$TERS!


Just bringing the stories to you in the order I'm reading them in print.

How do Hannity’s attempts to link Mueller to ‘Whitey’ Bulger hold up?

Well, "Mueller served in the US attorney’s office in Boston from 1982 to 1988, as chief of the criminal division, first assistant US attorney, and as acting US attorney for more than a year. During that time, Bulger ran a sprawling criminal enterprise and got away with murders because he was a longtime FBI informant who corrupted his handlers.

An investigation into the agency’s mishandling of informants dating to the 1960s uncovered secret FBI documents indicating that Mob hitman-turned-government witness Joseph “The Animal” Barboza testified in a 1968 trial that led to the wrongful convictions of Joseph Salvati, Peter J. Limone, Louis Greco, and Henry Tameleo [and] framed the four men.

A 2011 column by the Globe’s Kevin Cullen has been cited in recent media reports that attempt to link Mueller to the wrongfully imprisoned men. At the time, Cullen said Mueller wrote letters to the parole and pardons board throughout the 1980s opposing clemency for the men. But, in a column Friday, Cullen said he heard that from Albano but did not see any letters from Mueller. After the FBI was found responsible in 2007 for framing the men, Mueller, then the FBI director, characterized the case as a debacle," and Cullen did admit he was wrong.

Btw, did you see who popped up last month at a meeting in Washington of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the influential pro-Israel lobby?

Important only insofar as Trump will be a one-term president -- if he even makes it that far.

"Democrat announces he’s backing Charlie Baker’s reelection bid" by Matt Stout Globe Correspondent  April 13, 2018

Mayor Daniel Rivera of Lawrence is crossing party lines to back Governor Charlie Baker in his reelection bid, delivering the Republican an early endorsement and a chance to further dull Democrats’ knives against him this fall.

They want to stab him?

Rivera, who backed Baker’s Democratic opponent four years ago, described his decision to formally support Baker as a mix of results and politics. “I like that he’s no drama,” Rivera said Friday. “And even though the governor is a Republican and I’m a Democrat, building trust with the electorate is incredibly important to be effective. I think the governor does that.”

The endorsement gives Baker ammunition to promote his bipartisan strength as he tries to appeal to a cross-section of Democrats, Republicans, and unenrolled voters this fall.

Baker has a gun?

Baker said in a statement that he has sought to “build strong bipartisan working relationships” in the state and was honored to win Rivera’s backing, which the mayor first announced Thursday night at a dinner that both men attended at the Andover Country Club.....


State reaches agreement in another Dookhan lawsuit

Her criminality just cost taxpayers another $55,000, and it's back to business as usual at the crime lab (aren't they under State Police jurisdiction?). Just trust whatever results authority testifies to and don't ever question it if you are a reporter.

Btw, what was a bag of crack doing on the desk of the guy in charge?” 


Trump calls Cohen as lawyers go to court over seized files

Muzzling his attack dog shows they are serious.

Report says former FBI deputy director misled investigators

They don't want to get into the criminality, and he went out roaring; I'm just noting that he lied. Trump's blasting him and calling Comey a leaking liar on the same day he pardoned Shi*ter Libby. He may have to preemptively pardon Cohen, Manafort, Flynn, et al, before its too late. H.W. Bush did it for Cap Weinberger, you know. The rumors are that he may have a real scandal coming out: "The New Yorker reported that Trump may have fathered an illegitimate child with his housekeeper — a claim backed up by Trump’s former doorman" -- and it's an interracial baby(?).

Bill Cosby’s accuser testifies again about alleged assault

She looks "more composed and less emotional as Cosby’s defense team has taken a more aggressive stance toward Constand, describing her as a “con artist” who engaged in a consensual encounter and then concocted a story of assault so as to score a big payday. Prosecutors seemed cognizant of those efforts to depict Constand in an unflattering light when they asked her why she had agreed to cooperate when they brought charges, even after securing a large financial settlement from Cosby in a 2005 lawsuit. “For justice,” she replied."

That's what the teachers are getting, and don't you forget it (as this was from print).

Almost forgot this:

"President Trump has promised to support legislation protecting the marijuana industry in states that have legalized the drug. It marked the latest flip by the president."

See, that you can flip-flop on; not Syria, Yinon, or PNAC.


Russia trained units on door handle poisonings, UK says

That has gone from being a poorly executed false flag to a silly absurdity.

1,000 bodies of militant fighters buried in Mosul mass grave

Buried under the rubble of the U.S. campaign in Mosul (and on a Saturday, too), and it's a nice contrast and juxtaposition regarding what Trump was saying about Syria. Women and children in the rubble, sir.

Cuba’s ‘lost generation’ prepares to take power next week

Did you see the age of the last two candidates who ran in 2016 here in the U.S. as well as the names they are trotting out for 2020?

Then there is the faltering evolution of the crazy Palestinian revolution (or so implies the NYT). 


Evan Horowitz of the Globe Staff tells us "at a Friday breakfast meeting of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Boston’s Federal Reserve president Eric Rosengren laid out some of the unique challenges that come from being in the economic vanguard....."

On "the issue of ballooning health care costs, the theory goes that “if you could just unleash consumers like you do in the Apple Store, they will figure out the best value, but it’s just not there. Simply calling a patient a consumer doesn’t control spending. Changing the way physicians are paid will give them the incentive to become more efficient,”that often means soaring drug prices....."

Don't look to the courts for help.

Now I'm wanting a beer because I didn't get the job

Was going to pick up a pizza but my wallet was empty:

"Stocks fell Friday as weakness in shares of US banks and finance firms added to the political and trade tensions weighing on the market. Treasury yields slid and oil rose for a fifth straight day, reaching its highest level since December 2014. All major US benchmarks ended lower in lighter than normal trading, with the financial sector pacing losses on a drop of more than 1.5 percent. Wells Fargo & Co. warned that its better than anticipated first-quarter results may change as a settlement with regulators looms, loans dropped and mortgage-banking results trailed predictions. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. posted quarterly earnings that topped analysts’ expectations, but shares of both companies plunged as JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon said, ‘‘the environment is intensely competitive and lending was flat for the quarter.’’ ‘‘You’re getting a very high expectation for earnings season, which makes me a little bit nervous,’’ said Tom Essaye, the former Merrill Lynch trader who founded market newsletter ‘The Sevens Report.’ After banks reported results ‘‘and it wasn’t another positive catalyst, you just saw people come in and sell the market,’’ he said. The market’s focus also is on political turmoil surrounding President Trump, potential military activity in Syria, and trade tensions between the United States and China. On Thursday, Trump expressed optimism on trade deal with China and hinted that the United States may rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal that he pulled out of shortly after taking office. ‘‘Thus far it’s really all been theater,’’ Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, said of the trade issues. ‘‘Where we might actually start to see it show up in the market again is if companies start talking about the effect of the tariffs on their earnings calls. I think it’s fairly likely that it will at least be mentioned. A lot of companies look for reasons to kind of dial down expectations, and this certainly is a very real one, even though it’s theoretical at the moment.’’

That's not my wallet!

"Bank stocks buckled on Friday, even after several reported fatter profits than analysts expected, and the sharp declines overshadowed gains elsewhere in the market. JPMorgan Chase and several other financial titans marked the unofficial start of the earnings reporting season, and expectations were high for them. JPMorgan Chase reported its biggest-ever profit and topped analysts' expectations. But investors were already anticipating the good news that it delivered, such as healthier trading, and took note of things like an increase in charge-offs for credit cards. JPMorgan Chase's shares fell 2.7 percent to $110.30 to lop off most of the big gains it had made earlier in the week. As a group, financial stocks in the S&P 500 fell 1.6 percent, more than double the loss for any of the other 10 sectors that make up the index. Wells Fargo fell 3.4 percent and Citigroup dropped 1.6 percent even though both reported profits that beat expectations. After weeks where fears about a possible trade war dominated the market, many analysts along Wall Street were expecting strong profit reports to divert investors' attention. Expectations for profit growth this year may have climbed so high, particularly following Washington's recent overhaul of the tax code, that they may be setting the stage for future disappointment, said Matthew Watson, portfolio manager at James Investment Research......"

OMG, the banks are posting RECORD PROFITS and the pre$$ is crying poverty for them (without telling us the actual $$ amount)!!

That's for the last three months alone, folks. 


"Governor Baker is annoyed at stuff. How about fixing it?" April 14, 2018

Governor Charlie Baker, who ran for office on a pledge to make state government work more efficiently, has developed a practice of distancing himself from “stuff” that doesn’t.

For example, he’s “incredibly annoyed” and “incredibly frustrated” by a data breach at the Department of Revenue that allowed the personal information of thousands of people who pay child support to be sent inadvertently to other companies that do not employ them.

This mistake potentially reveals the Social Security numbers and wage information of some 6,100 Massachusetts residents to people who should not have access to them.

“I think it’s really important that DOR get this stuff right,” said Baker.

It’s not the first time that Baker’s Department of Revenue got stuff wrong. Back in February, another revenue department data breach made private information from about 39,000 business taxpayers visible to other companies, including potential competitors. At the time, the Baker administration was less than transparent about what went wrong, when, and how. In response, Baker said he was “extremely disappointed” — about what, exactly, was less than clear.

SeeBaker ‘incredibly annoyed’ by Revenue Dept. blunders

Before he starts praising the place, and once again the Globe didn't mention the placing of friends on the payroll (is it because Baker yelled at 'em?).

Related: Baker ‘extremely disappointed’ with data breach at revenue department

I'm disappointed that they lied about it three times before they "changed course" before we found out they were ripping off fathers and keeping child support payments (hoping you wouldn't notice or just driving up family tensions?)!

When stuff goes wrong, the governor needs to take public responsibility for fixing it, not distance himself.

Baker does deserve credit for carving out a role as a national leader in fighting opioid addiction. But the MBTA is still struggling. He can’t blame winter or Deval Patrick forever, and his habit of buck-passing is becoming, to use his words, incredibly annoying.

Would you like to know what annoys me?

(Hint: it is on the news rack every morning)

Up for reelection this year, the Republican governor appears to be in a strong position to win a second term. Once again, a poll tags Baker as the most popular governor in America, with an approval rating of 71 percent.

Globe took pride in that once.

And according to a recent WBUR poll, Baker maintains a commanding lead over the three Democrats vying to run against him. Yet that same poll shows that when it comes to rating the details of Baker’s actual job performance, voters are not as enthusiastic as his overall approval rating would suggest. Asked to rate Baker’s performance when it comes to the State Police, 48 percent answered excellent or good; making state government function better, 44 percent; addressing the opioid crisis, 37 percent; improving the state’s roads and highways, 32 percent; reducing the cost of health care, 29 percent; and improving the MBTA, 28 percent.

Given Baker’s image as a detail-driven, hands-on Governor Fix-It, he should take more responsibility for ongoing problems. Like it or not, he owns whatever happened over the past three years.....

It doesn't look like the Globe will be crossing party lines like Rivera.


Yes, “residents of Massachusetts, beware, you are living on the edge,” and “we have to be careful … so the system doesn’t collapse.” ."


Now for the good stuff:

"There’s plenty to debate these days. A new wave of speech programs teach kids to argue thoughtfully" by Kara Baskin Globe Correspondent  April 14, 2018

Imagine a world where teens aren’t buried in their iPads or head-down on their phones. Where they discuss well-researched opinions in person, not via emoji or Snapchat, and interrupt only after asking permission.

No, this isn’t an etiquette academy. It’s a reality at places like Debate Camp, a Canadian summer program for fifth- through eleventh-graders that opened last year at Roxbury Latin School. It’s one of many new summer debate camps in the area.

Parents appreciate the camps because they help kids build real-world skills like critical thinking. Students like them because they build self-confidence at an age when they’re ripe to argue — in an era when there’s plenty to argue about.


“Parents want their children to critically think about their own beliefs and express them in a highly structured fashion. Parents want their children to engage in dialogue that isn’t aggressive or conflicted, which is what we see a lot in politics at all levels,” explains Debate Club program coordinator Sonia Pavel, a sophomore at Brandeis University and a champion debater in her native Romania.

What this looks like to me is a way to teach the kids to remain in the "respectable boundaries" of political correctness and thought. That way you can stay part of the team and debate this:

Resolved: Is their Jewish supremacism on the campuses of Jewish universities?

Camps teach various debate styles with their own specific rules, such as policy, public forum, and parliamentary, but general structures apply: students get allotted speaking times; opinions need to be supported by evidence; and free-for-all interrupting is a no-no.

Then they can forget working in government or the media!

At the weeklong Debate Camp in West Roxbury, kids in grades 5 and up arrive each morning at 8:30 a.m. and receive an age-appropriate topic to debate.

“All the topics relate to their lives, like supporting vegetarianism or banning contact sports,” says director Nick Szymanis.

Campers engage in several rounds of debate during the day, with breaks for snacks, lunch, outdoor activities, and debate-style games like “Debate Idol.”

In a world where kids are often beleaguered by social media and the news, it’s a safe space.

(Blog editor just shakes his head; wait until you get out into the real world and start debating)

And, now, those skills matter more than ever.

“Having research skills might sound trivial, but I think never taking anything at face value is a super-important skill,” says Zachary Schnall, a debater at Harvard University.....

Unless it is war propaganda served up by the U.S. government and its war pre$$!!!!


Only problem is you can't undo it:

"A social media hiatus can make you feel cut off from reality. But not for long" by Michael Andor Brodeur  Globe Correspondent  April 13, 2018

Right now, a good number of you may be taking a mental health hiatus from social media. A worthwhile endeavor, assuming your brain is on board.

No, but I am about to. The winter of 2016-2017 was one of the happiest periods of blogging for me (because I didn't).

Leaving social media doesn’t always mean that social media leaves you. Dragging an overtapped icon from the dashboard of your smartphone to the trash or disabling the noise of notifications may remove the root of the problem, but you can’t so quickly delete what they’ve done to us.

My own breaks from social media have been characterized by long, conscious bouts of distraction, frustration, impatience, and that most contemporary of insecurities, FOMO — fear of missing out.

That's why I started blogging again. I figured with all the data being collected I could once again help nudge the U.S.S.A Titanic of of its deadly course by throwing my two cents back in the mix.

The disconnection — actual or perceived — that accompanies social media withdrawal isn’t real (look outside: there are people), but lately that’s not much of a disqualification. While we were staring into our hands, the quantization of our friendships, interests, values, and everything else we post into intangible commodities (“likes”) and transactions (“shares”) somehow flattened our sense of the world, our sense of shared humanity, and most ominously, our sense of ourselves.

I often rail at the sorry excuses that pass for journali$ts because of the slop they shovel; however, after reading that I just feel sad for them.

“Most of this information doesn’t lead to any worthwhile change in our behavior our lives,” writes Srinivas Rao, host of the Unmistakable Creative podcast, in a post to Medium on his own social media hiatus. “If anything it’s programming our brains to cultivate more bad habits and develop shorter attention spans.”

Search “quitting social media” and you’ll find pages and pages of brave souls chronicling their journeys into darkness as though they were wandering naked into the Amazon or lowering themselves into a well. “My fingers kept automatically hitting the spots on my iPhone home screen where the social media icons used to reside,” writes one. “At my lowest point, I just wanted to sign on to Facebook to read status updates from people who think the Onion is a real news outlet,” writes another. And one of the more haunting revelations from Huffington Post writer Bailey Gaddis: “I felt cut off from reality, when in fact I was living more fully in reality.”

It’s fair to wonder, with so many of us on social media training toward the same uncertain goals, will we we ever be able to undo what we’ve done to ourselves? That is, do our brains stand a chance of recovering? How do we stop thinking differently? And is it any wonder people are signing up to embalm their brains for later use in better times? (That, by the way, is a real thing and a rhetorical question.)

But (and here’s where we pivot to hope) what if the brain is still good for something, right now?

Depends on whose it is.

In a piece for The Paris Review titled “The Time For Art Is Now,” novelist Claire Messud warns that our minds are wasted as a matter of course in our “culture of greed and self-interest” — and it may be more worthwhile to sign out of that than Facebook.

Speak for yourself! 

Globe finally going to tackle cla$$ inequality?

“Between the demands of social media (and our constant sense of inadequacy in the face of the thousands, nay millions, whose lives appear — often falsely — more orderly, productive and impressive than our own) and the lessons disseminated by our culture and its so-called leaders (for example, that monetary wealth is the ultimate goal), we risk losing sight of what makes existence meaningful,” she writes.

I love it when the monied cla$$ tells us the wealth ain't important bit!

Lately, I’ve been changing what and why I post; attempting to honor Messud’s call to art/arms by constraining my posts to songs I love, scenes from films I want others to see, poems I know by heart. These are things that connect us and ask for nothing in return. Social media has led us out of our minds; art, if given a chance, is the way back in.....


Speaking of getting into art:

"Sex, power, and photography. At MassArt, how far is too far?" by Kay Lazar and Malcolm Gay Globe Staff  April 04, 2018

For one assignment, the acclaimed professor asked students to photograph seven people they wanted to sleep with.

For another, a female student was allegedly told to shoot 10 penises, while a male counterpart was asked to snap 10 vaginas. And why not start the assignment, the professor suggested, with each other?

Photographer Nicholas Nixon has long been known for his provocative classes at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. But even students awestruck by his piercing examinations of the human body and his best-known series of work, “The Brown Sisters,” were stunned when he asked them to analyze pictures of his own penis.

“Artists are always pushing boundaries between provocative and inappropriate, and then that line gets crossed and it becomes very clear,” said Robin Myers, a 2012 graduate of MassArt. “The penis photo incident was where that line became very clear for me.”

Nixon, whose work is currently on view at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, abruptly retired from the state school amid an investigation into alleged inappropriate behavior, the school announced March 22.

For months, the Globe has been investigating claims of sexual harassment against Nixon made by his former students. In approximately 25 interviews, more than a dozen former students claimed Nixon went far beyond pushing the boundaries of art as he suffused his classroom with sexuality.

Several people said Nixon, who as an employee of MassArt was paid with state tax dollars, asked them to pose partially or fully nude for him while they were his students. Others said his vulgar remarks in class were commonplace, such as the time he allegedly told a student, “You have an amazing ass.” While MassArt won’t comment on whether it has a policy about teachers asking students to pose nude, others in the field say it’s a bad idea in a school setting.

The a** comment would make me uncomfortable.

At least a handful of women received inappropriate e-mails from the professor. In one, he asked a former student who had posed nude for him whether she’d like to be “an old friend with a benefit.” Another woman said she received an e-mail from Nixon while she was a student in which the professor recounted an erotic dream he’d had about her.

Perversion is an art.

These missives, sent from Nixon’s private account, often contained a plea to delete them, five women told the Globe.

In an e-mail to a former Globe reporter in late February, the photographer defended himself while asking whether the newspaper was investigating him.

“I encourage students to accept and use their sexuality [as] part of their putting the best they have into their work,” Nixon said in the e-mail, sent a week before his retirement in early March. “I have never hit on, touched or done anything personal.”

In a later statement to the Globe, Nixon said he realized his teaching style might have offended some students.

“I realize that I should have censored myself more,” he said in the statement. “To those students, I offer my profound apology.”

OMG, what a SCUMBAG!

Acclaimed for his visceral black and white images of AIDS patients, children, and the elderly, Nixon, 70, is perhaps best known for his unblinking portrayal of women, dignity, and aging through “The Brown Sisters,” a series of annual portraits he’s shot of his wife and her sisters over the past four decades.

His behavior in class, however, could be more jarring.

“I remember him pointing to a self-portrait a classmate made, a portrait of her in her underwear bending over from behind, and he said, ‘Her pussy is right there,’ ” recalled one former student who graduated in 2006. “It felt like the conversation always led back to sex.”

I didn't highlight that even more vulgar comment from this sick scum pervert!

Three women unaffiliated with the school said the photographer tried to initiate sexual contact during photo shoots, asking to kiss them while they were naked or partially nude and alone with him.

He says he didn't.

Btw, whatever happened to Wopat?

“He was taking photos of me lying back on the bed,” recalled Alison Criscitiello, who at the time was a PhD student at MIT. “He sat on the bed and asked if he could kiss me.”

All three of the women said Nixon was not physically aggressive and did not pursue them after they declined his advances.

Actually, that makes it okay, doesn't it?

Nixon, a photographer of national renown whose works have been collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, lent star power to MassArt’s small photography department.

I'm sure they have been taken down, right?

School administrators have been tight-lipped since sending a letter to the MassArt community announcing Nixon’s retirement and the pending investigation under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.

MassArt president David Nelson declined an interview request.

A spokesperson for the school directed reporters to its earlier letter, which said in part, “Mr. Nixon is no longer in the classroom or on campus.”

The imbroglio has ignited a roiling debate at MassArt over sexuality in the classroom. Another professor, experimental filmmaker Saul Levine, announced last week that he was being pushed out following student complaints about an in-class screening of a film featuring images of him having sex.

I don't think it belongs there, and he ain't fooling anybody!

But in the Nixon case, there appear to have been no complaints until the Globe started investigating his alleged behavior, according to his attorney, Bruce Singal, who added that Nixon formalized photo sessions with written agreements.

See what you started!

“The conduct we’re aware of was strictly consensual,” Singal said. “It is alarming to me that the school is seeming now to take a completely different posture than at any time in the previous 42 years.”

He added: “This school marketed Mr. Nixon’s presence very widely. . . . They were very proud that he was part of their school.”

That was before, you know.

None of the people interviewed for this story had previously filed complaints with the university about Nixon. Many said they were dazzled by his work and stature in the photography community, adding that Nixon was an effective teacher they wanted to please and felt at the time that it was an honor to pose for him.

How many more out there like him, and not just photographers?

“People forgave things that made them uncomfortable, or they thought he was making them uncomfortable to make them a better or more edgy artist,” said Jess T. Dugan, who graduated in 2007. “In hindsight, it’s very clear that these are things that a powerful professor shouldn’t have done [in class] to young or vulnerable art students.”

How can you call it art anymore?

News of the school’s investigation has divided the arts community.

Photographer David Hilliard, who studied with Nixon in the early 1990s and has also taught at the school, described Nixon’s teaching style as very open and challenging, comparing his classes to a “photo boot camp.”

“He spoke openly about the human body and sexuality,” said Hilliard, who was unaware of the current allegations.

Hilliard and others stressed that in art school students often expect — and are expected — to explore themselves emotionally and take artistic risks.

He asked them to masturbate, too?

While nude modeling is commonplace in art classes, some of Nixon’s alleged behavior astounded Lorie Novak, a professor of photography & imaging at New York University.

“To ask undergraduate students in your class to pose nude for you is unacceptable, and from my point of view one of the very definitions of sexual harassment,” Novak said. “The student is powerless.”

Chris Maliga, who graduated from MassArt in 2011, recalled one class when Nixon instructed them to pair up and photograph each other in rooms around the department.

“Nick had three or four students he really wanted to photograph shirtless,” Maliga said. “He brought them into an office individually, closed the door, and photographed them topless,” later showing some of the photos in class.

And then there were the formal assignments: “He would say, ‘Your assignment for the next week is to photograph seven people you want to sleep with,’ ” said Maliga, now a studio manager for the photo department at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

Encouraging immoral promiscuity, great. 

No wonder the kids are so f***ed up.

Quinn Gorbutt, who graduated from MassArt in 2012, recalled the professor once assigned him to photograph 10 vaginas. Myers, who was in the same class, had the complementary assignment of 10 penises.

I don't want to see any more.

They said Nixon suggested they start by photographing each other.

“I think he wanted to get me out of my comfort zone,” said Gorbutt, who added that neither he nor Myers completed the assignment.

Through it all, Nixon would routinely seek to photograph his students, including Brittany Roberts, a 2014 graduate.

“No alarm bells went off,” said Roberts, who declined requests while in Nixon’s class.

Then came the e-mail: Nixon said he had something to tell her, Roberts recalled, but she had to promise not to tell anyone.

“He had a dream that we were kissing on a bed and I was enjoying it,” Roberts said. “He ended the e-mail with, ‘Isn’t that interesting, dot, dot, dot.’ ”

How creepy!

Roberts later deleted the message, but not before sharing its details with friends, one of whom corroborated her account.

MassArt currently has three pending Title IX sexual harassment investigations, according to the federal Department of Education’s website.


The details of such investigations are often kept under wraps, so the subjects of these earlier investigations remain unclear. In a letter addressed to MassArt president Nelson, however, Nixon’s attorney accused the school of violating the confidentiality of the Title IX investigation in the Nixon case.

Shouldn't people know so they can be forewarned?

While the school’s investigation appears to be concentrating on Nixon’s in-class behavior, interviews with former students and models who posed for him raise other concerns.

Artists who use nude models are expected to follow certain ethical guidelines to ensure their subjects are comfortable, refraining from unapproved touching, and trying to maintain a professional environment.

“It’s complicated terrain,” said Hilliard, a professor whose own work often features nudity. “You have to really be in tune with your model and what their level of comfort is. If you lose track of that, you’re in trouble.”

After graduating from MassArt in 2008, Lindsay Metivier agreed to pose nude for Nixon at her Jamaica Plain home in late 2011.

Metivier recalled Nixon was very professional during the shoot, but at the end, as she was still naked, Nixon asked to hug her.

“I’m embarrassed to say that a younger version of myself didn’t feel like I could say no,” said Metivier.

Nevertheless, they discussed a second shoot in the coming months. As they began scheduling the session, however, Nixon wrote her he’d had “complicated” feelings during the first shoot.

After Metivier asked Nixon to elaborate, he wrote back: “Complicated means I found myself drawn to you, inappropriate as it is.”

In a separate e-mail that same day, Nixon asked Metivier whether she felt similarly. “So what about you? Was I wrong? It wouldn’t be the first time. Do you want to be an old friend with a benefit?”

At the end of these e-mails, Nixon asked Metivier to delete the messages. The following year, she said, Nixon apologized in an e-mail for his behavior.

The apology looks like another attempt to bed her in light of everything above.


I hope you don't have nightmares tonight.