- I was disappointed the Boston Celtics didn't quite finish their miraculous run at a championship in June. Unfortunately, the Celts' loss in Game 7 to the LA Lakers has made it a bit easier for basketball writers and fans to overlook their extraordinary accomplishments in the playoffs. People have still not given the Celtics their proper due for transforming themselves into a much, much better team during the playoffs after playing at a far lower level for half of the regular season. The extent to which this particular Celtic team "flipped the switch" was one of the more interesting episodes I've observed in sports. I still maintain that if the Celts had defeated the Lakers, it would have been one of the most incredible feats in B-ball history. When the playoffs began, and, the Celtics were, finally, healthy, they suddenly became more focused for 48 minutes a game and returned to their top-notch defense of old. They knocked off Dwayne Wade & the Miami Heat, LeBron James & the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dwight Howard & the Orlando Magic before finally succumbing to the younger, faster Lakers halfway through the 4th quarter of Game 7 in the Finals. In my view, they simply ran out of gas due to the age of their veteran players and the cumulative toll of all the playoff games. Interestingly, if the Celts had had another day or two off before Games 6 and/or Game 7, they might have won it all. It was all about the Big Three growing increasingly weary.
- The fact that the Celts "ran out of gas" due, in large part, to age is why I'm quite surprised and disappointed that the team has re-signed Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to new contract deals that will mean at least two more seasons with both. I like Pierce and Allen, but, I think they played their hearts out in the recent playoffs and their performance will only deteriorate in the coming season - and, the next. They're getting old - in basketball terms - and the team will have to rebuild anyway. It's strange: I heard sports writers all year discuss how the Celtics did not want to repeat the mistake made in the late 1980s with the Celtics' first "Big Three" of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Then, the Celts hung on to those three stars for what many (including me) felt was too long a time, and, when they all left, finally, the team fell apart for a while. It seems Danny Ainge and the current Celts' management team is making the same mistake again. Pierce, Allen and Kevin Garnett cannot maintain their level of play; they'll get worse, slowly, and the Celts will probably suffer a big dip - again.
- I applaud the fact that justice appears to have been done in the tragic case of Amy Bishop's alleged murder of her brother, Seth, back in 1986. After Amy was charged in February for murdering three of her colleagues at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, the 1986 death of her brother came under fresh scrutiny. Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating, to his credit, requested that an inquest be conducted, and, 19 witnesses testified before Quincy District Court Judge Mark Coven. A grand jury later heard the evidence and charged Bishop with killing her brother. There had been numerous, troubling unanswered questions about her brother's death and many unanswered questions about Amy's behavior surrounding that event. The Braintree, Ma. police handled the incident irresponsibly, and, for years, no one had forced a re-examination. I think Keating and all other parties involved in making the inquest happen deserve some acknowledgement. This seems a rare case when the truth, no matter how deeply it had been buried, emerged and the right message was sent about our law enforcement system - i.e. That justice can prevail and the truth can be found.
- I was so relieved that President Obama fired US General Stanley McCrystal after McCrystal and individuals close to him made an array of criticisms about the Obama team in an article in Rolling Stone magazine. Obama, in my view, had already been a bit lenient toward McCrystal when he elected to not reprimand of fire him for his critical comments many months ago about Obama's deliberations over whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan. First, I feel that Obama desparately needs to convey (more) that he's in charge, in general - and, that he's unafraid of conflict and challenging others, including those around him. Second, I felt McCrystal really deserved to be fired. If he couldn't show more support of his President (by choosing to not rip him publicly!) then, it's preferable to have a replacement.
- I am deeply troubled that there is not more unanimous, loud rejection of the Arizona immigration law from every part of this country. The very idea that this crazy law is being taken seriously by right-wingers and even a noisy segment of the news media (like the Fox TV crowd) shows you how far the public's standards and values have dropped over the past 25 years. We never hear any talk about the causes of poverty or how to address homelessness or mental health problems; instead, we hear people like US Sen John McCain and others defend an Arizona law that allows people to be questioned about their residency on occasions when the issue should not be raised. It seems to be the law is all about scapegoating and racism -- trying to spew hatred and intolerance toward minorities and immigrants - legal or illegal.
- Speaking of racism, I continue to be among those observers of the President who believe that racism is playing a huge, disturbing role in how Barack Obama is being perceived and treated as our leader. All I know is Obama has been criticized and attacked for a wide variety of flaws and mistakes - including some I do not recall being raised with past presidents.
- I hope so very much that President Obama and his team do not begin to "cave in" to Israel on an array of matters relating to tension in the Middle East. I've been so refreshed that Obama has been at least somewhat tougher on Israel over its position on planned construction of housing in the occupied territories, but, when I read the accounts of his meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu recently - and the great lengths that Obama went to to convey a message of conflict-avoidance - it got me nervous that the Administration might have lost its nerve. The longer the Obama team can be firm with Israel, the more credibility it will have with other countries that it can advance peace in the Middle East - and, the more fair its treatment of the Palestinians will be regarded.
- I have to give Hillary Clinton credit for continuing to do her job without causing any problems or conflict with Obama. As one who was worried she'd create mischief, I've been pleased so far.
- Observing Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker on the campaign trail so far reinforces the principle that just because a person is intelligent, talented and articulate does not necessarily mean he or she will be a great candidate for public office. Baker is a rare breed; he's excellent with both the "macro" and "micro" aspects of public policy. He's got an unusual combination of strengths. Yet, he has run a poor to mediocre campaign so far, it seems to me. He's taking positions that are simplistic and extreme in order to get support. He's spouting safe, cliched views such as opposition to taxes. Where's the beef, Charlie? I suspect he'll improve quite a bit in the weeks ahead. If not, he'll stand out as one of the more gifted, but un-compelling candidates in many years!
I post opinions at least once a week here. Often I write about politics or media coverage of politics -- two subjects I have followed closely for more than 30 years.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
July Random Ramblings
I've been unable to post as many blogs the past few months, so, I'll use this one to weigh in on a few miscellaneous topics that have crossed my mind: