Boston aftermath

I am amazed at how quickly the authorities found the people who were responsible for the tragedy in Boston.  It definitely shows our Government in the best possible light.  Maybe there is something to be said for an event that has to be resolved quickly, it requires people on the street to make fast decisions and moves too quickly to be hindered by bureaucracy.

In light of the quick outcome, all of the “Monday Morning Quarterbacks” are coming out asking about what the FBI and CIA knew and when they knew it.  The fact that the FBI interviewed one of the killers on behalf of a request by the Russians is really being played up by the politicians as some sort of “intelligence failure”.  Let’s take a deep breath here.  I can only imagine the number of people of interest that the FBI interviews in a year.  When the request comes from Russia, not really an ally of the USA, it has to be taken with a grain of salt.  This guy had no known connections with terrorist organizations.  He did not travel to areas we would consider dangerous to the USA’s interests.  To suggest, as some are now doing, that we could have intercepted this guy months ago is pretty ludicrous.  It reminds me of conspiracy theorists surmising about the intelligence we had prior to the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor.  Supposedly we “knew” everything we needed to know to stop the Pearl Harbor bombings in our intelligence files but did not act on it.   That is just not true, it is revisionist history.  Hindsight is always 20/20 vision.  But to suggest we could have stopped the Boston bombings is ridiculous.

One humorous, but not so humorous, anecdote from the tragedy.  The Czech Republic ambassador to the USA was compelled to write a press release stating the Czech Republic is a staunch ally of the US.  The Czech Republic is in Eastern Europe.  It seems that many Americans on social media were confusing “Chechnya”, the region in Russia that the two perpetrators were from, with “Czech Republic”.  After all, they both start with a C! People were writing mean-spirited things about the Czechs out of ignorance.  Sad that some Americans are so undereducated.

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Boston Marathon Tragedy

I sit here shocked and stunned by the events at the Boston Marathon this year.  To think that such a mindless act could happen at that event is hard to fathom.  I have some many vivid memories of so much of that race, they are indelibly etched in my mind.  Five years ago I earned the opportunity to run the race.  My buddy Matt Kaiser and I ran almost the whole race together.  I know we shared an amazement at the crowds along the way.  The final turn onto Boylston Street is about 1/4 mile from the finish.  When you see the finish line for the first time and feel the roar of the huge crowd down the final straightway, it is awesome.  To realize this is where the carnage happened is depressing.  My wife and Matt’s kids had seen us along the route.  They were to meet us after the finish.  Like so many runners, family and friends as spectators are a big part of the race.  Those spectators seem to have been the ones injured the most.

From a personal standpoint, I can’t help but reflect on where would I have been if I ran that race on Monday.  When we ran it, Matt and I were done with the race about 15 minutes before the time when the explosion occurred.  We would have been in the area, still recovering, probably trying to get to the buses that held warm clothes for us.  We would not have met up with our families yet.  We would not have been in danger by then.  But I don’t know how we would have every got together with our families.  That would be a very hard part to deal with.

Most people don’t know much about the Boston Marathon course.  Other than the last few miles, it is conducted through small communities outside Boston.  You are running down “Main Street USA”.  You go by people’s houses.  It is nothing  like the New York City Marathon which is conducted inside the Big Apple.  You truly are out in a slice of Americana.  And since it is a state holiday in Massachusetts, if the weather is okay, everyone is out watching the race.  Now I wonder how all of that might change.

Tragedy comes in so many different ways.  But to have experienced an event and now see that event marred by tragedy is a hard thing.

Old?????

Funny story from school yesterday.

I was talking with two of my favorite students who are “aides” in my classroom.  “Aides” means I get them out of study hall so they can hang out in my room and do their school work or chit-chat with the other students and me.  While the rest of the students were working on some research, one of them said “Waggs (me) would make a great grandpa.”  The other student agreed.  I looked at both of them incredulously.  I told them that I was old enough to be their fathers, but not their grandfathers!  They laughed at me.

After some discussion, I think we reached a clarification.  A grandfather is an adult figure  you are close to but you get to have fun with.  A grandfather lets you do stuff and is not expected to do any discipline.  A father has to discipline a teenager some of the time.  I guess I am not much of a disciplinarian – that would be true.  I’ll take it as a compliment that they like me enough to want to be related to me.

But am I really that old?????

That’s one of the things I like about school – it keeps me humble.

Distrust of Government

According to a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. http://www.people-press.org/2013/01/31/majority-says-the-federal-government-threatens-their-personal-rights/1/  trust in the federal government remains  near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.

In the ’60s, America was optimistic and trust in government was high. Today, the nation is cynical, and trust in government has reached historic lows. Until 1966, more than 70 percent of Americans consistently told pollsters that they trusted the federal government to do the right thing at least most of the time. In the late ’60s, the numbers dipped a bit, but they remained well above 50 percent until Watergate brought us the end of optimism, the end of trust, and so the end of the 1960s.

Today the figure is 26 percent.

I see it all the time at school.  The kids believe in all kinds of conspiracy theories about our government.  They believe the Government is spying on them.  They think the Government wants to take guns away so that we can have a police state.  The Newtown Massacre was a Government plot.  We never really landed on the moon – it is all a fake Government movie.  Osama Bin Laden in not really dead.  The Government said he was dead just to make us feel good about the Government.  On and On.  Those are the people – the 74% – who distrust our Government.

I wonder who is to blame for this sad state of affairs?  I recognize that our Government is not perfect – it is hardly good for anything.  But I think there is a huge difference between not trusting the institution and lamenting its failures.  I am disgusted that we cannot get Republicans and Democrats to agree to compromise on a budget.  I am appalled by the creep of Government into too many places it does not belong.  I am bothered by the influence of big money on Congress.  That is disgust.  But it is not distrust.  Distrust is all about “doubt” and “suspicion”.  Distrust conveys to me that someone is deliberately trying to deceive you for their own gain.  If we are at the point where virtually anything the Government does is considered untrustworthy or evil, we have a major problem.

I really do not have an answer to my question “who is to blame?”.  Perhaps it is the Internet, which allows anyone to say anything they want and say it is “fact”.  Using whatever resources you can people create “facts” – or manipulate them – to support their point.  In today’s rushed world, I need an answer NOW, so I’ll take whatever is convenient.  But are we really that shallow?

Perhaps a more important questions is “Do our lawmakers care enough to want us to trust them?”.  I don’t have the answer to that one either!