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Ahh, so much for my summer vacation and extended hiatus from the Intruder. My empty email box tells me I wasn’t all that much missed, after all, ha ha , but I’ve returned after a rather productive spring and summer of working on another writing project that’s very important to me. More on that later.
I won’t even attempt to touch on all the many happy and sordid things that have been going during my absence, so I’ll just run through a few of the bigger things that have hit the headlines since this past July.
Yeah, not a huge surprise here. MGM Resorts worked hard on a marketing campaign that saturated the city with yard signs, postcards, and street banners. In contrast, the opposition (myself included) must have appeared curmudgeonly and dour in our predictions of doom. That being said, though, I’m sticking with my gloomy forecast should MGM Resorts land in downtown Springfield. No city (save Las Vegas, which is essentially one big casino) has ever prospered from a casino sitting in its midst over the long-term. I’m not entirely sure why Springfield’s leaders believe they are destined to buck that trend, but we shall see what happens. I predicted last winter what downtown Springfield would likely resemble in the aftermath of the arrival of MGM Resorts, and I’m sticking with that little schematic.
ED MARKEY VOTES NOT TO VOTE
U.S. Senator Ed Markey, elected via special election earlier this year to fill former Senator John Kerry’s seat (who himself moved on to be our illustrious Secretary of State), voted “present” in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote to support or oppose President Obama’s desire to strike Syria in retaliation for that country’s use of chemical weapons against its own people.
Not exactly the most courageous stance in American politics, Markey’s “present” vote will go on the books as his first important vote in the Senate, and one that essentially ensured his vote meant nothing at all to anyone. (The Foreign Relations Committee passed the resolution, voting 10-7 in support of Obama.)
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry has come out to declare that even though President Obama is seeking Congressional approval for a strike on Syrian government targets, he doesn’t actually need such authorization. This is technically true, and is precisely how past presidents from Ronald Reagan through to George W. Bush were able to flex U.S. military might abroad without asking Congress for the bully stick. (If you read this article, it mentions that Republicans might attempt an “impeachment drive” of the President if he did so. I’m not inclined to believe that would be successful, as the President would still be acting on his own, legal, executive authority.)
What gets me about this whole situation is how completely the tables have turned, politically. Six years ago, the Left-Wing’s hammer was falling fast and hard on then-President Bush for his own military adventures sans Congressional approval. Now many of these very same liberally-bent people are explaining away or outright dismissing Obama’s own indie adventures abroad. (To be fair, many more are not, too.) Obama, it has turned out, is every bit as hawkish in his foreign policy as Bush ever was in his.
I’m not going to hammer Obama for his actions abroad, myself. I actually support the President’s use of drone strikes to hit enemy targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and anywhere else our foes may be hiding. (And, quite frankly, if you are a U.S. citizen and you are in these countries fighting alongside our enemy, you’re a traitor and deserve to get wacked with the rest of them, no trial needed.) And I have to admit that it didn’t bother me too much, either, when we helped the Libyans topple that whackjob, Muammar Gaddafi. I also feel sorry for the people of Syria, both for being ruled by a brutal dictator and for being targeted with poison gas, if that indeed turns out to be true. But in this case, I also have serious concerns about any Syrian strike carried out by us – particularly if we go it alone — and how deeply we intend to immerse ourselves in that civil war. Nothing really begins with “boots on the ground” (a term that is getting old and grossly overused – I hate it when local politicians use it when referring to cops, ugh!), but as things evolve and circumstances change, sometimes so do intentions. Airstrikes lead to “spotters” being needed on the ground. Then advisors and trainers go in. Then special operations forces are brought into the picture…
Whatever happens, I think we can all pretty much agree the Middle East has been a violent place for a very long time, and it’s a sad place to be, as well.
HARD KNOCKS FOR HARD ROCK CASINO
I thought this article appearing Masslive this Friday was interesting. Is the proposed site of Hard Rock Casino’s resort in West Springfield actually in Agawam?
“The law states that everything here north of the Westfield River belongs to West Springfield and the land south of the river belongs to Agawam,” said Agawam City Councilor Robert Magovern in a story by Masslive’s Robert Rizzuto.
It all hinges on geography and the changing path of the Westfield River. “Well, at some point the path of the river changed course,” said Magovern, “and because the oxbow that surrounds the piece of land Hard Rock wants to build on surrounds from the north, the land is now south of the river.”
Magovern said in the article that county computer databases don’t go back far enough to verify the claim, but if it turns out to be accurate, that could open up a whole new can of worms for Hard Rock International’s bid to put a resort on the grounds of the Big E. The Agawam City Council has already voiced their opposition to a casino in their backyard.
STACKING THE VOTE
Courtney Llewellyn, the hurry-up wife of former East Longmeadow Selectmen Jack Villaimano, got a year probation on the charge of “interfering with an election official” for her role in the voter fraud scandal that rocked the town of East Longmeadow last year. (Four other charges were continued without finding for one year by Judge Mary Lou Rup.)
Her husband, Jack, was already sentenced earlier this summer to one year in the Ludlow county lockup, with all but four months suspended.
I think both Courtney and Jack got off pretty damn lucky. The sentences were light considering what they orchestrated. Voter fraud is a serious crime, and is something I believe happens much more often than people want to acknowledge — which is why I also support voter IDs at the polls. I think the notion that requiring IDs at the polls is somehow discriminatory is just plain silly. People have to show IDs for buying alcohol, cigarettes, and even fishing. So I’m not getting what the big hardship is with whipping out an ID at the polling station. The liberal argument appears to be either, A.) minorities are too stupid to understand the complexities in acquiring an ID, or B.) the big-bad White Boy Establishment isn’t going to allow them to get IDs. Either notion is, of course, nonsensical. And the latter belief is simply a frightened holdover from the days of the country’s old Jim Crow laws. But we as a modern, democratic society shouldn’t keep chugging along forever reliving and feeling guilty about the past. We weaken the infrastructure of our democracy when we choose to turn a blind eye to corruption in favor of wanting to be “nice.”
Finally, I’ll end this post with a personal update:
I’ve actually been doing more fiction writing in the past six months than I’ve ever done for the Intruder in five years’ time. To date, since last winter, I’ve written two novella-sized manuscripts (novella being a short novel), several short stories (only one of which I am pitching at this time), and I am on the second draft of a full-length, novel-sized manuscript. Plus I have several in-progress short stories. All of these manuscripts are never really “done”, as I’m constantly going back and re-reading and re-editing them. But I have submitted some to publishers, some of whom have rejected them and still others who I am waiting to hear back from. The process, though, is very slow. I wait sometimes four or six months to hear back from a publisher. Even with simultaneous submissions, I can still go through a good part of the year (such as I have in 2013) without hearing back from most of the submissions. But that’s the process, and that’s the way it is.
With most of my writing, for now, done and only edits and proofreading going on, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things here at the Intruder. That’s my intention, anyway.
That’s all for now.