5-15-2013 Spy May 15 Update

MAY 15 Spy Update

 

THE DOMINOS KEEP FALLING
THE FLATS – The contract of Sharon Perkins, Georgia Tech’s head softball coach of seven years, will not be renewed, athletic director Mike Bobinski confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

“After careful consideration, I have decided it is in the best interest of our softball program to go forward under new leadership,” Bobinski said. “I would like to thank Sharon for her service to Georgia Tech and wish her well in future endeavors.”

Under Perkins, Georgia Tech won three Atlantic Coast Conference championships and advanced to NCAA postseason play six times. Perkins, a three-time ACC Coach of the Year, compiled a record of 290-138 during her tenure.

After posting winning seasons in each of her first six seasons, the 2013 Tech softball team slipped to 25-30 overall, bowing out of the ACC Tournament last week with a first-round loss against North Carolina.

Before coming to Georgia Tech in 2007, Perkins served six years as an assistant and associate head coach at Georgia. In 1999 and 2000, Perkins was an assistant coach at Southern Mississippi.

THE NEW KENTUCKY STADIUM
Spy attended the SEC Conference tournament in Lexington this past weekend; a very professional outing, on the field and in the press box. Bit of a hike from the public parking, but once there, spectators found ample seating, all good views, concession stands with varied fare, courteous ushers, multiple and well maintained restrooms.  The gem at the center of this diadem was the grounds crew.  Torrential rain (reminded me of monsoons in Burma) forced cancellation of the Friday schedule, but the crews were hard at work Saturday and when the sun finally shone in Kentucky, the teams had a well-laid out field on which mixtures of dirt and dry-out offered a fast surface.  Large scoreboard offered photos of players as well as pertinent data, and was accurately monitored.  The press box was well-lit, gave wi-fi access, and the KU media staff was prompt with lineups and printouts. Bit cluttered with SEC and KU officials who seemed to prefer the press working area to the two private rooms on either side.  Very grateful to the KU media aides, especially Cory who programmed my IPhone GPS so I could go back and forth to the Hyatt w/o getting lost (again), and softball SID Evan Crane.  Very courteous group.  I am grateful for their assistance.

 

PULLING THE TRIGGER

As President Bush was ending his Administration, the escalating war was somewhat constrained by the difficulty in persuading capable foreign service and intelligence officials with any background in the region to accept postings – which admittedly had high mortality rates, primarily among our military personnel. A then high-ranking CIA official had just paralleled to Defense and tried to convince me to go back.  Somehow, my insistent “no” was not emphatic enough,

A bird colonel in the Pentagon called at home, saying he understood I might reconsider, noting that I had been in every Middle East and Southwest Asian country, and thus he wanted to know if I had kept up my weapons qualifications.  He then read me a list of weapons on which I had qualified over time.  My first response was that the list should have been Top Secret and he should not have had access to it.  Not only did he have the list, he knew when I had carried particular weapons after my military duty, and my preference for the Walther. The Colonel made a tactical mistake, by insinuating that the government had expended a great deal of time and money on training me how to fire weapons (and other useful implements of war), and giving me crucial exposure to the region, and I had an obligation.  Whoa, Nelly.  I reminded him that I had more than repaid any obligation, and was not afraid of gunfire, and had indeed been shot at more than once, and suffered two knife wounds.

The last time I was in Afghanistan and Iran, I believed we had nothing to gain in either country, given their centuries-old adherence to tribal law, which superceded any arguments we made for national governments, solidarity and the rule of civil law.

I have not changed that belief that our gains are at best fragmented, even superficial, at a premium cost in our peoples lives and national treasure.  Think of the public good we potentially could have achieved with the billions on war in those two countries, and elsewhere in the Middle East, where allegiances are as shifting as the sands of the Sahara..

But, I thought about weapons.  I have always opposed private ownership of military-type weapons.  There is no Second Amendment right per se to owning an AR 15, or Uzi, or AK 47.  There is no justification for high volume magazines – for hunting or target practice.

I wonder how many of the cowards in the Senate have ever witnessed a person dying from gunshot.

I remember the first.  The woman lay sprawled on her bed, her hands splayed across her chest trying to hold back the blood, which was spurting out with every beat of her heart. There was nothing we could do but watch her bleed out.  She had been shot with a military rifle.

The second time was civilian; three of the men who regularly played poker together suspected that a fourth player was cheating, and wired a double-barrelled shotgun under the table.  At some point, they determined he had cheated, and one man pulled both triggers – turning the card player into a crowd.  Turns out, the victim had belly-stripped the aces.

I wonder how many of those Senators have ever held hands with a dying man, body beyond repair, praying with him as he slipped into that final state of life. Or witnessed the torn bodies rent by mass killings or those killed through war and revolution.  Other than veterans of military service, few.

Gun registration would not have prevented these deaths. But it would have stated, at virtually the highet level of our government, that we reject the culture of violent death by gunshot, that we are at one with those 20 little children in Newtown, with Gabby Giffords and other itims of gun violence.

Conceptualize the massive trauma inflicted by the eleven bullets which ripped through that one little first grader at Sandy Hook – and you have ample justification for limiting multiple round magazines.

No one proposes to take away the guns of law abiding citizens.  There is no quarrel with the vast majority of responsible gun owners. No one pretends that criminals will register guns in their true names, if at all.  Unless someone exhibits obvious mental instability as confirmed by medical records or hospitalization, the legislation in and of itself will have limited effect.

What that legislation really sought was a binding, a common affirmation of the value we as a nation assign to the sanctity of life, to aver that we will not tolerate the killing of our children.

Unfortunately, the Capitol is redolent with the stench of fear – fear of the NRA, fear of tea party activists, indeed of primary challenges from any source – heedless of the many warnings in the Federalist papers about the tyranny of the minority.  Thus, there is little prospect of renewing the ban on assault rifles, or prohibiting the sale of high volume magazines.  If the zealots truly believed in American democratic principles, the Congress would let these propositions be decided by roll call votes.  The vote on the registration bill was an insult to the memory of the victims – and an affront to that great majority of Americans who favored it.  Hopefully, those like Kelly Ayotte will be defeated in the next election.

To echo Woodrow Wilson, it is time to stand up and be counted.

Rfh

Ps: there is a larger issue about the level of violence in our society, the quick rise to anger that results in death. On the east side of DC, carrying a gun is a sign of manhood among teens, and that ready availability underlies the almost nightly violence in our nation’s capital.  I sometimes think we have lost our moral compass.  It’s a terrible thing to take a man’s life – you’ve capped all of his yesterdays and foreshortened his tomorrows.  With the pull of a trigger, you’ve become judge, jury and executioner.  There are times when the greater courage is to summon the wisdom to look down the barrel at a man and release the hammer.  I’ve been there.

 

ON THE REDSKIN WARPATH

I am not offended by the Washington football club using the name “Redskins.”

I am offended that our home team is owned by a short little egomaniacal glob of greed Daniel Snyder.

He got away with cutting down protected trees to enhance his view of the Potomac; he lights up his house and drive when his neighbors are without power; there is no bottom to his reservoir of greed.

But, while somewhat bothered that this detestable little runt and I are on the same side of any argument – I cancelled my season tickets long ago – I disagree with the plaintiffs on their suit to compel  the government to in effect force a change in name by depriving the team of its brand name status.

In this, I am more fundamentally invested than many of the critics in Congress, local government and the press.

I am an enrolled member of two Indian nations – the Choctaws and the Osage – the first by blood, the latter by headright. I am descended from the LeFlore family who governed the Choctaw nation.

How far do the protagonists want to extend the “no breach” line?  Not only are there 61 schools in the USA which call their athletic teams “Redskins” but many state and local governments have Indian-derived names.  Most of the 77 counties in Oklahoma have Indian-inspired names; indeed, the term Oklahoma means land of the Red Man.  Do the plaintiffs envision a wholesale divestiture of all Indian names – and much of the history of our country, coast to coast.

There are many opportunities for these critics to help the American Indian, more worthy than fighting Snyder.  Precious little is being done about misery on the Indian reservations – the endemic poverty, the epidemic alcoholism and drug abuse.  What if anything have these critics done personally to end the cycle of despair which begins for many Indians at birth?  How many of them have ever stepped foot on an Indian reservation?

During the mid-70s, I chaired a conference on drug abuse in Salt Lake City; during the conference, a hotel clerk said there were some Indians in the lobby who wanted to see me.  One happened to be Russell Means, the well-known Indian activist.  He demanded to know what I and all these delegates from the Federal government and each State government, were doing to help the Indian.  He had done his homework, and knew of my Indian ancestry (admittedly secondary to the German-Irish strains).  I agreed to visit an Indian reservation and intervene with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in my capacity as director of the national effort to expand drug abuse treatment (one of many hats).

I went to the Dakotas and visited the Sioux at Pine Ridge reservation.  The Sioux have a school which primarily serves Sioux orphans, a by-product of intense alcoholism and drug abuse.  The director, a Sioux who earned his doctorate at Harvard, also operated a drug abuse clinic.  His funding by the Bureau of Indian Affairs had been cut off and not replaced by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.  When I joined their appeal, the first reaction was to challenge me because these matters were not the concern of the State Department.  I argued that the Sioux were in fact a nation, recognized as such by treaty, but, more importantly, the staff of the school/clinic were educated professionals, more qualified than many of the programs which were receiving Federal funds.

The Sioux got their funds and invited me back to the Black Hills for a pow-wow – with the full panoply of dancing and music and of course buffalo meat.

I firmly believe that any person who has not broken bread with the Indians on their turf, and taken some action, however small, to address the real problems of the much disadvantaged American Indian, they have no foundation on which to side against the Washington Redskins.  (Ps: I am a Giants fan)  RFH

 

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