The Seabrook Board of Selectmen have announced the FY 2022 Tax Rate. The rate is a big decrease, from $13.73 in FY 2021, to this years $13.25. In this cycle the average homeowner will see a tax decrease. Those details are below in the announcement.
The history of Europe, and the obviously outsized role that the nation of Germany has played in that history, has been the subject of much historical writing. Historian Katja Hoyer has written a short book that covers the development of the German nation through the First World War. While the title references 1871-1918 the period covers 1815-1918.
I was a bit apprehensive about the book, doubting that so much history could be packed into 240 pages. That apprehension was misguided. Hoyer takes us through the end of the Napoleonic wars to the Congress of Vienna, to the rise of the Prussian State as a major European power. She manages to give us a good look at the master strokes of Bismarck, who created the German nation and made the Prussian King the German Kaiser. Bismarck essentially baited the French into attacking Prussia, and used this war, a relatively easy win for Prussia, to stoke enough German nationalism to overcome resistance to consolidation of the German states as the German Empire.
Hoyer gives us a look at the governing style of Bismarck, greatly abetted by the non-interest of the Kaiser in day to day governmental affairs. There has been plenty written about Bismarck and this overview gives us a good look at his domestic politics as well as his foreign policy. He is acknowledged as a true master of statecraft, both for his role in the creation of the German nation as well as his ability to keep that German nation out of conflict in Europe.
“In the famous Kissingen Dictation of 1877, in which Otto Von Bismarck laid out the principles of his foreign policy, he tellingly spoke of a ‘cauchemar des coalitions’ -a nightmare of coalitions-the fear of which underpinned everything. Right from the outset, the creation of a German Empire in the heart of continental Europe bore the risk of uniting the surrounding powers into an opposing coalition that would at best limit the scope of Germany’s ability to act and at worst destroy it.”
Blood and Iron The Rise and Fall of the German Empire 1871-1918 Hoya, Katja pg 111-112
Bismarck never lost site of that fact, and built a foreign policy that kept potential adversaries off balance through an intricate set of alliances, counter-alliances, and treaties that made a grouping of nations against Germany difficult. But Bismarck’s success was not just due to sleight of hand. He recognized the deep distrust of German motivations, including the French hostility over the loss in 1870. Accordingly he was willing to subordinate German territorial ambition, including a desire for colonies, to the larger diplomatic effort to avoid encirclement and potential destruction. Many have said that only Bismarck could have kept the complexity of this effort going, but I believe that it was not the complexity of Bismarck’s diplomacy that became the issue after his retirement but rather the change in attitude over German ambitions that occurred with the death of Kaiser Wilhem I and the ascension of Wilhelm II, after the short tenure of Friedrich III.
With Wilhelm II the relationship between the Iron Chancellor and his King changed dramatically. The young Kaiser had a different vision for the German Empire, one with a strong desire for Germany to be recognized as a major nation, and to take its place as an imperial power, regardless of the fears that such a posture might engender. Bismarck was dismissed in 1890, and the slow slide to disaster began right there.
Some concise military history, including the pre-war German plans for a two-front war against France and Russia, are detailed. But before the advent of World War I Hoyer shows us the clumsy, and counter-productive “diplomacy” of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Kaiser managed to create enemies through diplomatic efforts that could generously be described as obtuse. While Wilhelm II has not been treated well by history it is my view that his treatment has not been harsh enough. His vanity, his arrogance, and his third rate mind brought the German nation to the disaster of World War I, which led us to the even greater disaster of the Second World War. French General Ferdinand Foch said of the Treaty of Versailles ending the first World War: “This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.” Hoyer’s characterization of the actions of Kaiser Wilhem II is not kind, nor should it be. For those wanting to understand how the German nation was created, and the immediate strains on the European balance of power that flowed as a result this book is an excellent place to start. Highly recommended.
Another book nominally on Trump, but with a totally different angle. I was drawn in by the author, Mark Leibovich, who is, for me, a great writer that manages to find some of the absurd with a writing style that is entertaining, informative, and humorous. I have read his book, “This Town” which was a terrific book about Washington D.C. which shredded the political class. He provides the same type of shredding to the folks in prominent positions in the GOP who have fallen into line behind Donald Trump despite their rather obvious distaste for him and his politics.
After reading this book I am at a loss as to how he got Lindsey Graham, and many others, on the record with him. Leibovich shows us the contortions that so many of them have engaged in to deflect, deny, and justify, sometimes all in the same conversation, the fealty to Donald Trump. He does so in a way that brought me a bunch of snickers, but whether it was sarcasm or simply making light of the absurd Leibovich manages to get his point across. He has some real fun with the ill-fated first Press Secretary to President Trump, Sean Spicer:
“Whenever Spicer was asked about his willingness to defend Trump, he was ready with some variation on this pat answer. Problematic clients are an occupational hazard in his business. “There are doctors who help people who have done bad things,” he told The Washington Post’s Ben Terris. “There are lawyers who defend bad people,” he added. “I don’t think it’s unique to my profession.” Spicer had a knack for these explanations, which he would deliver with racing self-assurance. Then, when you caught up to his words, you realized Spicer was comparing his patron to a “bad person” who did “bad things.” His rationale, essentially, was that even Jeffrey Dahmer was entitled to representation.”
Leibovich, Mark. Thank You for Your Servitude (pp. 69-70). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Leibovich managed to speak with Spicer after the fiasco of a briefing on the crowd size of the Trump inaugural. Some great stuff:
“Spicer used to “get the joke,” in a relatively benign way. Now he appeared convinced that many of his old Washington friends and colleagues had written him off as a joke himself, given how he’d beclowned himself on Donald Trump’s behalf. Spicer’s default bearing was now cringe-inducing defensiveness. He gave the impression of someone whose fight-or-flight response had been permanently activated. I asked Spicer about his “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration—period” debut. In retrospect, this maybe was not the best icebreaker. “I’m not here to relitigate every fucking number,” he said, and then launched into a lengthy relitigation. Spicer’s assistant stepped into his office to remind him that he had a TV interview with Fox in a few minutes. Spicer walked over to a small desk in the corner and started rubbing foundation onto his face. I made a verbal note of this into my tape recorder—that Spicer was putting on makeup. “Don’t you dare!” Spicer said. “Just so we’re clear.” “Clear about what?” I asked. Spicer demanded to know whether I planned to report that he was applying makeup to himself. “Well, you are putting on makeup, aren’t you?” I said. I assured Spicer that this would not exactly be a Watergate-level revelation on my part. (ALL THE PRESIDENT’S YES-MEN—AND THEIR MASCARA!) Spicer seemed concerned that if I disclosed that he was wearing makeup, it could further emasculate him in the eyes of the president. I mentioned—by way of more reassurance—that Trump himself probably wore more makeup than Tammy Faye Bakker. But Spicer had lost interest in the argument. He patted his cheeks a few more times with a makeup puff and was out the door.”
Leibovich, Mark. Thank You for Your Servitude (p. 75-76). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Of course Leibovich tackles the silent walks of GOP Senators and Reps through the building walkways as they are being accosted by a press gaggle yelling for comment about the latest outrage.
“For more sober-styled Republicans, the most foolproof approach to Trump-proofing was to simply walk through the Capitol as if protected by a selectively permeable bubble, filtering out certain unwelcome words (for example, “Trump”).”
Leibovich, Mark. Thank You for Your Servitude (p. 106). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Leibovich had great access to Senator John McCain and his sidekick Lindsey Graham, and he has some pretty cutting pieces on McCain’s disgust with Graham’s slide into sycophancy.
“What McCain objected to most in his final months was the theatrical degree to which Graham was willing to submit to Trump. “Do you really have to keep saying how great of a fucking golfer he is?” McCain would ask Graham. Graham was becoming an object of ridicule, McCain told him.”
Leibovich, Mark. Thank You for Your Servitude (p. 127). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The book has many examples such as this, and pays some close attention to Graham. Although the author gets us to smile there is nothing to celebrate here. He has focused on the folks that he believes know better, but have allowed themselves to become enablers under the guise of maintaining “relevancy” as well as a desire to maintain their elected positions. As I mentioned about “This Town” Leibovich’s writing brings to mind some of the better political writing of Hunter S. Thompson. I know the market is a bit saturated with books looking at the Trump effect, but this one is worth a look.
An interview with Tony Blair by Ian Bremmer of GZeroWorld. Available on You Tube but as always Blair, agree or not, has some interesting things to say. Blair was exceedingly careful not to be critical of the new Prime Minister, but he got his message across in any case. He agreed with the overall goal of increasing British economic growth but was not aligned with some of the methods being utilized to achieve that growth by the new administration. Blair has, for some time, simply rebuffed attempts to relitigate Brexit, and does so here, simply waving off the attempt by Bremmer. Blair, to his credit, has been vocal in articulating the problem of the Northern Ireland trade protocol that was implemented as a part of Brexit. As both sides appear to be digging in on that issue, with the British seemingly prepared to unilaterally break that agreement, Blair here, correctly, urges both the EU and the U.K., to work out a compromise. The Blair Institute has developed a white paper on this issue, which is attached below. As always Blair still believes that politics can be successful “in the center,” and discusses his view of “populism” and the grievances that are attached. There is always an anti Blair sentiment whenever he is discussed but he is an interesting, and still relevant, figure.
With bids now being solicited for the Seabrook Seawall reconstruction project the Town recently hosted a site walk through for interested contractors. Our project partner, the REDC, has been with us from day one on this vitally important project, and they were present at the walk through. This project, through that partnership, has managed to secure major federal funding, through the Commerce Department, for this critical piece of regional economic sustainability. The REDC shot a video at the walk through, which is below. My thanks to Jennifer Kimball of the REDC, as well as Curtis Cheney from Collins Engineering, for all of their work on this project.
I have been wanting to write a few words about an impressive column written by Ezra Klein back in May. Entitled “What America Needs is a Liberalism That Builds” this New York Times piece manages to hit some pretty important points about the failure of governance in the U.S. as reflected by our seeming inability to build out major infrastructure within reasonable time frames and costs. Klein is a man of the left but is not afraid to point out areas where he believes progressive governance needs improvement. He manages to bring in the issue of industrial policy, an area where there might be some convergence between left and the populist right.
Klein gives us a pretty generic statement but manages to fill in behind it with some real serious policy meat. That statement.
“You can’t transform the economy without first transforming the government.”
Klein first advocates for a U.S. industrial policy. He has focused on a speech by Brian Deese, Director of the Biden Administration National Economic Council, that calls for such a policy. While the areas where such a policy would be effective remain a source of disagreement between left and right the obvious supply chain issues, the result of years of neglect, and a belief that pure free trade and markets would solve all issues, has brought some agreement. Deese, in his speech, gives some daunting statistics:
“Consider critical minerals. Lithium, nickel, and cobalt are building blocks in everything from computers to appliances to electric vehicles and other clean-energy technologies—and demand is set to skyrocket. Yet the United States depends heavily on foreign sources for many of these critical minerals. China, for instance, is estimated to control 85 percent of refining capacity for rare earths. So far, private investment has fallen short of our national needs. But through strategic coordination, we can open channels for companies to invest. “ Brian Deese, Remarks on a Modern American Industrial Policy
Klein states what has become obvious to many, although not all.
“Do we have a government capable of building? The answer, too often, is no. What we have is a government that is extremely good at making building difficult.”
This is where the Klein criticism comes in, and that criticism is not pointed at just Republicans. (Though they are not exempted either) Whether the discussion is over industrial policy or simply over how do we build simple infrastructure in a cost effective, and timely, way, both Klein and Deese point out some flat out regression in our performance as a nation.
“The first step is admitting you have a problem, and Deese, to his credit, did exactly that. “A modern American industrial strategy needs to demonstrate that America can build — fast, as we’ve done before, and fairly, as we’ve sometimes failed to do,” he said.
He noted that the Empire State Building was constructed in just over a year. We are richer than we were then, and our technology far outpaces what was available in 1930. And yet does anyone seriously believe such a project would take a year today?
“We need to unpack the many constraints that cause America to lag other major countries — including those with strong labor, environmental and historical protections — in delivering infrastructure on budget and on time,” Deese continued.”
Ezra Klein What America Needs Is a Liberalism That Builds New York Times May 29, 2022
This is the crux of the entire discussion. We have failed, and that failure is becoming a part of everyday governance in the United States. The failure is not due to labor or, environmental protections, but because we have built so many obstacles into the system that where it is possible to do infrastructure it has become prohibitively expensive, and exceedingly difficult to do timely. Pandemic supply chain issues have now made the process painful, in addition to expensive. Klein looks at specific costs of rail infrastructure, and those numbers are not pretty when we compare the U.S. to other nations.
“Even so, the United States is notable for how much we spend and how little we get. It costs about $538 million to build a kilometer (about 0.6 mile) of rail here. Germany builds a kilometer of rail for $287 million. Canada gets it done for $254 million. Japan clocks in at $170 million. Spain is the cheapest country in the database, at $80 million. All those countries build more tunnels than we do, perhaps because they retain the confidence to regularly try. The better you are at building infrastructure, the more ambitious you can be when imagining infrastructure to build.”
Ezra Klein What America Needs Is a Liberalism That Builds New York Times May 29, 2022
Klein cites “The Procedure Fetish” by Nicholas Bagley, which is also worth a read. An oversimplification would be to say that Bagley blames the lawyers, and who can’t get behind a sentiment like that??? (It will be my only fun at the expense of lawyers for the entire post) The real thrust is that we have become prisoners of process, and that ”process” is not giving us good results.
Klein, one more time:
“This is a way that America differs from peer countries: Robert Kagan, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has called this “adversarial legalism” and shown that it’s a distinctively American way of checking state power. Bagley builds on this argument. “Inflexible procedural rules are a hallmark of the American state,” he writes. “The ubiquity of court challenges, the artificial rigors of notice-and-comment rule making, zealous environmental review, pre-enforcement review of agency rules, picayune legal rules governing hiring and procurement, nationwide court injunctions — the list goes on and on.”
Ezra Klein What America Needs Is a Liberalism That Builds New York Times May 29, 2022
Klein has brought much forward to both think about, and act upon. Since this column was written we have seen catastrophic failure of a water system in Jackson, Mississippi as well as so many unattended infrastructure problems throughout the country. The quote above from Professor Kagan gets to the heart of the matter but needs fuller discussion. Having processes in place to offer protections against systemic abuses is not a bad thing. Making those processes last for years is a bad thing. Streamlining permitting is only one aspect of the problem. Setting up processes that offer review, but do so within a vastly shortened window of time, with limited appeal, would cut through so many of these issues.
An industrial policy for the U.S. is vitally important if we are to be competitive internationally, especially with China. The Deese speech is but one of many important viewpoints on the subject, and his position, I believe, reflects the reality.
“The question should move from ‘Why should we pursue an industrial strategy?’ to ‘How do we pursue one successfully?’”
Brian Deese, Remarks on a Modern American Industrial Policy
Election day is coming up fast, with primaries scheduled for Tuesday September 6. Lots of important races to consider. With the redrawing of many political lines there is a new Representative District, the Fourth Essex, made up of sections of Lawrence and Methuen. I am pleased to join former Methuen Mayor Dennis DiZoglio, current Methuen Mayor Neil Perry, and City Council Chairman D.J. Beauregard in endorsing Methuen’s James McCarty for this seat. Why have three Mayors and the City Council Chairman endorsed James McCarty? Each one of us has sent a “letter to the editor” outlining those reasons, with links to each one below.
Please remember to get out and vote on Tuesday September 6.
The new book by Henry Kissinger looks at six historical figures and the leadership skills that they brought to bear on the rather monumental problems they faced in the post World War II era. I took a look at some of the reviews before I bought the book and will need to dispense with some of the issues raised in those reviews, as they are a constant when dealing with all things Kissinger.
We always will get a substantial group of reviewers that indicate that the book was terrible because it includes some self serving revisionism by Kissinger, and that in any case he is a war criminal etc, etc. Relying on the review of someone describing Kissinger in those terms will not bring a potential reader a fair estimation of the book. I discard those reviews despite having some real disagreements with Kissinger/Nixon policies in Indochina, and with some of his actions as National Security advisor and Secretary of State to President Nixon. Disagreements do not take away from Kissinger’s underlying brilliance, and have nothing to do with books by Kissinger, or about him.
This book looks at six leaders from the Post World War II era, with Kissinger describing a specific type of leadership trait in each that he believes produced groundbreaking results for the countries they led. His observations, in my view, are insightful, and bring some important concepts on leadership forward that have practical meaning for current and future leaders.
Kissinger has highlighted the career and leadership traits of:
Konrad Adenauer (The Strategy of Humility) Charles DeGaulle (The Strategy of Will) Richard Nixon (Strategy of Equilibrium) Anwar Sadat (Strategy of Transcendence) Lee Kuan Yew (Strategy of Excellence) Margaret Thatcher (Strategy of Conviction)
Kissinger knew, and in some fashion worked with, each of these individuals. In reviewing the book Admiral James Stavridis said:
“This is an extraordinary book, one that braids together two through lines in the long and distinguished career of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The first is grand strategy: No practical geopolitical thinker has more assuredly mastered the way the modern global system works or how nations use the tools of statecraft to bend an often-resistant world to their will. But Mr. Kissinger is also an astute observer of the personal element in strategy—the art and science of leadership, or how, on the executive level, “decisions [are] made, trust earned, promises kept, a way forward proposed.” Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2022 “Follow the Leaders” James Stavridis
To me that snippet from the review gives us a great overview of what this book is about. Different problems, and differing approaches to problem-solving unique to these leaders and the specific time in history that thrust them into leadership positions. After some biographical information about each Kissinger gives us a great view on how each of these leaders contributed in areas that required extraordinary skills to navigate, and the leadership qualities that helped them to succeed. Kissinger does not sugarcoat deficiencies but hyper-criticism is not the point of the book. Kissinger ties it together with a last chapter aptly titled “Conclusions” that brings additional historical insights and observations.
As you read Kissinger you understand his views, and how those views color his analysis. His chapter on Nixon, the strategy of equilibrium, fairly well establishes a core Kissinger value. Equilibrium is a constant theme for Kissinger, more so than the oft-described philosophy of “realism” used to describe him frequently.
Each one of these individuals contributed to the new world order developed after the calamity of World War II. Adenauer, the first Chancellor of the West German government that arose after the war, gave a speech that would give an idea of where he would steer the German people.
“Criticizing Germany’s conduct under Hitler. Adenauer asked an audience of thousands in the severely damaged main hall of the University of Cologne how it was possible that the Nazis had come to power. They had then committed ‘great crimes’, he said, and the Germans could find their way toward a better future only by coming to terms with their past. Such an effort would be necessary for their country’s revival. From this perspective, Germany’s attitude after the Second World War needed to be the opposite of its reaction to the First. Instead of indulging in self-pitying nationalism once again, Germany should seek its future within a unifying Europe. Adenauer was proclaiming a strategy of humility.”
Leadership, Kissinger, Henry p 9
Adenauer, in one of his final conversations with Kissinger, highlighted a true leadership conundrum. Adenauer had, through his leadership, steered post war Germany towards reconciliation and European integration, with special emphasis on repair of the relationship with France. This was not always a consensus view but Adenauer had steered the Federal Republic towards it on a long term basis. This conversation, after Adenauer’s retirement, brought forward the question to Kissinger (in response to Kissinger asking him to evaluate the existing leadership of West Germany) “Are any leaders still able to conduct a genuine long range policy? Is true leadership still possible today?” Leadership, Kissinger, Henry p 42
That question was posed in 1967 and is still a bona fide concern in the democracies today.
Adenauer and Lee Kwan Yew would likely be the least recognizable of the six figures, and in some respects the most significant, in terms of studying effective leaders. Lee Kwan Yew should be required study for all those that aspire to political leadership. His building of the city-state of Singapore is a textbook example of success not being reliant on size. His methodology would not always pass a test of democratic norms, but his strong emphasis on good, corruption free governance, excellence in business and an adherence to the rule of law brought real results. Kissinger cited some pretty impressive statistics.
“An assessment of Lee’s legacy must begin with the extraordinary growth of Singapore’s per capita gross domestic product from $517 in 1965 to $11,900 in 1990 and $60,000 at present (2020.)”
Leadership, Kissinger, Henry p 313
Of course Kissinger is not an economist so we get an examination of Lee from a foreign policy point of view. Kissinger has strong admiration for the balancing act that Lee performed between China, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Kissinger admires Lee’s devotion to “order” and the way he strategically balanced his foreign policy in a multi-polar world. (Equilibrium?) Lee was a truly fascinating leader worthy of more study.
Kissinger, as mentioned, did not dwell on the negative, but managed to provide balance, with an occasional wry observation that makes a point with a bit of humor. In speaking of a dispute between Charles de Gaulle and Marshall Petain over literary credit on a post World War I book, Kissinger observed:
“The capacity for gratitude not being among de Gaulle’s most highly developed traits….”
Leadership, Kissinger, Henry p 58
Kissinger’s relationship with Sadat may be one of the most important, in a sense of real accomplishment, by both men. Kissinger acknowledges a truth that was highlighted in Martin Indyk’s book “Master of the Game,” which was that he initially dismissed Sadat, not considering him to be a first rate leader, anticipating that he would be a short termer. That misjudgment was a contributing factor in the outbreak of the Yom Kippur war launched by Sadat and Hafez al-Assad against Israel. Kissinger does manage to stick in a very indirect criticism of a piece of the Jimmy Carter Middle East policy, due to the inclusion of the Soviets, but concedes that Sadat took that policy and in leapfrogging it ended up in Jerusalem.
The chapters on the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher and Richard Nixon will of course bring some criticism but are worthy and well done. I did not fully agree with the characterization of the Thatcher policy on Northern Ireland but that did not detract from my understanding and appreciating the larger points made. As always with Nixon Kissinger does not hesitate to acknowledge the flaws but highlights some of the major accomplishments of the Nixon Administration on foreign policy. Self interested? Maybe a bit, but the Nixon Presidency is worthy of plenty of discussion, and has some impacts that are still with us today.
In the Admiral Stavridis review he regrets that Kissinger did not make the book longer by including some other figures such as Deng of China and Bismarck. I agree, but would also include Zhou Enlai, who Kissinger has described as one of the most impressive men he has ever met. Even at his age he is still producing impressive works of literature that impart valuable insights. You do not have to agree with everything Kissinger believes to glean value from those insights. Highly recommended.
The death of Bill Russell was announced today and it is indeed a sad day. I grew up in the Russell era, and I shared with my father a huge respect for Russell as an athlete, and more importantly as a man. His impact, on the NBA, and on the nation, was in no way limited to his vast ability as a basketball player. He was more than that, but it was his outsized talent on the basketball court that brought him to us, and I could not have been luckier to have seen him play on many occasions with my Dad at the old Boston Garden. Amazingly those games were not sold out.
There is a lot to say about Russell, much of it not directly related to his basketball career. For the purposes of this post I am going to stick to basketball.
There have been many stories on the Russell basketball record, which is so extraordinary that it really seems to be beyond real. In the NCAA two consecutive national titles at the University of San Francisco as well as 55 consecutive wins. He led the U.S. to the gold medal in the 1956 Olympics, and then in the NBA led the Boston Celtics to 11 championships in 13 seasons, a record that will likely never be eclipsed. But we know that extraordinary record because it has been covered extensively after his death. Russell’s last season was 1969, and as time has elapsed some memory of Russell’s achievements, and his singular contribution to the Celtic record, has been clouded. His magnificent duels with Wilt Chamberlain, a tremendous athlete and one of the best to ever play the game, provided fans with lots to argue about. That argument, about who was the “better” player, still exists today. And the passage of time has allowed a theme to develop: Russell was a great winner, but always had the advantage of having the better team with him in the Chamberlain matchups. The resolution of that “argument” does not just impact the Russell-Chamberlain issue but points to the essential greatness of Russell himself. His achievements in his last years of playing need to be looked at in a closer way in order to understand the the centrality of Russell to the Celtic winning, and to resolve, once more, the Russell-Chamberlain debate.
As Russell entered the NBA in 1956-57 he led the Celtics to a championship, defeating the St. Louis Hawks in 7 games. In 57-58 the Celtics once again made the finals, but an injury to Russell sidelined him for much of the series against the same Hawks, who defeated the Celtics. The centrality of Russell to the Celtics winning was shown clearly by this loss. It would not be repeated for many years.
Chamberlain entered the NBA in the 1959-60 season, becoming a member of the Philadelphia Warriors. He set astounding individual records, and brought his team to the Eastern finals against the Celtics, where a close series went to the Celtics. The Warriors were a good team, but Russell definitely had a better supporting cast. Those teams met again two years later in the Eastern finals, with the Celtics winning in 7 games. Once again Russell had the superior supporting cast. With the move of the Warriors to the west coast Chamberlain continued to accumulate astounding stats, and the San Francisco Warriors made the NBA finals in 1963-64, where Russell’s Celtics were waiting for them. The Celtics crushed the Warriors 4 games to 1. Yes, Russell had the superior supporting cast that year as well.
The story begins to change a bit in the next season, as San Francisco traded Chamberlain back to Philadelphia, where the Syracuse Nationals had moved, becoming the Philadelphia 76ers. This team got Chamberlain mid-year and they were loaded with talent, with Hal Greer, Luke Jackson, Chet Walker and a strong group of supporting players. This team would further develop in the years to come. In this season the 76ers got to the Eastern finals against Boston, and took them to 7 games, before John Havlicek stole the ball on the final play of the game, preserving the Celtics win. In this cycle the 76er team was at least equal to the Celtics in terms of talent, but still lost.
The Celtics had not only won every championship since the loss to the Hawks in Russell’s second year, but they had always finished first in the East, usually by a wide margin. That was about to change, as the 76er team both matured, and added some additional talent (Billy Cunningham and Wali Jones,) bringing them to first place in the East in 1965-66, narrowly edging out the Celtics. They met again in the Eastern finals, where the Celtics crushed the 76ers in 5 games. At this point it can be said that the 76ers had the superior team, and yet Chamberlain not only lost to Russell and the Celtics but was essentially crushed.
With the 1966-67 season this 76er team truly gelled, and Chamberlain took a different path, shooting less, passing more, and really concentrating on defense. I watched that team in shock as they started out the season by winning 46 of their first 50 games, ending up 68-13 for the year. This 76er team can be safely considered to be one of the greatest to ever have played. Guards Hal Greer and Wali Jones, forwards Luke Jackson and Chet Walker, and Chamberlain at center, with Billy Cunningham coming off the bench. They once again met the second place Celtics in the Eastern finals. That was a painful series for the Celtics, as the 76ers essentially stomped them, winning that series in 5 games, with some of the games big blow-outs. The Celtics were still a good team, but they had been eclipsed by Wilt and the 76ers. Lots of talk about the changing of the guard, and how Wilt had finally given Russell a comeuppance. No doubt that the 76ers were the better team.
The 1967-68 season, Russell’s next to last, had the 76er juggernaut again with the best record in the NBA, winning the East by a full 8 games over the Celtics. Chamberlain actually led the NBA in assists during the regular season. The 76er offense was something beautiful to watch, with Chamberlain, in the post, picking teams apart by having the offense flow around his presence. With wide expectations of a second title the 76ers again met the Celtics in the Eastern finals, and quickly established a 3 games to 1 series lead. It looked like the series from the prior year. Despite the many who had written Russell and the Celtics off the team rallied and won 3 consecutive games to win the series and become the first NBA team to come back from a 3-1 series deficit. It was a shocking end to that 76er team, as Chamberlain would be traded to the Lakers in the offseason. This series win, against arguably one of the best teams in NBA history, most certainly is a rather forceful rebuttal of the canard that Russell always had the better team. Russell beat that 76er team 3 times out of 4 meetings, but the old man was not quite finished yet.
The 1968-69 season was Russell’s last, and the Celtic roster had become a bit old and a bit tired. They had some pretty good players, including a John Havlicek that was coming into his own, the great Sam Jones, also in his last year, an older Bailey Howell, Larry Siegfried, and Emmett Bryant. Tom Sanders was still there as well. This older group finished fourth in the East that year, the last playoff spot available. They had to face the second place 76ers, without Chamberlain but with that great group of players still there. The Celtics easily won that series, and moved on to the New York Knicks. That Knick team would win the championship the very next year, and they were indeed a powerful team, anchored by the great Willis Reed. The Celtics dispatched them as well. That brought Russell and the Celtics to the finals, where Wilt and the LA Lakers were waiting.
After the Wilt trade to the Lakers the NBA had its first super-team, with Wilt, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor forming the nucleus of a powerhouse. The Jerry West psychological torture, brought on by losing to Russell’s Celtics multiple times in the finals, would finally come to an end. West, and Wilt, were convinced that this was the year that string of losses would end. After the first two games in L.A. it looked like they might be right, as the Lakers took a 2-0 series lead. The Lakers had a chance to put the Celtics away in game 4 in Boston but Sam Jones hit a runner off the wrong foot at the buzzer to even the series. After trading home wins the Celtics had to play game 7 in LA, where the Lakers were so sure of victory that they had the rafters filled with balloons to celebrate. With Chamberlain taking himself out of the game at a key point the Celtics, who had built a big lead, hung on for the victory. Russell left the court for the final time as a champion, having defeated a vastly superior Laker team with Wilt. That Laker team, a couple of years later, would win 33 straight games and become champions. But not in 1969.
Russell’s basketball legacy is not just as a guy who had great teams and managed to win. He willed victory when he had no right to expect it. He was a monster talent, and he changed the game of basketball forever. Russell famously said; “I created the vertical game.” Of that there can be no doubt.
Red was a genius, and the Celtics had some truly great players (imagine having Cousy and Sharman starting, and Sam and KC Jones as the backups?) but without Russell there could not have been the success. When someone tells you that Russell always had the better teams just call that out for the nonsense it always has been. There is but one GOAT in NBA history, and his name was William Felton Russell.
The Seabrook Draft CIP has been released. We have utilized a new format for this draft which will better meet the needs of the Selectmen, Budget Committee, and Planning Board as a key aid in compiling annual capital budget requests through the warrant. This document, in draft form, has been presented to the Board of Selectmen, who have begun their review.
In order to facilitate that review I have prepared “mini-CIP” documents reviewing departmental requests, with a focus on the FY 2023 capital budget by department. The reviewed department documents are also included here.
One of the improvements made to this process is to identify how these capital requests will be paid for, and whether such financing is on a “pay-go” basis or utilizes other financing methodology.
There may be some changes to this document before it is finalized.