: Yikes, the Boston-based American Prospect
-- actually, its online blog, Tapped
-- is going after the anti-globalization protestors, under the headline “Bankrupt protests?”
GOP trouble for Mitt Romney
: Reader No. 1 sends along this story
with the following comments: "When they write the post-election analysis of Romney's defeat on the evening of November 5th, the third paragraph of this story would be a good place to start and maybe finish. I might disagree that this is how a company takeover works -- at least, not a successful company takeover. But it plays into the anti-business stereotypes that the candidate has yet to successfully navigate."
Worth the read
: If the U.S. is going to win the domestic war on terrorism, it needs the help of Muslim Americans. Despite the faint I'm-Embarrassed-By-America tone, read this oped
until the end. A lot of good points are made.
: Boston-based Fidelity Investments gets back into international small-caps
. About time.
: Shannon O’Brien, despite her 6-point lead in the polls, just can’t shake the criticism that she’s not concerned about the views of minorities
. It comes down to a simple question: When was the Beacon Hill machine EVER sincerely interested in the concerns of minorities? ... To win, Mitt Romney needed to establish that he’s a viable alternative to the Beacon Hill machine. But he’s consistently gone overboard on the issue, indicating he won’t put up with any patronage. The Herald
has begun to call him on this near pledge. Nothing wrong with Mitt’s campaign hires. It’s just that Mitt has set himself up (again) for this type of gotcha journalism.
Young, Leikind on Summers
: Cathy Young
and Robert Leikind
tag-team in support of Lawrence Summers. Young’s piece is especially trenchant -- logical, reasoned and all the more devastating because of it. Young’s conclusion: “For whatever reason, extremist anti-Israeli rhetoric today has become, all too often, a vehicle for the kind of Jew-bashing that one might have hoped was extinct in the civilized world. For drawing attention to this issue, Summers deserves praise.” Leikind’s key lines: “Evidence is mounting that demonization of Jews is gaining respectability and that the struggle in the Middle East is providing cover for the expression of such hatred. This does not justify reflexively labeling all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. It does, however, compel us to ask why some critics seem interested in investing all their moral capital in attacking embattled, democratic Israel.”
Postscript: Another Harvard professor takes on the divestment movement
. (Via Instapundit
Bird in the cat’s seat
: These are tough terms
set down by Larry Bird. Who can blame him? But the Celts’ new owners must be thinking, in the back of their minds, about the last time the organization gave so much power to one man (i.e. Rick Pitino). Also, the basketball operations now seem to be in rather good hands. Hub Blog’s best guess: Larry won’t be coming to Boston.
: Finally, an article that delves into the proposed smoking-ban
in Boston, beyond just quoting health-care experts and anti-smoking crusaders.
Police union politics
: Adrian Walker correctly IDs the police union
as the stubborn character in the police-shootings drama. He’s also quite fair to them.
: This is turning into a big, big story
. The janitors’ demands are not unreasonable, by any means. But the Boston office market stinks right now. Tough spot for the area’s landlords.
Ted Kennedy, Part ? (Lost track):
Here’s the full text
of Ted Kennedy’s speech on Iraq. Strangely, his speech is not getting as much attention as Daschle or Gore's. Maybe it's because his argument is more reasoned. Maybe it’s because his views are so easy to dismiss in general. Thanks to Barry D. for the link.
: A blog that points out my reservations
. Got to admit, Hub Blog is torn on Iraq, not to mention Peggy Noonan
. There's something inside of me that says we have to act soon. There's also something inside me that says the rhetoric for going to war is rash and overheated. Reservations, by their very nature, are not conducive to clear logic. It's as simple as that.
: Not surprising. Not surprising at all
. Shannon O’Brien is slowly widening the gap, with solid backing from women. Interestingly, the Green and Libertarian candidates each pull in 4 percent. ... Eileen McNamara
has unsheathed her Defend the Sisterhood sword. Next up: Joan Vennochi.
Bob ‘Velveeta’ Greene
: The Globe’s “Ideas” section takes a crack at Chicago columnist Bob Greene
, who was recently fired for (or so they say) having an affair with a 17-year-old girl he wrote about in a column. Ah, that infamous column. It’s cheesy. Bob Greene is cheesy. But is being cheesy a firing offense? Peter Canellos makes the case.
Postscript: Last week, Hub Blog mentioned that I wasn’t too impressed with the Globe’s new “Ideas” section. Well, this week it looks like it’s beginning to hit its stride, though the article on bathroom breaks
is a puzzler. Besides the piece on Greene, “Ideas” also examines whether the Age of the New York Intellectual
is over. And it also has a piece on Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher's photography collection ''African Ceremonies''
-- and the debate over whether the book accurately portrays contemporary Africa and Africans. Hub Blog’s view: It doesn’t. But that’s not the point. The book is about vanishing tribal rituals, not about contemporary Africa. But critics do have an excellent gripe (though it’s unfairly aimed at Beckwith and Fisher): The media does a horrible job covering Africa. Quickly, here’s the real Africa you don’t read about: Hub Blog was recently in downtown Yaounde, Cameroon, with banged up cars darting all around, merchants selling their wares, customers lining up outside a bank, patrons buying baguettes at nearby bakeries, teens running around in American T-shirts, tourists snapping pictures and buying bogus African artifacts at the local art market. And then a shephard disrupted the bustling urban scene, snarling traffic as he herded his goats to market. Then: “Beep, beep, beep!” A cell phone went off. Dozens of people suddenly checked to see if it was their phone. Who’s was it? The shephard’s. And there he was, in the middle of this urban setting along with his goats, yapping away on his cell phone. Now THAT is the Africa you don’t read about.
Kennedy, Part II
: Thomas Oliphant, who’s been very tough on Iraq and on Dems for refusing to address the issue head on, defends Ted Kennedy’s speech
on Iraq. Oliphant is being a little too kind to the senior senator from Massachusetts. But, again, Kennedy is expressing some of the same reservations held by other Americans. He deserves a hearing. ... Howie Carr
, on the other hand, heard something else in the senator’s remarks. This isn’t one of Howie’s better columns.
Off for the weekend
: The local media was certainly caught off guard by the unexpected sale of the Celtics. Hub Blog was hoping there would be a lot more coverage in the Sunday papers. There wasn’t. Oh, well. The deal was announced late Friday afternoon, after all. Maybe the big guns were already scattered for the weekend. Still, here’s a small fix
for the addicted.
Reader No. 1, responds to everything
: Reader No. 1 has a lot of good points on today's blog items. By the way, you might be asking: Who is Reader No. 1? Besides being evil (along the lines of being the No. 2 to Dr. Evil), he is also an old, brilliant, should-have-been-a-journalist-but-thank-God-he-isn't-because-he-has-two-beautiful-kids-to-support friend (and he consistently keeps Hub Blog in check). Anyway, he wants to stay anonymous, for now. With that out of the way, here are Reader No. 1's observations to Hub Blog's points (see items below):
On the Celtics being sold to a VC group(s):
"Let us not forget that the new buyers gave no evidence yesterday that they have any less concern for the bottom line than the despised Gaston the Younger. (Not that they shouldn't!) I also think you hit a nail that no one else will, re: the Larry Bird mania. Personally, I think he would be a great addition owing to his basketball acumen. (Look at the Pacers before and after Larry... recall that Larry tried several times to get Pitino to trade Antoine Walker, one small thanks we owe Rick ...) But the idea that one Savior from the Glory Days will make all the difference is just sentimental bunk (Shaughnessy's stock in trade) and symptomatic of how nostalgia cripples this region."
On Ted Kennedy's speech against the upcoming war on Iraq
: "I can't go along with you on Ted Kennedy and Iraq. It seems to me there is a world of difference between acknowledging his frankly irrational contradictions and admiring his guts for going out on a limb. He really has nothing to lose by going out on a limb -- his incumbency and emotional appeal are assured for eternity -- that's not exactly my idea of a Profile in Courage."
Postscript postscript: Good point on Ted Kennedy's comfortable political status in Massachusetts, and how it's safer for him to uncork on Iraq. After all, after a few months of debate over Iraq, why did it take until the issue was all but settled for him to speak out? Still, Hub Blog shares some (but not all) of Kennedy's concerns, as do a lot of other Americans.
Trains work, really
: An update on the revival of the Old Colony
: The Christian Science Monitor tackles the growing problem of ‘ecoterrorism.’
The kicker lines about their changing motives and tactics: “Almost without exception (in the past), the line has been drawn against injuring or killing people. That appears to be changing. Radical groups formed in England with a record of physically attacking people perceived to be their enemies have begun operating in Canada and the United States.” Oh, just what we need. ... And on another front
Scott Ritter, Update
: The bitter and baffling Scott Ritter spoke at Harvard
earlier this week -- and he’s still full of contradictions
about what weapons inspectors did and didn’t find in Iraq.
Celtic Pride, restored?:
The Gaston-ownership era has been a disaster for the franchise. Now it’s over
, thank goodness. Where the heck did these new guys come from? The Globe’s Beth Healy
, arguably the best business reporter in town, has the goods. Though getting rid of the Gastons is a great boost for the club, Hub Blog still has two concerns: A.) The new guys are venture capitalists and, although they say this deal was personal and not connected with their VC firms, one has to wonder if they’ll end up being penny-pinching investors looking for lucrative exit-strategies down the road; and B.) They’ll be under tremendous sentimental pressure to wallow in Green nostalgia, with some insisting Larry Bird
be brought on board and others calling for Red Auerbach to return. The ever annoying Dan Shaughnessy
, who fancies himself the voice of the fans, is already yelping for this, predictably. But the Gastons milked the Celtic tradition for everything it was worth, and look what happened? The Celts need to build for the future, not recreate the past. For decades after good old Vince left the Green Bay Packers, that sports franchise struggled, largely because of fan insistence that Bart Starr et gang be given a chance to recreate the past. That nostalgic-driven strategy brought nothing but disappointment and mediocrity for years. The Green Bay Packers Syndrome must be avoided at all costs. The old Celtic “tradition” really came down to this: They won.
Kennedy on the non-warpath
: Though Hub Blog disagrees with a lot of what Ted Kennedy said yesterday (here's the Globe's version
and the Herald's
), one can’t help but respect the guy. OK, so Hub Blog is a typical Bostonian with a sentimental attachment to old Ted. Still, Kennedy at least spoke from the gut on Iraq, unlike Tom Daschle, who can’t say anything without peering at his Congressional polling data first. Kennedy, some of whose concerns are shared by many Americans
, is now one of the main leaders of the Democratic opposition that, until this past week, has been terrified to rear its head. Republicans have been challenging Democrats to stand up and state exactly what they’re thinking. Well, Kennedy did just that yesterday, whether your agree with him or not.
With that out of the way, here’s a quick observation: Reflecting the misgivings of others, Kennedy is all over the map in terms of contradictions: Is he against the war or just against the timing of the war? He’s for UN involvement, but what if the UN continues to balk at confronting Saddam, as it has over the past ten years? He says a war could be very, very bloody (and he’s right, especially about a desperate Saddam resorting to the use of weapons of mass destruction if pushed into a corner), but he indicated he’s willing to wage war as a “last resort” -- so that begs the question: Is the bloody/non-bloody nature of the war really relevant to the argument?
All in all, Kennedy’s words reflect the gut-level, often contradictory, reservations of a lot of people about the necessity of immediate war with Iraq. Those reservations, some of which Hub Blog shares, are at least now out in the open, as opposed to the wimpy, muffled, coughing responses of other Dems.
Postscript: Courtesy of Mickey Kaus
, here's Peggy Noonan's
own reservations about war with Iraq.
Rent control and the market
: A nice oped on why rent control destroyed the Boston housing market
-- and why its demise has led to a residential building boom in Boston. Here are the key stats: “Nearly two years ago, the mayor presented a plan to create 7,500 new housing units. A year and a half later, Boston had permitted 4,600 new housing units, 1,600 of which were affordable.” And many more units are on the way. Keep building!
And it’s come to this
: The Archdiocese of Boston is mortgaging Cardinal Law’s mansion
to raise funds. And it’s not just because of the sexual-abuse payouts. Church donations across the state are way down. The church is literally paying the price for its putrid leadership.
Meant to link with this Alan Dershowitz letter
earlier this week, but The Crimson's system must have been overwhelmed after Andrew Sullivan
linked to it. After the blogosphere deluge, it's now available.
Another gov overview
: From the Globe, a mood piece
on the race. (One can only wonder who's going to heave the kitchen sink first.)
: They're working! (Finally.) Thanks to everyone who helped out. Truly appreciate it.
Mitt and Jane, the Aftermath
: Surprisingly, there’s not all that much reaction to the Mitt bashing of Jane Swift, though Joan Vennochi and Eileen McNamara have yet to unsheathe their Defend the Sisterhood swords. The Globe
did run an editorial on the issue this morning, obviously and correctly chastising Mitt. Yet the Globe didn’t go overboard. Indeed, it made this valid observation: “O'Brien contended that Romney disparaged Swift because she is a woman. More likely Swift was the target because she has few connections to the Republican establishment. Cellucci had gained many allies from his two decades as a political professional.” Bingo. Why didn’t Mitt go after former Gov. Cellucci, also a weak, patronage-loving ex-legislator? ... Howie Carr
has a somewhat different reaction. Read all the way till the last line. It’s a gem. And it’s true.
Postscript: Hub Blog saw Gov. Swift on TV last night. Her response was one of bemused dignity, calmly dismissing the spat and covering up for Mitt. “This is a funny business,” she smiled to WBZ’s John Henning. Mitt got off light -- for now.
Postscript postscript: Hub Blog also saw Mitt's now famous/infamous How We Met commercial. It's jaw-dropping bad. Easily one of the worst campaign commercials in history. A classic. Words can't describe ...
Pompous journalism alert
: Deep down, political reporters in Boston LOVE the gubernatorial race -- the fast action, the bitterness, the intensity etc. It’s what political reporting is all about. But journalists have to play their part too, one of which is the obligatory role of shaking one’s head in disgust and pooh-poohing the tone and lack of substance in a campaign, as if journalists never engage in stoking the fires of triviality. Here’s Brian McGrory’s
audition for the part: “It comes down to this simple concept: Respect. Shannon and Mitt have yet to show us any.” Oh, please.
Smoking ban puffery
: Thomas Keane thinks Mayor Menino is showing a trace of leadership on the smoking-ban issue
. Hub Blog disagrees. It’s actually an easy issue to champion. Smokers (like Hub Blog) and restaurant owners simply have no desire to jump in front of a political locomotive -- a locomotive the mayor just recently hopped aboard.
Putting their money where their mouth is
: Steve Bailey has -- surprise! -- another great column, this one on the Conservation Law Foundation’s relatively new policy
of getting more involved in thorny development issues. It’s definitely a risky policy. But at least the CLF is rolling up its sleeves and doing something other than sideline carping, which a lot of activists unfortunately seem to think is an admirable virtue.
Politics and Iraq
: OK, is anyone so naive as to think the Bush administration isn’t, for even a moment, making political calculations behind the scenes as it gears for possible war against Iraq? And what’s wrong with that? Lincoln desperately needed and wanted battlefield victories during his re-election campaign of 1864. Sherman dutifully delivered Atlanta as a pre-election present for the grateful president. FDR made decisions based on political considerations in the years leading up to America’s involvement in World War II, and he ran for re-election in 1944 as the successful war-time president. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, John F. Kennedy was acutely aware of the political fallout -- and even his possible impeachment -- if he didn’t act aggressively in confronting the Soviets. The key is: Don't pull the Wag The Dog with the American public.
Politics are -- and always will be -- part of the American political landscape, no matter what the issue. Americans understand that, within reason. That’s why this morning’s editorial by the Globe
is so impressive. It carefully notes that Bush was talking about the Homeland Defense bill when he took swipes at Democrats, but the Globe didn’t back down from the common-sense assertion, that, yes, of course, naturally, the administration has been using the war for political gain. As for Tom Daschle’s staged outburst the other day, the Globe summarized: “There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Daschle is right to complain that the Republican game plan is to keep the issues of Iraq and terrorism before the voters. By the same token, Daschle's expressions of indignation Wednesday may be counted as the political equivalent of a brushback pitch -- essentially a warning.” ... In other words, Daschle is merely playing politics with the politics of the war. As the Globe rightly urged, it’s time to put this silly spat behind us.
Africa and development
: An excellent oped this morning on why current development policies are failing in Africa
. Hub Blog recently spent six months in Africa, using Cameroon as a base for continent-wide travel. This much is clear: The Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline is turning into a disaster. Africa simply doesn’t need this big-picture type of development assistance. What it needs is more slow, deliberate “micro” development policies -- electrification, village by village, at a slow and steady pace; health care improvements, clinic by clinic; education assistance, school building by school building. But what the IMF and World Bank constantly strive for are the magic-wand, all-encompassing, we’ll-solve-all-the-problems-at-once solutions. They do more harm than good -- and the big dollars involved only increase the opportunity for massive corruption. When will we learn?
Mitt and Swift, Reader No. 1's view
: Hub Blog has a feeling that Reader No. 1 is absolutely right in his assessment on Mitt Romney's swipe at Jane Swift
. Here's Reader No. 1's lengthy reaction:
"My initial reaction when I heard it was, 'Well, that's certainly true.' (Leaving aside the technicalities of what branch of the legislature each person served in, the larger point is that Tax-and-Spend is and has been out of control.) But as someone once said to me, 'Would you rather be right, or would you rather be effective?'
"-- Two weeks ago, Romney was (rightly) citing Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment about not speaking ill of fellow Republicans. Is that commandment now non-operational given the dispatch of Jim Rappaport? So he looks like a hypocrite. (Actually, he looks like Jim Rappaport.)
"-- Presumably there are Republican loyalists who work for the sitting Republican governor. Why introduce guilt by association for these folks when he will need their organizational support? Some might even work in a Romney administration.
"-- Maybe most importantly, WHY BRING JANE SWIFT INTO THE DEBATE AT ALL? She has been a political non-factor for a year, quite happy to keep a low profile on her way out the door.
"-- Like it or not, it gave O'Brien the opportunity of a Clintonesque play with the Gender Card. Now, one might cite her own 'Whoa Boys!' TV commercial of two weeks as an example of coming 'dangerously close to implying all (boys) are alike,' but you're not going to change anyone's mind winning that argument. It's just more column fodder for Joan Venocchi and Eileen McNamara.
"-- Finally, having this turn into a front-page story tends to reinforce the perception that Romney has little to contribute on his own beyond belaboring the obvious that his opponent is part of the problematic power-structure. What TV spot would be more helpful to getting Romney elected: One which shows some good examples of how his past leadership (whether it's the Olympics, or Bain, or somewhere) could translate to addressing the present fiscal situation in Massachusetts; OR one which shows him getting all nostalgic about his first date?"
Hub Blog may have spoken too soon when I suggested in the item directly below that Mitt was having a good week. Hub Blog forgot this is only Thursday. Still awaiting reaction from Jane Swift, beyond her comment yesterday to the Associated Press: ''I guess it would be a mark of success if I'm now considered an insider, being from Western Massachusetts and a Republican and a woman in that job." Ah, the calm before the storm!
: The Washington Post sums up the feeling
here: Shannon O'Brien has had a bad week; Mitt Romeny has had a good one. ... Postscript: Still waiting for the reaction to Mitt's swipe at Jane Swift, the loose cannon on the GOP deck.
Oh, lots and lots of goodies
: A treasure trove of interesting gubernatorial items. There’s Shannon O’Brien issuing an apology
, while Mitt Romney compares her to Jane Swift (ouch!) .... There’s Adrian Walker
reviewing minorities’ distrust of Shannon while remaining mum on Mitt ... There’s Joan Vennochi
doing her best imitation of an Objective Columnist while seething with contempt for Mitt ... There’s the Globe’s “on the one hand/on the other hand”
lament about the lack of substance and differences in the campaign while Wayne Woodlief
says that, well, there ARE a lot of substantive differences in the campaign (Wayne, as usual, is right).
President John Kerry
-- If he looks like a duck, walks likes a duck, quacks likes a duck, he’s a presidential candidate
. Kerry spoke yesterday at the Christian Science Monitor’s morning breakfast in Washington. ... If Kerry doesn’t succeed in 2004, there’s always 2008
. (Hub Blog to Seth: Huh?)
Summers defended (again):
Jeff Jacoby goes after critics of Lawrence Summers
. Hub Blog is no big fan of Jacoby, but he fires off one of the better lines in the debate: “Anti-Semitism used to express itself in demanding that good Aryans boycott Jewish shops. Today it demands that good universities boycott the Jewish state.”
Good luck (they’ll need it):
Reacting to the church’s sexual-abuse scandal, Boston College has launched its new program of regular lectures, panels, and workshops, called "Church in the 21st Century.”
BC deserves enormous credit for addressing issues that the church’s local and national leadership desperately want to ignore.
Mary Baker Eddy Library
: The Christian Science Monitor is touting the opening of a new library
in Boston dedicated to the founder of The First Church of Christ, Scientist and founder of the CSM. Sounds like a little too much, but what the heck ...
Boston Scientific is back
: Hub Blog remembers, quite distinctly, when Boston Scientific ran into regulatory troubles a few years back and when its stock sank to chump-change status. At the time, Hub Blog told friends to buy Boston Scientific, arguing the company was too good and too big to be trading at such low levels. What did Hub Blog do? Blow his own money on an expensive trip to Africa. Of course! Steven Syre
shows why Hub Blog undoubtedly will be working well into his 70s.
They’re out, surprise!:
The Sox were eliminated
last night from playoff contention. Did anyone seriously think they could win 10-straight games, while the Angels collapsed, to make the playoffs? ... Dan Shaughnessy addresses the Pedro controversy
, while plugging his book, “Curse of the Bambino.” Can this guy ever write a column on the Sox WITHOUT MENTIONING BABE RUTH? Danny, the Babe schtick got old a long, long time ago. Give it up!
Mitt hangs in
: Basically, it was a draw
. Which means Mitt Romney achieved a triumph of sorts. The Herald
analysis is on the money: “In surviving against the more practiced O'Brien, Romney wins round one, if only by defying expectations.” But that’s also Mitt's problem: For a guy who looked unbeatable only last spring, he’s now been reduced to winning by defying low expectations. ... Postscript: Shannon O’Brien, despite flashes of her attack-dog nature, didn’t seem all that sharp last night. Hub Blog senses that her rather testy demeanor is starting to grate on people. Also, Mitt is scoring some punches on the she-ain’t-a-reformer front. The race is far from over.
‘Politics of exclusion’
: Eileen McNamara bemoans the exclusion of the Libertarian and Green candidates
from the debate. True. But the real story, in Hub Blog’s opinion, is the rise of the Green party in national politics in general, beyond Ralph Nadar’s 2000 presidential candidacy. Sure, the Greens are nowhere near as influential as they are in Europe. But there are faint signals the Greens are on the move here, at least in pockets around the country. If the Greens become even a minor force in Massachusetts, the political dynamics will change at the Democrats’ expense. Something to ponder over the long haul.
The politics of development, Greater Boston style:
A good piece in the Herald on the proposed redevelopment of the Opera House
and another fine one in the Globe on efforts to develop Assembly Square Mall in Somerville
. Greater Boston is a quaint, popular, European-style destination because it didn’t destroy its archictectural soul over the decades, unlike a lot of other cities. But sometimes development opponents have a clearly different agenda.
Smoking and vices
: Speaking of Boston being a European-style city, it’s about to become less so if the proposed bar/restaurant smoking ban passes, as it now seems likely
. It’s awfully hard to oppose this measure because of the secondhand-smoke argument. Indeed, Hub Blog, who lights 'em up way too much, secretly views the proposed ban (as well as the recent cigarette tax hike) as a challenge to finally quit smoking. Yet, there’s clearly a strain of selective Puritanism running through the anti-smoking movement here and elsewhere. Bars are in the business of selling a vice (lots and lots of mind-altering booze) but the city is moving to ban one vice that often accompanies the consumption of another vice. Logical? No. Sign of the times? Yes.
Still in it?: Yeah, right
. Miracles don’t happen to the Sox. Maybe the Pats. But not the Sox. Steve Buckley
, meanwhile, rips into Pedro’s decision to end his season.
Dersh on the warpath
: After knocking Alan Dershowitz around a bit, Richard Posner gives the Harvard prof passing grades
for his new book, “Why Terrorism Works.” ... Postscript: The Dersh, who everyone loves to hate, has been on fire since Sept. 11, 2001. Good for him.
Big debate, big night:
Tonight’s gubernatorial debate
will not decide the outcome of the election, of course. But it should indicate whether Mitt Romney has staying power. The debate airs live on WGBH-TV and C-SPAN between 7 and 8 p.m.
: Both President Bush and Al Gore are coming to town Oct. 4 to campaign for Mitt and Shannon O’Brien
, respectively. ... Postscript: Oh, yeah, Shannon’s a Beacon Hill reformer
. Sure she is.
‘We reject the race card’
: For those of you who are not familiar with the police-shootings controversy in Boston, read this
. Wayne Woodlief outlines what’s at stake, and why more leaders have to talk sense to the police union. Meanwhile, the dignity of black community leaders never ceases to amaze. Here’s Woodlief: “Because (Police Commissioner Evans) has kept faith with that community in the past, however, the commissioner is being cut some slack there. ‘We reject the race card’ being played by some young black protesters, said a statement by several religious leaders who have worked with Evans for community policing and gang control. The Rev. Eugene Rivers said Evans has shaped Boston's force into ‘the most progressive’ in the nation and helped bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to Boston for community policing, recreation, culture and other benefits.” ... Bottom line: Rank-and-file police, who have legitimate concerns about safety, need to accept the olive branch being extended to them.
It’s all gone
: The headline on this story
says it all. Poof! Vanished. The dot-com era’s gains are now officially a thing of the past. Globe columnist Charlie Stein
on the connection between the stock market's performance and corporate scandals: “Sorry, but I don't buy it. The scandals matter. They are part of the story. But only a part. The bigger story is more fundamental. To paraphrase an old slogan from the Clinton years, ‘It's the earnings, stupid.’”
Permalinks, Part II
: Hub Blog is still trying to sort out the permalink mess. For all you Instapundit readers coming here, scroll down for Lawrence Summers. Way down.
Reader No. 1 replies to 'Oh no, oh no, oh no'
: Reader No. 1 weighs in on Hub Blog's comments that the Sox should keep the nucleus they have, i.e. Pedro, Nomar and Manny. In summary, Reader No. 1 says, yes, but ... "I don't think Mike Port should have to take the fall for this year, but it looks like he will. Good luck to the new GM -- he'll need it! The team is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They have a handful of truly superior talents at a career peak, not too far from decline (eg Pedro's injury) but not enough younger skilled help to make a difference. And the new collective bargaining agreement will hurt them because they have the worst of both worlds: a small market ballpark and bigger market revenues."
: John Kerry is raking in the money
from local businesses, according to the Boston Business Journal. Here's a hint: It's not because he's "pro-business."
Big debate Tuesday
: Shannon and Mitt face off tomorrow night in their first debate. The Herald gives an overview
and Joe Sciacca
laments negative campaigning. Sigh. That subject, again
? But, wait, Joe has a different take on the good, bad and ugly of "negative" campaigning. (Personally, Hub Blog loves negative campaigns of all varieties.)
Defending Jack’s perks
: In the Christian Science Monitor, Edwin A. Locke defends Jack Welch’s obscene perks
at General Electric. Locke: “Capitalism can't survive without a moral base, as the writer Ayn Rand observed decades ago. The only proper moral basis of capitalism is: man's right to exist for his own happiness, neither sacrificing himself to others nor others to himself. Man has a right to his own life, which includes the right to trade freely with others without government interference (other than to prevent fraud).” ... Hub Blog’s response: Notice how Edwin put that last parenthetical “other than to prevent fraud” clause at the end. Otherwise, some smart smart aleck like, oh, Hub Blog, might have pointed out that capitalism can’t survive with companies such as, oh, Enron, Tyco, WorldCom etc., all of which had CEOs who clearly thought they were entitled to trade freely with others, chiefly amonst close family and friends in secrecy, without government interference and without those pesky shareholders who have their own happiness and moral self-interest to think about.
Postscript: Edwin A. Locke is professor emeritus of management at the University of Maryland at College Park, and a senior writer for -- you guessed it -- the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif.
: The Globe’s new “Ideas” section on Sunday, edited by the respected Alex Star, has what appears to be a promising story about the nature of self-defense within a democratic society
, focusing on the actions of passengers on the doomed United Flight 93. But the story ends with a call for U.S. nuclear disarmament as a way to entice others not to build the bomb. Ugh.
Postscript: The article is a reprint from the upcoming issue of Boston Review
magazine, which Hub Blog forgot was out there but will monitor in the future. Boston Review describes itself as “a left-center-of-gravity magazine” and has, among others, Noam Chomsky (gulp) singing its praise in its blurb section. Forget one of the magazine's chief endorsers. It’s still nice to have a Boston-based political/literay magazine. At least they’re out there swinging away, God bless ‘em.
Postscript postscript: The Globe’s new “Ideas” section has now run for the past two weeks. Frankly, the first two sections were rather dull. As Reader No. 1 has mentioned, it’s a smart idea to combine the paper’s Sunday “Focus” section with its book section. But as Reader No. 1 concluded: “Now if they could only come up with some fresh ideas.”
: I always wondered what happened to the Sacagawea dollar coin. The Globe
has a nifty editorial on its short life.
: A number of people have mentioned that Hub Blog's permalinks are not working. They weren't just working; I didn't have them. My fault. I'll be working to fix it over the next few days. Sorry about that. I'm learning.
Lawrence Summers, again
: Still tired of the subject, but just received an alert about a blog site that takes exception
to my views on Summers' speech. He makes a lot of good points, but, again, I've grown tired of the subject. Might resume the battle later.
: Jeff Jacoby
does a number on Shannon O’Brien and probably will never have lunch with her again ... Margery Eagan
does a number on Bill Weld ... Wayne Woodlief
bonks both Mitt and Shannon over the head.
: Mayor Menino gets involved in the police-shootings controversy
, though Attorney General Tom Reilly’s comments seem to carry more political and moral weight, sadly. In fairness to Menino, he's defended Police Commissioner Evans in the past, but what's he supposed to say? Dump Evans? He's still not exhibiting much leadership.
: Eileen McNamara does a hatchet job on Lawrence Summers
, comparing him to Cardinal Law. I mean, c’mon, Eileen. Talk about a stretch. Read the full text
of Summers’ speech. This isn’t about “paranoia,” as McNamara states. Nor is it exclusively about the Israel divestment issue. It’s about the undeniable reality of growing anti-Israel, anti-Zionism and, yes, anti-Semitism on campuses across the globe.
Postscript: Hub Blog thinks Summers' growing list of critics, including McNamara, is not only upset about his comments on divestment, but also his temerity for saying this: "But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities." ... Deep down, they know it's true. The campus left's attempt to Relive the Glory Days of Anti-Apartheid Protest is running smack into the reality that they've aligned themselves with some very nasty, nasty people. Which is why Summers' use of the words "effect" and "intent" is on the mark. Enough on this subject. I'm tiring of it.
Oh no, oh no, oh no
: Pedro is talking of bolting the Sox
. And it just isn’t over money. He wants to win, too. Quote: ''I would need a guy like (Ugueth) Urbina to close the games. I need a guy like Cliff Floyd, I need Manny (Ramirez), I need Nomar (Garciaparra), I need those guys around me because I'm not here to lose.'' ... Know what? He’s right. In recent years, Pedro has been consistently urging the Sox to trade for pitchers and others who can help them win a pennant. His roster comments have always been insightful, and they've rarely been followed. He’s basically saying this: You have the nucleus in place to win if you make the right moves. The top brass has tough choices to make in the off-season. It comes down to winning with the current nucleus, or building a new nucleus. Hub Blog just can’t conceive of a nucleus better than Pedro, Manny and Normar. (Hub Blog has a feeling Reader No. 1 is going to disagree.)
: The Globe’s Indira A.R. Lakshmanan writes an outstanding piece on U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan
. She has a lovely lead into the story, and the quotes from Special Forces troops are from the gut. Some quick examples:
“'I don't think Osama bin Laden is as important as getting Afghanistan free and denying Al Qaeda and the Taliban the chance to ever train here again,'' said Monty, a Special Forces soldier. ... ''If we could rebuild [post-war] Korea, Japan, and Germany, why can't we rebuild this place?''
''It's like trying to put a democratic template over a geometric grid of tribal issues,'' said Jerry, a Special Forces soldier who had similar experiences in Haiti and Bosnia. ''They don't know how to run a government because no one's had the chance. Everyone's told them what to do. We try to explain, `OK, you're the district Minister of Potholes, so when you find a pothole, go to the Minister of Finance and get some money to fill it.'''
Lots of other good tidbits and great quotes in the story. Makes you proud of the job our troops are doing.
Lawrence Summers, Part III
: More on the Harvard president’s attack on anti-Semitism in the New York Times
. And for the complete text of his speech, click here
. ... Postscript: Read Summers' speech. It's an even better and more wide-ranging critique of the upsurge of anti-Semitism across the globe, and especially on campuses, than originally portrayed. Should have checked it our earlier. Serves me right.
: Sorry for the war metaphor, but couldn’t think of another way to describe yesterday’s gubernatorial-election activities.
Unless the race becomes a blowout (probably in Shannon O'Brien's favor), this is the way it’s going to be, each and every day, until Nov. 5.
Lawrence Summers, Part II
: The Globe is weighing in on the Lawrence Summers controversy
, asserting he went too far when he criticized the Israel divestment movement. Maybe he did. But the significant line in Summers’ screed was that he thought ''serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.'' The words “effect” and “intent” are key. The “effect” might loosely apply to the majority of the divestment supporters who don't see themselves as anti-Semitic. The “intent” applies to the minority of divestment supporters who, in Hub Blog’s opinion, have a history of blatant anti-Semitic/anti-Zionist/anti-Israel rhetoric and logic stretching back years. The entire Middle East debate has anti-Semitism oozing from almost every crevice. OK, maybe Summers is guilty of tarring the divestment movement with too broad a brush. But it’s simply naive to say that anti-Semitism isn’t part of the overall equation. Anti-Semitism exists -- and it’s a motivating factor for some, albeit a minority, within the divestment and other anti-Israel movements. The question the majority has to ask themselves is this: Is the “effect” of pushing divestment playing into the hands of those with the clear anti-Semitic “intent” of economically crippling the world's only Jewish state as it faces an onslaught of anti-Semitism from across the world? Surely they see the big picture, right?
The fat lady sung
: This is great
. Hub Blog knows what he’s doing tonight.
Surface artery blues
: The pols better get it right after the Central Artery is torn down. Alas, they’re still bickering over the basics
Tragedy unfolding, Part III
: More community support for Police Commissioner Evans
. This story is getting politically curiouser and curiouser by the moment.
Globe on target
: The Globe ran a very balanced editorial
this morning that Hub Blog previously missed. There are a lot of people, on both sides on the police-shootings controversy, struggling to avert this becoming a NY/LA farce. ... Postscript bonus question, No. 2 (see item below): What's missing in both the print and online versions of the Globe editorial? Answer: Mumbles. This is a very complicated, nuanced controversy, which obviously explains Mayor Menino's embarrassing absence.
Atlantic Monthly changes
: Michael Kelly is giving up the day-to-day reins
at Boston-based Atlantic Monthly. Cullen Murphy will run affairs. Kelly did an outstanding job as editor, bringing the sleepy magazine to new and deserved prominence.
Shannon, the underdog?:
New poll numbers
from the Herald. It’s a statistical tie, even though Shannon has a slight edge in the numbers.
Howie on a roll
: Is it Hub Blog’s imagination, or is Howie Carr on a roll these days after years of broken-record writing? Before tearing poor Joe Malone
a you-know-what, Howie makes a quick, subtle link between weak GOP leadership and today’s gubernatorial election. Mitt may trot out William Weld. But the ghosts of Joe, Paul and Jane still haunt.
: Hub Blog may be wrong, but the police-shootings story may well be turning into one of the biggest controversies to hit the city in years. If another shooting occurs, all hell will break loose. What a tragedy. Brian McGrory
, engaging a bit too much in the old street-smart-columnist routine, sums it up pretty well: “A huge swath of this city is justifiably angry these days. The police, with eight deadly shootings over the past 22 months, seem trigger-happy. Black leaders are demanding reforms. The commissioner is trying to maintain order. The rank-and-file police are afraid for their lives.” ... Meanwhile, community leaders, who Hub Blog believes are not getting enough credit for their diplomacy and patience, are actually defending Police Commissioner Evans
, bluntly saying they don’t trust the police unions. ... Postscript bonus question: What's missing here? Answer: Mumbles.
Only in Boston
: Gerry Callahan
is urging the Sox to trade Nomar. No joke. Michael Holley
is defending Grady Little against the rampaging mobs. God, you got to love it and hate it at the same time. What a town!
Lawrence Summers rules
. He's turning into an Ivy League version of the blunt-talking (and occasionally outrageous) John Silber. Here's hoping his courage proves inspiring to all the other academic wimps out there who aren't standing up to the campus clowns. All the comparisons of Israel/Bush to the Nazis and Hitler are sickening. The divestment crowd is up to its neck in this type of talk. Ultimately, Summers is fighting fire with fire. And he's absolutely right to do so.
Michael on Mitt
: Michael, a Hub Blog reader and Mitt supporter, sends along this analysis of Mitt Romney:
" ... Mitt ought to run away with this thing, but I don't think he will. My biggest fear, which I think you touched on, is that he has absolutely atrocious political instincts, which will do him in eventually. For example, I remember one of the debates with Fat Boy (Ted Kennedy) in the Senate election. The question, which I can't recall now, in some way required Mitt to go on the record as to whether or not he was a Reagan supporter. Mitt got that scared look in his eyes and assured all that in no way was he a Reagan supporter. Well, Ronald Reagan carried Massachusetts twice. Look it up. PLENTY of Mass voters admired Reagan. Why didn't Mitt know that? Why didn't he embrace Reagan at Fat Boy's expense? It was because, alas, his political instincts are all wrong. Unfortunately, I don't think that's changed."
Except for calling Ted 'Fat Boy', Hub Blog agrees with everything here. Indeed, many people forget (and Hub Blog is one of them) that Reagan did, in fact, carry Massachusetts twice in the 1980 and 1984 general elections
(link is courtesy of Michael). Meanwhile, the GOP has won the last three gubernatorial races in Massachusetts. What does it mean? It means that the average voter is not nearly as liberal/Democratic as the hard-core shock-troops now controlling Beacon Hill. As Seth Gitell has pointed out (see item below), the majority of voters in Massachusetts are now independents. Shannon O'Brien gets it. Does Mitt?
Good kids’ TV
: Hub Blog just flicked on WGBH-Channel 44 and got a glimpse of PBS’ new cartoon series, “Liberty’s Kids.”
It’s actually quite good! In the post-Sept. 11 era, this is a great show for children -- patriotism, history, kids as heroes in the struggle for liberty etc. Check out the programming schedule here
Ex-Globe reporter sues
: Interesting tidbit
from the Boston Business Journal. As readers of this site know, Hub Blog loved "Black Mass," the now classic Whitey Bulger/John Connolly book that Gerard O'Neill co-authored with Dick Lehr. Hope both sides can work this out.
: Seth Gitell has some interesting big-picture November numbers
, though Hub Blog disagrees with a few of his pointers on how Shannon O'Brien can win in November. Here's Seth's reality-check graf:
"It’s going to take more than party unity and the pushing of Democratic ideals to defeat Romney in November, however. If, as they most surely will be tempted to do, the Democrats play exclusively to their strong union and socially progressive base, and paint Romney as far to the right of the state electorate, O’Brien will lose. ... It’s not that Romney isn’t a conservative candidate, perhaps the most conservative gubernatorial candidate the state has seen since Ed King in 1982. It’s that the Democrats need to remember something: they represent only 36 percent of the state electorate. Republicans account for 13 percent, and unenrolled voters — the independents who decided the last three gubernatorial elections — make up the bulk of state voters at 51 percent."
And here's the Phoenix's clarion call for a Dem victory
. It pretty much sums up hard-core Democrats' desire for victory this fall. Mitt faces a tough, tough challenge defending the GOP's 12-year hold on the corner office. The Dems are definitely marshalling at the gates.
Mitt, on message
: Mitt came out swinging
. Or, more accurately, his running mate did. They’re going after the core weakness of O’Brien's candidacy: She’s part of the Beacon Hill system. Hub Blog is tempted to give Round I to Mitt, but Jane Swift got in the way. God, she’s something, ain’t she? ... Postscript: Massachusetts’ political reporters are all pumped up. Look at this lead in the Globe: “Wasting no time after primary ballots were counted, Democratic nominee Shannon P. O'Brien and Republican rival Mitt Romney opened their battle for the governor's office yesterday with a burst of harsh rhetoric, slashing attacks, and counterattacks.” Battle. Bursts of harsh rhetoric. Slashing attacks. Counterattacks. Yeah, they're pumped.
Shannon, the numbers
: Courtesy of John Ellis
, Patrick Ruffini
is running a map showing a town-by-town breakdown of the Dem primary results from Tuesday. A similar map appears in the Globe, but Ruffini’s is much better (scroll down a bit to view). Anyway, what does it all mean? First of all, Robert Reich’s support will go to O’Brien in November. Period. Can you imagine an Amherst professor voting for Mitt? Perish the thought. Also, don’t forget Warren Tolman’s base of support. While he may not have won many towns, he did pull in a sizable share of the vote, mostly from Clean Elections do-gooders. They’ll also go to O’Brien. ... But, ah, Tom Birmingham’s industrial/union/state-worker vote is a different matter, as Wayne Woodlief
astutely notes. Just as some people fear O’Brien is the official candidate of Beacon Hill, there are equal numbers who think she is, in fact, a Beacon Hill reformer at heart. That’s her brilliance: Straddling both sides of the patronage/anti-patronage fence. And it profoundly unnerves a lot of hacks, i.e. Birmingham’s core supporters. ... But here’s the real key: The female vote. There is widespread, genuine pride among women that one of their own has scratched and clawed her way to the top of the Massachusetts heap. When a Margery Eagan
can write a column like this, then you know something powerful is under way.
Ellen, the Avenger
: Feminists initially threw their knee-jerk support behind Suzy Wetlaufer when she lost her job for having an affair with the married Jack Welch. The tide is definitely turning
. Hey, Hub Blog didn’t know that Welch’s wife used to be a merger and acquisitions lawyer! Oh, Jack, you're in deep doo-doo.
Atlantic Monthly on Iraq
: Boston-based Atlantic Monthly has, as Hub Blog has noted before, a weird policy towards its online content -- getting its print articles online late, then putting only some of its print articles online, and then running a lot of excerpts. But now Atlantic Monthly has done something a little unusual: It has posted two 'preview' articles, both in full, from their upcoming November issue. Go figure. Anyway, they're GREAT articles by James Fallows
and Robet D. Kaplan
about Iraq and the tremendous burden America is about to shoulder. The articles are long, each pessimistic in their own right, but highly trenchant precisely because they're tough. Hub Blog wonders: Is Atlantic Monthly posting them now, at least in part, because it thinks they might be outdated very soon? Events are moving fast, folks. ... Postscript: The October print issue, parts of which were only recently posted, includes the third installment of "American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center." It's not as good as the first two installments, but it's still superb. Here's an excerpt
More election observations
: Reader No. 1 sends this email:
" -- If Robert Reich and Clare Dalton are (a) so smart and (b) such lousy fundraisers, wouldn't it have been prudent of Professor Reich to become a Clean Elections Candidate?
" -- The Kennedy/Kerry appearance at Shannon's victory speech reminded me (a) there is no GOP Senate candidate this year, (b) Shannon's fellow Yale alum HILARY can't be too far behind. I hope Mitt has been inked into the President's Dayplanner 6 weeks out...
" -- A question for Clean Elections advocates: how is it in the public interest to have Warren Tolman's campaign making get out the vote phone calls at 7:10 PM on election day when it's clear he's well out of the money? (Clearly it's in Tolman's interest: the money isn't coming out of HIS pocket.)
" -- A related question: among the questionable benefits of telecom reform, may we add automatic phone messages which my anecdotal data suggests reached epidemic proportions this month among the less-well-funded candidates and would-be local officeholders? (Shannon, Mitt and Tom Birmingham never called me. But they could afford TV.)"
Postscript: On another front, John Ellis
is rightly dismissing all the silly talk that Shannon O'Brien is the underdog, even though she should
be the underdog.
It's Shannon vs. Mitt
: The gubernatorial primary is over
, and there were no big surprises, except for the margin and order in which the losers finished. So let’s quickly get to the big showdown: Shannon vs. Mitt. Here’s how Hub Blug sees it:
: He must show 1.) That he knows what the ultimate problem is on Beacon Hill (which is to say, Beacon Hill itself) and 2.) That Shannon O’Brien is part of that Beacon Hill problem and 3.) That he’s capable of challenging and vanquishing that problem.
On the first point, Mitt has indicated he indeed intends to make “the mess on Beacon Hill” the issue, blasting all the backroom nepotism and patronage that we now associate with inefficient government, high taxes, prolific spending etc. The campaign is still about hacks and anti-hacks, not unlike the 1990 race waged by William Weld. Mitt doesn’t need to tout pre-programmed promises about cutting taxes, restoring trust, blah, blah, blah. Instead, he just needs to keep hammering away at the Beacon Hill culture. Mitt often veers from this message. He does so at his peril.
On the second point, Mitt has clearly indicated he’s going to try to link O’Brien, who was born and raised within that culture, to the Big Mess. But this morning, he and his new running mate, Kerry Healey, got out of the starting gate by blasting away at O’Brien’s handling of the pension fund, as if that’s really the issue. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Their campaign was immediately off message. O’Brien, who had so much going for her (being a woman, among them), still only got 33 percent of the Dem vote yesterday. People are suspicious of her background and her Hillary-like will to power. She’s an issue. If Mitt is lucky, Tom Finneran will show up at this morning’s Democratic “unity” rally along with Shannon. Mitt’s campaign better be recording the proceedings. Clips of Finneran and O’Brien together will make fine TV commercials come October.
On the third point, Mitt has a huge image problem: Politically, he’s viewed by many as a lightweight outsider. He doesn’t need “Ken and Barbie”
columns like these from Howie Carr, who, by the way, also pinpoints what Mitt should make this election about. If Mitt can’t prove point 3, he’s finished. Done. Gone. Period. The jury’s still out on this. Too often, Mitt looks lost, confused and amateurish, traits not associated in voters’ minds with the strength and toughness required to take on Beacon Hill. Voters will not put up with a third weak GOP governor in a row. (Paul C. and Jane S., take a bow.)
: She must: 1.) Keep Dems unified (no easy task, as Scott Lehigh
points out this morning) and play the gender card at every moment (she’ll have plenty of help from people like Joan Vennochi
) and 2.) no matter what, she can’t get tagged as the candidate of choice of the Beacon Hill cabal and 3.) conversely, she must show that Mitt is incapable of reforming the Beacon Hill cabal.
On point 1, the Dems are indeed unified. They want to win. Bad. She has momentum, and people love a winner. Scott Lehigh’s valid points aside, Hub Blog thinks O’Brien is one of the most disciplined, relentless candidates the Dems have put up in a long, long time. She’s ruthless, and she’s capable of making the promises and threats necessary to keep the troops in line. She’ll also play the gender card at every turn, attracting a lot of women who understandably want to see one of the gals prevail over Massachusetts’ old boys’ network.
On point 2: Stressing her fiscal conservatism (whether it’s accurate or not) and her gender will go a long way towards deflecting attention away from her very real, very deep connections with the Beacon Hill gang. O’Brien is a hack. Everyone knows it. Men don’t like it. Women don’t like it. But they’ll overlook it, to a degree, if she can fuzz the picture and display other sides of her candidacy. Ultimately, she needs to convey a subtle message, without really saying it, that she’s a hack who can reform the hacks, sort of like Nixon Going To China.
On point 3: Conversely, she has to portray Mitt as a clean-cut, out-of-touch, aristocratic amateur who can’t reform Beacon Hill. She’s already pounding away on this issue. She seems to know this is Mitt’s ultimate weak spot. But she can’t come across as too brutal. That, in turn, would remind people that she’s, well, a hack and not unlike a certain robotic U.S. senator from New York.
OK, what is Hub Blog’s prediction? Of course, it’s early, but Hub Blog thinks Shannon O’Brien will take it, even though it’s seemingly Mitt’s race to win or lose. It’s just a hunch. O’Brien is deadly. She stays on message. She has momentum. Mitt, a true non-hack and a candidate who would coast to victory in just about any other state, often looks like a deer caught in the headlights. It will hurt him. And so the race will be close. Very close.
: This is important
. The first stringers are bailing on the mayor, who’s been in power now for nine years. In Hub Blog’s experience, this is usually a sign of a slow unraveling.
: He’s off to jail
. Immediately. And he deserves it. Eleven people murdered -- eleven
-- while he was Whitey’s FBI handler. Peter Gelzinis explains why John Connolly was not only corrupt to the core, but a fool
. Without saying it, Peter also shows why this putrid case is relevant to today's gubernatorial election. Reminder: Bill Bulger endorsed Shannon O'Brien for governor. ... Here’s a bonus link: the Globe’s very own Whitey web site
They're off, I'm off:
Hub Blog will be taking a break from blogging until Wednesday. Until then, here are some interesting links: Shannon is on top
(big surprise) going into the final days; and here's Howie's take on the Zip/Bulger Gang
. Remember: Vote early, vote often.
Throw the book at him
: He deserves every minute in jail
. ... Hub Blog is currently reading "Black Mass," by the Globe's Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. Only one-third of the way through the bestseller, and it's already painted a devastating portrait of Connolly and the FBI. The book reminds Hub Blog of "Den of Thieves," both in style and relentless substance. Terrific. Buy it. More on this later.
'Look at these morons'
: From a reader: "Like going into the city's highest building covered with mock blood
on Sept. 11 is really going to help your f-ing cause. Wait till the NYC chapter hears about this one. Like no janitors died in the WTC. What a bunch of zipperheads." ... Forget about the NYC chapter. What does the BOSTON chapter think?
: Unlike the Pittsburgh Steelers and Las Vegas, the Jets
aren't underestimating the Pats.
Beam him away, Part II
: Lively blogosphere debate going on about yesterday's column by Alex Beam
. There's Instapundit's
view (scroll way down), and also comments on this site
, which takes Beam's words a tad too seriously. The fact is Beam's column was part tongue-in-cheek, part silly, part sophomoric, part serious, part funny, part embarrassing etc. Typical Beam overreach. (Also see item below.)
Focusing on the war
: This is the type of basic journalism
that makes the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor so enjoyable. Good old meat-and-potatoes coverage of the war. Actually, upon reflection, it's sort of CSM's very own warblog. Lots of good info and links.
: OK, this one feels right
. According to a Boston Globe/WBZ poll, Shannon O'Brien has a 31 percent lead among likely Dem voters, while Tom Birmingham and Robert Reich are tied in second place with 22 percent. Warren Tolman, who appears to be facing a backlash for his tough TV commercials, is slipping, down to 13 percent. O’Brien still doesn’t have this locked up. The poll’s margin of error is 5 percent, up or down. Still, as Hub Blog has mentioned, the Dems are marshaling their forces. They want to win, bad. On Tuesday, many will vote for who they think can win in November. O’Brien still has the edge.
Inept, inept, inept
: Mitt Romney has so much going for him: the Olympics; the excellent image of the decent businessman taking on the evil Beacon Hill insiders; respect and goodwill for the way he ran against Ted Kennedy many moons ago; no opponent in the GOP primary. But this guy is simply unraveling
before our eyes. He’s literally started an intraparty battle -- and over what? Jim Rappaport isn’t some sort of LaRouchie nut. He’s just a nut. Why bother? It’s amateur hour over on the GOP side.
Yes, someone did say it
: The Globe has an editorial
that starts out: “No one said Clean Elections would necessarily mean polite elections.” Actually, a lot of supporters of the Clean Elections Law did say, think and believe the law would somehow elevate candidates to new levels of sainthood.
: Hub Blog was afraid of this
. For years, Boston, because of the excellent and effective relationship between police and community leaders, has avoided the type of crippling racial confrontations that have plagued cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Amid all the recent police shootings, Hub Blog thinks both police and activists have shown remarkable diplomacy and restraint, promising investigations/changes while urging calm. But that’s changing. This is an unfolding tragedy for Boston.
Too little, too many times
: Sox won their fourth straight
last night, showing they’re “still breathing (in) their wildly improbable quest for a second life in the postseason.” They’re worth watching. You never know. They do seem to be playing with a verve we haven’t seen all year. But keep this in mind: This is the first time since early July they’ve won four straight. This isn't about too little, too late. It’s really about too little, too many times.
: The Boston Phoenix has endorsed Shannon O'Brien
. No big surprise, but still: why? She can win. It's all coming down to that. The Dem troops are mobilizing. Meanwhile, Mitt's self-inflicted problems keep piling up
Apartment market cooling down?:
People like Robert Kutner have been bemoaning Greater Boston's affordable housing shortage, blaming it partly on lack of federal housing support. Now comes this piece of news from Banker and Trademan
: The demand for apartments is definitely slacking. Here's a great example: "Constitution Quarters in Chelsea recently offered to pay a fee equal to two months’ worth of rent to brokers who showed apartments and secured leases through Aug. 31." OK, that's Chelsea
, you might say. But other area landlords and brokers are noticing the same trend.
What's going on? Of course, the poor economy is playing its role. Colleges in the city, under pressure from Mayor Thomas Menino, are now building more student dorms. And there's also an historic private residential building boom in Boston. Combine it all together, and you have a market (with a nudge from City Hall) reacting. No big federal programs. No return to rent control. Just good ole market forces and a wise shove from Mumbles. That's it. Boston-area housing prices, make no mistake, will remain high for a long, long time, but the "crisis" is slowly easing. And more private housing units and college dorms are on the way. (By the way, Banker and Tradesman only allows subscribers access to full stories. The link gives you a decent gist, though, of its Page 1 story, which Hub Blog read in its entirety in print.)
Beating down Reich
: Add Joan Vennochi
to the growing chorus of those who want to stop Mitt Romney -- and promote Shannon O’Brien -- by bashing Robert Reich. Vennochi, who loathes Romney, sums up her camp’s view thusly: “In this final dash to primary day, Democrats have a lot to think about. On the day after primary day there will be only one issue: Can their nominee beat Romney and return a Democrat to the governor's office after 12 years of Republican rule? Ideas matter. So does electability.” I.e. A vote for Reich is a vote for Romney. And Wayne Woodlief
relays the obvious in this piece.
Beam him away
: Alex Beam. Hmmmm. What can one say? He’s a weird guy, for one. A writer who tries too hard to be a funny street-smart type, two. A writer who embarrasses himself a lot, three. Meaning: He’s burnt out. Still, in this typical mishmash of flying thoughts
and faux tough-guy lingo, he manages to get off some decent lines. Such as: “Half the fun of being a conservative is taunting liberals and watching them rise to the bait. Leather-lunged-village-idiot-dignified-by-the-Kennedy School-degree mill Bill O'Reilly claims that National Public Radio unfairly ignored his best-selling ‘books,’ ‘The O'Reilly Factor’ and ‘The No-Spin Zone.’ This prompted a hilarious climb-down from an NPR factotum, who said the network would be delighted to give Roger Ailes' hand puppet some air time. NPR receives a small amount of money from Congress and lives in pathological fear of being called precisely what it is: Lib-Lab, audio wallpaper for the whole foods set.” ... Postscript: Hub Blog still believes Alex would make a great blogger.
Bush parks it:
Imagine Hub Blog’s startled reaction when it clicked its merry way over to the NYT’s web site, and then saw in its op-ed section ... a byline column by George W. Bush? In the NYT? Bush? Huh? Well, read this column
. Bush booms it high, high, high over the fence. Hub Blog has been hard on the president in recent weeks, primarily because his needlessly tough rhetoric hasn’t been matched with necessary consistent action. But this article, well, Hub Blog doesn’t know what to say. If Bush means (and achieves) even half of his stated goals, then Hub Blog is damn glad to have him as our president. Four other quick points:
1.) For a president who was accused of being rather thin on his foreign policy knowledge going into office, Hub Blog finds it extremely significant that this article, on Sept. 11, 2002, marking the first-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks, is entirely about his vision for a future world and America’s role in it.
2.) Here’s the kicker line: “America's greatest opportunity is to create a balance of world power that favors human freedom.” Take that, France.
3.) Though the president’s stated aims are noble and desirable, there’s a sneaking suspicion here that the president won’t/can’t deliver. He’s been too erratic, too moralistic, too unilateralist (yes, the dreaded ‘u’ word applies here). The rhetoric in his op-ed piece simply doesn’t match what his administration has been saying and doing in the past. Very cynical theory: Bush may be merely reciting what he thinks the NYT and its readers want to hear. Nonetheless, Hub Blog would be extremely pleased if, as stated above, Bush means (and achieves) even half of his stated goals.
4.) Hub Blog drifted away from Boston-related issues in this item because, after all, the NYT and the prez do inhabit the universe for which we rightly serve as the all-knowing Hub.
How to commemorate Sept. 11
: Hub Blog, like many people, has been very disappointed by the formula journalism that the media has predictably unleashed in recent days -- the same old boring big-picture, what-it-means, words-can’t-describe tomes; the same old experts, psychiatrists, angles and rehash; the same old cookie-cutter coverage, in other words, that every other media outlet is employing. But then Hub Blog stumbled upon the following
, and then this
, and then this
. Look at all the New England names. Kind of brings it home, yes?
Pay attention to the lieutenant governor races
: They’re important
. And they’re spending beaucoup l'argent
. Mitt Romney, especially, may have a long, nervous night next Tuesday, followed by a media circus/frenzy/ha ha ha the next day.
Postscript, Reader No. 1's view on the Lt. Gov races: "Putting on the political insider hat for a second: the equivalent of Jeff Birnbaum's 'South Dakota' leading indicator on Sep 17th will be what happens in the respective Lt Gov races. Methinks it will have a more significant-than-usual impact whether or not the 'chosen' running mates of Romney and O'Brien win their primaries -- in terms of a message about (a) how well the campaigns are managed (the 'insider' perspective) and (b) how compelling the lead candidate really is with their electorate (the more important long-term issue)."
Get over it, Ron, Part II
: A Hub Blog reader remarks on the Globe's Ron Borges’ obsession with Drew: “I used to think he was a great football writer, until he got started on this Bledsoe/Brady thing. I recall last year when Belichik made the switch at QB and Borges wrote an even-handed article to the effect that Bill has made his choice and will live or die with it as far as his future with the Pats was concerned. Well, Bill made the RIGHT choice, obviously, but for reasons that I for one can't fathom, Ron B simply can't admit it. I suspect it's ego ...”
Hub Blog’s response: Ego indeed. We all have the same gene, i.e. the I-Will-Never-Concede-An-Argument gene. You know, the one, usually juiced up by too many stupid beers, that precludes one from admitting the obvious. Ron, who Hub Blog respects, hasn’t come to grips yet that he has such a gene. (See, "Get over it, Ron" blog below.)
A dead heat?:
Can this be true? The Herald is reporting that the Dem gubernatorial primary is now a dead heat
. Reich and Tolman have closed the gap on O’Brien. Hub Blog finds this a little hard to believe, but numbers are numbers. (Of course, polls are just polls, too.) A nice quote from an insider in the article: ``Democratic primary voters believe that Reich and Tolman are the reform candidates . . . but they think O'Brien has the best chance to win in a general election match-up.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up. The yearning for reform on Beacon Hill is strong. Very strong. O’Brien, who was literally born and bred within the Beacon Hill culture, has failed to convince voters she wouldn’t be part of the problem. But, well, she can win. And that matters. As Margery Eagan
reports, Dem women recognize O’Brien’s “robotic,” Hillary-like lust/obsession for power, and it turns them off a bit. But they’re nevertheless probably going to vote for her in droves. Hub Blog figures the odds are still in O’Brien's favor next week.
We just don’t get it
: Hub Blog doesn’t know why it even bothers reading James Carroll. But the depth of his self-righteousness fascinates. Today, he bemoans war
. That’s right, bemoans war. You see, the rest of us just don’t get it: War is bad, death is bad, misery is bad. Carroll does get it: War is bad, death is bad, misery is bad. That makes him a sophisticated moral beacon.
Security with elegance
: Of all the things to worry about the day before Sept. 11, 2002, here’s an op-ed about why we should be making all our security measures more aesthetically attractive
. Dumb, right? Actually, he makes a good point. All those jersey barriers and chain-link fences outside federal buildings, city hall and even private office buildings are plug ugly. They reek of fear and weakness. Of course, resources are limited. Sooner or later, though, let’s hope the government realizes that literally creating bunkers often leads to creating bunker mentalities.
Pats demolish Pittsburgh. And Michael Holley
, Ron Borges
and Michael Gee
tag team the whining, trash-talking Steelers.
.: A new editor
has been appointed at Boston-based Inc. magazine. Now the next question: Will the magazine be staying in Boston?
Naive, naive, naive, Part II:
Hub Blog and Reader No. 1 (an old friend) have had a nice exchange about Massachusetts' Clean Elections Law and the reaction of supporters to the "negative" TV ads paid for by you, the taxpayers, through the new publicly funded campaign program. Reacting to the shock of supporters that public funds are being used for nasty little commericals in the governor's race, Reader No. 1 responded:
"For this reader, (the articles) confirmed Massachusetts is full of well-educated, articulate people without a lick of common sense. Clean elections:
"1.) Obviously hasn't changed the tone of elections.
"2.) Hasn't reduced the importance of money in elections, in fact, has ACCELERATED the use of money in elections -- it could be argued that Tolman's ads led to the increase in Birmingham's spending, which feeds more money for Tolman's ads."
Hub Blog would add: Tolman also has received millions
of dollars that he otherwise wouldn't have been able to raise, so the argument of accelerated spending is more than valid. It's just plain common sense. ... For more on the subject, see the item below.
Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait
: Pats open tonight against Pittsburgh. Take it away, Michael Holley
Get over it, Ron
: Ron Borges just can’t accept that he was wrong, wrong, wrong throughout most of last year’s season. Tom Brady brought the Pats to victory. Drew didn’t. Yet Borges is still in mourning over Drew, as this fawning article
shows once again. Borges’ summary of yesterday’s Bills’ game: “Despite the outcome, Bledsoe did enough yesterday to show he may not be quite the shadow of himself the Patriots' brain trust concluded he'd become.” The same brain trust that put together a Superbowl-winning team and ignored your roster advice, Ron? ... Postscript: It appears Drew’s past problems might have resulted from Pete Carroll’s motivational tactics and lack of Grateful Dead CDs to calm Drew before games. Seriously.
Naive, naive, naive
: Yesterday, Hub Blog couldn’t link, for whatever confounding html reason, to an article about how supporters of the Clean Elections Law were disappointed that Warren Tolman, their official darling in the gov’s race, was running “negative” TV ads, paid for 100 percent by taxpayers. Today, Adrian Walker
picks up the ball, trashing Tolman (justifiably) for his campaign tactics. But Walker misses the point: The “disappointment” in Tolman derives from naive backers of the Clean Elections Law running smack into reality. At its core, the Clean Elections Law was never exclusively about “limiting” the power of “money.” It was also about imposing “civility” into campaigns, an attempt to micro-manage naughty manners and to protect delicate sensibilities. In other words, there was an unmistakable strain of utopianism in the Clean Elections Law, as if “private” money somehow corrupted people while “public” money would set them free to become their better angels. How pathetic.
Romney/Rappaport Junior Prom update
: Joe Sciacca looks at Mitt’s relationship
with Jim Rappaport. If Rappaport wins next Tuesday, Mitt only has himself to blame.
: Cosmo Macero Jr. does a great hit job on one of the opponents of the proposed “wind farm”
off of Nantucket. Despite the annoying hypocrisy of opponents, Hub Blog is growing more and more skeptical of the project. Somehow, there’s a strong whiff of Enron-style overpromising surrounding the idea.
: For the record
Scott Ritter, unhinged
: The Boston Phoenix's Seth Gitell skewers Scott Ritter
in fast order.
Globe endorses Shannon
: To nobody’s surprise, the Globe has endorsed Shannon O'Brien
, who’s described as “pure drive, with a will to win and a can-do attitude.” In other words, she can beat Mitt. The Globe mentioned why it didn’t endorse Tom Birmingham, indicating he was the paper’s second choice. What's surprising is this: There was no mention of Robert Reich and Warren Tolman in the Globe editorial. Not a word. They weren’t just dismissed, they were ignored. Yikes.
Eileen and Margery weigh in
: Eileen McNamara
, a gender-loyal Shannon booster, touts O’Brien’s dubious credentials but makes a good point about why her hack background is oddly appealing to both hacks and anti-hacks. ... Margery Eagan
. What can you say? The opening paragraph is classic Eagan. She pegs Reich for what he is, but ... but at least he’s different and authentic. Margery explains.
John Silber is throwing thunderbolts
again at Boston University.
Hitchens on the war
: For the past week, the Globe has been running a rather dull and forgettable series to mark the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. (Any series that has an installment entitled “Fear and Children” loses Hub Blog.) But, ah, today the series finally hits its stride with a terrific essay by Christopher Hitchens
, entitled "It's A Good Time for War." (Now there's a title that grabs attention.) A Hitchens excerpt:
“In order to get my own emotions out of the way, I should say briefly that on that day (Sept. 11) I shared the general register of feeling, from disgust to rage, but was also aware of something that would not quite disclose itself. It only became fully evident quite late that evening. And to my surprise (and pleasure), it was exhilaration. I am not particularly a war lover, and on the occasions when I have seen warfare as a traveling writer, I have tended to shudder. But here was a direct, unmistakable confrontation between everything I loved and everything I hated. On one side, the ethics of the multicultural, the secular, the skeptical, and the cosmopolitan. (Those are the ones I love, by the way.) On the other, the arid monochrome of dull and vicious theocratic fascism. I am prepared for this war to go on for a very long time. I will never become tired of waging it, because it is a fight over essentials. And because it is so interesting
Hitchens has been on a roll since Sept. 11, with fresh and vibrant insights into the essence of what the war is about. Get a cup of coffee. Light 'em if you got 'em. Read. Enjoy.
Globe series, Part II -- Petty politics
: The Globe has another winner in today's series, this one a self-serving, but highly illuminating, piece by Virginia Buckingham
, the head of Massport on Sept. 11. It says so much about Boston politics -- its pettiness, its nastiness, its second-rate hack nature. The article makes you cringe to think how Gov. Swift and Mayor Menino would have reacted had airliners taken out the Hancock and Prudential towers on Sept. 11. Three bright spots: Senators Kennedy and Kerry, and Attorney General Tom Reilly, were class acts during the crisis.
Globe series, Part III -- 'the bin Laden family airlift'
: Buckingham relays this fascinating piece of history:
“ ... We experienced another surreal moment: the bin Laden family airlift. My staff was told that a private jet was arriving at Logan from Saudi Arabia to pick up 14 members of Osama bin Laden's family living in the Boston area. ‘Does the FBI know?’ staffers wondered. ‘Does the State Department know? Why are they letting these people go? Have they questioned them?’ This was ridiculous. But our power to stop their arrival or departure was limited. Under federal law, an airport operator is not allowed to restrict the movement of an individual flight or a class of aircraft without going through a byzantine regulatory process that had, to date, never succeeded. So bravado would have to do in the place of true authority. Kinton said: ‘Tell the tower that plane is not coming in here until somebody in Washington tells us it's OK.’ He then repeatedly called the FBI and the State Department throughout the night. Each time the answer was the same: ‘Let them leave.’ On September 19, under the cover of darkness, they did.”
Hmmmmm. Hub Blog has a feeling the Blogosphere will find this one quite interesting.
: Bill Keller is backtracking a bit on John "The Producer" Kerry's war-film flimflammery
. But he still gently zings Kerry at every opportunity. Example: "Mr. Kerry does have a reputation as a man of calculating ambition. (Lately he has been calculating how to come across as less calculating, which is one reason he wanted to dispel the cynicism about his war movies.)"
Dems for Mitt
: Peggy Davis Mullen, a Dem and former city councilor, is coming out for Mitt Romney
, arguing he’s an outsider who will shake things up on putrid Beacon Hill. The disgust for the Legislature knows no bounds. Tom Finneran has become the symbol of Everything That Hasn’t Changed, similar to Bob Crane and Billy Bulger of the ‘80s. If Mitt can convey he’s a true, capable Hack Slayer, he’s going to win. The Globe runs other op-ed pieces about who supports whom in the upcoming primary. It’s a very strange, very dopey op-ed page. The wife of Robert Reich
and the sister Tom Birmingham write why they’re supporting their respective kin. Not making this up. (Having trouble linking to the Birmingham piece. Sorry.)
: Robert Reich, a trained economist, shows he’s not a bad stock picker
as well. If he knew he could win, he’d drop 100,000 grand in a flash. He’s not, so he won’t.
The conservative Boston Herald is endorsing Robert Reich
-- yes, Robert Reich -- in the Dem gubernatorial primary. The stated reason is certainly laudable: “Reich is the only Democrat untainted by the Beacon Hill mindset with its disdain for the concerns of ordinary middle-class taxpayers.” OK, it was an anti-hack endorsement by the paper. But one wonders what they’re really up to over on Wingo Way. Then again, a paper’s nod doesn’t really matter much. Shannon O’Brien’s numbers
: The Empire is striking back with a counter-offensive
. And we’re definitely talking offensive. John Mallon, contributing editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, is going after the Voice of the Faithful, suggesting, among other things, they’re a bunch of misguided flower-child hippies. There’s so much goose-stepping vileness to quote in this column. But he saves his best for last: “Furthermore, the victims of clerical abuse run the risk of diluting their legitimate cause should they be absorbed into groups with dissident agendas, which would constitute a second victimization.” A second victimization? A second victimization?
Is Mallon really, truly comparing the decision of sex-abuse victims, as grown adults, to join a group with their being molested by priests when they were young? The church and its fanatical backers have constantly, at every turn, tried to turn the tables and discredit the victims of sexual abuse. But this is a new low.