BlogTheVote2002USA - Huh?:
Somehow Hub Blog ended up on Bill Quick’s Daily Pundit
list of blogs that will give updates throughout the day about the election in Massachusetts. I’m honored by the nomination, but I never agreed to do any such thing. Don’t know how I ended up on the list. Still, now that the gauntlet is thrown down, I’ll see what I can do. Make sure you check out PoliticaObscura
. He’s on a roll. Here’s my own sometimes silly (definitely lazy) contributions:
. -- Time for bed. But one last thing: The non-binding question asking whether the Clean Elections Law should be funded was voted down.
. -- Boston.com is declaring that Question 1 has been defeated, with 54 percent against and 46 percent for. Eighty-one percent of the vote counted. Defeated, yes. Message sent, definitely.
-- Ronald Reagan wins Massachusetts in '80 and '84. The last four gubernatorial races here have been won by Republicans (granted, not of the Rest of the Nation variety). A radical anti-income tax measure nearly wins tonight (and it's still not counted out as of now). President Bush has a surprisingly strong
approval rating here, especially after he rattles the old sword. But what does the rest of the nation still think of Massachusetts? McGovern, '72. Message to the country: Massachusetts IS more liberal than the rest of the country, but not nearly as liberal as people think. There's a Democratic machine here that most out-of-state observers just don't get -- nor appreciate in terms of the way it shapes politics here. Think: Cook County of the Daley era. The patronage. The nepotism. The one-party lock. That's Massachusetts. The Dems draw the legislative and Congressional maps here. That's why they control the legislature and all the Congressional seats here. But it doesn't necessarily reflect the mood here. Yes, again, Massachusetts is, without question, more liberal than the average state, but tonight's results show ... well, figure it out yourself. Now if we could only have a Republican party that could get its act together ... Hell, I and a lot of other people would even vote Green or French Socialist to get these clowns off our back.
11:09 p.m. -- The only thing of interest remaining is Question 1, the anti-income tax measure. With 57 percent of the vote in, it's losing 53-47 percent. It may not win. But is this Mitt's mandate? Does it at least hint at Mitt's mandate? Taxes. Shannon's performance in last Tuesday's debate. As they say, connect the dots. Her tax-dodging non-answer answers during the debate did her in.
10:59 p.m. -- Shannon's concession speech is pretty classy. She's covering all the bases. I think her running mate thinks he's the heir apparent. But Shannon sounds like she's buttering up the mayor, Teddy et gang for future support.
10:48 p.m. -- With 48 percent of the vote in, Question 1 is still losing, 53-47 percent. Still ... Amazing night in Massachusetts.
-- Shannon is working her way through the crowd to give her concession speech. NECN's official Dem analsyst (didn't catch her name) is still crying over how Massachusetts "isn't ready" for a woman governor. Gloria Larson, the GOP analyst, says Shannon was just "out of step" with the voters. Look at the Question 1 results so far. Gloria is right. Dead on. What does Question 1's surprising showing to date indicate to those who insist/insisted the gov's race was only about gender?
-- Boston.com: "Capitalizing on his reputation as an experienced manager who created jobs and rescued the Olympics, GOP businessman Mitt Romney handily defeated Democratic Treasurer Shannon O'Brien today to become the next governor of Massachusetts." My gambling instinct turned out right. Where do I buy a Lottery ticket?
-- Question 1 is now losing, 53-47 percent. Still, its support has been amazing. A true shocker. Again: Mitt, Question 1, Question 2. ... Already starting to hear the cry that Massachusetts "isn't ready" for a woman governor. They just don't get it. Scroll way down for Reader No. 1's prediction about the big "lie" that will be spun if Shannon doesn't win. This campaign wasn't about male vs. female. It was about a one-party state vs. blocking establishment of a one-party state.
-- NECN reporting that Mitt has received a phone call from Shannon conceding defeat. Finis!
-- Yikes! Question 1, the anti-income tax measure, is actually winning with 30 percent of the vote counted. Very close vote. Huge. HUGE!!! This is a HUGE unknown with this many votes counted. Hub Blog predicted about a 35 percent vote in favor. Incredible. Really early results. But, not to toot my own horn, Hub Blug did say taxes became a last-minute issue in this campaign, though I didn't come close to catching the anti-tax sentiment as reflected in Question 1's early returns. ... Question 2, the anti-bilingual measure, is winning big. Hmmmmmmm. Mitt. Question 1. Question 2. What does this say about the hyper-liberal Massachusetts stereotype? Bah!
-- NECN reporting that AP is "trending" toward calling Mitt a winner. Stein is doing awful. Spoiler? Looks like the GOP supporters of Stein decided against committing suicide. Doesn't matter. Doesn't look like, Stein or not, Shannon was/is going to win. No excuses. No spoiler. ... Listening to John Kerry giving his "victory" speech in the "conservative" Massachusetts. He's talking about Iraq, the war, the need to have allies in any war, the need for attacking the "causes" of terrorism. I.e. the first salvo in the presidential race has been fired from Kerry's pop-gun. Why is anyone at Kerry's "victory" celebration? Must be an open bar.
Big cities in Massachusetts still aren't reporting their numbers. Remember: Florida! But ...
-- NECN is blowing the other channels out of the water in terms of coverage. They just tuned into Mitt's campaign headquarters -- and victory is in the air there.
-- NECN analysts sound very pessimistic about Shannon, saying she's doing worse in traditional Dem regions than even Scott Harshbarger did four years ago. Meanwhile, Mitt's numbers are better than Paul C.'s four years ago. Mitt's doing it. And big.
-- About 25 percent of the vote in. Mitt ahead 53 percent to Shannon's 43 percent. Jill Stein, the Green candidate, is pulling in only 3 percent. I'm tempted to go to sleep soon. I think Mitt has it wrapped up.
-- Blogger.com is very slow tonight. Very slow. Just noticed a post I made a while ago wasn't posted.
-- Very, very early returns coming in showing Mitt running quite well. U.S. Rep. Barney 'I Don't Know' Frank, D, sounds very down on NECN. He's blaming the discipline of 'conservatives' in Massachusetts and across the nation for the early returns. Conservatives. In Massachusetts. Think about it. What planet is Barney living on? Again, only early returns. But those are Barney's words. ... Shocking news: the virtually unopposed John Kerry, D, is projected as a winner in the conservative Massachusetts.
. -- The polls are closed. NECN is projecting that Mitt is ahead with 1 measly percent of the vote in. Long night ahead! Storm Team Coverage will keep you informed (until my chicken starts to burn, at which point I have to bolt).
-- I just found out who nominated me for this job as an official member of 'BlogTheVote2002USA' election-coverage storm team. Here's his note:
"I Confess. I was the one who posted your link as a good place to keep an eye on today for Massachusetts political races. I had been reading your stuff leading up to election day. Good job."
Hub Blog's response: Oh, gosh. As I said, I didn't agree to this, but I'm secretly honored. BlogTheVote2002USA!
-- A reader from Harvard, who voted earlier today in Cambridge, inquired via email whether Boston has the same stupid non-binding ballot questions (they're apparently numbered differently in varying cities) as in Cambridge. Specifically: Shall the representative from this district be instructed to not vote for Thomas Finneran of Boston as Speaker of the House? and Do you favor full funding of the voter-approved Clean Elections measure? Answer: Yes. We had the same questions in Boston. And I voted 'yes' to the first question and 'no' to the second question. ... Now it's off to get a beer at my local tavern. I'm exhausted by all this BlogTheVote2002USA work.
4:35 p.m. -- A reader responds to Hub Blog’s earlier prediction of a Mitt victory
: A Brighton reader -- and a serious political junkie -- says Shannon O'Brien is going to win the governor’s race. "I was at the polls this morning and it was clear there are a lot of 40 and under women coming out and voting for her. The cities will go for O'Brien. Name one big city that Mitt will win? She has more appeal in the suburbs than Silber did, and Mitt does not have any of Cellucci's ethnic appeal. A Republican has not won without an Italian on the ticket since Frank Sargent in 1970, and he was an incumbent. The economy is on people's minds. Sargent attributed his 1974 loss to Dukakis to 'the price of hamburger.'"
Hub Blog's response to Brighton reader
: Good point about the 40 and under women coming out to vote for Shannon. At my downtown polling place in Boston this afternoon, I noticed the same thing: Lots of young women. I was scoping. They were voting. Didn't make the obvious political connection until now. Interesting.
Murphy vs. the Boston Herald
: Here’s a seemingly juicy story
in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about the libel suit filed by Judge Ernest B. Murphy against the Boston Herald, centering on the Herald’s controversial February story about the light sentence handed down by the judge in a robbery/rape/statutory rape case. (And, yes, it was an apparently light sentence because Murphy simply didn’t want to send the accused to prison, when he had it within his power to do so, as Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly shows.) Without knowing much about the case, Hub Blog will gladly concede, for the sake of argument, the Herald’s handling of the story may not have been exemplary. OK, let’s go a few steps farther. It was hyped. It was risky. There were important omissions in the reporting. But was it libelous? Isn’t that what Murphy is arguing in his libel lawsuit-- that the Herald’s story was libelous? Apparently not. Murphy’s own lawyer is quoted in the story as saying: “That's why this case is so important ... The independence of the judiciary." Wrong. Back to ‘Go.’ Do not collect $200. You don’t bring libel suits in order to protect the “independence of the judiciary,” whatever that means in this context. In the end, it looks like Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly slightly hyped the intro to its story about a libel case over a hyped story. And it buried the lead: The plaintiff's attorney openly says the libel lawsuit is really about something else.
The Big Day, Big Turnout, Big Prediction
: As Hub Blog noted yesterday, voter turnout today is supposed to be very heavy. The Globe’s turnout story
had this observation: “A large turnout driven by independent voters, particularly men, would likely hurt O'Brien and help Romney: Polls show that he consistently holds a dominant edge among unenrolled voters.” Hub Blog said as much yesterday. But, upon reflection, that’s so ... so conventional wisdom. The Herald’s turnout story
had this nugget from Secretary of State William Galvin: “But the race appears to be so close, Galvin said, that it could even be decided by a growing subset of immigrant voters. ‘New Americans are a wild card in this election,’ he said.” Say what you will about the Prince of Darkness, Galvin has made remarkably accurate predictions in past elections about voter turnout and possible new wrinkles. Hub Blog still can’t forget the unexpected, huge, joyous celebrations that broke out in places like Framingham after Brazil won the World Cup earlier this year. Only then did a lot of people (including Hub Blog) learn that 300,000 Portuguese-speaking Brazilian immigrants now live in eastern Massachusetts. Could the gov’s race ultimately turn on Question 2, the bilingual/English immersion ballot question? The mere fact that everyone is slicing and dicing the turnout numbers merely shows how damn close this race is. And that leads me to ...
... Hub Blog’s Fearless Gubernatorial Prediction.
As I told Reader No. 1 yesterday, my prediction comes down to what my brain says and what my gambling instinct says. The brain says: O’Brien. The gambling instinct says: Romney. I’m going with my gambling instinct: Mitt will win
. (Keep in mind that, like Reader No. 1, I thought the Bills would crush the Pats on Sunday, but I still think it’s a good instinct.)
A quick explanation of what my ‘brain’ and ‘gambling instinct’ are saying:
A.) The Brain -- The numbers still heavily favor Dems in Massachusetts; the Dems are united for the first time since the mid-1980s; Shannon has run a relentlessly aggressive, Hillary-like campaign (indeed, she’s run one of the best campaigns I’ve seen in many moons); she has a clear gender advantage and will attract all those diehard female votes; the last two GOP governors have been monumentally inept and weak; the economy sucks.
B.) The Gambling Instinct -- Mitt has run a monumentally inept and weak campaign, reminding voters of Paul and Janey; he’s truly a Pleasantville alien who doesn’t fit in with the rest of us reserved, cynical New Englanders; the partisan voting rolls are stacked against him, etc. etc. But ... but he’s still in the race, despite all of O’Brien’s advantages and all of Mitt’s own obvious
failings as a candidate. What is going on? In a word: Disgust. Disgust with Beacon Hill, with taxes, with patronage, with the old boys' network running the state. The turning point, in my mind, was last Tuesday’s debate, in which I thought both candidates acquitted themselves quite well. But I was later rather surprised to hear the number of bitter, almost nasty, comments about Shannon’s performance and her tax-dodging non-answers to Tim Russert -- and the old ‘brain’ started having doubts and the ‘gambling instinct’ became more bold. Then news came of a likely huge turnout and ...
The one caveat to my Mitt prediction is Galvin’s observation: ‘New Americans are a wild card in this election.’ I think Galvin’s on to something here, something thrown in at the last minute. I was more sure of my gambling instinct last night. Now I’m less sure. But I’m sticking with it: Mitt wins.
A parting shot
: One last pre-election column from Margery Eagan
. Hilarious stuff.
Election, down to the wire
: Some late negative advertising
in an extremely tight, hard-fought race, followed by a typical bemoaning of negative campaigning
, although the Herald says the close race and TV advertising (i.e. negative campaigning) could lead to a higher voter turnout tomorrow
. ... The headline
on this column says it all. ... And that's about all. I’m keeping the election blogging light today. It appears the Globe and Herald are doing the same. Tomorrow: Daring Hub Blog predictions. And, if we’re lucky, maybe Reader No. 1 will jump into the political craps game. (That's a hint, Reader No. 1.) ...
... This just in: A prediction of a 70 percent turnout tomorrow
. Seventy percent. If it's 60 percent, I'll be impressed. But 70 percent? So much for all the boring, lame laments about how the campaign is turning off voters. To the contrary. The gubernatorial race is a classic. And there's a recession and a war under way. My suspicion is this bodes well for Mitt. It indicates a lot of Independent voters are restless -- and they usually become agitated over pocketbook issues. But are they agitated over the economy or taxes? Hub Blog thinks it's the latter, for taxes are something state government can control. Shannon would benefit from a lower turnout, when hard-core Dems' organizational muscle makes a real difference. We'll see. Only hunches.
: Some quick political comments from Hub Blog readers ...
1.) Received this email this morning from a Back Bay resident:
“I am not very politically active, but I thought this was a grassroots effort worth taking on. If you agree with my opinion, please pass this on to other Suffolk County voters that you know. One of the greatest problems in Massachusetts's politics is patronage. It's particularly dangerous when it takes place in the District Attorney's office. The legal system in our state is best served when the DA's office is represented by the most qualified people for the job. Acting DA Dan Conley has been on the job for nine months. During that time 12 Assistant DAs have quit or been fired because of politics. Political operatives are replacing career professionals.
“There is a better choice: Bill Sinnott is the Independent candidate for District Attorney. He’s been: a Career Prosecutor (1985 - 2001); Assistant District Attorney; Assistant United States Attorney; Constitutional and Criminal Law Instructor; Marine Corps Veteran of 25 years; Leader of Boston Latin School parent council; Graduate of Holy Cross; Suffolk Law School.
“Let's go vote.”
Note from Hub Blog: Bill Sinnott is a close friend. He's good. He's honorable. Let's go vote indeed. P.S. Just got home from doing some errands. In my apartment building, a volunteer for Eddie Jenkins, also running for Suffolk County DA, had just left off a stack of campaign materials for Eddie, who's really out there hustling. I'm voting for Bill, but Jenkins sounds great, too. The DA race is definitely getting interesting
2.) Reader No. 1 is hesitant to make predictions about tomorrow's gov race, considering how he picked the Bills to beat the Pats yesterday. Still, here's some of his general comments:
" -- Lie we will hear if Romney wins: Massachusetts wasn't ready to elect a woman governor. This will probably be the national story if events come to pass (I can hear Nina Tottenberg talking about it now), despite the likely fact that, win or lose, Romney won't break 50 percent of the electorate.
"-- Lie we will hear if O'Brien wins: A new era of cooperation on Beacon Hill. Make no mistake: there will be a tremendous battle at the State House with Speaker Finnegan no matter who wins. The difference: a Romney win will mean the battle is about policies and priorities. An O'Brien win will mean the battle is about turf and who wears the Daddy Pants in state government.
"Best columnists during the campaign:
"1. Brian McGrory. Funny, fair, acutely accurate, and he put shoe leather into the job.
"2. Margery Eagan. Why isn't she a national writer?
"3. Scott Lehigh. The only columnist with a sense of even recent history (eg he understood what was different about Weld's election and how that was relevant to the present decision)."
Anti-war protests and the prez
: So 15,000 people
turned out for yesterday’s peace rally on Boston Common. OK. But to understand the real mood of Massachusetts, look at the numbers here
Forgive, yes; forget, no:
Why? Why did it take so long for Cardinal Law
to admit he was wrong and to ask for our forgiveness? Why now? He deserves forgiveness. But never forget: These guys are isolated old men who will always put the interests of their
institution over everything else. The survival of their
church is paramount. We now know this. This is the tragic lesson of this scandal. Nothing else to say. What else can be said?
Is Jill Stein still a factor?:
What’s up with Green Party candidate Jill Stein? Hub Blog thought her candidacy had run out of steam. Obviously, the big Dem guns
think otherwise and they’re pounding away at her, bringing out Ted Kennedy, Mayor Menino, Barney Frank etc. to warn the faithful not to abandon Shannon on Tuesday in favor of Stein. Meanwhile, the Globe explores the ‘spoiler’ angle
and reveals (I think) new information about how Stein is faring. The Globe released a poll yesterday
showing Stein with 5 percent of the vote. Not all that impressive, especially when you consider the looney Barbara Johnson is getting 4 percent of the vote. But today’s ‘spoiler’ story mentions that Stein ‘appears to be gaining ground,’ with 7 percent of the vote, based on a poll conducted Thursday and Friday. Huh? It’s tough to sort it out, but clearly something’s happening that’s scaring the O’Brien campaign. Her numbers with women are slipping. The race is tightening. She launches a blistering, NOW-inspired ‘unbecoming’ gender assault the day after the Tuesday debate. And now they’re openly waging war on Stein. The Herald’s Tom Keane
, meanwhile, has some good observations on why Dems don’t have a compelling reason for abandoning Shannon. Again, there's that subject about Dem defections ...
... Along the same lines, Mary McGrory
has a very, very interesting column in this morning’s Globe (with a headline that doesn’t convey the bad news McGrory sends about Shannon). Here’s Mary: “In the last debate of her campaign, the state treasurer didn't seem to appreciate her luck (of having a unified Dem party). She played to her sisterhood rather than to her ethnic base, having in mind NOW rather than the Knights of Columbus.” And here’s Mary’s conclusion: “O'Brien's lead among women, which was once at 18 points, had shrunk to 8. She could still win, but if she doesn't, she won't be able to blame the for once unified Massachusetts Democrats.” It’s always fun to read a national pundit’s take on a local election/issue. They’re usually either right on target (outsiders can often sort through the bull quickly) or wildly ill informed. In today’s column, McGrory sounds a bit out of it when she keeps emphasizing the Boston Irish stereotype, but overall she’s on the mark.
Reader No. 1 responds
: This is why I love quoting the evil Reader No. 1:
"You were way too kind on Mary McGrory for her daffy column yesterday. Her semi-cogent observations were overwhelmed by her Camelot-era political frame of reference. Memo to Mary: James Michael Curley isn't the Mayor of Boston anymore. Somebody give Mary her gold watch before she compares the last days of the 2002 campaign to the West Virginia primary in 1960."
Bill Sinnot, superstar
: Joe Fitzgerald pushes aside the gov hype and takes a look at two obscure candidates running for Suffolk County district attorney, Bill Sinnott and Eddie Jenkins
. Hub Blog personally knows Billy Sinnott, a close friend and all-around great guy. He’s as honorable as he comes across in the column. And so I assume Fitz is right about Eddie Jenkins, too. Vote for either one of these guys. They’ve both earned it. ...
Bush’s poll numbers
: The Globe reports the prez has a solid approval rating
here in Massachusetts, largely because of his tough stance on Iraq. Go figure.
Mitt and Medicaid
: A reader just sent me a quick note asking why I wasn't covering the Romney/Medicaid spat like I did the 'unbecoming' spat. Fair question. In my defense: 1.) I initially assumed he was telling the truth 2.) I haven't ignored it (see election items below, as well as a reference I made to it on Thursday about it being a legitimate issue in the post-debate climate 3.) I don't get paid for this -- and certainly don't get paid to be painstakingly fair 4.) I want Shannon to lose. (How's that for honesty?) Still, the question and guilt gnaw, and the best I can say is this: The Medicaid controversy/lie (yes, Mitt lied) was grossly underplayed (except by Cosmo Macero
and Dan Kennedy
) and should have been pursued more aggressively by the media. The 'unbecoming' controversy/lie (yes, it too was a lie) was grossly overplayed and should have been pursued less aggressively by the media. Cosmo and Dan covered one lie, and I covered the other. Mitt is wrong, but so is Shannon for manufacturing an issue (i.e. the 'unbecoming' lie) that she knows wasn't true. Bottom line: Mitt got banged over the head for the wrong lie.
Changes at the American Prospect
: Big, big changes at the Boston-based American Prospect
. Dan Kennedy has the scoop
and lots of other details. Mickey Kaus
has been all over this issue for months, and he acknowledges Dan’s muscling onto his TAP turf. Thoughts on the change? Ben Taylor is an experienced editor and publisher. His appointment certainly can’t hurt. The liberal magazine is just plain boring and predictable. It needs to be jazzed up. And it needs stability, financially and editorially. Getting rid of Robert Kuttner or reducing his role at the mag wouldn't hurt either.
Polls and the end of ‘unbecoming’
: The ‘unbecoming’ non-issue issue is slipping into oblivion, where it belongs. Instead, we have new poll numbers
. According to a new Globe/WBZ poll, the election is a virtual tie (still), with O’Brien receiving 41 percent support and Romney 40 percent, with only 5 percent undecided. A Globe/WBZ poll in late September had O'Brien leading with 42 percent and 36 percent for Romney. Some important details in the numbers: O’Brien’s support among women is slipping (thus explaining the ‘unbecoming’ offensive); taxes are becoming more of an issue (thus helping Mitt); the economy remains a huge issue, and O’Brien still holds an edge in this category. ... Other interesting numbers: Green Party nominee Jill Stein drew 5 percent of those surveyed. That’s it. Her numbers aren’t budging. But what’s really odd is that the kooky Independent candidate, Barbara Johnson, received 4 percent. Huh? I suppose we’ve just stumbled upon a previously undetected Jesse Ventura bloc in Massachusetts. Libertarian Carla Howell is at 3 percent ...
... Other election tidbits: Both the Globe
are playing up Mitt’s attack on the Beacon Hill ‘machine.’ That’s the official ping-pong spin of the day, with yesterday’s being the ‘unbecoming’ spin. An observation on the Beacon Hill Machine approach: It’s a little too late for Mitt to be tying Shannon to the boys on Beacon Hill. The voters already get it. What he should be doing (and he is, to an extent) is hammering away at taxes. Taxes, taxes, taxes. ... Brian McGrory
takes a great hit at the ‘unbecoming’ story, concludes it’s weird and asks Scotty to beam him up. He then moves on to Ted Kennedy’s role in supporting Kevin Callahan in the Cape Cod district attorney’s race. Callahan’s credentials? He’s Ted’s former driver and advance man. ... Steve Bailey
weighs in on the gubernatorial race, but in a most interesting way, tying together the antics of the state’s firefighters union, their seemingly odd opposition to the Clean Elections Law, Tom Finneran and Shannon O’Brien. Read until the last paragraph. ... Cosmo Macero
is raking Mitt over the coals (justifiably) for his Medicaid inaccuracies, which, as Cosmo bluntly puts it, exposes Mitt as a major-league fibber. The Phoenix’s Dan Kennedy
has been having a field day with Mitt’s Medicaid claims and non-claims ...
The bilingual debate
: After sitting on the fence on this one, Hub Blog has decided to vote for Question 2
, the anti-bilingual education bill. (I’m sure my pronouncement will profoundly shock you and sway a lot of votes.) The clincher for me was reading Scot Lehigh’s column this morning, in which he presents the ‘evidence’ of why the English-immersion method of teaching children is better. Lehigh talked with a former foe of English immersion in California, and this is the teacher/activist’s latest view after bilingual education was replaced in California with English immersion: ''I have actually become a convert to English immersion. ... It works better, it is easier on kids, and it gets them into the mainstream faster.'' ... Isn’t that the point? To help the kids? Hub Blog is sympathetic to bilingual education. I’ve spent extensive time in Haiti and Africa, where children are raised at home speaking one language but then they’re thrust into an education system in which they have to learn their lessons in a second language (such as French or English). It doesn’t work well. But Africa, in particular, is a fractured continent in terms of its many languages. There’s often no dominating native language to be ‘immersed’ in within various countries, and so they fall back on a neutral, unifying language, often one dating from their colonial era. It’s logical because there are no other alternatives, but it still doesn’t work well. But the United States does have a dominant language, English, and it does have an alternative to bilingual education, English immersion. If bilingual education was the only alternative (and it was the only viable alternative for years in many places), I’d say: ‘For God’s sake, keep it. Let the kids get an education in their native language.’ But it’s not the only viable alternative today, and so ...
The Globe and rent control
: The Globe is calling for changes to -- but not outright rejection of -- Mayor Menino’s proposed rent-control legislation
, which he and the Globe refer to as the ‘rent stabilization bill.’ Well, at least the Globe recognizes the huge flaws in Menino’s plan. Some of the newspaper’s proposed changes are logical, in the sense that they water down the worst aspects of Menino’s plan. But the Globe doesn’t fully answer this question: At what point do rent controls discourage developers from building new housing units? If developers OK some sort of fair (and not imposed) compromise that they feel will still make it profitable for them to build new units, fine. I’d support a compromise. I'm against price gouging, too, though apartment/condo rental prices ultimately are linked to and track the market prices for buying and selling homes/housing units in general. What's to be done there? Impose price caps on the sale of homes? Which gets back to the housing shortage. Remember: The private sector is the only sector building housing these days. The feds aren’t. The state isn’t. As they say, don’t kill the goose laying the golden eggs.
: So much for the Celts picking up where they left off last season. Last night’s game
was their worst regular season loss in franchise history. Yes, the Gaston crew decimated last year’s team, largely because of the new NBA luxury tax and Gaston’s refusal to put up with it for one year. But last night was still absurd. OK, the season is young. Yet you can’t avoid the feeling the Celts are yet another promising Boston team that’s going to disappoint (following the Sox and this year’s Pats). ... Here’s some good news
for those of you who like traditional high-school athletics.
'This is a crime':
Well, not yet. But Hub Blog just watched NECN, as Mitt's running mate ('This is a crime') and NOW's attack dog argue whether the 'unbecoming' word is really an issue. This is becoming surreal. Truly surreal. This is about SPIN -- Shannon O'Brien never, ever, once mentioned in the debate that she thought the word 'unbecoming' was offensive. The fact Shannon O'Brien didn't make the word 'unbecoming' an issue during the debate
either indicates she was a coward for not saying so or a complete dunce. But, of course, she is neither ... but now ... but now ... we're supposed to honestly, as intelligent human beings, believe this is an issue just because the partisan NOW, Hillary and paid consultants huddle together and say, "We have got to do something radical to salvage this debacle," and then emerge to announce that the word 'unbecoming' is suddenly anti-women. The media is acting like a chicken with its head cut off. If this is 'objective' (a lot of people would call it ping-pong journalism), then I give up on objectivity. I truly do. This is nothing but World Wrestling Federation journalism (i.e. "In this corner ... And in this corner...!!!”)
: Writing this morning, Friday, Nov. 1, I see the ‘unbecoming’ issue has all but disappeared. The spinning ping-pong ball is now on Mitt’s Beacon-Hill-Mess side of the table. See election items above.
: Hub Blog had to blink a few times when I read how Shannon, Hillary et gang were seizing on the word ‘unbecoming’ as a campaign issue following Tuesday’s debate. Of all the things brought up in the debate -- Shannon’s tax dodging, Mitt’s inaccuracies on Medicaid reimbursements, Shannon’s tattoo, Mitt’s non-defense of Bill Weld -- Mitt’s use of the word ‘unbecoming’ initially didn’t even register a minus-one on the controversy scale. Not in post-debate analysis. Not in any morning-after coverage. Not on weblogs. Nowhere was Mitt’s use of the word ‘unbecoming’ in the debate mentioned as some sort of insult to women. But then Hillary Clinton flies into town, attempting to shore up (or scare) the Defend the Sisterhood vote, and suddenly we learn Mitt’s use of ‘unbecoming’ to describe Shannon was really a never-before-known code word to put women down. At least the Herald
called it for what it was -- ‘O’Brien plays gender card,’ read the headline on this morning’s story. The Globe
treated it a tad more seriously -- ‘Camps spar over Romney word.’ Here’s an excerpt from the Globe story: “That single word opened a new front in the campaign as O'Brien's supporters seized upon it to reintroduce the question of gender in the final days of the race.” Actually, that sentence is missing an adjective, for it should have read ‘opened a new SPIN front.’ And that’s all it is: a spin. You know, a deliberate partisan attempt to influence media coverage by describing events in a way partisan proponents want the public to see it, regardless of whether it’s true or not. Got to hand it to Shannon: She typically went on the offensive yesterday, slashing and attacking. Mitt? He’s on the defensive -- again -- this time over a word that 99.9999 percent of the viewers of Tuesday’s debate didn’t notice nor associate with ‘gender’ politics. Amazing.
Other election tidbits
: Joan Vennochi
seems to be taking a swipe at Eileen McNamara and other liberal suburbanites
who are swooning over one of their own, Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Here’s Joan: “As cozy as a mug of warm vanilla chai, Stein is the quintessential suburban professional mom: articulate, committed, darting from soccer game to neighborhood traffic control meeting, somehow carving out time to express concern about the downtrodden, chemical additives, and global warming - and not necessarily in that order.” Joan’s column is on the mark on a lot of points but she did get one thing wrong: A vote for Stein isn’t necessarily a vote for Romeny because polls are showing that many Republicans like her too. ...
... A reader from Lexington (Jill Stein’s headquarters in her fight for the downtrodden) writes: “Jill Stein is not getting the play one might expect out here in her home town, giving short shrift to your calculation that she may hurt Shannon on Tuesday. ... I personally don't think she will be another Ralph Nader, scarfing the 5-7% of the vote that would put Mitt over the top. I think -- as do others -- that if Jill had stayed ‘greener’ and stuck to the expected issues of a green party candidate, she would have walked away with 8-10% of the overall vote and a significantly higher percentage of the prized.” All excellent points which I’m beginning to agree with, but then ... then you see the ‘unbecoming’ tactics of Shannon and you have to wonder what her campaign’s internal polls are showing. The ‘unbecoming’ issue is clearly aimed at shoring up her (dwindling?) female vote. ...
.... The Herald has endorsed Mitt
, for what it’s worth. ... Wayne Woodlief
says Shannon’s abortion stand -- and showing off her tattoo -- may end up hurting her. I don’t know about that. I kind of wanted to see her tattoo. ... Margery Eagan
has yet more classic lines about both Shannon and Mitt.
'Supplemental second stage submission requirements’
: So the Boston Redevelopment Authority has changed the requirements, once again, for the proposed controversial development near Chinatown
, calling it “supplemental second stage submission requirements,” i.e. the predictable “Don’t You Ever Criticize the Administration Again in Public'' Amendment, apparently aimed at a developer who dared to criticize the mayor’s office
for dragging its feet on the project. City Council President Michael F. Flaherty is livid: ''It's outrageous that it has taken over 15 months for the BRA to make a decision,'' he was quoted in the Globe this morning. ''We need a defined start and a defined finish for the process in this city.'' But here’s Flaherty's real kicker line: ''Because the city waits so long (to approve apartment and condo projects), we now have to take up issues like rent control.” ... Yes! Someone is finally connecting the dots over at City Hall. This administration has a chance to OK a project that could lead to construction of up to 450-500 new housing units (at the development site itself and through linkage money), and what’s it doing? It’s greasing the deal for Millennium Partners Boston, which doesn’t want an apartment-building competitor across the street from its new Millennium Towers. Think about it: The administration, which is now pushing rent control, could have more housing AND introduce housing competition, both of which would help ease the housing crunch and lower rents. ... An ink-stained wag who’s familiar with the issue has told Hub Blog the administration will probably change the zoning at the site to exclude residential development, which, the wag noted, will mean the site will remain a surface parking lot for the next ten years. And make Millennium very happy.
'Cleaning the mess on Beacon Hill':
A reader from Brighton, who's no big fan of Shannon, writes this about why Mitt's repeated calls to 'clean up the mess' and 'cut waste' on Beacon Hill ring hollow, though it may be a laudable goal:
"Just a note on the political culture here in Massachusetts. The last governor who really tried to upend the patronage system on Beacon Hill was Michael Dukakis in his first term. His campaign manager got a handshake and a thank you, but was refused a job. Dukakis tried to get rid of the Governor's Council, and failed. The legislative leadership hated him. The liberals were angry because he cut services and bailed on him, supporting Barbara Ackerman in the 1978 primary. The conservatives were angry because he raised taxes. The state police were giving out 'Dump the Duke' bumperstickers at some of their stations on the Pike, they were angry over their pay and lack of overtime. Car repair dealers went after him because of proposals to crack down on unneccessary repairs. One special interest group after another had it out for him. The result was that he lost in the 1978 primary to Ed King. Once he got in again after the 1982 election, he had learned his lesson and did not attempt any of this the second time around."
Hmmmmm. I could say, 'Well, there's always hope,' but I fear he's right.
Reader No. 1 responds
: To add to the reader from Brighton's accurate recollections of the Golden Age of Reform ... Scot Lehigh's comments
this morning on how Weld changed the Beacon Hill mindset a decade ago were right-on. Romney surely knows this, but is apparently afraid to talk about it. (Shannon probably will never understand this point because she has accepted the State-House-centric view of the world as fixed and immovable.) Of course, the Weld-Cellucci administration also helped bequeath two calamities which are major factors in the current political environment:
1. The infamous post-1994-reelection legislative payraise deal between Weld and Bulger. It signalled that it was safe again to head to the trough.
2. The Big Dig -- By the time the financial dimensions were officially acknowledged, it was far too late to do anything about it. ("Blowing the whistle on the Big Dig" most emphatically does not mean eliminating union construction jobs. ...)
: I don't know why, but I found this article strangely inspiring
. There was a problem. The students, who just wanted to learn, complained about the quality of the course. The teacher agreed with some of their complaints. The administration looked into it and agreed with the students. So they replaced the teacher in mid-semester, allowing the teacher time to get better organized. Issue resolved. Move on. No unions. No lawsuits. No grudges. Everyone just being honest
. Hey, this isn't supposed to happen in 2002 America. ... And here's an even more inspiring piece
). Is there something in the water?
A reader responds
: Steve of Somerville writes that maybe the teacher shouldn't have been in the classroom in the first place, "which doesn't make it a very 'inspiring story' if you ask me." Point well taken. But he has taught at Harvard for a while, in smaller settings, and indicated he was just overwhelmed by the change to a larger class. He also sounds like a good guy. But the point is this: Everyone seemed to be honest and reasonable when it came to resolving the issue. The students, who pay a lot of money for a quality education, also stood up for better classes. All in all, I still find the story somehow refreshing.
: I'm getting slaughtered on this. Another reader writes, "He (the instructor) was giving the WRONG answers to students. Hello?" And Steve of Somerville responds to my response to his response: "Universities charge obscene amounts for tuition and students get this?" ... OK, I'm sounding a full retreat on this one. You try to be sentimental, and look at the grief you get. It's back to being snide!
The great debate
: Personally, I thought it was a great gubernatorial debate last night: Tense, dramatic, at times professional and passionate, one of the better political debates I’ve seen in a long time. Who won? Hub Blog thinks Mitt pulled it off, barely. For the first time in the campaign, he looked assertive, comfortable, even eloquent, leaving one thinking: Where has this
candidate been all these months? But I say he “barely” won because I thought Shannon did well, too. Sure, she was on the defensive on taxes and dodged more than a few questions, but she was typically deft and aggressive. She neutralized Mitt a couple of times with swift counter strikes. But it’s always rather silly to say “so and so” won, for we all filter opinions through our own prejudiced prisms. Still, I thought my observations were somewhat on the mark when I read this piece by the Globe’s Yvonne Abraham, who watched the debate with some undecided voters in Marlborough
. These voters were almost furious at Shannon for not answering the question, posed by Mitt, about whether she would raise taxes if elected. Then I read this piece
in the Herald about another focus group, and they thought Shannon had won. Who’s to know? Yet, I suspect the tax-dodging by Shannon will quietly hurt her. Never underestimate the power of pocketbook issues to sway voters, particularly in the middle of a recession.
Other debate tidbits: The Washington Post’s David Broder
wrote one truly boring piece on the debate. But he did (typically) have some fascinating non-debate news: Apparently both candidates’ internal polls show Mitt winning, as opposed to two recent outside polls showing Shannon winning. ... Wasn’t Tim Russert great as moderator? ... Hub Blog noticed an interesting contrast in today’s coverage by the Globe: The beat reporters actually covering the debate tended to think it was a somewhat civil, substance-filled confrontation, as reflected in this story
and in this story by Mark Jurkowitz
. But the oped writers were, well, somewhat cynical. Here are the Globe’s editorial
, Joan Vennochi’s
view, Scot Lehigh’s
, and Derrick Jackson’s
. Don’t know what it means, but the contrast kind of stood out. ... The Phoenix's Dan Kennedy
gives the nod to Mitt and has a lot of other interesting observations about the debate. (He wasn't as impressed with the candidates' peformance as I was.)
Rents stabilizing in Hub
: A new report on how rents are beginning to stabilize
in Great Boston. One has to wonder about the timing of this report, coming so soon after Mayor Menino’s call for a return to rent control. But Hub Blog has been hearing the same thing from Realtors across the area: Landlords are waiting longer to rent apartments, and they’re often throwing in choice incentives to nail down deals. The Boston Business Journal and Banker & Tradesman have been reporting the same trend for a number of weeks now.
Segregation in Boston
: Cosmo Macero
writes one of the more depressing (and sadly accurate) stories about Boston I’ve seen in a while. We really do have a long way to go to make the Hub a more comfortable place for African Americans, in general, and middle-class African American professionals, in particular, to live and work. Cosmo bases his column on a story about to run in an upcoming issue of Boston magazine. Too bad Boston magazine doesn’t put its stories online. What idiots. ... Along the same line, did you see the “60 Minutes” piece on Sunday night about how professional African Americans in the North are beginning to return to the South to live and work? Why? Because their job prospects are better there and they can actually buy homes in safe, predominantly black middle-class neighborhoods. Good for them. ... One last point on this issue: Hub Blog once knew a local bar owner who noticed she was starting to get a lot of African-American customers, mostly young professionals, on a usually slow weekend night. So, sensing a good business opportunity, she started putting out free food, offering special drink prices, playing music appealing to African Americans -- and her business boomed. She was happy. Her customers were happy. What happened? Someone complained, and all of a sudden the cops
started harassing her and her customers on those nights. The tavern owner, who is white and a good friend, begged me not to do the story, which I couldn’t do anyway without her cooperation. She was sickened by the blatant racism. She ended up losing her new customers. And that’s what a lot of blacks are routinely up against here and elsewhere “down North.”
Ninety Nine, gone
: Not as bad as the sale of Spags or the demise of, say, Lechmere stores, but another regional tradition (sort of) is being sold off
. The Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pubs were never all that good. There’s nothing sentimental and memorable about them, in terms of cuisine and decor. But for some strange reason they were always in the news, or making news, for all the wrong reasons -- shootings, conversations being wiretapped, a great place to go to chum for nasty local gossip, i.e. “Did you hear anything else about Donna and that married high-school math teacher? I heard about them the other night at Ninety Nine.”
Steve Bailey, blogger?:
A nifty roundup
of business tidbits by Steve Bailey, who shows he may indeed have the knack to be a blogger.
Polls, polls, polls:
Interesting numbers streaming in from all directions. The ones that hit Hub Blog right come from the Herald, which this morning is reporting that Shannon O’Brien is slowly opening a gap
between herself and Mitt Romney. Shannon leads 44-38 margin, with an 8-point margin of error, according to the Herald. But a poll taken by Harvard's Institute of Politics and New England Cable News over the weekend shows the race a virtual dead heat, with O'Brien getting 41 percent and Romney 39. Split the difference, and you still have a close race, with Shannon clinging in front. The Herald says 12 percent of the electorate is still undecided.
But what really interested Hub Blog were the numbers for the third-party (and fourth-party and no-party) candidates. In particular, Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate who many (including Hub Blog) have predicted could be a spoiler in the race, is pulling in 4 to 5 percent in both polls. Those aren’t impressive numbers. And they’re positively disappointing for Mitt because the Herald gives a few extra details to Stein’s numbers: 5 percent of Democrats supported Stein, 4 percent Republican and 3 percent independents. Four percent of GOP voters are backing Stein? Upon reflection, it makes sense, since Massachusetts’ Republicans are among the most liberal Republicans in the nation. Unless the numbers are wrong or unless Stein picks up some of the undecided votes, her candidacy will be a wash. Hub Blog still suspects a lot of levers will be pulled in her favor come next Tuesday, but numbers are numbers.
Other poll numbers
: Question 1, the anti-income tax measure, is getting trounced, 27-59 percent, according to the Herald. About 14 percent are still undecided. Hub Blog thinks the measure will pull in around 35 percent. Question 2, the anti-bilingual education measure, is sailing toward victory, with 63 percent in favor and 28 percent against. Another example of the allegedly hyper-liberal Massachusetts electorate throwing a curve ball at national conventional wisdom.
Reader No. 1 responds to Jill Stein observations
: While driving to work this morning the thought crossed that Jill Stein might pull as many Romney votes as from O'Brien, and I wish I had thought of it sooner. My perspective is less the Rockefeller Republican phenomenon and draws more on the analysis of "Ideopolis" (Judis/Texeria) and "Bourgeois Bohemians" (David Brooks). Dr. Stein is not just a liberal, she's an educated professional
. So is Mitt... that's one source of his (limited) appeal.
Other election tidbits
: If there’s justice in this world, Dan Grabauskas
would be elected state treasurer. He won’t. (See Herald poll story above for gory details.) ...
... Hub Blog was all set to take an unfair swipe at these stories by Joanna Weiss
and Brian McGrory
. You know, the typical bemoaning-of-negative-campaigning pieces. (Is there a checklist of stories political reporters feel compelled to do?) I decided it was unfair for two reasons: A.) Both Weiss and McGrory have written superb campaign stories/columns over the past few months, so they don’t deserve cheap shots from moi (at least not today) and B.) There’s this column by Godfrey Sperling
about political reporters of yesteryear, making one feel lucky we have political reporters like Weiss and McGrory today. It’s a hilarious piece, bringing back fond memories of the days when Hub Blog was a Statehouse reporter in Illinois. Sperling is right: No reporters in Illinois today take bribes, though they still like to rub shoulders with pols and give them free advice, particularly pols like former Gov. Jim Thompson or current Gov. George Ryan, who traditionally threw the best damn booze-soaked parties in Springfield, Ill. (George’s fun bashes occurred before a number of his key staff members were indicted by the feds, but that’s another story.)
Housing and Mayor Menino
: Charlie Stein
on rent control: “Is rent control a good idea? No, for all of the obvious reasons. Is it a surprise that rent control has emerged as a political issue? No - especially if you lift your head from the economic textbooks and look at what is going on in the real world.” A very good piece. ... Now, if the Menino administration was truly serious about building more housing in the city, this project
would have been approved a long time ago. But it may not be approved. Why? A.) The developer has dared to criticize the administration. B.) Chinatown, playing its NIMBY card, has lots of voters. C.) Millennium Partners doesn’t like the size of the project and it has more clout at city hall. A housing shortage in Boston? Nah. It's all about politics.
The depressing James Carroll
: I know, I know, I know. I swore off writing about James Carroll. But this piece ... this piece is horrible.
Starts off strong, with powerful images of innocent people facing death at the hands of vicious captors ... and then the piece veers into a moral-relativist lecture, with these lines the sickening back breaker: “The sniper in Washington, the hostage-takers in Moscow, the widow-bombers, the gas-wielding commandos, and the high-tech wizards of laser bombs above Iraq are all on the same continuum. Defense becomes offense, the protection of your children becomes the murder of another's, his threat becomes your preemption. You kill to stop the killing. Then you wonder, Are you the victim, or the slayer? But you are both.” ... Think about what he said and then read this story
about this victim/slayer graduate from Boston English.
: The Herald’s Joe Sciacca
isn’t impressed with Mitt’s ‘momentum,’ as Joe makes clear in his clever lead. ... Tomorrow’s debate is big. How big? Tim Russert
is moderating! Putting Russert aside, televised debates and even interviews can, in fact, be decisive (“I paid for this microphone,” RR, 1980; John Silber snarling at Natalie in ‘90 etc.). With the gubernatorial race so close in Massachusetts, Hub Blog has a hunch tomorrow’s showdown could be one of those defining events, i.e. it's not a good time for Mitt to roll out a new variety of his deer-in-the-headlights antics. Stay tuned. ... The Boston Business Journal has noticed a gender gap in campaign donations
, with female execs going all out for Shannon and the financial boys going for Mitt. Interesting piece. ... Both the Globe
have come out against Question 1, the anti-income tax measure. But the Globe
split on Question 2, the anti-bilingual education measure.
The mayor of Cambridge
: The BBJ’s George Donnelly
ties together all of Mayor Menino’s latest pronouncements (the proposed smoking ban, the proposed return to rent control etc.) and concludes he’s become ‘our Cambridge-esque mayor.’ The kicker line: “All are clear symptoms of a politician who has accumulated power for so long that he has tuned out voices of reason and has become a tool for activists. In bad times, he is picking on small and big business alike. The message is: Business should pay more for the privilege of being in Boston.” ... I can already hear the chant wafting from City Hall: “Four more years!” Ugh.
Return of the Patsies:
Things ain’t looking good
for the Pats. They don’t have answers
, and they’re going to be very, very lucky to make the playoffs. (By the way, a couple readers emailed me yesterday to ask why I didn’t post Ron Borges’ latest Drew Bledsoe puff piece on Sunday. It’s because I have willed my Must Win The Argument Gene into remission. I simply can’t and won’t stalk each and every one of Borges’ “I Love Drew” columns.) ... Some good sporting news: The Celts open their season
this week. Or at least I think it’s good news.
Reader No. 1's take on the Pats' loss yesterday:
"The game brought me back to the middle of Pete Carroll Year 2. It was not REMOTELY close! (I tuned out for long stretches so that my children could watch Scooby Doo.) The defense can't stop anybody anymore... shocking. And Belichick's decision to go for two at the start of the 4th was an incomprehensible momentum killer. Why not just put up on the message board: "You guys don't have a hope in hell of getting better than field goal range in the last 15 minutes of this game, so let's chip away at the edges and see what happens."
Shannon, Stein and a tightening race
: So tracking polls now apparently show (though Hub Blog hasn't seen them) the gubernatorial race to be a virtual tie between Shannon O’Brien and Mitt Romney. Only a week or so ago, it seemed Romney was doomed. Now, judging by all the patter around town, it’s O’Brien who looks doomed. Hub Blog ain’t buying it. There’s still one more debate on Tuesday, this time one-on-one, and Shannon is better than Mitt in these type of scrappy confrontations. There’s still plenty of time for Shannon to halt the slide -- and for Mitt to blow it (again). Still, there’s trouble brewing for Shannon ...
... Eileen McNamara
and Margery Eagan
both have columns expressing deep disappointment with O’Brien. Eileen: “If Massachusetts voters elect Romney, O'Brien will be more responsible than Stein, a physician and Harvard Medical School professor from Lexington who entered this race to raise the issues, not to play the spoiler, the name applied to any third party candidate who challenges the status quo.” (Can’t you just hear suburban liberals’ hearts go pitter-patter when reciting Green candidate Jill Stein’s resume and home town?) Margery: “Oh, Shannon, if you're going down in flames, go with guts. Don't lose because you've turned into plodding, hyper-cautious mush.” (Margery is no convert to Jill Stein, as you can imagine.) The significance of these columns is twofold: They identify growing progressive dissatisfaction with O’Brien, and, more importantly, growing female dissatisfaction with O’Brien. Then there are the ...
... Independent voters, who have decided the last three gubernatorial races. The Globe’s Joanna Weiss
has an excellent overview piece on those elusive Independents, and White does a terrific job capturing the complexity of the Massachusetts electorate, beyond the liberal stereotype of Massachusetts. The Phoenix’s Seth Gitell
has been way out front in covering the crucial Independent vote. His latest conclusion: O’Brien may be blowing it when it comes to wooing them. Unfortunately, the one issue in which O’Brien has admirably stuck her neck out on -- i.e. supporting gay marriages (sort of) -- may end up hurting her, Gitell notes. ...
... Meanwhile, the Globe has endorsed O’Brien
. I doubt newspaper endorsements mean much, but many friends insist a lot of voters do take their cues from Globe endorsements, so ... Jeff Jacoby
sings the praise of Question 1, the anti-income tax measure on the November ballot. Jeff takes the “small government is better” approach towards the measure. Hub Blog thinks the vast majority of its support springs from cynicism, not necessarily from an anti-tax backlash or desire for smaller government. Still, one can’t help wonder how the question will fare next Tuesday.
Investing in the state’s high-tech future
: Are you cynical? Are you tempted to vote for Question 1 just to send a message? Here’s a great reason to oppose the measure
. In an opinion piece, Ray Stata, founder of Analog Devices and chairman of the Center for Quality of Management in Cambridge, says the state needs to invest more in its high-tech sector. How? By bolstering the UMass system. Excellent observations on Massachusetts’ position within the high-tech world -- and the growing competition from other states. When Ray talks, people should listen. ... Postscript: Stata does not address Question 1. That’s Hub Blog’s projection, as they say in psycho-babble lingo.
BYU and academic freedom
: This is a weird piece
in this morning’s “Ideas” section of the Globe. Scott Abbott, who once taught at Brigham Young University and is now a professor of philosophy and integrated studies in Utah Valley State College, writes about all the church restrictions and pressures put on faculty members by the Mormon hierarchy, and the threat it poses for academic freedom (tying it into Mitt Romney, of course). OK, Hub Blog has no doubt the church is heavy-handed at BYU, which is why I would never want to attend the university, teach there or send my children there. But BYU is a religious school, and it deserves latitude to run it in a way that it spiritually sees fit. In some ways, BYU reminds Hub Blog of Catholic universities of, say, 30 or 40 years ago, when the Catholic church was also heavy-handed in the way it ran schools. Catholic universities eventually evolved into more flexible, open institutions (and many would argue they still have a long way to go on this front). The Mormon religion and BYU have also been evolving over the years, albeit slowly, and they should be permitted to evolve at their own pace. That, too, is a form of “academic freedom.” In the end, one suspects that Abbott, as a Mormon who knew about BYU’s conservative mindset when he first worked at BYU, is still a little bitter over his professorship spat with the school, which is revealed at the end of the article. Click here
for BYU’s somewhat curt response.
: Finally, some coverage of Question 1, the anti-income tax measure on the November ballot. Both of these opeds are disappointing. The first
, by Paul Guzzi and Michael Widmer, addresses the chaos the measure will cause if passed, but they don’t address the fundamental frustration and disgust that’s fueling its momentum. The second
, by Barbara Anderson, does address the frustration and disgust, but doesn’t address the chaos it would cause. Hub Blog’s hope: That the measure loses, but with 49.9999 percent of the vote. ... Is Shannon O’Brien getting a bit nervous
about Jill Stein? After wading through the horse-race material in this article, read until the end about the Green Party. Key quote from Stein spokesman Patrick Keaney: ``If (O’Brien) loses because of (Stein), it's her own fault ... We're getting calls and e-mails from Democrats who are sick and tired of Beacon Hill insiders running the Democratic Party and trashing the ideals of that once-proud party.''
Cruelty to humans
: Indictments were handed down yesterday in Boston against members of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty
, a “group that originated in Britain and uses violence and terror tactics against those it says do business with Huntingdon Life Sciences, a British firm that tests pharmaceuticals,” as the Herald put it. Look at the ages of those indicted. Look how young they all are. They almost deserve pity, for you know they were effectively brainwashed by other (and older) political fanatics who are still running around free. But the real pity should be saved for the Boston businessman and his family, whose lives were turned into absolute hell because of these kids.
The 'Company' and the Campus
: Chris Mooney, writing for the Boston-based American Prospect, is urging closer cooperation between scholars and the CIA
. His conclusion: "With due respect to anti-ROTC and 'CIA off campus' movements of the past, it's hard to see how banishing military and intelligence agencies from university campuses does much good for either side. It certainly doesn't serve the cause of political liberalism, whose adherents, one would hope, would want to persuade the national-security establishment to change questionable policies rather than simply call for a boycott." ... A sound idea, even if there is an underlying political motive to Mooney's call. But what's wrong with that? Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz are now busy setting up their own intelligence analysis team at the Pentagon, largely because they're skeptical of the CIA's analysis of Iraq's ties to terrorism. I.e. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz want to sift the same accumulated facts through their own ideological prism. The Left also can contribute to the CIA and other intelligence services, bringing their own views into the information-analysis process, as long as they're willing to participate. The more views, the better. But Hub Blog has a hunch many liberals would rather protest than participate, so ... we'll get more teach-ins instead.
MIT's Technology Review has an article on Microsoft's upcoming Palladium software
. Kicker line: “The consequences of its deployment in the real world, however, will likely be decreased user control over the contents of their computers and a serious increase in Microsoft’s stranglehold on desktops.” And we'd expect nothing less.
Hitchens on Orwell
: Christopher Hitchens
, a contributor to Boston-based Atlantic Monthly and author of "Why Orwell Matters," is interviewed about Orwell by the Atlantic Monthly.
Debate and election tidbits
: Watched a repeat of the gubernatorial debate this morning on NECN. Quick observations: Carla Howell and Barbara Johnson are indeed "kooks," especially Johnson. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to exclude them from previous debates. Mitt took every opportunity to go after Shannon, but I didn't think he was all that effective. He seemed to be trying too hard. His closing statement started off strong (i.e. about what he stood for), but veered into an attack on bilingual education and Shannon's position on Question 2. Leaving one to wonder: Huh? Shannon was Shannon: Relentlessly on message, thrown a little off script now and then by Mitt. Her closing statement was rote nonsense. Jill Stein: Overrated. Chet Curtis: As moderator, he handled the kooky Barbara Johnson quite well. ...
For those who want a recap, check out this overview piece
; this Herald analysis
; Joan Vennochi’s version
; and Derrick Jackson’s report
. I thought Derrick got off the best line by far, referring to Mitt and Shannon as “Mitt O’Brien” and “Shannon Romney,” respectively. Yep, that pretty much sums up the (non)differences some of us have noticed too. ... Note: Both Joan and Derrick say nice things about Jill Stein’s performance. Don’t discount the Green vote in two weeks.
But the best column of the morning goes to Brian McGrory, who’s been on a roll lately. Earlier this month, McGrory followed Mitt around and stumbled upon the now famous Cannoli Incident
, proving beyond doubt Mitt is a nitwit. This week, McGrory followed Shannon around and found out she’s a robot
. Here’s McGrory’s account of Shannon giving a speech to a friendly rally: “Then she goes in for the kill: 'I'm running for governor of Massachusetts because I want to do the same thing for the’ - and she looks down at her text - ‘the workers of the state.’ After that, she's not just glancing down, she's outright reading, saying, ‘In an uncertain economy, people are worried about themselves and their families ...’” ... (Ah, Shannon’s new campaign slogan: “For the workers of the state!” Yes, the hacks will get the message.) ... But McGrory wasn’t through. Here’s his open appeal to O’Brien: “Romney has shown himself to be a leaden campaigner pushing porous ideas, though less so in recent days. The thousands of people -- myself included -- who once viewed him as an agent of change are now waiting for you (O’Brien) to lure them back into the progressive fold. But they need a reason that you've yet to give them.” ... McGrory on a roll, indeed.
The value of online polls
: This comes from an O’Brien campaign email to supporters after last night’s debate: “Show your support for Shannon's performance in online web polls. There are two web polls being held on tonight's debate. Click below to participate and make sure your voice is heard! Channel 5's the Boston Channel.com (left hand side of the page) ... Channel 7's website (the right hand side of the page) ... ” (Thanks to a reader for the tip.)
Good government is good politics (and the reverse): Steve Bailey
shows why we should be proud of our state regulators -- and not so proud.
Endorsement for Jill Stein
: Dan Kennedy
is reporting that the Newton Tab has endorsed Jill Stein for governor. Why? It has to do with reform, which Hub Blog has been somewhat obsessively hammering away at. (See overly long blog item below.)
Income tax referendum
: Radley Balko
writes at Fox.com about the upcoming Massachusetts referendum that would eliminate the state’s income tax -- and how it might do surprisingly well, largely because of voter dissatisfaction with the major gubernatorial candidates. Balko is definitely on to something.
The fact is Question 1 has received little or no mention in major media outlets in recent weeks. The last time Hub Blog noticed, the anti-income tax measure was pulling in anywhere from 30 percent to 40 percent, i.e. it has a heck of a lot more support than Green candidate Jill Stein could ever hope to garner. But there’s been no media coverage. No street buzz. No nothing. There’s just this eerie sense that it’s somewhere “out there,” lurking like a phantom west of I-495. The referendum is easily dismissed because it seems so absurd, so fantastic, so radical to the Boston establishment. But ... but then there are those polls. Instapundit
, which first tipped me off to Balko’s column, wrote: “I don't expect that this will pass, but if it even gets double-digits in Massachusetts, of all places, it'll be the political event of the season.”
Hub Blog’s hunch is that it will easily -- easily -- get double-digit support in November. That’s almost an automatic assumption in any state, including Massachusetts, which, by the way, does have a history of tax revolts, as Balko mentions. (The most recent is Proposition 2 1/2, the anti-property tax measure that was passed in the ‘80s and is still solidly in place in Massachusetts.) OK, maybe there will be an “anti-tax” backlash in two weeks. But here are some of the other underlying reasons why I think Question 1 could do better than anticipated (i.e. stay within that 30-40 percent margin, if not higher): A.)
(And the list could go on. This is just one week’s worth of typical slop in the commonwealth.) The image of Massachusetts, outside of our dear state, is of Harvard, of MIT, of all the college students, faculty members and pretty campuses, of Cambridge, of liberal snobs, of an intellectual elite with all their bow ties. No, the reality is the R. Emmet Hayes and ‘Travs’
of the commonwealth. The reality is not the taxes. It’s not about lack of taxes. It’s about an old-fashioned, unresponsive, Daley-like machine on Beacon Hill -- and the level of disgust among voters. Most people outside Massachusetts don't even know that this machine exists. They have the old "only in Massachusetts" image of the state as being hyper-liberal. They forget, or never knew, that Ronald Reagan carried Massachusetts in the '80 and '84 presidential elections, and that the last three gubernatorial elections have been won by Republicans. But the Dem-controlled machine on Beacon Hill still thrives -- and Republicans
end up acting just like them when they do get elected. This is what many people will be voting against if they vote for Question 1, Hub Blog suspects.
Hub Blog’s prediction: Question 1’s strength on election day depends on the inept Mitt Romney. If he falters (as it looks like he will), then look for a lot of angry protest votes in favor of Question 1. The question will still likely lose -- but it will definitely get far more votes than Jill Stein, the official Bread & Circus candidate.
: Hub Blog initially posted a different version of this blog last night. This morning, after I reread it, I didn't like what I wrote, and made some changes. So if you read an earlier version of this and wonder what happened, well, you're not crazy.
Ah, the ‘60s with a twist
: Bet the organizers of this Harvard divestment teach-in
weren’t expecting this.
Mitt’s business record
: Joan unloads on Mitt’s business record
. Where’s the surprise here? Mitt’s business record should be an issue, warts and all, just as Shannon’s record in government should be an issue, warts and all. (And both definitely have their share of warts in their respective fields.) But don’t look for Joan to write about Shannon’s warts. Or Bain’s successes. Or the inherent, brutal risks venture capitalists and private equity firms make every day. Or how such investment firms have played a crucial, historic role in helping develop Massachusetts’ modern economy (thanks to such VC titans as Georges F. Doroit and Peter Brookes, among many others). For Joan, the issue is about one thing only: Gender. Here’s a more balanced look
at Mitt’s business record -- and why he’s so incompetent in touting it to voters. Mitt, Mitt, Mitt. He’s a truly atrocious campaigner.
Shannon and lobbyists (and other election tidbits):
So, lobbyists are opening their wallets
for Shannon “I Understand Beacon Hill” O’Brien. This isn’t a surprise. She’s clearly the insiders’ choice in this election. But she’s also winning -- and where lobbyists’ donations go is often the most telling poll in any election, as Cosmo Macero
recently pointed out in this betting tip sheet. ... Howie Carr
takes a look at The Trav, our probable new Senate president. God help us. ... Ah, Shannon, er, there are many of us who are defending you on the pension fund losses. If you keep insisting on bringing the subject up
, it becomes an issue. ... Jane Swift
is tidying things up before she leaves the Statehouse.
The bilingual debate
: Hub Blog just can’t get worked up over this debate
. I lean one way one day, the other way the next. My hunch is that the current system is fine. Leave it alone. I also don’t like an out-of-state crusader
bankrolling a local referendum and inciting passions over an issue that was a non-burning issue only a year ago. But the anti-Question 2
crowd is annoying, too, as Tom Keane explains. This is one of those never-ending left/right issues that leaves the rest of us shaking our heads and wondering what action movie TNT is playing tonight. (See related education item below.)
The end of Western civilization!:
Speaking of never-ending left/right debates, the state Board of Education has approved new guidelines for teaching history
in lower-grade levels, with more emphasis on non-European studies. OK. Fine. Hub Blog firmly believes Americans don’t know enough about other cultures, especially African culture. Also, this issue tends to center around the teaching of World History, not American History, making an even stronger argument for including the study of the histories of Africa, Asia, India and other WORLD cultures in WORLD HISTORY. So the compromise approved by the board seems to make more than a little sense. But that’s not good enough for critics. They want less “facts” and more “context” when teaching about other cultures. One suspects -- since “context” is never really explained in the story -- that “context” actually means, in reality, a more politically correct interpretation of subject matter by using the magical "critical thinking" approach towards education.
Which leads Hub Blog to what has already become a mini-classic blog item (‘Today I Became One of Those People’
) by Jim Lileks, who recently bemoaned the fact that his toddler at pre-school is constantly subjected to left-wing, politically-correct teachings, including a suggestion that a nice family-friendly event to attend might be local “Peace Marches.” (One strongly suspects the same teachers would be deeply offended if their children were being urged at school to attend family-friendly NRA rallies.) ... One last point: Hub Blog recently had its own Lileks Experience while watching Boston’s community-access channel. There’s a very cute show in which city teachers help students, on air, to figure out their math, grammar and other homework-related problems. One day, a teacher read to students about organic foods, pesticides and other environmentally-correct subject matters. On and on it went, relentless ideological rants and indoctrination, disguised as teaching. That PC segment was the exception, not the norm, for the program, it should be point out. And that’s Hub Blog’s overly long education BLEAT for the day.
A new contest
: Hub Blog is introducing a new contest: Which local writer is the most strident left-wing or right-wing fanatic on the subject of Iraq? Today’s left-wing candidate is none other than the always-dependable Robert Kuttner
, who openly pines for the good old days of protests, teach-ins and other Vietnam-era actions that could be used against the Bush warmongers. If anyone can find a good local fire-breathing, right-wing rant on Iraq, Hub Blog would be interested in hearing about it. (Oh, where’s Don Feder when you need him? Don, we miss you soooooo much!)
Anti-smoking, the new Temperance Movement
: Derrick Jackson
is now demonizing restaurant and bar owners who oppose the proposed smoking ban
in city eateries and bars, linking them to the evil Philip Morris. (I.e. He’s trying to shut down argument by making crude comparisons meant to shame.) Hub Blog still can’t this picture out of mind: Old Temperance Movement ladies and bible-thumping preachers in 1919, carrying signs about demon rum, banging their tambourines and singing, “Give me some of that old-time religion,” as they pushed for Prohibition. Hey, Derrick, we’re talking about smoking in bars. Taverns. Watering holes. Speakeasies.
You know, where BOOZE is sold? Hub Blog can live with smoking bans in restaurants. It already exists. But bars
: John Harrington, you were and are so full of BS
R. Emmet Hayes, Insider
: It’s official: R. Emmet Hayes
, the ex-lawmaker and high-powered lobbyist husband of Shannon O’Brien, is now an issue in the campaign, as he should be. From the Globe article: “Never before had a statewide officeholder been married to a registered state lobbyist, and O'Brien's run for governor has intensified questions from political foes about the intersection between her duties and his business.” Yep, Shannon O'Brien knows how state government works. Sure she does.
: The Herald's pension investigation is getting more sick and disturbing
. Margery Eagan’s account of one Lt. John Mace
is a devastating indictment of politics in Massachusetts. Mace, who brutally tried to kill an assistant DA, is now collecting a nearly $73,000 per year pension. That’s right: $73,000. Margery: “This is the so-called Culture of Beacon Hill, of wired law enforcement officials, of the permanent bureaucracy, of the club of the politically connected. They fleece. We pay. Then we re-elect everybody. ... It's the culture, the club. It's what we put up with, day after day, year after year.”
Bill Bratton, the anti-insider Insider
: A couple of pieces on Dorchester’s very own Billy Bratton, who’s now off to the LAPD. Joan Vennochi
has an interesting column about what type of city (i.e. Boston) would let a guy like Bratton go. Joan’s conclusion: a city with small-minded political leadership. She’s right. But Hub Blog finds it curious that Joan hasn’t put down her Defend the Sisterhood sword long enough to connect the same dots with our august Dem candidate for governor. (Besides reading the Globe’s own R. Emmet Hayes story this morning, she might also want to take a peek at this ‘Trav’
editorial in the Herald.) Meanwhile, Brian McGrory
recently interviewed Billy in New York. Bratton has some depressing opinions about the Boston police union.
Rent control and Menino’s re-election
: The surest sign yet that Mayor Menino intends to run for mayor again ... and again ...and again: He’s come out in favor of reintroducing rent control
in Boston. In the past, the mayor has repeatedly reassured developers and landlords that he didn’t want to return to the old rent-control days. The result: Massive private investment in housing. Now he’s introduced this bureaucratic nightmare. This guy just can’t be trusted.
Local crack down on swindlers
: The state is taking action against Credit Suisse First Boston Corp
. Good. Credit Suisse deserves to get cracked over the head. And let’s give a round of applause to all the state regulators who have been forced to do the job of the feds. The Globe’s summary: “While Massachusetts (has) probed Credit Suisse, the state of Utah has been looking into Goldman, Sachs & Co., Illinois and Connecticut are investigating UBS PaineWebber, and California has focused on Deutsche Bank. Washington is investigating Piper Jaffray Cos., and New Jersey is probing Bear Stearns Cos. New York is investigating Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co.”
The shock at how Massachusetts conducts its politics!:
Hub Blog can’t divulge who sent this following email. After all, his state pension might be put into jeopardy if his name is revealed. But here’s his heartfelt reaction to our probable new Senate President, as reported by the Herald
. Hold your stomach, for it’s about to ache (and Hub Blog doesn’t vouch for its complete objective accuracy):
“Travaglini as senate president? Trav? Disco Bob? The man whose city hall office closed on Fridays by 12, which was about 30 minutes after the paychecks arrived? Who always has a tan from all those trips to Florida, at least in his city council days? The former Kevin White precinct captain? ... Bobby Trav, the patronage wonk?! I cannot believe it. Birmingham was smart but ‘remote’? So they go for this guy? I will say one thing for these old KHW hacks (that is Kevin Hagan White, who once journeyed to Chicago to learn the secrets of the Cook County Machine), you cannot kill them, they just have to die on their own. Just incredible. Now DON'T attribute this stuff to me!”
OK, Hub Blug won’t.
And ... “It is just I never had the sense that there were any issues at all that Trav cared about, that there was anything he would go to the mat for."
Ah, another cynical and satisfied Bay State voter. If the rest of the nation only knew ...
: OK, last blog for a while. This one concerns Ron Borges
, who still can’t let go of last year’s benching of Drew Bledsoe. Ron does make a good point, however, that the Pats should never have traded Drew to a team within its own division. Otherwise, Ron, get over it. The Pats won the Superbowl.
Where are we headed?
: Hub Blog’s older brother recently wrote to say the blog shouldn’t forget to follow where the state’s high-tech economy is headed in the post-dotcom era. Here’s one thought,
but it's only a thought.
O’Brien and Romney on the economy
: The Boston Business Journal has two good oped pieces this week: One by Shannon O’Brien
on the local economy; the other by Mitt Romney
on the local economy. Take your pick. (They're both rather predictable pieces but still a refreshing break from the horse-race coverage of the campaign, which, by the way, Hub Blog is guilty of promoting, too.)
War and Americans' ambivalence
: This opinion piece
in The Times of London, which a reader sent in, is one of those instances where Hub Blog strays from all-things Boston -- Boston writers, Boston issues, Boston publications. One of my pet peeves is that the hard-core left and right have dominated the debate over Iraq, leaving more than a few of us frustrated that our concerns are not being heard. This piece is perhaps the best description of that sense of frustrated ambivalence, and I suppose only a non-American could have written it. Excellent observations and commentary.
Shannon, hacks, insiders and nepotism
: As Hub Blog has noted on several occasions, the state pension/stock market losses is a bogus story. The state’s pension fund was going to head south as long as the stock market fell in the same direction. So Romney’s latest TV commercial
is simply wrong in substance. And the Eron connection is flimsy, at best, though nonetheless intriguing. But ... but Romney is not fundamentally wrong for taking jabs at O’Brien’s husband, R. Emmet Hayes, despite O’Brien’s pious protest yesterday that Romney was dragging her family into the campaign. The fact is: O’Brien’s family is
an issue. She’s touted her family’s political pedigree as if her clan was the second coming of the Kennedy dynasty. Her husband, in particular, is a former state representative who turned his Beacon Hill connections into a lucrative lobbying practice. The list goes on and on of O’Brien’s relatives who are, or have been, on the public payroll. O’Brien views that political heritage with pride. Others view it with deep suspicion. And now comes this piece of news
: Senate Majority Whip Robert E. Travaglini, D-East Boston, is now in line to become the next Senate president. Guess where Travaglini’s brother is working? Here’s the Herald’s blunt description: “Travaglini's brother, Michael, is O'Brien's top aide -- which, given her tight friendship with House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, would link the three branches of government by ties much deeper than mere politics.” Mitt was wrong to bring up O’Brien’s husband in the context of the state pension fund. But, let’s be clear: Romney is NOT wrong to make her husband and other cozy insiders an issue in the campaign. The incestuous Beacon Hill culture is sickening ... and it just keeps getting worse (read blog item below).
Cruel and unusual punishment
: They can be convicted in the court of law. They can go to jail. They can be publicly shamed. They’ll have a record for the rest of their lives for abusing their public trust. But, for God’s sake, don’t take away their state pensions
. No! Not that! That would truly constitute cruel and unusual punishment in Massachusetts. Keep in mind: The Herald didn’t examine all the state pension funds to find out who’s convicted snout is still in the public trough. Says former state attorney general Scott Harshbarger: “This is just another example where, in Massachusetts, public corruption and the penalties for it become meaningless.” There's also a swipe at voters for cynically allowing these antics to continue. Cynical? Moi?