Yet more proof ...:
Yet more proof that the Boston Globe will probably win (or at least deserve) a Pulitzer
. We're not talking about a regional story. Or a national story. Or even an international story. We're talking about the exposure of a 2000-year-old institution that's been systematically breaking one of the most important moral codes of Western civilization -- i.e. don't boink our kids. They just don't get it. ...
... Isn’t it a coincidence how cardinals in Ireland, England, America, Australia, Germany and all across the globe, facing the same sex-abuse problems within the priesthood and all doling out hush money (usually in the millions), say they didn’t grasp the extent of the problem when they were engaging in an obvious and widespread cover up of criminal behavior? That’s what Cardinal Law was still saying this past summer in these newly released transcripts
of his deposition. The Herald
has a different twist on the same documents, i.e. the same documents show he's a liar. But we knew that already. ... Meanwhile, Joe Fitzgerald
(no relation) is still engaging in his knee-jerk defense of the church, acting and sounding like he’s still fighting the Brahmin-Irish battles of the ‘50s, the anti-bussing/Globe battles of the ‘70s, the Barney Frank/Gary Studds controversies of the ‘80s. Joe, the reason some people don’t think Cardinal Law has yet to “regain his voice” is because a lot of us don’t think he can “regain” a moral voice he obviously never had. As far as Frank and Gary are concerned, at least we had/have an opportunity to vote against them. If area Catholics were allowed to vote on keeping Law, one can safely assume the final verdict would be that his voice in moral matters is no longer desired.
Postscript -- 11-20 2:25 p.m.
: Someone just wrote about how, before Hub Blog nominates the Globe for a Pulitzer, I might look at the work of the Boston Phoenix's Kristen Lombardi. My reaction upon going to the site
: Holy F*@)ing Sh$%! (I'm stealing a line from the Onion there.) I had no idea. And the stories stretch all the way back into 2001, when she was beating the you-know-what out of dear Cardinal "I didn't know the Extent" Law on the sex-abuse cases. Obviously, haven't had time to digest Kristen's work (there's just so much) but it looks impressive. (And, to the reader, sorry but I still think the Globe is probably going to win the Pulitzer, Hub Blog nomination or not.)
Boston, the ‘Third City’
: Brian McGrory nails it
. He’s happy, like everyone else in town, about the 2004 Democratic National Convention coming to Boston. But he’s not impressed with all the talk about how Boston needs to become a ‘world-class city,’ a phrase Hub Blog absolutely despises. McGrory: “Why do we need to renew Boston, remake, rebrand, or revive it? What's wrong with the way it is? What exactly is it that we're striving to become, a Northeast rendition of Dallas, Tampa, or Charlotte? ... Being world-class doesn't mean being declasse. Boston is doing just fine, thank you, and getting better by the day.” ... Hub Blog also likes McGrory’s comparison of Boston to San Francisco and Chicago. I’d throw in New Orleans and Charleston, S.C., as two other cities with a quaint, almost European-like feel. ...
... Ah, why the reference in the slug to ‘Third City’? When living in Chicago, Hub Blog was always impressed with the way Chicagoans merrily, proudly accepted their status as the ‘second city’ in America. No New York inferiority complex in Chicago (or at least not much that I could detect). Personally, I think Boston’s alleged inferiority complex towards New York is 90 percent bogus. Not once have I ever met a native of, say, Dorchester or Southie pining with envy to live in the Bronx or Queens. The Boston ‘inferiority complex,’ as small as it is, is mostly confined to a minority of downtown and Cambridge types, usually in the media/arts circles, pining with envy to make it in Manhattan (or gain the fame only Manhattan can give).
Now for Hub Blog’s world-domination suggestion: Let’s start referring to Boston as the ‘Third City’ within a new imperial, city-state East Coast Triumvirate of New York (with its awesome financial and cultural clout), Washington (political) and Boston (technology and academic). First of all, it’s true. Second, it’ll shut up the whining elites and remind them of the reality of Boston’s status as the smaller partner to NY, which I’m quite content with and always will be. Third, we can rule the world! Just an idea I throw out to my fellow imperial-minded conquerers. ...
Postscript: Boston will undoubtedly have to conduct tough bargaining with New York and Washington as we divide up, first, the Northeast, and, later, the world. New York shall be given imperial power over Vermont and Connecticut. They control them anyway. But we get colonial control over Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine. New York also gets New Jersey. Philadelphia will remain neutral and allowed to dominate Pennsylvania and Delaware, as long as it doesn’t ask for territorial control over Ohio. In which case, the East Coast Triumvirate will have to crush Pennsylvania with ruthless force. Washington gets Maryland, Virginia and, if it wants, West Virginia, as its immediate sphere of regional influence. Out of respect, Chicago and San Francisco will also be given their own city-state spheres of influence, to be decided later. Texas will be allowed to leave the Union, letting Dallas and Houston fighting for top do in the Lone Star State. Texas can take Oklahoma with it, as long as it gives back all NASA-related equipment. The rest of the country -- especially Los Angeles -- will just have to lick the Triumvirate’s boots! There. Settled.
Microcredit, macro results
: The Globe has a fascinating -- and totally unexpected -- editorial on a new trend in international development called ‘microcredit,’
or ‘micro-development,’ as others refer to it. The fundamental notion behind microcredit is this: Reduce the number of huge, magic-wand development loans/grants to Third World governments, which have a sorry history of squandering and looting the funds. Instead, provide smaller loans or grants to local entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses, however small and humble the enterprises may be. The Globe: “By their very nature, microcredit programs strengthen societies. Instead of being imposed by outsiders, economic systems are homegrown by people who have an immediate, personal stake in keeping businesses strong and growing.” ... Congrats to the Globe for grasping the importance of microcredit. The Third World needs more entrepreneurs, not World Bank and IMF bureaucrats doling out billions to corrupt governments.
Free speech at Harvard Law
: First, Harvard Business School. Now Harvard Law School
. The campus attempts to muzzle speech never end. The lead of this story says it all about the obnoxious proposal to infringe on people's First Amendment rights, something you'd think law professors and students, of all people, would respect:
“A Harvard Law School committee announced plans yesterday to draft a speech code that would ban harassing, offensive language from the classroom, a highly unusual step for a law school and a move that runs counter to a national trend against interfering with campus speech.
“Last night, the proposed code set off such a furious debate at an extraordinary campus 'town meeting' that some committee members and the law school dean said afterward that they were deeply uneasy with the idea.”
Harvard is starting to get hurt by all these embarrassments. Larry Summers needs to give another of his thunderbolt speeches, this time on campus free speech.
: Maybe Summers can take inspiration from Brown University President Ruth Simmons, as noted by Instapundit
‘Year of the Woman,’ adieu
: Cathy Young wants to stick a fork in all of the ‘Year of the Woman’
chatter before and after each election cycle.
Housing, Hayward Place and the mayor
: The Globe has changed its position on Hayward Place
and is now urging the Menino administration to push for housing at the proposed development site on city-owned land near Chinatown. This is becoming a hugely important test for the administration: As it bemoans the lack of housing in the city and calls for rent control, will the administration support a sensible development that calls for construction of hundreds of new housing units? Or will it buckle under the pressure of NIMBY opponents in Chinatown and of Millennium Partners? All the signs are pointing toward a bad decision
in favor of a new office building.
Mayor Menino, Man of the Hour
: The Herald’s Joe Sciacca
sings the praise of the mayor, who rightly deserves enormous credit for bringing the 2004 Democratic National Convention to Boston. But Hub Blog isn’t ready to jump on the Menino bandwagon. In recent years, Hub Blog can’t think of a truly daring, bold, unpopular stand the administration has taken in the face of intense opposition. The mayor, who seems horrified at the prospect of seeing even one-percentage point knocked off his approval rating, always manages to squirm, waver and waffle his way out of tough predicaments. He’s a mayor who likes to be liked, first, and right, second. He’s no Rudy, that’s for sure. And we all know it.
Kennedy’s health, Part II
: William Safire
and Andrew Sullivan
weigh in on the Atlantic Monthly/NYT
article about JFK’s extensive use of drugs to treat his numerous ailments during his presidency. Safire’s piece appears to have too much Nixon-backer resentment for my taste, while Sullivan just seems to be piling on. Then again, Sullivan does make an excellent point. “I just don’t buy the idea that this level of medication had no effect on the government of the country. It must have. The question now for historians is: how much? And what difference did it specifically make?” ... Yesterday, Hub Blog, being a typical sentimental Bostonian, was talking to a friend about the latest Kennedy revelation, and I expressed my relief that JFK’s thinking never seemed to have blurred because of all the medication. The reaction of my friend: “Oh, please,” he said. “We’ve all taken medications before. Except for aspirin, name one that doesn’t leave you a little groggy or whatever. ... and he was taking handfuls of really kick-ass stuff each day.” I had to concede the point, but again: There’s no proof it impacted his decision making on crucial issues. And the alternative to electing him in ‘60 was still Richard Nixon, who was verifiably crazy even without drugs. ... I think the real loser in this affair isn’t so much JFK but his family and his supporters. They’re still covering up and lying on his behalf.
: The December issue of Boston-based Atlantic Monthly arrived yesterday in the mail -- and Hub Blog was initially disappointed. On the cover is a photo of a vibrant, seemingly healthy JFK throwing a rock into the ocean, presumably at the Kennedy compound on the Cape. Pure Camelot. The headline: “A Picture of Health: John F. Kennedy’s physical condition was far worse than we imagined -- and his deception far greater. A historian examines newly available medical records.” My initial reacton was, “But this is such old
news.” Wrong. Once I started reading the article, I couldn’t stop. Throughout his life and presidency, JFK was far more ill -- and drugged up -- than previously known, as author and Boston Univesity professor Robert Dallek shows. I'd link to the article, but, alas, Atlantic Monthly
takes its time posting stories. ... This morning, though, the New York Times has a major piece on Dallek’s findings
, based on his Atlantic article. Here’s a quick summary graf from the NYT: “The records show that Kennedy variously took codeine, Demerol and methadone for pain; Ritalin, a stimulant; meprobamate and librium for anxiety; barbiturates for sleep; thyroid hormone; and injections of a blood derivative, gamma globulin, presumably to combat infections. In the White House, Kennedy received ‘seven to eight injections of procaine in his back in the same sitting’ before news conferences and other events, Dr. Kelman said.” And there’s also the Stelazine, an anti-psychotic that was used briefly (two days) during his presidency to relieve stress and mood swings caused by antihistamines used for food allergies. The list goes on and on.
What’s Hub Blog’s reaction to the new revelations (and they are new revelations)? First, admiration. Admiration for Kennedy’s courage and determination to endure what now appears to be a lifetime of unremitting, near-fatal ailments and pain. Second, pity. The evidence shows that his early serious illnesses (in high school and at Harvard) were misdiagnosed and the disastrous treatments (including steroids) probably added to his horrible medical woes later in life. Third, anger. Anger that he covered up the dire nature of his health -- and point-blank lied to the American people about it. Fourth, relief. Relief that all the drugs and pain didn’t appear to blur his thinking and genuinely upbeat outlook on life. ... Dallek, whose Atlantic article is excerpted from his upcoming biography of JFK, speculates Kennedy probably wouldn’t have been elected president had the American people known of his severe medical problems (let alone his lies). Then again, as Dallek noted, Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in 1960 to become president. Well, at least that’s something to be thankful for.
Dems and Boston
: The Washington Post’s Mary McGrory
is sticking up for her hometown, Boston. A real nice piece. ... Thomas Oliphant
has his own take on the ideas-challenged Dems' selection of Boston as its convention site. ... It’s doubtful the city will reap all the economic benefits
promised by backers of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, but this article shows why it’s still great the convention is coming here. It’s called “civic pride.” ... Wayne Woodlief
thinks Dems will be entertained by Boston’s rich history and its “ghosts of politics past.” No mention of McGovern, ‘72, thank goodness.
‘The phantom empire’
: In today’s “Ideas” section of the Globe, Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Life at Boston College, tackles the issue of whether America is now an empire
-- and he isn’t impressed with the arguments that we are and/or should be an empire, though he doesn’t deny America certainly resembles an empire. Kicker quotes: “The most important reason why Americans worry about empire is that it costs money. ... (Also) we resist an imperial role for America not because we are humanitarians and internationalists but because we are stingy with our government and lack genuine interest in the rest of the world. Our best defenses against empire, as it turns out, lie not in our virtues but in our vices.” ... Hub Blog is not impressed with either left-wing or right-wing arguments for/against/about American imperialism. I think Wolfe is on to something when he says Americans just don’t want, nor will support, an empire, despite the wishful thinking of Paul Wolfowitz et gang.
Changing voter dynamics:
In another excellent piece, the Globe’s Joanna Weiss
looks at the shift in political clout from Boston and surrounding urban areas to the suburbs. This is a trend that became quite evident in last Tuesday’s election, but Hub Blog suspects the shift reached a point-of-no-return roughly around the time of Proposition 2 1/2 and the Massachusetts 'Route 128' Miracle in the ‘80s. These people aren’t interested in redistributing the wealth. They distrust Beacon Hill. But they’re socially liberal (to a degree) and willing to pay taxes if they can clearly see a return for their money (otherwise they'll revolt, as they did with Proposition 2 1/2 and nearly did with Question 1). I.e. Their votes and allegiance are up for grabs -- which is troubling news for Dems but not necessarily good news for hapless Republicans. Reader No. 1, a former urban-dweller who now lives in the suburbs, has a lot of strong opinions on the subject. Hope he sends some in.
Boston -- let the clichés begin
: The Christian Science Monitor
scores a hat trick on the first major national story, as far as Hub Blog has seen, about Boston landing the 2004 Democratic National Convention: it calls Boston a “liberal city,” mentions how Massachusetts voted for McGovern in ‘72, and refers to Boston’s desegregation controversy of the mid-1970s. Good job!
And, oh, the article throws in: “Republican snickering about Boston being out of the mainstream has already begun. ‘If I were a Democrat, I would feel a heck of a lot more comfortable in Boston than, say, in America,’ teased Texas Rep. Dick Armey at a Monitor breakfast yesterday.” Ah, a bonus cliché joke!
This article is going to be hard for other national reporters to beat. Mixing Boston and the rest of Massachusetts together when it fits the stereotype and separating the two when it doesn’t, the CSM article obviously didn't mention Reagan winning Massachusetts in ‘80 and ‘84; four straight GOP gubernatorial wins; the surprising results of the anti-income tax Question 1 last Tuesday; last Tuesday’s overthrow of bilingual education in Massachusetts; the enduring popularity of Proposition 2 1/2; how the Dem machine keeps Massachusetts predominantly Democratic via redistricting, even though the majority of voters are now Independents while Dems are losing numbers (see above item and accompanying article
on voting trends); George Bush's solid approval ratings here etc. etc. etc. But including such nuanced facts would have complicated the stereotype, and certainly wrecked the joke. Can't have that! ...
And think: This was written by a Monitor reporter. You know, the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor.
The Dems are coming:
You knew it had to happen. But not this fast. Yes, we’re already bickering over the bucks
. It’s a minor skirmish, but still a probable/likely foretaste of what’s to come. Mitt and legislative leaders have a point: The state needs to watch every penny when it comes to funding the 2004 Democratic National Convention. But Mitt, who ran this past year’s Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, knows full well how that event was heavily subsidized by American taxpayers who received no economic benefits from the games. Yet the federal subsidies were made -- mostly for security -- out of a sense of national pride, duty and common sense. The same argument applies to the commonwealth in terms of helping the city out of a sense of regional pride, duty and common sense. Hub Blog isn’t advocating an open-checkbook approach towards the convention, but ... Scot Lehigh
mulls whether Bostonians have really undergone an attitude lobotomy. ... Tom Keane
tackles roughly the same subject, but adds that Bostonians should be proud of the city and the region’s transformation in recent decades: “To other cities, (Boston) has become a model to emulate. Perhaps skeptical Bostonians should concede the point: We really are OK.” ... Which is quite true. Let’s indeed concede the point. Hub Blog has traveled to Philadelphia a few times on business in recent years. Each time I mentioned I was from Boston, locals would invariably sigh but then get excited. Why? Because they viewed Boston’s economic transformation with more than a touch of envy -- and, yes, they viewed us as a “model to emulate.” Pittsburgh is another Northeast city that looks upon Boston as a model of an old industrial city getting its act together. But one other point on Keane’s column: Let’s not spin a new myth that Boston was selected by national Dems because of the city’s charm and urban success. That’s only part of the reason. The other part is that we effectively bought off a nearly bankrupt Democratic party. Money talks. And Dems, who desperately need money (especially after last Tuesday’s election debacle), understand what $20 million means.
Rent control and the Globe
: Is the Globe backing off a bit from its earlier support
(albeit, guarded support) of Mayor Menino’s recent rent-control idea? Today’s editorial
looks like it when it refers to the “mayor's overreaching rent proposal.” Maybe Hub Blog is reading too much into it, but there seems to be a subtle shift, or at least a new appreciation for landlords' side of the argument. ... While the city council debates the mayor’s plan, members should (but obviously won’t) pay attention to this news: The local housing market is cooling
. Which is yet another indication that rents, too, are stabilizing.
Celtic pride and profits
: Steve Bailey
has an informative, fun column on the new Celts owners’ financial plans and outlook. ... Speaking of the Celts, Hub Blog is jumping back on the bandwagon
after a truly miserable start to their season.
Wall Street gambling
: They say Wall Street is nothing but a big, regulated craps game. It’s a tired cliché. But Cosmo Macero
shows why there’s truth even in clichés. These guys at Sepracor are something. This story leaves you shaking your head in both wonder and utter disgust. Current and formers executives of a struggling, unprofitable, publicly traded biotech firm are now investors in a gambling operation with some, ah, rather shady characters. The word "gross" comes to mind. And, needless to say, it's not the type of behavior that restores investor trust in corporate leaders and the markets.
The tolling bells for Clean Elections?:
The Boston Phoenix
is taking Harvard Business School to task for its heavy-handed attack on a student newspaper. ... But in an even more interesting development, the Phoenix is now advocating (see same item and scroll down) that the Clean Elections funding controversy be set on the back burner for the time being, partially because of last Tuesday’s election results and for other reasons. “The Phoenix has editorialized on many occasions in favor of the Clean Elections Law and has called upon the state legislature to fund the initiative. But it’s time to put this issue aside. In this climate of plummeting revenues and widening budget gaps ... it’s hard to make the case for setting aside millions of dollars to fund political campaigns.” But the newspaper doesn’t stop there: “Up in Maine, which is an often-cited example of a place where Clean Elections work, gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Carter of the Green Party spent $900,000 of public funds and won about 10 percent of the statewide vote last week. That was about three percentage points more than what he got in 1994, when he ran on $40,000 worth of privately raised funds. It’s time to reassess just what it is that publicly funded campaigns buy
.” (Emphasis added.) The Phoenix isn’t just saying the state can’t afford the Clean Elections Laws. It’s now questioning the very purpose of the law.
The ‘new’ Boston
?: Most outsiders haven’t a clue how Boston and Massachusetts tick. They think of McGovern, ‘72, on one extreme, or Boston bussing, ‘75, at the other extreme. But, actually, if you mix McGovern ‘72 and Boston bussing ‘75 into a blender, you get, well, Boston -- perhaps the most parochial and insular city in America that still somehow attracts and charms so many from across the country and world because of its universities and quaint architecture; the same city that has a creaky old political machine running its politics but a dynamic R&D-dependent economy that increasingly looks to young entrepreneurs to keep it on the cutting-edge; a city that likes to think of itself as aristocratic but thrills at the latest exploits of Whitey and the boys; a city with cranky residents who snap at tourists but cranky citizens who deep-down wonder, with all sincerity, what others are thinking about them; the city that thinks it’s the Hub of the Universe but has to use Dunkin’ Donuts outlets as landmarks for navigating the city.
Ah, the Hub, the city of baffling contradictions that the national press can't and won't grasp when they thunder into town two years hence, armed with their murderous clichés and searching for the freebie parties and Sox tickets. Mayor Menino will mumble to them about the 'new' Boston while Jim Kelly picks their pockets like a good Afghan guide.
Of all the things written so far on Boston landing the 2004 Democratic National Convention (the fact that it doesn't make sense
, the economic benefits
, the political ramifications
, the shaking down of corporate titans
for cash in the name of civic pride), the best articles were the ones about Bostonians’ reactions to hosting the convention.
Here’s a great piece (and lead) from the Herald’s Peter Gelzinis
“When it became official yesterday, when he learned that some 35,000 Democrats would be coming to town in two years, the bloodshot eyes of one weather-beaten Boston Dem immediately brightened. ‘Does this mean we'll get the Combat Zone back, or maybe the Old Howard?’ he wondered. He was kidding . . . sort of. Like this politically wired gentleman, I am old enough to remember the ruins of Scollay Square, old enough to recall how The Zone, in all its seedy glory, was forever justified as a magnet for conventioneers, to say nothing of visiting sailors.”
The Combat Zone! Brilliant. Memo to the mayor: We need strip clubs in Boston before conventioneers arrive. Hurry!
And, of course, local pols will have to be consulted (i.e., the old veiled ‘What’s in it for moi?’ hint), as Gelzinis notes:
“‘If people from the neighborhoods are given a seat at the (planning) table,’ said Brian Wallace, the representative-elect from South Boston, ‘then I don't see much of a problem. I think people understand what this means for the city, for local businesses. Let's face it, the city's crossing a threshold here.’''
Yes, we’re crossing a psychological threshold, but first things first.
Then there’s this story in the Globe
on the reaction of average Bostonians:
“A handful of longtime Bostonians interviewed over the past two days view the city's aggressive convention bid as something of a novelty -- a departure from the traditional behavior of a city that declares itself the Hub, but doesn't care if anyone else agrees or not. ‘Boston is what it is, take it or leave it,’ said Tony D'Amore, a financial analyst who grew up in the North End and now lives in Revere. D'Amore, 29, was underwhelmed by word that the DNC would be heading to town.”
What? He doesn’t have an inferiority complex? Attention Jon Keller! (Jon has been freaking out lately because of what the Economist has been writing about Boston. I’d link you to his latest piece in Boston Magazine, but Boston Magazine isn’t exactly partaking in the ‘new’ Boston; it doesn’t post its articles online. But here’s the gist of what Jon says, based on the subhead of his article: “If we’re so smart, how did our state become an international political laughingstock?” ... Oh, Jon. You’ll get your New York network gig one of these days. Just be patient.)
Then there’s our, um, history and mindset:
“The reasons (for not getting major conventions in the past) include not just a shortage of big arenas, but also a certain standoffish Yankee sensibility, some historians say. Massachusetts Historical Society director William Fowler remembers attending a tourism planning meeting before the Bicentennial in 1976. The audience expected the head of an eminent Boston institution to tell it how to attract visitors. But the speaker, whom Fowler declined to name, instead said: ‘Don't come, we don't want you. If you come, you'll wear out our historical treasurers.’
Go away. Just go away. That sums it up. Parochial and insular to the core. Again, Mr. D’Amore (“Of Love”):
“(D'Amore) chafes at the idea that Bostonians need to win a popularity contest. He's not opposed to the convention, just to the idea that Boston needs bigger and better attractions to impress the rest of America. ‘People are happy how it is. If you want something bigger, go to New York,’ said D'Amore. It's a conservative city, he added. Just look at the fact that bars close at 2 a.m. on weekends. ‘The Pilgrims landed here, and it seems like they want it to stay that way,’ he said.”
Happy? Paging Jon Keller, again. But wait: Boston? Conservative? What about McGovern in ‘72? Never mind. Boston bussing, ‘75. Those damn Pilgrims. Actually, a friend of mine once summed up the Boston mindset by noting that the region was colonized by one emotionally and sexually oppressed ethnic group, the English Puritans, who were later followed by another emotionally and sexually oppressed ethnic group, the Irish. And that’s Boston. Don’t blame it all on the Pilgrims. ... But shhhhhh. Don’t say that too loud. This is the new, hip Boston, after all.
So there you have it: The ‘new,’ misunderstood Boston in all its glorious and gory contradictions, proud but befuddled host of the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Can’t wait for the hordes of bored journalists to descend on “Beantown” in 2004 (as they’ll invariably describe it), the liberal city of McGovern, ‘72, and the city still living down bussing, ‘75, as they’ll also note (but not tie the two together). Can’t wait!
A Boston reader responds
: A Boston reader says we "bought off" the Dems to come to Boston and "the same could apply to the Olympics." He adds: "We could get caught but won't have to call in Mitt to rescue us. He'd already be here as our governor." ... Hub Blog's response: We didn't buy anyone off! The Dems are coming here for our rich history, our diversity, Paul Revere, the Kennedy legacy, the ... actually, the Olympics are a very good idea.
Reader No. 1 responds
: “Good little article in the Globe Living/Arts section about people who are already planning to get the H out of town
(including Reader #1's beloved spouse). Kinda underscores your point about our relationship with tourists. ... At the risk of overconfidence, because things can change fast in the world today, looks like a 2004 Bush landslide between the Boston convention, Speaker Pelosi, and the not-very-appealing Dem Presidential candidate pool (can you believe Al Gore was almost President?).”
Dems coming to Boston:
Well, my prediction has been officially proven wrong
. The Dems are coming to Boston in 2004. Hub Blog is waiting for the torrent of predictable and dumb cliches about how Dems will be meeting in the "liberal" Boston, how it shows the Dem party is drifting left, how this could help John Kerry, blah blah blah. ... Hub Blog's reaction? First, I'll need to rummage through my junk drawer to find my old Democratic Party Memebership Card from '77. Second, I have to fetch the vintage framed photo of JFK out my father's basement. ... Mayor Menino, who lobbied hard to land the convention, has really scored one on this. Now maybe he'll temporarily lift the ban on smoking in bars, extend T hours, keep restaurants and bars open beyond 2 a.m., and other critical matters a good host city should consider when welcoming tens of thousands of guests from around the nation and world. And, oh, apprehend Whitey Bulger before he crashes the party. So many things to do!
A reader from Arlington responds
: "Figures they bring it here after
I move out of the North End. I had big plans of renting my pad out for $$$ to some film crew." ... Hmmmm. Renting out the apartment. Never thought of that. Interesting. Very, very interesting.
Brighton reader responds
: "Hmmm, but isn't it curious how the needs of the tens of thousands of guests coincide precisely with the preferences of a certain Boston-based freelance journalist?" ... It is curious, isn't it?
: The Globe weighs in on the Harvard Business School free-speech controversy
. Frankly, I think the Globe could have been harder on HBS. But the Globe has to be more diplomatic, one supposes. But Hub Blog doesn’t have to be more diplomatic: HBS really is run by a bunch of First Amendment numskulls. Of course, HBS could be giving the future corporate titans an advanced case-study lesson on how to properly run a ruthless modern media conglomerate. Oh, those clever, clever deans. ...
Finneran in trouble?:
He won’t be toppled early next year, but he’s on shaky ground
. And he knows it. Love this quote from a state rep who says he won’t be casting a vote against Finneran: ''I'm not going to throw my district under a bus to lodge a protest vote.” Yep, that pretty much sums up the mindset on Beacon Hill.
: Hmmmm. Maybe my gut instinct was wrong about the Dems selecting Boston for their 2004 convention
. As they say, ignore that man behind the curtain!
... Steve Bailey
has a different take on the convention, corporate backers of the bid and how business is routinely conducted in Boston. Steve goes a little over the top when he writes: “In Boston, home of Paul Revere and Faneuil Hall, we love the pomp and circumstance of democracy - it's democracy itself that makes us nervous.” Otherwise, Bailey is on target (again). ... P.S. Here’s yet another How Business Is Routinely Conducted In Massachusetts
Routine Business, gambling style
: Speaking of routine business, this one shouldn’t surprise anyone in Massachusetts
. It’s like, well, duh. But, no, we still don’t get it. So you have this
and you have this
. Forget all the moral and economic arguments for or against casino gambling. The reason why it shouldn’t be introduced here in Massachusetts is because it would be here in Massachusetts. Repeat: In Massachusetts. You know, the thoroughly corrupt little state we all know and love. The state that’s run by a corrupt machine that would set the rules and laws for casino gambling. The state that doesn’t need a new incubator for more corruption -- a new ‘industry’ source for campaign contributions and jobs for ex-lawmakers etc. etc.
The politics of rent control
: Tom Keane
sums it up well about why it’s so easy for politicos to support the rent-control measure. Kicker line: “Rent control has one other virtue as well. Councilors - and the mayor - know it will never happen.” ... Unfortunately, it looks like the damage has already been done
Milking and bilking the public
: I don’t know what’s worse: The fact that state regulators have systematically allowed a monopoly to take control of the dairy industry here or the fact that regulators are now beating up a little guy
who dares to sell his milk at lower prices than his monopolistic competitors. It’s only going to get worse
Rent control is working already
: It’s working in the sense that it’s working the way critics warned
. And it hasn't even been passed yet. Congrats, mayor. P.S. Any word yet, mayor, on the proposed Chinatown development
you've been dragging your feet on -- you know, the one with hundreds of new apartments that would help relieve the housing shortage in the city?
Showcasing the city
: Businesses are lining up to support the city’s effort to land the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston.
Why? They want to showcase the city to the nation and world. They’re proud of the region and its recent economic transformation. That’s probably the best -- and only good -- reason for supporting Boston’s bid, though Hub Blog suspects a little arm twisting also made the corporate types see the light of day on the issue. ... They probably won't have to fork over the dough anyway. Hub Blog seems to be in the non-boosterism minority these days in thinking that the dog-and-pony lobbying/courtship is nothing but national Dems appeasing Boston pols. The Dems will probably decide in favor of New York or Miami. The image of Boston as “too liberal” is a powerful reason to avoid the Hub in 2004, even though that liberal image -- as last Tuesday’s elections showed -- is seriously outdated.
The church and reform
: Hub Blog doesn’t believe it. I’m in full agreement with Joan Vennochi
and James Carroll
on the same subject and on the same day. Did someone slip something into my coffee? ... Alex Beam writes about a reform dispute at the Christian Science Church
Campus free speech
: Another setback for campus free speech
. Except this time it’s not (surprise) from the PC Nazis. It’s from the Corporate Suck-up Nazis
. And it stinks just the same. ... But the PC types are still alive and kicking in Cambridge, though they’re losing this battle
. ... And Helen Thomas
tells MIT folks how she censored herself for so many years. Yeah, right. Her strong views never slipped into her reporting. She was an Objective Robot programmed to tell the truth. And now the switch has been turned off and she has the freedom to hate life. What a delightful personality.
Mitt and patronage
: Dan Kennedy
is having fun over Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping on the issue of his patronage hires. To a degree, Mitt brought this on himself (again) because he should have made clear before the election that, yes, of course, naturally, he’s going to put key people in top posts who philosophically agree with his agenda. Otherwise, how can an elected executive put his philosophical imprint on government? He didn’t make that distinction before the election, so he’s probably going to take some heat for it now. But let’s make one thing clear: Constitutionally, he’s absolutely correct, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, to exclude non-management types (“the little guys”) from patronage hires. In its landmark Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois
ruling, the Supreme Court said that political patronage hires, promotions, transfers and recalls were unconstitutional because they infringed on non-management workers’ rights to hold political views (i.e., the First Amendment) contrary to the views of whatever party was in power. The court specifically stated that top-level, policymaking positions (the type Mitt is talking about) were exempt from the anti-patronage ruling because elected officials are entitled to surround themselves with people who can shape the philosophical agenda of an administration. Maybe Mitt deserves grief over what he did or didn’t say before the election. But what he’s saying now is both constitutional and
in line with what elected officials can and should be doing in order to comply with Rutan
. So, Mitt, stick to your guns. You have no choice. It’s supposed to be the law of the land, even though it's been routinely ignored in Massachusetts. If Mitt is truly serious about cleaning up the 'mess on Beacon Hill,' one of his first acts as governor should be to sign an Executive Order bringing the executive branch into immediate, verifiable compliance with Rutan
. We'll see.
Postscript: Hub Blog knows a thing or two about the Rutan
decision, which was filed in the ‘80s by an Illinois state government worker upset with the well-oiled GOP patronage system run by then Gov. Jim Thompson. The ruling was handed down in 1990, at the end of Big Jim's long tenure as governor and ten years after he imposed a "hiring freeze" in state government, which was the clever mechanism the administration used to closely screen and control hirings in state government. Hub Blog was a Statehouse reporter in Illinois at the time. The Rutan
decision sent shock waves through the Illinois Capitol the day it was announced. An incredulous Thompson, hounded by reporters through the corridors and finally cornered outside his office, was literally reading the decision, jaw dropped, as he blasted its logic in answer to reporters’ questions. The administration eventually took steps to “comply” with Rutan, but, of course, got around it by creating lots of new policymaking “management” positions and issuing more no-bid “personnel services” contracts. (Ah, privatized, smaller government at work!) Hub Blog is unaware of later rulings that may have significantly modified Rutan
, but I’ll gladly stand corrected if someone points it/them out.
Postscript postscript: According to Hub Blog's understanding of Rutan
, Mitt shouldn't even be saying he'll hold it against people, when hiring, if they worked on his campaign. Political considerations should not be factored into hiring decisions of non-sensitive, non-policymaking personnel, according to the court.
The overplayed ‘unbecoming’ issue
: You got to admire the Globe for admitting that the ‘unbecoming’ story in the last week of the campaign -- you know, the secret anti-female code word that NOW discerned Mitt using in the last debate -- was simply overplayed
. Here’s Globe ombudsman Christine Chinlund: “The Globe did indeed overplay the ‘unbecoming’ story -- to the detriment of more deserving issues. It was legitimate news fare, but rather than let ‘unbecoming’ define the day's coverage, it needed to be presented in the broader context of the post-debate home stretch. An issues-focused hard news story, with ‘unbecoming’ as one element, would have better served readers.” ... And Chinlund also interviewed Globe editor Marty Baron about the matter: “Last week, when the flood had ebbed, I asked Globe editor Martin Baron his view on how the Globe handled the story. ‘Overplayed’ but otherwise fine as written, he responded. ‘Although it was indeed the much-discussed topic of the day for both candidates -- which says something about the campaign itself -- it was really much ado about very little. So, in my view, readers who objected to the prominence we gave the story have good cause to grumble,’ said Baron.’”
End of matter. It happens. And Hub Blog also agrees with Baron that the Globe’s coverage of the campaign was, overall, balanced and fair. Yes, there was the ‘unbecoming’ issue, not to mention the ‘BYU donation’ controversy. But I was highly impressed with the Globe’s day-to-day coverage -- the profiles of candidates, the examination of issues facing the next governor, the variety of opinions in its columns and oped pages (from Brian McGrory to Joan Vennochi). Having been a political reporter, I’d grade the Globe’s coverage at a solid B+, maybe even an A-. Ditto for the Herald. (No one gets an A from Hub Blog!) It was just a great campaign overall. Kind of sad it’s over. ... Hub Blog agrees with Reader No. 1 that Brian McGrory, Margery Eagan and Scot Lehigh were at their best during the campaign. The Globe’s Joanna Weiss and the Phoenix’s Seth Gitell also rarely missed a beat. Both grasped the dynamics and importance of the Independent vote -- and Gitell was also the first to detect, as far as I can tell, the rumblings among social-conservatives over Shannon’s minor (but fatal) drift to the left on social issues. ... One major complaint about the media’s election coverage: the pre-election coverage of Question 1 sucked. The final results of Question 1 were a shocker -- and, in retrospect, they shouldn’t have been. The question was polling at 35 percent with two weeks left in the campaign and with about 20 percent of the electorate undecided. If even a quarter of those undecided had gone for Question 1 (a reasonable bet at the time), it would have meant it nabbing 40 percent support, a highly impressive figure. As it was, about half of the undecided broke in favor of Question 1, giving the measure its final 45-percent base. The numbers were there all along. No one was doing the math before the election, including Hub Blog. Question 1 ultimately failed, but its strong showing altered the post-election climate in Massachusetts. We now know a huge portion of the population is fed up with taxes -- and that 45-percent figure will hover over all future Beacon Hill budget deliberations.
Rail service to Montreal
: Mais oui!
Let's do it.
Rent control and one crazy condo idea
: Another argument against Mayor Menino’s rent control proposal
. And here’s an idea for new condos
in Boston. But they won't help with the housing shortage. Only Eddie Andelman.
What a game
: Unbelievable. Highly encouraging but very discouraging at the same time. The Bears are perhaps the worst team in football
right now -- and the Pats barely beat ‘em. Hub Blog loves Chicago and its Bears fans, having spent so many years in Illinois. But when the network started showing replays of the Bears-Pats Superbowl (was it really 17 years ago?!), I practically started screaming at the TV: “Cheap shot! Ancient history!” .... Yesterday wasn’t really revenge, but it was still sweet. Those poor Chicago fans
Redistricting is the key
: Tom Oliphant gets to the tactical matter
of last week’s national GOP gains: It’s about redistricting, too. Jeff Jacoby
is hoping Mitt will focus on rebuilding the Republican party in Massachusetts, something Bill, Paul and Jane neglected to do. Of course, he’s right. But Hub Blog’s view is that the Massachusetts GOP is in such tatters, at the grass-roots level, that it’s embarrassing to run as a Republican. A lot of young, ambitious, Republican-leaning pols might opt to join the GOP, but they’re not going to do it if it means a virtual end to their political careers after serving one-term as a Republican selectman in Lunenburg. They need and want stepping stones, i.e. a chance to move up to higher office -- selectman to legislator to Congress/statewide office. The key stepping stone between local offices (selectman, school committee member, dog catcher etc.) and Congress/statewide office is the legislature. And it’s here where the maps kill them. The legislature is the key. It’s not only a stepping stone. It controls the maps. Break the Beacon Hill machine, and the Congressional and statewide offices will follow. Maybe the Greens get it and will be more successful. ...
Shannon, liberals and Greens
: Speaking of Greens, Eileen McNamara
labors to make sense of Tuesday’s election results. She gets it -- and doesn’t get it. She’s right when she says this: “For most voters, this campaign was less ‘left versus right’ than ‘insider versus outsider.’ It is no accident that both O’Brien and Governor-elect Mitt Romany emphasized their determination to end business-as-usual and to ‘clean up the mess’ on Beacon Hill. Different voters want different things, but all voters want a candidate with an independent streak. The problem for O’Brien was not just that she is a product of that culture but that she failed to grasp the depth of disaffection with State House polls within her own party.” ... OK. Fine. But then Eileen starts belittling the “center” and singing the praise of her fellow liberal, professional, suburbanites over at the Green Party, suggesting that Shannon really wasn’t a classic liberal (and she wasn’t) and that she would have done better if she had “core” politics (like the classic liberal Jill Stein). Or at least that’s what I think McNamara is saying. Which really misreads the mood of the Massachusetts electorate on Tuesday -- the electorate that gave Mitt Romany 50 percent of the vote to Jill Stein’s 3 percent, the electorate that overwhelmingly approved Question 2, the electorate that nearly approved the radical anti-income tax Question 1, the electorate that gives George Bush higher approval ratings each time he talks tough about Iraq. As I said, I’d vote Green or even French Socialist if it meant breaking the Dem machine’s lock on Beacon Hill. So good luck to the Greens. But to suggest that veering toward the hard-core “core” left is the ideological (as opposed to the tactical) answer to breaking the machine, well, look at Tuesday’s results.
Reader No. 1’s pithy reaction to Eileen’s column
: “I thought it was very weak -- she set up a strawman which wasn't really there.”
Reader No. 1 on Josh Marshall’s Globe article
: Hub Blog didn’t read this “Ideas” column
very closely, but Reader No. 1 did. Here’s his assessment:
“Joshua Micah Marshall, blogger and author of the lead piece in today's Globe Ideas, reminds me of many people we went to college with: smart but illogical. Example: see how Marshall starts to finger Clinton's share of responsibility for this past week's Democratic calamity in his article, but justifies it because the former Prez could ‘spin his small-bore policy initiatives into a broader political message. ...’ Example, please? Another explanation: Clinton was: (A.) governing in good economic cycles and (B.) clever enough to allow partisan analysts and journalists like Marshall to fill in the gaps between his ‘small-bore policy initiatives’ with their own idealistic visions of the great liberal government that never was and probably never will be. Also, after you read Marshall's fifth paragraph in the Globe article about Democrats who never saw Tuesday coming (not writing in the first person -- ‘they have great difficulty explaining...’), go to this link of October 27
(nine days before the election). I particularly note his comment '...it's hard to miss a subtle but real shift in the Democrats' favor across the country.’ Don't get me wrong: I like Marshall's column while generally disagreeing with 85 percent of what he writes. But when he suggests a large progressive tax cut in the middle of a brutal (time) as one way to get the debate back on Democratic terms... you gotta wonder.”
The Trav, a bio
: You can take this story
at face value. Or you can read between the lines (the cigars, the back slapping, Wonderland, Steve Tocco, etc.).
Brighton reader responds
: “When I read Trav’s comments about his surgery and so on, I got this vision of him being told to return by apparitions of politicos past, that it wasn't his time yet, ‘Go back, Trav! There are more jobs that still need to be given out, the racetracks need you!’ Every near death experience is different.”
The Massachusetts ‘isn’t ready’ argument
: You knew it had to happen. Well, here it is
, as feeble as it is, from Carol Hardy-Fanta. One gets the clear impression that Shannon would have won the election if she had told supporters like Hardy-Fanta to back off. She didn’t. The rest is history. Meanwhile, the social-conservative view, which Hub Blog underestimated going into the election, is provided today courtesy of Joe Fitzgerald
at the Herald. ... Hub Blog still thinks this pre-election piece by Mary McGrory
was the best gender analysis of the campaign. (Ignore the misleading headline and silly references to the Boston Irish. She still nailed it.)
Brian McGrory, unplugged
: A few readers asked why Hub Blog didn’t post this Brian McGrory column
yesterday. Answer: I didn’t see it. Seems to have hit a sort of sentimental “West Wing” chord with some readers, who truly want some common sense and decency to reign on Beacon Hill. Hats off to McGrory for shrewdly catching that sentiment (and Mitt’s seeming transformation). The observations from Bill Weld are quite interesting. Still, there’s that nagging thought of how pathetic Mitt’s campaign was in the early stages. Will he drift back into that vapid nonsense? McGrory’s view: “As a candidate, Romney had potential that he never quite seemed to meet. As governor, he has the potential of being the best we've had in a long, long time. It's in everyone's interest for him to fulfill it.” Hope he’s right, but the key word is still 'potential.' ... On a more positive, less cynical note, this is very, very encouraging
. Mitt put out the call. And people responded. Very gratifying.
Charming ... just charming
: Looks like we have a choice for a new nickname for Mitt: Bushy-tail or Dudley Do-Right (to be shortened to Dudley under deadline pressures). Maybe other names will pop up soon, so we’ll hold off on a vote.
Yes, Mitt met yesterday with House Speaker Finneran, declaring the encounter ‘charming.’ The Globe’s story
indicates there may be hope for civil dialogue, though Finneran sounds as condescending as ever. ''He is bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to go,'' Finneran said after meeting Mitt at the Statehouse. ''I'm intrigued by the possibilities, and I'm more than willing to learn myself. ... A lot of people just elected him governor, and I'm very, very deferential to their choice, and I recognize that we hold a subordinate position.'' The Globe added this: “The friendly sentiments expressed underscored what many on Beacon Hill have been suggesting since Romney's election: that the GOP governor-elect and the controversial Democratic speaker actually have a good deal in common. Both are devoted to their families, are deeply religious, are wary of expansive state spending, and traditional about some social issues, such as gay rights.” All interesting points. There’s a lot of truth to it. Maybe there will be cooperation, like Weld-Bulger in the early ‘90s -- but remember that alliance was only temporary. The Herald
has a different take on Mitt’s Wicked Exciting Adventure to Beacon Hill: The battle lines are being drawn. Likely Senate President Robert E. Travaglini says Mitt ain’t going to get a tax cut in his first term. The Trav: ``I can understand during the course of the campaign how that can be the type of (tax-cut) comment that enhances the potential of victory and I can understand the context in which it is delivered. (But) having an understanding of the equation that we are presently confronted with, I would be very hard-pressed to find $1 billion (in savings).'' ... Howie Carr
doesn’t trust Finneran at all.
A final analysis of the Mitt-Shannon showdown
: Scot Lehigh
covers all the bases. Probably the best analysis of the election yet. ... Tom Keane
gives a pretty good analysis himself, but Scot really nails down most of the points.
A responsible appointment?:
Something must be wrong in the corner office in the waning days of the Swift administration. Jane is about to make an intelligent, inspired appointment
. Really. (Now watch her waver.)
There’s something profoundly wrong with a private-insurance health care system that tries to weasel out of its financial responsibilities
. These guys sound like Wall Street analysts and investment bankers, changing the rules and screwing their customers when it suits them. Hub Blog doesn’t support Hillary-style national health care, with its absurd bureaucracies and policy-wonk assumptions. But some sort of universal health care is needed in this country. Incidents like this make the case compelling. Remember: If they can do this to her, they can do it to you.
The Readers’ Forum
: Oh, doesn’t ‘Readers’ Forum’ sound so impressive, serious and pompous? Maybe Hub Blog should get an ombudsman next. Anyway, here are a few more emails from readers about the elections, Mitt, hack Massachusetts politics and the GOP gains Tuesday ...
From Michael at yahoo:
“I am crossing my fingers and hoping that Mitt, particularly keeping in mind the strong support for Question 1, will be fortified by the knowledge that Mass voters want and expect him to make prudent and responsible budget cuts, and that he won't fall for that ‘protect the most vulnerable’ claptrap (i.e, protect state workers, teachers and others in the government service industry) which Shannon has been spouting. Far too often, unfortunately, Republicans fall prey to this tactic. I think voters in this election showed that they are wiser than that. Hope Mitt remembers that.”
“I think an excellent place for Mitt to start would be to start trumpeting for the repeal of the Pacheco Law which has effectively (and brilliantly) snuffed out any hope of privatizing many state functions, thereby costing the Commonwealth millions per year. ...when you see The Globe running pieces on the extra costs incurred because of this law, one suspects it might not be a bad place for him to start. One could also apply the same logic to the Quinn Bill, which rewards police officers with exorbitant automatic raises when they ‘earn’ graduate degrees from diploma-mill colleges. BUT Tom Finneran -- who has always fought the extension of Quinn bill benefits to firefighters -- apparently cut a deal with the firemen's union: you get out front on that Clean Elections referendum and I'll get you Quinn benefits for your members. Well, at 71-29 (in favor of the Clean Elections funding question on Tuesday’s ballot), it looks like the jakes delivered, so I guess we'll see all the firemen heading back to ‘college’ - and towns and cities being bled for millions in raises to another public employees union.” (Note from Hub Blog: Forgot all about Tommy and the firefighters playing footsie on the Quinn/Clean Elections issue. Steve Bailey
caught ‘em in the act before the election.)
From "Suburban reader who voted for Jill Stein":
“In all the analysis about Phil Johnston's (or Dick Gephardt's or Tom Daschle's, for that matter) failed Democratic strategy we never hear a simple fact: maybe the Dems are just wrong, voters know it and THAT'S why the Repubs won. The baby boomers have grown up, and are starting to get gray and conservative... remember the comment that a man who is not a liberal at 20 has no heart; and that a man who is still a liberal at 40 has no brain. ... The calls for spend, spend, spend are falling on increasingly deaf ears - literally!” (From Hub Blog: So why the Jill Stein vote?)
: He’s already getting down to business
. And that includes reaching out to/talking with Tommy and the Trav
, the former precinct captain for Kevin White who sounds gracious as he sharpens the knives. Mitt can’t avoid it. He has to deal with these guys, as did Bill Weld twelve years ago.
Shannon in denial mode
: Shannon is blaming the GOP sweep across the country
for her loss here. That's right, gotta watch those Republican tides in Massachusetts. Well, at least she’s not bringing up the gender issue. Shannon might want to look at this story
about how and why she lost her Dem base. ... Margery Eagan
IS bringing up the gender issue -- and says it mattered on Tuesday. Obviously, it mattered to an extent. Some women blindly voted for Shannon because she was a woman. Some men blindly voted the opposite because she was a woman. They canceled each other out, in effect. But Margery is too smart to dwell on the issue: “My guess is that Shannon O'Brien's loss was about much more than gender. It was about another nightmare vision: of Beacon Hill turned to Baghdad, of a totalitarian, tax-crazed regime. It was about Democrats behaving badly, the kind of pervasive, holier-than-thou, non-Democrats-are-evil arrogance we saw in rhetoric here (if you voted against bilingual education, you're an immigrant-hater) and in Minnesota. Remember the memorial service-turned-rally for late Sen. Paul Wellstone?” ... Margery makes a good point about how Shannon got a bad rap on the abortion issue.
Taxes, a ‘new era’ and voters just don’t like those immigrants
: A front-page story in the Globe looks at the Question 1 vote
-- and finds it has changed the political dynamics in Massachusetts. ''The response to Question 1, with so many people saying they wanted to see an elimination of the income tax was, if you will, underlining the fact that people do not want to see taxes go up in Massachusetts, and they'd like to see them come down,'' said Romney, who opposed the measure but sure sounds like he understands (and appreciates) the benefits he’ll get from it. ... Joan Vennochi
, who appeared so shell-shocked yesterday, has angrily pulled out a blunderbuss and is firing off a round of rusty nails, glass, sharp-edged rocks and anything else she could stuff into the muzzle. Joan says we’re becoming “mean” like New Hampshire and that we’re indeed entering a “new era.” And count her among those with holier-than-thou rhetoric, as Margery Eagan referred to above. I.e., Joan: “Massachusetts voters don't like immigrants either; 68 percent voted to replace bilingual education with English immersion.” Yep, Joan, that’s what Question 2 was all about. We hate immigrants. You got us. We’re exposed as hate-filled New Hampshire types. Thanks, Joan. And Scot Lehigh
, shame on you ... Joan does acknowledge a certain, oh, concern voters might have had on Tuesday. “First of all, the voters don't like the arrogance, the immaturity, or the pettiness of the Massachusetts Democratic Party as it exists today. The nonsense in the state Legislature is a turnoff no matter what your political philosophy. There is no statesmanship, only gamesmanship. People are so busy avenging past slights they are incapable of working together to achieve common goals.” ... Immaturity. Love that word. The ultimate insult from a hectoring school teacher.
: Don’t put it beyond them. No, expect
them to try to gut the ‘anti-immigrant’ ballot question approved by voters on Tuesday, as this piece
and this piece
: Clint Eastwood
, in town for the shooting of “Mystic River,” knows a thing or two about politics, having served as mayor of Carmel, Calif., from 1986 to 1988. He says local pols should be less negative and focus on services: '' ‘The streets are a little on the raggedy side,’ he says. ‘I think a politician could make hay out of campaigning for better streets.’ (His own platform as mayor? ‘To make government less punitive to the people, to make things more accessible.’)” ... Is Clint calling us ‘negative’? Bostonians? New Englanders? I can't imagine where he got that impression.
‘Bloody Tuesday ... Liberal Nightmare’
: Seth Gitell has a typically astute analysis
of the gov’s race, including his observation that pocketbook-minded Independents decided the outcome. ... And Dan Kennedy
writes about the ‘Liberal Nightmare’ across the country. ... Lots of other interesting-looking election stories over at the Phoenix
Post-election Updates II
: Some quick notes and some observations from readers ...
... The Globe’s Brian Mooney
has a pretty good analysis piece, with the headline, “In tally, a rejection of one-party rule.” Hub Blog thinks Mitt’s election was indeed a conscious decision by many, if not most, of his supporters to block a Democratic sweep yesterday in Massachusetts. It’s pretty obvious. But, as I noted earlier today, I seriously underestimated the social issues that drove many voters, as this piece shows
. A lot of Dems appear to have abandoned the party, including lunch-bucket union members, over Shannon’s stands on abortion and gay marriages, according to a Globe survey of voters. (The Boston Phoenix’s Seth Gitell was way ahead of the pack in noting this trend before the election.) ... Another curious thing: Young voters (18-45) and those in the 56-65 age bracket broke for Mitt. Mitt did surprisingly well with other middle-age and senior voters. ... There was indeed a gender split: Men voted for Mitt 52.8 to 39.8; women for Shannon, 53-43.9, according to the survey. Another curious stat: Five percent of men voted for Jill Stein; only 1.7 percent of women voted for Stein. But this is only a survey. Clearly, any survey that doesn’t detect -- as this one didn’t appear to -- the obvious anti-tax backlash and ‘rejection of one-party rule’ has to be taken with a grain of salt. It all depends on the questions asked, how the questions are phrased, and how honest (gulp) people are when answering. ...
... Dan Kennedy
, meanwhile, is calling Question 1 an anti-tax backlash of sorts and, coupled with Mitt’s solid win, it gives Mitt a mandate, at least on taxes. ... Some observations from Bill Hobbs
on the Question 1 vote (via Instapundit
). We're indeed going to be talking about this one for a while, analyzing Question 1's results from every angle. Myself, I think Question 1's surprising support is part hard-core anti-tax sentiment; part protest vote; part signal to the boys on Beacon Hill not to push their luck; part spill-over sentiment from the bitter New Hampshire governor's race, in which the income-tax issue dominated and which Massachusetts voters heard a lot about over the TV and radio airwaves that the two states share; and part confusion (I was perplexed by the wording of the question and fumbled over which way to vote when I was in the booth; I quickly recovered). One thing is clear: The political establishment in Massachusetts will try to ignore and/or dismiss the vote, but it's there. It happened. They know it. ... The chairman of the Massachusetts Libertarian Party is taking me to task
over at Instapundit (scroll down a bit to find the letter) for not mentioning that the Libertarians were the ones who got Question 1 on the ballot in the first place. Fair enough. Should have mentioned that in the rush. But the huge vote for Question 1 can't be claimed as a Libertarian victory. The party's own gubernatorial candidate, Carla Howell, got only 1 percent of the vote in Massachusetts. There was a lot more mischief at play in the Question 1 vote. A lot more.
... What happens next for Mitt? Reader No. 1 has some advice: “Mitt and Massachusetts will be fine if he pulls out the old Reagan/Weld playbook and sticks firmly to 2 or 3 themes, playing the happy warrior. Mitt, keep in mind my prediction record, but a couple of suggestions for those themes: 1. We're going to solve the fiscal problem without raising taxes. 2. We're going to reward public employees who work hard and creatively to develop real solutions to our problems. 3. The quality of our lives will improve if we are successful on points #1 and #2.” Sounds good to me ... Speaking of Mitt’s future as governor, a reader from Brighton, besides congratulating Hub Blog on my pre-election prediction of a Mitt victory (he called it for Shannon), says Mitt’s headed for a tough fight with House Speaker Tom Finneran -- and Republicans can blame themselves. “We will see how Mitt Romney fares when he tries to ‘clean up the mess.’ Weld had enough state senators to sustain a veto for the first two years. Mitt does not. Plus the last twelve years were Republican patronage. And don't forget who are among Finneran's strongest supporters: the Republican house members. They voted for him for speaker and their leadership spoke in his favor when a movement to replace him started. Just to illustrate the point, yesterday I saw a friend of mine from grammar school, still lives in the neighborhood, giving rides to the polls for Romney. His employer? The Mass Turnpike Authority. Will his job be at risk? Not likely.”
Welcome to the New ‘Conservative’ Massachusetts
: OK, we won’t go that far, despite what Barney Frank said last night. Maybe it should read, ‘Welcome to the Less Liberal Massachusetts.’ That doesn’t sound right, either, even though I think it's partially true. OK, here it is, ‘Welcome to the Almost One-Party State of Massachusetts.” That definitely describes it.
What a night, eh? Mitt wins
(50 to 45 percent) -- and with the crucial support of classic, in-their-blood, Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye, All-Republicans-Are-Country-Club-Members Democrats. Question 1, the radical anti-income tax measure, loses (45-55) but does shockingly well. Question 2 wins huge (68-32), overthrowing the bilingual education system in Massachusetts. And state voters, in a non-binding referendum, say they don’t want to foot the bill for the do-gooder Clean Elections Law (74-26). All of which indicates: You stereotype Massachusetts voters at your peril. (Click here for full election results.
) However ... however, the Legislature remains
rock-solid, veto-proof Democrat. All our Congressional seats are held by Dems. As long as the Democratic machine controls the former and wields the power of the pen in redistricting, the former and the latter will stay in place in Massachusetts for a long time to come. ''We took on an entrenched machine and we won,'' a triumphant Romney declared last night. However, whether it’s Mitt or Jill Stein or whomever, the goal should be to start building a two-party or three-party state in Massachusetts. Think: 2010 census and subsequent redistricting. Otherwise, last night was merely a one-night wonder ...
... Hub Blog’s observations on the gubernatorial race? There was definitely an anti-Beacon Hill vote out there. Hub Blog talked to a number of people over the course of the past two weeks -- and a surprising number said they didn’t respect/like Mitt but wanted to block the official Insiders’ Choice Candidate, Shannon O’Brien. A lot of people weren’t voting for
Mitt Romney. They were voting against
Shannon O’Brien. ... Taxes played a big, last-minute role in yesterday’s voting. Shannon’s performance during the last debate -- in which she dodged questions about raising taxes -- hurt her. Question 1’s surprising showing proves, beyond a doubt, that taxes were on people’s minds. Period. ... Hub Blog clearly underestimated the conservative social-issue vote in Massachusetts. Shannon’s pro-choice and pro-gay marriages stands hurt her (though Hub Blog supported her on both issues). Voters in traditionally Democratic, heavily-Catholic regions apparently bolted from Dems yesterday. I didn’t see it coming. ... The candidacy of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, was a complete dud. She wasn’t a spoiler. The numbers don’t add up. No excuses for Dems. ... There was some whining last night about Massachusetts not being “ready” for a female governor. Hub Blog isn’t buying it. If Shannon O’Brien’s name was Stevie O’Brien, Mitt would have romped. Indeed, if Shannon had been a man, she wouldn’t have won the Dem primary. The fact is Shannon O’Brien’s gender helped
her, but it wasn’t enough to overcome other factors. ....
How the local pundits saw it:
: The headline on her column this morning reads, ‘Voters simply didn’t like O’Brien.’ Duh. Joan hints at the ‘isn’t ready’ argument but backs off. Joan seems shell-shocked. Here’s her kicker quote: “Some of the dislike stemmed from O'Brien's inability to take a clear position and define what she stood for. Style played into her defeat, as well. O'Brien could not walk the line between toughness and grace that is essential for any woman who hopes to succeed in the public or the private sector.”
-- One of the best political pundits in the city looks at it from a tactical angle. Lehigh thinks the election turned in Mitt’s favor after he decided (or realized) his soft, feel-good campaign approach wasn’t working. After suddenly agreeing to more debates with O’Brien, Lehigh writes, “The campaign would shift from the self-reverential ads of a celebrity candidate
who seemed to expect a coronation to a tough issues message of a man determined to scrap for the job. And rather than rely on surrogates, Romney would deliver the campaign critique of O'Brien himself.”
-- Yes, as I noted above, there were other issues. But here’s Jeff’s kicker quote: “So why is Mitt Romney today the governor-elect of Massachusetts? Because Romney spent the last two weeks of the campaign driving home the dangers of a one-party state. And because O'Brien kneecapped herself in the last debate.”
-- He thinks it was partially about style over substance. He’s sort of in the ballpark when he acknowledges the misgivings many voters have towards the Dem machine, but, c’mon, Mitt didn’t win 'on his business record.' His kicker quote: “Like many a Democrat these days, O'Brien claimed to be a fighter for the people, but she never defined which people she was fighting for. Unable to define, unable to connect, unable to show how she would be independent of insular Beacon Hill politics, she became another Al Gore. ... Her collapse was magnified by the fact that Romney wanted the voter to believe how great he was, despite displaying many dangerous signs of insular behavior. Here is a man who won on his business record, despite refusing to be interviewed by the Globe on his business record.”
-- He’s brutal. Just brutal. “Let's face it. Shannon O'Brien's problem is -- was -- that she is as phony as a three-dollar bill. Voting for her was like voting for organized crime. Her wing of the Democratic party is organized crime, maybe not in the mob sense, but she runs with the political equivalent of gangsters.” And then there’s this observation on the Catholic/blue-collar vote: “You could see how this one was going to turn out from the children's polls (before the election). A substitute teacher in Quincy told me his middle-school class voted for Romney last week. Last night, a fourth-grader in Lowell told me her parochial school class had gone for Mitt. And then a mother of a kindergarten kid in Winthrop said the same thing. You've got to be a pretty wretched Democrat not to run up huge margins in Quincy, Lowell and Winthrop.”
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.