‘George Bush’s worst nightmare’?:
Very interesting piece on John Kerry
in today’s New York Times. And very interesting opinions among Dems about whether Kerry’s ‘Massachusetts liberal’ image, whether it’s accurate or not, will hurt him. Says the Dem chairman of South Carolina: "He's vulnerable on the criticism that he's a Massachusetts liberal. ... I think that this White House has been very adept at labeling people, and that's a concern. Is it something that he can overcome? Sure." Says Kathleen Sullivan of NH: "John Kerry in some respects is George Bush's worst nightmare. ... John Kerry is not going to let any Republican get away trying to marginalize his credentials as a patriot.” ... The first sentence in Sullivan’s quote is almost laughable. Republicans are licking their chops at the prospect of running against Kerry, but they better be careful about what they wish for. Kerry’s a tough, confident, scrappy candidate who’s indeed ‘eager for battle.’ Ask Bill Weld. ...
‘The awful truth’
: Just noticed Dan Kennedy’s item
on my earlier blog on Father Foley
. Can’t say I disagree with a word Dan says. And, yes, I am a ‘former’ admirer, in the sense that my admiration is now no longer total. Far from it. There was a dark side to him -- ‘the awful truth,’ as Dan aptly described it -- that can never be forgotten when judging his entire career. The questions remain: What happened to that poor woman in 1969? And why did he so readily agree never to see his own children again? His own children
. Think about it. It leads to so many other questions -- all of them disturbing. He’ll remain a dear friend for all the good he’s unquestionably done for me and others, but ...
‘Pity our poor mayor’
: Need to keep it light on the blogging for a few days. Busy with various matters. ... But here’s a great column from Adrian Walker
, a columnist who locals should pay more attention to. You never quite know what he’s going to say. And that’s refreshing. (I also thought I was alone in my growing discontent with Mayor Menino.) Walker’s kicker lines on Menino: “Actually, when you couple the tax proposal with the mayor's dead-on-arrival rent stabilization scheme, you start to wonder if the mayor is now floating trial balloons for lack of anything better to do. It's the illusion of action, as opposed to action itself. Pity our poor mayor. For nine years his timing has been perfect. Now come hard (economic) times and tough decisions. To judge from his recent behavior, the mayor wants no part of it.”
The Gang That Couldn’t Think Straight
: The Boston FBI office has lost so much credibility in recent years that it’s almost impossible to believe its spokeswoman when she denies it bungled the Ptech Inc. tips and investigation
. Me? I’ll gladly take the word of loyal citizens/green-card holders any day against the FBI -- and they say they repeatedly told the local FBI their concerns about possible connections between Ptech and a Saudi terrorist backer. ... You’d think the possibility of, at the very least, terrorist money-laundering at Ptech would raise eyebrows at the FBI. But here’s a partial software client list for Ptech: the White House, the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration, IRS, NATO, NAVAIR, Sprint, US Department of Energy, US Department of Education, US House of Representatives, USDA Forest Service, US Postal Service. But the Homeland Security Department was quick yesterday to reassure us that national security hasn’t been breached. I kind of doubt it, too. But ... there’s this article on the vulnerability of U.S. contractors
in general and this Herald story
on why the potential damage at Ptech can't be so easily dismissed. Let’s not overestimate these terrorists, but don’t underestimate them either. They’re not only ruthless, but they’ve repeatedly shown their operations are quite nimble and sophisticated in their use of the latest technology. ...
... My favorite lines from all of this morning’s coverage (see first link): “The New York Times reported last month that Bruce Gebhardt, the FBI's deputy director, sent a memo to the FBI's 56 field offices, saying he was ‘amazed and astounded’ that field supervisors were not committing essential resources to fighting terrorism. The (Ptech) allegation is the latest in a series of embarrassments for the Boston FBI office, including a failure to follow up on bank robber Gary Sampson's offer to surrender before he went on a killing spree, and the scandal over the agency's coddling of murderous organized crime informants.”
Ah, yes, the scandal over the FBI’s coddling of those murderous organized crime informants ... on to the next item!
Billy takes the Fifth
: It should go without saying that Billy had every right to invoke the Fifth Amendment
yesterday. And I’ve come around to the notion that, to a degree, the Dan Burton-led hearing was indeed designed to catch Billy in a perjury trap. However, during all the Burton bashing of late, I completely forgot that two Massachusetts Congressmen, Stephen Lynch and Marty Meehan, sit on Burton’s committee. Lynch, in particular, is emerging as a mini-hero within these proceedings, which, it should be noted, haven’t exclusively focused on Billy Bulger’s role in the Winter Hill/FBI capers. Check out Lynch’s comments at the end of Peter Gelzinis’ column
this morning. He’s sticking his neck out on this one. Next time Billy et gang start bashing Dan Burton, remember Stephen Lynch and Marty Meehan. ... The clock is ticking on Billy’s tenure at UMass. From a Globe editorial this morning
, reacting to UMass’ rather quick issuance
of a statement backing Bulger yesterday: “But the see-no-evil UMass board apparently has no such doubts. Its loyalty to Bulger is as misplaced as Bulger's is to his brother. Where is William Bulger's loyalty to society, and particularly to South Boston, where a number of families and business people were terrorized and countless lives ruined by his brother's savagery?”
Postscript: FYI, here's the NYT's take
on yesterday's hearing.
You gotta feel bad for all the honest priests out there in the parishes, as they watch the church’s sex-abuse scandal unfold every day. Now they’re talking of a revolt
, sort of. Watch for Law’s crack down.
Yep, Oren Yiftachel
manages to squeeze in a reference to McCarthyism in this oped. Of course. My favorite line: “This is no accident. A well-organized system of Jewish and right-wing Christian organizations (actively supported by right-wing Israeli elements) is working on American campuses, exerting heavy pressure on media outlets, and operating dozens of Internet sites.” ... Dozens of Internet sites? Good God! Is he talking about weblogs, too? No one told me that I might be inadvertently joining a vast-Jewish-right-wing conspiracy by starting this blog. I want my money back! Wait a second. I don’t pay for this blog. ... Listen, Oren does allude to a lot of good points: the Jewish settlements, the growing racial ugliness of many right-wing Israelis; how the Palestinians need a state of their own one day. But what I think the academic Oren is really upset about is that, on American campuses, many students and faculty members haven’t universally embraced a “left-wing” view (I use that term loosely) of the Middle East and that many students and faculty members with a “right-wing” view (I use that term even more loosely) are actually pushing back.
My faith ... tested again
: Have a window of opportunity to blog, then it’s off again.
I don’t quite know what to say about the Rev. James Foley story
. I don’t want to be too personal in this blog. When I started Hub Blog, I set out to write about public policy issues and other assorted shenanigans of importance and interest to Bostonians, occasionally referring to my own personal experiences in casual generalities, such as my having worked as a journalist for 20 some odd years and what I’ve learned from that experience.
But this morning’s news about Father Foley ... it’s very personal. As I write, there’s a photo on my windowsill of Father Foley and I together at a restaurant, surrounded by a group of smiling friends. Father Foley is a dear friend of mine. And always will be. In a way, Father Foley is my only true link to the Catholic Church. One might describe me as a semi-agnostic/cultural Catholic who nevertheless still loves the church for all its rich traditions and mysteries. Father Foley always understood this side of me -- and respected it. He never once urged me to explore my faith or to start attending Mass. He knew it was more complicated than that. Over the years, I’ve had countless conversations with Father Foley -- about faith, God, the bible, the church, golf, politics, history, the best tasting scotch etc. I’ve always been touched by his deep, quiet spirituality -- and moved, above all, by his gentle respect for others’ viewpoints. And I’ve always thought, “Well, if I ever return to the Church as a practicing Catholic, it’s going to be because of people like Father Foley.”
In the past year, my faith in the church (actually, it’s more like an ingrained allegiance) has been sorely tested, as it has for so many Boston Catholics. Still ... I always thought of Father Foley. He was my rock. My only true link to the Church. A dear friend. “Well, if I ever go back to the Church as a practicing Catholic, it’s going to be because of people like Father Foley. ... ”
And now this. When I first learned last night of the trouble he was in and then read this morning’s papers, I wanted to burst out crying. ''It's all true,'' Father Foley told the Globe yesterday. ''Yes, I made mistakes when I was younger but I have led a proper, priestly life since then. ... I should be judged by my whole career, not just what is spelled out in that letter.'' And he has been a good priest. And he should be judged by his whole career. I truly believe him. And I truly believe that he truly believes. I can’t stand to think of the pain he’s now enduring. He’s a dear friend. And always will be. But I also want to know this: What happened to that poor woman many years ago? And what happened to her and his children? Are they well? Have they been cared for? Are they happy? Do they know
? That’s who we should be thinking of now.
“Well, if I ever go back to the Church as a practicing Catholic, it’s going to be because of people like Father Foley. ... ”
What a horrible realization to arrive at -- to know that’s no longer possible. Father Foley was suspended from his clergy duties yesterday by Cardinal Law, who should have resigned at the same time.
: Couple of emails have come in. The first asks whether I knew about his deep past. Answer: No, I didn't. I hope that comes across in my post. The second asks whether I think his acts stack up with other sex scandals. Answer: No, but ... I would like to know the answers to my questions. I don't want the children's privacy violated, I'm just asking questions in general. ... P.S. Strange how all these scandals come back to children, eh?
Update -- 12-9-02
-- See above link
for more on the same subject. 'Complicated' people indeed.
My heart really isn't into it today, but here are some other posts ...
The Petulant Tiger
: There’s this view
of Mayor Menino. And there’s this view
The conservative media
: Check out Dan Kennedy’s
take on the Howell Raines/spiked story controversy. In the past few weeks, Dan’s raised some intriguing points about the conservative opinion media. I disagree with him on many points, but he’s definitely on to something when he talks about the growing power of the conservative opinion media. Hope to write about the subject at a different time. ... Also check out this Instapundit
item on the Howell Raines/spiked story incident. My sentiments, exactly. The NYT is a great American institution. Howell Raines’ ‘crusading’ on every issue he feels strongly about is destroying a bond with so many readers. I have a feeling many NYT staffers are thinking the same thing.
: This just in: Howell Raines now plans to run the two spiked columns
. It took courage to do this -- and that's refreshing and encouraging.
: I'm going to be busy with business and some personal matters for most of the day. I'll try blogging later this afternoon/early evening. ... NECN is carrying the Congressional hearing/Bulger appearance live (yes, Billy is there) as I write. Billy's attorney just tried to postpone his testimony, but the request was quickly shot down. Bulger just got sworn in. He's about to read from a statement. And ... he's asking for a closed hearing. The request was just voted down by the committee. .... Wait! Billy is taking the Fifth Amendment. Howie was right! ...And the committee just adjourned. Nine minutes. Over. Wow. ... And I got to go. (What a news day in Boston.)
Safire on Bulger
: As I've said before, sometimes an outsider has a more clear vision
than we do of ourselves and our surroundings. Safire to Billy's older brother: "Message to Whitey, wherever you are: Loyalty runs two ways. Call your kid brother. Surrender to the F.B.I. through him. Hasn't he laid his career on the line by being fiercely loyal to you? You're an old man now; have you thought of returning that loyalty by saving him from the taint of having helped you? Won't happen. The bad seed is probably laughing at his brother for being such a sucker. "
Laughing? Maybe. But I doubt it. I think Whitey angrily expects loyalty -- or else. He's a gangster after all. ... P.S. Bill Safire, careful how you use the word 'good.' Billy Bulger has a documented record of protecting his 'bad seed' brother's back -- legislative tricks, convenient patronage hires, budgetary cuts at key times at the State Police etc. Billy Bulger "laid" his career on the line years ago, Bill. Minor quibble with an otherwise great column ... Thanks to Brighton reader for the tip. Don't know how I missed it.
: Ellen Goodman
looked all set to break out of form by criticizing fellow feminists over their Miss World comments. And then she pulled a punch. Somewhere. Somehow. Think it was done somewhere in the attributions. Very artful.
Bankrupt leadership: The Globe
, again, is urging Cardinal Law to step down. He won’t, of course. ... The lead on Adrian Walker’s column
this morning: “How can anyone now follow this man? How can any sane person worship at an altar presided over by a cleric who provided the support -- I refuse to call it moral support -- to sick, depraved priests that Cardinal Bernard F.
Law did?” And your point, Adrian? ... Margery Eagan
, well, you already know her point.
What, no backhoe?:
Yeah, it was a ‘dead end’
all right. Peter Gelzinis
finds the timing of the Bulger burial tip just a tad coincidental.
Menino and taxes
: A couple of readers have sent emails asking why I didn't post on Mayor Menino's call for tax/fees increases
on sporting/entertainment tickets, parking, towing, restaurant meals etc. Hub Blog's response: I was too busy with 'leaders' covering up for murders, rapes etc. ... As for the proposed new taxes, I'm not a 'no-new-taxes' type of person. Taxes are needed. I honestly (wait, strike the word 'honestly' -- see items below) believe one can justify tax increases if they're earmarked for specific purposes. ( I favor a gasoline tax if it's earmarked for construction of new rail lines in Massachusetts, for instance.) But the mayor's proposals? Not one, as far as I can see, is earmarked for a specific service. Not one. He's also trying to tie the increases to the budget woes in the suburbs. Whoa. Selfishly, I would support an increase in: A.) towing charges (I live in the city) and B.) restaurant taxes (I'm still peeved about the non-smoking proposal for bars and restaurants -- let the Puritans pay the price for their self-righteousness.) But sporting events? Parking fees? Etc.? Who was it that recently wrote that Menino was trying his best to sqeeze the fun out of nightlife in Boston? Was it the Phoenix? I forget. But that's what he's doing. The mayor is getting old and full of himself. Not quite as bad as Kevin White, another pol who stuck around too long. But it's reaching that point, quickly.
'Bulger and the Watermelon Man'
: Dan Kennedy
has some interesting thoughts on the Bulger affair. OK, I'll concede: U.S. Rep. Dan Burton isn't a saint. He's not my top choice for a sheriff to be leading our Bulger posse. Still, an alleged killer is on the loose, and one of this state's top former lawmakers chose brotherly loyalty over public duty and safety. Let him squirm before the committee. A little humiliation is a hell of a lot better than what others got from Whitey, Stevie, the FBI and, yes, Billy, over the years.
: Yes, yes, yes. Billy is a victim
. He's outraged. Outraged! We need justice. Find that leaker. Meanwhile, his brother, who Billy will do nothing to help find and apprehend, is still eluding justice for his alleged connection to 21 murders. Twenty-one murders. Billy Bulger. What a twisted mind.
Update II: NECN is reporting that, if Billy testifies on Friday, TV channels in Boston plan to carry it live.
: Met a fellow Boston blogger, John Farrell
, for lunch at Legal's in Park Square. Good conversation about blogging, writing, Boston, Billy Bulger, whatever. He has a real cool idea for a fiction series, sort of a science fiction/detective saga, but, no, it's not another X-Files. That's all the details I can give. If there are any interested book agents out there ...
‘Honest loyalty,’ Part II
: Love that phrase -- ‘honest loyalty.’ So, so ... so gangster-like in all its twisted logic. (Nobody talks more about ‘honesty’ and ‘loyalty’ than wiseguys. Nobody is more dishonest and disloyal than wiseguys cutting deals with the feds or plunging knives in the back of friends when it serves a useful purpose. What’s the old Mark Twain line about getting queasy when a dinner guest goes on and on about his honesty? ... ) Anyway ...
Where to begin? Seems like every columnist in town is scrambling to get a piece of the Billy action. But I think the most important story is this: Mitt thinks Billy should testify
... or else. Mitt, Mitt, Mitt. What’s this about civic duty? You’re such a Boy Scout, Mitt. Don’t you know you’re supposed to dodge, weave, fudge and say you really haven’t formed an opinion yet on whether the president of the UMass system should testify before a Congressional committee? I mean, this is Massachusetts, Mitt. You’re a Beacon Hill insider now. Start acting like one! ... Billy is pulling a Ronald Reagan
, who at least had a verifiable medical excuse for his loss of memory when testifying under oath during the Iran-Contra scandal. ... Bulger has a $200,000 a year pension
waiting for him? Two-hundred frigging thousand dollars?
Billy, take Howie’s advice: Grab the loot and scram. Share it with Whitey if you want, but, whatever you do, don’t mutter anything that will get you convicted on a perjury charge. Convicted felons aren’t supposed to get state pensions in Massachusetts (with the words ‘supposed to’ heavily qualified). ... Billy, the clock is ticking at UMass
. Negotiate a better deal if you want. It’s a risk. But go. Just go. ... The code of silence
indeed. ... Loyalty to murder victims?
C’mon, Eileen. He’s not talking about that
type of loyalty.
And now for a different type of ‘honest loyalty’
: Cardinal ‘I didn’t know the extent’ Law knows about loyalty
, too, of the Billy variety, not the Eileen variety. As for the ‘honest’ part, you decide. ... Another Boy Scout
is talking frankly! (Or was -- and years ago, Cardinal.)
Check out yesterday’s items, which were posted late ...
Ah, here are my posts for today -- 12-03-02, 6:30 p.m.:
Better late than never. Wrote these items early this morning. Blogger was down most of the day. Seems like Blogger is trying to pull a Microsoft by nudging us, against our will, toward a pay Blogger Pro system. Can't blame them. We're mooching, after all. Get what you pay for etc. etc. etc. Still, wish they'd just come out and say, "There ain't no free lunch," rather than jerking us around and bragging about how idealistic they are. Here are my blogs for Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2002, nine hours late ...
Meet John Kerry
: It’s always fun to see non-Bostonians forming an opinion about someone we already intimately know -- in this case, John Kerry
(the Globe editorial is extremely innocuous -- typical we-have-to-say-something nonsense). The entire blogosphere is rattling with questions about John, otherwise known here as old ‘Liveshot,’ a nickname used affectionately by some, not-so affectionately by others. Mickey Kaus
got the ball rolling by asking: What it is about Kerry that makes one instinctively dislike him? (Scroll down to find item.) Josh Marshall
jumped on the issue. And so did Instapundit
. Former Boston Globe columnist John Ellis
has patiently tried to explain Kerry to fellow bloggers on several occasions
. Today, the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz
summed up: “John Kerry, it seems, is like one of those Rorschach ink blots: Everyone sees what they want.” ... Personally, Hub Blog is eagerly awaiting the day when it finally sinks in that: A.) The antiwar (of the Vietnam variety) Kerry never really threw his medals over the fence during a protest in Washington many moons ago B.) Kerry filmed most of his Vietnam war exploits for historic and political prosperity. C.) Kerry was Michael Dukakis’ lieutenant governor before becoming U.S. Senator (local Massachusetts Republicans, as I write, are eagerly scrambling to find the most gloriously damaging videos and photos of the two together). ...
... Hub Blog’s local take on Kerry? He’s neither beloved nor hated in his home state. He’s just there. (“To put it mildly, Kerry has a warmth problem,” as Kurtz phrased it.) He’s part Bill Bradley (thoughtful), part Bill Clinton (vain and narcissistic), part JFK (yes, another full-head-of-hair pretty boy deeply influenced and touched by the Camelot image of his youth -- and, yes, Kerry’s initials really are JFK, which some say should mean, ‘Just For Kerry’). Throw it all together and you get a variation of Gary Hart, both the good and the bad. Republicans will score some points by labeling Kerry a ‘Massachusetts liberal,’ though he really isn’t one. He’s taken some daring stands over the years (though one suspects they were taken in part because he’s been eyeing the White House for years). Instead, Kerry’s candidacy will probably fizzle as more and more people are exposed to his personality. But don’t count the guy out. He ran one of the best, most aggressive re-election campaigns in ‘96 against then Gov. William Weld, who at the outset of the race was viewed by many as a favorite to win. Kerry pounded the crap out of the overrated Weld. He’s a formidable foe. His lust for intellectual acclaim and higher office is legendary. He’s a serious candidate who will drive supporters and critics alike absolutely nuts.
A reader familiar with the Kerry/Weld race in ‘96 responds
“First (and this is in Joe Klein NYer piece): Kerry threw the ribbons that went with his medals over that famous fence. So, no, he didn’t throw his MEDALS, but he did throw decorations awarded him by the U.S. Navy for exemplary service. He also threw medals or ribbons given to him by other vets who could not be there that day, which leads to the ‘Kerry threw somebody else’s medals’ story.
“Second, he didn’t film ‘his war exploits’ -- the little of those films I’ve seen are more like home movies of his buddies. A lot of soldiers took snapshots. Kerry was a rich guy even then, so he could afford a movie camera. And saying he made the films for ‘historic and political prosperity’ is a guess, not a fact.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Good points. Let’s take them in order: 1.) We agree Kerry did NOT throw his medals over the fence during the protest, which was the whole purpose of the event; the event wasn’t about throwing medals’ ribbons over the fence or throwing others’ medals over the fence. Ultimately, it was an empty gesture on Kerry’s part. He wanted to have it both ways. 2.) We agree Kerry did film some of his war experiences (exploits, whatever), though I’ll concede he may not have done it as much (or in the style) as I implied. As for his motives for filming some of his Vietnam experiences, it’s indeed anyone’s guess, but, with everything we now know about Kerry, I think it’s entirely reasonable to jump to the conclusion (though not a fact) that he was building up his own PT-109 portfolio for future use, as well as trying out a cool gadget only rich kids could afford at the time.
. The same reader, who regularly reads Hub Blog, also made this suggestion: “I’d love to see less summary and more commentary” in Hub Blog. We agree on that point -- and I plead guilty. Thanks for the tip. ... One other point: Yikes! People are reading this and I’m going to get a good Fisking one of these days if I’m not careful.
Now an update on another issue of importance in old liberal Massachusetts ...
So Billy Bulger spoke to Whitey
after his big brother skipped town in ‘95. A lawyer, Billy didn’t tell his outlaw brother to turn himself in to the feds. But didn’t Billy, as a lawyer, feel a sense of duty to do so -- to the law, to the people of Massachusetts? ''I never thought of it that way,'' said Bulger, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate and current head of the UMass system. ''But I do have an honest loyalty to my brother, and I care about him, and I know that that's not welcome news, but ... it's my hope that I'm never helpful to anyone against him ... I don't feel an obligation to help everyone to catch him.''
Now, one can view these words as a sign of ‘brotherly love,’ as Brian McGrory
sentimentally writes, as if this is still mid-1980s Boston. Or one can view Bulger’s words as those of a gangster, as Peter Gelzinis
non-sentimentally writes in 2002, post-‘Black Mass’ Boston. My favorite quote today comes from Steve Davis, whose sister was strangled to death by Stevie and Whitey in a Southie basement, next door to Billy’s house. “Look, I come from a whole line of brothers,” Davis told Gelzinis. “We always knew what the other ones were up to -- even if we didn't want to know. Don't tell me Billy didn't know what his scumbag brother was up to.”
Oh, yes, his scumbag brother -- and Billy’s documented legislative, budgetary and patronage shenanigans to protect friends of Whitey and punish those who wanted to catch the psychopath. But Billy “It's my hope that I'm never helpful to anyone against him ” Bulger now expresses regret (indicating Steve Davis is right about his prior knowledge of Whitey’s deeds, of course) that he didn’t have a heart-to-heart talk with his older smumbag brother while his older scumbag brother was pulling off all his scumbag capers, including first-degree murders. You know, straighten him out. Ah, brotherly love.
: Cosmo Macero
doesn’t like the fact that John Poindexter might lead the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Cosmo: “The premise alone suggests J. Edgar Hoover has been reanimated for the war on terrorism. Because the starting point for this Mission Unconscionable is a chilling government catalog of everyday American life.And the red flags won't be limited to clumsy consumer purchases of firearms, fertilizer and tickets to Tel Aviv. Consider: The data input list for Total Information Awareness suggests the Pentagon will track Americans' ‘financial, education, travel, medical, veterinary, transportation, housing’ and other transactions. My favorite: ‘Place and event entry.’ Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the government won't be following you." ... John Poindexter. Henry Kissinger. Who's next? G. Gordon Liddy?
: It was an important day
in the history of the Boston media, for it meant Boston would remain one of the few two-newspapers towns in America. ... And was it really 20 years ago? Yikes!
Rating African progress
: Robert I. Rotberg
has a good piece on the need to rate the progress of governing in Africa. Believe me, the government cronies over there pay attention to these ratings. They have an impact. That's why some leaders want to drop them.
Whitewashing ‘theocratic fascism’
: Cathy Young
starts off this morning’s Globe column ('Blaming the victim of terrorism') with this:
“While I generally agree with the conservatives when it comes to the war on terror, there is a worrisome tendency on the right today to impugn the patriotism of political opponents. (Rush Limbaugh calling Senator Tom Daschle ‘Hanoi Tom’ and ‘Tokyo Tom’ for his criticism of the Bush Administration's war policies comes to mind.) But there is an equally real and disturbing
tendency on the left to blame America first and to promote the notion of moral equivalency between Western democracies and their enemies.”
From there, she rarely misses a beat, taking on John Reed, Chris Hedges, Jill Nelson and others on the left who do blame America first and promote the notion of moral equivalency between Americans and terrorists. Her kicker line: “Some so-called progressives, it seems, would rather whitewash theocratic fascism than acknowledge that the West holds the moral high ground in any conflict. Ironically, this repugnant attitude only helps those conservatives who would demonize all dissent on war-related issues. It certainly makes their job easier.”
Rush Limbaugh certainly is a moron -- and his jackass demonizing of Tom Daschle is sickening. Every self-respecting conservative, moderate and liberal should condemn such remarks, just as we should condemn anyone who makes gross generalizations about, say, Muslim Americans, blah, blah, blah. But what’s been said on the left about America and Americans in general since Sept. 11 -- and what’s continuing to be said on the far left, both here and abroad -- is morally and intellectually appalling. On any given day we’re: imperialists, dolts, murderers, environmental rapists, stupid warmongers, immature, arrogant, selfish, obese, racist etc. etc. etc. The only thing I haven’t heard yet from the far left is, “Your mother wears army boots.” ... I recently finished William Shirer’s “The Collapse of the Third Republic," a fascinating inquiry into the fall of France in 1940. What astonished me -- and shouldn’t have astonished me -- was the number of Socialists who effortlessly shifted from the hard-core left to the hard-core right before, during and after the fall of France. They didn’t miss a beat. Their extremism, their narrow-minded fanaticism simply shifted to a different plane of political extremism and narrow-minded fanaticism. We’re seeing a variation of that shift today: Hard-core leftists apologizing for, covering up for, expressing sympathy for, and/or rooting for theocratic fascism. The intellectual bridge that makes this possible? Anti-Americanism.
Update -- 10:17 a.m
.: Not to harp on this point too much (OK, I’m harping too much), but ... Flipped back through William Shirer’s “The Collapse of the Third Republic” and found this passage on France’s Georges Sorel, the ‘penetrating but shifting bourgeois philosopher’ who swung hard-core left, then right, then left and who in 1912 had interesting things to say about a certain Italian who also flip-flopped his way across the political spectrum. Sorel, whose writings influenced this Italian, said of him:
“Our Mussolini is no ordinary Socialist. Believe me, you will perhaps see him one day at the head of a sacred battalion, saluting with his sword the Italian banner. He is an Italian of the fifteenth century, a condottiere
. People do not know it, but he is the only energetic man capable of readdressing the weakness of government.”
Hmmm. Benito. Osama. Excuses. Illogic. Shared grievances. Readdressing the wickedness of America.
Post Thanksgiving, Day 3
: Worked out yesterday, again. Didn’t go to a bar afterward, unlike the day before. Feel very fit and proud. Almost back to pre-T-Day normal obesity levels ... Anyway, today’s Globe and Herald make you feel lucky to live in Boston. I mean, what a news town. Today’s Sunday Globe is one of its best Sunday editions of the year -- scoops, solid local stories, world stories, complicated stories, satisfying stories, interesting stories. The Herald’s Sunday paper ain’t bad either, as they say. There’s a lot of material here. Take your pick. ...
The Sunday Globe ...
Now they’re financially bankrupt
: We already knew they were morally bankrupt. Now they’re on the verge of declaring financial bankruptcy
. Is there an Economics 101 lesson here? ... Key graf: “Moving the church's troubles into bankruptcy court -- if negotiations fail -- would amount to an admission by the archdiocese that it is liable for the claims because of its negligence, according to one of the church sources. It would also mean that Law would no longer have to answer embarrassing questions in pretrial depositions about his oversight of abusive priests, and his lawyers could stop providing plaintiffs' lawyers with damaging files about priests.” ... The last sentence is probably, for Law, the most important consideration.
Chechens and nukes
: Globe reporter David Filipov
reports on how Chechen rebels have repeatedly tried to -- and possibly succeeded in-- obtaining nuke warheads and other nuclear materials. From the story: “John Colarusso, a specialist on the Caucasus region at McMaster University in Ontario, said, ‘I am reasonably certain that they have or had at least three warheads.’” ... Not everyone agrees with that assertion. Still: “The commander of Russia's nuclear arsenal, Colonel General Igor Valynkin, has reported two efforts by armed groups to probe the defenses at nuclear weapons storage sites.” ... ... P.S. One still wonders how Filipov, whose father was killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, holds it so magnificently together. His reporting hasn’t shown a trace of obsessive anger or vindictiveness. His best and only vengeance has been his professionalism: Just find and show the facts. What a reporter.
Another John Rawls tribute
: Quick summary of a great man’s achievements
: “John Rawls's distinctive contribution to our political culture, however, lies principally in his political philosophy - a contribution that is abstract, but also deeply practical.” ... As I’ve said, I didn’t know much about his work before his recent death, but now ... it just makes sense.
Iran’s ‘Second Revolution’
: Agree with Instapundit
on this one: Why aren’t events in Iran getting more attention? As Jeff Jacoby
says: “The extraordinary scenes in Tehran, Tabriz, and Isfahan evoke memories of 1989, when prodemocracy demonstrations drew massive throngs into the streets of Eastern Europe and China. In Europe, those demonstrations led to freedom; in China, they led to the Tiananmen Square massacre. Which way Iran will go - the toppling of the dictatorship or a brutal crackdown on the demonstrators - there is no way to know.”
Housing, sprawl and septic tanks
: I don’t know about this one
. It sure looks like it would promote sprawl in Central and Western Massachusetts. But we also need more housing -- and government regulations, at the local and state levels, have done so much to cause the current housing crisis. The key remains, in my opinion, local zoning laws, not state laws.
Sidewalk superintendents, take note
: As you’ve probably noticed, Hub Blog is an incurable sidewalk superintendent. As I stroll around town, I have an opinion on the style/appropriateness of every new building, every vacant lot, every construction project. Guess it’s my Tonka-Truck gene. This Logan project
sounds cool, and if the description is accurate, I think it’s going to give foreign visitors an awesome first-impression of Boston.
Ah, now for the Herald ...
Reassuring news from the Statehouse
: Can it be true? They’re actually serious about closing the budget gap through logical reform and reorganizations? They may not be successful, but at least they’re trying
. This is very reassuring news about Mitt’s earnest seriousness.
Billy and Whitey
: Both Peter Gelzinis
and Wayne Woodlief
believe Billy Bulger will simply try to ignore the House committee’s subpoena. Peter: “It's obvious: there were far too many points of intersection between Billy and Whitey in those years when one ruled Beacon Hill and the other ruled the local underworld. The brothers looked out for each other in those years when both their fortunes rose exponentially.” Obvious indeed. Wayne: “On Friday, Burton committee chief counsel James Wilson was talking tough. He said the committee will subpoena Bulger and that if he refuses to testify he could be held in contempt of Congress and even jailed. But do not expect to see this Bulger led off in handcuffs. He knows the score on a Congress in adjournment.”
Dominatrix, Part II: Margery Eagan
asks: “Perhaps you, too, read all this and asked yourself: Who are these people, please?” Oh, we at Hub Blog read it all right
-- and we asked the very same question.
Post Thanksgiving, Day 2:
Worked out yesterday to try to shed some of the Turkey Day pounds -- and then afterward hit a bar for some holiday cheer at 3:30 p.m. Didn’t emerge until 8: 30 p.m. Somehow, I don’t think this is the way to lose weight. ... Again, keeping the posts light on this glorious holiday weekend ...
John Rawls tribute
: Hub Blog isn’t overly familiar with the works of John Rawls, but this piece
strikes me as one of the better descriptions of his views on a just society. Rawls died earlier this week.
Open testimony and secret courts
: The New York Times’ take on the never-ending Bulger saga
and Harvard’s ‘Secret Court.’
And last but certainly not least ...
‘Dominatrix pleads not guilty: Kinky Quincy Mistress demure in date with court’
: That’s the headline. Here’s the story
. (The Can’t-Stop-Reading lead: “Acting more the part of Miss Manners than mistress of the dark, a former Quincy dominatrix pleaded innocent yesterday to charges she helped dice up and dispose of a New Hampshire father who died in her homemade dungeon.”)
Update - 10:35 a.m.
: More Boston-area bloggers to check out -- DVZ Isle of Zile
and The Daily Steve
A fat and happy post-Thanksgiving blogger
: T-Day was everything I expected and more. Very content. (Hub Blog even made off with the leftover creamed onions, unbeknownst to rival siblings, who will be quite angry when they read this confession.) Will try to keep blogging light over the next few days. Must go to the gym to sweat off newly acquired bloat etc. Some casual posts for the day (OK, maybe not so light) ...
: Judging by the lead and ending of his story, Nick Cafardo
seems impressed with the Pats’ victory yesterday. Hub Blog wasn’t impressed at all, but I’ll take the win.
Two day-after Thanksgiving views of the American mindset
: In a piece entitled ‘The problem at the root of US-European discord,’ columnist William Pfaff
finds the problem: George Bush, neoconservativism, and Americans’ religiousness. Besides blaming every toothache in the world on Americans, anyone who can lump Madeleine Albright and George Ball into a neoconservative category normally loses me. But I plowed on and found this nugget: “Manicheism had largely disappeared in Europe by the 6th century, although it influenced the medieval heresies of the Cathars, Albigenses, and the Bogomils. Its dualism is an interpretation of existence that has proven persistent and seductive. In the United States its religious expression has weakened, but its influence on the American mind, as it addresses foreign affairs, is stronger than ever” ... But H.D.S. Greenway
sees some of the same religious factors and draws a different (and more balanced) political conclusion. “They (Pilgrims and other early American settlers) were not a tolerant crowd. The equality that Abraham Lincoln would later speak of did not apply then to all races and creeds -- an omission that haunts us even now. But the act of submission and obedience to just and equal laws, the determination to live self-governing lives, was a new concept then, and all too rare in the world even today. 'We must never forget this,’ the historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote, ‘for in the colonies of other European nations the will of the prince, or his representative, was supreme.’” Greenway adds: “The rights, privileges, and aristocratic airs of European courts were not suited to the New World. ‘In Virginia,’ wrote Captain John Smith, ‘a plaine Souldier that can use a pick-ax and spade is better than five knights.’” ... Gee, William forgot to mention all those dukes, barons, princes, princesses, kings and queens -- not to mention assorted Kaisers, Generalissimos, Fuhrers etc. -- who were still around in the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th centuries. Must have slipped his mind during his weighty analysis of lingering 6th Century Manicheism.
A new epilogue for ‘Black Mass’?:
Howie Carr thinks Billy Bulger
is going to take the Fifth when he appears before a Congressional hearing. Howie: “How odd that it takes a Republican congressman from Indiana to hammer the final nail into the Bulger coffin. For once, the Corrupt Midget runs into someone who cannot be bought off with a courthouse job, a low-number license plate, or, failing that, a threat. No longer can Bulger haughtily quote Tacitus or say in his fake brogue that he will address the issue of organized crime score-settling in the state budget only when he ‘deems it appropriate.’ ... Believe it or not, there are still people defending the Bulger/FBI crowd. The book ‘Black Mass’ should be required reading for Bostonians.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving
: Off to watch a high-school football game, followed by the traditional stuff-a-thon at my parents. I have no doubt my Thanksgiving will resemble what Margery Eagan described a few days ago
. And I look forward to every minute of it. Have a great Thanksgiving.
Yes, let’s big-dig ‘em, by all means
: Introducing a new word (and not just a nickname) into the local vocabulary: ‘big-dig’ (v. -- to swindle money from feds, to shamelessly loot, to hoodwink non-Massachusetts residents into paying for local boondoggles -- big-digging
-- We sure big-digged them again
-- / ... Big Dig/big-dig (n.). 1. Name of large tunnel construction project in Boston in late 20th Century, early 21st Century, locally known as the ‘Big Dig’ project. 2. Noun used to signify big projects in Boston paid for by the federal government. -- Oh, don't worry. It's another big-dig. We're not paying a dime.
/ ... big-dig (adj.-adv.) -- to describe the questionable use of fed money for local projects -- Quick, finish the job. They're on to our big-dig scam.
... ) ... With that in mind, it’s good news indeed Mitt is big-digging
the feds again. All the power to him. I don’t want to pay for the 2004 Democratic Convention. Do you?
'Angriest Man in Boston' and 'Liveshot'
: Boston is truly blessed. The number of characters here per square inch can’t be beat. One can only imagine Steve Bailey
nervously eyeing the battery light on his tape recorder as John Silber spewed out the words. ... Who are you going to believe when it comes to John Kerry: Joe Klein or Howie Carr
Response from a Globe/Hub Blog reader
: “Is anyone getting more out of their column right now than the Globe's Steve Bailey? Consistently interesting and newsy stuff. I know Marty Baron comes from a business news background and he seems to be making a big difference in that section.” ... (The same reader also has some comments below, after Reader No. 1's observations, concerning my criticism of Theo.)
Free speech at Harvard
: Alan Dershowitz
and Globe columnist Scot Lehigh
perform a journalistic tag-team maneuver on Harvard over free speech and speech codes. Dershowitz’s mischievous head-lock tactic: Asking whether a typical campus speech code would apply to the words of Tom Paulin or Amiri Baraka. Of course, their words wouldn’t be included in a typical campus speech code -- but that’s the point. Dershowitz: “Clever people can always come up with distinctions that put their cases on the prohibited side of the line and other people's cases on the permitted side of the line. ... The real problem is that offensiveness is often in the eyes and experiences of the beholder.” ...
... Meanwhile, Lehigh argues that left-leaning speech codes are sending the wrong signals to students about their freedoms and responsibilities -- and, in the process, they're weakening the foundation of free speech in general. Lehigh's warning: “With the country drifting rightward in reaction to Sept. 11, left-leaning faculty members may find themselves exchanging the role of censor for that of censored.” ... At first, I thought Lehigh was overstating the possible consequences, but, unfortunately, I think he’s right. Recall the ‘disinvite’ portion of the Paulin dispute and the pressure put on the Cambridge bookstore to cancel the appearance of an author who dared to criticize NYC firefighters. Goon-squad tactics are certainly not unique to the left.
: Ideally, Harvard would seize on all these controversies to make a bold, dramatic policy announcement on campus free speech -- a bold, dramatic policy with an intended far-reaching impact on other campuses. But idealism, alas, is also in the eyes of the beholder, so don’t expect much from the leaders over in Camp Cambridge.
: Just finished reading this article
in my print edition of Atlantic Monthly. Bobby Fischer is off-his-rocker insane.
Mini-Duke, ‘Thanks Dad’ Part II
: We finally get rid of Paul ‘Thanks Dad’ Gaston -- and a short while later we get Mini-Duke
. This isn’t a very fair trade. Thank goodness I’m not the only one
who thinks the Theo move is strange. Very strange. (And what’s up with the Bill James appointment?)... Ah, we do indeed have a new ‘Thanks Dad’ appointment
in Boston. ... The jury is still out on the new Sox ownership, but the Theo appointment combined with this
makes you wonder. ... Margery Eagan
writes about why this is going to be the best but most controversial Thanksgiving in New England since the Big One with Miles Standish. Favorite graf from the column, referring to a local Loud Family’s typical T-Day dinner conversation: “Not only does everybody talk, loudly and all at once during the meal, the game and instant replays, they debate and argue, loudly. ‘You just try and stop 'em,’ says Kevin. ‘Food in their mouths. Drumsticks. And then my sister, the teacher, will be talking all her liberal pabulum. `Who's gonna take care of the poor?' she'll say. `We can't cut taxes,' she'll say. Every year. Drives me nuts.’ ''
Reader No. 1 responds to the hiring of Theo
: "Theo seems no more of a risk than hiring an ex-jock for the post, and perhaps slightly more of a risk than a conventional pick if only because brutal fans will pick on him for his youth the first time someone blows a lead in spring training. I heard Theo interviewed by Dennis & Callahan this morning and there seems nothing that an elocution specialist can't fix (Theo, please stop saying "I guess" so much, and pronounce your "ing" at the end of words). It's a fresh approach, and on-the-field aside, the new management had a good first year with fresh approaches. By the way, I think the BIll James appointment is brilliant. There's a world of difference between James and the rotisserie leaguers his work spawned. James loves the game and he understands it."
Another reader agrees with Reader No. 1
: “Go easy on Theo. I would be careful about taking the Ordway-esque position that the Sox GM job is brain surgery.”
Speaking of Miles Standish
: Always count on James Carroll
to liven up your day.
Blowing smoke in our eyes
: It was always a racket
, involving certain turf-conscious social groups and oh-so eager ad firms. Now the Globe is confirming (sort of) what we all knew at a gut-instinct level: The anti-tobacco advertising campaign doesn’t work, and we’ve been pouring settlement money down the ‘public education’ drain for a while now. (Question: How many McMansions and/or vacation homes do you think local TV and ad execs have bought with their indirect share of the settlement loot?)
: They’re throwing another tantrum
up north. Listen, I think most of the new Homeland Defense/INS laws stink. Hub Blog has a friend who’s about to be deported (they’re not using the word ‘deport,’ but that’s what it is), and it’s unfair. But crossing the border with a gun and without permission, after being warned not to do it again, in the post-Sept. 11 era?
‘What would Jesus drive?’ - Explained
: I’ve been wondering what all the fuss has been about. Alex Beam
explains. Fun piece. And what a stupid issue.
Local Dems in trouble
: You know the Democratic party
in Massachusetts is in trouble when they actually debate this question: “Should the party resolve that it will try to appeal to ‘moderates’ and ‘mainstream’ voters?” FYI: The words ‘moderates’ and ‘mainstream’ were stricken and replaced by ‘all voters.’ ... From the same article: “‘The party has to acknowledge the fact that its hold as majority party is diminishing. The party is shrinking,’ said Secretary of State William F. Galvin, a ranking Democrat who has never been a favorite of party apparatchiks.” ... Apparatchiks. Interesting word choice, but very appropriate when the words ‘moderates’ and ‘mainstream’ are all but declared taboo by the party’s ruling class.
John Kerry, confessor
: Haven’t read Joe Klein’s buzz-generating New Yorker article on John Kerry (I’m not a subscriber and the magazine hasn’t posted the story yet). But here’s the Herald’s take
on the piece. ... Joe Sciacca
This is a big story. Seems the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s
powers are about to expire. Hub Blog’s gut instinct is that the BRA has done more good than bad over the years. Look around. There really is a ‘new’ Boston, as much as I cynically like to poke fun of the word. Sure, the BRA, in its early stages in the ‘50s and ‘60s, acted in almost utopian/imperialistic manner, tearing down entire neighborhoods in the pursuit of ‘revitalization.’ But that early utopian mindset -- in which it was believed government could solve all theoretical problems through centralized planning and blunt force -- reflected a different time. Kane Simonian is long gone. So is Ed Logue, who slowly adapted to new realities as his long term as BRA director played out. Ironically, the ‘new’ Boston was partly created by an acceptance that the ‘old’ Boston had to be preserved. The BRA slowly changed with the times. Maybe the BRA’s powers need to be clipped, but Boston still needs a strong planning/development agency that can overcome the city’s historically powerful neighborhood bosses and interest groups. Otherwise, a lot of things won’t get done.
Religion in America
: Cathy Young has an interesting piece on the role of religion
(i.e. Christianity) in America. It’s a never ending balancing act. And, at times, it's our job to keep both sides off balance.
Jerry Williams is 79 years old?:
It’s pretty obvious even Williams doesn’t think his return to the airwaves
is a good idea. Jerry, hold your head high and just call it quits.
The ad recovery
: Well, this doesn’t bode well
for my job search ...
Throwing money at the problem
: Whatever it takes
. Whatever it takes.
Harvard's 'secret court'
: The fact Harvard University once convened a ‘secret court’
to root out homosexuals on campus isn’t so shocking, as tragic as it was, for it happened 80 years ago. What is
sad and shocking is that it’s still happening
today at another great American institution. Makes you wonder whether the Pentagon understands the 'whatever it takes' mindset of most Americans when it comes to the war ... Note: The Herald did a terrific piece yesterday on the Crimson exposé but I lost the link. If anyone has one, flip it my way.
: Oh, yeah, it should go without saying another (formerly) respected institution is also convening courts
'We don't need to change a thing’
: Interesting piece on how to brand the ‘new’ Boston
for the 2004 Democratic Convention. The best (but ‘minority’ ) view came from Barry Tatelman, of Jordan’s Furniture fame, who flatly said, “We don’t need to change a thing.” The Globe paraphrases Tatelman, “Let visitors see the city the way the natives do, and the visitors will also fall in love with the Hub.” ... Kevin Keller, a professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, advises: “Avoid the left-of-center liberal image and embrace more middle-of-the-road mainstream American values.'' You mean, accurately reflect the true image of the region (i.e. McGovern ‘72 and
Reagan ‘80 and ‘84)? The truth? Not sure that’s the non-Camelot image Dems want to send about the ‘new’ Boston. ...
Catholic pain and anger
: This story is painful to read
. Just painful. Is Monsignor Michael Smith Foster, who was falsely accused of sexual abuse, angry at church critics and accusers? Not really. He’s more angry at someone else. Guess who. Here’s an excerpt from the story that shows why Foster is a class act: “Foster says he has no interest in being ‘the poster boy for the falsely accused.’ Foster says it is the victims of priests, and not him, who deserve the church's undivided attention. ‘What I've been through doesn't compare to what these [victims] have been through. They need to hear how sorry the church is for what's been done. They need the apology. They need healing,’ he said. ‘They need to be reached out to. For people in authority, that's their first obligation.’ Asked if the church is doing better in that regard, Foster responded: ‘On one day, yes. On another day, no.’”... Eileen McNamara
, who deserves credit along with a few others for getting the ball rolling on this scandal, writes today: “Withholding the truth until forced to answer specific questions under oath might be a workable legal strategy (for the church), but it casts doubt on the well-orchestrated displays of public remorse the cardinal has engaged in during the last few weeks.” Casting doubt, indeed. ... This is a no-brainer strategy
. They should obey the law -- or face the consequences -- just like any other citizen.
Housing in Greater Boston, Part XXXVIIII:
I know, Hub Blog is overdoing it on the housing issue. I’m getting bored of it too. But a lot of good stuff today on the issue -- beyond the screaming and yelling over rent control. The Globe’s Anthony Flint
takes a thoughtful look at ‘smart’ and/or ‘dense’ growth. In a way, this is partly a story about the state's affordable housing law, Chapter 40B, which allows developers to override local objections in communities that have less than 10 percent affordable housing. The law is 33 years old, obviously hasn’t worked very well, polarizes debate whenever it’s used. Maybe it’s time to junk it. The problem with Chapter 40B, as Hub Blog sees it, is that that it’s part social program (an attempt to integrate
lower-income residents into more affluent communities, to put it bluntly), part housing program. What’s really intriguing about Flint’s article is that the incoming Romney administration appears to be embracing ‘smart’ growth policies. There’s a part of me who’s rooting for them to succeed, but there’s also a part of me who suspects the Romney crowd won’t be able to rise above their suburban/class status -- and a ‘smart growth’ campaign will probably founder the minute many suburbanites realize ‘smart growth’ might apply to their towns, lives and McMansion aspirations near 495. ... Here’s why
the Romney and Menino administrations should, in fact, take the housing issue seriously, as opposed to giving it the old lip-service or demagogue treatment. Unfortunately, Wayne Woodlief
doesn’t hold out hope of Menino backing away from his current child-like approach.
Brighton reader on rent control ...:
As promised a few days ago, I’m posting excerpts of an email from a regular Brighton reader, who lives in his owner-occupied home, rents to a tenant, and has a completely different take on rent-control. I’m printing this to show Hub Blog is oh-so fair and balanced. (Plus, I get to trash his views at the end because this is my blog. Just kidding ... sort of.) Here goes:
“The City Council did not ‘stand up’ to the mayor. It caved to landlords. ...
“Last year, the business community mobilized to defeat the Community Preservation Act in Boston. This year, landlords worked to defeat rent control in Boston. So where is their commitment and energy to create affordable housing? Families are leaving the city because housing prices are so high. The fact that rents have ‘stabilized’ after years of increases is not much
“What will they support? Fact: 5,000 square feet is enough land to build a single-family home in most of Boston, often less than that. Compare that to most surrounding towns. Both Massachusetts and Boston have low rates of home ownership compared to the national average.
“Take a ride through almost any street in the outlying neighborhoods of Boston and you will be able to pick out the non-owner occupied homes by sight. Those of us who live here are fed up, owner and tenant alike.
“Despite regulation in the 1980's, there were still big rent increases, huge numbers of condo conversions and eventually a market crash that hurt owner-occupants especially hard. Stronger regulation would have helped dampen the speculative frenzy.
“Sorry if that is not pithy enough, I have to master the rap art of blogging.”
Hub Blog’s response: First, you’re closer to mastering blogging than you think. Second, to your views, the mayor has shown little or no courage when it comes to housing issues in the city. His own support for the Community Preservation Act was, shall we say, lukewarm, at best, as we all know. Meanwhile, he drags his feet on some promising developments, such as Hayward Place, and has failed to outline any comprehensive, practical plan of attack to construct more housing in the city. (Setting lofty goals by picking numbers out of thin air might loosely be described as ‘strategic’ in vision, but he has no tactical plans to achieve those goals.) So what does Menino do? He proposes rent control, knowing full well it’s going nowhere on Beacon Hill and knowing full well rent control will not lead to the construction of one single housing unit. Not one. This isn’t courage; it’s cynicism. He cynically revved up the emotions and hopes of tenants, threw the problem on the lap of the council --and now he’s play-acting his indignation. This is leadership?
: Hub Blog should add that the Brighton reader and I are in full agreement about the deplorable housing policies of suburban towns, passing restrictive zoning laws to ensure construction of more and more tacky McMansions, etc. etc. Where are the environmentalists on the housing/suburban sprawl issue? ... Brighton reader has other observations that I'll try to post later. Some of them are hard to argue with.
Protests vs. pressure to cancel speech
: Here’s the Globe’s version
of the cancellation of William Langeswiesche’s appearance at WordsWorth in Cambridge. No word yet on what happened last night in South Hadley. Here’s the Herald’s story
from yesterday. (Note: I screwed up and inaccurately described the Herald’s story in an item yesterday. I’ve corrected the mistake. Hub Blog wasn’t having a good day in general yesterday.) ... What I find disappointing about this controversy: 1.) How quickly WordsWorth folded and canceled the event. The store could have -- and should have -- asked for security and proceeded with the event. 2.) Firefighters say they have every right to picket and protest, which is absolutely true. But it appears they pressured the store to cancel the event, which is much different and does raise free-speech issues. 3.) What’s next? Pressure on bookstores not to sell certain books?
The Gaiety Theater and housing
: Hub Blog has been pretty hard on the mayor in recent days. But I really do admire the way he’s tried to revive (and restore) some of the old, stately theaters in the Washington Street area. The mayor can definitely take credit for the eventual restoration of the Opera House, the Paramount, and the Modern. But he’s right to push for new housing (hundreds of new units, in fact) at the site of the old Gaiety Theater. The Globe has it right too in this editorial
. ... Now, if we could only get the mayor moving on Hayward Place
Well, it’s a start ...
: Massport is taking baby steps towards reducing patronage
within its ranks. Not sure if this is the answer. The top dogs don’t seem committed to the idea. Too much “sunshine” paperwork. Too many rules and potential loopholes. The answer, in the end, shouldn’t be very complicated. It’s called: “Rutan,”
the anti-patronage ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court
twelve years ago. Just follow Rutan, guys. Just follow Rutan.
Oh, it's not censorship
: It must be the drinking water in Cambridge. It has to be the drinking water. There's no other explanation. Yes, another offended group has caused the cancellation of an appearance
at a Cambridge bookstore by a journalist who dared to criticize firefighters at the World Trade Center site after Sept. 11. What person is now guilty of upsetting a victims group? None other than William Langeswiesche. Yes, the same author who wrote the stunningly moving and detailed "American Ground"
series for The Atlantic Monthly. Langeswiecsche doesn't seem all that bothered, and a First Amendment lawyer says it's not a big deal. But considering everything else that's been happening in Cambridge these days ... And, ah, a group calling itself the Muslim Legal Defense and Education Fund (MLDEF) has filed a disciplinary complaint with a local bar organization against Harvard law prof Alan M. Dershowitz
for daring to write a piece on terrorism for the Jerusalem Post. They say something about violating the Geneva Conventions, blah, blah, blah. ...
: Found more material via Romensko
. There's this story at the Herald
and this account of a protest in New York
. I'm sorry, but I read all three parts of "American Ground" in the Atlantic and, frankly, Langeswiesche was pretty convincing when he described evidence of looting by firefighters. Hey, the firefighters were and are heroes. But they're also human. There are always bad apples in a barrel. ... Postcript: The firefighters' sometimes emotional, unruly behavior during clean-up efforts at the WTC site seem to be confirmed by their behavior at the NYC book-signing event, sad to say.
: A reader writes: "You call the firefighters another 'victims group.' They WERE victims, you f&8cking idiot. Hundreds died.'" (My expletive deleted.) Hub Blog: My apologies. You're right. In all the bogus claims of victimhood, I shouldn't imply firefighters weren't victims. But I think most people know what I truly meant. Also, keep in mind it was local firefighters, not NYC firefighters, who threatened the bookstore with a boycott. ... A thought just hit me: Do I pull a Michael Moore
and delete the above reference to 'victims' or keep it in? If I take it out, would this note suffice to my honest and noble intentions? Or am I starting to sound like mainstream journalism ethics professor? Ah, I'll keep it in. I'm too lazy.
: Another reader from the Back Bay says I had no need to apologize. "At least you didn't censor yourself." Hub Blog's reaction: I do regret the choice of words. Thanks for the support, though.
Corporate Malfeasance Watch
: Love the word 'malfeasance.' So appropriate -- and John Ellis has been at the forefront of the Corporate Malfeasance Watch. This one
is from Boston-based Fast Company (via FarrellMedia's weblog
Mayor “I hear the Cries of the People” Mugabe
: Before Mayor Mugabe (er, Menino) declares World War III on the city council
for rejecting his rent-control bill, he might want to read Steve Bailey
and Cosmo Macero
, both of whom have simple suggestions -- none of them populist magic bullets, alas -- on how to start dealing with the housing shortage in the region. ... As for our “fuming” mayor, doesn’t it sound like it's only a matter of time before he starts referring to citizens as “my people”? Referring to himself in the third-person can’t be too far behind. ... I mean, the emperor is throwing a public tantrum -- a staged tantrum, but a tantrum nonetheless. Questioning the integrity of city councilors when everyone in the whole damn city knows how much cash he’s raked in from real estate developers? (Twenty-five percent of his recent campaign money came from the real estate sector, a nifty fact deftly inserted into the Globe story this morning. Bravo!) I also loved these quotes in the story. First, Mugabe: ''I don't want to question the integrity of any of the councilors; I just question their motives. ... You make a decision between the real estate industry and people in neighborhoods. This was the easy one - you're protecting people.” Second, Councilor Feeney: ''No one in this city can talk more about what developers have done for them than Tom Menino. People in glass houses should not throw stones.” I.e. Food fight! Well, the rent-control bill has succeeded on one level. ... Love this line too: “Rarely does the council reject his initiatives. Often their compliance comes out of fear of his fabled political retribution; most councilors rely on the administration to deliver city services to their constituents.” Don’t forget the jobs.
Kennedy, November 22
: Whether you love him, hate him or confused by him, November 22 is always a sad day. ... The Globe
has a balanced, fair editorial on recent revelations on JFK’s health (and drug) woes during his presidency. Only quibble: The Globe is way too nice to those at the JFK Library who authorized the release of the latest medical records. They’re still fiercely protecting the Camelot image and letting out only selected material to selected historians. ... Check out this oped by Kennedy author Laurance Leamer
, who casually asserts how medical information he obtained in the past would have been expunged, pronto, from the records if Kennedy supporters had gotten to the material first. ... Scot Lehigh
, on this anniversary, writes about the declining clout of the Kennedy clan. The litany of recent defeats and setbacks is astonishing.
: 'Kennedy to the rescue.'
Oh, it had nothing to do with the privileges. He was just trying to help working people.
Finneran and taxes
: Moderates and conservatives have a soft spot for Tom Finneran, who is, in fact, one of the more conservative members of the legislature and acts as a brake (now and then) on some of the crazier ideas that members tricycle through the corridors. This article
appears to confirm it. Then again, one has to remember our Irish Napoleon, just last year, opted for huge tax increases. He’s a calculating, enigmatic man, to say the least. Whenever Finneran starts sounding as though he’s putting principle over power politics, Hub Blog’s usually reliable Hack Antenna starts to beep and wobble. ... The most fascinating part of the same Herald article is how the results of the anti-income tax Question 1 have apparently shocked rank-and-file members of the legislature. Again: Message sent, message received. (And which might explain Finneran’s own post-election stance on taxes.) ...
Gambling in Massachusetts
: Hub Blog doesn’t care much about the moral or economic arguments for or against casino gambling. (Hey, it’s a vice -- and Hub Blog loves vices in general. So there goes the moral argument. The economic development argument is a little more complicated). Joan Vennochi
seems uneasy about casino gambling in general, a stand I respect, depending on which day it is. But this article
is the real reason why I’m highly, highly, highly skeptical about casino gambling in Massachusetts. Hub Blog won’t bore you too much with how I covered the emergence of ‘riverboat’ gambling in Illinois in the early 1990s. Let’s just say the casino industry became one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the state (rivaling the warring medical and trial lawyers groups) in a matter of only a few years, throwing around money and jobs with guilt-free abandon. Not bragging, but Hub Blog once caught a casino lobbyist literally handing out campaign checks to lawmakers in the halls of the Illinois Statehouse -- while lawmakers were in session and debating various changes to gambling laws in Illinois. Not making that up. Saw it with my own two eyes. Wrote about it too. In Illinois, it is (or was) perfectly legal to accept campaign checks from lobbyists in the Capitol hallways, as unbelievable as that may sound, though the Illinois House Speaker later castigated members for accepting the money in the hallways. He thought it was tacky. ... Anyway, back to Massachusetts. It’s the corrosive political impact
of casino gambling that has me worried. Remember: This is Massachusetts. ... Postscript: I'm going to stop talking about my Illinois experiences for a while. Starting to sound and feel like an old man, which I'm not, yet. I think. What day is it?
They did it. They actually did it:
The city council, overturning the widespread assumption it didn’t have a will or spine of its own, actually rejected Mayor Menino’s ‘Rent and Home Sale Control Bill,’
which is what the rent control/rent stabilization ordinance should have been called, before gory details of it spilled out and the mayor had to ‘compromise.’ Still, the council wouldn’t even go along with the compromise ordinance. And so the mayor, who rode this popular issue even though he knows it doesn’t have a chance in the legislature and even though he’s criticized rent control in the past, is now saying the council lacks the ‘courage’ to stand up to ‘special interests’ (i.e. the implication being the mayor does have courage, which is absurd, and that homeowners are now lumped into the evil ‘special interest’ category). ''I'm in the neighborhoods every day, and I hear the cries of the people,'' said Menino, sounding more and more like Robert Mugabe when it comes to whipping up emotions on land- and housing-reform issues. ... ''Our job is not to sell dreams,'' said Councilor John Tobin, calling the rent proposal ''disingenuous.'' ... Peter Gelzinis
writes a disappointing piece, casting the whole issue into a sentimental, class-conflict saga, as if opponents didn’t know that there are people out there suffering. ... What’s somewhat surprising is the reaction of the Globe, which said in an editorial
: “The Boston City Council took a difficult and principled action yesterday when it voted 6-4 to reject Mayor Menino's proposal to restore rent control to Boston. The vote, however, should not be construed as an antitenant measure. The council is clearly concerned about the affordability gap in the rental market and appears ready to take responsible action.” The Globe, while supporting the bill in general, at least didn’t resort to demonizing opponents. They know it’s a complicated issue. ... So does Adrian Walker
, who concludes: “(Menino) presented a not terribly fresh or good idea, and for once his personal popularity failed to carry the day.” ... Much, much more on this subject later. Need to get some work done. The rent-control issue, unfortunately, is not going away ... P.S. Sorry for not posting this earlier. Busy, busy, busy with work-related matters.
Harvard hypocrisy, romance and, oh, free speech
: So Harvard University’s English Department has flip-flopped and decided to reinvite the odious Tom Paulin to a give a poetry lecture
on campus. The Harvard Crimson, which originally broke the Paulin reinvite story, is now reporting
he’ll probably be speaking on campus next spring, which should give Harvard plenty of time to flip-flop again and possibly even pass a speech code or two to restrict what he can or can’t say.
Really, Harvard looks awful these days. Harvard Business School cracks down on a student newspaper. Harvard Law School revives the idea of a speech code in classes. Harvard’s English Department invites, disinvites, then reinvites Paulin to give a poetry reading. The whole bunch of them -- the lefty political fanatics, the HBS and HLS deans and professors, pro- and anti-Israel student groups, Lawrence Summers -- look like jackasses. They talk a good game about First Amendment rights, but when it comes time to tolerating someone else’s views, out come the goon squads and speech codes. They’re all hypocrites.
Summers, of all people, is turning out to be the biggest disappointment. Earlier this year, he courageously stood up to the lefty campus fanatics and questioned (without imposing any restrictions on their free-speech rights) the growing (and sometimes violent) anti-Semitism on university campuses. But on the Paulin matter, he sure looks like, according to the Globe account, that he gave a wink and nod to his girlfriend to yank the invitation to Paulin, who has expressed vicious anti-Israel sentiments in the past. (Naturally, Paulin says his views were misinterpretted in his now infamous Egyptian interview in which he reportedly said Brooklyn-born Jewish settlers in Israel were “Nazis” who should be “shot dead.” But this article in today’s Guardian
, which is covering the Paulin controversy at Harvard, notes he’s made similar comments elsewhere.) Hub Blog has no respect for Paulin. Hub Blog also doesn’t respect the Harvard English Department for originally inviting him to give a lecture, which sure smacked of the politicization of literary scholarship. But the invite was indeed issued -- and the department should have stuck by its guns, despite threats of goon-squad tactics by pro-Israel groups, who, unfortunately, seem to be aping the goon-squad tactics and threats long employed by anti-Israel groups, who specialize in shouting down and harassing those with whom they disagree.
All of this -- the speech codes, the thought police, the censorship, the shouting, the harassing, the hypocrisy -- is the direct culmination of the now decades-long politicization of academia. Free speech (not to mention free thought) has long been under assault on campuses across the country. The left has been the main culprit in this sad trend, but now the right and others are pushing back and using the same tactics. And they’re all being exposed as hypocrites. Perhaps it’s fitting that one of the greatest issues now facing academia (free speech and free thought on campus) is being played out at one of America’s greatest academic institutions, Harvard. Because Summers has lost credibility on the issue, it looks like both sides will have to exhaust themselves before common sense and common decency prevail.
Kennedy’s health, Part III ... and more:
The Atlantic Monthly hasn’t posted yet its cover story on JFK’s health woes during his life, but Robert Dallek, the author of the article and Boston University presidential historian, is interviewed about the subject
by the Atlantic. It has everything and more (too much more) on Kennedy’s health. (I mean, I really didn’t need to know how Kennedy performed sex with his bad back, though I did wonder ...) ... Speaking of the Atlantic and Boston University, the Atlantic’s Cullen Murphy
has a piece about BU’s Lloyd G. Balfour African Presidents Residence Program. At first, I thought he was joking, but sure enough, there really is a Lloyd G. Balfour African Presidents in Residence Program
. I suppose it’s a good idea, as long as the ex-presidents move into Boston without their gangster-like bodyguards in tow.
The ghost of Snoopy past:
Oh, man. Poor John Kerry. Mike Dukakis is offering to offer advice
to the presidential hopeful -- and Kerry’s trying to make it look like he’s putting up a fearsome, principled defense of his former boss while running for cover. From beginning to end, this story is truly hilarious. Here are the best lines: “One Republican professed to have forgotten the connection (between Dukakis and Kerry). ‘For crying out loud, I am from Massachusetts, and I had completely forgotten about Dukakis, I had forgotten how Dukakis plays into a Kerry race,’ said Grover Norquist, a leading Republican activist and president of Americans for Tax Reform. ‘We need to go back and pull all the Dukakis files and remind people where Kerry comes from, or the only part of his history will be that he served in Vietnam and was in the Senate. We need to remind people of his Massachusetts liberal days.’” ... You know what? I forgot too!
: The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz
looks at whether Kerry will be the new Dem front-runner if Gore doesn't run in 2004. (Not if the Republicans find those video clips of the Duke and Lt. Gov. Kerry together. God, the GOP must be drooling over the prospect.)
Little League parents at the university level
: Let’s just say they’re living a little too vicariously
through their children.
Respect for Condoleezza Rice
: Last week, Derrick Jackson wrote this column
and I thought, “Oh, my God. He’s going to write some really nasty personal stuff on Rice one of these days.” Wrong. Jackson shows, with class, that he can object to someone’s view while still respecting the person
Mitt, the brooms and bulldozers just won’t do
: If anyone has any doubt about how hard it’s going to be to ‘clean up the mess’ on Beacon Hill, check out this piece by Steve Bailey
and then this piece by Howie Carr
. Oh, what the hell. Also check out this piece by Tom Keane
. Even though Tom’s column is about the Boston Teachers Union, you get the picture.
Rejection of rent control?:
This can’t be true. The city council might actually stand up to the mayor?
Nah, they’ll buckle in the end. Still, they’re forcing some important changes in Menino’s proposed rent-control bill, which, upon closer examination, is even worse than originally described. Check out these ‘compromises’ by the mayor: “(Menino) also eliminated a provision giving the city and nonprofit groups the right of first refusal when the owners of some buildings are looking to sell, and inserted a provision allowing landlords who have been charging a tenant substantially less than the market rate to bring the unit up to market rate when the tenant leaves.” ... The city and nonprofit groups getting the ‘right of first refusal’ on the sale of private property? Not allowing landlords to raise rents to market rates after
tenants move out? ... Postscript: Hub Blog’s favorite reader from Brighton has some strong opinions about rent control. I’ll post them later.
The Farrells, bloggers
: David Farrell, the former Globe political columnist and managing editor of the Boston Herald Traveler, and his son, John, a writer and multimedia producer, have a weblog together
over at FarrellMedia
. John also has a plug for his new book, “Digital Movies with QuickTime Pro,” over at the new QuickTime support site
run by Clifford VanMeter.
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.