The most depressing headline of 2002
: Here it is, on the last day of the year, courtesy of the NYT: "Yanks Sign Clemens and May Seek Colón."
Ugh. ... The Yanks now have eight
starting pitchers. ... The feud between Lucchino and Steinbrenner continues. From the same article: "Larry Lucchino, president of the Red Sox, roused George Steinbrenner's wrath by referring to the Yankees as the evil empire after they beat the Red Sox to Contreras a week ago. Steinbrenner, the Yankees' principal owner, needs no more reason than that comment to direct Cashman to make sure the Red Sox do not acquire Colón." ... They're going to sign Colón just to spite us. Larry, please, apologize. Say something. But just back off.
Falling housing costs
: Well, it’s begun -- the fall of housing prices
in Massachusetts. About time. Took long enough. Hopefully, this indicates the recession is starting to bottom out. Now look for some owners to refuse to sell as prices fall, but when other financially pressed sellers can’t wait any longer, that’s when you’ll see real changes. So what’s the average price of an existing single-family home here despite the 9 percent drop since July? Answer: $335,813. Unbelievable. ... On second thought, maybe we have a way to go before we scrape bottom.
The Long Walk to being a Trivial Pursuit question
: That’s Rachelle Cohen’s sad assessment
of Jane Swift. Cohen: “...It was the final days that were the worst. This state will pay the price for the mediocrity of most of her judicial appointments for years to come.” And not just the judicial appointments.
: If this letter writer to the Globe is right
, Dems shouldn’t take too much glee in Jane Swift’s train wreck. (Thanks to BK for the tip.)
Happy Birthday, Saddam
: Ah, the Balfour President-in-Residence at Boston University has its first, well, it’s first ex-dictator
. Love this graf on Kenneth Kaunda’s schedule as resident scholar: “This speech at the Federal Reserve is the first stop for Kaunda on this day. His schedule includes a lunchtime meeting back at BU on genetically modified food and a visit to the John F. Kennedy Library, where he will receive a 1964 letter that calls him ‘one of President Kennedy's favorite Africans.’ A week later, Kaunda will be in Iraq, visiting his longtime friend Saddam Hussein, whose birthday he shares.” ... You know, as far as dictators go, Kaunda wasn’t all that bad. ... I blogged on the Balfour program a while back, based on this Atlantic Monthly
story, but I’m too lazy to find the link. New Year Resolution No. 1,521: Get search engine for Hub Blog.
Dapper, he’s back! Ahhhh!:
Here’s a terrific piece by Joe Sciacca
on the truly scary implications of cloning and politicians’ reaction to the weird events now playing out in Florida. Joe: “Perhaps the most worrisome thing about cloning in the hands of politicians is that it could very easily bring us back to the future. The City Council is in session and there's Dapper O'Neil glaring across the aisle after David Scondras makes a speech, saying, ‘It's enough to make ya sick . . . not to mention it sounded very familiar.’ The doors to the U.S. Capitol swing open and there's Strom Thurmond, ready for another 48 years. ‘Ah'm baaaaaack! Where's mah biscuits and gravy?’'' ... The horror, the horror.
This Phoenix editorial
strikes me as a wee bit harsh, no? Calling Mitt a liar, comparing him to the folks at Enron etc. And he hasn't even taken office or presented his budget. I mean, well, ... Though I obviousy disagree with the tone and most of the facts that the editorial presents as alleged evidence of Mitt being a liar, I do wish two things: A.) That Mitt didn't make his no-new-taxes pledge on the budget deficit. It's going to hurt him, though if he presents a legitimate no-new-taxes/restructuring budget and the Democratic legislature rejects it, I think he can argue that he's abided by his pledge to the best of his ability and can move on from there. (I have a hunch that's going to be his tactic to get around the pledge.) B.) That Mitt would clarify his position on patronage. I've bored readers enough with my Rutan
arguments, but Mitt has an excellent, legal case -- as outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court in its landmark 1990 anti-patronage Rutan
ruling -- that clarifies what is and what isn't patronage. So far, I haven't seen the type of patronage that would trigger a Rutan
lawsuit, not that Mitt or anyone else in Massachusetts government is dimly aware of, let alone cares about, Rutan
Ah, the Christmas week is over and the blogosphere seems to have popped back to life, so I might as well blog away too with some pent up thoughts. ...
‘A watershed year’
: All the mainstream media outlets are running their own year-in-review pieces, so why shouldn’t humble little Hub Blog? But I’m going to cheat and let Reader No. 1 do it for me. Yes, Reader No. 1 is back after a few months of work and family-related hibernation. Here’s his look back at 2002:
“I think this will turn out to be a watershed year in Massachusetts history, mostly for obvious reasons. (But this is Massachusetts and our historical roots in advanced education and religious faith often lead us to overlook the obvious):
“-- The Catholic faithful (and their lawyers) got the clergy to Do The Right Thing and toss out the Cardinal. William Bulger is next. Can anyone doubt that the lawyers representing families of Whitey's victims aren't working on similar arguments to those used against the Boston Archdiocese?
“-- There is a new, broad, statewide consensus opposed to traditional political cronyism and favoring modern professional management. Anyone doubting this should take a look at the extraordinary voting map published in the Globe two days after the election, which showed a solid Romney vote except in Boston and Westernmost Massachusetts.
“-- We saw modern professional management methods coursing through all of our institutions, not just businesses. The Governor is a former Bain consultant, and he's bringing people with deep understanding of modern management into government. The NE Patriots are run by Bain alumni, for cryin' out loud. Thanks Governor Swift, for the dismal financial forecasts: the worse the prognosis, the stronger Romney's hand to change things. And they will change. (Memo to Boston's political reporters: to understand what's about to happen, start reading the Harvard Business Review cover to cover.)”
There’s much more from Reader No. 1, reacting to some of my recent holiday-week posts, here
. And read Hub Blog’s own 2002 year-in-review rant here
, which follows the next two items for obvious strategic reasons.
Harming the poor of Haiti
: As anyone who regularly reads this blog knows, I intensely dislike the words ‘moral’ and ‘immoral.’ They’re slung around too much by too many people who see the world in black and white and who seem more intent on making a moral statement about themselves. In this case, though, I think the Harvard Medical School's doctors' use of the word ‘immoral’
to describe the U.S. embargo against Haiti is accurate enough. What? You didn’t know we had an embargo against Haiti? You know, Haiti -- that well-known, powerful, evil, axis-leaning threat to the American way of life? Yeah, that country. Well, Hub Blog has been to Haiti and maintains close ties to the nation. And the authors are right: The embargo is hurting only the poor there, the embargo serves no national security purpose whatsoever, the embargo should be ended. ... P.S. While the U.S. has an embargo in place, it hasn’t stopped the U.S. from putting a trade gun to Haiti’s head and forcing Haitians to buy American products, thus destroying local markets for food and other products. This isn’t ‘free enterprise.’ It’s economic bullying at its worst.
The Canadians are at it again:
Now, here’s a group
that’s the polar opposite of doctors who slug it out in the slums and villages of Haiti. The so-called ‘Root Out Evil’ group from Canada wants to do ‘weapons inspections’ of U.S. military facilities in order to find ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ Get it? ‘Root out evil’? The play on words is so clever. Sure to attract the attention of the anti-American European press, which is already happening. Read until the last line, last quote. Read it closely. Yet another safe, clueless, publicity-seeking, well-educated, anti-American, lefty-leaning group drawing moral parallels between the United States and a fascist regime which has used chemical and biological weapons to kill its own people. But, of course, the activists can’t drive
to Iraq to make inspections there. (Not that they would if they could.) Ah, but they do manage to get there when it’s to act as a ‘human shield.’ And so the slow intellectual decline of the left continues.
Anti-Americanism, 2002 in review:
Reader No. 1 gave his ‘watershed’ review of 2002 above. Since I say ‘ditto’ to all of his local observations, I’d like to give my own, more global watershed review, strategically placed here after the Haiti and ‘Root Out Evil’ items. The topic: Anti-Americanism.
I think -- or I hope -- 2002 will be considered a watershed year in the sense that most anti-Americanism across the world has been slowly and relentlessly exposed as intellectually bankrupt. Sure, there are so many things about America and American policies to get frustrated over, from our Haitian policy to the Pax America traits of the Bush administration to McDonalds expanding into downtown Paris. But the Haitian, Bush and McDonalds policies merely exacerbate a deeper, already existing anti-Americanism. They didn’t create anti-Americanism. The anti-Americanism I’m talking about is of the knee-jerk, ideologically-warped, world-view kind -- a true 'ism' in which America is portrayed as the source of everything wrong in the world, as if our defense of democracy and triumph over right-wing and left-wing totalitarianism in the final 60 years of the 20th Century meant nothing, the type of 'ism' that, if you took out the anti-Americanism from their world view, they wouldn't have a world view. This anti-Americanism -- the last vestiges of a once vibrant intellectual left but now increasingly found on the far right -- is shallow, insecure, resentful, regressive, more often than not wrong and, therefore, dangerous in a very dangerous world. I truly respect Harvard doctors who toil in almost unbearable conditions in Haiti and occasionally emerge to write op-ed pieces criticizing specific American policies. I don’t respect pampered, affluent, publicity-seeking, world-view ‘activists’ who theatrically play out their moral dramas in order to win media attention and make profound statements about themselves in the process. Over the past year, I’ve seen strong signs of moderate liberals taking on these see-no-gray-area clowns -- as well as signs of moderate conservatives taking on the isolationist/Pax America clowns on the right. And so 2002 showed us there’s hope. ...
There. Got that out of my system. Now back to local items. ...
Rocky Mitt/Jane transition
: More proof on why it was necessary for Mitt to muscle Jane out of the governor’s race.
Swift’s final days have really revealed her character. She’s a hack, just like the Dem gov nominee, whom Jane not-so secretly wished would defeat Mitt in the general election.
‘Lord of the Rings’ and God
: After hearing so much about the latest ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie, Hub Blog, who has never read any of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, decided the other day to rent the first movie and ... and what a shock. It’s as good -- no, it’s better -- than the ‘Star Wars’ movies, which I now assume borrowed a concept or two from Tolkien’s classics. Urging my brother to watch the first ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie, I described it as a cross between Star Wars (good vs. evil) and the Iliad and the Odyssey. That was last night. This morning I read this article
about the debate over whether Tolkien’s creation was influenced by his strongly held religious convictions. Upon reflection, I did notice, while watching the movie, some Christian influences, such as one of the heroes making what appeared to be a sign of the cross over the body of his fallen warrior friend etc. But the ‘Christian’ debate is ultimately silly, for there were even more overt nods to Norse, Celtic, Greek and other mythologies. ... Bottom line: Fun movie.
Borges is back:
Ron Borges, who hurt his credibility by harping too much on the Drew Bledsoe trade, is back and provides
an excellent, excellent argument about the Pats’ offseason talent-acquiring strategy. Think: Cheap. The talent holes in this team are obvious. No matter what happens today against Miami (and no matter how the Jets fare against Green Bay), one can’t help but agree with Borges that the Pats’ “bottom feeding” free-agent strategy is way overrated.
Reader No. 1 responds
: "Borges' column today was much better than previous ones, insofar as the (a) the free agent roundup demonstrated his grasp of the NFL and (b) his diagnosis of the Pats lesser talents is pretty sound. It sure would have been nice if we'd signed Keenan McCardell as our big body receiver instead of Donald Graham -- it would have been worth 8x the salary! Borges' sudden turnaround to praising the not-quite-good-enough team he's been casting aspersions on most of the year should give one pause. And we should also remember that he criticized the present administration for drafting Richard Seymour in 2001 instead of a big body receiver (David Terrell or Koren Robinson if memory serves), and that pick worked out pretty well so far. Let's however not expect the Patriot management to change their practices as we have not seen much proof of admitting to mistakes in the Kraft era (the departure of Parcells... the departure of Carroll... etc). That's not to say that there won't be a lot of roster changes in this offseason, but at least the Pats gave us a nice farewell this afternoon."
Bush’s ‘permanent campaign’
: The ‘war room’
is there, literally (in the case of the real war) and figuratively (in the case of all politics, all the time). The administration’s sanctimonious denials of a Clinton-like ‘permanent campaign’ are infuriating and laughable at the same time. Personally, Hub Blog believes the following: Bush is (and should be) haunted by what happened to his father in ‘92; Bush is quite cognizant of his narrow, controversial 2000 election; ‘permanent campaigns’ are probably a permanent feature of the American presidency, as one scholar argues in the article; Bush sees the gap between his high war-driven approval ratings and the still less-than-majority poll results when Americans are asked whether they’d vote for Bush if an election were held today. Bush knows he’s vulnerable. And he is.
Reader No. 1 responds
: “The Bush ‘Permanent Campaign’ article in today's Globe was pretty weak tea. We would all do better to admit politics is a profession and that we make our political decisions based on agreement with policies, and leave it at that.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Now that a Republican president is in office, it’s suddenly OK to run a ‘permanent campaign,’ which the Republicans harshly criticized the Clintonites for doing. In the item, I merely attempted to point out the sanctimonious double-standard and hypocrisy of the Republicans. I think I succeeded. And, yes, let’s leave it at that: permanent campaigns are a permanent feature of the American presidency -- as they have been since the birth of the Republic.
: Had a great holiday week. Family. Friends. Tons of nieces and nephews arguing and playing. The sound of “Uncle Jayzeeeeeee” still rings lovingly in my ears. Hope your holiday was as relaxing and pleasurable.
Anyway, Hub Blog will continue the off-and-on posting through the weekend and through next week’s New Year celebrations. For now, some items on pieces I’ve noticed over the past few days, some about Boston, others not:
: Cosmo Macero has redesigned his new blog site
. Has that classic, can't-beat-it Instapundit
look. And the posts are also interesting. Check it out. ... P.S. Looks like Cosmo is another disgruntled Pats blogger. I just can't blog on the Pats these days. It's too depressing.
The South Rises Again
: During one of many holiday cocktail gatherings attended by Hub Blog, the conversation turned to -- surprise! -- politics and the Trent Lott affair in particular. One of my friends, a fellow New Englander, bemoaned how Southerners, along with the occasional Californian, now dominate American politics. Though we disagreed on a lot of points, here's where we agreed: A.) The Lott affair was not an aberration, for there’s still a strong strain of Jeff Davis nostalgia coursing through Southern politics and the GOP in particular; B.) there is indeed a contradictory ‘new South’ with an enviable record of racial integration, as opposed to the slower rate of integration here in Boston; C.) there probably won't be another Massachusetts Democrat elected president again in our lifetime (not that there should be); and D.) we're blatantly jealous the South has critical political power and the fond memory of Robert E. Lee to shove in our Civil War trivia-buff faces. ... The next morning, I read this column in the Washington Post
and wondered if my friend’s more adamant Northern views indeed reflect a deep -- and possibly growing -- North-South-West Coast political realignment.
A few months back, there was some UN conference in South Africa, i.e. an opportunity to bash American capitalism and boo any American who dared speak in defense of our policies and principles. If I recall correctly, the idea of keeping Africa untouched by globalization was brought up by a pampered First World type -- you know, the familiar romanticizing of Africa’s pastoral poverty from a very, very safe distance, of course. But during all my recent travels through Africa, I rarely heard an African bemoan globalization. The exact opposite was the case. Again and again, I heard the refrain, mostly from West Africans, “When are the Americans coming? ... Why aren’t they investing in Africa? ... We need you to counterbalance the French.” ... I thought of all these things when I read this recent Tom Keane column
bashing the notion of ‘voluntary poverty,’ a truly offensive and elitist notion if there ever was one. ‘It's all so wrong-headed,’ writes Keane of the no-progress progressives.
Hate it, but love it
: Two great pieces -- the NYT version here
and the Globe version here
-- on the growing executive-office rivalry between the Sox and Yankees, now centering on Bartolo Colón and José Contreras. Read Anderson’s column to the very end, for the last line is depressing. You just know the Evil Empire isn’t going to let The Force nab Colón without a major intergalactic fight.
Romney, the manager
: Mitt is winning more praise
for his appointments and what they say, at this early stage, about his management style. Check out the link in the ‘The South Rises Again’ item above. It quickly addresses how the election of Mitt, a true moderate Republican compared with others in the GOP, fits into the North-South realignment argument.
Our Wilsonian Iraq policy
: H.W. Greenway on the perils of occupying Iraq
and insisting on democracy there when/if/after we invade. Excellent points. I think I’m not alone in my frustrations with the zigzagging Bush administration policies. They’ve blocked and/or dragged their feet on ‘nation building’ in Afghanistan but are now talking about, well, nation building in post-war Iraq. The contradictions are glaring. I definitely tilt in favor of the ‘nation building’ option in both nations, but I like to think I’m realistic about their outcomes. Greenway is injecting some much needed realism into the debate.
''This is the start of something fantastic''
: Oh, on this perfectly chilly Christmas Eve morning, Hub Blog could take swipes at Jane Swift
(she’s pointing fingers again); or guffaw at Shannon O’Brien’s post-election polling
of voters to determine why she lost (surprise! it was about taxes and Beacon Hill cronyism); or count the number of times James Carroll
uses the word ‘moral’ in his column, while denying he’s trying to come across as morally superior (reader alert: he’s writing about Vietnam again, with a happy Christmas peg). But, no, I shall, in the spirit of Christmas, blog about something very positive in Boston ...
... This truly is the start of something fantastic
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Unless something really big jumps out at me, Hub Blog is going to try to keep blogging light this holiday week (now watch the opposite occur, of course). Here’s some quickie items:
The Globe’s editorial board should win some sort of award. Seriously. They’ve struggled hard to keep the Big Dig ‘greenway’ question -- i.e, What’s going to replace the Central Artery after it’s torn down? -- alive and in the spotlight. Based on this editorial
, the Globe seems to be somewhat confident the city and state are on the right track. That’s good. But then I read this article
and had a hard time following who was doing what and why and under whose authority and deadline. Bottom line (I think): there are still too many entities pulling in different directions at different times.
‘The permanent bureaucracy’
: How screwed up is Boston’s civil service code? We now have the job of the city’s patronage chief, Richard Driscoll, protected for life by the city’s civil service laws
. And a bunch of other top-level, political appointees are also protected for life. The rationale? Well, they’ve been in office so long, they might as well have permanent protection.
... same day, same subject
, different paper, different era, different leaders.
Is the Lake Street Gang’s headquarters on the list?:
Bishop Lennon is sending signals the church is preparing to sell off property
in order to settle all the sex-abuse cases. Here’s hoping that the church’s gaudy, Imperial Rome mansion on Lake Street, where the gang plotted and covered up the criminal activities, is put on the real estate hit list. ... This article is fascinating for another reason: It shows the intricate legal maneuverings the church must take in order for insurance companies to cough up the dough. Question: Is it smart for the bishop to even acknowledge this 1st Amendment strategy in public? ... Eileen McNamara
is on to something in this column. Noticed the rift last night at a family holiday gathering, when an elder family member started bashing the Globe and said the paper wasn't going to stop until the church was destroyed. Younger family members collectively moaned with amusement and responded the story won't end as long as lists after lists of abuse cases keep coming out of Lake Street. I.e., There’s a clear generation rift, too.
Reader John responds
: "That was a great piece by McNamara. Definitely worth revisiting as this develops. As you know, there's a whole school out there of Catholics who have that chip on their shoulder. The Buchanan/Sobran types -- they read The Wanderer every week and love boosting the Latin Mass. (Of course, I like going to Latin mass once in a while, too --but it's not an ideology for me.) They also like griping about the National Catholic Reporter, the Jesuits and (in private) about the Jews and Hollywood." ... Hub Blog's response: I like going to Latin masses now and then, too, but not that
much. Boy, forgot all about Sobran. Talk about a name from the past.
‘Can’t hide a pretender’
: Bob Ryan
on the Pats. My sentiments exactly.
My suspicions were correct: Doug Foy’s appointment by Mitt signals an anti-sprawl (i.e. ‘smart growth’
) policy within the new administration. Being a big rail-transit fan, Hub Blog is excited, though one distantly fears a ‘smart growth’ campaign falling into the hands of anti-growth proponents down the road. ... Some other appointments by Mitt
, including the naming of Daniel Grabauskas as transportation czar. As noted before, Hub Blog, as would many others, would support a tax increase (on gasoline?) if it’s specifically pegged to repairing bridges, expanding public transportation and paying down the huge capital debts of various public works/transportation agencies. Those debts are choking off prospects for new projects. Needless to say, said agencies need to be reformed/streamlined first. They need it.
: Interesting article in the Times on Michael Bloomberg’s first year as mayor
there. Though I’m far away from the NY action, I haven’t been impressed by his performance. But others have -- and there’s a parallel to Mitt, perhaps, as Romney tries to reshape state government here. Good lead on the NYT story. And here’s a good quote: "People who spend a lot of time in the public sector can, over time, convince themselves that fundamental changes can't happen," said Bill de Blasio, a councilman from Brooklyn. "I think it is a virtue that he (Bloomberg) can look at things as a clean slate."
No, no, no
: I thought the Israel divestment issue had faded away. It hasn’t.
You know my view, as enunciated yesterday by Harvard spokesman Alan J. Stone: ''President Summers was clear in saying that Israeli policies should be rigorously challenged. He used the phrase `anti-Semitic in effect if not intent' to describe a range of actions from boycotts of Jewish scholars to pressure on universities to single out and ostracize Israel through divestment.'' ... ‘anti-Semitic in effect if not intent.’ Enough. Issue, issue, go away!
Brian Daubach, farewell:
Hub Blog always had a love/hate attitude towards Brian Daubach. Perhaps unfairly, he came to symbolize to me the overrated mediocrity of the Sox during the past two disappointing seasons. Then again, he always struck me as someone who just went out and did his job. Now I read his comments in this story
, and I’m sad he’s leaving. (My sadness will be short-lived if the Sox nab either Jose Contreras or Bartolo Colon.)
: Talked to a friend today about Brian Daubach, including my observation on the site about how he came across, at least to me, to represent the 'overrated mediocrity' of the club in general. He thought it was unfair to say that about Daubach, noting how difficult it is for some to hit them out at Fenway and how Daubach rarely complained about his constant shuffling within the lineup. My friend did expand, in great detail, how frustrating Daubach could be in his hot-and-cold streaks. Still, got to admit: BD was happy, and grateful, to have played in Boston. Not the best reason to keep a player, but not a bad reason to keep him either.
Massachusetts politics, Illinois politics
: My old stomping grounds
. Makes me wistful. Don't miss Illinois (except for Chicago). But I do miss its politics. FYI: I'm often asked: Is Illinois as corrupt as Massachusetts? My answer: They're about the same, though I think Illinois has an edge. Maybe it just seems that way because Illinois politicians tend to get caught more often (like, oh, their governors). ... P.S. When I'm asked 'Is Illinois as corrupt as Massachusetts,' my answer usually disappoints true Bostonians. They want to be No. 1. ... P.S. P.S. When was the last time a sitting Massachusetts governor was indicted while in office? James Michael Curely? Or was that after/before his term? Just asking. Throwing the question out for history buffs.
Mitt, winning praise
: Of course, it’s too early to overly praise or rate Mitt’s performance. No need to repeat the local follies of Pete Carroll and Rick Pitino, two heroes who rode into town amid high hopes, only to crap out in the end. But Mitt does deserve some praise
for his early moves, especially his appointments yesterday
. They reveal a number of things: A.) He’s serious about restructuring government. B.) He’s going to be serious about cracking down on patronage
(at least in the early days) and C.) He’s not afraid to surround himself with intelligent people. As for him being effective, well, that’s an entirely different matter. We’ll begin to see in a few weeks.
The Bulgers, still bitter
: So Billy’s son, Christopher, is now attacking U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch
, D-South Boston, in the local Southie press. You knew it would come to this -- the appeals to old tribal loyalties, blah, blah, blah. Naturally, Christopher made no mention of his uncle Whitey, the drugs that Whitey sold to Southie’s youth, the adult victims of Uncle Whitey’s reign of terror in Southie and across the city, the convicted ex-FBI agent from Southie who conspired with Uncle Whitey and who likely landed a cushy patronage job thanks to Daddy, the fact Daddy isn’t helping law enforcement to bring in his informant (i.e. disloyal rat fink) brother who has killed and is likely to kill again, the fact that Uncle 'That's right, I committed a crime' Jackie is in deep doo doo
with the feds, the fact Lynch beat Christopher’s brother in the race to fill Daddy’s seat partly because Southie residents were so fed up with the Bulger family’s antics, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. No, it’s all about ‘loyalty.’ Or is it ‘honest loyalty’?
Money Fitz (no relation):
This is such a small issue
, and I was tempted not to include it on Hub Blog today. Then I noticed the $80,000 salary Money Fitz will be getting as the House’s new sergeant-at-arms, i.e. a glorified doorman’s position, thanks to Tom Finneran. Then Howie proceeded to Fisk Fitz, and so I couldn’t resist.
Universal health care and ‘single-payer’
: A consulting group is about to wrap up its legislative-mandated duties and probably recommend a new universal health-care system
for Massachusetts. Specifically, it will probably (or so it seems) recommend a ‘single-payer system,’ which is a euphemism to hide the unpleasant fact that they’re advocating a ‘government-run’ health care system. Listen, I’m in favor of universal health care. But I think it should be as private and decentralized as possible. There should be choice not only of doctors, but of different types of plans, similar to the federal government’s health-care system for fed employees. Competition is key. Do we really have to rehash that fundamental economic point? Again: Competition is key. But, no, it always comes back to that magic-wand approach: Government-run ‘single payer.’ Think about it: Government run. In Massachusetts. And think about this quote: ''A single-payer entity would have the power to dictate our reimbursement rates, and that would drive physicians out of state and result in an erosion of the health care system,'' said Dr. Charles Welch, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Exactly. ... This plan won’t pass, of course. But it’s just so
discouraging to favor universal health care and then have these same idiots -- stuck in their Great Society mindsets, drawing pretty agency flow charts on paper and thinking it has something to do with reality -- advocate again and again and again the same old, tired approaches.
Mitch Kapor is back
: Mitch Kapor, of local Lotus fame, is gunning after Microsoft
, with the idea of distributing a free open-source program that will outdo Microsoft Outlook. Good luck, Mitch.
Mitt’s latest moves
: Holy cow. There he goes again. Doing things he's not supposed to do, such as making some inspired choices.
Doug Foy, president of the Conservation Law Foundation, has been named to the new post of chief of commonwealth development. Foy is tough, pragmatic and effective. What a fascinating choice. (And one that may come back to haunt Mitt because Foy marches to the beat of his own drum, in an admirable way. Quickie observation: I think Mitt is quite serious about anti-sprawl suburban development.) Meanwhile, former Fidelity vice chairman Robert Pozen has been tapped for the new post of chief of commerce and labor. And in an apparent slap at the Swift administration for the way it’s been handing out judgeships to cronies (see “Swift, begone” item below), Ralph Martin will become chairman of the Judicial Nominating Council. ... Now, if only Mitt would sign an anti-patronage executive order bringing the Commonwealth into compliance with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Rutan
The antiwar movement, Part II
: First, there was this critical piece
(and later Hub Blog item
) on the antiwar movement, as seen through the eyes of an antiwar writer. Now Ellen Goodman
is also taking shots at the movement, for roughly the same reasons. Ellen: “Earlier this month, when an old activist friend wandered over to one of the rallies pegged to International Human Rights Day, he felt like a reverse Rip Van Winkle. He'd changed, but the scene had stayed the same. Some of the slogans seemed like verbal uniforms taken out of mothballs: ‘Drop food, not bombs.’ ‘Hell no, we won't go. We won't fight for Texaco.’ ... Todd Gitlin, historian of the '60s, has seen this as well. ‘The silent majority of antiwar sentiment hasn't found its style or form. That's a serious obstacle,’ he says. ‘We in the 1960s would have looked stupid if we were mouthing the rhetoric of the 1930s. Why is it smart to sound like 1967?’ ''
Indeed, the problem with today’s antiwar movement is its sentimental '60s nostalgia. The same slogans. The same clothes. The same signs. It’s too often about well-educated, well-off protesters making statements about themselves
and to themselves
about how virtuous they are. How can you respect such ossified, self-centered thinking? You can’t. But Goodman has another good point: Poll after poll shows a deep uneasiness among Americans about the coming war with Iraq. OK, some polls show strong support one day, others show lukewarm support the next. Combine all the polls together, though, and you get a clear picture that Americans aren’t so clear about what to do with Iraq.
Connecting Law and Bulger
: It’s mighty tempting to draw parallels between Cardinal Law and Billy Bulger, just as some have drawn parallels between, say, the recent fall of Law and the probable fall of Trent Lott. Obviously, the mighty are falling in droves these days, from Henry Kissinger to disgraced CEOs. Hub Blog is certainly no fan of the cardinal and Billy. But I’m not so sure about the Law-Bulger parallel that Peter Gelzinis
writes about today. It seems a stretch, though I understand the general logic and ironic timing.
: Amid all the recent news about elections, wars, pervert priests, embattled local pols, etc., Jane Swift, a product of the Beacon Hill establishment if there ever was one, has been quietly, relentlessly engaging in a gaudy, lame-duck orgy of old-fashioned Massachusetts hackeroma. This is just her latest caper
. (Boy, do hacks love those court jobs
.) Can you imagine what it would have been like if Shannon O’Brien had become governor? Forget all the election-time talk about how the state needed a woman in the corner office to reform the old-boys network. We already have one in the damn office and behold what she’s doing.
The death penalty, by the numbers
: Hub Blog goes back and forth on the death penalty issue. A few years ago, I was all for it. Today, I’m not, largely because of proven, monumental screw-ups by the legal system that put innocent men on death row. No matter what your position is on the death penalty, this column by Jeff Jacoby
strikes me as cold, almost sick, in its body-count method of argument.
‘I love a good Christmas party’
: Steve Bailey said that. Find out why
. (Hint: Lots of dirt and scoops can be found at a Christmas party. ... Did Don Law and Patrick Lyons really sign off on the Mass Turnpike project? Interesting. And it could mean more housing if true.)
`That's right, I committed a crime’
: And those are the words of John ‘Jackie’ Bulger
, the guy the Billy Bulger PR machine is nominating as Candidate No. 1 in the persecuted sainthood category. Read the article. Closely. The perjury charges are the least of his worries. Loved this line in particular about poor Jackie: “At the time he testified, John Bulger was a clerk magistrate in Suffolk Superior Court.” And so ...
... and so take it away Howie
. Notice all the Bulger connections. Ah, yes, it’s just a humble little family with one bad apple embarrassing them all. Those poor, poor Bulgers. They’re being persecuted. Persecuted!
‘A most hearty `welcome back' '
: And those are the words of our very own Cardinal Law, emeritus, to an accused sex-abuser upon his return to the Lake Street Gang. Just when you thought you couldn’t be shocked by new allegations, check this one out:
“One priest, the Rev. Gerard E. Creighton, was transferred 20 times in 28 years amid a cascade of complaints from numerous pastors and even an assertion that he had ‘homicidal tendencies.’ One parishioner withdrew a sexual misconduct complaint after learning that Creighton carried a gun.
“‘We're especially afraid of what he might do to the children,’ the parishioner said in a 1977 phone call to chancery officials that was reported to Bishop Thomas V. Daily, now the bishop of the Brooklyn, N.Y., diocese.
“The parishioner had previously called to alert church leaders that she had seen two young girls reenacting a sexual act. When she questioned the girls they replied: 'This is the way Father Creighton and their mother make love.' ”
... Eileen McNamara
is comparing Cardinal Law, emeritus, to former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.
Politics, local and national
: Scot Lehigh
has an interesting piece on Gore’s decision not to run in 2004 -- and the ramifications for John Kerry. New Hampshire is crucial to Kerry, Lehigh notes. ‘That’s obvious,’ you might be thinking. But think about this observation from Lehigh: There are now three New Englanders vying (or soon to be vying) for the Dem nomination, all of them Yalies, by the way. Kerry still has the edge in the Granite State, but ... OK, one or two people have asked why I haven’t blogged on Byron Rushing’s challenge to Tom Finneran’s leadership in the House. Answer: Because Byron’s challenge is a joke. It’s going nowhere, though I agree with the Globe
that it’s at least a somewhat noble gesture. ... Joe Fitzgerald
. What can I say.
Another Boston blogger
: Boston Herald business columnist Cosmo Macero
has started up his own web site and blog. Congrats! ... Reader No. 1 and Hub Blog have often theorized who, within the mainstream press of Boston, would make good bloggers. If I recall correctly, one of our candidates was Cosmo. We also nominated Brian McGrory, Scot Lehigh and, of all people, Alex Beam, who once wrote a silly anti-blogging piece. I’m beginning to think Eileen McNamara might be a good candidate, too. ...
: Dan Kennedy
has an interesting observation on Cosmo starting his own blog -- and the potential danger involved for full-time newspaper staffers. Excellent point. Forgot all about the Houston Chronicle affair. Then again, James Lileks
, one of the web's most popular bloggers, is also a newspaper columnist (and a syndicated columnist whose pieces are run by, among others, the Herald). And Herald columnists Howie Carr and Margery Eagan, while not having their own blogs, do have their own radio gigs outside their regular Herald duties. Columnists are usually given a little more leeway on these things -- and they should be given more leeway. If the Herald was smart, it would ask to attach/default Cosmo's blog to their own site for the extra value, allowing him to keep the 'cosmomacero.com' address, sort of like Mickey Kaus
keeping his old 'kausfiles.com' address while still blogging away for Slate. So, blog away, Cosmo. ... P.S.P.S. FYI: The Globe's Boston.com has been busy exploring blogging opportunities itself. Instapundit
had an item on the tentative Boston.com venture this past fall, but I can't seem to find the link. If I do, I'll post it later.
Law and the sadness
: Cardinal Law. What can you say. His “news conference”
yesterday said little, answered little, added little. It was almost entirely about “me,” it seemed, with obligatory nods to the victims and laity. Go away, cardinal. Go far, far away. ... And here’s a far, far more interesting insight into the scandal provided this morning by James Carroll
, who Hub Blog rarely agrees with. But read this column. It’s profoundly sad, depressing and true. Every paragraph packs a punch. The one that jumped out at me: “Sexual perversion. Power madness. Indifference to civil law. Endemic dishonesty. The narrow claim to theological infallibility as a virus of arrogance. Far more than the failure of Cardinal Law, you have beheld the emptiness of the thing you thought was sacred. Holy Mother the Church: Her worst enemies called her a prostitute, and now you see why.” Ugh. Read it. ... Ah, more lists of abusers
, coming out now like widgets on a conveyor belt.
They’re going to tag Kerry with a ‘Massachusetts liberal’ label?:
The Herald has a funny (and obvious) story
about how the GOP is already digging up the dirt on poor JFK II. ``It may be an unfair stereotype, but it's harder for a Democrat from Massachusetts to win nationally,'' said GOP strategist Ronald Kaufman. ``It doesn't hurt in the Democratic primary, which is dominated by liberals anyway. But the liberal thing is hard to get over in the general election. It can be a killer.'' ... And, despite my respect for Kerry’s formidable skills as a campaigner, it probably will be a killer. I’ve been in denial about it until now. Take it away, John Ellis
Speaking of John Ellis ...
: John Ellis has announced a new policy/format
for his weblog -- he’s going to post one item, each day, that’s it. Can’t blame him. We’re not getting paid for this. And he has pressing (paid) business to do. However, I’m a huge fan of John’s site, so I hope he makes some exceptions to his new rule, sort of like getting around campaign finance laws. Maybe he can call it the occasional “1.5 Times Per Day” loophole rule. Or the “Average of 1 Per Day” rule -- and stack ‘em up all on one glorious day.
More housing, good deal
: A compromise has been reached on the 28-story Liberty Place
apartment project -- and so it appears more than 400 housing units will be built near Chinatown. Think about it: Four-hundred units. The deal doesn’t cover another controversial apartment project for the same area, but it bodes well for the project and the city.
Urban Ring, explained (sort of):
Thanks to Brighton reader for sending this link
(and this map
) about the proposed Urban Ring transit system for the city. Very interesting. Some of my questions have been answered
. ... Now: How about a Metro Ring, i.e. a rail system that runs along 128 or 495? They once said building Route128 was impossible, not to mention a farce. “The Road to Nowhere,” as they once described Route 128 while it was being constructed. We now know better. A rail system mimicking 128 or 495 would be just as logical and popular.
How low can you get?:
Just noticed this commercial real estate story
over at the Boston Business Journal. I remember when, not so long ago, asking prices were in the absurd $100-per-square-foot range in the downtown and Back Bay. No matter how you look at it, we have a long, long way to go before the economy rebounds around here.
Some quick posts ..:
Some posts on Kerry and our new Bishop Lennon, then I have to go. Besides, nothing else really jumped out at me this morning. Here goes:
John Kerry, front-runner?:
Count me among those who were surprised by Al Gore’s decision not to run in 2004. The nomination was probably his for the taking. But it sounds like his decision came from the gut for a change, not from polls. Clearly, this helps our very own JFK. John Ellis
has probably the best early analysis -- and it sure looks like Republicans are eager for Kerry to win the nomination. They may be right, for Kerry has so much baggage (Massachusetts liberal image, lieutenant governor to Mike Dukakis, the haircut, the ‘JFK’ initials, the association with Ted Kennedy
etc.) and a calculating personality that turns so many off. But Republicans may also be in for a bigger surprise than they bargained for if Kerry wins the nomination. ... I’d like to see other Dems enter the race. Not impressed with the current crop. Not at all.
Bishop Lennon, unimpressive
: He did all the right things, barely
. He seemed to stop right at the minimum that was required. He missed a clear chance to make a break from Law, sort of like Gerald Ford declaring, “Our long national nightmare is over. The constitution works ...” And think: Lennon couldn’t screw up such a bold statement by pardoning Law. ... And so skepticism still reigns
A new neighborhood?:
Hub Blog, an old-fashioned and opinionated Boston sidewalk superintendent, loves these types of stories
. I had heard of these projects along the McGrath-O'Brien Highway, but never quite grasped them amid all the other issues related to the Big Dig. Now I want to know more. What's with the status of the proposed Urban Ring rail system? Sounds cool. Can't wait to see the final plans. (Which, if they pull it off, could also mean thousands of new housing units, not an insignificant matter in Greater Boston these days.)
`Well, we fooled them again':
Are the old boys rallying around Billy Bulger? Sure looks like it.
Just like the old days. Or the current days. Whatever. I expected it from Tom Finneran and the Trav. But I sincerely hope Mitt wasn’t one of those who proudly slapped Billy on the back last week at a breakfast gathering. Here’s my favorite quote from the Globe story: ''‘At a minimum, the UMass trustees should be asking hard questions about whether Bulger's thwarting an investigation or ever aided a fugitive,’ said Dan Glickman, director of Harvard's Institute of Politics and a former Clinton Cabinet secretary. ‘He's got to be very careful with how all this support looks. If he looks like a guy who is not going to do anything to harm a family member, I think people will have different opinions. But if it looks like the old-boy system is at play - `well, we fooled them again' - that's a terrible mistake.’”
‘I have no hatred in my heart’:
Congrats to the Globe’s Charlie Sennott for getting access to Cardinal Law
on his plane trip back from the Vatican, following the cardinal’s historic resignation. The small, telling details in the article are magnificent, such as Law declining to read a weekend edition of USA Today with his own mug on the cover. Law chose to watch an Eddie Murphy comedy instead. (If I were in his shoes, I'd have chosen the comedy, too.) Or the book Law was reading on Iraq. But what’s missing in the article (through no fault of Sennott’s) is a deep sense that Law has a deep sense of what brought this all about. He still has to think about it, he says. ...
... Will he ever get it? I don’t know. Anyone who regularly reads Hub Blog knows I’m a big fan of Margery Eagan. But her column this morning
really is must read for anyone who still doubts the nature of what happened and/or defends the cardinal. The fact is, the cardinal had (and has) a profoundly warped sense of right and wrong. It’s way beyond ‘not getting it.’ ... Even though Hub Blog isn’t a practicing Catholic, Howie Carr’s column this morning
brought home to me how close I still am to the church. I almost fell over laughing reading this column, for I understood and experienced so much of it. At the same time, I thought, “Oh, Howie, you’re in such deep doo doo with the nuns for writing this.” Old habits and thought processes die hard.
‘Thinking too hard’
: Two fun, contrasting pieces in the Globe’s “Ideas” section this morning. This one
is about the perils of thinking too much, with the classic line: ''Thinking hard can lead to a crazy world where I don't know what I'm talking about.” ... I can think of at least one blogger who can sympathize with (and learn from) that observation. ... And then there’s this piece
about people who definitely think too much and don’t know it.
The Saudis and the Kurds
: Last but not least, two excellent pieces on A.) Stephen Schwartz and the Wahhabi Saudis
and B.) the plight of the Kurds
. ... The former is really about the intellectual odyssey of Schwartz, the activist, pundit and author of ''The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror.” What a character. Schwartz tends to prove the theory that it’s really one’s personality that shapes an intellectual outlook, for good or bad. ... The latter is a long piece (that I haven’t finished) about the sad, tragic history of the Kurds, by Peter W. Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador to Croatia and now a professor at the National War College. We’ve let the Kurds down so many times. And there’s no compelling reason to think we won’t do it again.
What is the antiwar movement?:
You know the antiwar movement is in trouble when a committed antiwar person can write something like this.
Key graf: “Protesting wars today seems to be a way to cleanse one's private conscience rather than effecting public change -- a case of opting out instead of getting stuck in and having the hard arguments. Going on an antiwar demonstration has become a way to declare your whiter-than-white credentials, and demonstrating to onlookers that you have cleared your own conscience.” ...
Biotech in trouble?:
It seemed that, earlier this year, we were all giddy that a European pharmaceutical/biotech giant had decided to locate its world research headquarters in Cambridge, showing, as we were told, that Massachusetts has a strong edge in the medical research field. Now we’re being told Massachusetts is losing its biotech edge
, as other states attempt to snatch some of our biotech pie. Two quick observations: 1.) There is a lot more we can do to promote the industry (such as making the zoning and permitting process here more sane etc.). 2.) We’re just going to have to accept that other states aren’t going to sit idly by as we establish an economic agglomeration. Bottom line: Let’s not panic. There’s work to be done, yes. But it’s also normal for upstart rivals to challenge another’s position of strength. ... Post script: Don't you get the distinct impression the biotech industry is angling for a special tax break down the road? ... For those worried about Massachusetts’ economy, check out this column by Tom Keane
. We’re ranked No. 3 in ‘competitiveness’ while still needing to do a lot more on the housing, transportation and financial fronts.
: An excellent, excellent piece by Eugene Cullen Kennedy
on the rise and fall of Cardinal Law, who “signed on to defend the church as an institution, to preserve its cargo and assets and to set lifeboats on the dark sea for the renegade members of his crew instead of for the passengers they abused.” In Kennedy’s opinion, it was all about the preservation, expansion and abuse of church power. And then the unthinkable happened: the unsinkable sank. Great piece. ... FYI: Here’s a look at Law’s caretaker successor, Bishop Lennon
, who today has the most unenviable job in America.
: I must need a new pair of eyeglasses. First, I misinterpreted John Farrell's line about the entertainment industry (see item directly below -- with apology and explanation). And now Dan Kennedy
interprets Eugene Cullen Kennedy's piece this morning (see above link) in a different way than I did. Considering everything else I've gotten wrong in recent days (such as thinking Cardinal Law would NOT resign), I assume I'm wrong on this one, too. (Hmmmm, when was the last time I went to an eye doctor? Two years ago? Three?)
The 'entertainment industry' did it
-- Here's a sincere message from the heart
, but I disagree about the 'entertainment industry' part. Every inch of it. I know I'm supposed to say, 'Oh, yes, it's the entertainment, secular society that did it.' But I ain't going to do it. This was a total, complete, absolute, undeniable failing of a non-entertainment, non-secular Catholic church that said one thing, but did another. Don't point fingers. I will have nothing to do with such a sham. The scandal was the church leadership's own utter, complete moral failing. Nothing else. It's now becoming clear that Cardinal Cushing was involved in this, as horrifying as it may seem (and is) to many elder Catholics. It stretches across decades. Decades. Well before the '60s. Want to open up that can of pre-secular worms? But, nevertheless, here's the message from the reader (and I still agree with so much of it, especially the part about not feeling any sense of triumph or satisfaction, or about the sympathy felt towards honest priests): "I personally do not feel any sense of triumph or satisfaction. Just sadness. All I want to do for today is remember the good priests. As of today, they can begin to get back to what they do and have done throughout the long years of their vocations. ... And last, but not least, patiently enduring the mockery and abuse that is heaped on their vocation and profession by our otherwise oh-so-tolerant culture. Just when they thought they could take a few minutes out of the day to sit back and enjoy a little television in the evening -- they get to be hectored and lectured by the morally superior auteurs of our entertainment industry.”
Writer of above link that elicited my original response
: "Sorry if it came across like I was 'blaming' the entertainment industry; I was more pointing out that the good priests will have to bear a lot of the ridicule and mockery this hideous mess is inevitably going to bring about -- on top of a grueling job, the reality of which virtually never gets depicted with any objectivity or reality in the movies or TV." ... Hub Blog's response: Sorry if I overreacted to you. In fact, I did. My apologies. I thought it was a beautiful piece. But my item still makes sense (though it was sparked for the wrong reason), in that we've been hearing a lot today, at least in Boston, about how gays, Cafeteria Catholics, the secular society etc. are the ones really to blame for the scandal. The 'dope' (posted in the update item below) really set me off. I fear a 'counter offensive' coming from the church and their knee-jerk partisans. They still don't seem to get it, with their talk of gays, Voice of the Faithful, abortion, secularism, Cafeteria Catholicism, Hollywood, as if they can all be tied into a coherent whole to explain away the church's looking the other way in the face of the priests' molesting of little boys. They're looking for scapegoats.
Response of Reader No. 1's No. 1:
"I just think the timing of Law's resignation is of particular interest. With less than two weeks to Christmas, why not roll this announcement out. It may just get the Boston Archdiocese an extra cash boost. Human nature suggests that people tend to be more generous during this time of year. After all, where do people go on Christmas besides to their families and friends for a celebration? They go to church! I remember growing up and even today my parents reiterate that everyone goes to church on Christmas, 'people you haven't seen all year, attend.' So in the spirit of the season, the spin could be, we have got rid of some of the problem, there is more work to be done, so won't you please come and help out those Catholic Charities!"
Law's resignation and sorry legacy
: We got what we asked for
. And now what? The church is still in turmoil. It still teeters on the edge of moral and financial bankruptcy. Its victims are still in pain. Its highest leaders -- and now its ex-highest leader -- still face likely charges of a criminal cover up. Cardinal Law resigned this morning, but he’s left a monumental, historic mess in his wake. His greatest legacy to the Archdiocese of Boston and American Catholicism in general? He and his fellow bishops and cardinals have allowed a rupture to occur within the American church, a rupture that could have been avoided had they acted with genuine concern and responsibility for, of all people, innocent children within their parishes. They didn’t act with genuine concern and responsibility for innocent children. Instead, their genuine concern and responsibility was, first and foremost, directed at preserving and protecting their own power. This is the main lesson many take from the sex-abuse scandal in Boston and elsewhere: When push came to shove, the Catholic church’s leadership didn’t choose to protect the meek and powerless, they chose to side with and protect the powerful. Never again will Boston Catholics fully trust their church, even though many Catholics understandably yearn and hope things will “return to normal.” But it won’t happen. The new “normality” is this: From now on, many parents, if they choose to stay in the church (and the vast majority will choose to do so), will continue to tell their children to believe in God and Jesus, they’ll continue to snap pictures and recall fond memories on the day their children go through their own First Communion, on the day their children have their own wedding ceremonies, on the day their own children have their children baptized into the church. The traditions and mysteries of the Catholic church will live on. But most parents will henceforth whisper dark warnings to their children: ‘Don’t trust the priests and bishops too much. ... Don’t stay alone with them. ... They’re not always going to be on our side.” And this cynicism will be passed down from generation to generation. This is Cardinal Law’s legacy.
Here are some updates:
-- The below mentioned dope might want to listen to the words of the Rev. Edward Vacek, a local priest, who was also just interviewed on NECN. Father Vacek called the resignation "a relief" but "much, much work" still needs to be done to "bring back" the faithful. Asked point blank about Voice of the Faithful's call for more openness in the church, Vacek gave an interesting explanation about how the church, before major changes in the 1800s, used to give much more power to lay people to select their own bishops and leaders. Perhaps that "shift" in power of the 1800s "needs to be, if you will" shifted back again towards the people, Vacek said. But, hey, what does a priest know? He's probably one of those secular Cafeteria Catholics and secret card-carrying member of the Voice of the Faithful.
-- Some dope (didn't catch his name but he was with some lay group) was just interviewed on NECN and accused Voice of the Faithful of not following the "moral teachings" of the church. And he said such "Cafeteria Catholicism" is the root cause, along with the "secular society" it creates, for the sex-abuse scandal. I am not making this up. Yep, Voice of the Faithful and Cafeteria Catholics caused this. Sure. Yeah. Right. Learn something each and every day.
-- Ted Kennedy just spoke of the resignation as the "beginning of a long process of healing" and said it's time to take a "different kind" of approach towards "responsibility" and "accountability" within the church. Good for Ted.
-- Clark Booth, one of the greatest and wisest reporters in Boston, was just interviewed on Channel 5, via phone from the Vatican, and he's (typically) putting this all into historical perspective. He's comparing today's 'earthquake within the system' to convulsions the church must periodically go through every few hundred years in order to purify itself. "Gradually, it's becoming clear these are one of those moments," he said. He's even comparing the current convulsions to events of the Reformation.
Update -- 10:25 a.m.
-- Coverage of Cardinal Law's resignation is being carried live on Boston television stations. ... An attorney for the alleged sex-abuse victims says he soon intends to file more lawsuits, scores of them, involving 30 priests dating back to 1960. About half of the lawsuits will involve priests who currently don't have suits filed against them, he said. ... The victims who are appearing at various press conferences are so poised, so articulate, so controlled in their rage. They're not going to give up. They look and sound so empty and drained but determined. One was asked if he can forgive Cardinal Law, and he just shook his head in a dazed way, shrugged his shoulders, raised his eyebrows and slowly said forgiving the cardinal is not one of his priorities right now. ... Incredible.
Plea bargain time
: Cardinal Law might want to hurry up on the bankruptcy filing. He has other legal problems
to contend with in coming weeks and months. ... It’s getting to the point where the newspapers now have to run ‘summary’ stories
about all the latest sex-abuse allegations, complete with bullet items, similar to the NFL round-up pieces you read on Monday mornings.
: Trying to steal a page from William Safire, Joan Vennochi
‘gets in the mind’ of Mitt Romney. Now, we all instinctively know this isn’t how our Mitt thinks. But does Joan
Multinational corporate marketing pain comes to Boston
: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., whose oh-so-cutesy corporate marketing machine is starting to seriously annoy, is coming to Boston
. Local story line: Coming to the home of Dunkin’ Donuts. Get it? Ha, ha, ha. ... Really, I guess I’m supposed to play along with the cutesy schtick about how much I love or hate Krispy Kreme (sort of like Ken Burns getting all gooey about baseball etc.), but we used to call ‘glazed’ doughnuts ‘honey dip’ doughnuts when I was young and dragged into church with promises of doughnuts afterward -- and I never really liked honey dips. Nor going to church. I always liked jelly crullers. (And I also like Piccalilly relish on hot dogs ... so back off!)
A reader responds
: Someone wrote that he didn't get this item. Let me explain in my best former business journalism lingo: I think the whole Krispy Kreme phenomenon was (and certainly is by now) a tired marketing ploy, not a true story, by a publicly traded, overpriced company that needs to expand in order to keep Wall Street happy. The schtick has been used in other cities -- and too many media outlets bite into it as if it's a big story. So I pulled out my Doughnut Catholicism schtick to counter it. Get it?
Trent Lott-free zone
: Like other blog sites, I’m taking a stand and declaring Hub Blog a Trent Lott-free zone, henceforth. I’m embarrassed I had a Trent item yesterday. There are Trent stories in the Globe and Herald this morning. They’re all over the damn Internet. Find ‘em yourself.
A reader from New Hampshire (yes, New Hampshire -- Hub Blog must be going global) responds
: A reader asks why I wouldn’t want to cover such an important national story. Answer: It’s not because it’s not a big issue (it is), but it’s because everyone else is mooing the same thing at the same time. But I will repeat this
: Conservatives have been in denial for a long time about this guy’s views on segregation. And now they're patting themselves on the back
. (Guess my attempt at at a Trent Lott-free zone has failed.)
Another reader responds -- 12-13-02
: Alan at Tufts says this is a ‘shining moment for conservatives’ because of the way they’ve responded to Trent Lott’s comments. My response: True, especially those conservatives within the blogosphere. But it’s tardy. Trent Lott has been saying, hinting and implying these exact same sentiments for years now -- decades, actually. I don’t have the links right now (I’ll try to get them), but Trent has been telling people for a while that the Republican Party has become, in his opinion, the party with the same ideals as Jefferson Davis. I’m not a Republican, but I do admire it and its history -- and I was very heartened to hear President Bush’s comments yesterday
. This is one of the most interesting lines: “And the founding ideals of our nation and, in fact, the founding ideals of the political party I represent was, and remains today, the equal dignity and equal rights of every American.” I don’t know if Bush specifically intended to rebut Trent’s ‘Jefferson Davis’ opinion, but the president did declare that the GOP is, in fact, the Party of Lincoln. If Lott continues to resist stepping down from his post, people should start asking what he meant by asserting the GOP is the party of Jefferson Davis, whose every ideal Lincoln opposed. Until he leaves (under pressure from Republicans and conservatives, ultimately), enough with the self-congratulations. (Link to Bush’s speech via JE
.) ... P.S. Did anyone else notice Pat Buchanan's defense of Trent Lott last night? Pat, who's another apologizer for Jeff Davis' cause, said something about Trent being subjected to one of the worst 'public lynchings' he's ever seen. What an ironic 'choice of words,' as they say.
: The Puritans won another one
. ... Adrian Walker
has a nice piece on Fan Pier, the Pritzker family’s gross infighting and how Boston handles developments. ... Another delay for the Big Dig
. Where’s the news here? Opening on time is news.
Let him speak
: Knew very little about Tom Paulin, the poet, before the Harvard invite/disinvite/reinvite controversy. This article
, in this past Sunday’s “Ideas” section, shows Paulin is not just another political hack artist, but rather a very accomplished, albeit controversial, poet and scholar of contemporary importance. He was probably invited to appear at Harvard for all the wrong reasons (politics) and definitely disinvited for all the wrong reasons (politics). He should be allowed to speak when he finally arrives (next spring?), without interference from shouting goon squads. Let people make up their own minds, after listening to him, whether or not he’s a brilliant poet slowly morphing into another Ezra Pound.
Trent Lott makes it onto Hub Blog
: Yes, Hub Blog finally gets a piece of the Trent Lott action, courtesy of Derrick Jackson
. Conservatives have been in denial for a long time about this guy’s views on segregation.
Kerry, off to a good start
: Mark Jurkowitz
writes an interesting piece about John Kerry getting off to a good start in his presidential campaign. I think so, too, though that view does clash with this earlier piece by Howard Kurtz
. (I didn’t see Kerry’s “Meet the Press” interview, FYI.) Hub Blog asserts again: No matter what your opinion may be on Kerry’s politics, personality or hair, he’s a bare-knuckles campaigner.
: And make no mistake: Gore's running for president again
. No doubt about it. This is the innocuous clincher.
New business editor at the Globe
: Caleb Solomon, former editor of Wall Street Journal/New England, a now defunct weekly section providing regional business news, has been named editor of the Globe’s business section(s).
It’s a great move by Marty Baron. As editor of the Boston Business Journal during Solomon’s tenure at Wall Street Journal/New England, I can attest to Solomon’s credentials. He was a formidable competitor, even though the BBJ and WSJ targeted slightly different niches. For a while there, WSJ/New England was must read for local business readers -- big scoops, interesting features, quirky lists and data, way-ahead-of-the-curve trend pieces. (For some reason, though, the section petered out towards the second half of its run. Don’t know why.) One suggestion to Solomon: Don’t try to replicate what you did at the WSJ/NE. The old WSJ/NE found a niche in covering, for lack of other words, that murky zone where the private sector meets the public sector. One of the biggest complaints about the Globe’s business section, I’ve found, is that too much of its coverage of business is often in that exact same zone -- and not enough on the harder-to-get news on the private sector side. One of the classic mistakes daily newspapers make, when it comes to business sections, is thinking that they should be an extension of the Metro/Region section and/or that they should appeal to all readers (i.e. more business news out of City Hall or the Statehouse, or yet more banal stories about how to manage your 401(k) plan). Wrong, wrong, wrong. You wouldn’t dare take the same approach towards the sports section. So why take that approach towards the business section? (Can you imagine major pieces in the Globe sports section on how to improve your fielding and batting skills for the local softball league?) The Globe’s business readers are tough, sophisticated and intense -- and they don’t want to read about the best mortgage deal at the local community bank or how to save for retirement. They want the detailed, in-depth dirt on their competitors and industries. Just a tip from an old competitor, Caleb.
Law, Bulger and ...:
Swore I wouldn’t blog again, at least for a few days, on Billy and the cardinal. I’ve sort of overdosed on the subjects and feared I was entering a rant stage. But along comes Eileen McNamara
, who makes a fascinating connection between Billy’s legislative antics on behalf of Whitey and the current sex-abuse scandal in the church. (There are other legislative shenanigans Billy pulled on behalf of his brother, but we’ll save that for later.) ... OK, while we’re on the subject, check out Joe Fitzgerald’s column
in the Herald. It’s significant for two reasons: A.) It shows how elder Catholics, who grew up revering the church and its clergy, are also disgusted with Cardinal Law and B.) It shows how Joe Fitzgerald (no relation), often a knee-jerk defender of the church and Law, seems to have finally noticed the depth of discontent among Catholics, both young and old. ... Might as well read Howie
while you're at it. Brutal. Just brutal. Howie: "Well, Bernie, all I can tell you is, I may be a bad Catholic, but I pay my bills, I've never filed for bankruptcy, and I never wrote a mash note to Father Shanley."
‘Coming apart at its corroded seams’
: Nice heart-warming piece this morning by Brian McGrory
, who starts out: “There are days, weeks even, when our quaint, little hamlet of Boston seems to be coming apart at its corroded seams. ... Other major cities have headlines in their papers like ‘Panel approves new downtown development.’ In Boston, it's all mayhem, all the time.” ...
... Speaking of mayhem:
-- It’s not exactly Paris, 1789-1792, but there are days when it feels like it in Boston. The key line from the rebels
: ‘The priests and people of Boston have lost confidence in you as their spiritual leader.’ ... What’s the rough equivalent of the Bastille in Boston? And when do we start storming?
-- Tom Oliphant
is rightly disgusted with the ‘scandal system’ in America. But Tom is simply wrong on this one. There’s a lot of pent-up frustration in town -- and Dan Burton/grand jury/scandal bashing ain’t going to cut it. (By the way, don’t forget that Stephen Lynch and Marty Meehan serve with the Watermelon Man on the same committee. ... By the way, Part II: And the next time someone quotes the famous question -- ''You felt more loyalty to your brother than you did to the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?'' -- make sure to include Billy’s response -- “I never thought of it that way. But I do have an honest loyalty to my brother. ... It's my hope that I'm never helpful to anyone against him.” And don’t forget the 21 murders. .... By the way, Part III: I think Mitt’s comments about Billy were some of the more refreshing things to come out of a local politician’s mouth in decades. ).
-- At first, I thought this story
was indeed ‘silly’ and ‘desperate,’ as Billy’s attorney characterized it. Then I read Peter Gelzinis’ column
this morning and the mention of Zip’s possible/likely involvement made me wonder. It still sounds absurdly far-fetched, but you have to understand that Peter's colleague once had a personal encounter with Whitey
, who was just looking out for his kid brother when his kid brother was getting some bad press. ... Peter adds: “Look for stories about Burton, the Hoosier whackjob, firing bullets into a watermelon to prove his foul play theories surrounding the death of Clinton aide Vince Foster. Personally, I think firing bullets into a fresh watermelon in the privacy of one's own back yard is a far cry from firing bullets into live bookmakers, rival drug dealers, stubborn girlfriends and potential witnesses such as Brian Halloran or World Jai Alai exec Roger Wheeler.”
-- Joan Vennochi
: “The old Boston is not going gently. As it fights for survival, it clings to power in the highest sanctums of church and state.”
'The Awful Truth,' Part II
: Re: Dan Kennedy’s response
... Re: My Response to Dan’s response
. ... Re: Original Item
A number of responses from readers (abbreviated, obviously):
1.) “I read your entry on the Boston Priest. I can understand your confusion.”
2.) “Still reeling from the shock about Father Foley. Kept thinking about it over the weekend. Your thoughts about it on your hubblog were really poignant and I saw that you got a good reference from another blogger, Kennedy.”
3.) During a non-email conversation with a friend (who reads Hub Blog, occasionally), my friend jokingly (somewhat) suggested that my strong/tepid/confused response to Father Foley was classic Bostonian, and he playfully threw in a few jabs at Billy Bulger for good measure. This was/is my boiled down -- and brilliantly varnished -- version of what I said to him:
“I had less than 24 hours to articulate a response to revelations and facts that I didn’t have a clue existed 24 hours earlier. Billy Bulger has had 365 days X 24 hours X 25 years -- give or take a few years, if not decades -- to articulate a response. Billy talks the loyalty of 19th Century Ireland. I think -- I hope -- I talk the loyalty of early 21st Century, post-Geoghan Boston. Now let's get off the subject.” ... My friend generally and graciously accepted my explanation, but not without some brutal teasing and challenges to have another beer. Ah, friends. ... And I hope this answers a few of the other emails I’ve received asking for further elaboration on the entire affair. And now let's get off the subject.
‘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