Jerry Williams, rabble-rouser
: Will McDonough. Michael Kelly. Now Jerry Williams. And once again, Dan Kennedy
has a terrific remembrance that I won't try to improve upon. Which leads me to think: A.) Dan is either one hell of a writer and reporter or B.) He has a CNN file of pre-written obits or C.) a combination of the two. Great piece. ... I was out in Illinois when Jerry reached his rabble-rousing peak. A friend used to send me clips from the Boston newspapers every now and then. Jerry was at the eye of almost every Beacon Hill storm. I remember thinking: 'Jerry's flipped out in a cool sort of way.' He must have been mugged by reality somewhere during his career.
‘We won't always have the strongest military’
: Sounds like a pretty obvious and innocuous quote by Howard Dean, right? The fact is we won’t always have the strongest military in the future -- nor possess a strong military option in every situation we confront today. So we’ll have to rely on deft diplomacy. But don’t tell that to Senator John Kerry
, who voted for the UN authorization bill against Iraq, who later criticized the Bush administration for its lack of diplomatic skills when it ultimately went with the ‘second-to-noboby’ military option, and who, not surprisingly, is having it both ways by going after both Bush and Dean.
All or nothing?:
Generally, Hub Blog likes the idea of slapping an entire reform/restructuring package down on the table and forcing lawmakers, on the record, to either pass or reject it, under the ‘all-or-nothing’ Article 87
provision. The Herald thinks so
, too. But I’d like to make one suggestion: Make sure they’re the best, most sensible reforms. Many of Mitt’s original restructuring ideas were, well, flawed and/or would give lawmakers too easy an excuse to reject them. Some reforms/restructuring that should be included: the Pacheco bill, bumping rights, court reform, the Bechtel Turnpike Authority, the Quinn Bill, Billy’s job, the health-care revamping etc. I’d leave out a few of the other ideas, such as the non-Billy higher ed reforms, where there are legitimate non-power-politics beefs involved. Some will say any Article 87 vote (or votes) would be partisan in nature, but, as Mayor Daley once said, good government is good politics. No need to juice up a reform package by trying to ‘embarrass’ Dems. Just include reforms people want -- and deserve. ...
... Speaking of Billy, read this Herald editorial
from the other day about the utter cynicism of Bulger, who lambasted Mitt for slashing higher-ed funds but who’s now content with the deeper and more ‘honest’ House cuts. Hmmm. Wonder why. ...Both the Herald
and the Globe
are going after the Quinn Bill. The Globe has a legitimate and inescapable point: Mitt isn’t supporting the Quinn reforms. He should. And they should be slipped into any Article 87 package.
‘The assault on freedom of speech’
: You know, this is a rather brave column by Joan Vennochi
. She’s taking on the critics of Rick Santorum, Trent Lott, etc. -- while still criticizing the views expressed by Santorum and Lott. Hub Blog can’t emphasize this enough: Santorum and Lott are morons -- and they deserve criticism. Yet, I’m also skeptical of anything that smacks of an Orchestrated Indignation Campaign. It’s the opinion-media’s version of pack journalism. Everyone feels compelled to get in on the act. ... Not sure about the use of the words ‘assault’ and ‘muzzle’ by Joan. I’d reserve those words for genuine government/McCarthy-like crackdown tactics. But I get her drift -- and agree. ... As for the Dixie Chicks and Hollywood types, they live by popularity, they die by popularity. They want to have it both ways.
: Can I make a recommendation? If you can, catch the ongoing episodes of PBS’ ‘Manor House,’
the upscale reality show that re-creates the Upstairs-Downstairs life within an early-20th Century Edwardian country manor. I was utterly mesmerized by the history, the interaction of the masters and workers, the grueling tensions and long hours of the servants, how some people are motivated by pride of work while others scheme, etc. I couldn’t stop watching it. A total surprise. Can’t wait for the upcoming Downstairs ‘revolt’ as promised in the promos.
Light bloggin’ and France is freaking insane, Part II
: Got a surprising number of emails about the post directly below. ... One of them asked me how I square my support for taxes (as long as they’re accompanied by true reforms) with my sarcastic criticism of the authors of this op-ed
as mentioned in the post. My response: Well, I was being a little sarcastic and flippant. But I wasn’t being that sarcastic and flippant. The authors’ description of taxes being ‘the least damaging’ alternative in a budget crisis struck me as absurd, anti-common-sense, ideological posturing. The fact is both cuts and taxes are damaging. One uses them in conjunction with each other. The authors were clearly promoting one alternative over another. ... Another reader gently chided me for taking on the august authors, Peter R. Orszag and Joseph E. Stiglitz, who respectively are a Brookings Institute scholar and a Nobel laureate. Hub Blog is no scholar and certainly no Nobel laureate. But I’m sure a scholar from the American Enterprise Institute and another Nobel laureate could be found to rebut their views. ...
FYI: No one wrote in about my closet Francophile dilemma!
Light bloggin’ and France is freaking insane
: I was so intellectually devastated
by this article (via Dan Kennedy
) that I couldn’t blog yesterday. After much soul searching, I’ve come to this conclusion: We should never again reduce government spending as long as we can raise taxes during a recession. Isn’t that the impeccable reverse logic of the authors’ arguments? It is. So, no more spending reductions, no more reforms and restructuring since that would reduce spending, etc. etc. ...
... Licking my deep intellectual wounds, I sought solace by searching for a story that would rationalize why I’m a closet Francophile. I found this article on the NYC smoking ban
, and I was overwhelmed with fond memories of sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes in the utterly free cafes of Paris. Then I stumbled upon this encouraging article
about how area American and French scientists are putting their countries’ political differences aside in the name of academic freedom, and I was overwhelmed with the blissful thought about how an influx of French into Boston might lead to a partial lifting of the smoking ban and higher quality baguettes. ... Then I read this article about how France is trying to organize
a new military alliance to ‘balance’ and confront the United States, scuttling NATO and achieving France’s ‘long-standing goal of unhitching’ the United States from European defense. France is talking to Germany and Russia about the idea. Hey, why not China and Iran? I guess rapprochement
is dead. ...
... I am left demoralized. So bloggin’ has been and will remain light as I try to right my world.
Recognizing Kevin White, Part II
: Brighton Reader writes in re this earlier post
“The unveiling of the two statues of James Michael Curley that are opposite city hall during White's last term inspired his budget director, Ed Sullivan, to make a tongue in cheek suggestion for a memorial for his boss. Rather than a mere two statues, there would be three: Kevin White shaking hands with Kevin White while the third one applauds.
“Like him or not, you knew when he was in the room. Kevin White had charisma.
“Boston politics has gotten a lot more boring since KHW left the scene. Mayoral races were once titantic battles where people felt a lot was at stake. Now we have token opponents and small voter turnouts.
“He was the last incumbent Boston mayor to make a serious run for higher office, losing to Frank Sargeant in 1970.”
‘They can save money ...’
: Day 4: Reforms held hostage. No, wait, the Globe has actually run a budget editorial that not only mentions the word ‘reform,’ but is about reforms
. The big news: It praises them without snide references about how they're really worthless twaddle beloved by Talk Radio hooligans. The Globe: “They (reforms) can save money that might otherwise have to come from direct services, and they increase credibility in the budget process, eventually enhancing public trust.” ...
The sad part about this is that it’s come so late and grudgingly. Can you imagine how many other reforms might have been squeezed out of Beacon Hill had the Globe put its foot down earlier and campaigned for better government? Still, the budget fight is far from over, and the Globe just articulated why it should be pushing harder for reforms as the budget ax falls on state services, not to mention on taxpayers. It might even enhance the public's trust in the Globe as a credible advocate in the budget process.
: William M. Fowler Jr. goes after the insipid designs
for the Wharf District after the Central Artery is torn down. William: “If as a community we cannot come to agreement perhaps the best alternative is to do nothing. Plant grass and leave it to a future, hopefully wiser, generation to solve.” ... Hub Blog announces a new Adopt a Reform program and is assigning the Globe its first homework/hatchet-job test: Reform and/or abolish the Bechtel Turnkpike Authority. The BTA wasted hundreds of millions of dollars by not recouping cost overruns from Bechtel, as the Globe’s Spotlight Team exposed; and now the BTA is screwing up another aspect of the Big Dig by submitting ‘mawkish clichés’ for future post-artery parks. The Globe has been a pitbull on both issues, and so logic dictates. ... Extra bonus points to the Globe if it crosses a line and refers to Matthew Amorello as ‘Fat Matt.' ...
Jules Crittenden fires back
: The Herald’s Jules Crittenden
explains his souvenirs problem at Customs: “Note to colleagues: It was with great surprise that I learned that images of Saddam Hussein and assorted military equipment, collected as battlefield souvenirs, might be considered part of Iraq's valued cultural heritage.” ... He adds that media coverage of the incident was ‘not of high caliber.’ ... He got nabbed for Hussein images and military equipment? Jeezus. I would have come home with a little more than that
. Hope this puts to rest the Great Jules Controversy. ... Wait. It doesn’t: What about the jezails
, Jules? What about the jezails
-- 4-26-03 -- Cosmo
is admirably riding to the defense of his Herald colleague, swatting off the heads of the armchair infidel ethicists.
Bandwagon Hub Blogger
: Yep, that’s me up there on the Celts bandwagon
. Don’t think they’ll go far, but it’s good to see a second season in a row with some real playoff excitement. ...
-- 4-26-03 - Don't forget the Pats. Big draft coming up
. Hope they trade up to at least get Johnathan Sullivan. Maybe even swipe away Dewayne Robertson from the Jets.
Is the budget battle fundamentally over?:
A reader brought my attention to yesterday’s Boston Herald editorial
endorsing Finneran’s budget and all but saying it was good enough -- baby-step reforms and all. ... Meanwhile, Scot Lehigh
is praising the House’s reforms, saying they’re logical and a good start. ... Oh, sure, there’s skirmishing between Tommy and Mitt over the silly $100 million Emerging Technology Fund
, another one of those ‘public-private partnership’ relics that so many pols seem to adore. But the fact is: A House budget has been presented, it includes some (but not many) reforms and no tax major increases. Everyone’s behaving as though the budget battle is drawing to a close. ...
So the logical question is: Is the budget battle fundamentally over? Reading Tom Keane
this morning, I thought he was about to pronounce winners and losers, such as when he wrote: “Yet to a remarkable degree, the House budget builds on Romney's submission. For the governor, this is a big win.” ... Hmmmmm. True. Mitt should be looking happy these days. But then Tom adds: “It's important to remember, however, that for Finneran this is a position grounded in tactics, not philosophy. He followed Romney's lead only because he figures legislators won't support a tax increase. But that could change.” ... And there’s the key line: But that could change
. My betting is it will. Tommy is still Tommy. The Senate hasn’t weighed in yet. The public hasn’t had time to digest the spending cuts. The public-sector unions and professional activists are only now clearing their indignant throats. I don’t think the battle is over. Act 4 of the drama (voting on an actual budget) has yet to occur. That's why Hub Blog is sticking to my mantra: No reforms, no new taxes. The reforms on the table are small in number. Many are temporary. And they can easily disappear in final conference committees. Mitt has indeed set the agenda and deserves credit. The House indeed produced a budget and deserves credit for at least addressing reforms. But when those House tax ideas are whipped out, as I think they will be later this spring or summer, Mitt better have his reform list ready, too. ...
... Steve Bailey
on putting the budget into perspective: “We will need to manage our way through the hard times, and that is why we hired Mitt Romney, a manager, not a politician. The rookie governor has made his mistakes -- his foolish boast of finding $2 billion in fraud, waste, and abuse was a whopper for which he is still paying -- but he has stayed true to his mandate: reform, not taxes.” ... Again, notice how Steve is writing in the past tense. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too cynical. I smell a rat. ... Did Mitt really refer to Beacon Hill as ‘Bacon Hill’
Day 3: Reform held hostage. The Globe is out of it. Someone pass it some smelling salts. Day 3 of running a budget editorial
without one mention of the word ‘reform.’ What budget debate are they following? Maine's? Vermont's?
‘The Quinn Bill is entrenched in the system’:
Here’s why both taxes and more reforms (or no reforms) are not off the table yet. Sen. Robert O'Leary
, who’s fighting to kill the Quinn Bill: “After people see what we do up here this year in terms of the programs we're going to be cutting and the kind of pain that's going to be inflicted across the board, they'll be more likely to sit down and look at a program a lot of people have problems with.” ... So the Let ‘Em Howl for Taxes scenario is still out there, but it’s a double-edged sword: People are starting to link taxes and reform together -- or at least one lawmaker thinks they will. Good. ...Mitt: Keep that reform list handy.
Recognizing Kevin White
: Don’t know what prompted Brian McGrory
to write this column, but he’s right about recognizing the good deeds of Kevin White ... White was no angel. McGrory mentions all the good people who got their start in government under White, but he neglected to point out some of the other characters surrounding Kev, such as, oh, The Trav, the former Eastie foot soldier. ... Still, time has healed most psychic wounds leftover from White’s last cynical years in office. All in all, he was truly a great mayor. So we now have two people who deserve a memorial of some sort: Fred Salvucci and Kevin White.
Attention all you tormented Fracophiles, Part II:
In an editorial, the Globe is urging a rapprochement with France
, saying there are signs “that President Jacques Chirac does not want to repeat in the postwar period the prewar clashes that tore apart the UN Security Council.” ... Oh, really? Has Chirac abandoned his 19th Century ‘balance of power’ philosophy on foreign policy? Has the United States suddenly shed some pounds on the balance of power scale? I’m all for mending fences. Time to cool down the rhetoric about ‘punishment’ etc. But I’m not about to let down my guard with the cynical French elite.
What’s next for the neocons?:
Boy, the word ‘neoconservative’ seems so outdated already, an ancient phrase used during those ancient times before the war in Iraq. Still, the CSM is tackling the issue in this editorial
and in this op-ed piece
, both roughly concluding that President Bush is (and should be) easing up on the neocon crusade. ... Still not enthralled with the neocons. They’re too gung-ho and moralistic for my tastes. I despise the thought of an ‘American Empire.’ But they have been proven right on a lot of issues lately. Gotta give ‘em that. ... Mentioned it before, but I’ll mention it again: I’m going to start judging Middle East matters, in particular, on a more case-by-case basis. I was proved right on a lot of issues regarding the war in Iraq. But I was also proved wrong on a lot issues. Hub Blog is kind of in a humble mood these days. ... Still want to see that WMD evidence.
Oh, just another old-boy scandal in Boston
: Now which board did Cashman serve on
during those idyllic pre-reform, give-us-more-taxes, no-credible-case-for-patronage days? And which former head of the Mass Film office is now (or was) in a witness-protection-like program because of these old boy networks? ... Oh, gee, the name "James 'Whitey' Bulger" keeps popping up. Again. ... It should go without saying: No reforms, no new taxes. ... Please, no but-Republican-governors-supported-him/reforms-won't-balance-the-budget excuses. ... Book-of-the-month suggestion: Read 'Black Mass.' ... And reread it if it hasn't sunk in. Think: UMass president. Think: Tommy.
-- Here’s the Globe version of the Cashman story
. The description of Cashman once being a ‘Beacon Hill kingmaker’ is quite apt, and the political culture that let him prosper remains.
More trouble for George Galloway, courtesy of CSM
: The Boston-based Christian Science Monitor has a big, big scoop
, saying it has obtained documents detailing possible “multimillion dollar payments to an outspoken British member of parliament, George Galloway.”
... Not $350,000 as previously reported. But millions. The documents were found in the house of Saddam’s son, Qusay, another one of those darling little Hussein boys. From the story by Philip Smucker:
"The most recent - and possibly most revealing - documents were obtained earlier this week by the Monitor. The papers include direct orders from the Hussein regime to issue Mr. Galloway six individual payments, starting in July 1992 and ending in January 2003. ...
"The leadership of Hussein's special security section and accountants of the President's secretive Republican Guard signed the papers and authorized payments totaling more than $10 million.
"The three most recent payment authorizations, beginning on April 4, 2000, and ending on January 14, 2003 are for $3 million each. All three authorizations include statements that show the Iraqi leadership's strong political motivation in paying Galloway for his vociferous opposition to US and British plans to invade Iraq.
"The Jan. 14, 2003, document, written on Republican Guard stationary with its Iraqi eagle and 'Trust in Allah,' calls for the 'Manager of the security department, in the name of President Saddam Hussein, to order a gratuity to be issued to Mr. George Galloway of British nationality in the amount of three million dollars only.' "
P.S. Needless to say, the Christian Science Monitor is just a great newspaper, a real asset to Boston and Boston journalism. Their reporters are having a great time over there rummaging through the Baghdad mansions, trash and files
-- The full CSM story is online now. Here it is
and I've inserted a link above, too. The entire UN food-for-oil deal was nothing but a scam. A full scam. With a lot of shameless players involved.
‘Unilaterally created for himself a parallel journalistic universe’:
More on the Denis Horgan affair over at Editor and Publisher
(via Dave Winer
). Classic quote from Courant editor Brian Toolan: “(Horgan) has unilaterally created for himself a parallel journalistic universe where he'll do commentary on the institutions that the paper has to cover without any editing oversight by the Courant. ... There are 325 other people here who could create similar [Web sites] for themselves." ... Can’t have that! ... Betcha within, oh, one to three years the Courant will have some sort of Parallel Journalistic Universe project under way.
P.S. -- Cosmo
and Hub Blog
covered the Horgan issue yesterday. A Hub Blog reader and journalism friend wrote in to say she liked both of our observations and sites -- and asked how she could start her own blog. I’ll keep ya informed if and when she launches one. P.S.P.S. She doesn’t work at the Courant. Obviously.
-- Jeff Jarvis
has some interesting thoughts on blogging and the media. From Jeff: “Many other media companies -- newspaper, magazine, TV, radio, online -- will need to start looking at the world in this way: from the other side, from the perspective of the audience, the audience as publisher.” ... Hartford Courant, take note.
... Speaking of Jeff Jarvis, checked out MassLive
, an Advance-owned site, and stumbled across one of the funniest blogs around: ‘The dullest blog in the world.'
Exciting subjects include: ‘Putting down my cup for a minute or two,’ ‘Making a small noise’ and ‘Turning my head to the right.’ ...Oh, man. Almost lost it when I read it. ... They’re having a lot of fun with Parallel Journalistic Universes out there in western Mass. ... Hartford Courant, take note.
‘Hitler’s Forgotten Library’:
I read this article on ‘Hitler’s Forgotten Library’
a few weeks ago in the print edition of the Boston-based Atlantic Monthly. Now it’s online. Definitely for history buffs. ... The part about Hitler’s "art of reading" says so much about the disciplined, closed mind of a totalitarian ideologue merely confirming and reconfirming what he already wants to know.
‘Absolutely everything about Uday was abnormal’
: More sick Uday tales
. One explanation for his sadistic behavior: “His father would avoid him.” ... And, to my knowledge, he wasn’t a middle child. ... The CSM
also takes a peek at Uday’s digs, as well as the abodes of other Saddam thugs. ...
If you haven’t seen it already, I posted an item late yesterday ('Hammering hard at their bones’
) about the torture and death of up to 300,000 Shiites at the hands of Saddam’s goons. I point this out because of this morning’s smug drivel by Brendan O’Neill
, who ends his op-ed by asking: “Is that really liberation?” Yes, Brendan, it’s really called "liberation" if you bother to look at it from a different angle.
More on those war souvenirs
: The Herald has a roundup piece on embeds and others
caught trying to smuggle goodies out of Iraq and into the country. The story mentions the Jules Critteden incident. Says Herald publisher Patrick Purcell, ``I am very proud of the job Jules Crittenden has done covering the front lines of the war. I hope this incident won't overshadow the great work he's done. His reporting was superb.'' ... In my book, it won’t and shouldn’t overshadow his superb reporting. He was nabbed doing something we all would have done under similar circumstances: Collecting war souvenirs. He declared them. He didn’t try to hide anything. He appeared genuinely surprised -- and embarrassed -- that he had crossed a non-criminal-charge line. ...
By the way, I write this as I proudly gaze upon a beautiful, um, er, well, let’s just say I’m the proud owner of a very fond memory from Africa. ... Hmmmmm. How would I have gotten out one of those jezails
? I’ve actually given it some thought. ...
‘The three Rs of budget debate’
: Good piece by Joan Vennochi
, who jumps out of the starting gate with: ‘Somewhere between the need for reform and the need for revenue, there must be room for reason.’ ... Don’t agree with her criteria for protecting certain services. I mean, I can’t argue with saving people’s lives etc. But her no-cut stipulations are too sweeping and would leave room for about $2 in spending cuts. Disappointed, too, she didn’t list her favorite reforms she’d like passed. Still, she’s right on target: A reasonable compromise is needed. ... Hub Blog’s long-standing reasonable compromise offer: Split the difference. Tax, borrow, refinance the debt etc. to cover half of the deficit, reform and reduce spending for the rest. ...
Day 2 of the Globe running an editorial on the budget
, Day 2 of not mentioning reform. Talk about a 'state of denial.' The concept simply doesn’t compute in their minds. They’re mentally blocking out reform as everyone else is at least debating the subject. ... Oh, Adrian
The land that time forgot
: Lawmakers just love Tecce's and Anthony's Pier 4
. Why? Is it the Cheese Whiz and crackers? ... Didn’t know this: They now have professional fund-raising outfits. Sort of like wedding planners, I suppose.
Attention all you tormented Francophiles
: Simon over at To The Point
alerted me that he’s now translating French newspaper editorials about the war in Iraq -- and the “soul-searching and (somewhat) self-flagellation of the liberal-left French media” for having not done enough to oust Saddam ... Maybe Brendan O’Neill will take the time to read the translations.
-- William Safire
analyzes the French elite's latest UN shenanigans.
Boston Marathon Shame, Part II
: More on everything you didn’t need to know
about the Boston Marathon. ... Here’s Part I
‘I suppose I might screw up someday ...’: Cosmo Macero
has a fascinating item about the dangers of being a mainstream journalist and blogger at the same time. ... Why the danger? Because so many mainstream journalists who try to blog end up getting a gun pointed at their heads by media outlets: Give up the blog or else. Just happened to the Hartford Courant’s Denis Horgan
. ... Anyway, Cosmo seems a bit defensive (no offense, Cosmo) about the Herald’s own pay-to-view policy and the Horgan case. Here’s Cosmo (followed by my random thoughts and comments):
“I may not see blogging as the new media revolution that others do, but at the very least it's an exciting forum for global conversation and, therefore, not a bad tool for old media expansion. The promotional value of having newspaper writers interact with people in a more relaxed online format seems promising. More so since many of the blog readers may not subscribe to the newspaper in question. In fact, the blog universe appears to be populated by a mass of interested, interesting world-conscious people who by the busload are rejecting traditional news sources. What better constituency to try and build a dialogue with?”
Random thoughts from Hub Blog
Haven’t read Horgan’s columns (nor his blog) in the past, but I think the evidence is piling up that mainstream media outlets can and will tolerate blogging columnists (Cosmo, Lileks
etc.), but not blogging reporters and editors. I.e. reporters and editors’ ‘opinions’ might give the game away that they actually have strong opinions on issues. So much for ‘objectivity.’ Gotta hide that reality! ... Horgan seems to have fallen into that gray area of reporter/editor/columnist -- or at least in the eyes of his editors. ... Love the phrase ‘promotional value.’ It’s very accurate. As applied to the Herald, the frustrating part/tragedy of the Herald’s pay-to-view policy is that blogging was just starting to get its columnists well-deserved attention -- attention not only on a local level (i.e. suburban) but on an occasionally national and even international level. But the Herald cut off their strong marketing appeal just as they were picking up steam. How many CNN and Fox interviews etc. have their columnists not gotten because of this policy? For what? All for a lousy couple thousand pay-to-view bucks, at most. ... Agree that blogging isn’t the revolution that some bloggers think. It’s an absurd notion. Could bloggers pool their money together to send over 600 embed reporters to cover the war in Iraq -- let alone one Jules Crittenden? Case closed. ... Then again, blogging is revolutionary
in the sense that columnists like Tom Friedman now respond to bloggers who kick the shit out of them. Mainstream journalists are paying attention to bloggers. Close attention. The days of the old ‘letters to the editor’ clout/non-clout are over. That’s
‘Hammering hard on their bones’:
As Western reporters write about Shiites protesting across Iraq and how hard it will be to build a democracy there, they might want to consider this story in the Christian Science Monitor
about Saddam’s fascist methods of control. ... Up to 300,000 Shiites murdered and tortured under Saddam, using methods as described in this item’s slug. ... Some of the documents recovered by the CSM remind me of Stalin’s hand-written notes of ‘Beat him!’ and ‘Shoot him!’ discovered in Soviet purge archives. ... Still waiting for the WMD evidence, but this evidence is, well, an individualized form of WMD. ... What was Stalin’s quote about one victim being a tragedy and one million being a statistic?
Christopher Lydon and the Redhead Wore Crimson
: FYI: Christopher Lydon
has a blog via Dave Winer’s blog project
at Harvard. ... Some lively discussion going on (check out the comment section) on Lydon’s post about Iraq, the looting of the national museum in Baghdad etc. Put it this way: Chris is no fan of Rummy. ... Also, there’s a list of the top Harvard blogs
. My favorite (if only for the name) is The Redhead Wore Crimson
What was he thinking?:
He went for a lousy painting
when he could have gotten one of those flintlock jezails
? What was Jules thinking? (Via Dan Kennedy
Update -- 4-24-03
-- Glenn Reynolds
is all over the journalists' souvenirs issue. ... Know it's wrong, but I can't get too worked up about it. C'mon. Admit it. Raise your hand if you've ever snuck a little suspect booty into the country after a trip. That's what I thought. OK, so you didn't bring in paintings from a former dictator's palace. But you get the idea. ...
‘More and more ordinary people are lashing out’:
The Christian Science Monitor
has a good story today on how French public opinion is turning against President Chirac’s opposition to the war in Iraq, now that they’ve seen clips of jubilant Iraqis celebrating and partaking in their new freedoms. Interesting graf: “To be sure, the French media are still largely defending Chirac's position. But more and more ordinary people are lashing out at (Chirac) for what they now see as a political faux pas.” ... Once again, the ‘more and more ordinary people’ are expressing their doubts about the French elite and its detached manner and actions. ...
Speaking of Iraqi freedoms, ‘sprout’ and ‘sprouting’ seem to be the words of the day to describe formation of new political parties in Iraq. Good stories by CSM
and the Globe
Postscript: A confirmed Francophile, Hub Blog just finished reading ‘France Under The Germans,’ by Philippe Burrin, a European historian and former visiting scholar at Harvard University. Excellent book. Much, much better than Ernest May’s ‘Strange Victory,’
which really was nothing more than a long-winded excuse for France’s appeasement of Hitler before WWII. Burrin’s view of pre-war France is more in line with William Shirer’s, to wit: France was a deeply divided country that was paralyzed at almost every level going into the war. Burrin treats the French fairly and honestly, noting that the vast majority of Frenchmen -- one might describe them as the ‘ordinary people’ -- opposed Vichy’s official policy of ‘collaboration’ with the Germans during the occupation. The problem was (and remains): The French elite -- both on the left and right -- were hopelessly out of step with their own people.
A reader sent in this nice Newsweek column
about what it's like being a Frenchmen in America these days. Though I love bashing France when it deserves it, I've never bought into the They're Cowards Theory about the French. The author has an excellent point when he notes: More than a million ordinary and non-ordinary French soldiers died in WWI, more than America has lost in all of its wars combined.
‘He looks French’
: Who’s John Kerry? He’s French
. Or so says the White House. Admire Kerry’s ability to laugh at the lame insult. ... Fellow New Englanders: Whether you like Kerry or not, be prepared for a Republican onslaught next year against everything New England.
‘Boston Marathon shame’
: This tells me more than I ever wanted to know
about the Boston Marathon. ... God, they sound so prudish.
Act III, Scene 3 -- Propose draconian budget cuts
: Act 1 had Mitt unveiling his budget and Tommy saying lawmakers would work with the governor. Act 2
entailed the House throwing scraps of reforms onto the floor. Act 3
occurred yesterday, with the House outlining its draconian budget cuts in order to make the masses howl. Act 4 comes later this spring, when the House whips out its handy-dandy list of taxes. ...
Actually, there were aspects of the House plan that were quite sound, such as refinancing the state’s debt and asserting that there’s no such thing as ‘free’ health care. ... But the ‘pothole accounts’? Tommy’s making a grab for executive spending powers, by the look of it. Typical. King Tommy. ... Oh, there’s $700 million in fees, charges, closing of tax loopholes etc. But, nah, no taxes. Nope. Not yet. ... Oh, the House is going to ‘experiment’ with loosening up the Pacheco law
. Guess who gets to ‘experiment’ with the newfound authority to dish out contracts? Billy. He apparently ‘volunteered’ for the ‘experiment.’ ...
... The Herald is all over the reform angle
. It has an editorial on ‘another of those wee steps’
toward reform, i.e. the Pacheco law. It has another editorial about the ‘baby steps’ toward court reform
. And it has another on the ‘free-care pool.’
And the Globe? It’s beating the tax drums
. No mention of reforms. Listen, I know reforms won’t close the budget gap. I also believe new taxes are necessary and inevitable. But why is it so hard for the Globe -- and other ‘progressive’ institutions and figures -- to embrace the concept of reforms? Every dollar saved with reforms means one less dollar that will have to be cut from state services and/or slapped on taxpayers. It’s a good fight
. And the long-term benefits are impossible to measure: The right people in the right jobs, wiser and more creative decisions, intelligent use of tax dollars, etc. etc. But, nope, it all comes down to taxes. ... The Hack Progressive Alliance: It exists. A reader responds
: "Not to sound like a carping pedant, but shouldn't it be Act before Scene, along the lines of Shakespeare? So Act III Scene III?" ...
No one will ever believe me, but I was actually wondering about that. So I just changed them around in the above post. But I'm not changing the earlier post with Scene before Act
. Must not tinker too much with blog-item history. Too lazy, too. (Obviously, Hub Blog has never acted before, unless you count the time I appeared in a press Gridiron in Illinois. Practically fainted from stage fright, but managed to belt out my lines.)
Going, going, gone ...: Donna M. Morrissey
is busting out of PR purgatory.
‘No ‘credible evidence’ of a patronage problem’
: Hub Blog was all excited when I read this Globe story
with a lead that started out: ‘Responding to the clamor for government reform ...’ Of course, lawmakers are merely going through the court-reform motions, while increasing funding and maintaining their grip on the purse strings. Still, the House Dems’ court ‘concessions’ were mildly encouraging. Until I read this Herald story
. Here’s the key passage: “House Ways and Means Chairman John H. Rogers said there is no ‘credible evidence’ of a patronage problem. ‘The governor seems to be playing on a myth,’ Rogers (D-Norwood) said.” ... I’m sure Howie Carr can provide more prosecutorial ‘credible evidence’ if you need it, John. For moi, this will always remain Exhibit A
... Next up: Reform and/or abolishment of the Bechtal Turnpike Authority. Joan Vennochi
makes a good case for it, without really making a specific case for it. Instead, she floats a really grand idea: Haul Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift before a hearing, swear them in, and ask the big question about the Big Dig’s buried $14 billion sticker price: What did you know and when did you know it? ... We’ll turn Joan into a fire-breathing reformer yet! ...
appears intrigued about an actual two-party system (pay to view).
State property and the housing crisis
: Not sure about rushing off to sell state land for $180 million
and dumping funds into a flawed, bloated pension system. But I like the concept of using the land for housing. ... If you want to see smart and creative use of state land for housing, stroll on over to the Saltonstall building near City Hall. ... Personally, Hub Blog prefers the new Bowdoin Street townhouses over the more futuristic Cambridge Street designs. But it’s housing. On state land. On a puny tract of state land.
Why didn’t they do this sooner?:
Amtrak is finally lowering the cost of the Acela Express
in order to increase its ridership market share. Why they pegged Acela prices to the price of Boston-NYC shuttle flights, I don’t know. They should have been undercutting prices all along, not matching them. ...
While Amtrak tries to expand rail ridership, the obnoxious MBTA GM Mike Mulhern
, carrying on the long tradition of the T’s bias against rail, is gloating over the Silver Line’s glorified bus service and figuring out ways to quash the masses’ bias for rail: “In some quarters, there's a real bias against bus service. ... Will we ever silence all the critics? I don't think so. But will we convince the vast majority of people that we're able to run a high-quality, bus rapid transit system? I think the answer to that is quite clear. We've almost doubled ridership (along Washington Street) in one year.” ... Need more proof about the T’s institutional bias against rail and for buses?
‘I helped them in the battle’
: Add Scott Bernard Nelson
to the list of embeds who made tough life-or-death decisions during the war in Iraq. Nelson isn’t exactly taking the Jules Crittenden ‘Screw them’ attitude toward potential critics. But after the obligatory nod to armchair journalism ethicists, one can sense Nelson has few qualms about what he did. Nor should he. ...
The consensus seems to be that the embed system worked
. And it did. Think of it this way: Would journalists (and readers and viewers) like to return to the Gulf War I days of spoon-fed briefings in tents and media centers?
Happy Patriots Day, New Englanders
: Giving myself a light blogging break this weekend and perhaps through the rest of the week. Isn’t it glorious? Easter, Passover, Patriots Day, all on the same beautiful spring weekend? Hope you’re enjoying your weekend, too. The Patriots Day holiday, in particular, has such a distinct, non-commercial New England feel to it. A springtime version of Thanksgiving. Appreciated. Unspoiled. Simple. ...
But I do have one other blog item to unload today. Here it is below (and please read it, especially Brighton Reader’s fascinating and timely history lesson on stolen art). ...
‘The Monument Men’ and a semi-correction correction
: No, I’m not pulling a Jo Moore, i.e. dumping bad news on a weird day so nobody notices. But I do want to quickly point out a few things that recently came to my attention:
‘The Monument Men’:
The other day, Hub Blog blogged about a Herald editorial
, which went after the critics of the U.S.’s failure to protect historic artifacts during the fall of Baghdad. I was (and remain) furious with the obnoxious assertion that we’re somehow uncivilized ruffians who deliberately allowed the tragic thefts. There was an elitist, cheap-shot nature to the harshest of criticism -- criticism that often and typically went well beyond justified lament. Still, I think we deserve some criticism for not anticipating the lootings and organized thefts. This article
and then this article
in the Globe show that the tragedy was far more widespread than originally believed. But Brighton Reader really put the tragedy into historical perspective for me. From Brighton Reader:
“The looting of Iraqi museums and libraries was awful, tragic and not unprecedented. Both the Globe and Herald editorials were simplistic. ...
“Preserving and recovering cultural artifacts is not new to the American military. During World War II, a special section of the US army was detailed to recover art stolen by the Nazis. All through the battles from Italy to the German surrender they worked to locate and protect paintings, sculpture and other important cultural artifacts. Known as the ‘Monument Men,’ they were not always successful, faced with hostility from commanders and with few resources, they persevered. Among the items recovered were the relics of Charlemagne, paintings by Caravaggio and sculpture by Michelangelo. One member of this operation, Walker Hancock, later designed the inauguration medal for his former commander, President Eisenhower. Hancock lived for many years on Cape Ann, where I met him and first learned about this largely unknown effort. A great book, ‘The Rape of Europa,’ describes the Nazi looting spree and the Allied recovery efforts.
“Given our ability to win wars in an incredibly short time, I think we are going to have to figure out how to get the countries where we fight functioning quickly. Basic police protection, emergency medical care, and yes, protecting the higher arts of civilization. It seems we can fight and win with fewer troops, but can we keep order, too?”
Wow. Interesting historical perspective.
‘A Semi-correction Correction’:
Also the other day, Hub Blog blogged on the Eason Jordan/CNN
affair, bringing up the issue of whether Eason et gang didn’t report on the death of a Kuwaiti woman during the first Gulf War twelve years ago. In the postscript, I neglected to add this sentence to the paragraph from Eason’s original op-ed piece
: “Then there were the events that were not unreported that nonetheless still haunt me.” My eyes just glazed over the double-negative “not unreported” and I wanted to cut quickly into the heart of the paragraph. So I omitted it. But a mistake is still a mistake, and I stand corrected and fall on the sword. I assume “not unreported” means just what it says: the event was reported. My apologies -- and my apologies to any and all who picked up this item on Hub Blog. I blew it. ... But, ah, why call it a ‘semi-correction correction’? Because A.) I won’t back down from my overall criticism of CNN’s behavior, 99 percent of which derives from other facts, and B.) I’m still scratching my head over “not unreported.” ...
... Have a great Patriots Day, New Englanders!
‘The seeds are being sown now’
: I love this. Reform and
a two-party system
. ... Can’t believe Mitt was/is honestly thinking of signing the pay-raise bill. If he does sign it, it’s game, set, match point, Finneran. Mitt will have lost all credibility, most of his support, and any emotional leverage with voters to carry on the reform fight after this budget cycle. ... Do you hear it? Members of the Progressive Hack Alliance are ‘emboldened’ by recent poll numbers showing the public will favor tax increases to soften the blow of budget cuts. Where’s the news here? Hub Blog favors the same thing. The catch is to force lawmakers to accept reforms into the packages -- some of which will soften the blow of both service cuts and
tax increases. ... Notice how anti-reformers (hacks) and/or luke-warm supporters of reform ('progressives') never want to soften the blow of tax increases. Oh, they tut-tut, reforms won't 'solve' the budget crisis or they're 'too small in savings.' etc. etc. ... The Progressive Hack Alliance: It exists.
Michael Widmer, God of Impartiality, speaks
: “While the fiscal crisis
is requiring painful spending cuts across all of state government, it also provides a singular opportunity to curb longstanding spending abuses and eliminate inefficiencies that have been tolerated in more prosperous times. In the urgency of crisis, state leaders have the rare chance to overcome the always loud but usually narrow-based political resistance to eliminating the favored treatment, special deals, and wasteful protectionism that government tends to accumulate over the years.” ...
‘A major reform of yet another Beacon Hill sacred cow’
: Just another ‘small saving’
that will lessen the blow of both service cuts and tax increases. ... Herald’s conclusion: “And who said a fiscal crisis was a bad thing?”
Our reputation as a civilized people, restored
: So it was a well-planned inside heist, complete with sophisticated glass cutters, knowledge of fake and real antiquities, museum catalogs, keys to vaults, indications the ‘looting’ started weeks before the Americans were in Baghdad and even before the war started, the likely role of ‘outsiders’ etc. ... Herald takes a swipe
at the Blame America First Club and the Globe. ... Reread the column by Paul Zimansky and Elizabeth C. Stone contained in this post
. Notice how much time they spend attacking the U.S. and how “American forces deliberately engineered that breakdown without having allocated adequate resources to put something in its place.” ... Deliberately engineered that breakdown
. Pathetic. They’ll never admit they were wrong. Not even partially wrong.
Mother Nature is sending us a signal:
Ah, the $1.2 billion Silver Line
. The most expensive bus line in history.
Borrowing to get out of debt
: No major philosophical objections to this borrowing plan
. The timing is tricky, though. Not sure if Wall Street will go along with it at this time. ... No matter what happens on the borrowing front (say it’s $500 million for the next fiscal year), it still leaves a $2.5 billion hole in the budget. No reforms, no borrowing?
‘Is that a breeze of reform?’
: Yes, it’s a breeze
. But only a breeze. ... More ‘concessions’
from Dems. The more the merrier. But lots, lots more are required to make us truly merry and to justify a tax increase. There’s still: the Pacheco bill, bumping rights, court reform, the Quinn bill, Billy, the Bechtal Turnpike Authority, pension shenanigans, a Rutan anti-patronage executive order if Mitt would ever sign one, pay raises to deep six, agencies to be eliminated and/or consolidated, shady land deals, democracy in the House, the Governor’s Council, no-bid consulting contracts, nepotism, tort reform, etc. etc. ... Sorry, the MDC, health-services consolidation, Medicaid cuts are not enough. They don’t go to the heart of how Beacon Hill operates. Not even close. They’re bones.
Update -- The Herald
is doing a jig over the possible/probable demise of the MDC. Personally, I'll believe it when I see it. The MDC has been pronounced dead before. The Herald rightly adds: "As Finneran and Rogers put the final touches on their budget blueprint, they should make room for more reform. The times demand it."
Playing proxy footsie with Al Qaeda?:
The Christian Science Monitor
is rummaging through the trash -- in a good sort of way -- and coming up with documents in Baghdad that show an African terrorist group with links to Al Qaeda was in frequent contact with Iraqi ‘chargé d'affaires’ in ... in Nairobi, Kenya. Wasn’t an embassy blown up there? ... The links between Iraq, Al Qaeda and the group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) of Uganda, are tenuous, as the CSM report notes, though some ADF forces did apparently train in Osama’s camps in Afghanistan. ...
Fighting a war you can’t win
: Ever wonder what it was like to be an Iraqi soldier and commander fighting the Americans? Scott Peterson and Peter Ford
have the scoop in interviews with top Iraqi officers. ... It’s almost sad. No, it is
sad. Profoundly sad. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds died from Allied air attacks. ... Saddam’s Stalin-Hitler-like vision of himself as a great commander led to blunders of incredible magnitude. ... The psy-ops campaign had mixed result: The leaflets were all scooped up by Ba’athist fanatics, but the faxes and e-mails to commanders had a "big impact.”
Red light ... green light! Red light ... green light!:
It’s starting to sound like a kids game. Doug Foy dumps on commuter rails in general, suggesting they contribute to sprawl, turning on its head the conventional wisdom that commuter rails help alleviate one of the major problems of already existing sprawl: Traffic congestion. ... Then Mitt goes to the South Shore
yesterday and says the Greenbush line isn’t dead
. Well, sort of not. Maybe. He’ll have to check the back of his envelope. ... Oh, we’ve only spent $100 million so far on Greenbush. ... Suggested compromise: A.) push ahead with Greenbush. B.) put Fall River-New Bedford on the deep back burner C.) insist Doug starts focusing on the real cause of sprawl: Z-O-N-I-N-G.
Jim Kelly, he’s back
: He sure doesn't sound like he’s mellowed
. ... I can’t figure out this line: ‘A 244,000-square-foot vacant Cambridge Street parcel is valued at $54.8 million.’ What are they talking about? What vacant parcel? Does anyone have an idea? ...
Michael Kelly’s last column:
It’s over at The Atlantic
, via Instapundit
. We’re going to miss this guy.
'The moon will run crimson with the blood of the Boston infidels ...':
You got to read this. Jim Caple
has former Iraqi information minister Mohammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf calling a Yankees-Red Sox game from Yankee Stadium. ...
Thanks to John Farrell
for the email link. You made my day, John.
‘Protesters should pay for their illegal actions’
: Reader Rich sends this note in about an earlier post
on street protesters:
“I respectfully have to disagree with your statement ‘We all know the idea to charge protesters to protest is wrong.’ ... As I understand it, the bill would tag anybody
(not just protesters) with a fine for blocking traffic. I see nothing whatsoever wrong with that. The courts have long recognized that 'time, manner, place' restrictions on speech are valid (i.e. content-neutral restrictions). There's no 1st Amendment right to sit outside someone's house with a bullhorn at 2:00am. Similarly, I see no 1A right to block traffic on public ways. The 'protesters' should
pay for their illegal actions. They want it both ways -- (and unfortunately you're buying into their act in this case) -- they want to be seen as committing civil disobedience but they want to escape all the consequences of their actions. It doesn't work that way.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Respectfully disagree. Here’s why: Besides Tom Keane’s astute point
about the correlation between marches and cleaner streets, I’m beginning to think they should be encouraged, begged, required and even paid to protest for another obvious reason, to wit: Whenever protesters put on their Mardi Gras outfits and hold ‘die ins’ and shout ‘Hey! Ho! ...,’ they become distracted from serious argument, they embarrass serious thinkers on their side trying to engage in serious argument, their elitist costumes and antics alienate everyone else, support for their causes invariably sinks -- and the rest of us win! ... Personally, Hub Blog thinks we should establish a secret slush fund to bribe ANSWER into protesting on behalf of Tommy and the Trav. Extra bonus bribes if they can do ‘die ins’ in front of Mitt’s office, hold anti-reform rallies outside for the cameras, block traffic etc. ... A winning strategy!
Scene 2, Act IV -- Throw reform bones at plebeians:
The reform ‘concessions’
the House is now offering up are part of the script: Cut services until people beg for taxes, throw in a couple reform bones to keep the howling masses happy. Superb acting, guys. Bravo! ...
... Mitt better veto Tommy’s pay-raise scam if he wants to extract more concessions -- and maintain his reputation as a reformer. Here are the three best arguments
I’ve seen for taking on Tommy, especially now that he’s offering up ‘concessions,’ perhaps calculating the ‘concessions’ will lull Mitt into being a nice guy about the pay raises. From the Globe:
“First, Romney has earned the label of reformer. But all his proposals for government reorganization will look pale if he winks at so blatant a power grab.
“Second, Romney must indeed work with the Legislature and its leadership, but he must also show he is a player. If he lies down on this fight, he can expect to be steamrolled by the legislators all year.
“Third, he might win. The 50 votes opposed to Finneran's proposal were tantalizingly close to enough to sustain a veto. If the same people voted, only one vote would need to change.”
This line needs repeating: “If he lies down on this fight, he can expect to be steamrolled by the legislators all year.” ... And steamrolled by angry voters, too. ... From the MetroWest Daily News
: “ ... the Legislature seems intent on rejecting Romney's reforms, not improving on them. In the last two weeks, task forces appointed by House Speaker Thomas Finneran have recommended against restructuring public higher education, closing under-utilized district courts, reforming the inequitable system of funding court budgets and making state employees pay more for health insurance.”
‘Let Greenbush roll, save South Shore’:
The Herald is coming out against the administration’s decision to kill off the Greenbush line
(no mention of the New Bedford-Fall River line, though). Good points are raised: 1.) Greenbush won’t cause sprawl -- as Doug Foy seems to be saying about all commuter rail lines -- because the South Shore is already densely built up. 2.) Killing Greenbush will only encourage rail opponents to litigate and drive up costs on other projects. ...
Speaking of litigation, MBTA general manager Matthew H. Mulhern
is practically inviting opposition to restoring trolley service along the Arborway in Jamaica Plain: ''If the MBTA was faced with overwhelming opposition to the project in the very community it was meant to be servicing, we'd have to take a step back.'' ... The good old MBTA. Deep down, you just know they hate rail and love those Silver Line buses.
Reader No Nickname responds
“I have to jump in on the article about putting the trolley back in JP. This is a nice idea that simply won't work in that space. The gist of the project is to replace the former Green line that ran down S. Huntington and Centre St. in JP (not the Arborway as the article suggests). The first problem is that this area is already within walking distance (b/w 4 - 6 blocks of the Orange Line) of the T, and how many people will really want to take the a 15-20 stop Green Line train downtown over
the 8-10 stop Orange Line. Plus the admittedly unspectacular, but serviceable 39 bus already serves that route. (So people who want mass transit in the area already have it.)
“The second problem is that Centre Street is already too congested. ... Trolleys will occupy the entire available driving lane, blocking traffic and be blocked by traffic. I defy anyone to drive this route at 5 PM on a weekday and explain how the trolley will solve any problems.
“Lastly, in an age of scarce budgetary funds, does it really make sense to spend tens of millions of dollars on a project that will only provide incremental improvements in transit service for a neighborhood that already has subway access and multiple T bus routes?”
Hub Blog’s response
: OK. You got me. Concede the argument for the sake of argument. Don't know JP as well as you. I’m just angry in general about all the rail setbacks in recent days, weeks and months. Particularly the Greenbush fiasco. ... And there is
a MBTA bias against rail and for buses.
MCAS criticism hits a new low, Part II
: Joan Vennochi
on the great Snow Day Essay Controversy
. ....%$#$@*&)B&6)T ... ^%$B7*&TV)*& ...*YbB(*&^&BVYyt65#@bv8!UCR ... Sorry. That was my head banging against the keyboard again. ... P.S.: Thank God they didn’t ask kids what their favorite candy was. We’d have people lecturing us about how some kids can’t afford candy and how there’s a Type B Diabetes epidemic among children today.
Jeff, Dante and Ellen on the CNN scandal
: Jeff Jacoby
is on this issue. So is Dante Chinni
. And so is Ellen Goodman
. Overall thought on all three: They make good points: past coverage of the PLO (Jeff), off-the-record journalism rules (Dante), coverage of wars in general (Ellen). ... But they all seem to miss the important, salient point: CNN knew people were being killed and tortured for their association with -- and inaction by -- a specific media company seeking access. ... Doesn’t this cross some sort of unique journalistic line? ... Sadly, all three op-eds veer away from this point and drift into tangential pet-peeve arguments about journalism in general.
The ‘wizard’ is revealed
: I knew about Billy using the endowment fund
as his personal Defense Fund. Didn’t know that public tax dollars are used to prop up the endowment fund.
Morphing into a neoconservative, Part II:
Reader John on Syria:
“ ... Definitely. I think a little note to these guys that we could smart-bomb one or two of their more obvious training camps might get the message across.”
Hub Blog’s anti-ideological ideological response: We’re there.
Deal with the reality on the ground, not some Bob Kuttner
lament about how we got there. Syria is a problem. ... If the French can be ‘pragmatic,’ so can we.
A Reform-O-Meter for post-Saddam Iraq and Beacon Hill
: Reader BK has a splendid, splendid idea! From Reader BK:
"Which will come sooner -- an independent Iraqi Authority (notice, I didn't say complete constitutional governement with nationwide elections, just an independent, reforming authority made up of Iraqis), or the reforms that Romney is proposing to Hub Blog's beloved and favorite state legislature?
"Hub Blog should devise a running Reform-O-Meter to keep track of this comparison -- a board that both Hub Blog and Hub Blog's many readers can submit their odds to on a daily or weekly basis."
Hub Blog's response
: I shall accept the challenge. Do readers have any suggestions on how to set up a Reform-O-Meter? Any and all ideas welcome.
Strange days indeed, most peculiar, mama
: The trend evidence keeps piling up: A Concord dad
taking out a contract on the wife, a Boston University professor
found floating in the Charles River, a Harvard grad student stabs
and kills an 18-year-old cook, MGH doctor murdered at work, suburban girl attacked while walking home, etc. ... Eerie events are unfolding in suburbia, academia and combos of the two. ... Hub Blog was going to post something on this mysterious trend, but Eileen McNamara
took the dive first. ... Court TV should open a bureau here. On average, our murders and unsolved mysteries aren’t as sensational as the grisly fodder routinely coming out of LA, but we seem to have an irresistible Upstairs Downstairs component that LA lacks.
'That's not to say the protests were worthless’
: OK. We all know the idea to charge protesters to protest
is wrong, unfortunately. But what is it about the professional antiwar lefties that instills such a visceral contempt for them? I think it has something to do with their immature snootiness. ...
... Tom Keane
has his own theories about the antiwar protesters and movement. But he has a surprising conclusion: "That's not to say the protests were worthless. Two weeks ago, in anticipation of Boston's demonstration, the city towed cars and, seeing an opportunity, also cleaned the streets of sand and salt left over from the winter. Mine was one of those streets. So from a purely selfish perspective, a good march at the beginning of every spring would be welcome." ... Hmmmmmm. "Dear ANSWER: How about a march down Anderson Street, ending at the White Hen on Cambridge Street? Thank you. Sincerely, Hub Blog."
‘Veto the pay raise, fight for reform’
: Veto it
, Mitt. Finneran has declared war on you. Declare war back.
MCAS criticism hits a new low
: Fourth-graders will have to retake their MCAS
tests because of this controversial essay subject: "Write a story about a snow day off from school that you remember.'' ... %$#43t88vch8821y5886^$v765%4088bv&^&%0pp([yf ... Sorry. That was my head banging into my keyboard.
We’ve lost the war, lost the peace, lost our enlightened reputation
: Yes, it’s true. Paul Zimansky and Elizabeth C. Stone
cover the ‘stain on our reputation as enlightened and civilized people’ angle. ... Robert Kuttner
rehashes the ‘Rumsfeld's war-on-the-cheap’ and ‘squandered’ angle. ...
... Scot Lehigh
must be taking lessons from Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf
because Scot sees things so differently: “The joyous celebrations that broke out in Iraqi cities, the dancing and the chanting, the victory signs, the thumbs up and the thank-yous, the handshakes and the hugs and the horn-honking, the cheers and the chanting, the sheer exuberant delight of a people finally free to express themselves, have given the lie to that claim more vividly than words ever could.” ... Scot, Scot. It’s over. We lost. We’ve squandered everything. ... And Richard Hottelet
, stop writing about how the “US has no better ambassadors than the GIs when their instinctive amiable generosity is given free rein.” ... It’s over, Rich. Gone. Squandered.
‘Every country had better take note’
: The Russian Army
seems impressed with our victory. Darn it. Meant to say ‘squandered endeavor.’ ...Anyway, says one Russian: "The Americans have rewritten the (military) textbook, and every country had better take note." ...
Does that mean Syria should take note? Hub Blog must be morphing into a neoconservative, for I found this Christian Science Monitor editorial
on Syria both realistic and appealing: “...If Arab suicide bombers are entering Iraq through Syria to strike at US forces, then Damascus must realize it is a party to an act of war.” ... Exactly. Not saying we should go to war. But we’re there in Iraq -- and if Syria (or Iran) seriously think they can get away with killing GIs with truck bombs etc., as they did in Lebanon in the ‘80s, they can and should be crushed. ... The Globe
also has an editorial on Syria, rightly asserting we need to rebuild Iraq first while keeping a wary eye on Syria, but the editorial is a little to limp for me. ... Again, I must be morphing into a neoconservative, but you gotta deal with the realities you’re up against. Syria is a nasty reality.
‘This is my favorite phase of the war’
: Jules Crittenden may have returned home, but Globe emeds Brian MacQuarrie
and David Filipov
are still reporting away. MacQuarrie’s story is great, following the GI ‘ghost chasers’ as they check out the latest horror reports and evidence about Saddam’s reign of terror. Says one officer: “This is my favorite phase of the war.” The officer is obviously a history buff. And so is MacQuarrie for riding along. ... Reading the ‘ghost chasers’ story, I couldn’t help but think of David Remnick’s “Lenin’s Tomb.”
Eason Jordan defends CNN in letter to Dan Kennedy
: Eason Jordan
has written a long letter to Dan Kennedy, defending CNN's actions. I was so infuriated reading the letter, I was set to fisk the damn thing. But Dan does a great job demolishing Jordan's arguments at the end. No need for a fisking. Eason just doesn't get it.
: Read the paragraph below from Jordan's original NYT op-ed
. See if you notice anything. Here's the paragraph:
"A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for 'crimes,' one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home."
Notice it? See the word 'Kuwaiti'? See the words 'occupying her country'? Did this happen in Kuwait? A different country. Kuwait was liberated 12 years ago. Jordan couldn't tell this story until now? Never mind the danger Iraqi employees, sources and family members faced by having any association with CNN in Iraq. We're talking about Kuwait
. ... They sold their souls for access.
'Wave the white flag on mass transit's future'
: Continue to get emails on my post about the cancellation/postponement of the Greenbush and New Bedford Fall River
commuter rails, in addition to this morning's post from Brighton Reader
. Not only is it a bad decision, but Foy's logic is flat-out anti-commuter rail, under any circumstances. Anyway, a sampling from Savin Hill:
"Could not agree more with you regarding cancellation of the Greenbush line and the general mass transit mess in Mass. To throw away this idea now is to wave the white flag on mass transit's future for ... well, probably decades. You correctly tie the issue to a type of effette snobbery of all things suburban emanating from the earthy-crunchy types. ..."
Another letter, this one from John:
"Good stuff on your blasting Romney for the decision to bag the commuter rail. Far as I'm concerned, local Bloggers should start beating up on Hingham the way national blogs are bashing France."
Surviving the war and now HBS?:
First Lieutenant Joe Finnigan, who's deployed with the Third Battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment in Iraq and who conducted an application interview via satellite phone during a sandstorm in Kuwait, has been accepted into the Harvard Business School
. He doesn't know it yet. They're having trouble getting hold of him, understandably. Here's hoping he gets home safely and has a happy celebration.
Here’s why we should pray for the Boston College grad's safe return: Saddam’s Fedayeen are launching deliberate attacks
in Baghdad against civilians, trying to pin blame for them on Americans and disrupting the peace. The Christian Science Monitor’s Scott Petersen actually interviews one of the Fedayeen, who's confronted by a cleric: " 'You were not forced,' the cleric spat out. 'You fedayeen are hypocrites. Fedayeen is a missionary job; you are misrepresenting the faith, and slaves of wealth. You've lost all your respect for human life.' " ... Nope, we haven't done one iota of good in Iraq. Not one iota
Deep cuts and House pay raises
: You can’t make this up: House Dems
are pushing ahead with plans for deep cuts
in order to make the public scream for taxes -- while Tommy and Trav orchestrate pay hikes for members
, most of whom just voted to turn down pay hikes in order to ‘share the pain’ with the people. ... The cynicism is so par for these guys, it barely registers a blip on the outrage detector. ... Is there or is there not a voter-approved constitutional provision establishing how and when lawmakers should get pay raises? Not that voters and the constitution matter to these guys. ... Still: Not a peep from the ‘progressive’ community, as one reform after another gets shot down. They’ll feign outrage after they get the taxes -- when the leverage is conveniently gone.
Plato, Socrates, Jefferson, Locke, Marx etc. -- all rolled into one:
Here’s a quick profile of Harvard professor Brian Palmer
, who teaches "Globalization and Human Values: Envisioning World Community." ... That covers about everything, right? History, economics, philosophy, ethics, the future of the world, etc.
Hub Blog’s headache over humanitarian assistance in Iraq
: Hub Blog goes back and forth on this issue, causing dizziness, disorientation and throbbing headaches. Here’s why: Sarah Kenyon Lischer
, a specialist in humanitarian aid and a research fellow at Harvard University, makes some good points about the expertise of professional do-gooders in these matters. And then she bashes the military. ... Of course, you can’t bash the military too much as long as they’re hiring committed people like Michael Iacobacci
, a civilian contractor for the Army in Iraq. ... But, whoa! The former head of the Big Dig
is overseeing U.S. development efforts in Iraq. ... But, wait, the antiwar movement
now wants a say in rebuilding Iraq. ... See my dilemma? ...
... Favorite quote from antiwar ‘activist’ Katharine Preston of Lincoln, Mass.: "People who turn to antiwar protesters and say, 'You must have been wrong,' don't understand where we're coming from.” ... You’re wrong, Katharine. We know exactly where you’re coming from, even though the media routinely doesn’t tell us where you're coming from in stories about the antiwar movement. ... Second favorite quote from an antiwar ‘activist’: "There's not one iota of proof yet that what the US has done there has helped anyone." Remember: Not one iota.
Here's one iota -- besides the freeing of millions from a tryrant -- Hub Blog would like to see happen in Iraq: The capture of Saddam. The Brits are reporting he's still alive
The devil wants the Angels
: Frank McCourt
is a finalist to buy the World Series champion Anaheim Angels. ... Are those ugly surface parking lots near Fort Point Channel still ugly surface parking lots, Frank? Or are you still trying to throw wrenches into others’ development plans in order to maximize the value of your parking lots? ... Believe me, Frank is a kook. I’ve met him. I’ve listened to him. He’s a kook. Hope he buys the Angels. Improves the Sox’s odds.
: The war is over -- and Brighton Reader is back! Anyway, Brighton Reader takes aim at Doug Foy and the decision to kill the Greenbush and New Bedford/Fall River
commuter lines. From Brighton Reader:
“What is this guy thinking? Commuter rail is not going to cause sprawl. If zoning regulations stay the same, there are still going to be big subdivisions of oversized houses no matter what you do about public transportation. Provide some real incentives to communities to allow multi-family housing, smaller lot sizes and houses that are not enormous, and thus hopefully more affordable. One of the main reasons people keep pushing out to 495 and beyond is the hunt for a home they can afford. Foy also overlooks the economic benefits that commuter rail brings. The New Bedford/Fall River area has always had one of the higher unemployment rates in the state. They will benefit from having more people living in the area, spending the money they earn in Boston.
“And people really like commuter rail! It is popular!
“Totally agree with you about the message it sends about litigating projects to death, and also puts the administration on the side of elitists who want to keep their towns isolated Pleasantvilles.”
Hub Blog's response
: This is one of those issues that will leave a negative mark on Mitt's record for years to come, if not decades. Frank Sargent killed an auto highway through the city -- and he's fondly remembered for it. Mitt killed commuter rail lines into the city -- and won't be fondly remembered for it. The difference is 'auto' and 'commuter rail.'
‘The tax revolt will be something to watch’
: The Herald had a nice editorial yesterday about efforts by the anti-reform 'Let ‘Em Beg for Taxes' Dems pushing a trial balloon to raise the auto excise tax.
The Herald: “... on second thought, maybe they should let the plan go forward. The taxpayer revolt will be something to watch.” ... Indeed, let them go forward with it. It’s sure to further alienate Independent suburban voters
is taking a swipe at the Herald’s pay-to-view policy on its columnists. Glenn: “Why in God's name is The Herald
limiting its web content to subscribers?” ...
'Kubler-Ross's stages of dying':
A reader writes in to thank me for all my recent posts on Tom Keane’s
Let ‘Em Beg For Taxes theory on the state budget, adding that I sound like I’m going through "Kubler-Ross's stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance." ... Hey, I admit it. I see Finneran’s strategy unfolding before my eyes and I can’t believe people are falling for it. I’m scrambling for counter-measure tactics. ... FYI: Blogger’s permalinks don’t seem to be working today. Scroll down for numerous references to Tom’s column.
Cosmo takes a smack at CNN
: More on Eason Jordan and Peter Arnett in Cosmo Macero’s column,
which contends CNN is croaking itself. ...
... Dan Kennedy also has some thoughts on both CNN’s ‘ethics’
and Jules Crittenden’s classic ‘A mortal decision made’
column on the demise of objectivity in the face of enemy fire. Put another way: There are no atheists in foxholes -- and there ain’t no journalism objectivity either when someone’s firing RPGs at you. ... FYI: For the same Blogger-permalink reasons, you may have to scroll down below for my thoughts yesterday
on Crittenden’s piece. ...
Grab me one of those flintlock jezails, Jules
: The Herald’s embed Jules Crittenden
looks like he’s about to bid farewell to A Company, 4/64 Armor Battalion and head home, perhaps after he grabs himself and Hub Blog one of those souvenirs in Uday’s secret storeroom
‘Prepared for a backlash’ over Doug’s World
: The Romney administration says it’s ‘prepared for a backlash’ over its plan to kill the Greenbush and New Bedford-Fall River
rail commuter lines. They better be prepared. Because the backlash starts right here: This is an awful, snob-motivated, non-reality-based decision that’s being driven less by transit finances, as the administration claims and fibs, and obviously more by Doug Foy’s fanciful, ideological, anti-sprawl, utopian vision for developing the Perfect Hobbit Villages. ...
... Ultimately, the new transit plan’s glaring flaw -- abandoning commuter rail expansion in favor of expanding the Blue, Green and Silver lines, as if the two are mutually exclusive -- rests on the fanstastic assumption that’s there’s only one way to fight sprawl: Doug Foy’s Happy Hobbits way. ... What does Doug expect? For corporations and people to suddenly pack up their belongings and move from the suburbs to Revere, Medford, Chelsea and other inner-city communities because Doug slaps a T stop in them? Yes, I can envisage it: Like in the old WWII newsreels from Europe, we’ll see refugees hauling their belongings in quaint horse-drawn carts as they’re pulled in the micro-managed direction Dougie is wishing them, leaving behind empty suburban homes, schools, churches, office parks and shopping malls, all of which one day can be plowed under and returned to nature. ... Questions to Doug: Are you going to have high-quality schools in place when the happy masses roll into your quaint Hobbit villages? Will you have quaint patisseries
and butcher shops ready, too? When they arrive, can they do happy Peasant Dances around maypoles like in the movies Robin Hood and Braveheart? It will be so communal! How about organized Barn Raisings? Yeah, a Barn Raising! Oh, the masses can’t wait for their Perfect Hobbit Villages along the new Blue and Green line extensions! ...
... Back to harsh and depressing reality. ...
... Let me get this straight: The state has spent years and years planning the expansion of the Greenbush and New Bedford-Fall River lines -- buying up land, fighting anti-transit fanatics in Hingham, filing environmental reports, lining up funding, building consensus and hope. But now the state is going to abandon those projects and start anew with more years and years of planning on the Green, Blue, Urban Ring and Silver Line extensions etc., only to possibly later resurrect the Greenbush and New Bedford plans when we accept the reality that the suburbs won’t go away. Oh, this is great. ... The net result of this plan is going to be: No expansion of any
rail transit lines for years and years and years and years, compounded, and sending a signal to mass transit opponents that you can kill future projects by driving up costs through litigation. Including future projects such as the Blue, Green and Siliver line extensions. ... Congrats, Mitt! ... Your first big mass-transit decision is to kill off doable mass transit projects in pursuit of Perfect Hobbit Villages. ...
... Hub Blog has nothing against the extension of the Blue Line to Lynn, the Green Line extension to Medford, and the Urban Ring, a fanciful and far-into-the-future vision of a rail-and-bus service circumventing Boston. In fact, Hub Blog LOVES the concepts. Let’s move forward on them. Except for the overrated Silver Line. But what I can’t stand about this new non-commuter-rail strategy is that it’s so flavor of the month, so utterly blind to the market reality that most high-tech companies and their workers etc. are now based in the suburbs and the suburbs aren’t going away, so dunderheaded that it doesn’t accept the REALITY that people LIKE living in quieter suburbs (just like you, Mitt) and commuting into the city via the Fitchburg commuter lines of the world (just like your Belmont neighbors, Mitt). ...
... Ah, but there are evil Sheriffs of Notingham out there who will destroy Doug’s dreams for Perfect Hobbit Villages for the masses ...
... From Bennet Heart, senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, on commuter rails vs. T lines: ''It doesn't need to be either/or. ... They should do everything they can to make the funding pie bigger for transit and rail.” ... Well, thank goodness the CLF hasn’t lost its marbles, unlike its former director who’s lost his now that he’s in state government. ...
... What the state needs is a reality-based INTEGRATED mass transit plan -- which requires both commuter rail for suburban travelers AND inner-city expansion of the T. ...
Hub Blog’s suggestion: Ram reforms down the T’s throat, pass a gax tax hike, fund what needs to be done: A fully INTEGRATED mass transit plan that deals with REALITY, not far-off Hobbit Villages. ... There are different and more realistic ways to approach sprawl, Doug.
‘A mortal decision made: Journalistic objectivity a casualty of firefight':
Read this story
. Now. Don’t put it off. It’s one of the most memorable and frank accounts of battle -- and journalism ethics -- I’ve ever read. Of course, it’s by the Herald’s embed Jules Crittenden, who openly admits to his spotting three enemy soldiers during a firefight and their subsequent deaths at the hands of machine-gun-firing GIs. From Jules:
“Some in our profession might think as a reporter and non-combatant, I was there only to observe. Now that I have assisted in the deaths of three human beings in the war I was sent to cover, I'm sure there are some people who will question my ethics, my objectivity, etc. I'll keep the argument short. Screw them, they weren't there. But they are welcome to join me next time if they care to test their professionalism.”
Hub Blog’s reaction
: Now I understand why Jules mentioned the word ‘we’ in this post
. I suspected this was the case. And I side with Jules 100 percent. ... As Jules says: Screw ‘em. ... Darwinian and moral question to fellow armchair journalists: What was Jules supposed to do? What would you do? Stay cool, calm and collected during a battle and let enemy soldiers fire off RPGs, allowing GIs and yourself to be killed in the process? Leave behind a widowed wife and fatherless children? It’s not even a close call. ... You shout ‘incoming!’ when you hear artillery coming in. You shout ‘grenade!’ when a grenade is lobbed in your midst. You shout ‘watch it!’ when an enemy takes aim at you and someone else. You push a person out of the way when a piano is falling from a tenth-floor window. ... Think of this honesty about a split-second, life-or-death decision during an intense battle and contrast it to CNN’s year-after-year, non-life-or-death, corporate-boardroom decision to cover up the truth in the name of network access. ...
Let ‘em Beg for Taxes
: Yep, Tom Keane
was right. They’re going for the more severe cuts and dumping Mitt’s reforms
. ... Two things: 1.) Mitt’s undeniably sloppy numbers are being used as an excuse to cover up their nixing of reforms. Mitt clearly shot himself in the foot in this regard. 2. ) Mitt should strip down all his reform ideas, throwing away the ones he knows are bogus, package them together and then force lawmakers to take a constitutional up-or-down vote on them. Forget the budget numbers. Make it simple and clear: These guys oppose any and all reforms -- and they will shamefully tax people to the max and slash services to the bone in order to avoid altering the way their world works on Beacon Hill. ... Wonder if progressives see the cynical strategy unfolding in the House.
‘Let’s hear from Bulger’
: From Eileen McNamara
: “The last thing this town needs is more secrecy or more deference to those who would use their power to protect the most depraved among us.” ... What is the rationale for letting Bulger testify behind closed doors? National security? I’ll bet, if we dig into the rationale a bit more, we’ll find the FBI’s cover-it-up fingerprints somewhere, as well as others’ embarrassed cover-it-up fingerprints.
‘This block needs retail dialysis’
: Don’t agree with turning Boylston Street into another Charles Street. But love the other ideas and overall vision for Boylston Street
expressed in the piece. ... One quibble: Don’t bad mouth the past-their-prime retailers on Boylston who stuck with the street through thick and thin. They deserve praise, not ridicule. ... One other point: Another show-off-Boston boulevard we should be concentrating on is Cambridge Street, from the Charles Street T stop to City Hall Plaza. The state recently postponed a much-needed and long-planned street and sidewalk project for this neglected gateway into Boston from Cambridge. Let’s get it done before the 2004 Dem convention.
Postwar Iraq and the Kurds
: Not a bad editorial in the Globe
, which suggests the administration should ‘sheathe the sword,’ cool down the rhetoric and concentrate on rebuilding Iraq -- while also keeping a wary eye on Syria and Iraq. It even slaps around Russia, Germany and France. Hub Blog would have been tougher on Syria and Iraq -- and more than just slapped around the Coalition of the Clueless. But the editorial is fundamentally on target. ...
... Tom Oliphant
writes a good piece on Turkey’s betrayal and the Kurds' loyalty. Tom: “It's bad enough that the Kurds are not receiving the proper affection and gratitude for all they have done to help topple Saddam. The kid glove treatment of a misbehaving alleged ally, Turkey, needs to stop now.”