‘This train robbery was undertaken during the Iraq war ...’
: No, it didn’t have to do with lack of U.S. Marines in the vicinity. From Brighton Reader:
“This train robbery
was undertaken during the Iraq war and thus got little coverage.
“The Amorello gang and their Harvard accomplices apparently thought they could behave like looters in Baghdad and get away with it while everyone was busy - the Hack/Harvard alliance. Glad that the Romney administration is hitting back hard, what happens with this property affects businesses, commuters and the waterfront. I am completely cynical about anything Amorello does. Don't be surprised if more Massport Harvard connections emerge and a few Massporters hop over the side and row for employment berths in Cambridge. Barrios' move
is interesting politically, probably a way to rattle the MBTA's fare booth over the fee increases. It is also the first real move in the state senate against Romney and also serves to throw a little gasoline on an internecine Republican fire.”
Is the budget debate fundamentally over? Part III:
Well, well, well. It’s going to be a fall campaign
-- a little later than Hub Blog predicted
but still on script. ... From John Rogers: ''The cuts are real, the cuts are coming, and they'll sink in some time in the fall. ... That could change the mood. We're rolling out reality.” ... OK, OK, OK, John. We get it. We know your plan. No need to keep winking about your intentions. ...
Sensing it has a winning issue on taxes (i.e. the oh-so substantive issue of ‘permanent campaigns’), the Globe
is now belittling and downplaying reforms -- again. No mention of the MTA’s media blitz and/or how the permanent bureaucracy has mobilized. ... Aren’t ‘progressives’ even the least bit embarrassed to be associated with these clowns? Lawmakers will scorch-earth cops, teachers, the public etc., all so they don’t have to take an unpopular vote now (i.e. raise taxes they believe are necessary) and avoid reforms and restructuring. Isn’t that called ‘cynicism’? ... The Hack Progressive Alliance: It exists. ...
Postscript: See what I mean, Eileen
? The battle is far from over. Question: Will you now start backing true reforms while pushing for taxes, Eileen? Or now that new taxes are being dangled before your eyes, will you abandon the reform cause you trumpeted for one paragraph?
Allow voters to overrule regulators? Perish the thought!:
In case you didn’t notice, the smoking ban in Boston
wasn’t implemented by democratic vote. It was imposed by a government agency. ... At least in Framingham
, they’re fighting back. Notice how a ‘staff attorney’ for the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards -- described as a ‘not-for-profit trade association,’ which really means yet another ‘permanent bureaucracy’ outfit ultimately funded by taxpayers, sort of like the MTA -- is terrified that voters might actually want a say in some of these matters. Doubt the lawsuit will succeed, but I’m glad people are pushing back against the Puritans as a matter of principle, not that principles matter to the self-righteous when they’re in a crusading mood. ... It sure would be nice if we had a Jerry Williams-like backlash against the smoking ban, sort of like the anti-seatbelt campaign -- another good-intentioned law rammed down the people’s throats.
... Hope they pass a ban on SUVs in the city and charge new tolls for entering the city (ala like London). I’m tired -- cough, cough, cough
-- of their auto fumes -- cough, cough, cough
-- at my expense -- cough, cough, cough
... Did you catch Mayor Menino on the TV last night? He was quoted as saying something like: “People fear change. They don’t like change. ...” I.e. The Sensitive Father Knows Best act, mixed with Sensitive Psychobabble PC act. The two are really the same thing, you see. ... Talked to a suburban friend who doesn’t smoke and favors the smoking ban. His reason? “Last week, we (he and his wife) went out to a bar. When we got home, our baby-sitter said she could smell smoke on our clothes.” I asked him what bar he went to. Answer: A dive in the city. I asked him what time he got home. Answer: 11 p.m. I didn’t ask how much he drank, how far he drove after drinking, and how much of a tip he gave the bartender who worked until 3 a.m. ...
... Hub Blog conducted an informal survey of bartenders this past weekend. The question: Do you really think they imposed a smoking ban to protect your health? Not one said ‘yes.’ They all referred to the general anti-smoking sentiment sweeping the land. A few did mention the health benefits of the ban, but they agreed the ban wasn’t really implemented for their health. And that’s what we all know deep down: This really isn’t about workers’ health. It’s part of a broader crackdown -- a crackdown conducted in a non-democratic way with disingenuous rhetoric and intent. ...
No ‘free’ enterprise under any circumstances
: That should be the motto of Taunton Democrat Marc R. Pacheco
, author of the anti-privatization and anti-free enterprise Pacheco Bill. ... Repeat after me: This is Massachusetts. This is Massachusetts. ...
De-Baathifying Beacon Hill:
Reader BK, who not so long ago suggested Hub Blog should start a chart comparing the pace of reforms on Beacon Hill vs. reforms in post-war Iraq, sends in this missive:
“Re: Interim Iraqi Authority BEFORE Meaningful Reform On Beacon Hill:
“At this point, Hubblog, himself, could De-Baathify Tikrit before Hubblog, Lehigh, and Mitt, together, will De-Tommify the Massachusetts state legislature as controlled by Hubblog's beloved Baby-Booming Democrats. But I luvvvvvvv's watchin' y'all try as hard as yer tryin'!”
‘Isolated themselves from the thinking community’:
Indeed they have. Let me pull out the calculator: $775 million divided by 25 years
= $31 million per year for the next 25 years. Initial ‘investment’: $10 million. So a 200 percent return in the first-year payment alone and ... Not a bad return if you’re not ‘isolated from the thinking community.’
Is the budget battle fundamentally over? Part II:
Hub Blog asked that same question
a short while ago. I may be wrong, but my hunch is that the game is far from over. Still think taxes will be brought up again at the end of the session -- or soon after the Legislature passes its Draconian budget cuts and lets the public see how deep the cuts really are. New taxes may yet be rejected on every front, but the debate isn’t over. ...
But Eileen McNamara
thinks the game and debate are indeed over -- and that Mitt has won. So she asks a logical question: Why is he still waging an anti-tax media blitz? Good question. Here’s a possible answer: He also doesn’t think the budget battle is over. After all, the Massachusetts Teachers Association is still running its own pro-tax media blitz. The Globe continues to run pro-tax editorials. The Trav and Senate haven’t weighed in yet. ...
... The Boston Phoenix’s Seth Gitell
sees Mitt on the defensive and Finneran on a roll. I think his assessment is about right. Then again, the Herald seems to agree
with Eileen: It’s over. Assuming Tommy holds firm on taxes. Which I think is a big assumption. ... Bottom-line: The outcome of the budget fight is still fluid. ...
Great line from Eileen in reference to the Legislature’s pay and power grab: “These are the petty power struggles that have so diminished the stature of the Massachusetts Legislature and that call out for reform. This is the culture of political loyalty above public interest, of patronage above merit, that Romney was elected to change.”
‘Good job hunting’:
Speaking of Seth Gitell, is he really headed to City Hall? Yep, he is, as the Herald notes and jabs
. And, boy, what a jab. Not touching that one with a ten-foot pole. ... FYI: Gitell’s reporting during last fall’s gubernatorial campaign was simply outstanding, way ahead of the curve on a lot of issues, especially how Shannon positioned herself as the suburban candidate of NOW -- and paid the price. ...
Speaking of the Phoenix, maybe it’s time they close down the ‘War and Peace’
warblog. No posts since April 12 as of this morning.
-- 5-5-03 -- A reader writes in:
"Can you make heads or tails of the Gitell thing? It seems like a awkward fit all around -- a National Review contributor working for Menino? Plus, Gitell looks more like a freelancer/self-manager moving into the most grinding and structured of jobs, with the most grinding of bosses. Didn't he watch Boston 24/7 last year? Poor Carole Brennan's anger management seminars were painful to watch."
‘Why France fell’:
Hey, the Globe is trying to elbow its way onto established Hub Blog turf, to wit: Christopher Shea’s piece
this morning on French bashing and the fall of France in 1940. I’ve been over this subject again
: Hub Blog didn’t like Ernest May’s “Strange Victory” and instead much preferred William Shirer’s “The Collapse of the Third Republic: An Inquiry into the Fall of France in 1940.” ... Also liked Philippe Burrin’s “France Under The Germans: Collaboration and Compromise,” which confirmed much of what Shirer said more than three decades ago. ... However, I didn’t know about a new book that’s out, “The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940,” by historian Julian Jackson, who apparently stakes out middle ground between May and Shirer/Burrin. ...
Didn’t like the ending of Shea’s piece, which I assume is the spin he wanted to leave in readers’ minds -- that America actually caused France to behave the way it does. To which I say: Oh, pleasssssssse. Give me a break. They’ve been behaving this way for centuries. Here’s my all-time favorite quote about post-war France from Luigi Barzini’s classic book “The Europeans”:
“Count Carlo Sforza, Italian foreign minister, once defined the differences between the Italians and the French after World War II. He said to me: ‘Simple. The Italians must forget a defeat. The French must invent a victory. Our task is infinitely easier. ...’”
‘I don't play the 'milk money.' ’:
Stumbled upon this Washington Monthly article
over at Josh Marshall’s
Talking Points Memo and, well, I couldn’t resist. William Bennett, the annoying conservative moralizer and author of ‘The Book of Virtues,’ has lost $8 million at casinos over the years. ... Bennett now defines ‘vice’ as anything that ends up harming one’s family. Or at least that’s what I think he says.
Let it be, let it be, let it be:
Solomonia makes the obvious case for not rebuilding the Old Man
: “The whole point of the thing was that it was a natural formation.”
‘This thing has taken on a life of its own’
: Some thoughts on Beacon Hill from Reader No Nickname. Excerpts:
– This thing has taken on a life of its own, mainly because it has not been done in recent memory. Think of it as moving the boxes around on an organizational chart. It’s a change in structure, not really a change in policy (although the two can mix), so everyone needs to lower their expectations a bit.
– The House leadership seems to think that using this term over and over really resonates as a criticism of Romney. Did they complain about spreadsheets ten years ago? Wait until they get email. For most people in my age cohort, these things are a fact of life and the criticism sounds silly. Were we all reading 30 page white papers from the Kennedy School before this started?
“Legislative Pay Shenanigans
– I doubt Romney will touch this one with a ten foot pole. There’s a really good separation-of-powers argument here that says the Executive shouldn’t mess with the Legislative branch. Just like the Legislative should not mess (as it does ceaselessly) with the Judicial Branch. It might score points for Romney in the short term to do something, but it’ll suck him into the quagmire when they start picking away at his budget.
“Mitt’s Machine Guns
– House and Senate seats are won on bottom-up, retail name recognition and shoe leather. Does the State Republican party really think they can threaten incumbents with a top-down wholesale campaign? As I recall, during their last push of this type, they won a seat on the planning board in North Andover. Build the party from the bottom up, stop letting Jack E. Robinson run for multiple offices, then start throwing your weight around.
“Lastly, glad I wasn’t the only one riveted by Manor House.”
Hub Blog's response
: Re PowerPoint: What do you expect from people who find the upscale Burgundy processed Cheez Whiz at Anthony's Pier 4 d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s? ... Re pay shenanigans: If it's such a 'separation-of-powers' issue, why does it take an old-fashioned checks-and-balances law to pass it?
Still cheering from the bandwagon
: Yep, that’s Hub Blog merrily up there on the Celts bandwagon
. Haven’t budged in a week.
‘In one fell swoop, Romney gave up every last card’
: As the Onion
might put it, 'Holy F#%cking Sh&t!’ The Herald
is going ballistic on Mitt for not submitting an Article 87 reform bill. Some choice comments from the Herald: “In one fell swoop, Romney gave up every last card. ... Now he has created the perception that he is not the reformer they voted for. ... It seems Romney can be shaken up instead by a few tough letters and the specter of losing a fight. ...The governor commands a singular bully pulpit in this state. He should use it, or go back to playing in an easier arena. Politics takes guts.”
... Yikes. The ferocity of the attack is, well, stunning. ... Wasn’t it the Herald which only last week was all but endorsing the House budget
and its pathetic baby steps in the direction of reform? They’re acting a tad bit schizoid, if you ask me. ... Just pointing it out. ...
... Clearly, the Herald views the yanking of Article 87 as a first-class strategic blunder, Mitt’s Waterloo. Hub Blog tends to view it as a disappointing but necessary tactical regrouping before resuming the campaign against Napoleon Tommyparte, Mitt's retreat-counterattack Russian Campaign. ... Hey, this guy, Mitt, has done more to promote genuine reform than any governor in recent memory. If he makes some mistakes now and then, fine. Buck him up. Slam him hard. Smack him over the head and mess up his hair. But question his commitment to reform? At worst, he’s guilty of naively believing in the Bill Weld Suck Up Theory of Dealing with Hacks, i.e. get all nice and cozy with the boys and trade favors. But Weld was merely trying to plug a budget hole and stop the rush to raise taxes; Mitt is trying to plug a budget hole, stop the rush to raise taxes and
change the culture on Beacon Hill. Lawmakers can and will trade and haggle over taxes and spending -- so there’s a time and place for the Bill Weld Suck Up Theory of Dealing with Hacks. But lawmakers will fight tooth and nail to preserve their power and perks. They will slash services. They will raise taxes. They will scorch-earth everything and anything in order to preserve their P&Ps. This is what Mitt is discovering: He has hit a raw nerve with reform. No amount of the Bill Weld Suck Up Theory of Dealing with Hacks will work on this one. ...
... Having performed some fine tuning to his Article 87 strategy and tactics, Mitt is now sending signals
he’s about to resume his assault on the Statehouse. ... Hope he’s not acting out of anger or personal grudges or desperation. He should put together a tough but doable Article 87 package and lob the dynamite
at lawmakers at the time of his choosing.
Now here’s an issue that will make or break Mitt
: This bill
is the antithesis of reform. The antichrist of reform. The voters of Massachusetts approved a very fair, very wise pay-raise mechanism for lawmakers. Now hacks like the Trav say neither the governor nor anyone else should have a say in setting salaries for lawmakers -- even though the people specifically gave the governor such powers. Yet another slap in the face of voters. ...
Let me get this straight: A checks-and-balances law needs to be passed to eliminate a checks-and-balances law. Now that's progress!
... If Mitt signs this bill, maybe the Herald was right all along and sensed something about this guy I don’t get yet.
This is just such a bad idea
: Enough said.
‘The end of an era’
: It’s like the Jazz Age coming to an end
. The Puritans have won. ... Hope the teetotalers and Amstel Lighters leave more than nickel tips for bartenders and waiters.
‘Cat-alog of complaints: Woman rips purr-loining of immortal mousers’
: I can think of at least one more pun the Herald could have squeezed into the headline. Do you see it? ... Love this story.
The crazy Heidi K. Erickson is all but flipping the bird at authorities. ... Hey, what’s wrong with a little backroom cloning and fetal abortions?
Presidential bloggers? Part II: Dave Winer
on blogging in the 2004 presidential race:
"One of the best ideas I’ve heard so far came from Mike Clough, a foreign policy expert I met at the Berkman Center. The idea is to somehow give a weblog to any New Hampshire voter who wants one, and then, much as I’m helping people at Harvard get started, to help the citizens of New Hampshire get started.
"Citizen bloggers covering the candidates for U.S. president. Everyone who hears the concept says Hmm, that might work.
More than anything, I want the U.S. presidential election of 2004 to be a real election, to mean something. I wonder if many other citizens feel the same way?
"With New Hampshire so close to Cambridge, the technology so ripe and the candidates so willing, it seems we may actually be able to route around the professional press and make something real happen this election cycle."
(Via -- where else? -- the Harvard
As they say, cool, dude. Gary Hart
and Howard Dean
both have blogs (via Mickey Kaus
). Dean’s camp is taking shots at John Kerry
. Don't see a blog on Kerry's official campaign site
, but it does link to what it obviously considers to be favorable stories. I'm sure a certain Globe reporter isn't too flattered by the site's lead link
-- and it doesn't even link to Boston.com. Am I stirring up the pot here? Just pointing it out!
‘Romney and his team have machine guns’
: Picture this: Mitt Romney scratching his head with one hand, while casually holding a stick of dynamite in the other, intently staring at the stick and thinking, ‘Hmmm. Is that a fuse at the end of this candle?’ Meanwhile, picture a terrified Tom Finneran and Dianne Wilkerson, arms extended in panic and muttering, ‘Now governor, put the dynamite down. Put the dynamite down. We’ll deal. We’ll deal. Just put the dynamite down.” ...
... Mitt has more than just political dynamite -- he also has Tommy guns. Or whatever. Finneran to House Dems
during a closed-door caucus: ''Romney and his team have machine guns, and they have bullets with our names on them.'' ...
... So what did we learn yesterday? We learned this: Dems are horrified at the prospect of an Article 87 showdown. Mitt was probably right not to file an Article 87 bill
, correctly noting that he wants the damn thing to pass and may need to modify it. Tommy and Dianne are also probably right to warn that an Article 87 at this time could blow up any goodwill compromise on reform and restructuring. But ... but they’re scared. If I’m not mistaken, one could sense genuine fear, mixed with anger, behind Tommy and Dianne’s ‘blunt’ message to Mitt not to file an Article 87 bill. ...They may yet pull a Lucy With the Football trick on Mitt, but that’s OK. Gov. Dudley Do-Right now knows he has a weapon he can always light and throw at any time. This year. Next year. Hmmmm. When are legislators up for re-election?
-- Dan Kennedy
has some thoughts on Mitt's permanent campaign strategy. I'm of two minds about it: I don't like it, but, then again, the Massachusetts Teachers Association is going crazy with radio and TV ads, etc. The entire permanent bureaucracy seems to have mobilized on the budget issue, throwing money and lobbyists and activists into the fray. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t see chartered buses parked along Beacon Street, unloading protesters by the hundreds. So I don’t feel too sorry for lawmakers who whine about Mitt’s strategy while encouraging others to engage in virtually the same activities. ... Still, ‘permanent campaigns’ in general bother me -- the constant polling, fund-raising, spinning, strategizing. It’s an insular world onto itself -- and it ultimately alienates voters who feel excluded from an increasingly impersonal and professionalized process.
‘Other assorted bad behavior’
: Tommy, Trav, Dianne etc. are probably cursing their luck Mitt didn’t accept George Cashman’s offer for a Teamsters endorsement. Joan Vennochi
explains Cashman’s last feeble attempt at power brokering. ... God, doesn’t it seem like eons ago that Bill, Paul and Jane were sitting in the corner office, thinking they were masters of Beacon Hill when it really worked the other way around?
‘I'm in a complete news void here’
: This is not good. Things are getting ugly in Iraq
. The amazing thing is that American officials seem barely aware they may have another Gaza Strip on their hands in Fallujah.
‘Her disastrous attempts to explain herself’: Adrian Walker
nails it: “A garden-variety defendant would face serious criminal charges for lying under oath, but a judge can get by with an apology?” ... Margery Eagan
(pay to view) recalls another post-sentencing antic by Lopez: Casting the victim as the villain. The real victim’s family
isn’t forgetting. ... Again: She’s getting off light. Does she know this? Probably not.
Manor House Update, the Final Installment
: I can’t believe I’ve been writing about it
. I can’t believe I’ve been watching and recommending it
. But Manor House
was darn fun. ... I was disappointed by the almost too perfect Mr. Chips ending last night. Hub Blog also was struck (to my embarrassment) by this obvious reality about an upscale PBS reality show, to wit: At the end of the show’s credits, the network touted tapes and/or future shows (didn’t catch which) about how the participants ‘auditioned’ for the show and other behind-the-scenes tidbits, i.e. the participants are now celebrities -- which is what they probably craved for and played to all along. At heart, they were all hams. Good hams, but hams nonetheless...
... Still, Manor House -- a British production that threw 21st century citizens into an early 20th century Edwardian manor home, complete with Upstairs Downstairs tension -- was brilliant. ... The teary-eye good-byes of the ‘masters’ was fascinating, matched and exceeded by the stoic contempt the servants actually held for them. ... The cranky and crazy French cook turned out to be my favorite character. Why? He just played himself.
Hey, I'm not crazy. I'm not the only won who loved the show. The Washington Post has a live chat (I think it's still live) with hall boy Kenny Skelton
, my second favorite character on the show. ... FYI, Kenny, in real life, does indeed despise 'Sir John,' the pompous 'master' in the series.
'Second to nobody': Mickey Kaus
is beating the crap out of John Kerry again. ... And so is William Saletan
Et tu, Luxemburg?:
There used to be a time when talk of a military alliance
between France and Germany would strike fear across the continent and world (scroll down if need be). ...
‘The true agenda of the moratorium crowd’:
There are so many exciting things happening in urban education these days: Improving test scores, rising school attendance, increasing interest in and commitment to neighborhood schools in general, etc. My favorite example: Beacon Hill residents rallying and lobbying hard for a public school in their affluent neighborhood. Their request was recently rejected, but they haven't given up the long-term fight. They want
their children in public schools. Bottom-line: We’re a long, long way from the ‘Common Ground’ days of public school meltdown. Charter schools have played an important role, albeit a sometimes distant and hard to measure role, in this trend -- providing choice, offering competition, promoting creativity and experimentation, encouraging parental involvement and enthusiasm. Charters don’t suck a dime from the public school system because they’re part of the public school system -- unlike the throw-in-the-towel and walk-away vouchers concept. ... Scot Lehigh
and Marc Kenen
tackle the latest effort by the Massachusetts Teachers Association to strangle change in the crib, using the budget crisis as a convenient excuse. ...
‘Six-month suspension with an apology’
: One of the more frequently asked questions Hub Blog gets is this: Why don’t/haven’t you covered the Judge Maria I. Lopez controversy
? Don’t know. Hasn’t hit a nerve. Too many others are opining about the subject. Bad decisions are made every day by otherwise smart people. Inherent distrust of prosecutors’ courtroom antics and tactics. She’s also a hubba-hubba looking babe who I’d ask out on a date if she wasn’t already married to a local media barron who could theoretically throw a wrench in my career if he put his anti-Hub Blog mind to it. Etc., etc., etc. But look at the words used to describe Lopez’s actions (all of them unrelated to the actual sentencing): “cover up,” “misrepresented facts,” “misled the public,” “testified with less than candor,” “distract.” ... She’s getting off light.
‘His solution: Open new supermarkets’
: I really liked this column by Tom Keane
. A lot. Say what you will about Mayor Menino, he definitely has a feel for what makes a neighborhood work on a more intimate level: reliable city services, safety, smart sidewalk designs, ground-floor retail shops, jobs, clean streets and parks. Add to this: supermarkets that ‘hold neighborhoods together.’ Of all obvious things. ... Were supermarkets on the Great Society’s official TTD list?
- Speaking of good food and grocery stores, some other readers have suggested that Hub Blog could increase its traffic by including, oh, recipes and Page 3 girls. Since I don’t know how to slap photos on the site (though my new super-duper Blogger Pro technically gives me the ability), I shall now provide my first recipe to readers. My mother and father tried this one last night -- and they went gaga over it, even calling me up afterward to sing its praise. Very simple and quick. Got this from a TV show and modified it. Ready? Here goes:
Hub Blog’s Steak and Balsamic Onions and Mushrooms
: Steaks of your choice, steak seasoning of choice (McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning-Spicy highly recommended -- salt and pepper will work fine), one large sliced yellow onion, 4-8 ounces of sliced mushrooms, Balsamic Vinegar, olive oil, S & P.
(and try to time it so steaks and onions/mushrooms are done at same time):
I. In skillet with olive oil, cook onions until soft but not all the way done; add mushrooms and cook for one minute; add about a quarter cup of Balsamic vinegar (more or less), with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another few minutes or so, until bitter taste of vinegar is diminished. Goal: Droopy, semi-drippy onions and mushrooms.
II. In separate and simultaneous operation, sprinkle seasoning on steaks (no marinades) and cook anyway you want -- grill, broil or sauté.
III. Bring together, slapping onions and mushrooms on top of steaks. Viola!
: Two. Hub Blog suggests serving the concoction with steamed broccoli, also smothered in portions of onions and mushrooms.
Notes: A.) You can use just onions or mushrooms -- Hub Blog’s mom went with only mushrooms and thought they were the star of the show. B.) You can use more or less onions and mushrooms as desired -- leftovers taste great on salads etc. C.) Live it up with the olive oil. D.) The true star of the show is the Balsamic factor; Hub Blog’s mom just went with a few tablespoons and added a bit more as she went along, cooking off the distant bitter taste until that desired, minimal-vapor level.
There. A Hub Blog first. Try it. Write back to me if you liked it. Real, real easy and fast. Next up: Hub Blog’s Chicken/Veal Marsala, courtesy of my favorite bartendress, who's very upset, it should be noted, with next week’s new restaurant/bar smoking ban.
Manor House Update
: To my surprise and delight, the second installment of PBS’ Manor House
was on last night. Saw the first installment the night before
. FYI: The Downstairs ‘revolt’ was brutally crushed, despite later meddlesome efforts of Edwardian socialists who crashed a charity event and tried to rally the servants. You have to watch the show to know what I’m talking about.
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.”