Here are four rather encouraging/feel-good news items to savor over the Memorial Day weekend. Probably like you, my plans for the weekend are up in the air because of the lousy weather. But I’ll find a way to enjoy it -- and I hope you do too.
A windfall for Massachusetts ...:
Granted, the money comes from one of the most atrocious spending/tax bills
to come out of Washington in recent memory. But we should snatch the dough, not ask questions and scram. ... The $550 million changes the budget dynamics on Beacon Hill. Not very concerned it will relieve pressure on lawmakers to pass reforms. They’d pay a heavy price if they backtracked now. ... The good news: Beacon Hill leaders are urging caution on how the money is spent -- though you always have to wonder what the boys are up to when they profess to be reasonable. ... One thumb-sucking thought: Does the windfall disrupt the Fall Let ‘Em Beg for Taxes strategy? And is that why Finneran and the Trav are putting the cash in a ‘trust fund’? ... Ah, what the hell. Let it rest -- for the weekend.
‘Sweet homes, safe havens’
: Disagree with so many of the Globe’s positions on housing. But we agree on this: Massachusetts needs more housing. So Hub Blog loved this editorial
because the Globe just lets the numbers do the talking. I had no idea so many apartment buildings were springing up in Greater Boston. ... This is good news. Real good news. Particularly for renters. Also for those thinking of buying a home: If people have other supply options, demand declines for single-family homes and so ...
‘Every other bit of Boston we could’
: Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River”
is getting warm reviews at the Cannes Film Festival, partly because most of the movie was shot in Boston and not in Toronto. ... Ah, Tim Robbins. I almost forgive you. ... Think I’ll pick up Dorchester writer Dennis Lehane's novel after I finish Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ ... Ah, ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ What can I say? Published earlier this year. References to the Church’s sex-abuse scandal. And guess who are the bad guys? Fun summer yarn. Highly recommended. ...
‘I don't think any of this will pass’: The bad news:
Senators are moving to wipe out the core of MCAS, i.e. graduation requirements. ... The good news: ‘I don't think any of this will pass.’
... Have a great Memorial Day! Don't let the weather get you down.
‘He does have a track record’
: Actually, I’ve seen better lard in bigger pork bills
. Still, I love the Suffolk Downs and Wonderland angles. ... Hate to say it, but I told you so: He does have a track record.
... Hub Blog is no fan of the Clean Elections Law and campaign-finance reform in general. They come across as quasi-utopian efforts to micro-manage away the influence of money and power in politics. All the same, it’s fascinating and even fun to watch the House gut/ignore/thumb its nose
at yet another voter-approved measure. .... For the record: I’m in favor of a constitutional amendment that puts caps on campaign spending and requires full disclosure of money raised. No government subsidies of bogus candidates and political parties. No limits on individual or special interest donations. Just a spending cap and full disclosure. ...
... Hate to beat up on Jane Swift, but Arcadia Partners
barely qualifies as a venture capital firm and I’m always wary of investment firms that ultimately rely on government contracts for their source of revenue. Almost falls into the ‘public-private partnership’ category.
‘Andrea obviously had a different agenda,’ Part II: Tom Keane
has an outstanding piece on Andrea Cabral’s decision to switch parties. I didn’t know she’ll probably face at-large Boston City Councilor Stephen Murphy in the Democratic primary. I assumed part of the deal included giving her a free pass through the primary. ... Unless Dems use their ‘resources’ to convince Murphy not to run, Cabral could well be a goner -- after Dems use her as a walking photo-op for diversity at the 2004 Convention. ... Repeat
: Dems never would have appointed her to the job had she been a registered Democrat. One of the boys would have gotten it. Now it looks like one of them will. ... Mitt sure sounds like he blew it, according to Tom.
... Saw Cabral on Emily Rooney’s ‘Greater Boston’
the other night, whining about lack of ‘dialogue’ and ‘relationship building’ and ‘signals’ and ‘access to resources’ -- and you’d think you were watching a Dr. Ruth show. ... No mention of the ‘promise’ she broke.
‘At a crossroads between democracy and theocracy’
: Anyone who’s been to Morocco -- and Marrakesh in particular -- knows that the Casablanca bombing
is a first-class tragedy that was waiting to happen, despite Morocco’s outward-looking, tourist-friendly, moderate image and aspirations. What a shame. ... Morocco is a country neoconservatives should be concentrating on right now
if they truly believe democracy can transform the Muslim world. Morocco would dearly love to join the EU, the basic infrastructure is there for economic growth, the country has close ties to Spain and France (well, the latter is actually a drawback), the transportation system is excellent, etc. Morocco is far ahead of, say, Iraq in terms of ‘break out’ potential, but they need help. They also need to help themselves. The country has a dark past but a bright future if they play their cards right. ...
Speaking of French drawbacks ...: Everything in this CSM op-ed is true.
But it still doesn’t explain France’s foreign policy, its Elf scandals, its neo-colonialism in West Africa, its foreign minister’s bad poetry and his other bourgeoisie aristocratic pretensions, etc. ... For a better take on Franco-American relations, check out David Ignatius’ column
this morning in the Washington Post. ... Hey, while you’re at it, never hurts to check out Merde in France
‘Rose Kennedy Greenway fell flat last year’:
I know: The ‘process’ for governing the Rose Kennedy Greenway
is vital. The Bechtel Turnpike Authority, especially under Matthew Amorello, is also probably the last organization you want to see building a new park system. Last time I checked, the authority is mostly about laying asphalt and screwing up big construction projects ... But can we please get this ‘process’ out of the way and start concentrating on what’s actually going to replace the Central Artery? ... Here’s a hint: Frederick Law Olmsted. Can’t go wrong: History, tradition, consensus, beauty, local tie in, etc. Didn’t some French designer suggest this as a logical choice? ... Memo to Mayor Menino and Gov. Romney: Mutter the three magic words -- 'Frederick Law Olmsted' -- and the ice and spell will be broken. ... We know
we'll be happy with this. ... Frederick Law Olmsted! Frederick Law Olmsted! Frederick Law Olmsted!
‘Stretching the meaning of the word fee’
: They’re taxes.
... Not that I mind. Always said some taxes would be necessary to get out of this mess -- as long as they’re accompanied by spending reductions and reforms. The Senate seems to be addressing these concerns. ... So what’s the count on taxes so far? Let me see: $1.5 billion last year + probably about $500 million this year = $2 billion. Think this will stop the relentless drum beating for an income tax hike? See item below. ... One last point: Of course
the fees are going to be passed on to consumers. ... OK, now to the next item. ...
‘The public is cynical because it is not stupid,’ Part II
: Missed Jeff Jacoby’s column on Sunday about the MTA
, part of a two-part series he followed up today with a second column on the MTA
. ...Hmmmmm. The union is spending $2.3 million a year to get its ‘message’ out about taxes and spending? If the NRA was spending this type of dough on lobbying in Massachusetts, you can be sure members of the Hack Progressive Alliance would be screaming bloody murder. ... And Mitt is getting you-know-what for raising $400,000 in campaign funds and running a ‘permanent campaign’? Please. .. The MTA’s massive lobbying campaign is the type of ‘inner workings’ of government
-- the non-campaign-finance side of government -- that needs a tad bit more attention. Don’t you think? ...
‘He was prone to squander second chances’?:
Second chances? How about twenty chances or scores of chances or hundreds of chances. ... No major bombshells in the Globe’s exhaustive story this morning on Jayson Blair’s tenure at the newspaper.
I.e. The Globe dodged a bullet -- and it knows it. ... Mildly interesting factoid from the story: “At some point a recruiting manager at The New York Times called to ask the Globe about Blair's work. Louisa Williams told her about Blair's evaluation and some of the behavioral issues that had surfaced. ‘I remember hearing he had been hired and hearing that he had not graduated from college and being very surprised,’ says Williams.” So the Globe knew he hadn’t graduated, but the Times didn’t? ... Love the lurid tales from Blair’s fellow interns. Of course, intern cat-fights -- like student-council debates over the peace process in the Middle East -- can be easily dismissed, but, in retrospect, the interns were arguably more cognizant of the depth of Jayson’s deceit than editors. ...
: Though affirmative action obviously courses through this story, I still think it has more to do with the beguiling nature of youth and the ‘lust to shine or rule,’ as W.B. Yeats once put it. The Globe handled it as well as possible under the insane circumstances. .... Jayson ‘The Slasher’ Blair on his movie and book deals: “Writing about this is inevitable because it's part of my therapy.” ... Jayson, the 24-hour, toll-free number for McLean Hospital is: 1-800-333-0338.
-- Dan Kennedy
has more on the Jayson Blair scandal -- and a public-service rogues gallery of journalism scandals past.
The Sox are in first place? Part II
... I spend ten minutes reading the Jayson Blair piece, five minutes writing up the item -- and look what happens
. ... Must refocus my attention.
‘Yale bombing stokes terror fears’
: At first, I thought this story
was bogus because it tries too hard to connect the Yale bombing to an alleged terrorist threat against Boston that’s since been ‘deemed not credible.’ Then you read how President Bush was in Connecticut yesterday -- and you have to wonder at least a little bit. ... We know someone
is setting off bombs in New England. ... This is my gut instinct: Boston is not a high-priority target for terrorists, but, well, we know it’s on the terrorists’ maps, based on the events of Sept. 11, and you have to wonder at least a little bit. ...
‘The standoff has exposed the depth of a conservative insurrection’:
Conservative insurrection over a steel-truss footbridge
? Sounds more like a NIMBY dispute. ... To prove my point: Would love to see the roles reversed in this dispute, with a ‘conservative’ pushing for restoring a footbridge near a ‘liberal’ house. As I said, sounds more like a NIMBY dispute. ... FYI: In these types of stories, always be on guard for real or implied use of “riffraff” to describe who’s not wanted in a neighborhood. There’s usually a racial or class angle to it -- and it’s used by both ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals,’ depending on the location of their homes. Often used in debates over proposed commuter lines or football stadiums.
‘Andrea obviously had a different agenda ...’:
Face it: One really can’t respect a person who promises one thing and then does another -- and then blames others for her flip-flop. ... Face it: Cabral’s switch to the Democratic Party
was based on cold, calculated logic. Running as a Republican is tough. Sure, Ralph Martin won re-election as a Republican in a county race. Cabral could have too. But it’s always safer running as a Dem. ... Face it: There are a lot of other candidates who won’t run -- let alone register as -- Republicans for the very same reason that Cabral flipped: The odds are better running as a Dem. This is one of the more obvious explanations for our one-party state. ... Face it: The glaring and sick irony is that Cabral, as an African-American, would never have been appointed to the post had she been a registered Democrat. One of the boys would have gotten the job. ... Face it: It’s pathetic that the same Dems will push Cabral to the forefront at the 2004 Dem convention in Boston. Think about it: She’s the only prominent African-American they have -- and they didn’t even appoint her. ... Face it: This is another example of the hapless Republicans’ disastrous reliance on recruiting candidates (often Independents, like Cabral) rather than nurturing talent at the grassroots level. ... Face it: Cabral was appointed by Jane Swift, a Republican. Need we say more? ... Ah, Massachusetts politics.
‘Carries on the values of his predecessors’:
But what predecessors? Billy or Tom? Maybe a combination of the two. ... The Trav has definitely impressed
. I’m pleasantly surprised -- and more than glad to eat some of my past words. But, please, let’s not turn him into a saint
. Not yet. He does have a track record -- at the Statehouse and Wonderland etc. ... The Fall Let ‘Em Beg for Taxes Strategy: It’s still in play. ... So is Wonderland.
‘Far from appearing elegant ...’:
I’ll bow to the sentiments of my fellow Sidewalk Superintendent, Tom Keane
, who says there’s still hope for the cheesy Hotel Commonwealth and its potential impact on Kenmore Square. ... Kenmore Square revitalization. Central Square revitalization. Cambridge Street revitalization. City Hall Plaza revitalization. One of these day, one of them will finally get revitalized. Right?
The Sox are in first place?: Where have I been?
Probably paying too much attention to the Celts and Jayson Blair. Time to refocus my attention.
‘It's clearly a perversion of state authority’
: Perhaps the only state in the Union that would launch a crackdown on low milk prices
. ... The same rat that ratted on Midland Farms also ratted on Mobil: Cumberland Farms. Now who owns Cumberland Farms? Why, it’s good old Dean Foods, which also owns Garelick Farms, West Lynn Creamery and Nature's Best Dairy. ... Repeat
: Buy Hood! Promote competition and support the local guys! I practiced what I preached just yesterday, passing up the opportunity to buy Garelick Farm’s Half & Half, even though I despise Hood’s new screw-on cap.
'This is not just a four-blade trick pony’: You knew it would happen.
... Message to Gillette: Go for seven-blade disposable!
‘The statue of Peter Jennings has been pulled down’:
It’s turning into a massacre. From Instapundit: Here
... Is there a journalistic meltdown going on? ... It’s a global phenomenon. ... Once again, Alter
: “The whole authority structure of mass media is being undermined by the ability of news consumers to move from passive to active.” ... Moving from the passive to the active. Do journalists understand this? The days of the highly controlled Letters to the Editor criticism of the media are over. Over.
‘The name of the moose is Arthur,’ Part II:
Oh, man, Lileks
is having a great time with David Warsh's moose metaphor.
. ... Almost split my gut on this one: “The introduction of the moose splits the staff into two groups: the brown-nosers who put the moose on top of their computer monitor and give it seasonal decorations, and the cynics who stuff the damn thing in their bottom drawer next to the employee manual, the healthcare benefits package, and the rest of the crap the company expects you to read.” ... Via Andrew Sullivan.
P.S. -- Here's the Newsweek cover
(look to the top right) that Lileks refers to. Notice what the evil Jayson is doing.
He’s ‘adequate,’ ‘satisfactory’ and acceptable: The Harvard Crimson
, though it’s not wild about Mitt giving the JFK School’s commencement address (see slug), does take on those who think Mitt shouldn’t be giving the speech: “Started by a staffer for former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich, one of Romney’s democratic opponents, the petition is no more than liberal frustration over a conservative choice."
‘The public is cynical because it is not stupid’:
That’s probably the best line I’ve seen yet on the current public mood in Massachusetts. So let’s repeat it: ‘The public is cynical because it is not stupid.’ Perfecto! ... And it’s from a column by Joan Vennochi.
... Must admit, Part I: Saw the headline on Joan’s column -- ‘Romney’s old boy financial network’ -- and I instinctively rolled my eyes and thought, ‘Here we go. A long sought chance by Joan to bash away at Mitt. A few obligatory passing references to Dems and the boys -- and then all hell will break loose on poor Mitt etc.’ But you know what? She bashes away at both sides with equal abandon, referring to the ‘disingenuous responses’ of those saying one thing about reform but doing something entirely different about reform. ...
... Must admit, Part II: Reading Joan’s column, I was a little embarrassed by this Hub Blog post from yesterday
. Embarrassed because I don’t want to come across as minimizing the corrupting nature of campaign donations. It is indeed a corrupting influence -- to a degree. Why ‘to a degree’? Answer ...
... Must admit, Part III: It’s Hub Blog War Story time! When I was a reporter out in Illinois in the early ‘80s, the memory of the First Daley Era was still fresh in people’s minds. In particular, a lot of progressives and journalists were still on a justified high for having exposed and weakened the Daley machine -- though they never brought it down per se. The semi-successful assault wasn’t achieved by poring over campaign disclosure forms. The assault succeeded in hobbling the machine by shining a light on how it actually worked in a non-campaign-finance way -- the patronage, the nepotism, the ward politics, the redistricting, the statistical racial inequalities, the contracts, the slating of compliant candidates, the vote-counting shenanigans, the open use of government unions as bludgeons for party politics etc. etc. Read Mike Royko’s classic “Boss” for more details -- a Chicago version of “The Last Hurrah” and “Black Mass” rolled into one.
... Must admit, Part IV: Massachusetts politics has improved a lot in recent years, but we still have our Eddie Vrdolyak holdovers attempting to keep functioning remnants of the machine in place -- i.e. the ‘permanent bureaucracy,’ as Margery Eagan has described it. ... Pore over campaign disclosure forms, but also shine a light on the actual non-campaign-finance inner workings of the political system. Perhaps because of Watergate, too many journalists today concentrate on the former to the exclusion of the latter.
Otherwise: I liked Joan’s column.
P.S. -- Hub Blog wants to see an actual link between Mitt’s campaign donations and the influence they’re intended to buy. Until then, I’m not buying into the moral equivalency argument. Mitt’s campaign donations are a concern, but they’re not a damnable concern -- yet.
P.S.P.S. -- Who would have thought? The Trav is getting kudos
for offering up genuine reforms. The pressure is working. But I suspect the real Trav is somewhere in this story
‘Out of sheer incompetence ...’:
What’s happening in Iraq, if it keeps up for much longer, is a tragedy. The Globe
just nails it in one of its opening sentences: “But because President Bush and his advisers have been indefensibly slow to respond to this violent disorder, they must now persuade Iraqis that Washington permitted the postwar destruction of electrical stations, hospitals, Baghdad's communications center, and all ministry buildings except the oil ministry not in furtherance of some devious imperialist scheme but out of sheer incompetence.” ...
... The Christian Science Monitor’s updated warblog
is all over the They’re Botching the Rebuilding angle. Lots of links to related stories at the CSM site. ... Maybe we can learn some lessons from the Brits
before it’s too late. ... This seems to be one of those rare issues that both conservatives and liberals agree on. Not quite sure why, but it has something to do with recognizing the difference between anarchy and nation building. One can endlessly argue whether ‘nation building’ is feasible in a country like Iraq. But a semblance of law and order is feasible -- and we’re blowing it.
-- Daniel Drezner
) has his own thoughts on Bush's drift on Iraq: "A troubling hypothesis -- is it possible that the message discipline so valued by the Bushies also leads to the suppression of policy adaptability?" ... Another troubling hypthesis: Maybe Bush doesn't really care. Or a variation: He's too busy focusing on other matters. ... Hope those tax cuts are worth it. ... No WMD found. No semblance of democracy and/or law and order in post-war Iraq. Not something historians are going to look kindly upon if neither is achieved.
A James Carroll column I almost liked:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Don’t know why I bother reading James Carroll. Already know what he’s going to say and what pose he’s going to strike etc. ... But what surprised me about this morning's column
was that I actually found myself rooting for Carroll while reading the first two-thirds of the piece. Hub Blog’s happy thought process went something like: “Oh, my God. Out of the starting gate and Carroll hasn’t mentioned yet that he’s a former priest ... Halfway through the column and not one reference to the word ‘moral.’ ... What a splendid insight into different types of anti-Semitism! ... OK, here’s a bump: He’s bashing Bush, but ... Carroll’s back on track!
Go, James! Go!” ...
Alas, he veers away from subject of Muslim anti-Semitism -- where you thought he was headed -- and ends up veering into modern American and Western crusades -- where you should have known he was headed. ... Somewhat encouraging signs: No mention of his past priestly functions -- nor mentions of the words ‘moral,’ ‘morality,’ ‘hubris’ and ‘Vietnam.’ ... Advice: Read first two-thirds of column. Then stop.
But do read this column
in its entirety. Tom Oliphant tears into the Jose Santos ‘controversy’ and modern media sensationalism.
'Just for laughs ...':
Nothing really compelled me to skip over to Merde in France
. Except for laughs. Lots of them there. ... It's hard being a Francophile. Really. ... Again: No compelling reason for this post -- except for the laughs.
Hub Blog found this article revealing
: Ari Fleischer is resigning.
Big deal. He bored me to tears. But I found this graf in the NYT’s article to be revealing:
“Mr. Fleischer's tenure, like that of all presidential press aides, was not without its bumps. Even though he did not have to fend off questions about Vietnam or Watergate, as some of his predecessors did, he routinely put in marathon workdays.”
Vietnam and Watergate?
... That's where they're coming from. ... Washington Week in Review. ... Zzzzzzzzz. Wake me up. ... When I was young, I used to walk to school -- and not take school buses.
‘Clean this joint up!’:
From Brighton Reader:
“This Saturday marked my first foray into a smoke-less Boston club. While I am in favor of the change, I did notice that cigarette smoke did mask a lot of other odors. Stale beer, patrons with too much cologne or not enough anti-perspirant, and sub-sanitary restrooms were among the olfactory offenders. In addition to big bar tabs and tips, smokers generated fumes that provided cover for owners and patrons who skimped on cleanliness.”
Hub Blog's response
: You asked for a change in clientele, you got it. ... What are non-smokers going to complain about next? Lack of cappuccinos? ... Casual survey results from bars: At least in the Beacon Hill area, the bars seem about as crowded as before the ban. Big difference: They’re so dull and quiet. Dead, even. In addition to big bar tabs and tips, smokers tend to be more animated and boisterous. ... You asked for a change in clientele, you got it.
‘The name of the moose is Arthur’:
A lot of people, including yours truly, have been concentrating most of their fire on Howell Raines during the Jayson Blair fiasco. But former Boston Globe business columnist David Warsh
thinks the real problem could be Pinch himself. David: “The New York Times finally is in the hands of a scion who may not be up to the job.” ... Notice how Warsh isn’t aggressively pursuing the affirmative action angle -- and rightly so. For there’s a much larger management and transformation issue at stake here. Again, David: “...(The Times’) dominant overtones seem, at least to me, to have become strident, intemperate, even undignified. This is strong language, I know, and a big newspaper is a very complicated place. Plenty of straight journalism appears in The Times every day. But ‘edge’ and ‘attitude,’ those signature concepts of the ‘90s, slowly have been gaining the upper hand.” ... (Via Andrew Sullivan
FYI: Here’s at look at Warsh’s new online enterprise
-- Are these the same conservatives who used to howl at the Washington Post
during the Nixon era?
Donations, donations, donations
: I know, I know, I know. Tracking campaign contributions
is important. But the subject seems almost passé, so already-seen-it-done, so saunter-over-to-the-campaign-disclosure-office journalism. Snore. ... More meaty investigative stories like the Bechtel Turnpike Authority, please!
‘The puny allocation’:
Notice how the words ‘puny’ and ‘just’ and ‘only’ mean one thing when applied to the savings from reforms and another thing when applied to funds appropriated for social programs. ... I.e. elimination of the MDC will save ‘only’ $5 million, but the appropriation for housing programs
is ‘just’ $67 million, etc.
‘The Bush administration is failing to secure the peace’
: I’m quite aware that Joe Lieberman
is a presidential candidate, but he also happens to be right on this issue. Here’s why
. ... What’s going on in post-wars Afghanistan and Iraq? I can’t say this for sure, but I think a lot of the Bushies, deep down, don’t believe in nation building. There also seems to be a bit of foot dragging by Rummy, who sometimes comes across as still fighting the Not Enough Troops battle. Whatever the reasons, the administration is faced with this inescapable fact: It’s now in the nation-building business. It can’t let these noble efforts fail without sustained, concerted effort.
-- Meanwhile, state officials are bungling Homeland Security in Massachusetts. Cosmo Macero
has the goods -- and a link to his full Herald column, too.
The changing face of Boston:
Fifty thousand people showed up for a Haitian parade
in Boston yesterday. I think it’s great. Forget about ‘diversity.’ It just adds spice to the city. ... I still think Mayor Menino should organize a real kick-ass Brazilian ‘Carnival’ parade each year in Boston. Lots of rum, dancing and scantily-clad flamingo ladies etc. Might also offset some of the dullness the mayor imposed on the city through his prissy and politically correct smoking ban. ...
‘Watch out, Mitt, here come the Dems’
: The Dems say they’re going to retaliate
for Mitt’s targeting the Fifth Norfolk race. Reaction: Good. The more competition, the better. ... Notice how there appeared to be an unspoken game of political footsie between the parties over who ran against whom in past district elections. It worked something like this -- Dems to Repubs: ‘We’re going to make you an even more minor minority party if you don’t behave.’ Repubs to Dems: ‘OK, OK, OK. We’ll behave. Just let us keep our current minority-status level.’ ... To bozos like Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift, this made perfect sense.
Dan Kennedy: ‘Right now I'm not sure I'm one of them’:
I know the feeling. I know the feeling.
... Bad Blog Days. Bad Blog Weeks. Hate ‘em. ... More than anything, Hub Blog wishes I had a good copy editor. I’m a terrible speller and can mangle a metaphor faster than Archie Bunker -- not to mention churn out whopper mistakes that readers and other bloggers quickly pounce on. Makes for a long day -- or long week. ...
has some interesting thoughts on blogging and the mass media over at MSNBC (via Andrew Sullivan
“I hate to admit it, but Matt Drudge put it well a few weeks ago when he said: ‘The statue of Peter Jennings has been pulled down.’ The whole authority structure of mass media is being undermined by the ability of news consumers to move from passive to active, from accepting everything they read in the Times to searching and finding www.I-know-I-read-it-somewhere-on-the-Internet-so-it-must-be-true.com.”
-- Now here's the really dark side of blogging
. Thanks to Quebec Reader for the link.
‘If customers don’t like the lobbying ..’:
From Reader Matt regarding an earlier post
“Your comparison of Fidelity's political lobbying using money they received in exchange for providing a service with union politicking using compulsory union dues is misplaced. If customers don't like the lobbying there's a very easy solution -- pay someone else to manage your money. If union members don't like the lobbying, they're forced to quit their jobs or try to vote in new union leadership that will use the money in a matter they approve of.
“I don't see why Fidelity ‘ought to cut it out’ without further explanation. Neither your note nor the linked article made it clear why this is an abomination -- it was simply assumed. I suppose it can be considered rude to talk politics in the middle of a financial communication. Conversely, Fidelity's job is to maximize return on their customer's investments. If a dividend tax cut increases
the return on the money they manage for their customers, it seems perfectly logical to me to lobby for the policy.
“I'm sure there are lots of people who I do business with that spend their money in ways I find detestable. (I sure wasn't interested in the left-wing hectoring I got from Ben & Jerry when I went to their ice-cream factory in VT! ;-)) But I give my money freely for services or goods I deem worth my greenbacks. As far as I'm concerned, it's a non-story. -- Matt, wish I had had a ‘low six-figure’ portfolio to manage when I was 23.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Good points. But this is where I was coming from: A lot of us 401(k)ers do NOT have a choice about who will manage our money. Maybe Elias does, but I don’t -- or didn’t, actually.
‘Granny: I was JFK’s teen lover’
: I couldn't resist.
... Miss Porter's School?
‘A myopic view of who I am as a person’
: Now Elias Kramer
knows how some union members feel when their union dues are used for dubious political purposes. ... Fidelity ought to cut it out.
‘We know that William Bulger. ...’:
This is encouraging: U.S. Rep. Thomas Davis
, the new chairman of the Congressional committee investigating the FBI and Whitey, has read “Black Mass” by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. ...
... Joan Vennochi
has coined a phrase that just might stick with Mrs. Kerry: “First there was ‘The Donald.’ Now there is ‘The Teresa.’” ... FYI: Thanks to readers for pointing out the column. Didn’t see it yesterday because it wasn’t posted during Hub Blog’s normal trolling hours.
‘A preview of things to come’:
Unfortunately, Steve Bailey is probably right: ‘Hancock is the one to watch.’
... Hancock’s demutualization: The consequence.
‘Times must come clean’:
Here it is. The Spiked Column.
Brian McGrory basically shoves Raines’ own words back in his face (see Raines’ remarks five years ago about the Mike Barnicle affair over at Andrew Sullivan
). From Brian’s column:
“I say this because I, too, am haunted by something I know in my bones. Jayson Blair is young and, notably, black. He was prolific and, in Raines's own word, ‘hungry.’
“He was also, as I saw firsthand when he interned in the Globe's Washington bureau, an obsequious manipulator as devoted to office gossip as he was to his work. But because of his ambition and his potential, he represented a prized catch in a profession always striving for diversity.
“What troubles me is my belief that the Times didn't just give Blair the benefit of repeated doubts because of his color, but that in its pursuit of talented minority reporters, they assigned to him an entirely different standard of journalism - a substandard. If a white reporter, male or female, had as many corrections as Blair, had his history, he or she would have been swiftly kicked out the door.
“But as the paper confesses so many sins, it has avoided this most obvious point, making Raines's lightning-fast turn of the race card five years ago seem entirely disingenuous now." ...
Hub Blog's response
: There are other good lines, digs and points. Read it. ... I still think the affirmative-action angle is being overplayed. But what’s amazing is this: By initially denying affirmative action played any role in the scandal, Raines managed to make it the central issue in the scandal -- when it isn’t the central issue if you’ve ever been in a newsroom with a serial plagiarist or general all around nut case of any color or gender. ... Raines could have defused the entire situation by saying, yes, definitely, Blair’s race was a factor but ... ‘Entirely disingenuous.’ So true. ... Through his actions, Raines has done more damage to affirmative action than any right-wing yahoo talk-show meister could have accomplished in a thousand broadcast rants. Doubt Raines understands this. ... Raines’ comments about the Barnicle affair still boggle the mind, knowing what we now know. ... To the Globe: Was it worth the spike? Answer: No. Consequence: Yet another unnecessary embarrassment caused by a bad decision that was later reversed. ...
What's worse: It wasn't that great of a column.
I mean, Brian could have used these lines from Raines' patronizing lecture to the Globe five years ago:
"Public respect for newspapering is wounded when rules that would be enforced with doctrinal ferocity among the mass of journalists are lightened for a star who has great value to the paper. The damage is internal as well. It says to young journalists that the contract of trust that we ask them to sign -- about what they write and what they tell their editors -- is not really absolute or equally enforced."
As I said: "... knowing what we now know."
-- Daniel Schorr is going out on a limb:
“As full disclosure, if that is needed, let me acknowledge a bias against journalists and media organizations that practice to deceive.” ... More innocuous snooze material: It’s the little mistakes that count
. ... The average panelist on Washington Week in Review would probably titter and pretend this is hilarious
: “The scandal over fabricated stories by New York Times reporter Jayson Blair continues to develop. Media critics who called for the resignation of Mr. Blair's senior editors were stunned to learn yesterday that the Times has no senior editors.” ... Thank goodness This Week in Journalism is over.
‘Bristled at being put on the spot over Bulger’
: I like the idea of forcing a very specific vote on Bulger
, using the Article 87 up-or-down strategy and watching lawmakers bristle at the idea. Not so sure about cramming all the other reforms in one package, though. I wish Mitt had broken up the big package into multiple packages. The point is to pass reforms, after all. The Herald
likes Mitt’s tactic, though. ... Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat: ''It's really hard to imagine that there might not be just one error - technical or otherwise - in 700 pages.'' ... Notice ‘Amherst’ and ‘Democrat.’ The Hack Progressive Alliance: It exists. ... They won’t vote on the ‘merits’ of the bill; they’ll search for ‘technical or otherwise’ excuses to reject reforms. ... Gotta hand it to Mitt: He’s been a bulldog on reforms. ...
Extremely interesting procedural point: “The bill could still be defeated on an anonymous voice vote.” ... I didn’t know that.
Preserving independent Boston-based institutions
: If anything else, the aborted merger talks
between FleetBoston’s Chad Gifford and John Hancock’s David D'Alessandro show they really care about Boston and its position within the financial world. Hope they resume the merger discussions if and when their share prices rise and give Fleet and Hancock some protection.
An ‘ugly campaign to destroy the image of France’
: I’m more than a little leery about the way President Bush tends to make politics and diplomacy so personal
. So I have no doubt the White House is mischievously behind the leaking and spinning of nasty stories about France
. But I do love French bashing. So ...
-- Reader Rich writes in:
"So, according to the Washington Post, the French are whining again about how they are being treated in the American media, that the Administration isn't doing anything about it, and that the Administration is egging the media on. Poor, poor French. Maybe they could be taken remotely seriously if they didn't practice all of that in reverse, more intensely, and over a far longer period. ...My house proudly remains a French-free zone."
‘McGrory basically said that the Blair thing was Barnicle in reverse’:
You just knew the Globe couldn’t sit idly by and let the NYT outshine it in the controversy department. ... Now the N.Y. Times Co. has two newsrooms in an uproar.
Maybe they should go for a threefer and spike a story or two over at the NYT-owned Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Misery loves company, etc. etc. etc. ... So they reportedly spiked a column by Brian McGrory critical of Howell Raines and Howell’s not-forgotten digs and remarks about Affaire de Barnicle, according to the Herald’s Inside Track. The Globe staff has been seething over the Barnicle incident for years now. So maybe what we’re witnessing now isn’t so much a “revolt” as it is a “civil war” within the N.Y. Times Co. ...
Raines apparently said he has no intention of resigning
. Isn’t that what Cardinal ‘This is not a democracy’ Law said? Didn't the Pope once say he wouldn't accept Law's resignation?
-- Dan Kennedy
has more on the Jayson Blair/Howell Raines affair in his weekly ‘Don’t Quote Me’
column. One observation: “But though it’s surely true that Blair deserves most of the blame, it is equally true that Raines himself could have prevented all this from happening. This isn’t hindsight; quite the contrary. The most damaging scandal in the paper’s history was laid out right in front of Raines before it even happened.” ...
'I have absolutely no intention of trading Antoine Walker'
And he's extending O'Brien's contract. Next up: point guard and center. ... Antoine
runs a venture capital firm with Eric Williams? Vaguely remember hearing about this. Must be one of those 'public-private partnerships.' Anyway, Antoine is glad he's staying put -- and so is Hub Blog. Notice who Antoine went golfing with. He's just that type of guy.
‘So much for the machine gun’ and other items:
Reader No Nickname weighs in on a bunch of issues. Reader No Nickname:
“SO MUCH FOR THE MACHINE GUN – My earlier note
about how to win state legislative seats appears to be vindicated by Matt Sisk’s defeat
in the House runoff election. Sisk is a 24 year old with some questions about his behavior in college (allegations of plagiarism and vote fraud), along with 18 months of experience in the Chief Secretary’s office at the State House (an office that Romney shut down as a bastion of patronage). His opponent was a former House legislative aide and a selectman of the town where the election was held. Even with the star power of Romney and the White House Chief of Staff focused on the race plus tens of thousands in cash (all for 10,000 total votes), the more experienced, grassroots guy still won. You can't win a meaningful number of these seats with a top-down strategy, you need to build viable lower-level candidates first. I’d say most state legislators are sleeping pretty soundly.
“THE YAWKEY FOUNDATION -- This looks like so much gland-spraying by Tom Reilly. A family foundation
that gives money to organizations favored by the family and board of directors? I’m shocked, shocked! You can go down to Associated Grantmakers on Court Street and take a look at the long list of Boston-based family foundations, all donating to the family’s favorite museum, school, church, library, etc. I grant you that Harrington is not the most sympathetic figure, but there must be something more pressing for our Attorney General to do.
“PSST, ANDREW, SHUT UP – In the blogosphere (cringe), Andrew Sullivan
cuts a pretty wide profile – interesting, provocative, and a good writer. However, he occasionally goes on monomaniacal crusades that demonstrate why editors get paid. Sullivan is on one now with the NYTimes-Blair story. I simply cannot read another parsing of a Times email or memo. Jack Shafer is oh-so-right about Sullivan’s pot-kettle-blackness issue regarding Sullivan’s editing of Ruth Shalit.”
Hub Blog’s response
: 1.) Agree Repubs should start concentrating on selectman, school committee, dog catcher races etc. The drive for a two-party system is going nowhere as long as the Massachusetts GOP keeps acting like the Massachusetts GOP -- and thinks it can obtain power by leap-frogging over grassroots politics with Jack E. Robinsons and Matt Sisks. Still, Sisk really was a lightweight nobody who almost knocked off a middleweight somebody. Lesson to be learned: Dems are vulnerable if and when Republicans get their act together at the party level and give Independents a reason to vote for them at the grassroots level. The GOP also needs contested primary elections that bring meaning to registering as ‘Republican.’ ... 2.) First, the Yawkey Foundation is not a 'family foundation.' The members of the family are dead. Second, we should sic gland-spraying prosecutors on lower-level charities as well. Third, they should go after the biggie non-family Yawkey Foundation for the way the boys took over the team, ran the team, sold the team and throw money around from sale proceeds of the team. It’s time to stop these guys from socially and financially leeching off of a dead widow’s vulnerability, memory and money. ... 3.) I think Andrew Sullivan defended himself rather well
and he really did see “this problem sooner than others.”
But he should have mentioned the Ruth Shalit incident more thoroughly and often in earlier posts as an empathetic frame of reference. The Ruth Shalit incident (as well as others) is why I’ve been emphasizing my own “Misery”
experience. Affirmative action and Howell’s breathtaking arrogance are pieces of the story, but not the whole story. ... I’m still betting Howell resigns.
'Witness: Foul-mouth mom urged beating’
: “Beat the crap out of him.”
... “His nose was bleeding and he had blood on his shirt.” ... “Valerie, what are you doing?” ... “I did not see Valerie kick the boy in the head.” ... “Valerie was making a number of inappropriate comments.” ...
Here’s a Hub Blog test: Read the following lead on a story about Foul-mouth Val
and guess which publication ran it. Here we go: “Parents who ‘lose it’ at Little League games and the like are often over-identifying with their children and feel the only place they have control is on the field, experts said.” ... Figure it out? The New York Times? The Globe? Psychology Today? No! The Herald!!!!! ...
Not a good week for youth sports
. No need for a pedophile psychoanalysis sidebar. Not in Boston.
‘Kerry's calibration and qualification’
: In his ‘Scouting report on Kerry’ this morning, Scot Lehigh
sets himself up as a baseball scout reporting on the hometown talent -- and finds a lack of boldness on Kerry’s part. Scot: “Too often, Kerry's calibration and qualification leaves him indistinct and unremarkable.” ... My own favorite example of Kerry’s calibration and qualifications: Last year, Kerry expended a lot of time and effort putting together a grandiose, highly thoughtful foreign policy speech and paper -- and then riddled it with enough calibrations and qualifications to render it moot. It was a classic case of ‘false hustle,’ as Red Auerbach might have phrased it.
Hey, speaking of the Celts and scouting reports ...
‘A status report on what Ainge has to deal with’
: No, the problem isn’t Antoine. It’s Vin Baker and his contract, Peter May writes.
... I can’t believe I was once excited about Vin coming to the Celts. ...Jackie MacMullan
to Ainge: Keep Antoine. She’s right. The core is there. Spend more time thinking about and scouting for point guards and centers, Daniel -- and extend O’Brien’s contract and re-sign his coaches while you’re at it, pronto!
‘An early blow to Governor Mitt Romney’?:
I don’t know about that. The Fifth Norfolk District race
was closer than it should have been and would have been. The signal: Driscoll won by only 500 votes. ... Look at it another way: The Fifth Norfolk is 40 percent Democrat, 13 percent Republican. Question: Who broke for the nobody Sisk? Answer: Independents. The future hearts-and-minds battlefield. ...
... From Steve Bailey
: ‘Come on. Be serious.’ ... From Tom Keane
: “But what was wrong with Atkins' words? After all, she was only expressing -- pithily, perhaps -- what is pretty much political dogma: Education and crime are deeply and tightly linked.” ... I still can’t get out of my mind the image of Atkins breaking down and crying on the House floor. The idea she was out of step with dogma shattered her. ...
‘A Boy of the Boston school’
: Christopher Lydon
starts off his long post on the Boston art scene with the following irresistible lead: “The invitation I jumped at was to root around in my own memory of the Museum of Fine Arts, starting in the 1950s. My real agenda was also to examine and nail my impression that John Singer Sargent and what became the MFA aesthetic had managed to postpone the arrival of the 20th Century in Boston for at least 50 years or more, well into my time as a museum visitor and summertime drawing student. I’m a little sore about it.” ... Lots of illustrations for the rest of us.
The ‘buy local’ movement:
A fun story -- with a strong New England angle at the end -- in the Christian Science Monitor about the ‘buy local’ food movement
. CSM reporter Jennifer Wolcott tried the buy-local experiment, and here’s what she found: “When Kevin Higgins, a buyer for Bread & Circus markets in the Northeast, told me that to undertake such an experiment during early spring in Massachusetts would only leave one ‘really bored and really hungry,’ I felt like less of a failure.” ... Hub Blog loves the trend toward local buying, smart eating, vastly improved American cooking and dining etc. But the buy-local movement, in particular, is not always practical, as Wolcott shows. ... I still think this is a great business idea: A chain of old-fashioned butcher shops.
‘Time will tell if the true voice ...’
: Usually a card-carrying progressive member of the Hack Progressive Alliance swoons when a hack tells the progressive everything the progressive wants to hear. Joan Vennochi
isn’t swooning over President Trav. She’s rightly suspicious and on guard. But one can tell she wants to swoon:
“Can an East Boston pol be a conciliatory force on Beacon Hill and a reformer, too, while keeping the faith for liberal Democrats -- and keeping the old neighborhood happy, too? ‘We have to engage in a genuine discussion, put aside the egos, the personalities, and the history and do the people's business,’ he said.
“That doesn't sound like Bobby Trav. Time will tell if it is the true voice of Senate President Robert E. Travaglini -- and what it really means.”
But I agree with Joan: Give Trav a chance. Let’s see if he produces and surprises. Yesterday, he definitely produced and surprised with his Senate court-reform package
. I’m impressed. The Herald
seems encouraged too -- ‘so far at least.’
Changing the health-care ‘status quo’
: Tom Oliphant
is starting to refer to the need to reform the ‘status quo’ -- in this case, the health-care system. I’m all for a universal health-care system. I like the general idea of modeling a system after the federal government’s program for its employees. But I want to see Kerry’s plan first. Kerry is Kerry after all -- and these plans usually have a have-it-both-ways/nanny/status-quo ‘single payer’ clause tucked in them that deliberately negates all the smart free-market ideas. ...
It’s time to stop talking about health care as a ‘right’ and start talking about it as a ‘privilege,’ sort of like the privilege to drive as long as one pays the mandatory auto insurance. The word ‘privilege’ sets the right tone: This is a ‘privilege’ that can be taken away if abused. The word ‘right’ invites all sorts of abuse, including nanny-state interference to protect and promote new egalitarian ‘rights.’ .... Bottom line: No pay, no play. ... Other requirements: Real choice, real competition, real direct co-payments to health providers, real deductibles, real acceptance that the rich will always come up with ways to pay for and get extra frills -- sort of like paying more auto insurance for a Mercedes. ... Isn’t it funny how people come up with the money for mandatory auto insurance? Not that mandatory auto insurance works all that well in Massachusetts. It doesn’t. Largely because Massachusetts interferes too much with the pricing system, which drives out auto industry competition. ...
-- I've lost the link to the Oliphant piece and can't get through to Boston.com to retrieve it. Will fix item in a jiffy. ... Ah, here it
is and above. That's good. Good, boy. A few hours late.
“ ‘Friendly amendments’ that improve Question 2”: The Globe
is also referring to the ‘status quo’ -- as in the ‘discredited status quo’ of bilingual education. However, let’s be careful about the ‘friendly amendments’ to the Question 2 English immersion law. We’ve already seen what happens when lawmakers attach ‘friendly amendments’ to voter-approved Clean Elections, tax cuts and the popular MCAS
reform. Such ‘friendly amendments’ are usually a legislative form of friendly fire fratricide. Mitt, keep your veto pen handy. ...
State Rep. Marie St. Fleur of Dorchester does have a good idea: Permitting families of kindergarten students ‘the option of putting the children directly into mainstream classes.’ The reasoning: Children have the amazing ability to effortlessly absorb two languages. ... Exactly. I know of an American-Swedish couple here in the Boston area. The children speak Swedish at home; English outside the home and at school. The kids speak both languages fluently. So Rep. St. Fleur, good idea. However, even this ‘friendly amendment’ needs close scrutiny, for another ‘friendly amendment’ can always be attached to a ‘friendly amendment’ to provide bilingual teachers to help out ‘just in case,’ blah, blah, blah ...
Still on the Celts bandwagon and ‘bleeding green’
: Still love this infuriating, lovable team
. ... Did Antoine really say the rebuilding era is ‘over’? After losing four straight in the second round? ... Heard that Dennis and Callahan
over at WEEI also have been ragging on the ‘bleeding green’
sentimentality of hiring Danny Ainge. Sure enough, Hub Blog listened in to them this morning -- and ragging they were. Good. It’s about winning, not ‘bleeding green.’ ... Hope the new owners have the common sense to keep O’Brien and the assistant coaches, as Red has urged. They’ve performed miracles with this team. ... Reader No. 1 recently filled me in on the antics of the new owners. Their egotistical micro-managing sounds like trouble down the road. ...
-- Bruce Allen
and Thoughts, Rant and Observations
have more on the Celts. I'm with TRO: Keep Antoine. Definitely keep him. They have a great core to work with.
On dairy monopolies and electric monopolies
: Tempted to oppose this alternative non-merger merger between Hood and National Dairy
. But the feds closed the proverbial barn door too late when it comes to dairy monopolies in New England -- and some sort of alliance may be necessary to take on ‘industry behemoth’ Dean Foods, owner of Garelick Farms, West Lynn Creamery, Cumberland Farms, and Nature's Best Dairy. ... How and why the feds (and state) allowed the formation of such a dairy monopoly, I’ll never know. ... Message to local bloggers: Support competition, buy Hood products for the time being. Thank you.
... Meanwhile, Exelon Corp
. controls 70 percent of all power-generating capacity in the Boston area, so excuse me if Hub Blog is a little skeptical about Exelon’s plan to close local power plants. I know, I know. Its new generator will more than make up for lost capacity and lead to cleaner, more efficient energy -- one of the main goals of electric deregulation. But 70 percent market share is still 70 percent market share -- and another goal of deregulation was competition. ... Exelon. The name alone gives me the shivers.
‘I hope (my son) kicked your teeth in’
: Stories like this
make you want to laugh and cry: “I'm feeling horrified” ... “This is the hockey dad without the fatality.” ... “I hope (my son) kicked your teeth in.” ... “Spit in his face.” ... “Hurt him, kill him” ... Ah, Little League! Ah, humanity!
Blogging the N.H. presidential primary
: More on the debate between Dave Winer and Jon Bonne
on blogging the N.H. presidential primary. ... Winer comes across as too utopian on the idea. ... Good summary by the online Winer-Bonne referee: “One of the great things about this dispute is that in a few short months we'll actually know who's right (presuming we can make out what differentiates their opinions).”
Jayson Blair, the Sequel -- or Part II: Mickey Kaus
and Andrew Sullivan
are slaughtering the New York Times. ... A Hub Blog reader writes in: “Bob Ryan gets a one-month unpaid suspension for saying something dumb, and what will the N.Y.Times (management) get? Zilch.” ... Personally, I’m betting Howell Raines eventually resigns if the tumult doesn’t subside and/or if another embarrassing controversy hits the Times; Andrew Sullivan is already pushing the Cardinal Law analogy. ... But, again, don’t dismiss the lone nut who’s ultimately responsible. The fact is, people like Blair are con men -- and con men prey on human sympathies, know what emotional buttons to push, how to lie and wiggle out of tough binds, how to play different people and factions off each other. They also come in (and from) many different colors, genders, ages, professions and backgrounds. If you haven’t witnessed at close range a demented con artist at work, you really haven’t experienced the warped side of life. ...
Perhaps my own bitter "Misery" and other experiences are clouding my perspective on this.
has some excellent thoughts on Jayson 'The Slasher' Blair. The name. So cool. So perfect. See Really Scary item below. ... And do check out Mickey
. He's reporting a near newsroom revolt in NY.
Jayson Blair -- coming soon to a movie theater near you:
Repeat the name: Jayson Blair. Again: Jayson Blair. What does it sound like? An ax-wielding, hockey-mask-wearing character out of a teen horror movie? You got it! And I’m sure the folks at the NYT
get it too. Somehow I don’t think there will be a journalistic sequel to this flick -- at least not at the NYT and Globe. ...
Here’s Joe Dwinell’s
local take on all the recent journalistic scandals. Here’s William Safire’s
noble defense of the NYT. ...
Moi? Clearly, there are a number of subplots running through this horror show: Affirmative action, a politicized editorial staff at the NYT, stupid faith in the young, bad newsroom management etc. But, really, it ultimately comes down to this: Bad luck. I once went through my own editor’s horror show -- more like “Misery” than “Halloween.” I played James Caan. My nemesis played Kathy Bates. No affirmative action involved. No politics and plagiarism involved. It was just 100 percent pure management/James Caan/Kathy Bates misery. I thought it would never end. ...
... Met up with some friends yesterday. Topic: Jayson Blair. People were interested in my opinion, as a journalist, and I told them my horrifying “Misery” tale. They were suitably horrified. Then I asked them to tell me their own non-journalistic horror shows involving the most devious, charming colleague they’ve ever worked with or for -- and we were like a bunch of scared kids sitting around a campfire telling creepy ghost stories.
‘If anybody else did that ...’:
More evidence that American Catholics
are not headed for a schism with the church -- but rather a permanent state of cynicism and apathy toward the church, similar to the cynical and apathetic attitude of French and Italian Catholics, who learned long ago not to trust the church hierarchy in important matters of this world.
‘A loophole diploma’
: From the Globe
: “By voting last week to allow communities to exempt special education students from the MCAS graduation requirement, the Massachusetts House placed a decade of education reform in jeopardy and, despite benevolent intentions, sent a message to those very students that is more
cruel than compassionate.” ... Well put.
'Books will be written on that ...':
Am I imagining this? They're all but giving up the search
for WMD in Iraq? Is there some major event going on today that's allowing this gigantic story to slip under the Jo Moore radar? Was the loopy Scot Ritter right all along? ... More debate and explanations, please.
‘Leo Strauss can seem like a conspiracy buff’:
Don’t know enough about Leo Strauss to tell if this Globe ‘Ideas’ piece
is a hatchet job, though the last paragraph’s nasty swipe at Strauss definitely indicates the author’s intent. All the same, this is another example of what Reader No. 1 and Hub Blog talked about the other day regarding the Globe finally opening up its pages
to exploring different viewpoints. The ‘Ideas’ editors may not like these conservative figures, but they’re taking them seriously by giving them respectful attention, i.e. they’re getting closer to putting their finger on the pulse of what’s happening on the right. ... The entire conspiracy theory surrounding followers of Strauss reminds me of the anti-Freemasonry paranoia of centuries past. The NYT, Le Monde, Christian fundamentalists and Lyndon H. LaRouche’s fascination with Strauss groupies tend to confirm this.
Jules Crittenden unloads his embed notebook
: Nothing really startling here
, though Jules’ description of his bus ride with David Bloom and Michael Kelly is spooky and laden with tragedy, particularly when Kelly taps Jules on the shoulder and starts a conversation. ... Jules once again defends U.S. troops
who fired on Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel.
‘They can vote up or down’
: I have absolutely no problem with people voting on whether to override Proposition 2 1/2
. It’s their choice. Such votes bluntly clarify whether voters really want it ‘both ways.’ They usually come down on the side of lower taxes.
Does Mitt have the edge?:
One can go back and forth on the issue: Is he winning or losing? Last week, Eileen McNamara and Seth Gitell split
on the issue. This week a Herald analysis piece
has Mitt landing more punches than he’s receiving. ... What’s emerging, methinks, is a sort of slugfest draw. The two sides seem to be exhausting themselves on an almost daily basis.
... Ah, what do ya know. The protest over Mitt giving the commencement address
at Harvard’s JFK School of Government was orchestrated by a professional activist
who, typically, tried to portray objections as being devoid of politics. Sort of like anti-war protesters claiming their movement is ‘broad based’ and spontaneously springing out of nowhere. (See second item.)
The Great Smoking debate
: Count to ten
, Hub Blog. Count to ten. ... Anger management. Anger management
‘The wake of the Columbus Park calamity’
: Monica Collins
just nails it: They’ve destroyed Columbus Park in the North End. Wiped it out. Flattened it. For what? Seems like Boston has totally lost its feel for public parks and space. Nothing intelligent seems to get done these days. ... Monica’s column reminded me of Brian McGrory’s ‘Follies in the park’
piece last week. McGrory: ‘Our government at work. And those within it wonder why we've become a state of cynics.’ ...
.... Oh, this is great. From the largest and most influential landlord on Newbury Street
: ''Could Newbury Street become Boston's Rodeo Drive? Yes. I'd love to see it that way. I think it could be a lot better than it is today.'' ...
A good idea but ...:
An interesting exchange going on between Dave Winer, blogger and Berkman fellow at Harvard, and journalist Jon Bonne about Winer's idea to have bloggers cover the New Hampshire primary
. Bonne thinks it's a great idea, but pooh-poohs the thought that bloggers alone can cover the entire election process as well as paid journalists. He's right, of course. I simply don't understand why some bloggers believe blogging will somehow supplant journalism. They won't. They can't. The two complement each other. Bonne explains -- without getting defensive or righteous, as so many journalists tend to do when discussing blogging.
P.S. -- Speaking of Harvard and blogging, Christopher Lydon
tries to tie together Ralph Waldo Emerson, consilience, genomics, and Internet and web communications. It's really an item about Chris' own thought process.
P.S.P.S -- At the very least, Skip Gates
is sending a signal to Lawrence Summers. ... Hope Gates sticks around. The transformation of Harvard's Department of Afro-American Studies to the Department of African and African-American Studies sounds logical, exciting and overdue.
Elizabeth Neuffer, RIP
: A terrible tragedy
. ... Though I didn’t know her personally, I felt like I knew her personally. Soon after arriving back from my own extensive African travels, I accidentally walked into a reading Neuffer was conducting at a Harvard Square book store for her book ''The Key to My Neighbor's House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda.'' I was in a hurry at the time, but quickly became spellbound as she read passages from the book. I missed half my class, but didn’t mind. ... A fast driver and a blown tire. A curse of Third World travel.
‘A hideous off-the-court ending’
: Glad Mr. Berg’s season ticket
has been revoked. ... Still on the bandwagon. And I’m going to stay there. I like this infuriating, lovable team. Note Antoine’s honesty about how and why he snapped. The guy keeps maturing as a leader. ... Glad Danny Ainge
is joining the Celts, but I still have misgivings, as outlined the other day
. This is the wrong reason for hiring someone: “Ownership wanted the person who headed their basketball operations to ‘bleed green,’ someone familiar and popular with Boston fans who could help increase local interest in the franchise and rekindle tradition.” ... I.e. The Green Bay Packers Syndrome in a nutshell.
A fairly decent Globe editorial on the budget
: Sure, they’re still pitching for taxes
, but they’re now starting to tie the issue to reforms and restructuring. They get the connection, finally. Wonder when they’ll address the cynical Let ‘Em Beg for Taxes issue. ... The Herald is starting to refer to progressives as ‘so-called liberals.’
... The Hack Progressive Alliance: It exists.
Buying acceptance and respect
: Didn’t like the Yawkey era of the Sox. Didn’t like the way the boys fought and schemed to take over the team from a little whacky and obviously vulnerable widow. Didn’t like the underhanded way the team was sold. And I don’t like the Yawkey Foundation
-- which is nothing more than an insiders’ club designed to win acceptance and respect from insiders. ... John Harrington is like Jane Swift: He just won’t go away.
‘So count me as skeptical’
: And count me as skeptical.
P.S. Didn’t post yesterday because I was feeling awful. Still under the weather a bit. Thanks for the emails and link tips. I’ll try getting to them in the next couple days if time and health permits.
‘They're like canaries in a mine’:
A fascinating -- but ultimately disappointing -- story in the New York Times
about Cambridge’s experiment in assigning kids to schools based on income, i.e. an indirect way to assign students according to race. Why is the story disappointing? Obviously: It pulls punches. ... The problem with this scheme, like other attempts at massive and complex social engineering, is that the approach so often backfires precisely because it’s so massive and complex in its social engineering. The almost inevitable blow-back result when it comes to education: middle-class and upper-middle-class parents yank enough of their children out of the system to make integration goals mathematically impossible to achieve, literally.
There’s a beautiful quote in the story -- ‘They’re like canaries in a mine’ -- about how middle-class and upper-middle-class parents simply won’t put up with substandard education -- and will harass school officials at every turn to ensure their children get the best possible education. It’s so true.
But what happens when the canaries fly away before entering the mine?
Read until the end of the story to find out the views of Noah and Omar’s parents. They’re quite illuminating -- and Cambridge’s statistic-obsessed school authorities should heed their warnings and advice about achievement, private-school options, the quality of teachers, neighborhood schools, pride and determination, and other subtle human factors and concerns that computers can’t measure. It’s not all about race and income.
P.S. Am I the only one who thinks state Rep. Cory Atkins
shouldn’t have apologized if she didn’t think what she said was wrong?
The Great Smoking Debate -- Continued
: I told a reader yesterday that I was throwing in the towel on the smoking-ban issue and wouldn’t write about it again -- unless provoked. Well, I’m not provoked -- but I do feel vindicated a bit. ... Notice in this Globe story
how the Statehouse debate is now focusing on economic issues and not health issues. The regulatory fait accompli has accomplished its goal. As I predicted it would in an earlier post
(see P.S.P.S. section). ... Still maintain that Boston’s smoking ban was the result of regulatory subterfuge. ... I’m kind of heartened by a few emails from anti-smoking readers who admitted that, well, yeah, OK, the ban was achieved by deliberately dodging meaningful debate and votes by elected officials. As one reader noted: “It was not the best way to go about achieving a desired result.” ... Exactly. ... But the battle is over. So I’ll end it with a point that I made yesterday
in reaction to Tom Keane’s column: “I have a distinct feeling Tom and others wouldn't be too happy if one day their 'minority views' on other issues were treated in the same fashion.” ...
The Ghost of Jane Swift
: She either lied last year -- or she’s lying now
. Take your pick. ... More evidence that the state’s pension system is a deeply flawed joke: “Forman, 44, will now be eligible to collect about $35,000 a year immediately, even though he is well shy of retirement age. He will continue to get the pension after he turns 55.”
‘His remarks were a bit intemperate’
: Finneran’s harsh name calling -- followed by contrite apology
-- is getting to be a tired act that he first used against Bob Kraft. I’d rather see him apologize for the hack orgy he unleashed in the House on Tuesday. ... Thankfully, the Tip Tunnel flap is fading away (or so I hope) and Mitt is digging in his heels on more substantive issues. Suggestion to Mitt: If and when you lose the vote on Bulger
, tabulate the results (assuming they actually hold a roll-call vote) and then move on. ... Proof positive that Mitt is fundamentally on the right track, despite recent Hub Blog outbursts about his often woeful political instincts: Harvard students
are protesting his giving a commencement speech at the JFK School of Government.
Still on that Celts bandwagon
: Thought about quietly climbing off the bandwagon after last night’s loss
, hoping nobody would notice. Then I read that Danny Ainge might be coming back
to run the Celts’ basketball operations, so I’ve decided to stay on the bandwagon, even though I’m not too keen on the Ainge move. Why? Because it’s a classic Green Bay Packers Syndrome move -- i.e., the quest to recapture the glory days by hiring past players and coaches from the glory days. The nostalgic tactic hobbled the Packers’ rebuilding efforts for years and years after Vince left the franchise -- and I’m worried the Celts might be engaging in the same thing. ... Who knows? Remember: K.C. Jones. But also remember: M.L Carr.
Readers respond to a good or bad Hub Blog day -- depending how you view it: PoliticaObscura
is picking me apart -- in a good-natured way -- on Bob Ryan, the smoking-ban issue and Tip’s Tunnel. He ends the item: “Fear not everyone, I'm sure Jay will return to his senses shortly, perhaps after a visit to a (now) clear-aired tavern.” ... Question: Is it that bad? I need a drink (and a smoke). I'm probably unraveling over the unravelings. ... Attention Tom Keane: Up for that pub crawl later today? Anyone else?
Wait, Reader BK is jumping to my defense. I think. Reader BK: “A Husky, HeavyWeight Hub Blog today! Now you know what the First Marine Expeditionary Force must have felt like when they took on heavy fire near Al Kut.” ...
... Reader No Nickname agrees and disagrees, throws out an interesting theory -- and reminds me from the outset I’ll never make it in corporate America. Well, at least I've been in a corporate boardroom and knew what PowerPoint was. From Reader No Nickname:
“What’s a BlackBerry
“Globe Editorial Page
– I feel like the Globe editorial page is stuck in the 1980s but agree that the rest of the paper has shown remarkable improvement under Baron’s editorship. The detached patrician tone of the budget-related editorials is just one manifestation. They seem to be against every conceivable reform, except for the Quinn Bill of course, and uniformly for any and all tax increases. And some of the writers—I cannot read another Derrick Jackson ‘Bring on the Nanny State’ piece or another James Carroll ‘The Dark, War-making Heart of America’ piece.
– If I understand the bill correctly, all the local cops who benefit for this bill have it written into their contracts and the state subsidizes these payments for the cities and towns. Therefore, if you cut out the subsidy (at least for the municipalities), then you are de facto cutting local aid (because the cities and towns will have to make up the difference out of their own funds). I’m not defending the program, I just think it’s a little more complex then the broadbrush treatment it gets.
“Assignment to Gitell’s Replacement
– Let me pitch a theory that needs more development – much of the political stasis in Massachusetts is due to two politicians – Finneran and Menino. Two wired, powerful men who, for different reasons, do not have a higher office to aspire to. This has entrenched them into their current jobs and retarded the development of the next generation of political leaders. Instead, we have to settle for supplicants (to Finneran and Menino) like Michael Flaherty and John Rogers, accidents (like Tim Cahill, who owes his election to his daughter’s sloganeering acumen), and the occasional outsider/white knight (Mitt Romney).
“The Globe and Sports
– The Ryan mess brings up some larger issues. I’d like to see the Globe ombudsman draw some lines between journalism and crossmarketing on the Globe’s sport pages. I’m a little uncomfortable with their habit of printing partial interviews with sports figures that are really teases for complete interviews on NESN’s (which the Globe indirectly owns through the NYTimes’ stake in the Sox) Globe-linked show. And I note that the Sports TV/Radio column devotes about equivalent inches to both WEEI (which gets top 5 ratings and has no Globe writers) and WWZN (which gets low ratings and features Globe writers). Not that the Globe can’t earn a living, but some ground rules would be nice.”
Is Mitt unraveling?:
As he fights a momentous budget battle and tries to clean up the undeniable pigpen of a mess on Beacon Hill, is the name of a stupid tunnel
something a governor should care deeply about? And questioning people’s devotion to ‘our fighting men and women’? All for a lousy tunnel name? Is Mitt unraveling? ... This is hurting Mitt’s credibility. No doubt. It’s silly -- and he’s coming across as silly. ... This is also the type of issue that really makes you wonder about Mitt’s political judgment and instincts. I’m still working on my latest Hub Blog theory, but it has something to do with Mitt’s testiness -- and his being a sore loser and not setting smart priorities in tough fights. ...
From a Herald editorial
on the Tip Tunnel flap: “Romney should honor (the new name) and move on. He'll need every ounce of his political capital for far more important battles.”
Yes, move on, Mitt. For God’s sake, move on. There are far more important battles to fight (see depressing, out-of-control, food-fight, hack items below) ....
Is the House raveling the unraveled?:
Thank God for Tom Finneran and the Massachusetts House. Unintentionally, they may be saving Mitt from himself by acting in typical Beacon Hill fashion
-- and reminding us with exquisite Animal House timing how important it is to confront these cynical men despite growing misgivings about the governor’s political instincts.
Yesterday, the House voted to: expand the powers of the Bechtel Turnpike Authority, not curtail, reform and/or eliminate it, as the governor proposed; decrease the governor’s powers to set capital spending limits; increase House members’ powers of ‘earmarking’ -- which means Eugene L. O'Flaherty gets $312,000 for the Soldier's Home in his hometown, Daniel E. Bosley gets $200,000 for the Berkshire Area Health Education Center, Marie St. Fleur gets $348,850 for a substance-abuse treatment facility in her district, etc. etc.
It’s bad enough that the Legislature has a strange-hold over the courts. Now it’s grabbing for more power by chipping away at executive-branch authority -- and giving itself more and more power to set social-services priorities by pure free-for-all patronage standards.
They are literally in reform-mocking mode. ...
The House’s unraveling of ABCC reform and cuts
: The Herald lead
says it all: ‘House leaders are trying to seize control of a favorite patronage haven.’
What’s the principle at stake? Heating oil for the elderly? Care for the mentally ill? Schoolbooks for the kiddies? Nope. The jobs of brothers, sons, pals and other cronies over at the ABCC. ... Not even Tim ‘Article 12’ Cahill wants this stinker of an agency. ...
They are literally in reform-mocking mode. ...
Unraveling MCAS reforms?:
Hey, whadda ya know! More unraveling of reforms!
... Love this line from Rep. Alice H. Peisch (D-Wellesley): “The only students that are not currently able to receive a diploma have significant special needs and I believe that school committees will act responsibly.”
Let’s repeat a portion of that sentence: “The only students that are not currently able to receive a diploma ...” ...Hmmmm. Think about it. ...
Let’s cut down that portion into a smaller portion: “The only students ...”
They’re gutting the entire graduation requirement of MCAS under the guise of ‘special needs.’
They are literally in reform-mocking mode. ...
UMass bond deal unraveling?:
One victory for Mitt in this wretched week of hackdom run wild: Mitt’s blocking the UMass money, power and bond grab. ... But I’m sure Tommy and the boys will find a way to curtail this gubernatorial power. ...
They are literally in reform-mocking mode. ...
P.S. From the Herald
: “This isn't the Massachusetts Senate, where once Bulger ruled by fiat. He has not been elected to anything, and he should not be the one to make a judgment call on how $1 billion in public money is spent. And that's what this battle over Bulger's office is really about.” ... Love the description of UMass trustees as ‘bobble-head dolls.’
Summary graf of the unraveling
: See what’s happening Mitt? You’re busy fighting silly battles over tunnel names, opening yourself up to justified mockery. Your critics -- the machine Dems, the hacks, the so-called ‘progressives,’ the Boston Globe editorial writers -- are loving this. They’re lapping it up. They’ll deliberately ignore what the hacks have done this week -- and concentrate purely on non-substantive issues like the stupid tunnel flap and the permanent campaign. They’ll point to these and other insignificant issues and go, ‘Ha, ha, ha!’ And you know what? You gave them this opening. ...
They are literally in open reform-mocking mode. ...
Reforming the Legislature?:
Of course, the only way to truly reform our one-party machine Legislature is to introduce a two-party system in Massachusetts -- but I don’t hold much hope for the GOP unseating Democrat Joseph Driscoll
in the Fifth Norfolk District. Not if his opponent belongs to a party running on Tip Tunnel issues.
The Globe's ‘left-wing anti-war screech’?:
A quick time-out to defend a reform-mocking-mode nemesis, to wit: The Boston Globe. Andrew Sullivan
, taking shots at Howell Raines and the NYT’s drop in circulation, takes a swipe at the NYT-owned Boston Globe, which Andrew describes as having “seen its previously pious liberal bias become a left-wing anti-war screech.” ...
Whoa, Andrew. Know you have a vacation home in Provincetown and read the Globe regularly these days. But you obviously haven't been reading the Globe closely for decades. The fact is the Globe, admirably, has been moving in the exact opposite direction in recent years, in my and other observers’ humble opinions. ... The Globe’s pre-war editorials were far tougher and clear-headed about Iraq than those of its parent newspaper. By God, the Globe even gleefully engaged in some French bashing. ... The Globe also opened up its op-ed pages to pro-war writers such as Scot Lehigh and Tom Oliphant, perhaps the most articulate proponent of taking on Saddam. ... The Globe’s actual war coverage was outstanding. In the first 24 hours of the war, the Globe was, as far as I could tell, the only paper that generally grasped the Pentagon’s seemingly chaotic but revolutionary new approach toward battlefield tactics. I didn’t catch a whiff of Apple-like-quagmire bias in the paper’s war coverage -- not from its analysts, not from its embed reporters, not from its editors coordinating all the material. ... The Globe’s editorials were indeed eerily silent during the war, perhaps because events didn’t quite mesh with their world views and because, well, events were confusing. For whatever reason, they didn’t engage in Not Enough Troops or Quagmire hysteria -- unlike a lot of other armchair jackasses, left and right, who seemed compelled to voice fatuous opinions on everything, among them yours truly. ...
One other point: Reader No. 1 and Hub Blog were talking just yesterday about how the Globe has recently been opening up its pages to different viewpoints -- especially in its new ‘Ideas’ section. The paper still has a liberal bias, but it’s a more moderate liberal bias -- and not one out to quash dissenting views. ... A personal note: Glad the Globe's editorials haven't moved too far to the sane center. Life just wouldn't be the same without its embarrassing, pro-status quo, schizoid, Hack Progressive Alliance budget editorials. Another personal note: Its news-pages coverage of the budget fight has been excellent and fair.
Now back to Globe bashing. ...
The Globe smacks down Ryan
: Sorry, couldn’t resist. But at least I immediately acknowledge the pun -- and retract it. ... Sadly, Bob Ryan deserves what he got
. Bob Lobel gave him a number of chances to retract and distance himself from his own rhetorical folly. He didn’t. So he paid the price. ... A lot of readers emailed me yesterday, urging Hub Blog to get on the issue. Instead, I pointed them in Dan Kennedy’s
direction. Dan nailed it best: “It wouldn't surprise me if the Globe cracks down on its moonlighting scribes, who are paid to be outrageous when they're on the air.” ... Bingo. The fact is these TV sports shows are starting to resemble, literally, game shows, with sports writers acting like ham contestants. Ryan himself regularly appears on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters” and “Around the Horn,” described in one story as a “highly opinionated, rapid-fire” show. ... Hope this blows over. Bob’s a great writer. ... Here’s the Herald story
‘Nevertheless, these are minority views’
: Tom Keane
does a pub crawl probably for the first time in months, if not years, and, not surprisingly, finds lots of happy people. ... He obviously wasn’t talking to the same bartenders and waitresses I’ve talked to regularly at the Sevens regarding the smoking ban. FYI: The Sevens bartendress did report they were crowded on Monday. But Tom should have gone over to the Hill Tavern, where I was. Alone. The only customer in the bar. ... Hey, Tom: Let’s do a pub crawl together. Seriously. We’ll have a good time. You can also ask your slanted questions to employees. I can ask my slanted questions. Bet we’ll come up with more ambivalent answers than either of us care to admit. You can also clue me in on what the next, inevitable step is in the non-democratic crusade. ...
And, yes, despite the 'Great Smoking Debate' letter below from a reader and my somewhat incoherent rambling response, I still insist the smoking ban was, in fact, achieved through regulatory subterfuge. No votes were taken by elected officials. No meaningful debate was allowed before elected officials who had ultimate power over the issue and who would have been held directly responsible by voters for their decisions. Yes, legally and technically, the health board acted within its legal authority. But, yes, the system was rigged, as we all know it, to skirt democratic debate and votes by elected officials. There was no ‘emergency’ requiring a SARS like response by the health board. It waited for years to act on the issue -- for political reasons. It finally acted the way it did -- for political reasons. By any standard, that’s regulatory subterfuge. Repeat: No vote was taken by elected officials. ... I have a distinct feeling Tom and others wouldn't be too happy if one day their 'minority views' on other issues were treated in the same fashion.