‘Frankly, I think this is a ridiculous transaction’:
The Bechtel Turnpike Authority
strikes again ... They sold portions of the Pike. Repeat: They sold portions of the Pike. Can someone at the BTA rationally answer this simple question: Why? ... One can’t resist a story with this headline: ‘Partial Pike patrol peeves Pudunk pols.’
‘Won here in the bluest of blue states’:
What’s Bill Weld
angling for now? ... Kind of wish he put his theory into practice at the grass-roots level in Massachusetts.
My summer reading list is partially set:
My father has read David Halberstam’s ''The Teammates''
and he loved it. My mother gets the book next. Then moi. ... Think I’ll read “Summer of ‘49” while waiting in line. ... The Pesky/Hillenbrand controversy explained: “How do you quit being Johnny Pesky?''
... One other summer reading suggestion (with a local angle): Sabin Willett’s ‘The Deal.’ Halfway through it. Not bad. Not bad at all.
‘Let's see if I have this right ...’ Part II
: Steve Bailey threw down the gauntlet earlier today (scroll down for earlier post) when he wrote: “What many whisper but no one will quite say out loud is that Hayward Place may well have been the mayor's way of saying thank you to Millennium's Tony Pangaro.” ...
... If I may humbly say so, Hub Blog did call it last October when I wrote about the ‘Supplemental second stage submission requirements’
attached by the BRA to the Hayward project: “This administration has a chance to OK a project that could lead to construction of up to 450-500 new housing units (at the development site itself and through linkage money), and what’s it doing? It’s greasing the deal for Millennium Partners Boston, which doesn’t want an apartment-building competitor across the street from its new Millennium Towers.” ...
... Here’s what I also wrote about it in November
and again in January
when this stinko deal was finally approved. Besides patting myself on the back for my superb ahead-of-the-curve analysis of this stinko deal, the Hayward controversy still bugs me. Last fall, this mayor put the city, activists, real estate developers, the council etc. through the hit-the-panic-button wringer over rent control (which he suddenly started pushing when accused of not doing enough on housing) -- all the while pulling these shenanigans. Glad Bailey is getting on the issue. The mayor has been a real weasel on this deal.
-- A reader wrote in saying that, technically, I didn't make the connection between Menino's 'thank you' motive and Millennium. My response: Well, I think it's clearly implied
. But I concede the point.
Note to Hub Blog Readers, Part II
: OK, they finally responded to my urgent, somewhat obnoxious calls for a response. Here it is:
"Thanks for writing in, and I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. We're aware of BlogSpot's slowness and are working on it, but unfortunately it's not a simple problem. Hopefully within the next few weeks it'll clear up as we re-architect BlogSpot, but it's a slow process. I wish I had better news for you... :( "
A few weeks? Well, hang in there, blog readers and fellow bloggspotters. ... I do appreciate the response, tardy or not. Remember: There ARE regular post below all the blogger-insider junk. Just scroll on down.
Note to Hub Blog readers:
Sorry for the recent problems accessing this site, to wit: it’s been slow. Very slow. No explanations. I’ve sent another message to Blogger -- and once again have received no response, even though I’m a paying Blogger Pro customer. I’m working on possible alternatives. Reader No. 1 suggests that you hit the ‘refresh’ button toward the top (if you're using Explorer, two clicks to the right of the back-forward buttons) if the site comes partially up but gets stuck halfway through the process. Otherwise, please hang in there while I try to fix the problem. Thanks. ... Now back to your regularly scheduled Hub Blog programming posts ...
-- I just tried the 'refresh' suggestion and it didn't work so well on two of three occasions. I'm very disappointed in Blogger and the non-service I've been getting. (Hint, hint, hint to Pyra. ... Please respond, Pyra. Or should I say 'Google'?)
-- Same thing appears to be happening over at Cosmo's site
‘The repeal was gaveled through on a voice vote...’:
Three votes. Three controversies. Three instances of legislators holding up their collective middle-finger to the public. ... Here goes:
Vote No. 1: A gaveled-through voice vote to repeal the voter-approved Clean Elections Law. ... Here’s the Globe story
and Herald story
Vote No. 2: Another gaveled-through voice vote to impose a statewide smoking ban. ... Here’s the Globe story
and the Herald story
Vote No. 3: Absentee lawmakers on the seat belt vote. ... Here’s Brian McGrory’s
conclusion on Vote No. 3, a conclusion that could just as easily apply to Votes No. 1 and 2: “But if you get the sense that there's a haphazard nature to the way business is done on Beacon Hill, you're absolutely right. Sometimes they swill beer during key votes. Sometimes they pass bills in the dark of the
night. And sometimes they don't bother showing up at all.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Despite some criticism, Hub Blog has been waging a one-blogger crusade
against the underhanded way the smoking ban was imposed in Boston by an unelected board -- and the way the actions of unelected boards in general have been used to create ‘momentum’ for a fait accompli vote by the full legislature. Now we don’t even get an open debate and vote on the issue in the legislature. Just another ram-it-down-their-throats maneuver. ... I’m eagerly waiting for the Globe and others to howl about the underhanded way the Clean Elections Law was repealed without open debate and a roll-call vote. Maybe they’ll make a connection to the ram-it-down-their-throats way the smoking ban has been systematically handled. Doubt it. ...
Attention Clean Elections Law supporters: Doesn’t it suck being on the losing end of one these ‘technically’ legal antics? As for all others: One day your views on an important issue will be handled in the same contemptuous way. And think of this when it happens: You bloody deserve it for having not spoken up when it happened to others. ...
As for the seat belt law, well, as I said yesterday
, at least they’re holding open debates and votes on the issue.
Besides Rupert, keep an eye on the NYT and Tribune Co
.: Hub Blog loves how media moguls say, oh, well, er, uhm, they really won’t do much once/if the cross-ownership ban
is lifted -- while they wage a full-court press to have it lifted. .... The more I read about lifting the ban, the more doubts I have about it for monopolistic reasons. Glaringly obvious point: These guys aren’t concerned about ‘choice’ or ‘quality.' It’s more about their ‘options,' i.e. expanding their power and profits. The latter I don't mind. The former is what I'm worried about. ... Lots of attention has been heaped on the possibility of Rupert repurchasing the Herald. Actually, I wouldn’t mind if he did. Nothing against Pat Purcell. He’s been a great local owner. But the Rupe has deep pockets -- and it will probably ensure the Herald’s survival well into the future. So that's a point in favor of changing the rule. ... But also keep an eye on the NYT’s local chess moves. And, as the last sentence in the Globe story indicates, keep an eye on the Chicago-based Tribune Co., owner of Channel 56 and other TV stations and newspapers across the nation (LA Times, Hartford Courant, Newsday etc.) ... Here’s the Christian Science Monitor’s
overview piece on the issue. ...
‘Safire is full of hot air ...’
: Reader No. 1 writes in about an earlier Hub Blog item
on the cross-ownership issue:
“A couple of points on your media-monopoly blog of Wednesday:
“Safire is full of hot air. Please define ‘real choice’ as he uses it. When hearing complaints about cross-ownership and alleged media concentration I often suspect the complainants are really unhappy about change. ‘Real choice’ when I grew up meant 3 channels, no PBS, and Bruins games on UHF. I am a DirecTV subscriber and have basic cable. I haven't totaled the numbers up lately but I estimate that I have:
“Thirty channels that show theatrical movies, including popular films on HBO, art films on IFC/Sundance, old movies on various STARZ outlets, etc.; 5 different national news channels; 2 CSPAN channels that replay forums on public policy, Congressional speeches, etc., two channels devoted to home renovation and improvement; a food channel; I don't know how many sports channels, but I can watch European soccer, college baseball, and fishing in addition to the usual major league sports; roughly 2 dozen pay-per-view movie channels; 30 different niche-programmed digital MUSIC channels; 10 or so channels that show cartoons and other children's programming; a half dozen channels that show science, history, or other education programs, not including PBS... Etc. I suspect most people would call this ‘Real Choice.’
“What about ‘Community Identity,’ Safire's other main point? Well... I have a cable channel that plays back school committee meetings. And I can still watch various local ‘public interest’ programs on local broadcast affiliates on Sundays, some of which are interesting. There is MORE local interest electronically today then there was growing up.
“Newspapers are admittedly a mixed bag. Speaking locally, the Community Newspapers vary from good to horrible. Individual cases (like my hometown) can be grating. But on the whole, there's not a whole lot of difference... and I'll argue that individual cases have a lot to do with what the local community expects from their newspapers.
“So what's the REAL problem?”
Hub Blog’s response
: All powerful arguments, but what do they have to do with the cross-ownership issue? After all, these ‘choices’ were achieved with
the cross-ownership law in place. It was the emergence of cable and satellite that changed everything, not FCC rule changes. ... But where there have been FCC changes -- such as repealing the limit on the number of broadcast outlets companies can own -- the results have been largely disappointing. Radio has become more homogenized and boring. Local TV stations have become more homogenized and boring. The ‘choices’ have dwindled after monopolistic intrusions. ... Even newspapers have become more homogenized and boring as larger companies have moved into local markets. ... Believe it or not, I still remain ambivalent about the issue for the same reason I mentioned yesterday: I think the glory days of broadcast networks have passed. I'd add this: Some companies, like the Tribune Co., have grandfathered rights to own TV stations in various markets, while other newspaper companies don't. Not exactly a level playing field. ... Nothing wrong with being ambivalent!
‘Let's see if I have this right ...’:
Finally, someone is going after the Menino administration for its rejection of the Hayward Place apartment-complex plan in favor of yet more office space, while it pushes for apartments just down the block at Kensington Place. Steve Bailey
asks: “We're dying for housing and the city takes its (Hayward) parcel and gives it to a developer who wants to build more offices in a market glutted with office space?” ...
But here’s the crux of the matter: “What many whisper but no one will quite say out loud is that Hayward Place may well have been the mayor's way of saying thank you to Millennium's Tony Pangaro.” ... Ding, ding, ding!
P.S. -- Hub Blog has been harping on this general issue for a while now. Can’t get to my archives for the same reasons I explained above about the incredible slowness of Blogger these days. I’ll try to upload past links later.
‘This trade is about winning the World Series’
: I love this trade
, assuming Pedro bounces back and they use Kim as a reliever. ... Hillenbrand’s loss hurts a bit, but the play of Bill Mueller and the call up of Freddy Sanchez
should offset the loss. ...
It’s not about ‘relationship’ but ugly anti-Americanism:
Read the lead on this CSM story
. It’s one of the uglier accounts of anti-Americanism I’ve ever read in a while. ... Anti-Americanism hasn’t just become a new ideology, it’s now bordering on a form of racism. ... Please: No more op-ed lectures about how we Americans, through our admittedly childish ‘freedom fries’ antics, brought this upon ourselves and how we can learn from the pseudo-sophisticated French. Anti-Americanism was rampant in France long before George Bush took office. ... Look at these numbers: “French polls show just 6 percent admire the US; 82 percent think the world is a more dangerous place than before the Iraq war, while 87 percent think that the US is trigger-happy.” ... But what do you expect from a country where the vast majority of media outlets are either owned by the government and/or openly allied (and corruptly so) with its major political parties? ... The cross-ownerhip change: Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea.
'The bishops have a right and a duty to ...’:
Oh, the bishops suddenly discover the ‘right and duty’
to act on a sexual relationship issue. ... I can no longer look at these guys -- with their Mr. Wizard robes and Little Bo Peep shepherd staffs -- without thinking, “And these guys are trying to lecture to us about ‘normal’ behavior?”
The healthy debate on seat belts ... :
At least elected officials are openly debating and voting
on the issue -- and not leaving it to an unelected health board to impose it. ... Hub Blog’s stance on the seat-belt law? Hey, if elected officials openly debate and vote on it -- and not leave it to an unelected health board to impose it -- so be it. ... Suggestion: Maybe the legislature can establish a new public safety board (run primarily by cops) to impose these types of thorny laws and let elected lawmakers off the electoral hook. ... Some proponent of the proposed seat-belt law (didn’t catch his name) was yapping away last night on ‘Greater Boston’ about the ‘greater good’ and the ‘health’ angle and the ‘medical costs’ imposed on the rest of the seat-belt-wearing society and ... We've seen this song and dance before. But never mind
. ... FYI: I wear seat belts. Don’t understand what the big deal is about wearing them. Don’t equate the issue directly with freedom, though I’m wary of profiling and expanding powers of cops. ... But at least elected officials are openly debating and voting on the issue.
‘Found widespread worry about the cost of ...’, Part II: To repeat
: Next time someone bleats on about how we’re ‘undertaxed’ as a percentage of income, point them to this article
. ... The Herald gets it.
‘How could I have overlooked ...?’
: Quebec Reader sends in this link to a Christian Science Monitor article
on Montreal’s 19th annual African and Caribbean Film Festival and other tidbits from the city.
Says story author Stacy Teicher: “How could I have overlooked the fact that the second-largest Francophone city in the world is within driving distance of Boston?”
Says Quebec Reader: “It's so true how we Bostonians forget that there is a real jewel of a city, Montreal, within driving distance. Also, you might be interested in the French immersion programs offered by the Penobscot School. Contact info. at the end of the article.”
Says Hub Blog: How do I get a job like Teicher’s? ... OK, I’ve been French bashing a bit, but I won’t bash: A.) Paris B.) French cuisine and C.) Montreal. ... The drive to Montreal is one of the easiest, prettiest drives around (the I-93 drive, not I-89). Indeed, Hub Blog has a tentative agreement to swap apartments this summer with a French-Canadian friend -- he gets my Boston apartment for a week, I get his Montreal apartment the same week. He thinks he’s stealing me blind. Dumb French.
‘Found widespread worry about the cost of ...’:
Next time someone bleats on about how we’re ‘undertaxed’ as a percentage of income, point them to this article.
‘The loony left has decided to drag out its favorite bogeyman ...’:
To its credit, the Herald
comes out swinging in support of Rupert Murdoch and changing the FCC’s cross-ownership rule. As an added bonus, it also rehashes the Fritz Hollings/Ted Kennedy caper of the late ‘80s, when they tried to force Rupert to either sell the Herald or Channel 25. ... But suggesting that most opposition to cross-ownership changes comes from members of the ‘loony left’? Last time I checked, William Safire
isn’t a member of the loony left. ... Moi? I’m openly, proudly, unabashedly ambivalent about the issue. I see more media concentration coming with loosening of the cross-ownership rule. I also see an end to broadcast networks as we now know them. The future is already here in term of cable, satellite, digitial, Internet etc. Some have already missed the boat on this. See next item. ...
-- Dan Kennedy
has more on the Herald editorial, including speculation the Rupe may end up rebuying the Herald.
-- Another non-Loony Lefty, in this case John Farrell
, isn't too wild about changing the cross-ownership rule. John quotes from Safire:
"Why do we have more channels but fewer real choices today? Because the ownership of our means of communication is shrinking. Moguls glory in amalgamation, but more individuals than they realize resent the loss of local control and community identity."
FYI: I initially attributed the above quote to John. It's from Safire -- and I've just fixed it, in case you're wondering.
‘GBH goes commercial:
Isn’t PBS (or ‘GBH) already running syndicated programs, such as ‘This Old House,’ on for-profit channels? So what’s the big deal here?
... Though I support its non-profit/non-ratings-driven mission, Hub Blog believes PBS blew it when it failed to seize commercial cable opportunities in the past. The Discovery, TLC, History Channel etc. are stealing PBS’s concepts left and right. PBS can and should be more market savvy in spinning off its products -- and plowing money back into its non-profit core mission. Sort of the way MIT deftly balances its two commerical and non-profit interests. ... The non-profit BBC is now jumping into cable network programming. Again: What’s the big deal here?
Boston: The rudest city in the world?: Scot Lehigh
tackles an issue dear to Hub Blog’s heart: Bostonians’ rudeness. I’ve written a lot about this subject in the past, though not necessarily in detail for Hub Blog. ... Anyway, it’s a fact: We’re rude, cranky, nasty, impossible for outsiders to get to know until they undergo a mysterious loyalty test that only we New Englanders know how to administer. ... I firmly believe that we have two choices: 1.) Launch a politeness campaign in Boston, sort of what they did in NYC and Paris; 2.) Laugh at ourselves. I prefer the latter, since the former is nearly impossible. The latter is also why Boston has produced so many national comedians. I still think NBC’s Saturday Night Live should move to Boston. The gag writers would have more local source material. ... As for Scot's concern about the upcoming Democratic Convention in Boston, Dem leaders don’t have a clue what they’ve gotten themselves into. We’re going to make rude mincemeat of delegates and the media hordes before we’re through with them. As I wrote last fall
after the big Dem announcement:
“Ah, the Hub, the city of baffling contradictions that the national press can't and won't grasp when they thunder into town two years hence, armed with their murderous clichés and searching for the freebie parties and Sox tickets. Mayor Menino will mumble to them about the 'new' Boston while Jim Kelly picks their pockets like a good Afghan guide.” ...
Oh, here’s a classic Boston story
-- if you think about it in the context Lehigh and I just outlined. Read until the last graf. A snide insult that mixes probable fact with lovable cynicism.
The Sox, Joan Vennochi’s column and the ‘Ideas’ section etc.:
Reader No. 1 returns after a long hiatus. From Reader No. 1:
“Wade and the Sox
: I won't refer to "Reader #1" in the 3rd person, too Wade Boggsian. And as a telling anecdote about official scorers and teamwork makes clear (in one of Monday's many Globe minor sidestories), he deserves a place in the hall of fame for self-absorption.
“Incidentally, no matter what happens tonight or tomorrow, Roger's recent would-be-300th is a milestone game in Boston baseball history (as Dennis and Callahan suggested on WEEI ), or as team architect Theo said tonight on the pregame show, 'one to break down on film for the entire organization' to watch and learn from. Just when you feared the worst -- example, 6th inning, two on, two out, two strikes -- Todd Walker lines a single JUST IN FRONT of the non-sliding Raul Mondesi, scoring two and puncturing Clemens' balloon for good that day... a fabulous at-bat, great example of the discipline and toughness of this year's team. It should be a great summer.
“The Globe’s Ideas section
-- Not to wax Boggsian again, but could the Globe Ideas section be taking a cue from Hubblog in their continuing, and mostly very good, series on obscure but important contemporary political intellectuals? The Victor Davis Hanson article
, unlike prior ones on Strauss and Wohlstetter, did not end with a clumsy backhand swipe offered by someone other than the subject. ... I also note that the Globe let the Sunday letters section lead with a down-the-line articulate defense of Bush tax policy before turning it over to the usual denunciations. Kudos, Marty, kudos -- maybe that NY Times seat is closer than we all think. And kudos to Hubblog and all bloggers for always crediting their stringers!
“Joan’s column and MCAS
-- Hubblog makes a couple of reasonable points
about MCAS not often heard, in particular, that compromise might have made for a different outcome. ... The problem is that many MCAS opponents are not interested in compromise because they do not acknowledge the validity of testing for skills, or that students should possess a core body of knowledge. There are many and often conflicting reasons for these beliefs, some obvious and some not. Boggsian Reader No. 1 has turned the Vennochi column over to his #1 for further comment. More later...”
Hitch on Sid, Nye on empire:
Reader BK has been sending in some excellent links lately, including Christopher Hitchen’s review
in the Boston-based Atlantic Monthly of Sidney Blumenthal’s new book on the Clinton years. The other is a piece by Harvard’s Joseph Nye
, who questions the concept of America as an ‘empire’ -- and whether we’d support an empire even if we acknowledged its alleged existence. ...
As for Hitchens, he’s so on target in describing modern American politics: “Obviously, much of this fatuous (political) rhetoric arises from the need to disagree more and more about less and less, to maintain the mills of fundraising in a churning condition, and to keep the dwindling groups of genuine loyalists and activists in a state of excited pseudo-commitment. But much of the dankness and dinginess is owed to the influence exerted by professional political operators, those who have a careerist interest in ‘the process’ as it is.”
As for Nye, he notes: “Some say the United States is already an empire and it is just a matter of recognizing reality. It's a mistake, however, to confuse the politics of primacy with those of empire.” ... As an aside, I’m so sick of hearing extreme leftists and rightists arguing over ‘empire.’ For decades, the bankrupt left has been trying to portray America as an evil capitalist empire (‘capitalist imperialists’ etc.). Now their label appears to have stuck, thought it’s as inaccurate a stretch today as it was during the Cold War. ... For the past decade now, the neoconservative right -- backed by some nostalgic British intellectuals pining for a new English-speaking empire -- have been pushing the bankrupt notion of imperialism in general -- this time in the name of democracy. Now their label appears to have stuck. ... The rest of us? Just leave us alone.
‘Such impossible questions ...’, Part II
notes that James Carroll “seems to be feeling a bit depressed” and has diagnosed the problem: SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. ... Solomonia: “The important thing to know is that there is no need to go on feeling the way you are, dragging both yourself and those around you down further and further. Help is available!”
‘Such impossible questions go a long way toward explaining ...’
: James Carroll
is back to asking questions. Lots of questions. Twenty-two of them before he takes a breather and issues these lines: “Such impossible questions go a long way toward explaining the American mood. We cannot answer them, so we do not ask them, and the emotional weather is lousy.” ... A metaphor for impossible questions? ...
... Believe it or not, James didn’t outdo himself on this one. The column he wrote in April
had far more questions -- garnering blogwide notoriety
and raising questions about possible punctuation shortages in Boston.
P.S. -- I love the way that last metaphorical clause -- “and the emotional weather is lousy” -- just plunks its way into the thought process. ... Sort of like: “We cannot answer them, so we do not ask them, and my pepperoni pizza is late.” ...
‘But the mother knows. ...’:
Joan ‘Snow Day’ Vennochi has found another reason to bash MCAS: Nine-year-olds can get bummed out.
... Actually, she make an excellent point: “In this particular case, these particular MCAS results show something about testing skills but nothing about reading skills.” Why do I think she makes an excellent point? Because I used to be the Worst Test Taker in history. I’d choke every time. True or false questions. Multiple choice. Essays. Neon lights pointing to the correct answer. You name it, I’d choke. ... How did I get by? Here’s a hint: Amazing peripheral vision. ...
... My main problem with MCAS is not the existence of tests, but the existence of too many tests. Die-hard proponents of MCAS seem to be a little too test happy. Cut back the number of tests to, say, three or four in the run up to the big one in the 18th year -- enough to gauge where children are headed and to avert disaster at the end. ... I firmly believe the worst aspects of MCAS would have been changed by now had it not been for the snobby fanaticism of MCAS opponents. The MCAS critics have never sought smart compromise -- just total annihilation in the courts
or through legislative subterfuge
. Critics haven’t acknowledged the undeniable benefits of MCAS, so why should others listen to their undeniable concerns about specific aspects of MCAS? ...
Cory Atkins, retract that apology
: I wonder if Cory Atkins noticed this ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ editorial
in the Globe. I’m sure she did. And I’m sure her head is spinning. ... Still can’t believe she broke down and cried on the House floor. Her ultimate progressive nightmare: being seen as out of step with dogma.
FYI: Here’s a non-dogmatic Eileen McNamara column
that should make more than a few people blush about the way they voted in the 1998 gubernatorial race. After the dreadful Cellucci-Swift years, it should be now abundantly clear that it was Scott Harshbarger who had the right enemies and would have made a bigger difference. ... The Cellucci-Swift administration: Four pointless years.
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.