Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drugs -- ahhhhhh!:
One reads this Tom Oliphant
piece and you can’t help but wonder, ‘How are we ever going to make Medicare work?’ ... Then you read this piece about Mitt’s plan to offer discount prescription drugs
and you can’t help but think, ‘How are we ever going to make Medicaid work?’ ... Then you read this Herald editorial
about attempts to impose price controls on prescription drugs and you can’t help but think, ‘Will we ever have a system that respects the free market?’ ... Hub Blog is a big, big believer in universal health care. The patch-work system we have now isn’t working. But it’s got to be a system that minimizes interference by politicians, maximizes private choice and flexibility -- sort of a cross between mandatory auto insurance (without the anti-competitive rate setting) and the health-insurance program for federal workers. The ‘single-payer’ system simply won’t work. It’s already being tried in two existing single-payer programs -- Medicare and Medicaid -- and look how dysfunctional they are. ...
‘In Finneran’s House ...’:
So many great ideas from Representative Harriett L. Stanley and others -- and they’re routinely ignored, dismissed, derided etc. For what? Joan Vennochi explains
in one of the better behind-the-scenes columns I’ve read in a while about power and politics. From Joan: “But when was the last time anyone elected to serve on Beacon Hill used the power derived from the people to do something other than further political ambition, enhance personal convenience, or carry out random acts of petty revenge?” ...
Still can’t believe Mitt was actually thinking of signing this bill
. State Rep. Paul Demakis: ''If this passes, you might as well put a padlock on the door and say, `Let Tom Finneran do whatever he wants.' ... We will be sliding very fast down a slippery slope that will not be in the interests of Massachusetts.''
... Finneran expects goose-stepping compliance. Now the so-called ‘progressives’ in the Dem party
are demanding goose-stepping compliance. Somehow I don’t think Harriett Stanley and other independent thinkers would fare any better under a regime run by these folks. ... Again: The ‘report card’ is not so much about Finneran’s exercise of power, but for what causes he exercises that power. Bottom line: The ‘progressives’ want Finneran’s power -- and the ‘report card’ makes it abundantly clear they’re willing to punish and humiliate in order to force others into lock-step order. ...
Am I alone in thinking we’re witnessing a mini-meltdown of the Democratic Party in Massachusetts? ... The booing of Tom Reilly. The never-ending power grabs by Tommy et gang. The ideological litmus tests being foisted on those who dare to think differently. ...
‘The threat from Iran ...’:
This is one of those stories
we should be paying more attention to -- but we’re not. Hub Blog provides this as a public service, nobly and haughtily intended to wake people from their Reality-TV slumber. ...
There. I did it. Hub Blog achieved a B---- Free Zone today. Failed yesterday. As you can see from my overly long B---- rants from last night.
‘Greater Boston’ tackles Billy and ‘jive’ talk:
OK, the planned imposition of a Billy Free Zone
has been suspended for another day. ... Tom Reilly was on Emily Rooney’s ‘Greater Boston’
tonight, verifying Reader No. 1’s assertion, to a degree, that Reilly thinks and says the right things, but he still painfully holds punches against his former ally and mentor. ... So why does Mitt get worse shit for pulling political punches while accused of throwing political punches? Clearly, Mitt is throwing political punches. And so is Tom. And so is Billy. And so is the Democratic Party. And so is the Republican Party etc. ... Anyway, Emily was on fire, stating what both Mitt and Reilly should be stating more clearly: ‘But we knew this when he (Billy) was given the post’ at UMass. As in: Billy was a highly suspect candidate when he was appointed UMass president and should have been a suspect candidate from the beginning. But we all dug our heads in the sand, like the proverbial Massachusetts political ostriches that we all know and love. ... Of those who ‘knew this’ was yours truly, who once wrote (many moons ago) that the Billy appointment turned out to be a good thing. Can’t find the embarrassing laudatory op-ed, but it exists somewhere. I know. I wrote it. Yes, I once praised Billy. I confess! I was suckered in! ... But that was before the grand jury testimony and reading ‘Black Mass.' ...
The debate between the Rev. Eugene Rivers and John Barros on Emily’s ‘Greater Boston’ over the Cape Verdean community’s crime problem was captivating. Rivers should have cleaned the clock of the PC Barros, but got his clock cleaned because he tried to have it both ways. It was a massacre -- and it proved that trying to out-nuance an ideologue is a futile cause. Why? Ideologues have no nuances. Game, set, match point. ... Reverend: Stick to your guns, so to speak. ... Rivers didn’t quite pull a Cory Atkins
, but it was as close as you can get. He didn’t break down and cry, but he offered an Atkins-like insincere ‘apology.’ ... Emily: The word ‘jive’ dates you -- and me. Don’t ever use it again. ...
... Hub Blog hates ‘Auction Week’ on ‘GBH, but it does lead to packing a big punch when ‘Greater Boston’ tries to cram in all of last week’s news into one night.
P.S. -- A totally out-of-the-blue suggestion for Congressional investigators: Now that the word ‘moral’ seems to be misused/abused/dismissed etc., can someone ask Billy, ‘Mr. President, there is strong evidence a woman was tortured, murdered and probably dismembered in a basement near your house, allegedly by your brother -- and we were wondering whether you still hold a loyalty toward ... ’ ... Let Bulger explain the ‘public good’ from there ... Repeat question: In your heart, how many people do you think Whitey has killed since he went on the lam? Be honest: Is it: 0 or 1-10? or 10-20 etc.? ... Hey, dont’ forget the ‘allegedly’ ... Gotta be fair!
‘Backs Bulger ...’:
Granted, this is an AP story
. It’s not a Boston Globe story. But notice the deferential treatment -- and the accepting-the-spin and avoiding-the-lead -- on the story's lead. Hope this was written by an intern on deadline. Here goes:
“UMass-Boston will receive a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
“Senator Edward Kennedy announced the grant this morning, saying it will help establish a center to train workers for jobs in high-tech industries.
“Kennedy also used the event as an opportunity to to throw his support behind embattled UMass president William Bulger. ...”
Oh, just the biggest political story in the state -- buried in the third graf. ... At least the headline didn't quite pull a three-graf punch. ... Kennedy: Lots of sentimental attachment to the guy, but on this, well, I guess you can say he’s not a ‘traitor’ and he’s being a ‘loyalist’. ... Scott Harshbarger. Tom Reilly. Disposable, both. ... The Hack Progressive Alliance: It exists. ...
‘At some point, they must be held accountable ...’:
The Christian Science Monitor
has a great editorial dealing with the Weapons of Mass Destruction issue. Reasoned and nuanced, it warns about rushing to judgment, politicizing the issue -- but at the same time not dismissing concerns about the primary pre-war justification for going after Saddam. The CSM breaks down the brouhaha:
“These criticisms reflect some or all of these four points: (1) an impatience with the ongoing search; (2) a desire by many politicians to justify an opposition to the war to their followers; (3) a hope that the issue can be a winner in the next election; (4) a serious debate over whether any future war to preempt a perceived threat needs a higher standard of intelligence.”
Count me among categories (1) (partially so -- I still counsel patience) and (4), definitely not (2) and (3).
The CSM continues:
“But in selling the war to the public, Bush and Blair chose to highlight the risk of unconventional weapons in Iraq, perhaps to play to post-Sept. 11 fears. At some point, they must be held accountable for that justification.”
And that’s all I want: an accounting. As I've argued
, the credibility of our government -- and intelligence services -- is at stake. The need to trust our government and intelligence services is always critical, but especially in dangerous times like these. ... I liked Dan Kennedy’s
take on the issue last week: reasoned and nuanced, coming at it from a slightly different angle. ... Andrew Sullivan
(scroll down a bit) makes good points this morning, but notice how he denounces and lumps together all critics into one category: “The carpers and critics are just revealing their exasperation at being humiliated and defeated - morally, intellectually and politically.” ... FYI: I was pro-war and remain so -- and I don’t feel exasperated, humiliated and defeated. Ditto for the Economist and CSM, I assume. ... Actually, I’ll feel a little humiliated if the worst comes true about what we knew and didn’t know about WMD. But, again, patience. ... Liked how the Christian Science Monitor brought up the credibility-gap caused by the hysterical and inaccurate antiquities-museum looting stories, something Hub Blog pointed out the other day
in reaction to a post by Christopher Lyons. ... Might post more on this subject later, as it pertains to something Theodore White once wrote about another war. Until then ...
‘Nightmare on 43rd Street’
: John Ellis
, via his Tech Central column
, weighs in on the NYT affair. He wrote it before Raines resigned, but it holds up, as John notes. Conclusion: “The crisis of the regime is not Howell Raines, it's Arthur Sulzberger Jr.” ... Didn’t know the NYT has its eyes on Knight-Ridder and Media News. Hmmm. ... Lots of talk about Sulzberger’s future, but this NYPost story
indicates he’s probably safe (via Romensko
George Bush scored how high in Mass pols?:
This is an intriguing poll
from the Herald. Voters trust the legislature more than Mitt to protect their general interests, but trust Mitt more on reforms, taxes and spending. ... After reforms, taxes and spending, what’s left? ... The economy and Mitt’s sometimes stiff and strained persona are indeed hurting him a bit. He’s a nice guy, but not a regular guy you’d want to sit down and have a beer with -- assuming you could. Mitt’s numbers are respectable, but not spectacularly so. ...
But here are the two grafs I found most interesting:
“Romney's favorable rating is higher than U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry at 52 percent, and well over the poor ratings given House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran and Senate President Robert E. Travaglini -- who both ranked under 30 percent favorable.
“Romney's overall job approval rating of 52 percent is bested only by President George W. Bush, who scored 57 percent in Massachusetts in the poll.”
Presidential candidate John Kerry has a lower approval rating in his home state than George Bush? Jeez. The poll might have been different had it reflected the big bounce Kerry got from the Dem’s Lowell convention this past weekend. ... Bottom line: If the poll is to be believed, Beacon Hill Dems can take solace in the ‘overall’ trust category, but that’s about it. The numbers tilt in Romney’s favor, though not wildly so. ... Hunch based purely on Hub Blog's own gut reaction: I don't like Mitt's 24/7 campaign style. Know permanent campaigns are probably here to stay (thank you, MTA), but they do raise a wall between the public and a pol, i.e. the detached 'connect' problem. People don't like their pols acting like walking commercials. ... John Kerry? Who’s John Kerry? Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
P.S. -- Who’s the most popular pol in Massachusetts? Teddy? How’s Reilly doing?
‘Get back to work you slacker ...’
: Hub Blog merely mentions the possibility of imposing a temporary Billy Free Zone
and ... Other readers' emails follow.
From Reader BK
“Get back to work you slacker. I'm sure that I am much senior in years to the innocent, though charismatic, young Hub Blogger. So get this: almost all of the methodology for the cronyism that drives Hub Blog (and Reader No.1, Brighton Reader, and all of your other readers) bonkers was either invented or perfected by one William Bulger. You want to get a real change in the way business is done by the Democrat's Legislature on Beacon Hill? Until the Governor gets a minority large enough to sustain his line-item vetos, you're just going to have to settle for pulling down South Boston Billy's ‘statue.’ It's a start. Get back to work.”
From Reader Dave Z:
“Hi- I enjoy your blog and I'm glad you take the time to do it. I assume you've seen the piece by Dershowitz
on H1 of today's Globe. This issue is heating up. I don't see how Bulger can survive and if not, Romney will look good for being on the right side of this from the beginning. The thing to watch for will be sabotage of future initiatives by Romney from those who will resent this and hold a grudge (the favorite sport in Boston politics). Expose them! Blogging is making a difference!”
From another reader on another subject:
“Hubblog readers who can get the Globe South edition ought to take a look at today's series of articles
on long commutes and implications for suburban/urban development. Unfortunately the Globe only publishes ‘front page’ stories from the regional sections on the web and in this case, not even a complete one. Is this done to encourage/maintain subscriptions in the suburbs? Why put the paper online then?”
FYI from Hub Blog
: Don't know what the Globe's detailed strategy/policy is on online stories. I suspect they can only put so much up. Here's more on the transit issue
from the other day and on a slightly different commuter matter.
Mitt’s nice-guy instincts, the Dersh and a superficial Sox analysis:
From Reader No. 1 on various posts:
“-- A quick reaction to your Romney post about the governor's political instincts
: it would be surprising if he did show particularly strong political and legislative instincts given his background, and that's not why he was elected. Let me offer a different explanation: Romney's behavior pre-and post-election suggests that being liked is one of his highest values. This leads him not to get out aggressively and directly on issues but instead delegate to lightning-rods like Fehrnstorm. Mitt is genuinely a nice guy. And we know what happens to nice guys.
“-- Nice job by Alan Dershowitz
today recapping the REAL reasons President Bulger is/should be in hot water (and recapping 75 State Street, the dog that didn't bark in BLACK MASS but not for the authors' lack of effort). The Attorney General getting booed at the Dem Party annual conference says volumes about the morality of our state's majority party.
“ -- HubBlog's suggestion that there is a relationship between the Hillenbrand trade and the Red Sox recent play
is superficially interesting. But Hillenbrand's two contributions were RBIs and 1st base defense, and the Sox problem since that trade has been abysmal pitching. ...
“-- Two last thoughts on Pedro, but first, I don't get the Bill Russell comparison
, perhaps Hubblog could elaborate?
“Thought #1: in evaluating Pedro's defense of Sammy Sosa, we should not expect any more thoughtful commentary on ethnicity, or almost any other topic, from a professional athlete than we would from any other citizen of the planet. Pedro said a silly thing; let's move on.
“Thought #2: I don't know nor pretend to know Pedro, but from this vantage point it seems that he might need a chip on his shoulder as part of his motivation. He's still steamed about being traded by the Dodgers, being held out of one start by Jimy Williams, etc. (Somewhat Clemens-like.) One might look at the Sammy controversy as a way that Pedro is trying to motivate PEDRO.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Re the Bill Russell comparison: They’re both intense, stubborn, sometimes angry egomaniacs who want to win and aren’t afraid of saying what they think on thorny issues, including racial issues, right or wrong. ... OK, so it’s not one of my better comparisons. But I still love ‘em both.
Those boos for Tom Reilly: The Democratic Party of Massachusetts
. ... Still, a new Herald poll shows
that 40 percent of Dems -- undoubtedly those who don’t work for government and don't attend weekend party conventions in Lowell -- say Billy should resign. Somewhat surprising factoid: Only a slim majority overall (51 percent) thinks Billy should resign. I thought it would have been a larger margin, though Massachusetts remains an overwhelmingly Democratic state. The Republican and, more importantly, Independent poll numbers should be of concern to strategic-thinking Democrats. ... The hard-core left has shoved through a litmus-test ‘scorecard’ for Dems. Ah, the ultimate reform -- a two-party system -- if the 'scorecard' works as passionately desired. A secret GOP spy within the Dem party couldn't have planted better mischief. ...
P.S. -- I’m getting rather sick of the Billy issue. Might declare this a temporary Billy Free Zone. At least for a few days. Why? He ain’t resigning in the near future. The only thing that can change that is a truly awful performance by Billy before the Congressional committee. So ... Saw David Brudnoy on TV this morning, saying it’s time to concentrate on other reforms and issues. He brought up a great idea: Abolish the Governor’s Council. I like it!
: Hub Blog generally likes the concept of ‘transit-oriented development,
’ i.e. placing new housing developments near commuter-line stops. It seems to be working, though there appears to be a ‘Riffraff Controversy’ brewing in Holbrook. Screw 'em. Build 'em. ... Unless their concerns about water supplies are valid. That's a legitimate worry. ... But what I don’t like is Doug Foy's view that ‘transit-oriented development’ is the only
means of fighting sprawl. There’s a trace of development utopianism in Foy’s vision that leaves me more than a little suspicious and skeptical, especially when he rejects new commuter lines when they clash with his perfect It-Makes-a-Village concept. ... Ah, but there are about 1,600 pieces of good news in this article. That’s the number of condo/apartment units proposed in various ‘transit-oriented development’ projects across Greater Boston, though they all won’t be built. More, please. ... The housing crisis: Attack the supply problem -- or give up.
'We must lead the fight for reform ...’:
Those are the words of moderate-liberal Chris Gabrieli as Dems gather for this weekend’s party convention
in Lowell. The times, they are a changin’ ... Don’t you just love hard-core liberal activists and Jill Stein’s attempt to hijack the cause of reform, i.e. redefining ‘reform’ as moving the party to the hard left? ... Taxes, taxes, taxes. ... If Jill et gang succeed in their version of reforms, it could lead to the greatest reform of them all: a two-party state in Massachusetts. ... Go for it, Jill!
‘The reckoning will be painful ...’: The Economist
hasn’t given up on the likelihood that American and British officials will find WMD in Iraq. But it is warning what will happen, in certain circumstances, if none are found in the quanities that Bush and Blair suggested were in Iraq: “If officials knowingly used weak evidence to build their case for going to war, the reckoning will be painful.” ...
More signs from the Boston Globe
that we were misled, intentionally or unintentionally, about the major stated reason for going to war in Iraq. ... Again: I’m willing to wait for a final verdict. Give ‘em time. But I truly hope “WMD” isn’t remembered the same way as “Remember the Maine!” or the Gulf of Tolkin. This is a serious, serious concern about the credibility of our government, despite post-war conservative rationalizations for why we went to war. ...
-- Here’s more evidence from the NYT
. Notice one of those with a byline on the article: Judith Miller. No whacko left-wing journalist there. Repeat: This is a serious, serious concern about the credibility of our government.
-- See my comments two items below in reaction to Christopher Lydon’s post. ... (FYI: Chris was wrong about Howell.)
-- as well as Robert Kagan -- are going after anti-war critics who are bringing up the WMD issue. Please note: The Economist and moi aren’t and weren’t anti-war activists who are now trying to discredit the war. Instead, we’re worried about the credibility of our governments and the impact any loss of trust could have on future actions.
Marty Baron, Grady Little and Cambridge MCAS:
Reader No. 1 chimes in on a lot of past HubBlog items:
"-- Thanks for giving me credit as the first person to pick Marty Baron as the next NYT editor, but you should also include the link to that story on your blog.
Note that this amazing call predates the Jayson Blair fiasco!
"-- Speaking of amazing calls, how much more time will Red Sox management give Grady Little? This story bubbled up briefly on talk radio during the 5-game-losing-streak (most notably in Dennis & Callahan who managed to wangle some slightly leading remarks out of Larry Lucchino (unfortunately it is not archived on the WEEI radio here
, but some other good stuff is).
Is the problem with the bullpen by committee that:
"A.) the idea just won't work in today's game (the last example Peter Gammons put together was Pittsburgh in the early 90s); OR
"B.) the idea can work but Theo doesn't have the right parts, for whatever reason; either injuries have created physical limitations which outweigh talent (Mendoza, Fox, Embree, Howry, Person) or there is a lack of talent (hello and goodbye, Matt White, Bruce Chen, Howry...)
"C.) the manager doesn't know how to make a bullpen by committee work. I'd wager I'm not the only person wondering that after reading in this morning's Globe that Robert Person wasn't available to stem the bleeding last night because he WARMED UP three times the prior night in Pittsburgh
without actually coming into the game!
" -- I keep postponing my MCAS remarks, but let me just throw it out to the astute readers of Hubblog: does anyone else see a connection between last Saturday's Globe story about Cambridge becoming the US city with the highest percent of million dollar homes (12% if you're counting), and Monday's story about disappointing MCAS results in that same city?"
Hub Blog's response
: Sorry for not making obvious links to obviously astute observations by moi and readers. Don't have a search engine (yet) on the site and some days I get lazy. Actually, most days I'm lazy. ... P.S. The Sox look lame since the Shea/Kim deal. Know it's too early to condemn in a typically nasty and lovable Boston fashion, but ... Ah, the local rudeness. Gotta laugh or cry.
‘The real nightmare for the Times ...’: Christopher Lydon
has some very interesting things to say about the NYT: 1.) His daughter had a sublet encounter with old Jayson Blair. It’s at the very end of his item. 2.) He looks at the Raines affair from a completely different angle, to wit: Raines’ biggest failure was that he and the NYT weren't more aggressive in opposing the war. Chris:
“The real nightmare for the Times is the plain fact that one-way print-based corporate journalism cannot prevail in a rough-and-ready information game against the interactive, almost-free, global, democratic and instant Internet. For hungry hounds of news and for "the rising generation," in the late Times saint James Reston's phrase, the Times will never again be "the paper of record," as we used to call it, or the first draft of history.
“Around the Iraq war and the many dismayed post-mortems--in the dazed, double-speaking minds of Paul Wolfowitz & Co and in the stinking slums of Baghdad today--the New York Times has to confront its rather amazing timidity, shallowness of reporting, thinness of political judgment as the war machinery geared up.”
Hub Blog’s response:
Raines’ spiking of stories, the defection of so many talented reporters and editors, the newsroom turmoil and sense of fear, the dictatorial management style, the initial failure to take any responsibility for his role in the Blair affair, his ‘flooding the zone’ coverage of dubious issues, the Bragg Inquisition, they’re all sound reasons enough for his firing and/or resigning. They're not to be dismissed as a little tragic, silly and nuts. ...
Re: Iraq and WMD. I’ve deliberately not said much about the post-war failure to find WMD, a subject Chris tackles. There’s a part of me who thinks -- or hopes -- we’ll come up with an explanation soon. Didn’t want to condemn something that later proved to be wrong or more complicated than it appeared, such as the overblown looting stories of the antiquities museum in Baghdad, something the media still hasn’t corrected. Yet, I’m extremely troubled by the failure to discover WMD. That is the
reason we went to war. All the post-war rationalizations for war -- the proven brutalities of the Saddam regime, the genuine happiness of Iraqis to be rid of a tyrant -- are all nice. .... But the fact is: A.) We were either misled about the extent of Saddam’s WMD, intentionally or unintentionally (I find it hard Tony Blair would have gone along with a Big Lie); B.) The weapons are still there and/or we need proof they were destroyed or handed off to others at the outset of the war. If it turns out to be the former, I will never trust this administration -- or our intelligence services -- again. As an American, I don’t like to be monumentally misled on such monumental matters. ... But I still want more explanations.
One million people have died in the Congo war. When are we going to intervene there? Why not?
‘France has a nasty habit of siding with ...’
: Innocents Abroad
has an interesting translation/critique of professor Pierre Manent’s assessment of French foreign policy -- and American and EU foreign policy -- in le Figaro. Summary: It doesn’t look good for France and Europe if the current self-righteous ‘humanitarian’ approach remains official doctrine. ... Wish there were more French scholars standing up to the prevailing Conventional Wisdom in France. ... Via Instapundit
‘I'm glad the governor finally gets it ... ’:
Was Mitt prepared to sign the legislative pay-raise bill as some sort of reward for lawmakers passing his reform packages? A quid pro quo? It certainly looks and sounds like it in the wake of the Senate’s rejection of his 87s.
... No wonder Mitt’s support and popularity are falling: The cynicism and confusion of his poorly run permanent campaign is starting to sink in. Time to 'regroup'
indeed. ... Do the angry boys in the Corner Office have a clue how this looks? Who was advising him on this no-brainer pay issue? How about letting him say and do the right things? Or is Mitt ‘How I Met My Wife’ Romney calling the political shots on this one? ...
Hub Blog is working on a theory: It’s not his lack of resolve that’s the problem (as the Herald
and others have indicated), but maybe it’s just poor political and legislative instincts, the failure to appreciate the give-and-take and nitty-gritty flow of Beacon Hill infighting, as Howie has mentioned. ... He decided only yesterday to veto the pay-raise bill? That's the story, not the anticipated Senate vote. ...
But move on: He’s going to veto it. State Rep. James Marzilli, D-Arlington: “I'm glad the governor finally gets it ... (it's) good to see that he is going to stand up to (Finneran and Travaglini).” ... Must reexamine aspects of the Hack Progressive Alliance theory. Too many progressives are seeing the light. ...
Speaking of the Trav: He gets it. Sort of. Scot Lehigh explains.
The Trav has definitely been impressive. He passed some good reforms, knowing that Mitt would make mincemeat of Dems if he didn’t. Added bonus for the Trav: Mitt et gang seemed genuinely befuddled by the simple move and didn’t know enough to gracefully take and give credit. So the Mittster came across as a sore and befuddled loser when in fact he partially won. No wonder Dems were ‘smug’ when they voted on the Billy bill yesterday. ... FYI: I believe it was Joan Vennochi who first noticed the curious Trav phenomenon, while not letting her guard down about his Eastie precinct-captain/pay raise/Suffolk Downs inclinations...
'But the facts are otherwise. ...’:
Ah, enough with the Mitt bashing. He’s somehow still controlling part of the agenda and debate, despite clinging to his micro-managed PR ‘message of the day’ and not following his instincts. Or maybe he is following his instincts. Whatever. ... Time for a little Senate and Trav bashing. They sent a powerful message yesterday, no? Remember: They’re the message
. ... Read this Globe editorial
about James ‘Whitey’ Bulger and his kid brother. It’s all there: the banished Statie, the convenient patronage job (actually jobs, when you think of Zip etc.), the secret phone call, the non-advice advice to his runaway brother, the London safe-deposit box, the grand jury testimony, the Fifth, the immunity, the FBI 10 Most Wanted list. ... It was a sad day in the Senate yesterday.
... Peter Young
in the MetroWest Daily News: “At week's end the screeching and the fluttering in the pigeon coop was growing ever louder, even as Democratic Party activists headed for their off-year state issues convention in Lowell. It's a safe bet that there will be no open discussion of the Bulger ‘issue’ at this convention, but it is an equally safe bet that in the watering holes of Lowell the talk will be of little else.” ... The Dems would be smart to work behind the scenes to get Billy to resign. Soon. Like before next year's Dem convention and elections.
Whoa, Pedro .... :
Pedro uncorks (sorry) on the Sammy cork controversy
. Two things: 1.) Pedro is off base (sorry) on the racial angle but 2.) he’s not too far off base. ... This Christian Science Monitor piece
comes closest to explaining why the Sammy cork controversy has become so huge: The cheating has gotten out of hand and we all know it (and knew it) -- the “illegal bats, juiced balls, and drugged bodies” etc. ... But back to Pedro: Why did it take this Sammy incident to start asking these questions? You gotta wonder. Mark McGwire looks like a pumped up freak. And we all know it. ... Know who Pedro reminds me of in a very positive way? Bill Russell. Think about it. ...
‘The Massachusetts Senate rallied around its former leader Thursday...’: They’re in one moral universe.
The rest of us are in another. ... Still want to 'get along,' Mitt? ... Hey, let 'em set their own pay. Don't want to 'intervene' in their universe. ... ''I do have an honest loyalty to my brother and ... I don't feel an obligation to help everyone to catch him.'' ... “I have always put the people and the public good first.” ...
He buried his father where?: Cosmo
has everything you ever wanted to know about new Fenway Park announcer Carl Beane, who's already on his way to becoming a local legend. ... I'm not sure I can look at the Fenway outfield the same way ever again. ...
Reader No. 1 nominates Marty Baron:
Reader No. 1 reminded me that he nominated Marty Baron for the NYT post months ago. He's right. He did. Now Arthur has the opportunity to appoint him
. ... My only problem with a Baron appointment: He'd be leaving the Globe. ... You've probably already seen it, but check out Mickey's Howell-O-Meter
. Up less than a day, and already needs updating.
-- Here's the NYT story
on Howell's resignation.
-- Andrew Sullivan
has some words on the Raines resignation. Nothing from Mickey yet.
-- Mickey's updated the Howell-0-Meter.
He's got some thoughful comments -- as well as a special 'low-minded instant reaction.'
Kerry's 'Combat Card'
: Terrific piece over at NRO on John Kerry's strategy
to use his military service -- and undeniable bravery -- to counter Republican attempts to paint Dems as soft on national security. Don't agree with everything in the article, but it's rich in history and the quotes from Abraham Lincoln are priceless. ... Thanks to Reader BK for the link tip.
‘But I’m on your side ...’:
Martha done wrong. No doubt. But there are bigger corporate evil-doers out there, so my sentiments lean toward what Steven Syre expressed
today: “You're a target for all the wrong reasons, and whatever you did pales next to the unprosecuted outrages committed by a long line of corporate executives and bankers pursuing their millions.”
‘The governor gets to prove if he's a real reformer now’
: I feel like the robot in ‘Lost in Space,’ flapping my arms and screaming, ‘Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!’ ... I can’t believe Mitt hasn’t openly said he’ll veto the legislative pay bill
. Even liberal Dems are urging him to kill it. This is a big test for Mitt. Sad to say: I’m not sure he’s going to pass it. He keeps saying he doesn’t want to ‘interfere’ with the legislative branch, but it’s now written into law
how lawmakers should get pay raises. They’re changing the law
, Mitt. This is not ‘interference’ when it pertains to the law of the land
. ... Danger, Mitt Romney! Danger! ...
But, of course, the drum beat to ‘get along’ continues, today’s installment from Joan Vennochi
. ... Danger, Mitt Romney! Danger! ...
... More indications that the wheels are coming off
the permanent-campaign cart. They tried to recruit Weld, Cellucci and Swift to back reform measures? No wonder this guy’s popularity is falling despite the popularity of reforms
. They’re constantly groping for PR gimmicks, the public sees through it and resents being treated like morons. ...Hey, all you Corner Office boys: Weld appointed Billy to the UMass presidency.
Hello? Hello? ...
why Mitt probably had to pull some rhetorical punches on Billy, even though he was the only one for months who was pushing to get rid of him: “ ‘He has politicized this whole higher education reform package by targeting President Bulger,’ state Democratic party spokeswoman Jane Lane said.” ... They’ve been saying this for how many months now? Surprised Lane didn’t mention how Mitt has to ‘get along’ with Bulger. ...
... Danger, Mitt Romney! Danger!
‘He has been more of a profile in courage than our Governor’
: Reader No. 1 reacts to Reader No Nickname’s comments directly below, as well as other aspects of the Reilly/Bulger affair. Reader No. 1:
“Reader No Nickname is very sharp. I am glad to see you taking a more considered view of Reilly's decision to take on Bulger. Count me in Reader No Nickname's camp of interpretation. Reilly's performance during his live WRKO interview with Howie Carr Monday night was not especially inspiring. Instead of trying to duck the question of whether Bulger had been a political ‘ally’ in the past, he'd have done better to acknowledge that obvious fact. What came across instead was the potential political pain of severing many long-standing and powerful political relationships.
“However, I think we also have to keep in mind these explanations which could also be simultaneously true:
“1. It is probably impossible for a politician today to separate a personal from political motive: for most, they are one and the same.
“2. Bulger's grand jury remarks about Whitey avoiding capture might well have been the tipping point in Reilly's prosecutorial mind. It is the one plausible (if legalistic) answer to the question Howie asked, that all BLACK MASS fans want to know: if so much stuff has been widely known for so long (the Lancaster Street garage, the fate of the Statie who arrested Whitey at Logan, etc), why speak up now?
“Well, at least Reilly got out ahead of the curve, and motivation aside, he did do right. He has been more of a profile in courage than our Governor. Mitt could have clearly said what Reilly did say (or what he himself said this week) much earlier. Instead, the issues of Bulger's fitness to serve and lead, the Umass org chart, and how to reform the hackerama, remain thoroughly muddled in an thoroughly unsatisfactory manner. This is one case where the CEO must lead visibly and personally -- walk the talk -- if his leadership is to maintain credibility."
Hub Blog’s response
: Again, I think Mitt was, until recently, fighting a lonely battle against Billy, fending off accusations that he was going after Billy for ‘political’ reasons and charges he wasn’t ‘getting along’ with lawmakers. They’re still making these accusations and charges. See above item. ... But as for Mitt maintaining his credibility. ... Danger, Mitt Romney! Danger! ... Something has gone haywire within this administration. It seems to be drifting -- or ‘detached,’ as Howie noted the other day -- in PR gimmickry that borders on the insulting. I understand why a ‘permanent campaign’ has to be waged, especially when the MTA is spending millions on TV ads urging people to vote themselves a tax hike. But the problem with permanent campaigns (especially when they're run poorly) is that they raise the public's cynicism level -- and call into question the sincerity of a politician who seems to be acting less out of moral beliefs and more out of political calculation. ... More on this later. As you can see, I’m starting to sour on Mitt, along with Howie and Reader No. 1, and I must analyze my political analytical circuits. .... Must analyze my political analytical circuits. ... Danger, Hub Blog! Danger!
Meaning of Reilly’s Move, False Universes and Great Moments in Editing
: Reader No Nickname writes in:
“The Meaning of Reilly's Move
-- I draw two possible conclusions from Reilly's comments: A) these Congressional hearings are going to make Bulger look very bad, possibly ending or irreparably damaging his career and B) independent suburban voters have a strongly negative views of Bulger and now hold the balance of political power in the state. Therefore, a cunning, opportunistic politician seeking more political strength state-wide would be wise to get out in front of this issue.
– Good point about the fabulous world pedaled by the Improper Bostonian. Just to prove your theory, read Page 6 of the NYPost some day, then read the Names & Faces column of the Globe if you want to feel how unhip Boston is. A pro wrestler ate at the Kowloon? Wow.
“Great Moments in Editing
– Did anyone else catch the two pieces on the book Pandora’s Keepers in yesterday’s Globe? On pg.A4, the allegations of plagarism against the author were discussed (which resulted in the book being recalled yesterday). Then, on pg. C2, the book was reviewed without any mention of the controversry.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Going in reverse order: ‘Great Moments in Editing’ -- I didn’t see the articles and so don’t have a clue what you’re talking about -- no offense intended, but ... ; ... ‘False Universe’ -- Thanks. The Bailey column said it all (scroll down for 'What were these people thinking?' item). (FYI: Took shots at the hip IB last night but didn't understand my own garbled writing this morning, so I eliminated it rather than rewrite it, in case you were wondering -- I'll try not to make a habit of this.) ...and ‘The Meaning of Reilly's Move.’ ... Ah, ....
This ‘The Meaning of Reilly's Move’ I will spend some time analyzing. Was Peter Gelzinis invited into the interview? Did he ask for the interview? These are important questions. They lead to: Was Reilly setting him up? Or did he really just answer a question that was waiting to be asked? Nothing about Peter. He’s a great columnist -- one of the few who’s read ‘Black Mass’ (and provided a substantial portion of the material for ‘Black Mass’ -- indirectly so). Still, back to Reilly: I hope
there’s an element of politics here. ... Good government is good politics, blah, blah, blah
. ... I'm convinced Reilly spoke from the gut. But if he didn't, then he spoke from the I Want To Win By Embracing Reforms Too gut. Either way, he did right. ...
‘Still, the Democratic establishment on Beacon Hill ...’
: Mitt still has to be careful how he takes on Billy
, even though he now has some political cover with Tom Reilly’s call for Billy to go, gracefully if possible. ... Don’t forget: It wasn’t too long ago that Mitt was being accused of making the issue ‘personal’ and ‘political.’ He’s a Republican. Billy’s a Democrat. Etc., etc. Mitt had to do some political tiptoeing in order to get around accusations he was too ‘obsessive’ about Bulger. Now he’s being criticized for not being as morally forthright and aggressive as Reilly? Please. Still ... still, he shouldn’t forget Jane Swifit’s disastrous attempt to stack the Bechtel Turnpike Authority with her cronies. He also can’t get too far out front in terms of alienating Dems like Reilly. ... One last pointer: He better brace himself for the very distinct possibility that Billy won’t be leaving soon -- and certainly not gracefully.
... Ted Kennedy’s comments were a disappointment. A big disappointment. I’ve always admired Ted -- and my admiration has grown, despite disagreements on so many issues, largely because he’s, well, found happiness and stability in life. He’s developed a statesman-like image that age, hard work and overcoming adversity bestows on people, Republicans and Democrats alike. But on this one, well, his Dem-hack gene is kicking in too much. How do I know this? I can’t imagine Kennedy remaining silent if it was a Republican who was protecting a mass murderer. Reilly, a prosecutor, sees Billy through a slightly different lens, to wit: He’s probably seen crime-scene photos of Whitey’s victims. ...
MetroWest Daily News
: “Tom Reilly is not given to irony, and he's seen too many victims of violent crime to buy into the gauzy myth of Whitey Bulger, the Robin Hood of Southie.” ... Scot Lehigh
: “(By) framing this matter as the moral issue it is, Tom Reilly has done Massachusetts a tremendous service.’ ... Billy Bulger to a grand jury: ''I do have an honest loyalty to my brother and ... I don't feel an obligation to help everyone to catch him.''
‘What were these people thinking?’:
I can almost understand how the Improper Bostonian missed this one
. After all, the Improper lives by promoting a False Universe about Boston being inhabited by glamorous, jet-setting, beautiful people. ... But why the hell did Robert Morrissette agree to the publicity? Did he really think people in the Real Universe wouldn’t notice? ... FYI: The cutting-edge hip Improper
is here. Try reading a cutting-edge hip online article.
Is Eugene Rivers III about to pull a Cory Atkins?:
He initially refused to apologize to the Cape Verdean community, admirably sticking to his guns and asserting he was only guilty of ‘candor.’ ... Now he’s preparing to make a solemn sacrifice
on the Alter of Political Correctness. ... Keep an eye on this other insincere Atkinism, to wit: the post-apology non-apology.
‘It was September 6, 1940...’
: Sixty-three years after the Battle of Britain, a Spitfire pilot’s remains
are found. ... A neat story for history buffs. Very sad and moving.
Exploiting ‘personal pain for political advantage,’ Part II
: Billy said this
: “I have always put the people and the public good first.” ... Reilly said this: “We're not talking about bookmaking here, we're talking about mass murder and we are talking about a mass murderer still being on the loose.” ... Here’s the Globe story
, and here’s Peter Gelzinis’
follow-up column, and here’s a Herald editorial
‘The repeal was gaveled through on a voice vote,' Part III
: Brian Moroney
makes all the right connections: Clean elections, the smoking ban, bilingual education, charter schools. What the hell else did they put in that bill? ... Moroney makes another interesting connection: Why the hell didn’t Republicans ask for a roll-call vote? Maybe that explains why Mitt has been so quiet on this issue. ... Wayne Woodlief
is covering roughly the same ground (pay-to-view).
Journalist vs. journalists over Iraq coverage and the truth
: It’s been a bad couple of weeks for journalism. The last thing journalism needs is another black eye. Sadly, a truly great journalist, Jules Crittendon, has to deliver the blow to yet another journalism institution that insists on playing fast and loose with the facts and quotes
Jules on Sgt. Shawn Gibson and Capt. Philip Wolford and the hell the Committee to Protect Journalists is now putting them through for the firing on the Palestine Hotel during the war:
“The CPJ report failed to note that I had witnessed Wolford ordering his men on numerous occasions to hold their fire to avoid killing civilians, even when Iraqi ploys were suspected. ...
“The CPJ report does a good job of presenting the basic facts of the incident. But it falls down as it tries to draw conclusions from contradictions and varying recollections, giving weight to some while ignoring others, to the detriment of Wolford and Gibson. It makes a game effort to make sense of the chaos of battle, but fails to note that the truth may lie in the chaos itself. ...
“CPJ ignored my remark ...
“Unfortunately, the Committee to Protect Journalists showed its colors early on ...”
Hopefully, there are two Americans -- Sgt. Shawn Gibson and Capt. Philip Wolford -- who haven’t totally lost their faith in the press.
Exploiting ‘personal pain for political advantage’
: Actually, the victims of Whitey are saying the same thing
. ... Tom Reilly
has restored my faith in Massachusetts politicians, in general, and Massachusetts Democrats, in particular. ...
Big question of the day
: Do you think Whitey has killed again since he went on the lam while Billy has refused to help law enforcement? I'd put the odds at, oh, 50-50. ... Exploiting ‘personal pain for political advantage.’ ...
‘They actually had to teach. ...’:
Every now and then a story or series comes along that you just know people will be talking about. Or should be talking about. This is one of them.
What an outstanding piece (actually, the second of a two-part series) on MCAS in two cities: Somerville and Cambridge. Read it. It’s important. It’s probably the best education story I’ve read in a long, long time. ... The quotes ring so true. ... I felt like I was reading a mini-version of ‘Common Ground.’ OK, maybe that’s going too far, but you know what I mean. FYI: The reporter who wrote it is Anand Vaishnav. ... The first-day installment
by Michele Kurtz and Bill Dedman was almost as good (which is saying a lot -- and no offense intended). ... Combined together: A terrific series. ... Gut instinct: We're definitely on the right track, but we need to crack down on truancy and, yes, there probably is a little too much 'teaching to the test.' Improvements are vital and possible -- as long as both sides are willing to work together.
‘Where is Bush leading us?’: Gary Hart
has some wrong answers, but he asks the right questions. ... One of my pet-peeves is that the Bush administration has fundamentally changed the course of American foreign policy without the president outlining to the nation where this is all leading beyond the war on terrorism. Yes, yes, yes. Hub Blog knows that Sept. 11 changed everything. But the cause of Sept. 11 also seems to have been hijacked by neoconservatives who formulated a unilateralist, neo-imperialist foreign policy well before the WTC tragedy. ... Nice conclusion by Hart:
“America is a republic. Throughout history, republics have never been compatible with empire. Read the Romans, among others. When republics begin to seek hegemony and expand the reach and scope of their power, they no longer remain republics. America is still too young - and too noble - for that.”
‘The repeal was gaveled through on a voice vote,' Part II
: Adrian Walker
goes after lawmakers for their voice-vote antics on the Clean Elections Law. Adrian: “But part of what legislators get paid to do is to take positions and explain them to their constituents. Thursday night, they made a point of avoiding exactly that. The law might be gone, but we haven't seen the last of the outrage.” ... No, we haven’t seen the last of the outrage, unfortunately. ... Loved Adrian’s column, but I was disappointed he didn’t mention how the statewide smoking ban was also passed on a voice vote on the same night
and, I believe, within the same bill. ...
... Yesterday, Howie Carr
(pay-to-view) did make the connection between the Clean Elections Law, the smoking ban and other legislative shenanigans. But Howie also made another interesting connection: To Mitt. ... Howie: “It’s early, I know, but Mitt seems curiously detached from the nitty-gritty brawling that defines any successful governorship.” ... Hmmmm. I’ve been thinking the same thing. He does seem detached. He should be speaking up on issues like these. Then again, some of the wind has been taken from his sails by the Trav’s embrace of reforms and likely passage of a budget that, by and large, reflects his agenda. The whole budget debate has quieted down as a result. Which is fine. Mitt has won on a lot of points. But ... don’t forget the fall Let ‘em Beg For Taxes ploy, as I suspect Tommy and Trav are hatching. ...
I’ve read and reread this op-ed by Virginia Buckingham
. And I still don’t get it. Is she waxing nostalgia for her old bosses? Is she really saying Paul Cellucci was a factor? She notes Napoleon Tommyparte and the Trav are forming an alliance -- and suggests Mitt better start dealing with them before the alliance solidifies. Then she warns of the consequences to taxpayers about a Tommyparte-Trav alliance, which leads to this obvious question: So why would you want to ally yourself with people you’re issuing warnings about? Maybe Tommy and Trav are banding together because they share views that are fundamentally incompatible with Mitt’s. Isn’t that a possibility? Mitt would probably have to abandon his reform agenda if he got too close to these guys. Work with them, yes. Pull a Weld, no. ... Please see next item ...
‘You're talking about murder’
: This is the guy Weld cozied up to. This is the guy Mitt is trying to get rid of. This is the guy Tommy and the Trav are defending. This is the guy the attorney general of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
is now saying has to go. ... The column by Peter Gelzinis is pay-to-view.
... Not a good day for DAs, Part I
: Richard J. Schneiderhan and Stephen ‘The Rifleman’ Flemmi are back in the news. Again. ... Not a good day for DAs, Part II
: Oh, he was just taking a shower.
An issue handled the wrong way -- again
: Keep the BRA
, but let the damn council have a say, mayor. ... The mayor just loves dodging council votes these days. Non-elected health boards and voice-vote Beacon Hill lawmakers seem to be his preferred mode of implementing policy and laws. ... Come to think of it: Keep the BRA, but reduce the power of the mayor to make unilateral stinko real estate decisions.
'Frankly, I think this is a ridiculous transaction,’ Part III
: Hub Blog and Brighton Reader have been having a grand old time taking punches at the Harvard/Bechtel Turnpike Authority deal (scroll on down for the 'Cauldron' and 'Frankly' beatings). But I was talking to a commercial real estate broker yesterday, who said he had read the articles on the controversial Allston land deal. His conclusion: He didn’t think it was all that unusual or outrageous. Must admit: Forgot to ask him about the BTA actually selling off portions of the Pike, the morons. ... But my friend did say the $75 million price seemed reasonable and some of the restrictions and controls Harvard sought (and got) were understandable. Why? Because the property is hemmed in with funky covenants and usage rights (i.e. Conrail), and Harvard needs to protects itself and its investment against encroachment, expansion or controversy involving Conrail, the state etc. ... He did agree with this point: The deal should be carefully reviewed by the governor. ... So maybe the deal isn’t as wretched as it looks, though selling off actual portions of the Pike still strikes me as dumb and desperate. Mitt: Review this deal like you did the UMass bond debacle.
‘This cauldron of bad ideas,’ sidewalk dining and ‘refresh’ it
: Brighton Reader writes in on a number of items:
“-- The Pike/Harvard deal is astonishing
. What is to prevent Amorello and company from selling the rest of the authority's property off? I wouldn't put any maneuver past them in their quest to preserve their power, perks and positions as Romney seeks to get rid of the agency. Romney ought to be able to derail it simply by making clear to the Crimson gang that if they do not back off on this they will have miserable time on future projects requiring state approval. With Menino threatening the same it should work. Let's hope the Prince of Darkness (a.ka. Bill Galvin) keeps using his dark powers to overturn this cauldron of bad deals.
“-- This was in the Globe's City Weekly section, thus is not online, but one positive result of the smoking ban is many bars and restaurants are now seeking to add outdoor areas to accomodate patrons who want to puff. The city is expediting this by letting owners apply for the many required permits in the 15 step (yes, 15!) approval process all at once. More outdoor eating and drinking spots in Boston will be a good thing. There is a reference to this process in this article
“ -- FYI, I have not had any problems at all getting at your site that hitting the refresh button hasn't been able to solve.”
Note to Hub Blog readers: Again, sorry for the delays in accessing this site. The problem is blogspot and some project they’re working on. I assume I’ve lost a lot of readers -- and, from a paying customer’s standpoint, I’m extremely disappointed and frustrated. But I’ll continue posting items, as I have below. Thanks.
‘Frankly, I think this is a ridiculous transaction,’ Part II:
Mitt should find a way to kill this Turnpike deal
. It was negotiated by an incompetent, desperate, cash-starved agency that the governor is rightly trying to abolish. The literal giveaway is yet another sloppy and one-sided boondoggle that screws a public that’s been screwed too many times -- and reminds us why the Bechtel Turnpike Authority should be eliminated, pronto. ... FYI: This is also the type of ‘business-as-usual’ deal that Romney was elected to stop. But his track record on standing up to friends and allies hasn’t been good. Remember: Quinn Bill. At the least: Mitt should order a review, like he did for the bogus UMass bond package.
A trip down local journalism’s memory lane
: In an excerpt from his new book on the Clinton years, Sidney Blumenthal
looks back on his years in Boston and his days at the old Boston After Dark and the Real Paper. The list of star writers who used to work at the papers is incredible. ...
‘A Theory of Everything ...’:
To his credit, Tom Friedman
is exploring the source of modern anti-Americanism. He asked for opinions on his opinions -- and so here’s mine: Though I liked the observations of Michael Mandelbaum (who astutely notes that America is largely a ‘benign hegemon’ that the rest of the world is trying to “Gulliverize” through non-military means), Friedman’s assessment is too heavy on post-Cold War cultural and psychological analysis and too light on old-fashioned political and geopolitical analysis that preceded the end of the Cold War. It’s almost as if Tom Friedman has bought into a Fukuyamian End of History argument and is starting from post-Cold War scratch. ...
... But in France, for instance, there’s no need to start from scratch because anti-Americanism has a long right-wing and left-wing tradition that predates Berlin ‘89. Quick summary: The right-wing variation is a de Gaullian mix of cultural and national resentment -- and a genuine belief
in the balance-of-power view of international relations. The left-wing variation is rooted in an aging Marxist view of the world -- and a genuine belief
that capitalism is a destructive imperial-like force. ...
In other words, people did and still hold beliefs
that have shaped history and that many of us fatuously assumed fell along with the Berlin Wall in ‘89. This doesn’t explain all anti-Americanism -- in France or elsewhere. But to ignore great trends and ideologies leading up to the end of the Cold War strikes me as a narrow explanation. There is
a historic political and ideological component to this argument. ...
One last point: I’m not trying to absolve America of blame for negative attitudes toward us. The Bush administration also has clearly exacerbated anti-Americanism with its ham-handed diplomacy, a diplomacy that even neoconservative Robert Kagan has criticized as needlessly antagonistic.
But again: ‘Yankee go home’ and anti-Coke graffiti were being scrawled on walls long before the 1990s. The anti-Americanism Graham Greene captured in his novels was always there -- and we all chose to ignore it, or refused to explore it in depth, because of the pressing needs of the Cold War. Now that the Cold War is over, we’re witnessing and engaging in a long-overdue argument over beliefs and ideas that never found their way into the dustbin of history.
‘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.