‘A moment for Arab self-criticism and soul-searching’:
Williams College’s Marc Lynch
writes for CSM on the Arab media’s criticism of the tepid, tardy Arab response to the tsunami disaster, saying it marked a significant change in tone and substance. ... Maybe the change lapped over to the coverage of yesterday’s election in Iraq, where the Arab media actually covered the voting
, not the violence. ...
Kennedy and Kerry alert: Mickey
is raking the two senators from Massachusetts over the coals. ...
Blogger war alert: Andrew
is still bashing critics of his criticism of noncritics; Mickey still isn’t saying what he thought or thinks about the elections; Glenn
is rightly pointing out goalpost-moving efforts while not mentioning his and others’ past goalpost-moving efforts (lack of WMD, bogus comparisons to post-war German occupation etc. etc.). And so it goes ...
Roads, roads, roads:
Even if fire departments
got more resources they still would have to face Boston roadways.
... Speaking of roads, I’m not terribly impressed with city and state snow plowing efforts during the recent storms. Many roads are still clogged -- and they’re now freezing over. But I was impressed with snow removal on Cambridge Street. There used to be huge mounds everywhere. Tractors and dump trucks arrived this weekend and, well, it’s remarkably clear. Where they put the snow, I don’t want to know. ...
‘We want to be like other Iraqis’: A truly historic day.
percent turnout? Not in my wildest dreams did I think it would be so high. Imagine if there wasn’t an insurgency. Now we know: a minimum 72 percent of the Iraqi people are not with the fascist insurgents. Period. End of argument.
... My pre-election pessimism calls for me to eat a little crow. Not an entire crow. Maybe just a wing. But some crow nevertheless. Pass the Grey Poupon! ... The big question: What now? Will the fledgling democracy be consumed by corruption and apathy? Subverted by mullahs or other would-be Islamo dictators? Anyone who says they know is a fool. Yet this much is clear: today’s vote was a dramatic, positive start for a new Iraq. ... The biggest short-term domestic winner: President Bush. The guy’s on a roll. The biggest short-term domestic loser: Ted Kennedy. He should have waited until after
the election to give his troop-pullout speech.
-- Steve of Arlington asks what I was pessimistic about. Though I didn't annuniciate it in detail, I was mostly fearing turnout of at best about 50 percent or so, marred by ferocious violence and massive Florida-like voting irregularities and other woes. Never expected the open, festive atmosphere after what Iraq went through in recent months. ... Glad to be proven wrong. ... And, hey, eating crow isn't that bad.
‘It shouldn't have taken me this long to say so’: Jeff Jacoby
writes one of the most honest columns I’ve read anywhere in a long while, this one on the torture scandal. Jeff:
“If this were happening on a Democratic president's watch, the criticism from Republicans and conservatives would be deafening. Why the near-silence now? Who has better reason to be outraged by this scandal than those of us who support the war? More than anyone, it is the war hawks who should be infuriated by it. It shouldn't have taken me this long to say so.”
Hub Blog was talking to a friend the other day about the torture scandal, trying to put it into historic perspective. My friend compared it to the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II -- an undeniable black mark within the context of a good cause. Not a perfect comparison, obviously, but you get the idea. ... The conversation turned to other aspects of the current war. My friend also compared the military, intelligence and diplomatic blunders at the start of the war to the ineptness of Union forces at the start of the Civil War -- undeniable and almost unforgiveable mistakes within the context of a good cause. ...
Such real-time blunders and contradictions, I suspect, contribute more than a little to Hub Blog’s Wobbly Warrior Ways.
‘The Little Prince’:
I just received my winter edition of Tufts Magazine
(Fall 2004 edition still up, alas) and consumed a long excerpt from Sol Gittleman’s
new book, ‘An Entrepreneurial University.’
The unquestioned star of the book is the late Tufts President Jean Mayer, the mischievous sorcerer who transformed the university in the 70’s and ‘80s through a beguiling mixture of ‘disinformation and misinformation,’ as Gittleman affectionately puts it. What a character: a former resistance fighter and Free French adviser to Charles DeGaulle who once shot a Nazi guard when escaping prison and who later went on to rescue Tufts. Gittleman is right: Mayer, a huge figure at both Tufts and within American academia, shouldn’t be forgotten. ...
Mayer is one of those miraculous university presidents -- including BC’s J. Donald Monan and BU’s John Silber -- who blessed Boston in the late 20th Century by propelling their then underachieving schools to new heights. All three were great dreamers, schemers and builders. ...
Sammy Sosa to the Orioles?: The AL East
is going to be fun this year. ... It's fun every year, granted. This will just make it more fun.
It's a blogger war! ...Part I:
All quiet on the newspaper war’s Southeast Expressway Front. ... Wait! Another blast from Wingo Way!
... The horror. The horror!
... Anyway, there’s a blogger war now breaking out on the Iraq front. Andrew
is lobbing grenades at Mickey
, who’s lobbing back, and Instapundit
is getting sucked into the vortex and responding in a syrupy ‘who me?’ lawyerly way. ...
Bottom line: Just about everyone with an opinion on Iraq has had something to blush about -- Andrew’s emotionalism, Mickey’s caginess, Glenn’s blame-everything-on-the-media tactics and, definitely and for instance, Hub Blog’s notorious Wobbly Warrior Ways. But let’s face it: Everyone is obviously maneuvering to come across as being all knowing and, certainly, not wrong, as if events in a war are on a straight path to triumph or truth. But the reasons for the war and the undeniable blunders are old arguments. This weekend is an historic one. It certainly looks like the Iraq voting will turn out OK. If the fascist insurgents indeed disrupt it, well, the whole world is watching, as the lefties said during another war. ... No matter what happens this weekend, and in coming weeks and months, remember these two lines:
-- Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.
-- Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
- 1.30.05 -- Reader No. 1 writes in: "A 'foolish' consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. (Of course today we would debate what is 'foolish' for months on end...)" ... I stand corrected. Should have googled the quote beforehand. I'll leave the foolish mistake above as yet another reminder to get it right next time.
King Gillette, now at most a brand prince:
The loss of FleetFinancial and John Hancock hurt. But Gillette Co.
being sold to Procter & Gamble
hurts more, for both sentimental and practical reasons. Gillette has deep roots and a rich history in Boston. ... Time for area entrepreneurs to once again fill the long-term void, as Gillette did in the early years of the 20th Century when it led the way with its post-textile highly skilled manufacturing operations.
‘Mission inebriation’ - Part III: Mickey
is turning into a interesting Speech Analyzing Site with yet another op-ed tip
on the president’s inaugural speech. ... Noonan and Wright both dislike the president’s speech. I tilt more toward Noonan, if only because she so deftly nails the pumped up emotional state at the White House. But Wright, almost sounding like a patient Cold Warrior of yore, is right about the undeniable march of free markets and democracy.
‘Mission inebriation’ – Part II: Peggy Noonan
has more on the president’s speech – and this column is even better than the last
Massachusetts’ contribution to the war and really cool weapons: PackBot and R-Gator
, made by Burlington’s IRobot Corp. ... Robotics Trends Inc.
in Northborough is also mentioned in the CSM article.
It’s a newspaper war! ... Part IV: The fusillade resumes!:
I know, I know. Hub Blog said I was going to lay off the issue.
But I’ve been put on KP Duty
while on active duty, so I have time in between spatula flips to type out dispatches. ... Where was I? Oh, I couldn’t resist: Fearless Leader
discovers more about the Metro gang. ... Bravo One Hub Blog to Herald. Bravo One Hub Blog to Herald. Put Coz’s frigging full column online. Over. ... Ah, the smell of ink in the morning. It smells like -- victory. ... Medic! Medic! Adam
is going to need a heart defibrillator! ...
... Ah, a very balanced, very long and very overdue Globe story
on the Globe-Metro deal. ... The article seems to quickly appease Dan Kennedy
, who notes for the first time that more than a few people have been “waiting for the Globe to weigh in.” Gee, no media critique or smack across the head on why we shouldn’t have waited so long? ... Anyway, KP duty calls, so I’ll leave with these quick questions: Why did the original Globe-Metro deal story
go on Page 1 -- without a single mention of a likely Herald response, FYI -- and then get buried in the business section once the story took a nasty racial turn
? Why did a first-day racial controversy at MIT
make it so quickly to the front page of the Globe’s Metro section? Why did a first-day Larry Summers gender-remarks story
go on Page 1 and stay there? ... Is there anyone in this city who doesn’t think the Globe would have been all over the Metro racial flap if it involved any other prominent local institution except itself? Just asking. ...
But enough. ... Good-bye, Ma. Good-bye, Pa. Your soldier boy will write! ...
See ya, Doug, and leave the keys and ball: Doug Mientkiewicz
is outta here.
... Actually I’m pretty sure I would have kept the ball too. Instinctive selfish reaction. C’mon. Admit it. You would have too. ... The problem is he didn’t wisely and diplomatically relent once the obvious was pointed out. ... Boston Dirt Dogs
are all over Minky and Jodi. ... Tomori has been signed by Sox?
‘Watching this episode unfold ...’:
Quebec Reader, missing in action of late, tips me off to this Christian Science Monitor op-ed
on poor old Larry. From NYU professor Jonathan Zimmerman:
“Watching this episode unfold, you can understand why so many people hold university professors in contempt these days. They think we're smug, arrogant, and intellectually dishonest. And here's a little secret: They're right.”
Except for increasingly rare exceptions like Zimmerman.
Oh that Sal and Trav: Pay raises
to launch a new era of openness. Don’t you see? ... They’ll quickly embrace some progressive cause, talking oh so sensitively, making the usual suspects swoon. The Hack-Progressive Alliance: solid as a rock. ... Is this Mitt’s Curry Favor/Weld Pay Hike moment? ...
‘It’s off the charts’ ... Part II:
Hub Blog confident before a big game? Bill Belichick ‘emotional’
before a game? And they still win? ... Time to say it: The Steelers are the Buffalo Bulls of the AFC Championships. They just can’t do it. ... Gotta love the reaction in other cities
, though Pittsburgh and its fans are hard to mock. I like ‘em both. ... I also like the ‘counterpunchers’
analogy. The Pats didn’t manhandle the Steelers, like they did the Colts. They almost toyed with them, letting them have their best shots then popping them in the nose.
Did you notice how many times pundits and broadcasters brought up ‘firsts’ and ‘records’ regarding Heinz Field? (Longest field goal in such-and-such situation, biggest crowd etc.) Hey, the stadium is only four years old.
... I’m sure Gillette Stadium has similar ‘firsts’ and ‘records.’ But who cares? It’s a new stadium, dummies.
Sad, sad, sad: David Nyhan has died.
... Yet another great figure in Boston journalism to pass away in recent years.
remembers David ... Here's the Globe obit.
Good Peggy Noonan
column (via Dan
) on the president’s speech:
“One wonders if they shouldn't ease up, calm down, breathe deep, get more securely grounded. The most moving speeches summon us to the cause of what is actually possible. Perfection in the life of man on earth is not.” ...
‘No one honked or shouted rude words ...’:
Hub Blog likes this ‘shared space’
traffic idea a lot -- even though it comes from Europe and inevitably will be used as yet another snotty anti-American cudgel to bash all things American. ... Though it sounds socialistic, its main proponent, Hans Monderman, indeed sounds ‘almost' libertarian in his reasoning for taking down traffic lights, signs, sidewalks etc. in some areas. Hans: “Essentially, what it means is a transfer of power and responsibility from the state to the individual and the community." ... Once asked by residents to widen a road to lessen traffic congestion near a school, Hans retorted: "I wouldn't interfere with the right of people to buy the car they want, but nor should the government have to solve the problems they make with their choices." .. I like it! ... The idea of letting design/appearance dictate behavior sounds vaguely similar to the ‘shattered glass’ theory on neighborhood crime. I liked that theory, too. ...
The Summers cave:
Like clockwork, another humbled and craven college president, trying to rehabilitate and ingratiate himself, caves to the howling PC masses.
... Harvard’s going to solve gender discrimination with one task force and within a semester! Hurrah! ... I had higher hopes for Summers. Guess this means the end of his pushing to reinstate ROTC at Harvard. ...
... Still waiting for the outraged Harvard faculty to say something about the gender discrimination/assaults on meter maids. Summers is talking more task forces. Mayor Menino is talking more jail time.
I’m with Tommy. ...
-- WaPo’s Ruth Marcus
weighs in on l'affaire Larry and his ‘increasingly groveling’ behavior.
‘Transcended the war on terror’:
Hub Blog has always despised the realpolitik/balance-of-power politics of the Kissingers and French diplomats of the world. Not enough guiding idealism and principles, etc. ... But there is such a thing as a pendulum swinging too far to the other side, and we’re seeing it now with the annunciation and praise of President Bush’s new foreign policy doctrine. David Brooks.
What can you say? The utopianism oozes from every clause and paragraph. ... Should we change the name of the struggle from the War on Terrorism to the War for Freedom? Huh? ... Bad, FDR. Bad. You hooked up with Uncle Joe to defeat Adolph. ... Fully expecting Sean Hannity et beehive gang to start insisting that anyone who opposes the president opposes freedom. ...
Lastly: Notice the not-so-subtle references and comparisons to Lincoln, slavery and the Civil War. ... A far cry from the macho realpolitik ‘Homeland’ defense/Patriot Act/don’t need to consult Congress/UN bashing/allied bashing/torture justifying etc. ... Tick tock. The pendulum swings.
-- Hey, David! Never mind.
The speech wasn't as transcendental as thought.
‘It's off the charts’:
Bad news. Very bad news. Hub Blog is confident about the Pats-Steelers game. Why? Because of articles like this.
... I’m going to try to will myself into a state of gloom and negativity about the game, hoping my usual wrong-headed pessimism will lead to triumph.
The PC Harvard hooligans: Brian
defends Larry and what used to be called ‘academic freedom.’ ...
Of Hummers and men:
Perhaps the indignant over at Harvard should pay more attention to the non-theoretical and non-hypothetical assaults on females
in another profession. ... Sixteen assaults on meter maids last year? If Larry’s comments make some almost ‘black out or throw up,’ what’s their response to these incidents -- assuming they care? ...
Now here’s a happier (albeit weird) ending
to a Boston ticket confrontation (via Adam
Wilsonian meet Versailles, Versailles meet Wilsonian:
How can you read President Bush’s speech
yesterday and not be moved by some of it? The best line: “We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” ... Forget about George Bush. Purge the partisanship for a moment. Close your eyes and think of someone else saying it. It’s an undeniably splendid line.
But here’s the problem with the speech: the soaring language without pragmatism. The Cold War, a far more brutal and high-stakes struggle, called on us to occasionally do some awful things, like supporting dictators if they served as strategic buffers for the liberties of the many. There’s no hint of sacrifice, murkiness, tough calls in the president’s speech etc., just nods that freedom won’t be imposed and can’t be done in one generation. ... Scot
picks up a neat angle: no mention whatsoever of ‘Iraq.’ Now compare that with Lincoln’s second inaugural address
, which directly confronts an ongoing nasty war, complete with blood and sword, and links it with soaring ideals. ...
Bottom line: It’s indeed the Wilsonian, almost Jimmy Carterish, aspect of the president’s speech that worries me. Are the vice president and defense secretary on board? Were they when they made little or no pragmatic plans for the transformation of post-war Iraq?
Improbable history intellectual cat fights! ...:
Sit back and enjoy. Mickey Kaus
, the king of caginess when it comes to the Iraq war, is ripping apart Andrew Sullivan
, the king of emotionalism. The weird part: Mickey’s right on this one, but Andrew has been more open (i.e. less cagey) on where he stands on a given day. ...
... Meanwhile, Larry Summers
over at Harvard is being subjected to an old-fashioned 1970s/1980s PC Inquisition from the left. How dare he! ... But he’s being ‘contrite’
now. ... Count ‘em: seven stories on The Crimson’s site
this morning on the earth-shaking Summers affair. That’s more in one day than the Herald’s coverage of the Metro-Globe flap. It must be important!
... Via Andrew, psyche professor Steven Pinker
when asked whether Larry’s gender comments are appropriate for academic discourse: “Good grief, shouldn’t everything be within the pale of legitimate academic discourse, as long as it is presented with some degree of rigor? That’s the difference between a university and a madrassa.”
Not that anyone cares, but here is Hub Blog’s non-cagey stands: A.) Iraq War, bad in timing, planning and execution -- and in retrospect B.) Summers, comments have innate ring of truth to them but so sloppily presented that even the ossified ancien regime could outflank him.
And that’s Mr. Peabody’s
Improbable History Lesson of the day. ... Sherman, it’s your turn.
‘Too interesting! Riles the animal spirits’: Mickey
expounds on the joie du gossip et tabloid.
-- I had a feeling Adam
would react this way. ...
File under ‘small world and getting smaller’:
Special NFL playoff supplements/sections/sites etc. are nothing new. But they do take on an air of uniqueness when they’re in the The Times of London.
... The Brits are finding out about Troy Brown.
... Impressive pre-Pats-Colts game skepticism and restraint
about Peyton. Can the same be said about American sports writers outside eastern New England?
‘He has emerged as a political leader’:
In honor of the inauguration, Hub Blog points out this very balanced look
at George Bush, a man who’s been unfairly villified by many and yet a man who now faces historic second-term challenges of his own making. ...
‘The latest victim of the Pajamahadeen’:
Reader No. 1 sends in an alert that local blogger ‘Pajamahadeen’ are beating up on Ron Borges here
Reader No. 1 on the Pats game in general:
“Can it be a coincidence that the Patriots are led by obviously intelligent coaches and players who never brag about what they did right... and beat a team with a key player who made an unfortunate pregame comment about why the Colts would prevail?
Does Mike Vanderjagt get a game ball? ...
“I'm sorry I missed Boomer's Faux Pas, but as John McLaughlin used to say, 'he inadvertently stumbled into the truth.' One point the experts I heard this week overlooked, and I forgot about too: for many years, we've seen many, many top finesse teams have major problems at this juncture of the playoffs... especially in bad weather (think the 70s Rams losing NFC championships in frozen Minnesota, or Air Coryell clipped by the 80s Bengals - and of course Peyton last year). How long before Mike Vanderjagt points out the game would have been different in a Dome?”
‘The Dan Marino of his generation’:
That may not be the exact quote. But that’s roughly what the whole Harvard Garden gang heard when Boomer described Peyton Manning on the CBS post-game show, after the Pats’ latest game-plan lobotomy of the NFL’s greatest quarterback. ... And Dan Marino was sitting right across from Boomer, who instantly knew he made a classic faux pas for the ages. ... What a game!
‘Manning: Beating a dead horse.’ ... Kevin:
‘With stakes high, Manning ground into hamburg.’ ... Actually I’m convinced Manning is going to be the John Elway of his generation. Sooner or later he’s going to win a big one, methinks. But all of last week’s pre-game hype over him made the Pats victory as sweet as they come. ... P.S. Can a faux pas contain an obvious truth -- sort of like a modern political gaffe?
‘The Jets then drove cautiously’: Doug Brien
deserves blame for the Jets loss last night. But the coaching staff’s field and time management in the final minute was simply atrocious. The Jets should have kept moving the ball forward so Brien wouldn’t have to attempt an always iffy (unless you’re Adam V.) 43-yard kick. ... They didn’t play the odds. Unthinkable under Belichick. ...
Hub Blog’s gut instinct on today’s Pats-Colts game is one of guarded gloom. But, as noted before, that can be good, since I’m usually gloomy (and wrong) about big games. ... Reader No. 1 says his heart is telling him the Pats. ... What a showdown. Wish I wasn’t working tomorrow.
More on the new ‘code of silence’:
Good NYT piece
on the disturbing nationwide trend of gangs’ brutal intimidation of witnesses. ... The CSM did an article in November on Dorchester’s new code of silence.
‘It started as a noble enterprise’:
I’d be hesitant about taking any advice, let alone parental advice, from this crowd.
To be so consumed for so long in a bitter feud has to one of life’s worst experiences. ... So does the saga seem more like the “Alternative Factor”
episode of Star Trek (‘an alien being fights himself between two realities’) or the “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
(‘two survivors of a devasted planet remain committed to destroying one another’)? I’d go with the latter. ... It always comes back to Star Trek. ...
P.S. -- Good episode photo of Frank Gorshin, aka The Riddler, here.
‘Happy Birthday to ...’:
Wait. Don’t sing it.
Might get hit with a copyright infringement suit. ... Rapidly changing technology only makes patent and copyright disputes more complicated and expensive.
It’s a newspaper war! ... Part III: Weekend bombardment:
The Herald isn’t going to stop until Adam Gaffin
breaks down weeping and begging for mercy. ... Day 5: The porn connection.
... No one said war is pretty. Though a close inspection of those Metro skin flicks could change that assessment. ...
The Globe said in a memo yesterday
that company lawyers investigated from the outset whether the Globe-Metro deal might violate antitrust laws. But, gee, the original front-page story
in the Globe annoucing the deal had NO reference to its obvious potential impact on the Herald and NO mention of antitrust assessments. Hmmm. .... Why did it take bloggers like Dan Kennedy
to point out the obvious Herald angle at the outset? Hmmm. ...
I’m going to stop writing about this issue for obvious reasons: I’m a helmet-donning Heraldite who may soon be called to the frontlines. ... C’est la guerre!
... Teary good-byes have been given to loved ones and the will filled out. ... But remember Hub Blog’s stirring words as I answer the call to duty: “Those who criticize (the Herald) for deliberately overplaying the story might want to spend a bit more time exploring and explaining why the Globe is deliberately underplaying it.” ...
‘Over there! Over there! ...And it won’t be over until it’s over over there!’
Speaking of war ...:
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill gave me two books for Christmas, one of them ‘The Waterloo Companion,’
a dense, hopelessly dull, pathetic breakdown of every minute and detail of the battle. If Wellington or Napoleon picked their noses at Waterloo, I’m sure it’s in this book. ... But you know what? I’m already halfway through it and enjoying every page. God help me. I gotta get a life!
Brighton Reader sends along this New Yorker story
on the attempt by the junior-officer corps to learn and spread the lessons of daily fighting in Iraq. Brighton Reader: “Very interesting article. Armchair General Savin Hill might like it. Agree with the article's observations about the attitudes of post-Baby Boomers toward hierarchy and authority.” ...
... Tom Friedman
, in a good column, may have come up with a linguistic compromise that might be acceptable to both the new CPC (Conservative Politically Correct) and old LPC (Liberal Politically Correct) when describing who we’re fighting: “fascist insurgents.” ... Sounds right to me.
‘Hunger and thirst that is ancestral’:
Like many Bostonians, I’ve developed a healthy affection and fascination for most things Brazilian, considering the huge Brazilian population here. This is just a fun story
that says a lot about their changing culture.
It’s a newspaper war! ... Part II:
continues. ... The Globe wall is showing cracks.
But will it crumble? ... Please spare me the criticism of the Herald on this one. Those who criticize it for deliberately overplaying the story might want to spend a bit more time exploring and explaining why the Globe is deliberately underplaying it. Both sides have a ‘vested interest’ in the outcome. ... Reminds me of the titanic battles in the ‘60s between the Herald Traveler’s Robert Choate and the Globe’s William O. Taylor over control of Channel 5. But the roles today are now reversed. Will the outcome be reversed? ...
And, oh, I’m a Herald reporter. Throw that in there for all the ethicist police out there.
The Kitchenware Industrial Complex, the Tally:
I’d like to know what percentage of home improvement money
is earmarked for stainless-steel refrigerators and kitchen islands. The costs must be staggering. ... I know home refinancing is playing a huge role in driving the trend. But isn’t there also a cottage industry out there promoting the-next-hot-thing you gotta have if you’re anybody in life, from This Old House to the Home Improvement show and its multitude of knockoffs? ... The Wedding Bride Industrial Complex didn’t need low interest rates and home refinancing to launch and sustain its grip on the cultural mind.
'One last thing':
I haven't written much about Rathergate. Why should I? It's only the most heavily written about subject on the web these days. But if you have to read one more item on the subject, make sure it's John Ellis' post.
Coming out of early blogger retirement, John has choice observations on poor CBS, pathetic Danno, chest-thumping bloggers etc.
It’s a newspaper war! ... To the air-raid shelters!:
The Herald fired its Big Bertha yesterday
and again today
, prompting a pop-gun response yesterday
by the Globe and a more insightful piece today
by Mark Jurkowitz. ... Gotta love it. ... Hub Blog’s WWI pith helmet is strapped on tight and awaiting marching orders, sir!
Aw shucks, Part II:
Now Joe Kennedy
is announcing he ain’t running for governor. No big surprise. ... Scot
both take looks at the Dems’ now clear frontrunner: Tom Reilly.
Hub Blog’s ‘Improbable History’ Club:
Feel like Mr. Peabody
these days. ... Fred Anderson, whose book ‘Crucible of War’
I wrote about the other week
, writes in to say thanks for the plug and to note that co-author Drew Clayton will be signing copies of their new book, ‘Dominion of War,’
at the Harvard Coop at 7 p.m. this Friday. So if you dare to venture out of your air-raid shelter during these tense days in Boston .... Now if I’m Mr. Peabody, who’s Sherman? Reader No. 1, of course!
‘Mein Gott, zwei kilogram!’: Read this
only if you appreciate good potty humor. ... Via instapundit.
... So now we know the source of Sitzpinkel. God damn Germans.
Aw shucks: Michael Capuano
isn’t running for governor.
... It would have been fun -- listening to how Mike describes himself and how pundits contorted the language to describe him. ... ‘Urban populist’ seemed to be the early odds-on-favorite label. But now we’ll never know. ...
All hell is breaking loose over at Boston Dirt Dogs
over ‘ballgate,’ i.e. Doug Mientkiewicz’s hanging on to the final-out Series ball. ... ‘The center can’t hold ..’ ... Red Sox Nation torn apart. ... NYT
quotes Harvard professor in an attempt to lend campy intellectual weight to issue. ... What next? Dr. Phil? ...
Reader No. 1 weighs in:
“One can hardly blame Dan Shaughnessy
for telling this story: it is the perfect intersection of Bostonian historical pride and the great Bostonian unmentionable, i.e. money. It prompts so many questions:
"Would everyone have laughed if our soon-to-be former defensive whiz at first base had joked about using the proceeds of the ball to finance his kids'education at BC, not Florida State?...
"How long before the Globe Ideas section runs an essay from a local university's Associate Professor of Sociology comparing Doug's two series-ending baseballs and the always-in-motion World Series trophy to ancient Christian relics, such as the bones of saints and wood from the cross? ...
"How long before the New York Times or WSJ run an article on property law and ownership rights to discarded sports memorabilia, such as balls and bats?...”
Hub Blog’s advice to Doug: Hang in there until Yale, Princeton, Cornell and Stanford professors are consulted and quoted. ...
‘A different swagger about Bostonians’:
A transcript of a great interview by Steve Buckley with Wade Boggs over at Boston Dirt Dogs
, covering all the bases, from Boggs’ alleged ‘selfish’ hitting (now a laughable notion) to the change in atmosphere in Boston since the series. ... I’m glad he entered the Hall as a Sox member.
‘Triumph of optimism over experience’: Scot
casts a skeptical eye at all of them -- Sal, the Trav, Mitt. Sal, the ‘consummate creature of the legislative shadows,’ should take tips from Trav on how to say the right things that make liberals swoon. ... I’m still waiting for an article about how the Trav has ‘grown’ in office. It’s only a matter of time. ...
‘New thinking in the law of war’:
For all those now starting to put quote marks around the word “torture,” here’s a “guide”
to all the administration memos about “torture” and which really do use the word “torture,” regularly and openly, because they were, well, grappling with the issue of “torture.” ... I’ve come around to the conclusion that Dems are politicizing the issue at their peril. But the way some Bush backers have ducked the issue of “torture” -- similar to how they were completely mum about the military setbacks in Iraq, largely for political reasons of their own -- also stinks of partisan politics.
-- Good to see Sen. Lindsey Graham
, R-South Carolina, stating the obvious when he said the administration had been ‘playing cute with the law’ and acknowledging ‘I do believe we have lost our way.’
‘Here's the problem in Massachusetts’:
Reader No. 1 on Mitt and the Hack-Progressive Alliance, based on today’s posts below:
“John Ellis is right about Mitt's skill. You are right about the hack-progressive alliance (worth noting we just passed the 10th anniversary of a signal moment in Hack-Progressive Alliance History: Bill Weld throwing away a landslide election's worth of political capital by giving the legislature a big pay raise - we've never recovered.)
“Here's the problem in Massachusetts: it is impossible for any kind of suburban moderate effort to move the ball forward in any substantive way against the hack-progressive alliance:
“ -- Suburban moderates have to go to work every day and don't have the time or attention to fight the hack-progressives who ARE at work every day. (Once Bill Weld lost his veto-override numbers in the 1992 Senate election, his ability to change anything was effectively dead.)
“ -- Key constituencies that preserve order in suburban moderate communities have become heavily dependent on hack-progressives. To name two: public safety, and public schools.
“ -- Suburban moderates are still uncomfortable taking arms in debate against the intellectual vanguard that keeps the hack-progressives in power. …
“I'll submit my opinion that there is very little that Governor Romney can do to change this in any substantive way in two terms. (He would obviously be more effective in a Red State.) So, he is behaving in a logical manner for a politician.
“Being realistic about politics, I am OK with 'me me me' if there is something in it to improve the Massachusetts civic and political culture, but that's not evident (yet). One thing that sets Mitt apart from Showhorse Senator Kerry: Mitt is an executive and executives are responsible. So - let's see more local responsibility. Don't leave the Big Dig glory to Tom Reilly.”
Another blown ‘curry’ opportunity:
Don’t know much about the state’s ‘sick leave banks.’
But if they’re another tool to ‘curry favor’ with lawmakers, then they’re probably a scam. ... What’s with the sudden pressure on Mitt to ‘curry favor’ with lawmakers? What’s with the comparisons to other Republican governors? ... Repeating a Question of the Day from the other week: Curry favor for what
? ... I’m not saying Mitt can’t be a gentleman with lawmakers. He can and should work with them on the merits of policy initiatives. He’d probably enjoy local governing more if he did so effectively. But what critics are really saying is, ‘We’ll give you some of what you want if you give us some curry chits.’ I.e. Good government for bad government. The Question of the Day has just been answered. ... Psssst. Don’t tell anyone. But we’re approaching the very essence of the Hack-Progressive Alliance that has dominated the Statehouse for so long.
‘The degree of violence the gang engages in ...’: This is one nasty gang.
‘Demands of my real job’: John Ellis is hanging it up.
... I’ve been teasing him the past few weeks over his list. (And how the hell do
you leave the Superbowl and World Series champs off a ‘best’ list for 2004?) But he’s clearly one of the most powerful writers out there, and his blogging will be missed. ...
John also explains why he thinks Mitt is the GOP’s ‘best hope’ for 2008, noting his undeniable talents and strengths. No argument here. But my problem with Mitt is this: The guy has enormous substance -- but he squanders it by putting too high a premium on shallow style. Take the ‘curry’ issue above, a good example of sound governing behind the scenes. But, if you’ve followed Mitt enough over the past two years, you wince at the thought of him concluding, ‘Hey, this is resonating with the public! Let’s hold a press conference and a statewide anti-curry tour!’ Anything substantive is game for trivializing. All politicians do this. But Mitt regularly takes it too far, rightly raising questions about his sincerity and seriousness and landing him in all sorts of stupid predicaments.
‘Me, me, me’: Joan
brings up a good point about Mitt as he eyes the White House: his stated wishy-washy position(s) on abortion, clearly leaning toward abortion rights, based on his recorded 2002 rhetoric. Hmmmm. How big is the GOP tent these days? ... Is flip-flop with a dash or without a dash? I can never remember. ... Get your Mitt 2008 bumper stickers, coffee mugs and sweatshirts here
So the 2004 legislative push was a one-shot wonder. Mitt blames the setback on the big wave of local support for Kerry. But wouldn’t that make a resumed 2006 offensive logical seeing there won’t be a local presidential candidate on the ballot? ... What Mitt isn’t saying -- but has been said elsewhere, including here -- is that the typically dysfunctional local GOP is once again packing it in, instead of accepting the less glamorous notion that building a viable two-party state was always going to be a long and difficult process with only incremental progress. Mitt deserves a lot of credit for recognizing that the struggle for change starts at the legislative level -- and for doing something about it. But Mitt was absurdly wrong for choosing an all-or-nothing strategy in 2004. ... No wonder the Trav and Sal are smug these days.
‘Early warning sign’:
Reader No. 1 is still steaming over the Ellis list and expands on blogs in general (also see post below, with updates):
“I expect to see more Ellis-like disappointments now that 2004 was the unofficial Year of the Blog and boring old news outlets trumpet the importance of Blogs, like Channel 5 (this morning, can't find the link on their site, but no loss) and Fortune
(cover story of new issue).
“Shortly, we will be thoroughly oversaturated with Best-of-the-Year-type crap as the pioneers start turning attention elsewhere to the next big thing. Early warning sign: how often essential sites like (Sullivan) get handed over by the founders to guest hosts... Like all enthusiasm and technology curves, the boom is overheating and will shortly bust against the tide of expectations. But eventually, we start a new boom."
is noticing his own early warning signs. ...
‘It may well have [derailed] the deal’:
Tough to sympathize with either side in the pay issue for Massachusetts judges.
There’s the Supreme Judicial Court making up laws and imposing them on lawmakers and the people. There’s the Legislature’s regulars ‘who see their local courts as patronage havens.’ ... How about cutting a few hundred patronage jobs the courts didn’t request and using the savings for both pay raises and deficit reduction? ... Sal wouldn’t do that. Does not compute. Must find way to blame Mitt.
Mia Hamm, Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter?:
John Ellis’ weird symbiotic relationship with Boston continues. His list is a bust.
No mention of Pats or Sox, though there’s an oblique reference to the ALCS seventh game as the ‘best night.’ But Mia, Peyton and Derek are mentioned. Oh well. ... Mitt is the ‘GOP’s best hope in 2008’? Maybe I’m suffering from a mild case of familiarity breeding contempt. But if Mitt’s the GOP’s best hope in 2008, then 2004 wasn’t the watershed year some Republicans claim. ...
-- John Kerry
apparently hasn't ruled out a 2008 rerun. I wouldn't be a bit surprised. He's dreamed and shaped his entire life around becoming president. ... Read the last four paragraphs. Mandatory. Vintage Kerry.
-- Reader No. 1 on the list: "Cringeworthy."
-- Reader No. 1 asks that I put up the rest of his comments about John's list. I thought "cringeworthy" said it all. But here it is: "His cringeworthy 2004 list is the Blogosphere equivalent of the flabby old Larry King columns in USA Today. And I agree with a number of these choices (Lileks, Real Clear, Kausfiles). John, either write the blog or don't!" ...
‘To prove his sights are set on Beacon Hill’:
Hub Blog would submit that any sitting governor
who has to launch a campaign to prove he’s focused on local governing is a sitting governor who wasn’t focused on local governing. ... How bad is it? Bob Travaglini and Sal DiMasi are getting smug. ... More on the smug factor later.
‘Who dared insult the president’:
Reader No. 1 sends in a piece on Vladimir Putin
by Harvard’s Niall Ferguson and asks my thoughts. ... I guess I would respond that I liked this article better
, in which Putin’s Russia resembles more a throwback to the Brezhnev era. Ferguson’s comparison to Hitler strikes me as an overdone reach-into-the-historic-grab-bag analogy. ... But what the heck do I know? The gut still tells me Putin looks upon authoritarian China capitalism as more of a model, with a shared conviction his country is 'ungovernable' without authoritarian leadership. Either way, it’s not good.
-- Armchair Gen. Savin Hill: "Putin is a Soviet technocrat." ... Well, that settles that.
They’re trying to raise awareness of the French and Indian War
in New York. Interesting. .... The article mentions a great book, ‘The Crucible of War,’
by Fred Anderson, which I highly recommend. Anderson and a co-author, Andrew Cayton, are coming out with a new book on Monday, ‘Dominion of War.’
... One of the most influential but underappreciated (at least in America) statesmen has to be William Pitt, Britain’s leader during the Seven Years’ War, as ‘F&I’ is known in Europe and Canada. Pitt, the elder one, changed the course of world history -- especially North America’s -- with his ambitious, daring war strategy. Read Anderson’s 'Crucible of War' to find out how and why.
-- Reader No. 1 has his own book recommendation: "If you have not bought yourself a Christmas or New Year's present yet, invest in this book.
It is a refreshing break from typically war-and-politics dominated history - they are here too, but in a new context."
Happy New Year:
And Happy New Year!