Reacting to the new Exhibit A
's list of the 10 most notorious
Massachusetts criminals, David compiles his own list
. ... FYI: I immediately recognized 11 of David's 20. With a little help from Google, I realized I knew of 19 of the cases. ... If Zip Connolly
gets convicted of murder, a good case could be made that he at least deserves honorable mention. ...
Random conversation topics from Reader No. 1:
Daniel Gross of Slate reports on a working academic paper about the relationship between CEO homes and their stock performance - as noted throughout there are several potential explanations but it is nevertheless fascinating - and perhaps worth a local angle perspective in our famously 'over-heated' market:
Why does Dustin Pedroia bother so many people? Is giving him Kevin Millar's old number a subliminal gift to Talk Radio and certain local columnists?
'A brazen daylight attack'
The latest city shootings -- coverage here
-- is beyond shocking. I can't get this quote from a local reverend out of my mind:
Shooting someone in the middle of the day like this, they are saying, ‘I don’t care who sees me, I am going to smoke this person and I dare someone to rat on me.'
I fear it really has come to this. ... As for the Guardian Angels, I know they're publicity hounds. I know they'll largely be ineffective. But there's also something inside me that admires their almost foolish unarmed patrols. Have they ever been accused of dodging dangerous patrol routes? Just wondering. I know I wouldn't want to do what they're doing. There is an element of bravery to what they're doing. ... Then there's what I'd call the Weird Barometer Effect: Their mere appearance indicates that we've hit desperate times. Jack Levin
, director of the Brudnick Center on Violence at Northeastern University, seems to agree:
It is a sad state of affairs that we have to shame the goverment and local residents into doing what they should’ve done anyway.
Forget weekend matzah balls
. Let's jump right to dessert: macaroons.
indeed. ... The big mystery: when was coconut added to the recipe? Who was the culinary hero and genius? ... To this day, I associate macaroons with my grandmother, who always seemed to have them around whenever I visited her in Somerville. ... Another item that I associate with my grandmother: Piccalilli relish.
I love it and live in fear stores will stop carrying it one day. Sort of like having to hunt these days for canned brown bread or cube steaks. ... Big plus for Whole Foods: They carry macaroons (so-so in quality) and sometimes cube steaks. But they don't carry Piccalilli or canned brown bread. Or at least not the Cambridge Street store where I'm now forced to do most of my shopping. ...
'Pork Goes to War'
Depressing but still funny NYT "op-chart"
detailing some of the pork shoved into the recent Iraq funding bills in the Senate and House. My favorites: Mormon cricket eradication ($20 million) and peanut storage in Georgia ($74 million). Go here
for closer look at graphic. ...
'A plot to die for'
points to a good CSM summary
of the British-Iranian confrontation. Another good overview comes from David Ignatius
, who notes the spook scuttlebutt that the hostage taking may be tied to the recent disappearance/defection of former Revolutionary Guard officer Ali Reza Asgari, who may have been the target of a "false flag" operation by Israeli Mossad officers posing as Western intelligence agents. Cool stuff, if true. ... And, yes, by pure coincidence, I just got a copy of the new paperback edition of Mark Bowden's 'Guests of the Ayatollah.'
It just moved to the top on my reading list. ... Charles
rightly notes that Iraq is now more strategically important than Afghanistan and that Dem congressional leaders don't get it. True. But Iraq didn't have
to be the key strategic focus. The administration made it a key strategic focus and first-class mess by invading it in the first place. ...
'Financial dysfunction,' Part II
A brutal but probably accurate
look at how the transportation debate will play out. ...
has been posting
on Bob's observation
about the different covers Time magazine publishes for its U.S. and international markets. Note at right the Economist
's most recent 'regional' cover for the U.S. The Economist seems to respect its U.S. readers, while Time panders to its U.S. readers. One of the magazines has been growing in the U.S. in recent years. Guess which one. ... I recently read somewhere that Time wanted to become more like the serious-minded Economist. I'd say it still has a long way to go. ... P.S. -- A look at past Economist covers can be found here
-- More here
on the Bible and Talibanistan covers.
'Political theater,' Part III
is also fed up with the political theater vs. political theater in Washington. ...
Some thoughts on the finanicial crisis
Massachusetts' transportation system:
1.) Fees, tolls and taxes may well have to be raised to solve some
of the problems.
2.) Masssive additional reforms are critical to address the 'bloated costs, sketchy financial practices' within the system.
3.) Any move to implement "1.)" without "2.)" should be resisted at all costs. The management of the system has been a disgrace. The operationl costs, including union and bureaucratic perks in general, are obscene. They've literally been borrowing and tearing up rail lines to keep the system and bureaucracy afloat.
4.) I seriously doubt "2.)" will be implemented. The More Money Solves All Problems crowd is already clamoring for more dough.
5.) The Big Dig is expected to end up costing in the vicinity of $16 billion -- roughly the size of the deficit we're now beholding. There's obviously not an exact correlation. But there is some correlation.
6.) What a friggin' mess and disgrace.Update
-- Great minds think alike: 'Massachusetts's Transportation Money Pit'
'A curt response'
Curt Schilling's blog
is certainly changing the dynamics
between athletes and sports writers. ... Dan Shaughnessy's response is pretty good. ...
'A working relationship'
An ex-legislator using the power of the budget as leverage against an independent agency? Perish the thought!
... Mayor Menino is spending big bucks
to upgrade City Hall. But he's plowing ahead on building a new Government Center
on the waterfront. Plans for the waterfront have now gone from: 1.) Building a new exciting Back Bay to 2.) Building a new quasi-drab Kendall Square to 3.) Building a new Government Center to replace an old Government Center that just about everyone agrees was a disaster from the start. So I guess you can say government is now going for a twofer: Wrecking Scollay Square and wrecking the future waterfront. Thanks, mayor! ... New suggested name for Fan Pier: Fortress Pier. ... To bring this post full-circle back to ex-legislators: They're at the state college trough.
... Not a good day for government. ...Update
caught this one
: $281,845 last year for a state trooper lieutenant, $122,000 of it in overtime. ... Repeat: Not a good day for government. ...
Strange bedfellows alert
I recently heard this interview
with the ever strange Brendan O'Neill
, who questions whether the word 'genocide' is deliberately overused by Western powers to justify imperialist interventions, such as in Kosovo. Then I read of this spat
between Alexander Cockburn and Michael Berube over what exactly is an anti-war activist, with Cockburn apparently arguing you had to oppose U.S. actions in Kosovo and Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq, in order to rise to a level of moral purity. Kosovo again. Hmmm. Anyway, keep in mind O'Neill considers himself a lefty who feels right at home writing anti-Israel pieces
for the American Conservative.
A partial explanation for the Great Lefty-Righty Convergence emerges: Most everthing the West does is wrong. With caveats of course. ... Just pointing out how strange our politics have become. ... Stranger still: Georgie Anne Geyer
is also writing for the American Conservative. Not a bad piece on American political dynasties, BTW.
'Political theater,' Part II
The real issue: 'The I-word (incompetence)'Update
-- Charles writes in:
"Yet the addition of extraordinary public servants Josh Bolten, Tony Snow and Rob Portman has not changed the image of incompetence."
Tony Snow is an extraordinary public servant? This must be some new definition of extraordinary with which I am unfamiliar. The fact that our tax dollars have gone to pay people like Rumsfeld, Gonzales is galling. But to pay our taxes to have Tony Snow lie to us? I guess Novak had to go to the bottom of the barrel to find anyone in the Bush administration untainted by corruption or incompetence and when you hit the bottom of the barrel, I guess you get bottom feeders like Snow.
If Danny Ainge ...
Watching Ohio State and Greg Oden
last night, I thought of the 'silly'
spat over Danny Ainge sitting too close to Kevin Durant's mom at a recent NCAA game. But here's the problem: It's not silly if Dan is leaning toward Durant over Oden if the Celts get the No. 1 NBA draft pick. I have this awful feeling Danny's going in the Durant direction. ... Hub Blog to Danny: 1.) Shaq, not Kobe, has proven to be the champ; 2.) The Celts don't need another Paul Pierce. ...
'Turns my stomach a little bit'
Good piece on the 'community service arms race'
among atoning celebrities and aspiring college students. The latter category has increasingly bothered me in recent years. Nothing against community service, previously known as 'volunteer charitable work.' But it's really become an obnoxious resume-stuffing ploy pushed by hyper-competitive parents. Glad to see some colleges wising up to the scams. Maybe they'll go retro and start giving extra credit to kids who, you know, actually hold 'summer jobs.' ...
'House of Meetings'
By pure coincidence, I picked up a copy of Martin Amis's 'House of Meetings'
soon after reading Anne Applebaum's 'Gulag.'
Big thumbs up if: A.) You like Amis's morose style and wit (I do) and B.) You're drawn to Russian history despite its depressing nature (see second link). Amis, who has previously written about good old Koba, gives classy credit to Anne's book for some of the material in his novel. ... 'House of Meetings' reminds me of J.M. Coetzee's 'Disgrace'
and Olaf Olafsson's 'Absolution.'
They're all about not very likable men looking back on their youths in oppressed lands (Soviet Russia, apartheid South Africa and Nazi-occupied Denmark) and their regrets and mistakes. I loved 'Absolution.'
The protagonist makes Scrooge look like Mr. Rogers. ... And, yes, I really do read Robert Parker books
after delving into Russian history and novels.
The most momentous
since Al Gore invented the Internet. ... I'll be hovering by the keyboard at exactly 2 p.m., ready to click right here
in order to say I was one of the first. Live blog reports to come. ... Maybe not. ...Update
- 6 p.m. -- It's ... it's. ... it's a web site
Sadly, for a person who despises what this president has done to the country, I find myself in agreement with President Bush's description of yesterday's House vote on the war: 'Political theater.'
Please don't tell me the vote was one of profound conscience and principles. There was also a clear element of hyper-partisanship as symbolized by $24 billion in grotesque non-military spending (see 'War vote + political pork = ...' below). Then there's the issue of simple pragmaticism. If the war is so lost and immoral, why a pullout in August 2008? Why not August 2007 or January 2008? They might as well have thrown a dart at a calendar to pick a month. I have far more admiration for the liberal and conservative Democrats who either abstained or voted against the bill. At least they
showed conviction. ... I wish Dems had taken this
route: 'Keep attention focused on Mr. Bush’s responsibility.' But now Mr. Mission Accomplished gets to wrap himself in the flag and surround himself with military family members as he condemns a worthless bill and 'political theater' that he himself has practiced to perfection. Political theater vs. political theater. ...
Hey, the Brits pull out of Basra and we get Shiite vs. Shiite thuggery.
Isn't there a lesson here? At least give Gen. Petraeus time to see if there's a way to minimize what we all know will happen if we withdraw from a Sunni-Shiite area. ... Last but not least, final words from David Ignatius
, who thinks the U.S. Attorneys controversy is less about scandal and more about deeper problems at work within the administration:
The Bush political operatives have become the people the Republicans once warned the country against -- a club of insiders who seem to think that they're better than other folks. They are so contemptuous of government and the public servants who populate it that they have been unable to govern effectively. They are a smug, inward-looking elite that thinks it knows who the good guys are by the political labels they wear.This
This contempt has been evident in many of the administration's failures. The disastrous incompetence of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 flowed from its status as a clubhouse for ambitious conservatives eager to punch a political ticket in a country they knew nothing about.
is what I had hoped Democrats would concentrate on: the incompetence. ...
Boston jaywalkers, beware
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill has found a solution to an age-old problem:
The bane of any driver's existence when driving around Harvard Square is pedestrians blindly walking into traffic, usually just a few feet in front of your bumper. Finally, someone has made a car to make Harvard Square driving easier.
War vote + political pork = profiles of the incorrigibles
They're wrestling with their consciences
in Washington. ...Update
is all over it. ...
'If Bush had changed his mind ...'
More than a few people are thinking the same thing.
'They moved in unison and spoke in unison'
Deval's Greek Chorus
gets its talking points.
'Complete glorification of combat,' Part III
I suspected this might happen: The movie 300 is popular with the video-game set
and I'm forever doomed to be associated with the Saving Private Ryan generation. Explanation:
The less politicized majority, who perhaps would like to draw inspiration from this story without glossing over the crazy and defective aspects of Spartan society, have turned, in droves, to a film from the alternative cultural universe of fantasy and science fiction. Styled and informed by pulp novels, comic books, video games and Asian martial arts flicks, science fiction eats this kind of material up, and expresses it in ways that look impossibly weird to people who aren’t used to it.
For the record, I loved Galaxy Quest. So maybe I'm not that out of touch. ...
'Revere will always be Revere'
What? A whole week without blogging and not one Deval misstep to catch up on? No. Wait. Forgot.
... To Deval's defense, the Jack Ryan wannabes at Homeland Security were never going to let some namby-pamby liberal social-service workers from Massachusetts mess up their perfectly planned raid and airlift of terrorist seamstresses to Texas. ... Did you see the raid photos with guys wearing their very own Homeland Security windbreakers and baseball caps? You can order them right here
. Scroll down for exciting DHS apparel. ... Tidbits: You have to read Howie's column
to the end before shaking your head. ... Another Massachusetts Republican
is running for president. Best commentary of week: "Certainly the only republican candidate ... who is making such a profound argument for single-payer mental health care."
'Pampered to primordial'
If you want to see Africa, I advise Senegal
. It's a two-fer and three-fer all in one. It's easy to get to via either Paris or Casablanca (the two-fer part) and it's got a great mix of first-, second- and third-worlds (three-fer). I loved it. And I didn't mind the pampering at all. ... But I advise against the night safaris
. One word: overrated. I went on a night trip one time at an elephant reserve in South Africa. No elephants. Like an obnoxious American, I complained afterward. I wanted my elephants!
I also suspected it was all a gimmick, with the phony Land Rover-schtick being the tip off. My instincts were right. Two days later, the owner of the lodge where I stayed took me to the reserve in daylight ... in a convertible Cadillac. (Take that, Deval!) There was no mystery: It was a park, with large fences, roads, a lot of elephants -- and tourists driving around in Toyotas, Mercedes-Benzes, vans and ... a convertible Cadillac with a guide chain smoking Pall Malls. ...
Now that's a red sauce, Part II
Fresh off our successful Grandma Zappa red-sauce
experiment, Hub Blog and the Hub Blog Dad recently tackled Glenn's Lamb and Guinness Stew recipe
in our very own Sudbury's Test Kitchen. Verdict: Very mmmmm. Advice: Go easy on the thyme (no more than teaspoon), go heavy on the garlic, light on the other spices, and definitely carrots. ... BTW: This is an old-fashioned grown-ups stew. I can just picture the little ones crinkling their noses at the faint bitter stout taste. ...
'We were harsh on their second album'
Reader No. 1 on the death of Brad Delp:
3 thoughts on how Boston was unusual:
1. I can't think of anybody else who went back and forth between a hugely popular group and a local coverband (Delp's Beatlejuice) while maintaining their musical credibility.
2. We were harsh on their second album, I'll suggest in part because expectations were so high. Those were the days when bands put out at least one new record *every single year* and none of them were greatest hits or remixes or deluxe additions - so the 2 year lag was (sic) Such A Long Time.
The measure of impatience: I remember one late summer 78 afternoon on BCN hearing the "Don't Look Back" single played over a *telephone* from LA by someone who had an advanced pressing... presumably the receiver held up to the speakers on the other end of the phone. Naturally, it sounded horrible (not unlike their early live shows) but hey, we couldn't wait!!!
3. 30 years ago, I went back and forth on their debut record. How good could it be if it was that popular? In retrospect, it's a wonderful blend of high-tech power and clarity (those multi-tracked Scholz guitars) and simple, open-hearted songs... "More than a Feeling," "Let Me Take You Home Tonight..." Nothing brilliant, it just holds up. RIP, Brad Delp.
More at the superb fan website Gonna Hitch a Ride.
'We're corruption overachievers'
The Chicago Sun-Times studiously examines
where Illinois falls in state corruption rankings. Having covered the Illinois Statehouse, I gotta say Illinois is up there and definitely outcorrupts the Bay State. Massachusetts seems more at ease with its corrupt House speakers than with corrupt governors. ... But the corruption rankings, based largely on federal indictments and prosecutions etc., can be and are quite misleading. Massachusetts has a recent history, for instance, of making federal officials partners in corruption rather than investigators of corruption, thus reducing the number of indictments used in rankings. Knowing this, one has to seriously ponder the validity of our No. 26 ranking
. ... BTW: Any corruption ranking that doesn't have Rhode Island in the top 10 is self-evidently flawed. ... S-T piece via Glenn.
'Alas, the legacy just keeps bubbling up'
Ah, the fun-loving, life-affirming lives of the Wagner family
. The reviewer reaches a height of brilliant sarcasm when describing Wieland Wagner, who during the war 'was given his very own concentration camp to run.' ... Special guest appearance by Gunter Grass. ... The review could have done without the last relativist generalization about generalizing. C'mon, Geoffrey, you were on a great German-bashing roll and you ended it with that? ...
'Those shaky early days became a footnote'
another failing politician and how he turned it around after a rough start. ...Update
-- Now this
. I hope she gets well soon. ... More here
'Don't Look Back'
Adam rounds up local bloggers' reactions
to the death
of Boston band singer Brad Delp. I particulary liked Scott's post.
I distinctly recall first hearing Boston at a crowded, dimly lit high-school party and being shocked how much I enjoyed every song. The hostess kept replaying their debut album over and over again -- and no one complained. But, unfortunately, I still tend to associate Boston with its dysfunctional post-debut-album antics. This post
tends to understate the general reaction to its second LP, which I recall bordered on disgust and which the band never quite recovered from. ... The dreaded second or third album. The Pousette-Dart Band
, a local group of the same era but very different from Boston, famously got creamed the minute it faltered on a later album. ...
'But Pigs of my owne Sow ...'
Reviewer Tony Horwitz feels compelled to bad-mouth
our New England Pilgrims in order to boost the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia. I suppose not resorting to self-destructive crime, mutiny, torture, executions, cannibalism, slavery and general all around indolence is something the Pilgrims now also have to be faulted for these days. ... I happen to have gotten hold of a copy of Karen Ordahl Kupperman's 'The Jamestown Project.'
Horwitz notes it takes 200 pages before the book gets into the actual English landings in Virginia. Ugh. Isn't there an unwritten 100 Page Rule in publishing that says you lose readers if you don't get into a subject matter relatively fast? But I'll read the book anyway -- one of these days. ...
BMG Watch, Day 172 PDP **
Hub Blog has decided to temporarily rescind BMG
's recent designation as Big Moonbat Group
, due to its proven ability this past week to actually criticize Deval over The Call. This magnanimous move comes despite Charley's meanie 'fatuous'
comment about a certain perceptive post and occasional paranoid 'Powers That Be'
rants. That is all. ... P.S. -- Consideration was also given to this post
. Couldn't agree more. The U.S. Attorneys scandal could turn out to be big. The Bush administration is not only the worst presidency of my lifetime, it's the most hack infested.
** Post Democratic Primary
'Complete glorification of combat,' Part II
More rave reviews for '300.' Review No. 1
: “300 is about as violent as 'Apocalypto' and twice as stupid." ... Review No. 2
: "Pea-brained epic." ... Review No. 3
: "It could be ancient Greece. It could be somebody's hard drive." ... Of course you just know a lot of video-game players are going to love it. So I'm interested to see post-weekend box-office numbers. ... I was about to go off on a profound rant about how Leonidas' beloved Spartan society served as organizational inspiration for Heinrich Himmler's SS, then I read in Review No. 2: 'Never was a movie less of a candidate for an Op-Ed piece.' ... I can accept that.
I shall let John
. I'm all moonbatted out today. ...
'Complete glorification of combat'
Add it all up: Film noir comic-book illustrator + director of music videos, TV commercials and 'Dawn of the Dead' + the most militarized and sexually messed up society in human history = '300.'
... I think I'll take a pass. ... If you're looking for something a bit more intelligent on the subject, check out Valerio Massimo Manfredi's 'Spartan.'
... P.S. -- The PBS documentary 'The Spartans'
was also good.
'A very short phone conversation,' Part II
Deval could have avoided all of this
if he had just followed his own memo's advice
He's obviously employing the learning-curve
defense. Which is OK. Assuming he truly learns. ... What's this about 'keep making these stupid mistakes'? Mistakes? Plural? You mean there's a 'pattern' here that might include the 'media-manufactured' CaddyDrape-gate? ... I got a few emails yesterday asking why I would 'downplay,' as one person put it, Deval's latest, ah, problem (see post below). I don't think I downplayed it per se. I view l'affair Ameriquest as quite serious, more serious than the other combined 'mistakes' that help form a pattern. But all the mistakes were made at roughly the same time, so it's reasonable to hope -- as in 'hopefully' (see below) -- that he's learned a lesson. ...Update
How much more of this will we see? On one hand, I like it; it means he's squandering his political capital instead of using it for programs I'm sure to oppose. On the other hand, if we're going to have a governor like that, let's have a governor, not another empty suit.
Ernest Gallo, RIP.
Mock the quality of his wine all you want. But he and his brother, Julio, played no small role in bringing average table wine to the average American table. ... Granted, it was hard to live down the 'Thunderbird wine' image. But not that hard when all you wanted or needed was a big jug of red wine at an affordable price that other wineries refused to provide for snob reasons. ...Update
-- Poking around to find what wine Orson 'I will drink no wine before it's time' Wells used to pitch (it was Paul Masson), I stumbled upon this site
with a fun description of the evolution of American wine tastes:
To bring this article full circle and look at where wine consumption is heading, we must look back at what most of the Baby Boomers began drinking. It is remarkable how many people had similar early wine drinking experiences. The list goes something along the lines of Annie Green Springs, Boones Farm, Strawberry Hill, Gallo Hearty Burgundy, Gallo Chablis, French Colombard, Ripple, Spanada and Sutter Home White Zinfandel, not necessarily in this drinking order.
As a Baby Boomer, I recall the Gallo and, on special occasions, the Italian Chianti that made me think, 'Mom and Dad are getting fancy
-- Adam sends in a link: Bumwine.com
. ... There she is. Thunderbird!
'A very short phone conversation'
Why does he do
things like this? ...Update
-- OK, checked the time line and the conversation occurred just before CaddyDrape-gate reached its Feb. 21 peak
. It's concerning. But it would have been even more concerning if it occurred after
the lessons-learned crest. ...Update II
-- I almost can't believe I'm more sanguine
than Charley. But here's why I am: Deval has never held an elected office before. He's never been knocked around as a selectman, legislator, Congressman, etc. There is a learning curve to these things. Hopefully, he's learned. ... Now, if this keeps up, then, well, we have major sanguine-depletion problems, folks. ...
'They're all one'
One of the great shocks of my life was to learn I was 1/16th English. Now this
. ... What fun is it to be Irish if you can't bellyache about the English? ... Fun article. ...
'Plan B was to make Plan A work'
The Bush administration's dysfunctional aversion to planning
is examined. ... For the record, Plan A is not the current surge in Iraq. Plan A was the original occupation plan that didn't have any contingency plan. Plan B was all the wasted years in trying to make Plan A work. Finally, Plan C, the current surge plan, was implemented. So we're really talking about a Plan D to make Plan C work -- while others outside the administration discuss contingency Plan E and, logically, Plan F etc. ... This article finally nails it for me: This is the worst presidency of my lifetime.
More on Adalius Thomas here
. I'm a little concerned about him -- and his price. But one has to assume Bill knows his linebackers. ...Update
-- Maybe I'm not
that concerned. Does this make me the opposite of Ron? ... BSMW: 'I should've known better.'
Me too. ...
Reader No. 1 sends in an email slugged 'fun,' as opposed to 'fun (not)' state budget discussions:
This SABRMetrically minded piece from John Walsh of the Hardball Times which initially speculates on how well our latest high-priced Sox acquisitions will do in Fenway and expands from there...
Aggressive move by the Pats? Good brief writeup on Adalius Thomas c/o Football Outsiders. They need at least one more starting inside LB because Vrabel is not one, and Bruschi is not what he was, alas.
AND an original and entertaining political analysis on why NH and Iowa still matter.
Is this a great country or what?
The Duct Tape Budget, Part II
Reader Bert takes me to the woodshed. Here are the nut grafs of his email:
Ok, I’m a liberal. I’ll admit that and yet still try to ask a fair and polite comment about your posting on this.
I was disappointed that you seemed to be heading toward making a reasoned argument that both the business community and Patrick had valid arguments on this issue, but then you veered off. Why waste your time on the extreme element of BlueMassGroup or an individual corporate wingnut who says $0 tax is too high? Why not stick to the merits of the debate between the two sides? At the very least compare the demonization of corporations to the demonization of taxes.
Hub Blog's long response -- Sorry for going off on a tangent. I plead guilty. I was taken aback by the Greek chorus rhetoric
that actually accused corporate types of tolerating the suffering of others in order to make a buck. It was a vicious way to frame a debate -- a mere step or two away from the old 'people will die' argument over budgets. ...
Anyway, as for the substance of the two non-extreme
arguments, I'm not one of those who thinks '$0 is too high' for corporations. They should pay taxes to help fund the upkeep of their (and our) roads and bridges, as well as education of their (and our) future work force, etc., etc., etc. I also think corporations tend to whine and exaggerate their plight, just as every interest group does in Massachusetts. But that doesn't mean they're wrong all the time. They're absolutely right to say $500 million in new taxes is a big chunk of change in a state known for its high cost of both doing business and simply living. The rankings showing Massachusetts with low corporate taxes are true -- but such rankings don't and can't paint a full picture about the true costs here. The price of land, housing, utilities and, thus, wages etc. are all high and factored into corporate decisions. The totality of costs is the main reason why, for instance, Fidelity is moving jobs elsewhere. Does anyone really believe Fidelity when it says it's expanding elsewhere because it wants to be near its customers? The totality of costs is also a crucial reason why so many young people, many of them talented workers, are moving elsewhere. No corporate-tax ranking can capture these cost features. That's why the whole 'tax fairness' issue is just, well, a spin. Deval very admirably stated before the election that he planned to close three corporate loopholes
valued at $85 million. It's right there in cyber print. But now he's proposing to close seven 'loopholes' valued at $500 million. Why did he do this? Because he needed cash fast and corporations don't vote. Does anyone really believe otherwise? If it's truly just about 'tax fairness' and helping disabled children's parents, then it should be a moralistic no-brainer to go after those low-hanging dollars that would come by merely bumping Massachusetts up in the corporate-tax rankings. But Deval, a very smart man, knows full well it's not that simple. ...Update
-- I was just told the Greek chorus
reference to disabled children, linked above and below, was a joke, not to be taken seriously. So be it. Stand by everything else I just wrote. ...
The Duct Tape Budget
Reader No. 1 wrote in yesterday: "Are you on vacation? You're missing all the budget fun (not)." My answer: I was sick and could barely work, let alone blog early in the morning. Re the 'fun (not)' part, I'd say I agree, unless you count viewing partisan cheerleading competitions
as a form of fun. I don't. ...
As for the budget, well, eh. What can I say? It wasn't bold (no major reforms that would fundamentally change state government, though I did like Deval going after earmarks). It had a sense of realism (some actual proposed budget cuts to deal with a deficit primarily caused by overspending). But it also had a sense of the cheap (going after corporations is NOT bold). I was going to give it high grades for relative transparency, until I read this
. Etc., etc. ... All in all, it's just a budget. An average, ordinary, whatever-you-want-to-call-it budget. Perhaps no Band-Aids were used. But a lot of duct-tape was involved, as is typical in these matters. I wasn't awed. I wasn't impressed. ... The disappointing part of the budget is the corporate taxes. Not because they're now too low or soon to be too high. That subject is more complex than either side cares to admit. It's more because the demonization of corporations has begun. Case in point
: "Take that, you cheap corporate types who already pay low taxes and would sooner take money out of the pockets of disabled children's parents than suffer even a modest hit to your own bottom line!" Those aren't Deval's words. But they obviously reflect how quickly some of his key moonbat supporters will go to whip people into an anti-corporate frenzy. ... At least Deval had the courage and decency to talk to business leaders the next day. Deval also is acting quickly to promote pro-business zoning
initiatives. My hunch is he's doing this precisely because he knows, as he has noted, that private companies ultimately produce the jobs and tax revenues that allow state government to, well, help disabled children's parents and others. ... One last lingering thought: If Deval had to raise corporate taxes by $500 million to deal with a $1.3 billion deficit caused by overspending, think what he will do when/if there's a $2 billion or even $3 billion deficit caused by a recession. That's the unsettling part. ...
Now that's a red sauce
Maybe you saw the much emailed NYT article
(reproduced version here
) on the hunt for grandma Zappa's old spaghetti sauce recipe. Well, Hub Blog and the Hub Blog Dad boldly tried the suggested recipe
this past weekend. Review: Mmmmm. ... FYI: We went with 2 pounds of all boneless pork in the sauce, cut up into chunks, figuring the meatballs provided enough beef for one meal. We were right. Mmmmm. ... FYI II: This is the next ambitious recipe
I'm going to try. For a full-fledged member of the Cult of the Crockpot, it looks good. ... FYI III: Proving I can give as well as take, I present my own favorite, simple recipe, via Cambridge Center for Adult Education: Mustard Tarragon Chicken. Ingredients: Boneless chicken cut into chunks (or just chicken tenderloins); one teaspoon of dried tarragon; two table spoons of olive oil; two teaspoons of good Dijon mustard (more to liking); 1/4 cup of white wine (ideally Pinot Grigio); salt and pepper; and 1/2 teaspoon of white wine- or apple-vinegar (optional). Mix together. Marinate if you wish. But not necessary. Put in baking dish and pop in 400 degree oven until done (20 minutes or so). Brown under broiler if you want. Serve with rice, spuds, salad, whatever. ... A friend tried this in a cast-iron skillet, browning the chicken first and then pouring the sauce on top, and said it was great. So be it! ...