Definition of shell-shock:
1. A psychological disorder caused by prolonged exposure to military combat conditions, especially during World War I.
Sure sounds like Huck
after days of Mitt's relentless bombardment. Mitt has apparently broken through
on the Iowa front, if late polls are any indication. ... (You're just loving this war reporting stuff, aren't you?
--ed. I love it. God help me I do love it so. I love it more than my life. *
-- Mitt's own internal polls
apparently show a surge. ...
Motorcades through Medford
Anyone who's willing to invest $1 billion
into a presidential race has to be considered a very serious candidate. ... Imagine the excitement around here if Bloomberg wins. Motorcades through Medford to visit the First Mom. Presidential spottings at Foodmaster. Federal funds for Magoun Park upgrades. ...
Kevin looks back at 2007.
I really liked his Fred Thompson nod
. I didn't know Fred had said that. Good for him. Reason enough to wish Fred well in coming weeks. ...But I didn't like Kev's Schadenfreude of the Year choice: The New York Mets epic collapse. C'mon. Sox and Mets fans are secret allies with a common enemy. Hub Blog's Manhattan WMD Spy reports pure joy broke out in Queens after the Yankees epic collapse in '04. ... Here's my choice for Schadenfreude of the Year: Yankees fans when they realized A-Rod would
be coming back in '08. ...
'It was a goal to go undefeated'
Pats? No. Celts.
Very impressive four-game West sweep
Don't panic. The FTAS
is still yellow -- i.e. elevated -- as of 7:56 a.m. Calmly go to supermarket to buy provisions. Liquor-store stops are permissible. ... This message also made available via the FTAS's vast Boston Blogs Network
- 2:50 p.m. - FTAS downgraded to 'guarded.' ...
'A two-front battle,' Part II
Huck is firing back
at Mitt, who's launched a second bombardment against McCain. ... Mitt keeps mentioning an incident in which he witnessed a soldier's casket coming home from Iraq via Logan -- and my mind keeps coming back to this now famous op-ed
about a passenger who witnessed a soldier's casket coming home from Iraq via Logan. Maybe it's nothing. Mitt deserves credit for going to a lot of military funerals. ... BTW: I think the casket piece was one of the most poignant op-eds I've read in a long time -- easily one of the best of 2007.
'Mitt and Mike: A Tale of Two States'
Brighton Reader sends along this link
to a Caucus post that says:
I can tell you that there is a special meanness to the environment in Massachusetts, where generations of tribal wars have created a kill-or-be-killed mentality, and where the media is unusually relentless and unforgiving.
Brighton Reader adds for himself:
Growing up, the political tomes on my family's bookshelves could be divided into two categories: Kennedy Good, Nixon Bad.
Both the national press corps and the Hollywood are loving this dark image of Boston, brooding, spiteful and vengeful. The reality is today's South Boston, where the vendettas are now centered on rights to a shoveled parking space. Ah, for the days of the Bulgers.
I don't know about pining for the Bulger days. But there's definitely more than a little 'gritty' nostalgia
going around these days. ...
'Unbelievable ... Undefeated ... Holy shit! ... Ok, I'm officially done'
Angela sums it up best.
... The last game was the best game. It was a classic that everyone knew was a classic as it unfolded. From the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins
(T)he New York Giants and the New England Patriots gave us all a gift: they refused to tank. With nothing at stake except a record, a piece of history, and some personal honor, they played to win. The result wasn't just history, it was a beauty.
Dismissing Spygate as 'unaudulterated trough-water hogwash' after what the Pats accomplished this year, her conclusion about the Pats:
Their record is a matter of organization-wide discipline. Videotape doesn't explain why the Patriots make fewer stupid mistakes than their opponents. It doesn't explain why they almost never get penalized, why they don't jump off-sides or indulge in stupid personal fouls. It doesn't explain why they don't cough up the ball on key possessions, or miss critical field goals wide to the left or right. It doesn't explain Brady's accuracy under pressure. It certainly doesn't explain the selfless team-first ethic in their locker room, a tone set by Brady, who has repeatedly sacrificed his own salary and made himself the most underpaid great quarterback in the league, in order to build a better team. That they played their starters in this game, and played to win, was merely the ultimate expression of their consummate professionalism. Update
-- Screw William C. Rhoden.
... To deny Belichick the Coach of the Year Award after last night's game and a 16-0 season would itself be a form cheating. ...
'A two-front battle'
Mitt has launched a massive bombardment
against Huck in Iowa. He has to. Iowans may not like negative campaigns. But if Mitt loses Iowa, it's probably over for him. ... It's kind of cool reading Ed Rollins' remarks about 'bleeding' and hunkering down during Mitt's surprise artillery barrage. ... (Isn't this just a form of horse-race coverage?
-ed. No. It's war reporting, damn it!) ... Notice the reference to Mitt as an 'underdog.' He's determined to make the 'comeback kid' scenario a reality. ... Yep, the GOP establishment is rallying
around anyone who can stop Huck. Almost makes you want to wire Huck some cash. ...
At the risk of coming across like Andrew Sullivan (i.e. taking swipes at other writers -- see below), I gotta say that I was also struck by David Oshinsky's 'surprisingly positive review'
of Jonah Goldberg's 'Liberal Fascism.'
Positive in the sense that he views Goldberg as more sophisticated and witty than Sean Hannity and Michael Savage. I'd add, without reading either book, that Jonah's 'Liberal Fascism' is probably more sophisticated and witty than Gregg Jackson's 'Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies.'
But that's the problem: It's not hard to be more sophisticated and witty than Sean, Michael and Gregg. ...
As for Jonah's book (and again, without reading it), I think it obviously falls into the dreaded Must Win The Argument At All Costs category of ideological books. It's all about scoring points and counter-points against ideological opponents, i.e., winning arguments. ... I've harped on this issue
before -- that the hard-core ideological left and right are mere mirror images of themselves when it comes to debating issues. In Jonah's case, it's as if he said to himself, 'Aha! You calling me a fascist? You're the fascist! Aha!' ... Here's a dirty little secret about modern conservativism, as gleaned by yours truly while devouring National Review, American Spectator etc. during my brief hard-core conservative stint in the '80s: Many conservative pundits and intellectuals have an inferiority complex when it comes to arguing with liberals. They know that liberals have an all-encompassing view of the world that provides them with ready-made put downs (accusations of fascism, McCarthyism etc.) -- and for years that argumentative style infuriated conservatives to the point where the former publisher of National Review, William Rusher, wrote a book called 'How to Win Arguments.'
For years, the book was heavily advertised in National Review -- along with countless articles dwelling on conservative frustrations with getting around the arguments of liberals and their allied lackeys in the media. That debate-club compulsion to win arguments became part of the modern conservative mindset -- with the ultimate debate-club tactic being to turn the tables on liberals, or 'to fight fire with fire,' as one conservative friend once put it to me. Thus, you have Jonah's sophomoric 'Liberal Fascism' response to liberals' sophomoric accusations about conservative fascism. (You calling me a fascist? You're the fascist!
). ... Don't think for a second that liberals are somehow immune from the same must-win-arguments compulsion. The problem with both ideological sides is that they can't stand ambiguity and/or losing debates. Their all-encompassing ideological world views would collapse if they acknowledged their all-encompassing ideological world views aren't that all-encompassing. ...P.S.
-- It should go without saying that not all conservatives and liberals are locked in an endless scorpions-in-a-bottle fight. I can't imagine George Will or Robert Novak writing a book with a title as dumb sounding as 'Liberal Fascism' or 'Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies.' ...
And the winner is ...
There's something incongruous about Andrew Sullivan
, of all people, handing out awards
to writers for exhibiting 'shrill, hyperbolic, divisive and intemperate right-wing rhetoric;' 'divisive, bitter and intemperate left-wing rhetoric;' 'pretension, vanity and really bad writing designed to look like profundity;' and 'stunningly wrong political, social and cultural predictions.' ... If there was a combined Malkin Moore Poseur Yglesias Van Hoffman Award for writing over the past five years, care to guess who might be a leading candidate to win? ... Sorry. I like Andrew. I agree with him on a lot of issues. But his site has evolved into my own guilty-pleasure must-read blog over the years. Whenever I think my views are inarticulate and all over the map, I head over to Andrew. .... I have a bet (I think it's with Armchair Gen. Brighton Center) that Andrew will lap himself on the Iraq war -- meaning he'll have held every position on the war twice before it's all over.
'Modern, liberal and unafraid'
succinctly sums up Benazir Bhutto's death: 'And the scariest place on earth gets a little scarier.' ... It's what it comes down to, really. ... The Franz Ferdinand comparisons are a little off. But not that off. The entire region is like the old powderkeg Balkans of pre-WWI: One spark and ... David Ignatius
, who recalls Bhutto's days as a cub sports reporter at the Harvard Crimson, says the Bush administration and Gen. Musharraf can't really be held to blame. Pakistan is Pakistan. Bhutto, whose family tragedies and faults remind me of the Kennedys, bravely knew what she faced upon her return to her country. Her enemies, she knew, were Islamic extremists and their helpers within the intelligence services. She didn't play political footsie with Musharraf without a reason. ...
'Finally, the report finds ...'
Reader No. 1 sends in an interesting link
that confirms television networks like underdogs and horse races. ... I'm as guilty as anyone about horse-race coverage of the presidential race. See links below. ... I'm surprised the networks have devoted as much time as they have to 'substance.' It's not enough. But it's still a pleasant surprise. ... Is horse-race coverage irrelevant? Absolutely not. The average voter wants his or her vote to count -- and generally won't throw it away on a losing candidate in a crowded field. That's why momentum -- or a horse-race lead -- matters to candidates, the press and voters. But, again, it can be, and regularly is, overdone. I think Obama and McCain are surging now, in part, because they're appealing to something beyond electability and the mechanics of campaigns. The same can be said about Huck, love him or hate him. ...
'Their most realistic prospect'
The Republican establishment is rallying
around McCain in a last-ditch effort to block Huck and jettison Mitt. ... Novak has it right: McCain's fate depends on Huck delivering a blow to Mitt in Iowa. If Huck doesn't deliver that blow, then Mitt's in good shape heading into NH. ...
'I, for one, don't want ...'
isn't excited about the Lottery possibly teaming up
with Dunkin' Donuts:
I, for one, don't want to have to wait in line to get my morning fix while some guy ahead of me scratches away his paycheck.
'And it was don in tho daies, a maundement wente out fro ...'
Those aren't typos above. They're from Luke 2:1-20, as written in 1382, showing the remarkable evolution of language. Wait till you see the Anglo-Saxon version. A great Christmas post from John
-- You'll never look at Santa
the same way. Actually, I like the chubby Santa. I just wish they'd incorporate more of St. Nick's real story into the narrative. ... Before Santa moved to the North Pole, he lived in Holland and
... The kids would love it. Parents would too. Maybe a cartoon maker will run with the idea. ...
I wasn't going to go there, but Michael
did: The Pats played like crap in the second half because they were chasing team and individual records. I think he's right. It's disappointing. ... But Jackie
puts it into perspective: 'This team is entitled to the occasional letdown.' She's right. I feel better. ...
Where's my man Biden?
So Obama has overtaken Hillary
in New Hampshire. But I can still see scenarios in which Hillary wins the nomination even if she loses in Iowa and/or New Hampshire. ... For pure yucks, the real circus show is over on the GOP side. McCain has now caught Mitt in New Hampshire. Not good for Mitt. If he loses Iowa to Huck and New Hampshire to McCain, he's finished. But if Huck has truly peaked in Iowa and Mitt wins the caucus there as a 'comeback kid,' he'll have plenty of momentum heading into New Hampshire. I'm not counting him out. ... Mitt is incredible. He takes the flip-flop hits. He takes the Tavares hits. He takes the Mormon hits. He takes the MLK hits. And he still keeps on ticking. It shows how weak the GOP field is this year. ... Dan
: 'What an astonishing muddle the Republican presidential campaign is now in.' ... The Washington Post surveys
the astonishing Republican muddle. ... Where's Biden? Not even mentioned. The poll was obviously taken before Hub Blog's momentous endorsement. ...
Small world gets smaller
Madagascar Reader (formerly Quebec Reader -- yeah, quite a change) writes in from Madagascar following a T-Day trip to see relatives in Boston:
Yesterday, we set up a small satellite radio here at the house. We can now listen to NPR, BBC, etc. It's great. Yesterday afternoon (our time), we heard the live version of Scott Simon's "All Things Considered" morning show which was fun. We missed Click and Clack the car talk show, but we'll hear it next week. Maybe we can even get the Patriots game tonight because there are a couple sports stations that we catch. What time is the game on in MA?
Imagine sitting on a lawn chair in Madagascar, sipping Three Horses Beer and listening to Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti call a Pats game. Talk about heaven. ...
'Who ate at the Parkman House? ... H-W-O-H - who?'
Dapper's death sends Howie
down memory lane. ... City politics were certainly more intense and fun back in the old days. The cast of characters was hard to beat. It wasn't just the Kool-smoking hack pols and the throw-the-kitchen-sink-at-'em city elections. It was everything about Boston. One of the reasons we're seeing so many 'gritty' movies about Boston these days, Hub Blog humbly theorizes, is because those 'gritty' days are fading away -- and we're stuck with a less edgy city of white-collar hipsters, yuppies and empty nesters yearning to recreate Paris or midtown Manhattan. But it should go without saying we're romanticizing the era of Dapper, Freddie Langone, rat-infested Boston Garden, weekly armored-car heists, non-chain donut shops, cigar-chomping cab drivers, State House poker nights, youse-guys Irish-Italian gangsters, etc. Among other things, I won't miss the era's blatant racism, ethnic xenophobia, wretched boiled food and anything to do with the Bulger Boys. Still, it definitely was a more intense atmosphere in Boston a few decades ago, precisely because everything was so authentically nuts. ... So there. That's my trip down memory lane, as written from my safe confines on Beacon Hill (the working-class side, of course -- riiiight
'The type whose lechery seems like a higher form of gallantry'
The Washington Post has a terrific story
on the real-life political career of Charlie Wilson, America's top freedom-fighter skirt chaser as portrayed in the movie 'Charlie Wilson's War.' ... I always had a soft spot for Patricia 'Babycakes' Schroeder. Now I know why. She knows life's too short not to love a lovable rogue. ... I really liked this review's
The film’s high spirits are inseparable from its sober purpose, which is to present a gentle corrective to the idea that American heroism resides only in square-jawed, melancholy stoicism. That has been the preferred post-9/11 stance, and there is some evident nostalgia in “Charlie Wilson’s War” for the simpler world of the 1980s, when the bad guys flew MIGs and American political life was perhaps a touch less sanctimonious.
But there is nonetheless a bracing, cheering present-day moral to be found in Charlie Wilson’s story, a reminder that high principles are not incompatible with the pleasure principle. The good guys are the ones who know how to have a good time, and who counter the somber certainties of totalitarianism with the conviction that fun is woven into the fabric of freedom.
'Theirs was a co-presidency'
Hillary gets it exactly wrong
when she says the current George Bush got into the White House because people overlooked his lack of experience -- and therefore people shouldn't make the same mistake with Obama. Actually, George W. Bush got into the White House because he ultimately rode his family's coattails -- and Hillary is now riding her family's coattails. George W. Bush is and was a dynastic second-stringer. Hillary is and was a dynastic second-stringer. Their political careers are strikingly similar -- not strikingly different. ... I hope Obama's campaign forcefully conveys this point to the electorate. But I fear Hillary's 'back to the future' ploy will work. It did for George. ....
'Looks like a Mitt-Mike race'
looks at the possible scenarios and lays downs the odds. Can't really argue with him. ... Via AS
Hub Blog endorses Joe Biden and John McCain !!!
Hey, everyone else is endorsing candidates
these days. Why not Hub Blog? OK, I'm not too wild about either Biden or McCain. They're both senators. Strike one. They're therefore both blowhards by definition. Strike two. But they both strike me as genuinely thoughtful and ... I can't think of anything else. But I think genuinely thoughtful is good enough these days. Now I await AP rushing my ringing endorsements across the wires. ... Matthew's probably right
: Huck appears to have peaked in Iowa and Mitt's positioned to benefit. But don't discount the Fred factor. ...
Dapper, race and class, Part II
I missed a number of Dap pieces and posts yesterday. Here's a good one
from Kevin. The battle lines are formed
over at Adam's site. (It wouldn't be Boston if Chuck Turner and Dianne Wilkerson weren't dragged into the racial fray. I'm surprised there's no mention of Mel King.) And Dan
had a few thoughts. ... I liked Kevin's Archie Bunker comparison. Remember: Even Meathead ended up liking Archie.
Read the whole thing. Meathead and Archie had a complicated relationship. Many Bostonians had a similar complicated relationship with Dapper. It's just the way it was. ... Photo and cutline via AC.
'The Baptist wars'
It seems some Baptist leaders
long ago figured out Huck. ... Has he peaked? If so, who wins on the decline? Fred or Mitt? Close call. ... The Fred prediction
makes more sense now. ...
'Considering that Clemens is ...'
crowd discusses how Roger might logically explain his way out of the steroids mess. ...
Dapper, race and class
It's the same old fault lines. Dapper O'Neil's death
brings it all back. Dapper was either a blowhard bigot -- or a true-blue hero of the blue-collar world. Boston still can't escape its busing past. Yet the brilliance of Anthony J. Lukas's 'Common Ground'
is that he weaved together a complex tale of race and class that went a long way in the 1980s toward explaining and healing Boston's raw '70s busing wounds. It still amazes me that some liberals think the busing crisis was all about race. It still amazes me that some conservatives think the busing crisis was all about class. It was about both -- and Dapper embodied both. That's why many people can be both appalled at his racist attitudes -- and sentimental about his commitment to the average guy. He was from an era we both deeply regret and deeply miss. It's why many will say during his wake, 'Dapper, RIP,' and after the funeral, 'Time to move on.' ... Other observations here
-- I love the photo above from the Herald. Dapper has that clownish coat-holder look on his face while Curley seems to be thinking, 'Is he as dumb as he looks?' ...Update
-- John is working on a documentary
he hopes 'will give a nice sense of how the city and its media landscape have changed over the last 40 years.' Any pols or journalists with memories, photos and videos etc. are encouraged to contact him. ...Update II
-- The mystery of the West Roxbury Pub mural
has been solved. The mural definitely has a subtle Curley smile that's not in the photo. ...
'We were welcomed with open arms'
If you're refined and cultured enough, you too can buy a château
in Normandy, surrounded by sheep and peacocks and chickens and a 'little school,' and invite your neighbors for dinner -- even the local baker! -- and be 'welcomed with open arms' because you're not 'ugly Americans' and know how to assimilate with country people -- even the local baker!. Then afterward, you can tell everyone back home, via an envy-inducing article, all about your humble experiences living the simple life in Europe. ... Next up: Christmas in Tuscany!
Hey, we're overdue. ...
'If Huckabee Is Dean, Who Is Kerry?' Part II
Peter Porcupine likes my suggestion that Mitt could be the Kerry of '08. (Not that events won't overtake predictions of the moment.) Anyway, Peter also uncorks on Mitt's critics:
... He's been called a lot of things - but a RACIST? These inane calls that HE should have done something when he was nothing but an anonymous exec barely out of college - Harry Reid was Lt. Gov. of Nevada in the same time period, so why doesn't HE have to say something? At lease Mo Udall did! And Clark Mollenkopf tells in his biography of George Romney how he lost being Sec. of HUD because he wanted to integrate SUBURBAN as well as inner city government housing, so Nixon fired him. This was not a bigoted family, and to imply Mitt is a closet racist is gutter reporting.Update
BTW - why is Mitt responsible for the doctrines of his church? Because he chooses to worship there? Then why wasn't John Kerry responsible for the sexist practice of refusing to allow women to be priests? Why isn't Hillary responsible for the homophobic practice of the Methodists to refuse to allow gays to be ministers? These are not PAST practices now abolished - they are CURRENT practices. ...
notes the 'subliminal seduction' in Huck's new ad.
... Who knows if Huck is overplaying his Christian hand. It's worked so far. But I can also see him fading -- allowing Mitt, who's now calling himself an underdog, to be the new Comeback Kid, i.e. the Kerry of '08. McCain does have momentum in NH, though. ...
'It could get worse, and probably will'
notes the recent successes in Iraq (and Afghanistan) but warns: 1.) the successes can unravel 2.) the end is not in sight 3.) the U.S. and its allies need to stay the course for now. ...
'If Huckabee Is Dean, Who Is Kerry?'
thinks it might be Fred. But I think it's still obviously Mitt, the fellow flip-flopper from Massachusetts. ...
'The politics of snow'
My political antenna seems to be off these days (see Mitt-Huck item below). But I don't detect any widespread discontent
about how Deval handled last week's snow storm. Do you? ... Maybe it takes a couple blizzards to create a political storm of Michael Bilandic proportions. I'm looking out my window now and the roads seem in rough shape. But that's the city's fault. ... Note to Deval: Please don't break out the Michael Dukakis sweaters. It'll make you look like you're both pandering and panicking. This is not
a big snow fall. ...Update
- 9:30 a.m. -- WEEI
's Pre-game Show is taking calls from Pats fans driving to Foxborough for today's game. Sounds like the driving conditions are OK, though the snow is now turning to freezing rain. ... I can hear the ice clinking off my windows here in Boston. ...
'As president, my goal is ...' Part II
Well, I sure got that one wrong: Mitt is going after
Huckabee on the foreign affairs front. I could have sworn Mitt was going to flip-flop in Huck's direction. But I forgot that Mitt's 'desperate'
in Iowa and looking for an 'opening.' ... Gotta admit: Mitt's email and press release are pretty good: “NO LAUGHING MATTER: Huckabee’s Playground diplomacy.''
(Huckabee does love the word 'commando' in an almost child-like way. Who uses the word 'commando' these days?) Anyway, I'd be careful if I were Mitt: Huck, despite all his bible-thumping Dixiecrat-in-GOP-Clothing flaws, might be tapping into something on the foreign-affairs front. His FA article
obviously wasn't perfect. But there is deep disappointment out there with how the administration has handled the war. This ain't 2004. It's post-2006 -- and the era of Gates
, not Rumsfeld. It's Mitt's 2004 rhetoric that sounds off. Not Huck's more populist post-2006 rhetoric. ...Update
-- A friend writes in: 'Who uses the word 'commando'
these days?' ...Update II
- 12.16.07 -- Howie identifies
some of the bible-thumping Dixiecrat-in-GOP-Clothing's flaws. ...
'As president, my goal is ...'
Mike Huckabee's Foreign Affairs article
is refreshingly bombastic, folksy, blunt and brimming with a lot of common sense. He says the Bush administration's 'arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad.' We need to be energy independent. We need to talk to Iran. We need to reach out to Arab moderates and address social ills that breed extremism. Etc. etc. etc ... I have no intention of voting for the guy. But if he succeeds in scaring and shaking up the Republican Party's corporatist establishment, I'm all for it. ... I should have caught it before, but the recent National Review endorsement of Mitt has ANYBODY BUT HUCKABEE written all over it. ... Now watch Mitt try to cover his flank: I've criticized the president too!
... Huckabee piece via The Caucus.
P.S. -- If you've never read Christopher Lydon's piece
about the Bush team's Rockefeller instincts, check it out. I keep coming back
to it. ...
Dan Duquette: Vindicated?
He took a lot of shit for letting Roger Clemens go in '96. It's now obvious Roger really was in the 'twilight of his career' without the juice. Wikipedia has already updated the Duke's bio
to include the Mitchell report. I'd have left out the word 'somewhat' as it applies to 'vindicated.' Right? ... Adam makes a good point: 'Tainted Theo?'
He does have some explaining to do. But not nearly as much explaining as George Steinbrenner and Brian 'MVP'
Cashman. (Notice the quaint date on the article. Another boy-wonder GM had outdueled Cashman that summer, but no one knew it at the time.) ...
Menino blamed ... (fill in blank)
about the post-storm finger-pointing, my mind drifts back to what Reader No. 1 said about 'structural difficulties that government has keeping pace with the free market.' ... Did the spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency really say there's no formal written evacuation plan for the area? Not that a formal plan would work. But I'd like to know that we're not relying entirely on a Mike Brown wing-it philosophy. ...OK, criticize the mayor and governor all you want. But I still think they were right to urge employers to let workers go home early. Can you imagine the deadlock if everyone had left at 4 or 5 p.m.? I don't get the criticism -- and I don't get the city and the state criticism of employers in turn. ... I did notice one well-functioning part of government during the storm: Boston police. This is an old-fashioned nice
story. I personally watched three orange-jacket BPD cops directing traffic at the intersection of Herald and Albany streets during near white-out conditions. They never left their posts despite obvious skidding-car dangers all around them. ...
'Meanwhile, down in the Bronx ...'
discusses the steroid scandal from a totally objective viewpoint (snort) ...
'There is little hope ...' Part II
Bert made it home. But he's not happy:
Safe and sound. Got home at 9pm.
Total time in car: 7.5 hours.
Even during rush hour, my commute usually goes between 40-60 minutes, tops, no matter which route I take.
If the woman coming off the Neponset Valley Parkway onto Blue Hill Avenue in a Honda last night after 8 is a Hub Blog reader, please let her know that mashing the gas pedal to the floor and turning the wheel back and forth is not the chosen method for driving in the snow, especially when other cars are so close. And that smoke she and all of us behind her were smelling? Yeah, that’s not a good smell.
'Another example of the structural difficulties ...'
Reader No. 1 examines government's response to yesterday's storm:
I know HubBlog tries to avoid unnecessary politicization of topics but one way to look at yesterday's commute is as another example of the structural difficulties that government has keeping pace with the free market.
Many marvel at apparent unpreparedness or look for a scapegoat. But the era of central planning has passed, and sometimes freedom is very messy. A TV weatherperson says, "the storm came in just the way we said." EXACTLY!!! The commuters (many of whom are working parents heading out for early dismissals) all acted at once on what seemed like Perfect Information provided by TV weatherpeople. Except only some of the information was perfect!
The state might look at heavy measures such $1,000 fines for blocking intersections as Tom Finneran proposed on RKO this morning. But $1,000 doesn't go as far as it once did and as many clever lawyers would no doubt point out, how often do we find ourselves stuck in the intersection because the cars ahead of us won't move?
This is/was a serious problem and we are fortunate that people didn't die in ambulances, or slip under wheels of cars (or even expire from CO poisoning). The state might consider studying financial market crashes and bubbles in thinking about appropriate mitigation measures. Two things in which we are still knee-deep around here are snow and raw brainpower. Academic systems modelers, get thee to the snowforts!
I'm afraid systems modelers won't be of much help tomorrow with another storm coming in. Maybe next winter. ... One other note: I try to 'avoid unnecessary politicization of topics'? Me? ...
'There is little hope ...'
Has anyone seen Bert? He sent the following message yesterday at 4:12 p.m.:
Two and a half hours already logged in the car. Have been in a twenty yard stretch of Blue Hill Ave by Curry College for about 40 minutes or so.
...And miles to go before I sleep.
I'm about halfway home. There is little hope of making it to daycare by 5:30 closing time.
Snow traffic: effectivley combining crowds and lonliness. Glad I didn't stop at the package store. I'd be well over the legal limit by now, I'm pretty sure.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
Then this at 5:33 p.m.:
An hour and a half has gained me 2 tenths of a mile. Has president Bush driven his mountain bike into a snow bank ahead?
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
Then silence. ... Meanwhile, Brighton Reader writes in:
(A friend) just waited for an hour in Oak Square for the 57(Kenmore Square/Watertown Square) bus. None came by, in either direction.
I gave a call to the Customer Support line, which is supposed to be open until 8 p.m. and got a recording the office was closed due to the weather.
You have got to be kidding. How can the people in this office be considered "Non-essential state employees" when people are being urged to use the MBTA instead of their cars?
Someone should ask how people can find out what is going on, or how he MBTA is going to know what is really happening, if the public cannot communicate with them.
I was going to do a snow-storm pub crawl from work to home yesterday, but decided to take the T (Orange and Red lines were working fine and not that crowded). I was at the Sevens first-aid station within 45 minutes. No need for emergency package-store stop. ...
OK, I've been dragged into a blogger war
over a seeminly simple story
I wrote for the Boston Herald, my employer
, and so now I must break Unofficial Rule No. 1 of Blogging (i.e. don't blog about work on your personal blog) because innocent Hub Blog was mentioned somewhere in the mix. Anyway, it seems Howard Owens
is upset with me for actually getting the Somerville Journal's side in a very small controversy over its written and video coverage
of the Tufts Naked Quad Run, an event that had already made the rounds
on the Internet. ... Howard makes some good points: 1.) There should have been a link to the Journal story within the Herald online piece (it's tied to the now age-old MSM problem of not putting frigging links on online stories -- something I and many others in the MSM are collectively and repeatedly guilty of). 2. My bio on the Herald is outdated. I no longer write a blog for the Herald. I stopped writing one 16 months ago. I'll fix the bio later today. Heads will roll!
... The bio does mention, though, that I'm a 'general economics reporter' for the Herald. I write on economic trends like this
. ... I also know how to link to stories and posts on the Internet. I can even do Google searches. See my combined talents here
. ... Now that
is snark. ...
P.S. - I didn't mind the Journal's coverage. I also like what WickedLocal is doing on the web in general, though I could do without the hair-trigger self-righteousness at the slightest whiff of controversy. ...
French Toast Alert Level? Part II
No, I'm not starting a rival Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Alert System. But my mind does drift toward tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
on days like today. ...
French Toast Alert Level?
The Herald is warning of a potential 'nightmare'
commute. But I won't believe there's a looming weather crisis until Adam officially activates his French Toast Alert System. ... He's selling French Toast T-shirts.
But that's not the same as putting out an alert. ...Update
-- My mistake. It's panic time! Adam has officially issued a 'high'
French Toast Alert Level. ... He stuck the alert over to the right. How are people going to properly panic if it's shoved off to the side like that? The French Toast Alert System obviously needs more tinkering. ...
'America's accident-prone intelligence agencies'
is not impressed with the NIE's latest findings on Iran's attempt to build the bomb. He also hints at, diplomatically, the White House's politicalization of the intelligence services, which are pushing back like they're policy-making agencies. ... David Ignatius
points out the politicization of the intelligence services at the Congressional level:
The bickering has turned the intelligence world into a nonstop political circus, to the point that foreign governments have become increasingly wary of sharing secrets.
Forget all the talk of dismantling the CIA and rebuilding it from scratch. A new entity would merely face the exact same political challenges that has hobbled the CIA in the past. The answer is to fix the current system. But modern Washington being modern Washington, it's not going to be fixed anytime soon. So we're going to have to muddle along with an inadequate system until the political classes decide to get their act together. ...
'The Florida of Europe'
It appears all is not well
in the land of Tuscany. ... Notice how the article frames the issue for its readers: Brace yourself. This is not the romantic image of Italy that's been peddled to you in countless books, articles and movies.
... Gee, I wonder where readers might have gotten
those misguided romantic notions. ... Next up: Brace yourself. This is not the romantic vision of Vermont, where not everyone makes cheese.
'Bledsoe is a class act'
He really is.
Pats fans have been fortunate to have two terrific quarterbacks in a row, though I'd take Brady over Drew any day, obviously. ... Comments to article here.
'A full-spectrum conservative'
What the hell does that mean? Sounds like a sales pitch for a new miracle vacuum cleaner. ... A once great magazine endorses
the latest flip-flopper from Massachusetts. ... You could see this coming from NR here
... Machiavelli is proven right yet again: "The great majority of mankind is satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities." ... John Daley
, take a bow. I can't find his post. But a while ago he predicted a Mitt vs. Hillary showdown. I think this is where it's headed. And if it is Mitt vs. Hillary, then it's hello President Hillary Clinton. ...
'Outspoken general' and 'stay-the-course supporter'
They make sense to me
, though it's always annoying to hear people call for 'shared sacrifices' without spelling out what 'shared sacrifices' mean. ... Irony of ironies: When the war was going bad, Dems couldn't get anything done on the war-budget front. When the war is going better, Dems are more effective on the war-budget front. It should be noted, of course, that Dems are slightly more effective because they've linked the war budget to domestic pork.
... Failure to reach a budget compromise will definitely hurt Democrats, similar to how Newt et gang suffered when they shut down the entire federal government in the 1990s. Americans were angered then -- and they'll be even more pissed off if a GI is ever killed or wounded due to a budget spat in Washington. ...
'The problem with the speech ...' Part II
With all the talk about religion these days, out comes a new book by Gary Wills, 'Head and Heart: American Christianities.'
says the book is ingenious at the start but sinks at the end. By the sound of it, Wills should have stopped his analysis at 1920. Still, I found this passage intriguing:
Why, (experts) ask, has religion thrived so much more in America than in the rest of the industrialized democracies (where, by now, only tiny minorities still go to church)? Because, says Wills, religion is not entangled with the state.
At first, I thought the explanation too banal. But then I thought: He's on to something. Churches in Europe were tied too closely to the state, allowing them to be tainted and corrupted in the eyes of the oppressed and/or disappointed faithful. America has always attracted, at least until recently, large numbers of religious immigrants who wanted to strike out on their own and be left alone. They've flourished precisely because they were left alone by the state. ...
As for Mitt's Big Speech, I was busy yesterday and couldn't post much on it. But I still think Brighton Reader's analysis holds up ('The problem with the speech is that it is from Mitt'). ... I don't agree with Michael Graham very often, but he nailed it
before the Big Speech was even given: "Does Romney truly believe - in the 'I’ll stand by it regardless of the political consequences' sense - in anything?" ... Mitt's speech may win him crucial votes in Iowa -- and therefore viewed as a success from a political standpoint. But as an historical statement, well, it was more blatant pander than profound rhetoric. He really
wants those Iowa votes. ... I found this Iowa Hawk post
funny, even though the sarcasm obscures where he's really coming from. But the obscurity doesn't matter:
Without question, The Speech is destined to enter the pantheon of the defining moments of our time; for in it, we lucky mortals were witness to what was inarguably the finest distillation of passion and and brains and square-jawed herculean glory of this or any other age; an achievement of such blinding white TelePromted perfection that, in 15 heart-pounding minutes, eclipsed every previous achievement of the human race, combined, and those who cannot admit this simple axiomatic truth are clearly soulless and/or deranged.
In case you forgot II
I don't know about you, but I get tired of Massachusetts being stereotyped to the extreme. The patriotism is very strong. ... Support the troops. ... Photo also courtesy of the Globe. ...
In case you forgot
In case you forgot, it was Pearl Harbor Day today. ... I can't believe our World War II vets now look like World War I vets of my youth. I'll miss them when they're gone. ... Courtesy of Boston Globe. ...Update
- More on Pearl Harbor Day.
'The problem with the speech is that it is from Mitt.'
From Brighton Reader:
The problem with the speech is that it is from Mitt.
Romney has been positioning himself as the values candidate, on occasion using language that implied he agreed with major tenets of Evangelical Protestantism, and avoiding all mention of his own religion. It was only Huckabee's rise that prompted him to break down and use the work "Mormon". A big part of his problem with these
voters, and others, is the way he tossed overboard his positions on abortion, gay rights and his own health care plan once he started running for president.
Peggy Noonan has an excellent take on the whole matter of candidates and religion.
England's Elizabeth I said "I have no desire to make windows into men's souls." The press, pundits and voters should not try, either.
Mitt's speech reads
well. I assume he'll also deliver it well. He's a good speaker. But time will tell whether it works with the deeply conservative evangelicals he's targeting. I doubt it will. ... Mitt's trying to shift the debate to one about "moral convictions." But the obvious question pops back up: What are Mitt's "moral convictions"? That's where he's been vulnerable too. He goes from one vulnerability to the next. ...
The 'big speech' is sucking attention away from the 'lawn work'
story. Too bad. It's a great story, despite my small and somewhat cheap-shot quibble below (a friend last night gently chided me for citing it; he's right, upon reflection). ... Great line from Margery
about how we all know the illegal-immigrant issue goes beyond Mitt's yard:
There are, of course, tell-tale signs you’ve got an illegal dusting the dining room. You ask,“Where’s the Lemon Pledge?” She just smiles and smiles and repeats, ‘Gracias, Missy, Missy.” And asks for cash.
Sound familiar? I thought so. ... But the average homeowner isn't running for president on an anti-immigration platform -- and that's why the yard-worker story is fair game. ...Update
-- Bob Novak looks at the risky nature
of the speech. The 'overreacting' part sounds right. The speech could end up drawing more attention to Mitt's religion -- without accomplishing its goal of convincing evangelicals they should ignore his religion. That's where the backfire comes in. ... We'll see. ... Novak also notes the odd setting for the speech: An Episcopalian ex-president introducing Mitt in Texas in order to court voters in Iowa. ... Who knows? I'm not good at complicated religious nuances within campaigns. ...
is going to hurt Mitt. ... One quibble: Notice how it's OK now to call them 'illegal immigrants,' not 'undocumented workers.' But that's just a quibble. ... Adam's already running a poll
. ... Weld ain't going to help him
on this one. Nor will his planned speech,
which I think could backfire unless it's absolutely first-rate material. ...Update
-- Dan: 'Buenos dias, Mitt!'
More local blogger reactions here
(via Dan) and here
Here's a good analysis
on what's going on beneath the recent calm surface in Iraq. ... I know the NYT was late in reporting the situation-has-improved story about Iraq. But that doesn't mean its warning flares about Iraq should be ignored as a result. ... The one thing I've learned about this war is that you have to toggle between different information sources to get a general idea about what's going on over there. ...
BTW: Recently saw Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 movie 'The Battle of Algiers,'
now available on Comcast's free-movies-on-demand list. It's superb. The movie is outdated to a degree (the then left-wing FLN seems almost quaint by today's maniacal jihadist standards -- notice the quasi-Stalinist art above). But it doesn't flinch from showing the viciousness of an insurgency and counterinsurgency. Its lessons for today are scary. The French put down the insurrection -- but the calm was broken two years later. The French ended up losing the war. I'm not saying that's going to happen in Iraq. But the calm now in Iraq is a very fragile calm, more a 'cease-fire than peace,' as one Iraqi puts it in the above NYT link. ... One other point: Gen. Petreaus seems to have discarded some of the more brutal tactics of the French counterinsurgency (i.e., torture, torture and more torture). I think he knows they're ultimately counterproductive. Petreaus has gone after the really bad guys, using shifting alliances and isolating the Sunni jihadists. He's created an opportunity -- but that's where the NYT's warning flares come in. ...
'Please talk me in from the top of the Tobin,' Part II
Looks like a three-way intervention by Hub Blog, Bert and Aaron succeeded. From Reader No. 1:
Your Tobin Bridge talk on the Mercy of Belichick is appreciated but simultaneously a little too rational and a little too unbelievable (don't ask me how!). Local guy Aaron Schatz as usual makes many good points here. Of course, as Bert implies, none of this means the world is coming to an end... OK, back to the Santana talk already!
FYI: I was joking a bit about Belichick, though I haven't fully discounted supernatural forces at work here. ...
'Bush's World War III reference'
Here's more evidence
that one shouldn't believe this administration's pumped up rhetoric on Iran and most other foreign-policy issues. ... Despite the intelligence finding that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, people should still be concerned because A.) this is the same outfit that told us Iraq had WMD B.) one should never discount the possibility of a 'Wagnerian exit from the White House.'
There's a difference between listening
to the administration's crazy talk
in the administration's crazy talk. ... Perhaps a reporter will ask Rudy what he thinks about the report and whether he still has confidence in Norman 'Bomb Bomb' Podhoretz's national-security advice. ...
'Please talk me in from the top of the Tobin'
From Reader No. 1:
While it was hugely satisfying to see Tom Brady do it again... did what the Ravens slash-and-burn defense nearly do to our highly skilled Patriots last night remind anyone else of our Patriot smashmouth approach to The Greatest Show on Turf in Super Bowl 36? And does that make anyone else uncomfortable about the final (cross fingers) 7 games of this season? Bert, Voice of Boston Sports Reason, please talk me in from the top of the Tobin Bridge!
Bert is better at talking people off the Tobin. But I'll try: It's almost as if Belichick has deliberately throttled down the Pats, as if he doesn't want to show too much before the playoffs. ...Update
-- Bert responds
'Best game of the day'
At the risk of coming across as a hypocrite (see 'Evolution of the football helmet - and players,' Part II), I gotta say I loved watching the 300-pound high school brutes in yesterday's Superbowl games at Gillette Stadium. The television coverage was excellent. The 'best game of the day,' as one announcer rightly described it, was definitely Chelmsford vs. Marshfield.
... I'm happy for the kids. They'll have professional videos of the games, complete with instant replays and commentary, to watch for years to come. Even yesterday's losers will look back decades from now and marvel at a magical time in their lives. ... One other thing: The Krafts deserve a huge community thanks for what they did yesterday, handing over Gillette Stadium for the day and providing top-notch production assistance. They didn't have to do it. Yesterday proved, yet again, that the Kraft family is a class act. ... P.S. -- Tough loss
for BC. They were one game away from an Orange Bowl appearance. The season was a huge success, even though players and fans may not appreciate it this morning. ...
'Donald Rumsfeld on Hugo Chávez'
Caught your attention, didn't it
? Actually, Rumsfeld makes sense for about two or three paragraphs and then, well, to use one of his favorite phrases, things get 'very complex.' ... The op-ed settles it: He thinks too much. Too many snowflakes floating through the brain, Rumsfeld trying to catch them as they come out, etc. Notice also how he approaches problems: It's all about bureaucracies. The guy's a bureaucrat. It's so obvious now in retrospect. ... But of course, some conservatives still revere
Rumsfeld. The only logical explanation for the Claremont award is that he was on their side during the great ideological and partisan debates before and after the Iraq invasion. The irony is that conservatives once prided themselves on their ability to stare reality in the face. But when it came to acknowledging that Iraq was spinning out of control under Rumsfeld, well, many, if not most, conservatives chose to ignore reality and focus on historically irrelevant things such as the Great Scott Thomas Beauchamp Affair.
... Thank God for Gates and Petreaus. ... Photo courtesy of CBS. ...
'National Geographic wanted an exclusive'
Remember all the fanfare surrounding National Geographic's unveiling of a long-lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot? It turns out there were a couple mistranslations
of the text. ... The op-ed writer is absolutely right: National Geographic was out for a scoop. The PR goals trumped scholarship. The media went along with it. ... I harped on this last year here
. And I'm still pissed I actually bought 'The Lost Gospel'
at full price. It was merely part of the well-timed commercial hype. ...