'It’s time to end busing in Boston'
None other than Ted Landsmark says so
-- yes, the Ted Landsmark in Stanley Forman's famous Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Herald American photo.
... Anyone who knew Boston back in the '70s, or has read the classic Common Ground
, knows there was school segregation in this city -- school segregation that needed, by legal force if necessary, desegregation. But the way busing was implemented was tragically flawed -- and it's still tragically flawed considering the city's vast demographic changes since those awful days. ...
'I come out of the alleys of Chicago politics'
thinks the story of Rod Blagojevich needs to be turned into a movie, the central theme being Blago's obliviousness to what others think of him:
There was another U. S. governor of comparable notoriety, Huey P. Long of Louisiana. Robert Penn Warren wrote All The King's Men about him, and it won the Pulitzer Prize. The 1949 film version won Oscars for best picture, actor and supporting actress.
The new film could be titled "The Football." If it won awards like that, Blagojevich would probably take them as a compliment, even a vindication. I have never before written so unkindly about anyone, but in this case, it doesn't appear I can hurt his feelings.
Hub Blog nominates the Cohn Brothers or Oliver Stone to direct it. I'd tilt toward Stone, who can be surprisingly sympathetic to unlikeable characters. In Blago's case, he does deserve some sympathy. He was a clumsy, dumb, corrupt neophyte up against smooth, smarter, corrupt professionals. In his own weird way, Blago sensed this divide and it seems his only regret is that he didn't play the game better. "I come out of the alleys of Chicago politics," Blago mused yesterday to the NYT
, later adding, "We should have been more selfish, not selfless." ... Blago was a product of his political environment, acting the part right to the bitter end. ... BTW: One of his last official orders as governor: Don't answer the phone.
... As for Blago's successor, Patrick Quinn
, the only way to describe him to someone from Massachusetts is that he's a kind of mellowed version of the mellowed versions of Jim Braude or Bruce Marks. He's a professional activist turned politician, as opposed to a professional activist turned successful media star or nonprofit real-estate czar. Quinn's got more of a populist streak in him. He's also more of a space shot. He's there, but he's not there. He'll have a brief honeymoon in Illinois, before the pros start cutting him down. His biggest nemesis, who won't leave many fingerprints, will probably be the Illinois House speaker, whose attorney-general daughter covets being governor. ...
'Three-hundred pounders,' Part V
I've been advised by more than a few emailers to concede the argument. But I'm going to pull a Blago and pronounce: I will not concede the debate!
... It may look
like I've lost yet another debate
. But I say appearances can be deceiving.Update
-- From Bert:
Why are you trying to ruin the game? It has evolved to include bigger, faster, smarter players. John Hannah isn’t walking through that door…Joe Theismann isn’t walking through that door…
Kevin is right. Keep your Deal-a-meal micromanaging out of our NFL.
While I am all for improving equipment and training to prevent injury, I’m glad to say “restrict-your-plate” football is an absolute non-starter. You know you’re on a fool’s errand.
If an economic recovery ever comes, I encourage you to seek investors for the No Fat League.
'Three-hundred pounders,' Part IV
The impertinence of Kevin, Jon and Bert below prompted Hub Blog to quickly look up the average weight of NFL players.
No mention of an average safety's weight. But linemen, quarterbacks, running backs, all up. Ted Johnson
didn't get his concussions from the Rodney Harrisons of the league. ... That's not
to say weight is the only factor for head injuries. ... In the first link, note how some argue there's no strong correlation between big men and winning. A weight limit, IMHO, wouldn't change the quality of the game. It'd only make it a little safer, in more ways than one, on and off the field.Update I
-- Kevin, determined to make the world safe for Oreo Shakes
Hub Blog's weight limit proposal would make Mayor Bloomberg blush with its central planning, Soviet-style micromanagement and nanny-state tendencies.
'Three-hundred pounders,' Part III
The impertinent Kevin
writes in on my weight-limit proposal for football:
With all due respect to the mighty Hub Blog, the big fatties are not the cause of the most severe injuries, especially head injuries. It is the guys who are flying around the field, with speed and power, who have room to move and accelerate. Who are the most fearsome hitters in football...not usually the fatties up front. These days, it's the safeties and linebackers. The biggest hitter in the Super Bowl this Sunday? It's Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who stands all of 5'11 and weighs 205. Rodney Harrison, Ronnie Lott, Jack Tatum -- all relatively small guys in the secondary.
We need much stricter enforcement of the rules, severe punishment for headhunting, leading with helmet, etc. One of these days, we'll see a player killed on the field, it's inevitable.
My response to Kevin was/is: I agree with some of his observations and suggestions, but basic physics dictates weight matters when it comes to hitting. There's also the obvious concerns about obesity, diabetes, heart disease, bad knees etc. associated with players' weight. Weight limits wouldn't harm the game at all. John Hannah, for Christ's sake, weighed under 270 pounds and is still considered one of the greatest linemen ever.Update
-- More impertinence from Jon and Bert. First, Jon:
Since you bring up physics....yes, weight does matter, but Kevin is correct. It's the guys flying around the field who create the most risk. Why? Well, remember that force is mass times acceleration (which is velocity squared). Ergo, a 240 pound linebacker who moves far more quickly than a 325 pound lineman will create more destructive force.
A huge lineman is still a danger, if for no other reason than when he meets a 235 pound halfback running at full speed, the force has to go somewhere. But, he's not generating it himself.
Maybe HubBlog could call in an expert on physics. I, too, think speed plays a bigger factor than weight when it comes to head injuries. The bigger guys may hurt more when they land on you, but they aren’t able to get going fast enough to do as much damage as the missiles coming from the safety or linebacker positions. When two decent sized and speedy players get together (receivers,/running backs v safeties/linebackers) that’s when the real damage gets done.
Another note in defense of the big guys: they aren’t all fat. There are some 6’6” 330lb guys that are in better shape than some of the 280 lb guys from the good old days. Not all, but in general, I’d say the players are healthier now. They work out much more in the offseason, they rely on nutrition and weightlifting to put on good weight. Equipment and surgery, too, have come a long way to reducing the severity and permanence of injuries, I’d guess.
On top of it all, football is so much more popular and sophisticated now than it was years ago. Their stealing some of the better athletes that might have played another sport in generations past. To me, that means more competition among better, fitter atheletes.
The two-tier system
Or is it three tiers? One for Wall Street.
One for government workers.
One for the rest of us. ... I know the following recommendations won't 'balance the budget' but they do add up to a lot of smaller and more worthy programs that are soon going to get cut:
No more douple-dipping or buying back sick and vacation time, a policy that allowed Boston educator Michael Contompasis - a great guy, I know - to “retire” with a $270,000 salary, plus a $147,967 sick-and-vacation time buyback, plus a $139,782 pension, plus a double-dipping add-on of $65,000 when he went back to work for Mayor Menino. Update
No more collecting a state pension before you’re 60 or 65. That means state cops could not get a 60 percent pension after 20 years or 75 percent after 25 years. It means Jim Rooney - another great guy, I know - could not make $369,292 from the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority while simultaneously collecting a $70,00 pension from the MBTA.
-- 'Don't Worry, Be Happy!
Negative people might look at Wall Street and see rampant corruption, unfettered greed, recklessness beyond imagination. That's not what Wall Street observed. Wall Street observed exemplary performance and duly awarded itself $18.4 billion in bonuses. Update II
-- Reader No. 1:
Mass Pension reform point is right on. Marjorie's next column might ask whether those in the broad Massachusetts professional middle and upper-middle class are suffering from false consciousness in continuing to elect politicians who support such systems... Kevin
also contemplates false consciousness as inversely expressed by Roger Daltrey.Update III
- From Reader No. 1 again, this time on those $18.4 billion in bonuses
I was particularly struck by the closing NYT paragraph:Update IV
"On Wall Street, where money is the ultimate measure, some employees apparently feel slighted by their diminished bonuses. A poll of 900 financial industry employees released on Wednesday by eFinancialCareers.com, a job search Web site, found that while nearly eight out of 10 got bonuses, 46 percent thought they deserved more."
Another victory for the self-esteem movement!
identifies a variation of false consciouness, i.e. public apathy.
'Three-hundred pounders,' Part II
Hub Blog initially missed this story on football head injuries
. Some sobering close-up shots of brain cells -- one normal, one not-so normal -- can be found here.
... I hope this report doesn't lead to parental hysteria about kids playing football. But if the football establishment doesn't act, it's going to hurt the game's popularity in the long run. Hub Blog's solution: Weight limits for players. Past rants here
on the subject. ... I initially balked at weight limits for professional players, but I think it's time. This is how absurd it's getting:
Despite the success and popularity of the Chicago Bears’ William Perry, known as the Refrigerator, 300-pounders were not common in the N.F.L. in the 1980s. By the summer of 2005, though, more than 600 players weighing 295 pounds and above were listed on training camp rosters.
There's definitely other measures teams can take to address the problem -- better medical treatment, helmets, mouth guards, etc. But the weight of players, especially those in high school, is downright obscene.Update
-1.29.09 -- More on big men, big hits, big headaches
Forget for a moment that doctors from Boston University’s School of Medicine felt the need to use the national media spotlight on the big (Super Bowl) game to publicize its latest research. Concentrate instead on what they had to say, which has to be troubling to anyone who has ever strapped on a helmet and pads.
Repeated hits to the head aren’t just causing damage on the field. They may be killing former players.
Hub Blog last night ventured out of my New Englander's cooking comfort zone and tried homemade 'Country Captain,'
a popular dish in Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga. It's ultimately a comfort food, so I won't sing its praise too much. But it's quite good and easy to make. The recipe is here.
FYI: 1.) Currants, for all you fellow gourmet-challenged New Englanders, are virtually the same in texture and taste as raisins (I didn't know that until last night). 2.) I'd put in a little extra curry. 3.) I strongly suspect that Country Captain, like most good comfort foods, is even better as leftovers. So guess what I'm eagerly looking forward to eating tonight.
'A market peak for the Hack-Progressive alliance'
Reader No. 1 -- in an email slugged 'Too big to fail?' -- provides more proof that we've entered spending-for-spending's-sake territory:
Further evidence why we really miss Jerry Williams. One can imagine Jerry leading pickets outside of New Braintree, or Cedar Junction, or the State House. Today, flatscreen TVs are a 1- or 2-day subject for Howie, and a good bit of venting on WEEI and WRKO. But ...will anything really change...? Update
Maybe so. Add this to the great stuff in today's WSJ on the Stimulus Bill - it's Concrete versus Asphalt.... and Alan Reynolds on questionable assumptions about growth - and draw the conclusion: it's a market peak for the Hack-Progressive alliance. Time to short-sell the elected Intellectualoids (yes, after only a week of Obama, but two decades of built-up political, intellectual and social capital).
also notices how the no-time-to-waste argument has been tossed to the side. ... Hub Blog is beginning to wonder who'll be the David Stockman
of the Obama administration. You know, the guy who blurts out the truth about an economic-stimulus package that's not quite the same as touted.Update II
is starting to wake up to the Trojan-horse policies being pushed by Dems, though he rightly swats conservatives for giving Bush a pass on spending over the past eight years.Update III
-- At least Robert L. Borosage
openly admits it: "We are headed into the most ambitious era of progressive economic reform since the New Deal." ... He adds, as if we didn't already know, that it's not just about economic recovery.
'In ways they have long yearned to do'
Yet more evidence
the economic-stimulus package really isn’t an economic-stimulus package. ... Notice how the goal posts keep moving. One day they're saying we need to spend the borrowed money RIGHT NOW. Then you see how many of these programs stretch until Dec. 2010 and beyond. ... Two industries the least hardest hit by the recession, and they're getting the lion's share of the fed money: health-care and education. Notice that the student-loan industry -- which effectively promotes young students going into heavy debt -- is very happy. I'm sure some unemployed Wall Street types are heartened that a new bubble market for their skills is opening up. It's not over!
... For conservatives, there's always the consolation that the seeds of their comeback, despite themselves, are being sowed as we speak. Remember the emerging, groundbreaking Hub Blog economic theory on alternating economic theories
Supply-side tax cuts work somewhat well during mild- to medium-level recessions, while a dose of Keynesian spending works somewhat well during more severe times. The irony is that excesses by supply-siders sometimes create the conditions for Keynesianism, while the excesses of Keynesians create the conditions for supply-side economics. Not a bad theory, if I may say so, especially the irony part -- which I'm quite serious about. ...
John Updike, RIP
He grasped modern America, not how it should be but how it was and is -- especially the suburbs' role in the country's never-ending "improvisation." His "Rabbit" series was brilliant.Update
-- Here is Updike's classic 'lyric little bandbox of a ballpark'
'Dead boiled frogs'
Maybe not yet.
There are still some people
who aren't falling
for Sal's departing excuses. ... Just noting: Sal's pension payout increased
by sticking it out till January. ... Just noting, Part II: The ultimate reform - 'Ending the one-party state'
'What Do You Get When You're Broke?'
John has the answer.
Hint: They probably learned it at the "Marie Antoinette School of Public Presentation."
... It's no use trying to convince the Wall Streeters that "it's over." They're somewhere well beyond the 'Was It Over When The Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?' stage.
'Scorned skipper Joe Torre is blasting the Yankees ...'
Read all about it.
But first read Soxaholix
to get in the right frame of mind.
'Then he blew it....'
Hub Blog almost forgot that Reader A last July all but predicted
a January resignation
. But he was off a few weeks. Reader A explains:
Sal DiMasi played his hand brilliantly in 2008, heading off any direct challenge through the formal seassions and leaving himself the master of his own fate. He could have dropped out of the election, or resigned before the new session began. Then he blew it, evidently deciding that he could hang on when there were more revelations to come. I guess I overestimated him.
But at least Sal left an updated roll-call list of 'supporters' for future reference. ... Howie's
money is on DeLeo becoming the next speaker (in more ways than one). But Hub Blog would like to appeal to lawmakers' sense of state pride and refrain from backing Bob. As noted late last year
(scroll to very bottom), any state that considers itself a hard-ball political state needs a behind-the-scenes 'DeLeo' in order to qualify as a hard-ball political state. DeLeo would be front and center as speaker -- and a natural target for the feds. Illinois would then laugh in our face if we lost our DeLeo. This cannot happen. ... Speaking of Illinois, Blago
goes on trial today and he's countering by appearing on "Good Morning America," "Larry King Live," "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" and "The View." How can we compete against these guys? The Illinois-Massachusetts competitive gap is growing, similar to the Silicon Valley-Route 128 competitive gap. Maybe promoting DeLeo isn't such as bad last-ditch idea. ... Massachusetts to Illinois: We'll match your Blago and raise you a DeLeo. Four House speakers in a row. Count 'em!
'The Gentleman from Boston,' Part II
writes in to say he also had a starring role in Connolly's epic flick
Mr. Hub Blog -
I was an extra in the 'Gentleman from Boston', and my performance included two now obsolete scenes - I was a diner for lunch at Locke-Ober, and I sat at John Rogers' House desk when he was W&M chair. The temptation to lift the lid on the desk was huge, but I restrained myself. My 'line' was to run from the desk to the well, waving a budget in the air and shreiking 'POINT OT ORDER!!!'
I've never actually seen the movie, so I'm not even sure if I 'made the cut', but the filming was really fun.
'Boston’s Benjamin Edes gave his rulers some rubs, too'
, a Harvard historian and former B.U. professor, has a smart piece
in the New Yorker on the history of American newspapers -- and their possible post-neo-gothic future. Boston's early newspaper history is prominently chronicled. Ben Franklin's older brother, James, apparently loved tormenting Puritans and Cotton Mather, who once fumed about Franklin's New-England Courant
, "A Wickedness never parallel’d any where upon the Face of the Earth!”
So bribes under $12,000 aren't bribes?
Dianne Wilkerson is using the $12,000 gift-exemption tax clause as her defense. I didn't even know that 'personal fund-raising' had been apparently OK'd by the state's ethics commission. Wilkerson has two commission letters to prove it. ... What a can of worms this opens up. Prosecutors will probably nail Wilkerson anyway because of alleged links to her Beacon Hill duties. But think about future bribery, ethics and other cases. ... One assumes Richard Vitale's lawyers
are well aware of the exemption.
'The Gentleman from Boston'
is probably gone
-- and it'll be three House speakers in a row leaving Beacon Hill under a cloud. Or is it four House speakers? I've lost track. ...
Speaking of Beacon Hill, I didn't know, or I guess I can't recall, that Michael Connolly -- of Boston Licensing Board and Aspiring Real-estate Mogul fame
-- once co-directed a film called 'The Gentleman from Boston,'
now known as 'Beacon Hill,'
described as "a story of innocence versus corruption on Boston’s Beacon Hill." Howie
recalls his starring role
in the flick, once not-so-subtly described by Steve Bailey
as a true big-screen stinker. But the movie apparently has a line in it, spoken by a House speaker character, that seems oddly apt today: "Show me a guy who runs on issues, and I’ll show you a loser." Sal and his supporters tried to use his liberal stands on issues
as a sort of protective force-field against the hack charges piling up against him. The issues didn't, couldn't and wouldn't save him in the end. Maybe Connolly, albeit ironically, got something right in his movie.
'The Puritan's Puritan'
Hub Blog received an advance copy of Edmund S. Morgan's new book 'American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early America.'
For Massachusetts history buffs, it's a great read, with chapters on 'John Winthrop's Vision,' 'The Puritans and Sex,' 'The Problems of a Puritan Heiress' (someone really ought to make a movie about Anna Keayne's crazy marital life) and 'The Case Against Anne Hutchinson.' The best part of the book is that Morgan
-- the amazing 93-year-old historian, Belmont native and Pulitzer-Prize winner -- is a natural debunker of debunkers' debunking of myths. His portrayal of the Puritans is respectful without slipping into either excuse making or 'cartoonish' popular caricatures. His delicate balancing act is on display in the first lines of the chapter 'The Puritan's Puritan: Michael Wigglesworth':
Historians have long since discovered that the Puritans were much more human than we had once supposed. They ate and drank and fought and loved and even occasionally laughed a little. Perhaps, then, they were (like us) hearty, warmhearted creatures after all. Perhaps. When we begin to think of the Puritans this way, we sooner or later have to reckon with a man like Michael Wigglesworth.
Just the name 'Michael Wigglesworth' makes you chuckle -- and then Morgan is off and running. The book -- really a compilation of easy-to-read essays, some written in the 1930s and '40s -- gets a big and coveted thumbs up from Hub Blog.
From a taxpayer's standpoint, it is bull(expletive)
. It's not enough he gets a cushy $85,000 Boston Licensing Board job. It's not enough his wife is on the public payroll. It's not enough his son is on the public payroll. No, Mike has to use public facilities to run his side business pushing multimillion-dollar developments opposed by neighbors. ...
'Hub Blog, will you be pledging to Obama, too?'
It's going to be a long four years. Reader BK writes in:
Hub Blog, will you be pledging to Obama, too? You wanna know why you now own this specimen of Obama propaganda?
Because you didn't revolt against a Democratic Party liberalism that brought about this:
What, Me Read? A literature professor discovers that his students exist in the fog of a post-literate world.
What, Me Read? Part II A literature professor continues his tale of his struggle to understand students who exist in the fog of a post-literate world.
In follow-up "you own it, baby" emails, BK throws in this link
and this link.
... Hmmm. I didn't know Obama can already be blamed for the failings of the American education system. Now, who signed the 'No Child Left Behind Bill'? I forget. But, yes, I voted for Obama. I own him. I also voted twice against George W. I disowned him. I'm more proud of those votes.
'Welcome to the political slimepit, Caroline'
Reader No. 1 nails it:
Good decision by Caroline Kennedy. It's purely speculation but here's one hypothesis around why: she's been widely and justly admired as a pillar of strength throughout her life - while losing her entire family in tragic and public circumstances. She's been an understated, consistent and (as liberals go and until the dawn of the Obama era) has been relatively moderate presence - most notably in supporting the JFK Library. She appears to have a strong and admirable family and personal life.
And now - welcome to the political slimepit, Caroline. Suddenly - abuse from all quarters. All of us should ask ourselves: who really needs it?
I suspect over time, respect for her will return and grow. If this hypothesis is right, she really is different from the vast majority of politicians.
Hub Blog tried to convey a similar sentiment
when she first expressed interest in the Senate seat.
Caroline, Sal and other items
Some quick-hit items:
-- Caroline retreats
back to her privacy
. But whether she regains her previous power and mystique is another matter. She shouldn't have gone for it.
-- Wouldn't you love having such a considerate in-law
-- Armchair Gen. Savin Hill writes in: "Headline of the Day -- by a wide margin: 'Former French President Chirac hospitalised after mauling by his clinically depressed poodle'
-- Steven Stark
is warning of a possible populist revolt if Obama's Ivy League elites screw it up like they did the last time they were in power in the early '60s. ... And, yes, Stark makes the case that the Ivy League hasn't had this much influence since Kennedy.
'Now comes the hard part ...'
Reader No. 1 writes in following all the inaugural hoopla:
Now comes the hard part. Excellent analysis from Politico. To the last point on watchdogs - I heard CNBC cite paragraph 9 in this story - just asking, was anyone covering financial and investment remarks shouting these questions from the rooftop over the last few years?
No they weren't. Expect more Madoffs to emerge in coming months. ... Kevin
will have the last say on Tuesday's inaugural events.
The Reformer strikes
James Aloisi -- who will have to recuse himself
from certain undefined T and Turnpike deals due to multimillion-dollar public payouts to his old law firm -- is hailing a 'break-even' transaction
as a great 'reform.' ... Of course transponders aren't really frigging 'free' if you have to pay monthly fees for them, sort of the way Ma Bell used to 'rent' phones to customers. But this is the type of smoke-and-mirrors malarkey we're going to have to put up with -- so get used to it.
'It was a shovel ready speech'
Charles writes in to say Obama's address "was a shovel ready speech" that worked: "We're not at a point where swinging for the rhetorical fences makes sense. Blunt talk for tough times." ... Charles watched the address
at the Boston Athenaeum, where he stood near a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and his mind drifted to thoughts of Lincoln and William Lloyd Garrison. ... I didn't initially intend to take on the role of speech-scorecard blogger. But here I am. So let's look at what others are saying about the address
. William Safire liked it but:
A good speech has to have a memorable theme, stated early and reprised at the end. It did not emerge in this address. A theme was tacked on as a kind of afterthought — “a new era of responsibility” — and pitched to the news media a few days beforehand to ensure it would make the lead.
My favorite analysis comes from William Gavin, who notes there's an eloquence of words and yet:
But the setting — the first African-American standing there in the bright winter sunshine as our new president — had an eloquence all its own. I think we will remember this occasion more for the man who gave it than for the words he said. He could have stood there for 20 minutes of silence and still communicated great things about America.
Anyhow, God bless him and his family, and I hope he is a great president.
A glorious day, Part II
It's still a glorious, historic, memorable day. But, jeez, they botched the oath not once but twice. Oh, well. ... Now for the inaugural address. More updates to come, perhaps. ...Update
-- Initial post-speech reaction: That's it? ... I thought it was a surprisingly flat speech with too many boilerplate lines and not enough soaring rhetoric. It was anti-climatic. There were some good lines in there. But they weren't surrounded by a coherent cadence you'd expect from Obama. ... Enough. I wish him well. It's still quite a day.Update II
-- Doris Kearns Goodwin on MSNBC was saying the speech was good precisely because its message was blunt and simple. Maybe I was scoring it a bit too much on style, not substance. I'll reread it later. But a first impression remains a first impression: I wasn't wowed.Update III
-- Bert on the speech:
I thought Obama did a good job early in connecting those in power with those not in power, those in history with those in current times. And I thought he mentioned more specific policy points than I expected.
W looked thoroughly uncomfortable from the jump. I was surprised. He’s usually the type of guy that can smile and look like he’s having a swell time even when he’s thrown (think how well he handled Gore’s debate approach). The only time I remember him looking the way he did today was during his 9/11 story time. About midway through the speech I figured out why he looked that way: he had seen Obama’s speech beforehand. Obama really raked him and his administration over the coals. I was surprised how directly he condemned the administration in that setting. As necessary and fitting as I thought it was (given the world audience), I was surprised Obama did it.
I think overall the speech was very blunt, offered a challenge to American’s to put and take responsibility for much of what goes on in this country and voiced an attempt to have American live up to the world’s expectations, to a certain extent.
I was also surprised by his implied criticism of the Bush administration. But it's not the stuff that makes for memorable speeches.Update IV
-- Jon Keller
really liked the speech.
A glorious day
I don't think it's hyperbole to say this is a glorious day for America. I'm trying to think of a similar event that matches today's swearing in of Barack Obama as president. I'm not talking about great historic events per se. The moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the start of the Persian Gulf War and 9/11 -- they're all etched in my mind forever. I'm talking about something more sublime -- a single man breaking a barrier by performing a simple act. The mind drifts back to that magical day when Nelson Mandela emerged from captivity in South Africa, gently waving at the cameras as the world got its first glimpse of an almost mythic figure. The mind also drifts back to that day a young man stopped a tank simply be raising his hand outside Tiananmen Square. I'm pretty sure Barack Obama's taking of the oath today -- the image of him putting his hand on the Bible, raising his right arm and swearing allegiance to the Constitution -- will be one of those seemingly simple acts that will remain in our individual and collective memories forever. America has come a long way.
Public-private partnerships, not
Here's a detailed outline
of the Senate's proposed $850 million economic-stimulus package. The big surprise (and disappointment) is the number of 'shovel-ready' mass transit, science and other bricks-and-mortar projects that aren't getting funds. ... I don't mind Gov. Patrick trying to slip in funds
for private developments
-- as long as they're for infrastructure improvements and not described as 'public-private partnerships.' The phrase 'public-private partnerships' ranks up there with 'world-class city' on Hub Blog's list of the most despised political catchphrases.
'There are abuses'
He said it.
Not me -- and he's the one who appointed James Aloisi. ... How hard is it going to be to reform the state's pension systems? This is roughly how the debate has gone and will go:
Public: We want pension reform!
Beacon Hill: We'll tighten lobbyist reform laws.
Public: We want pension reform!
Beacon Hill: We'll reform campaign-finance laws.
Public: We want pension reform!
Beacon Hill: We'll consolidate agencies.
Public: We want pension reform!
Beacon Hill: We'll pass a budget transparency law.Anything but pension reform.
And then they won't even deliver on the distractions they promised.
'In fact, we’ve already seen this movie'
Yes, we have: Krauthammer
praises Bush. Krugman
bashes Bush. Thank goodness the hyper-partisan horror show of the past eight years is coming to a close on Tuesday. Hopefully.
'The Night James Brown Saved Boston'
Hub Blog gives a big thumbs up to 'The Night James Brown Saved Boston,'
promos for which you can't miss on WGBH if you're an habitual channel surfer. The documentary was replayed last night. The interviews with Tom Atkins, Al Sharpton, Dick Flavin, Cornel West and Kevin White were spot on. But my question is: What happened to the $60,000? I can almost picture Kevin White gritting his teeth as he signs over the check, hands it to an aide and then disappears before it gets to Brown. I can also picture Kevin White signing a check he knew would bounce. It's a surprisingly fun flick that originally came out last year
Our Great and Glorious Reformer
James 'Knows where all the bodies are buried' Aloisi
: $31,000 a year pension, $343,000 in pension payments since leaving the state payroll, $1 million in post-payroll law firm consulting fees, etc. etc. etc. ... Christy: “These guys are just marbled into the fabric of Beacon Hill.”Update
-- Hub Blog forgot to link to this reform development
. There are some attractive aspects to the plan -- such as consolidating agencies and eliminating the gross pensions dished out to Pike and T workers. But it doesn't eliminate the tolls -- and therefore doesn't address the fundamental issue of user/payer fairness. Some general skepticism
toward the plan is also warranted, knowing that the same political culture that produced James Aloisi is now praising him as a 'reformer.'Update II
on Steve Baddour's consolidation plan:
Baddour says reorganization could save up to $6 billion (over 20 years) in reduced overhead. Cool, no? And we'll just pretend for a second that the state has an outstanding record with creating authorities and commissions that run well and cost effectively (hey, there's always the MWRA).
'Conversion of economists toward Keynesian deficit spenders'
Reader BK points me to the terrific Becker-Posner Blog
, where Gary Becker
and Richard Posner
intelligently and politely duke it out on economic issues. ... If conservatives want to effectively engage themselves in the current debate over Obama's economic-stimulus package, I'd suggest they follow the calm and analytical lead
of Becker, rather than the silly and sophomoric arguments of Ayn Rand groupies
'What would Galileo think of that?'
Everyone has spending preferences for the economic-stimulus package. I'd like to see more funding for projects like this
. It'll employ thousands of scientists, engineers and mathematicians -- and have the added benefit of drawing our best minds away from the tragic non-productive financial wasteland of Wall Street.
Ayn Rand's defenders
Hub Blog initially missed this WSJ ode to Ayn Rand
. Tech Ticker's Henry Blodget and Aaron Task
make sensible mincemeat of it. Check out the video to the left. ... The two also make me think I've been a bit too harsh on Obama's economic-stimulus package. He's staking out admirable centrist ground. It's his fellow Democrats -- and their barely disguised non-economic-stimulus aspirations -- that have me worried. Michael Barone
has similar thoughts. ... BTW: Past Hub Blog rants on Ayn Rand can be found here
. Whittaker Chambers's classic National Review takedown of Rand, and Atlas Shrugged, can be found here
. Next up for WSJ editorial writers: A coming-of-age ode to Catcher in the Rye?
'A peculiar, bifurcated universe ...'
Within the galaxy known as Illinois.
... Massachusetts also has a bifurcated universe, i.e. there's the Statehouse and there's the rest of Massachusetts. But Illinois has a bifurcated universe within a bifurcated universe. ... Conrad Black
, the Lord Black of Crossharbour, is blogging
from prison on Blago, Obama, Rupert etc. At least he has stronger opinions than our own felon-turned-media-star. ...
'My Childhood Memories Hall of Fame'
Though Jim Rice has long been in Bert's 'My Childhood Memories Hall of Fame,'
he finally made the big one today.
... I never bought the notion that Rice's frosty relationship with reporters was the main reason for the long delay. Did he somehow alienate out-of-town reporters too? He was never a clear-cut first-ballot or even early-years contender for the Hall. His late-career numbers guaranteed that. But justice was served in the end -- and now it no longer matters whether he made it on his 5th, 10th or 15th year of eligibilty. He made it to the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to Jim.
Hey, why not?
on why Obama's massive economic stimulus package appears more like a standard liberal wish list with each passing day:
And why not get an early start on the insurance subsidies — probably running at $100 billion or more per year — that will be essential if we’re going to achieve universal health care?
Love that 'why not' and 'probably.' ... Hey, why not a bailout of the newspaper industry? Probably, oh, $2 billion to $3 billion a year. It'll prevent layoffs we know are coming, right? Every job counts, right? That's partly why we're going to bail out local government jobs, right? And, oh, time is no longer of the essence, according to Paul.
Maintenance budgets, pensions, Palin, etc.
Another Hub Blog roundup post:
-- I'm with Outraged Liberal
: I hope the tragic death of firefighter Kevin Kelly doesn't dissolve into a nasty political brawl. Unless an egregious case of negligence is found, sometimes you have to accept the awful truth that an accident is an accident. Debates over budget priorities won't cut it -- unless both the mayor and union are fully prepared to defend certain
elsewhere in the budget.
-- Pension-reform proposals traditionally meet 'fierce resistance on Beacon Hill'
precisely because lawmakers are vested in the system too. Lawmakers approach pension reform the same way the NRA approaches gun-control ideas: Every attempt at small change is viewed as a slippery slope toward larger change.
-- Hub Blog is glad Gov. 'Comforter in Chief'
Patrick "seems to genuinely be enjoying the job." Seriously, I was getting worried there that he was one of those "big picture" pols (i.e., John Kerry) who doesn't like the nitty-gritty management part of his job. There's undoubtably a Senatorial windbag side to him, but he seems engaged on the issues -- and I'd wager part of his high approval ratings reflect the impression he's getting a handle on the job and enjoying it. Weld and Romney's approval ratings plunged the second they looked distracted and bored.
-- Some fun Palin bashing.
I know I defended her on the class issue.
But her plain-folk "Mama Grizzly" act is too much.
'Mr. Cool's Centrist Gamble' Part II
At least Jeffrey Sachs
, formerly of Harvard, isn't pretending the push for bigger government is all about the economic crisis. ... Seven words that make you cringe when you hear about the developing economic-stimulus package: "The Democrats are going to be Democrats."
And that's why food stamps will be touted as 'bang for the buck' economic stimulators. ... Nothing against food stamps. They'll be necessary as part of overall social policy during tough times. But don't insult our intelligence by claiming that food stamps create jobs while tax-rebate dollars in the hands of average Americans don't. If Dems are so worried Americans won't spend tax rebates, then give me $10,000 and I'll guarantee I'll spend ever dime within 6 months, not one penny going toward savings. I'll even sign a pledge. I'm positive I can find millions of Americans prepared to take the same vow. ...Tom Friedman
wants strategic investments. He almost sounds naive at this point, even though I agree with every one of his goals. ... No mention of food stamps. ... Repeat: Nothing against spending in coming months. But to waste these funds -- and to squander this one-shot-only opportunity -- is going to be tragic.
Tale of two covert operations
Read this article
and then this article
and ask yourself: Who's winning the covert war over whether Iran gets a nuke? The U.S. or Iran? Unfortunately, I'd say Iran. ...
'Are you talkin’ to me, Felon Finneran?'
You knew Howie couldn't resist
. ... His brutal description of Finneran's radio show ought to be an office-cooler talker at 'RKO.
P.S. -- Ed writes in about another politco matter:
I think this is the first time that I have forwarded an Op-Ed column from the Boston Globe by anyone other that Jeff Jacoby. I may not have many more opportunities.
Actually, I linked to Joan's column the other day
. But it got lost as an 'update,' so I'm bumping it up via Ed. It's good.
'Kelly and his crew'
posts a video that serves as the best tribute to Kevin Kelly, the firefighter tragically killed yesterday. Kelly really did speak 'in an accent that was pure Boston.'
... Frigging brakes.
Good lord. ...
'Mr. Cool's Centrist Gamble'
Hub Blog was feeling a little better about Obama's economic plan while reading the first paragraphs of this piece
(some are actually beginning to question whether spending for spending's sake is really that smart) but then I read the following:
Mr. Obama’s aides said he did not intend to unveil a detailed formal proposal but rather to allow Congress to fill in the outline that he has proposed.
Hub Blog's reaction: Oh my God. He's going to let Congress fill in the blanks? Oh my freakin' God. ... Then I read about how food stamps -- food stamps
-- are being touted as great 'bang for the buck' economic stimulators. My question: Is that before or after Stop & Shop dollars are shipped to Royal Ahold in the Netherlands? ... I also was intitially encouraged by David Ignatius's 'Mr. Cool's Centrist Gamble'
column, but became depressed by the end. Maybe it's time to reiterate
Hub Blog's emerging, groundbreaking economic theory:
Supply-side tax cuts work somewhat well during mild to medium level recessions, while a dose of Keynesian spending works somewhat well during more severe times. The irony is that excesses by supply-siders sometimes create the conditions for Keynesianism, while the excesses of Keynesians create the conditions for supply-side.
Are we already at the excesses-of-Keynesians stage so soon after the excesses-of-supply-siders stage? ... Reader BK writes in to remind me I voted for Obama:
O-W-N I-T, baby. In fact, start swallowing it as if you were drinking water through a fire hose. I'd say this appointment, and that of Anne-Marie Slaughter to Dep. Sec. State for Policy & Planning are the worst yet. With more heartburn and indigestion to come . . .
Still B-b-b-big on Hub Blog -- especially this insightful door-opening -- but these two appointments will be net negatives for American Liberty, American Security, and American Exceptionalism.
'It's not quite 101 Dalmatians ...'
But it was 18 dalmatians
-- in one litter. The mother, Buttons, has that tired look that says, "It was a little harder than I thought. But, yeah, I did it."
Spinning out of control?
With each passing day, Obama's massive economic stimulus package appears more like a standard liberal wish list
than a strategic economic stimulus package. ... Since when are middle-class tax cuts 'trickle down' economics? ... Paul Krugman may have diagnosed the economic problems well. But for every Nobel laureate like Krugman who says the solution is more spending, there's a Nobel laureate who says it ain't. Not even Obama's lead economic adviser, Christina Romer
, thinks fiscal policy has historically proven effective. Granted, these are unique times. I'm not against massive government spending to help the economy. My personal wish list is more spending on the infrastructure and scientific research (medical, alternative-energy, NASA etc. -- to which I'd add outright tuition grants for aspiring new engineers and scientists). But when Congressmen start talking about 'jobs' for jobs' sake, you know you're in Christmas tree territory
... The non-Nobel-laureate Hub Blog is working on a theory: supply-side tax cuts work somewhat well during mild to medium level recessions, while a dose of Keynesian spending works somewhat well during more severe times. The irony is that excesses by supply-siders sometimes create the conditions for Keynesianism, while the excesses of Keynesians create the conditions for supply-side. Not a bad theory, if I may say so, especially the irony part -- which I'm quite serious about. ...
One other non-Nobel-laureate Hub Blog theory/observation: The Chicago School vs. Keynesian debate about economics is starting to remind me of the old Pentagon debates about war-fighting strategies, i.e. it always came down to an all-or-nothing argument about who's right or wrong. Thus you had 'Powell Doctrine' vs. 'Light Warfare' or 'Light warfare' vs. 'counter-insurency.' As if you couldn't use a number of alternative approaches and combinations at different times.
'He has suffered daily taunts and ridicule'
Poor Tom Finneran.
… There I was, reading the story, and I thought, “So this is why he won’t criticize fellow politicians on air.’’ That and his lobbying aspirations. … Howie’s going to have a field day with this.Update
-- Outraged Liberal
: 'I beg your pardon.'Update II
-- Adam R
had roughly the same reaction as I did: "No, Tom Finneran's not a journalist. But as a talk-radio host, he really needs to be able to speak critically about the powers that be. Assuming he wants to do his job well, of course. And what does he do instead? ..."
'There is a class issue here'
Actually, Palin has a point
. Class partially explains the contrast in how the media's treated Palin vs. how it's treated Caroline. Never underestimate the media's love affair with class, wealth and power (see endless articles about gentlemen cheese farmers in Vermont, salty-seadogs on Nantucket, vacation chateaus in France and Tuscany etc.). Of course there are other explanations: 1.) Palin was running to be next in line as president of the U.S; Caroline as a junior senator won't be even close to the red button. 2.) Caroline has yet to match Palin for muttering monumentally dumb things 3.) Partisan and ideological biases within the media (not to be confused with class biases) 4.) Palin's unbelievably grating Midwest twang (OK, that's my personal pet-peeve bias). ...Update
-- Of course I forgot the ultimate difference
'Waaaaaaa! Our coach left for another job!' Part II
In a follow-up to my post
yesterday, I loved this: Harvard upset BC in basketball last night.
I love it not because I'm a BC basher (though I'm indeed a BC basher -- what local non-BC alum doesn't love poking fun of the frat-boy obnoxiousness of BC fans?). Rather, it's just nice to see a local college sports rivalry. The Beanpost hockey tournament is special precisely because it involves four local colleges battling it out for a prize. But hockey is the only main sport in which local universities compete in this college-rich town. It's somewhat odd, when you think about it. ...
I know Tufts would never beat BC in football, my somewhat sophomoric musings yesterday aside. But I'd love to see Harvard "step down" and play Tufts in football, just as BC arguably "stepped down" to play Harvard in basketball. It would be fun -- and the larger teams better watch it. The old BC-Holy Cross football games used to be hugely entertaining. I've always maintained that BC dropped the rivalry, in part, due to Holy Cross's occasional upset wins, harming BC's standing in national rankings. But maybe that's the BC-basher in me talking. ...
DiMasi, Burris, Gaza, etc. etc.
It's roundup time for DiMasi, Burris and other subjects. Reader BK is keeping score of Hub Blog edicts that are followed or not followed:
These are tough, tough days for Hub Blog. ... Roland Burris' Effort To Get Seated By The U.S. Senate: 1. ... Hub Blog's Efforts To Stave Off (In Any Way Possible) Massachusetts' Hack-Progressive Allaince: 0. I'm still high-high-high on Hub Blog, though!
Technically, Burris isn't seated yet, so I'm 0-2, when you add in DiMasi's winning reelection as speaker. Senate Democrats are shamlessly trying to squirm out
of their previous position that Burris shouldn't be seated by kicking the issue back to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, a genuinely good guy who has refused to sign Burris's appointment papers. Jesse is taking needless heat
for a symbolic decision Senate leaders know is meaningless.Peter Porcupine
sums up with a quote the DiMasi reelection and the moral status of our Legislature:
Endeavor, as much as you can, to keep company with people above you.... Do not mistake, when I say company above you, and think that I mean with regard to their birth; that is the least consideration; but I mean with regard to their merit, and the light in which the world considers them. - Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (1694–1773)
The public is down on DiMasi. But Statehouse Dems suck up to DiMasi. Tells you something about the different 'worlds'
the two sides inhabit.
Reader BK also sends in this NRO article
on media coverage of the Israeli action in Gaza. I'm of two minds about the article. First, I think the media is indeed biased against Israel (in the U.S., less so, in Europe, more so). Second, the article, while correct in general about biases, is nevertheless annoying. It's another example of the right fixating on media coverage. Sometimes the fixation is justified. Most of the time it's a dangerous distraction. The right whined for years about media coverage of the Iraq war -- and in the end the righty media critics were simply and tragically (for GIs fighting a stupidly run war via Rummy) proven wrong.
... Reading about Iran's 70,000 suicide-bomber volunteers
, the Hub Blog mind skips back to a previous post
on books by Max Hastings (Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-1945
) and Maxwell Taylor Kennedy (Danger's Hour: The Story of the USS Bunker Hill and the Kamikaze Pilot Who Crippled Her
). Hastings makes clear his contempt for a Japanese militry culture that sunk to a level of depravity that glorified death and suicide attacks. I'm no fan of many of Israel's policies (driven partly by religious nutcases). But when dealing with a culture that glorifies death and suicide attacks, Israel is put in an awful position of confronting a form of depravity.
on DiMasi: "This is what passes for moral clarity on Beacon Hill."
'Waaaaaaa! Our coach left for another job!"
Bert, who's no fan of the Eagles, writes in about my quickie post
on the BC-Jag controversy. He notes another coach with a history of changing jobs. Keep reading till the end. As a Tufts alum, I love it. The Eagles are a bunch of cowards. They refuse to play the mighty Jumbos because they know they'll get their butts kicked. Anyway, here's Bert:
RE: “But it's hard to feel too sorry for Boston College. They hired a guy they knew averaged less than three years with any given employer since college.”
There’s a lot of reasons it’s hard to feel sorry for Boston College, but that’s another comment for another blog post on another day.
First off, to expect a guy in that industry and that level of his career to stay in one place for an extended period of time is probably misguided. It might be worse in college basketball than college football. But consider the start to this football coaching career, as chronicled on Wikipedia:
“Assistant coaching jobs at Hastings (1964), Wichita State (1965), Army (1966–69), Florida State (1970–72), Vanderbilt (1973–74), and Texas Tech (1975–77). He was also the head coach at Air Force (1978). In 1979, joined the New York Giants as the defensive coordinator under Ray Perkins. In 1980, he left to join the New England Patriots as the linebackers coach under Ron Erhardt for one year before returning to the Giants as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. When Perkins announced on December 15, 1982 that he was leaving the Giants at the end of the season to become head coach at the University of Alabama, the Giants announced that this guy would succeed him as head coach.”
Do you think Air Force, or the Giants, hesitated to hire Bill Parcells? When he turned 45; In 1986, he led the Giants to the first of two Super Bowls.
I can’t wait to read the smear job in a few weeks or months about how the real harm Jagodzinski did was to his student-atheletes, who Boston College was shocked (shocked!) to discover weren’t all working a GPA well north of 3.5.
Sorry. They’re a second rate college football school. Just good enough to knock off a declining national power once in a while and make a Bowl game that’s not played on Jan 1 or after.
'A prophet without honor in his hometown newspapers'
writes an ode to Sal "The Prophet" DiMasi, asking readers to ignore his hack side and to focus on the progressive things he’s done. … He's basically asking progressives to honor the rules of the Hack-Progressive Alliance
, i.e. progressives' toleration of a certain degree of hackery as long as the progressive goods are delivered. But most people aren't buying it anymore. Not after James Marzilli, Dianne Wilkerson, Chuck Turner, etc. ... Gov. Patrick's proposed ethics reforms
are tougher than I thought they would be -- and therefore they're welcome. But they still A.) miss the mark
when it comes to reforming the permanent bureaucracy (pension and disability abuses etc.) B.) probably won't be passed. Outraged Liberal
Unlike the casino battle between the two last year, Patrick enters the fray with public support on his side. But when the dust settles, expect DiMasi to win again.
That's just the way things happen in The Building.
Despite the Prophet's woes, he'll probably be reelected
today as speaker, though there's an outside chance it could get bumpy.
'Don't throw Burris into the Tiber' - and other items
Some quick-hit items on a cold morning:
-- Though you'd like to throw Roland 'Trail Blazer' Burris into the Tiber, he doesn't deserve it
-- unless his cheesy "tombstone" is a disqualification. He's basically etched his resume on the stones. The references to his family are pushed to the side. ... Other "tombstone" shots here
. A non-enthralled Chicagoan here
. ... Photo via Sun-Times.
-- Mumbles Jr. finds the time to moonlight
for Suffolk Construction
. At least his effective third job won't count toward his early-retirement pension. The overtime pay in between is another matter.
-- Outraged Liberal
recaps the latest in the Sal saga. He'll probably be reelected as speaker. There are too many dead-body skeletons in the legislative-sponsor closets of rivals. Might as well go with the legislative sponsor you know.
-- Gerry Callahan
on BC's Jeff Jagodzinski:
Here’s Jags’ coaching history starting from the beginning: Wisconsin-Whitewater, Northern Illinois, LSU, East Carolina, BC, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay again and finally BC again. And he’s only 45.
But it's hard to feel too sorry for Boston College. They hired a guy they knew averaged less than three years with any given employer since college.
The 'legislative sponsor' system
has a terrific interview
with Gov. Patrick. I guess I'm supposed to be impressed that the governor realistically knows what he's done by tapping Jim Aloisi as head of transportation (i.e. "he knows where the bodies are buried"). Ah, the Mickey-Spillane, tough-guy talk. The street-smart gov's about to get in a bureaucratic street brawl with lawmakers, etc., etc. But here are my problems:
1.) Key legislators like Joe "Reform Redefined" Wagner
are delighted by Aloisi's appointment precisely because Aloisi knows all about "blending policy and politics." Joe's talking in terms of a system in which agencies are run via a "legislative sponsor," as Patrick has now usefully and openly described it for prosperity. Lawmakers like Joe aren't really interested in reform. They're interested in 'reform redefined.' They want to keep a variation of the status quo and their precious power side deals dating back, what, decades? Only in a one-party Legislature.
2.) A governor grasping the true nature of the "legislative sponsor" system is not unique. Mike Dukakis grasped it. Bill Weld grasped it. Each thought they could change it by playing ball with it -- and they failed. Dukakis transformed from Duke I to Duke II to Duke III.
Weld went along with legislative pay raises and ended up playing footsie with Billy Bulger. Now we have Patrick playing the same realpolitik game -- or so he thinks. **
3.) If the governor is truly interested in reform, he'd kindly tell the public which agencies are run by what "legislative sponsor." Transportation? Mass Turnpike? MBTA? Massport? The court system? An injection of transparency sure would be nice, rather than playing with (and thus protecting?) what can now safely be called a shadow legislative government. ... One other point: The governor, by alluding to legislative-sponosorship jobs, is also talking about tolerating a shadow-government patronage system. Is he aware that there's a U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Rutan
) that's declared certain types of patronage jobs unconstitutional? Could he please spell out to the taxpaying public what legislative-sponsored jobs he's learned about?
So, now you can see why I'm not exactly excited that Patrick knows what he's done by appointing Jim Aloisi. Patrick's now playing on legislators' turf and by their rules. It's been done before -- and it's failed before. ...
** Cellucci and Swift were products of the "legislative sponsor" system and were never going to reform. Romney was a true odd-ball outsider to the system and didn't stand a chance of changing it from within. He was also too distracted by his own presidential ambitions.
P.S. -- I'm non-cynically impressed that the governor admits he was "frankly surprised" that there's an opening for larger reforms than originally envisioned. But if his idea of reform is to keep tolls (only to raise them later) and
boost the gas tax, well, that's not reform. That's his progressive desire for more money overcoming his reform instincts.Update
typically gets to the point fast: 'Patrick: Takes a hack to deal with hacks.'
Boston's Harry Markopolos
Michael Lewis, along with David Einhorn, has a long follow-up oped
to his now classic piece
on the Wall Street meltdown, using the failed attempt by Boston's Harry Markopolos to expose the Madoff scam as a metaphor for why so many other things went unchecked and undetected.
Lewis and Einhorn's reform recommendations should be no-brainers. But how do you get a corrupt political culture to implement them? How do you jolt Republicans out of their utopian laissez-faire fantasies? How do you convince Democrats to resist their own utopian big-government instincts? ... I also liked their observation about how, from top to bottom, there were no checks and balances to prevent the financial catastrophe -- and to protect investors and taxpayers. In recent months, I've tried to envision how the U.S. Constitution might have turned out had Alan Greenspan and Christopher Cox been influential Founding Fathers. Checks and balances? Regulating freedom!
Two legislative branches? Cumbersome bureaucracy!
... Etc. ... BTW: Don't miss this fun one: AIG owns Stowe, Vermont.
Well, most of it. Just don't tell the selectmen they're surviving on a taxpayer bailout.
Finally: A newspaper bailout proposal
I'd prefer slot machines in every newsroom.
But I'll take it. ... Hey, the steel industry
is asking for a government stimulus package:
“What we are asking,” said Daniel R. DiMicco, chairman and chief executive of the Nucor Corporation, a giant steel maker, “is that our government deal with the worst economic slowdown in our lifetime through a recovery program that has in every provision a ‘buy America’ clause.”
Newspapers are made in America too, damn it. ... Newspaper bailout/whatever via Jules
, who proposes a more immediate Stalinistic approach toward the industry's problems.
Blago, star gazers, and other New Year tidbits
Some random thoughts on subjects that I couldn't promptly post on due to a hectic holiday schedule, which mostly entailed a lot of eating and napping:
-- BMG's David
has a good post (with equally good comments) on Blago's appointment of Burris. The reluctant bottom-line: Just seat Burris. The Sun-Times
says the same thing. What else can be done? Deny Illinois a U.S. senator? Order shameless Illinois Democrats to hold a special election? Blago played this one well. ... BTW: Here's a short piece
on Roland 'I am a visionary' Burris, who, it should be noted, already has his tombstone carved with 'Trail Blazer' on it. Having covered the guy, all I can add is that chasing titles was his sole profession. He admits it. He wanted to be famous. He really doesn't care if people say there's no there there. He has no central message. He has no passionate base of support -- either in the black or white communities. He's the only member of his own cult. He's now going to be a U.S. Senator. He won't do anything memorable with the title. But divine providence and the ghost of Abe Lincoln have given him another title -- and who are we, as mere mortals, to question Blago's role in his trail-blazing destiny? ...
-- Harvard's Niall Ferguson
looks into the future and sees a 'Great Repression.' ... Some distinctly non-Harvard types
also look into the future. ...
-- Another excellent journalistic piece on the financial crisis: AIG's 'beautiful machine.'
... John Ellis
has been all over the financial mess. He has lots of other Wall Street-meltdown links. Check him out. ...
'Somebody put this out to try to raise fear'
There was nothing wrong per se with the original story
about possible police cuts. It was a classic scare-the-readers piece. I would have run with it. But it was also a classic combo send-a-message/scare-the-public/trial-balloon piece that's leaked by pols, bureaucrats or activists every time someone tries to cut a public-sector budget. Now the police budget has been declared semi-off-limits. The alarmist tactic worked. Right? The firefighters better get cracking. They're now fighting for second place on the protected-status list. The budget competition will be stiff against school teachers, health-care workers etc. ...
One of my favorite like-clockwork stories during a recessionary cycle is when someone dares to cut a public arts budget -- and then the flowery ode-to-poetry editorials come out. ... Art touches the human soul, enriching our lives with beauty unseen that
... Etc., etc. ... Howie urges immediate counter measures
against scare-the-public tactics and other antics.Update
tries to sort through the 'blue murk.' Agree with him on a lot of points (such as whether police layoffs are really off the table, thus use of "semi" above etc.). But if you just look at the broad outlines of the episode -- the cause (original budget-cut warning) and the effect (pressure to backtrack) -- you pretty much have a classic scare-the-public scenario -- and it worked. To what degree is arguable. ... I should disclose
I'm a Herald reporter, though I'm witnessing this episode from the comfy confines of my holiday home like most everyone else. I only deduce from what I read. ...