25 innings And a reliever pitched 13 innings (the first 12 1/3 of them a no-hitter). ... I hope both teams posed for a joint photograph after the game. They'll remember the night for the rest of their lives.
¶ 8:10 AM
'A kinder, gentler Jay Severin' For a millions bucks, I'd be kinder and gentler too. ... I'm so looking forward to getting my quick daily fix of depression during the commute home. I listen mostly to Howie. But during commercial breaks, I switch over to FM in search of the ever elusive Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress and often stumble upon Jay in the process. I'll leave it to others to explain the rational reasons why he's so bad. But what gets me is how morose and self-pitying he is, as if he's carrying a heavy cross for all of radioland. I can only take him for 30 seconds before switching back to AM to see if Howie's done with his Jeff Carbone commercials. ... OK, one last cheap shot: What's up with the middle-age-crisis spiky haircut? Al Pacino, Harrison Ford and Nick Nolte all had one, granted. But they ditched 'em fast when they realized how foolish they look on men in or approaching their 60s.
¶ 7:17 AM
Saturday, May 30, 2009
'The base' Both Mickey and Peggy make nice catches about what's wrong with the GOP today: The constant pandering to and defense of 'the base.' ... It's 'the base' that keeps hopping from one gotcha point to the next, such as the GOP car dealership issue, rather than seeing the larger issue, such as giving away part of an entire company to a Democratic special-interest group (see post below). Maybe someone should find an ACORN angle to the GM takeover. Two gotcha points wouldn't add up to principled, serious opposition to nationalization. But at least it'd be a more effective opposition.
¶ 8:05 AM
Story of the week – and it wasn’t Judge Sotomayor Supreme Court picks occur every four years or so. But nationalizing nearly an entire industry is a once in a life-time occurrence (unless the government ‘gateway’ plan for health care accomplishes what it’s designed to do by supporters, i.e. eventually force out private rivals and pave the way for a government ‘single payer’ system). … I loved this anonymous Obama administration quote: “We’re very excited about this (G.M.) as a company.” I assume it was spoken by an optimistic administration official in Washington, probably within the White House itself, a thousand or so miles away from Detroit and reality. ...
A couple of people have emailed me the story/blog posts about how mostly GOP car dealers are getting shut down. I tend to think it’s just the latest manifestation of right-wing paranoia. But you don’t have to be paranoid to point out that a Democratic administration has just taken over an entire company and flipped 17 percent of it to a Democratic interest group. That to me is the obvious partisan angle and scandal here. ... One last point: If I was a Ford executive, worker, stockholder or bond holder, I’d be pissed. Is Ford’s billions-dollars debt going to be wiped out? Are needed work-place changes going to be implemented at Ford? Will Ford get a six-year guarantee of no strikes? Probably not. Because the government doesn’t own it – yet. Ford, which played by the rules, is now at a competitive disadvantage. …
¶ 7:57 AM
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
'The Treasury plans to create a new version of G.M.' Just that line alone is ludicrous. But it gets worse: The government and UAW would own a combined 87.5 percent of G.M. and taxpayers would provide the automaker with an additional $50 billion in financing. ...
¶ 3:00 PM
Friday, May 22, 2009
'Barbs' Can you recall when a governor, any governor, Republican or Democrat, resorted to insulting language to describe legislators? All hell would break loose on Beacon Hill if a governor muttered simple truths about lawmakers -- that they're often petty, selfish, parochial, patronage-loving, power-hungry, double-dipping corrupt little hacks, etc. But nope. Governors, by and large, diplomatically hold their tongues and let lawmakers lob personal barbs at them. I hope the governor doesn't stoop to their level. He's drawing a contrast between the Corner Office and the circus arenas down the hall. I also hope the public is finally waking up to the fact that the Legislature is the problem -- and always has been the problem. The Legislature has long had its own personality and traditions, veiled in the flimsy guise of 'prerogatives,' and voters have to hold individual lawmakers responsible for a rotting institution that routinely uses collective action to hide individual guilt. Howie thinks voters, by and large, are brain dead. Scot is urging one last-ditch attempt to pressure lawmakers on the reforms front. But I think Deval should just let them do what they say they want to do -- and then take roll-call names for 2010.
¶ 3:44 AM
I hereby challenge Bulger to a public debate. I will take the affirmative of the proposition that Bulger engaged in criminal extortion. I will take on the burden of having to prove my case. I will also prove that Bulger was not indicted because he corrupted the justice system. I will also prove that Bulger committed criminal acts in his testimony regarding his brother.
Bad end, good run, Part II Maybe I'm in denial. But Gerry seems to be arranging a Celts wake already. Everyone knew two years ago, when KG and Allen signed up, that there would be a short window of opportunity. One could theoretically argue they should have started the wake right then. But the Celts have already met expectations, winning one championship in two years. I can see them winning another one (or two) before the final ashes-to-ashes rites. It won't be easy. But Scalabrine is right to be pumped up. ...
Bert on the Orlando showdown:
I’m not sure if there was a lack of a plan or lack of execution on the offensive end, but they seemed lost to me the entire series. Pierce was trapped and doubled constantly, which kept him in check (and he looked very worn). Allen wasn’t hitting, but I’m not sure he’s the answer in that scenario. Someone needed to get it from Pierce to force a rotation so they could get it to Ray for the shot.
Rondo’s continued lack of a jump shot is a problem. I love how he rebounds and passes and drives to the basket, but when there’s a guy that doesn’t need to be guarded from beyond 10 feet, that’s an issue. And his finishing at the basket is so-so, at best. Too many lobbed floaters.
Perkins was much better than I thought he’d be against Howard, especially without Garnett for backup. And Big Baby obviously stepped up.
'There you have it' Power Line's John Hinderaker dramatically dissects the NYT-ACORN scandal that changed the course of history. ... Wait. It wasn't a 'game changer.' But damn it. He's going to dissect it anyway.
¶ 6:03 AM
Monday, May 18, 2009
'Vote urgently needed' In an email slugged 'vote urgently needed,' Armchair Gen. Savin Hill is all excited about partaking in donut democracy. I'll take a pass. The choices look disgusting. The Krispy Kreme-ing of Dunkin' continues. When they put a cruller on the ballot, then I'll vote.
¶ 1:08 PM
'But ...' Here it comes: the ‘but’ stage of a typical budget debate, i.e. reforms are needed ‘but’ they won’t balance the budget. Of course the answer should be: But we didn’t say reforms would balance the budget. … Next up in a typical budget debate: The ‘only’ stage, i.e. an individual reform will ‘only’ save X amount of dollars while screeching commences on any budget cut of an identical amount. ...
'It's not Nixon & China, it's more like Perestroika' Reader No. 1 responds to my 'The mantra: No reforms, no new taxes' below:
You may be right that in our one-party commonwealth of diverse thinking, that "a Democrat can effectively demand reforms from the Democratic Legislature." But it surely won't be our Governor who, aside from being of similar mind to the Legislature on clueless initiatives, is a short-timer.
Given that the inmates run the State House asylum, the Democrat probably has to be one of the leaders in the Legislature. So it's not Nixon & China, it's more like Perestroika. And Gorbachev had a lot of external pressure to drive change from an external force (eg the US President), not clear from where similar pressure is going to come (perhaps Massachusetts bondholders, despite Wall Street's poor image - Ned Johnson, come on down!)
Are there any Gorbachevs in the Massachusetts legislature?
'Hedge fund mania' Joe Nocera talks with retiring hedge-fund manager and former journalist Neil Barsky. Keep in mind Barsky is calling it quits only after his own overearning, so to speak, on Wall Street. But he still makes sense:
“(The hedge fund industry) was part of this huge trend towards the celebration of wealth. Hedge fund managers overearned. It just became too easy. There has been a massive misallocation of human resources. I have so many smart guys here who were making seven figures. And I think it is a fair question to ask: what would they have been doing in 1948 — going into the foreign service? If Obama does anything, the best thing he could do is change a generation’s values. ...
“I have a friend whose son is a senior at Princeton. She said all his friends want to work for Goldman Sachs. ... We have an overground railroad to finance. It is not the best way for a society to be run.”
One quibble with the piece: The hint, suggestion, whatever that the hedge-fund industry survived because it was unregulated. Sorry. Ain't buying it. The self-policing argument now lies buried in the rubble of derivatives and credit-default swaps. Without the taxpayer bailout, hedge funds would have been dragged under too.
¶ 8:35 AM
'The mantra: No reforms, no new taxes' Good columns here, here and here on pension abuses and the need for reforms, etc. But here's the depressing part: The same debate took place six long years ago. ... Maybe Deval can pull a Nixon-going-to-China move, i.e. only a Democrat can effectively demand reforms from the Democratic Legislature. But history shows that the Legislature, now controlled for 50 years by one party, holds the long-term edge in these battles, unless voters wake up to lawmakers' role in these abuses and their collective wear-'em-down strategy.
¶ 7:48 AM
'The barrage of tax increases' They listened to him when he supported a stimulus package. Will Dems listen to him now? I'm not betting on it. The goal has always been to expand government. ... Switching gears, Andy Kessler analyzes whether we're witnessing a 'sucker's rally.' It'll be a true sucker's rally if we try to tax-and-spend our way out of this mess.
¶ 8:12 AM
'Team Obama' Reader No. 1 throws out this Obama-Bush-parallels article for discussion. I thought the comparisons were a little forced. But there's some common ground because I liked this post:
Sixteen months into this Millennial Depression, and less than a business quarter into Obama's administration, it is inescapably clear that Team Obama hasn't the slightest idea what it's doing. To pretend otherwise is self-deception. The louts and Constitutional traitors of the Bush administration didn't much know what they were doing either — but they were flat stupid. Team Obama doesn't have that excuse.
Besides the Wall Street and auto-industry bailout continuities, the two administrations' deficits for as far as the eye can see are what's freaking me out.
¶ 5:48 AM
'We tried to get him to see the wisdom' Did they also make him an offer he couldn’t refuse? ... Of course Ron and John didn't pressure Cahill to drop his pension reform proposals. "We just laid out our position, saying to him, you have a lot of big salaries over here and the legislators who are only making $50,000 or $60,000 a year need those benefits." ... See?
Huh? Huh?Huh? ... He must be a plant to discredit the T's lottery hiring system. ... I'm so reassured by the T's tough driving-record standards. I mean, he could have had three prior speeding tickets and an accident in the same year. That would have been a disaster. Whew.
'I was worried about him dogging it, not drugging it' Part II Bill Plaschke is learning LA fans are as bad as SF fans:
Fully two-thirds of the approximately 750 e-mails I have received about Manny Ramirez have ripped me for criticizing him.
I have been physically threatened, personally insulted and generally despised for having the gall to hold an accomplished, longtime professional athlete accountable for the lives he has touched and the mess he has made.
'I was worried about him dogging it, not drugging it' Boston's favorite L.A. Times sports columnist, Bill Plaschke, who admirably didn't get swept up in Mannywood mania, on the lastest Manny craziness: "Yeah, it's going to be a long 50 games. But, no, I won't say I told you so."
¶ 8:01 PM
Contrasts On the day when one player disgraces himself, another who graced the game passes away. … Contrast the teammates at the right with the teammates here. It almost makes you ill to contemplate what the game has lost. ... You Know Who, as he now describes himself whenever he writes in on a certain subject, is almost speechless with 'excitement and schadenfreude.'
¶ 7:13 AM
'Great, now we have zombies to contend with' This is very disturbing. From Armchair Gen. Savin Hill: 'Great, now we have zombies to contend with.' ... Thank God they're working on a vaccine.
¶ 6:50 AM
'A quick trip back down Memory Lane' In an email slugged "The Spirit of Massachusetts is the Spirit of America," Reader No. 1 taps into the current retro movement:
Back in the golden days of the Reagan Administration, stories like this used to keep editors of Readers Digest "In These United States" plenty busy. For a quick trip back down Memory Lane to those fabulous 80s, see this.
Reader #1 asks (with apprehension that the Obama Administration may read HubBlog): why not New Chryslers? Howie asked on his show yesterday why not free bicycles?
Anything humming on the faxes from 617 to 202 area codes?
'We cannot afford our employees as a state' A prominent elected leader finally states the blunt truth about state government costs -- only he's not in Massachusetts. ... Via John Ellis. ... P.S. -- One can just sense there's something brewing on the government front, similar to the housing market collapse or the train-wrecks of the auto and newspaper industries that we all saw (or should have seen) coming. The salary and benefits trend of government workers is not sustainable.
¶ 11:07 AM
'An inherently uncinematic subject ' Harvard's Stephen Walt, Tufts' Dan Drezner and Slate's Fred Kaplan have compiled lists of their favorite foreign-policy/diplomacy movies. I wasn't impressed. Collectively and individually, they're a confusing mish-mash of sometimes odd choices. So I consulted the experts, Reader No. 1 and Armchair Gen. Savin Hill. Below are their suggestions. First, Reader No. 1:
A couple of thoughts off the bat:
1- We really are living in the Age of Obama if an inherently uncinematic subject like "Foreign Policy" generates the three top 10 movie lists (above).
2- Agree that those lists are a confusing mish-mash, with too many war movies thrown into the mix, though all contain many excellent movies that put today's first run cinema to shame - I could filter a lot from the lists, but not add too much.
3- My suggestions:
The Third Man, followed by a four-way tie for 2nd: Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Strangelove, The Godfather, and Casablanca. The quarter-century after WW2 was a great time for foreign policy movies, either that or I am a stuck-in-the-mud late-boomer. Oh yeah, 3 additions:
It's a hard list to make. As a rule, most "foreign policy" films are left-wing diatribes about how evil the imperial US and our CIA minions are. I omitted all of those. Try this list:
10. Bananas [The only movie that pokes fun at the left-wing love affair with left-wing dictators] 9. Fail Safe [But requires viewing of Dr. Strangelove to get more accurate depiction of diplomacy] 8. The Day The Earth Stood Still (1950s version) [Because it's so obviously great propaganda for one-worlders] 7. The Godfather I & II [Diplomacy at its best ... or worst] 6. Hell In The Pacific [Great parable - two enemies trapped on a small island, and they can't communicate] 5. Lawrence of Arabia [Nation-building parable] 4. Hotel Rwanda [Cautionary tale when UN "peacekeeping" breaks down] 3. Colossus: The Forbin Project [The only cautionary tale AGAINST one-worlder view. Oddly compelling at first, but rather slow at the end] 2. Judgement at Nuremburg [Though widely seen as justifying existence of international law, actually leaves a lot of unanswered questions we still grapple with today] 1. Team America: World Police [The final speech needs to be written in stone at the UN building. "There's three types of people in the world..."]
Hub Blog missed the general's top choice. It's a great one. I feel embarrassed. My short list of the omitted are Last King of Scotland, The Bunker, Charlie Wilson's War, The Year of Living Dangerously and Pork Chop Hill (yeah, a war film, but with infuriating Korean armistice talks serving as both the cause and the backdrop of a seemingly worthless battle). I'm tempted to add the Incredible Lightness of Being.
Finally, see if you can resist the following: 'Why Stalin loved Tarzan and wanted John Wayne shot.' Resistance is futile. Might as well just read it now. It's great, and sparks an idea: a list of foreign-policy leaders' favorite movies. We've already got a start: Stalin's effectively co-produced Ivan the Terrible, Part I. Uncle Joe didn't like Part II too much: "Ivan was very cruel. You can show he was cruel. But you must show why he needed to be cruel."
'But why raise any new tax to fund the status quo?' Good for Gov. Patrick. Hope he sticks with it. ... The first phase of the let-them-beg-for-taxes strategy was enunciated last night on Jim Braude's Broadside show. They obviously think the watered-down transportation and pension reforms will be enough. Based on the track record of the let-them-beg-for-taxes gambit with gullible Massachusetts voters, they may be right, unfortunately. ...
¶ 6:39 AM
Hoist that 18th banner? Maybe not. But it was definitely a never-to-be-forgotten showdown: "It may have been the greatest playoff series in NBA history that did not result in a downtown parade." It may also be remembered as the Rondo series. ... The ending was a nail-biter and anti-climatic at the same time. Orlando looming tomorrow was the reality check that immediately dampened most of the post-game cheer.
¶ 7:51 AM
'A large number' Globe unions confirm a large number of layoffs and unpaid furloughs even after concessions. The $20 million in concessions vs. $85 million in losses initially made no mathematical sense. Now they do. ...
Update - 5.4.09 -- The last key hurdle before a deal and the cuts: getting rid of lifetime guarantees. ... Some confusion about modifications to seniority clauses, which, under normal circumstances, are usually crucial to these types of negotiations.
¶ 7:28 AM
Saturday, May 02, 2009
The Kentucky Upset That was the best Kentucky Derby I've ever seen. A 50-1 winner. From dead last to first. A $9,500 gelding. A jockey hootin', hollering and hamming it up to the crowds. An owner who politely tells a TV type that he didn't have time to indulge in a little-guy narrative that was ignored before the race. It's a tale you know is destined for quick books, a made-for-TV movie and, perhaps, even an appearance on Oprah.
¶ 6:57 PM
'Wall Street Civil War' What was the line about rooting for both sides to lose at Stalingrad?
¶ 7:47 AM
'Makes Johnny Most look like Edward R. Murrow' More vintage Most and Heinsohn to get you pumped up for tonight's Celts game against the gutless, yellow, miserable, ridiculous Bulls.
Update -- From Reader No. 1:
Bill Simmons' column today is great for Celtic fans. Too many money quotes to include, but here's a flavor:
"My team won the title last year. I'm only one year into a five-year grace period. I thought I was playing with house money. I never imagined a Celtics series in 2009 would matter this much to me. I never imagined being that crestfallen after a Round 1 defeat. When Noah stole the ball from Pierce and dunked on him, I threw a tantrum like a little kid. I screamed out a slew of F-bombs. I ran outside my house and screamed some more. How could the 2008 Finals MVP commit such a dumb foul? He had five! Didn't he know he had five???? And what's worse than a Jo-No celebration at the expense of your own team? I screamed and screamed and screamed. That play ripped my heart out.
"At the same time, I'm glad I still care. I'm glad it still matters. I will always appreciate this Bulls team because they did the impossible: They made a fan base that just won a title care even MORE about their own team. Last season barely matters right now. All that matters is winning the most incredible playoff series ever played. I don't even care what happens after Game 7; we can't beat the LeBrons anyway. This is our NBA Finals. Right here. The Celtics fans feel that way, and so do the Bulls fans. I can promise you."
'The definition of athletic Brutalism' Reader No. 1 uses the First Tycoon post immediately below as a springboard to assess the Celtics:
Reader E is onto something... something profound I think. The most thoughtful non-Fitzgerald Hub Blog post I've read!
My thoughts on the Celtics: This series is the definition of athletic Brutalism, on the players and yes, us poor self-regarding fans and Thursday night's length and intensity took us beyond Red Sox-Yankees-Sunday-Night-on-ESPN-Territory - where no fans have gone before.
Is anything up with Paul Pierce besides complete exhaustion? He is clearly struggling and returning to the old habit of carrying the team on his back...as much as Brad Miller makes a great villain, he'd be a great guy to have alongside you in the foxhole, it's too bad he couldn't have been part of Trader Danny's Midseason Reloading Plan instead of Mikki Moore.
I still think we win by a fingernail Saturday night... if we don't chew 'em all off first.
'The First Tycoon,' Part II Reader E notices another difference between history's tycoons and today's Wall Street phonies:
On the tycoons: I spend a fair amount of time copying in the MFA. It occurred to me a little while ago how much we in Boston are living off the legacy of the gilded age tycoons who for their own reasons bought and displayed cultural icons from around the world. I don't see much building on their base though. My grand theory of art, culture and money would not have a hard time accounting for the state we are in.
That movie "Trading Places" was a financial anachronism, the criminal is stealing the weather report for the orange futures, but orange juice prices will swing much farther from currency manipulation than from the weather. You will make much more money betting on currency swings than actually owning an orange plantation.
So in an economy where the brightest people are drawn to hedge on production rather than engage in production, it's no surprise that their cultural contributions are peripheral, and the elevated art forms appeal to their ephemeral tastes.
E's remarks bring to mind Sandy Weill's obnoxious boast that his investment 'creativity' justified his huge pay packages. The results of that 'creativity' are the littered remnants of Wall Street. Maybe Sandy was into Brutalism.
'If you doubt you are in doubt' Speaking of zigzagging (when zigzagging really matters), I'm reading 'Thunder Below,' one of the books recommended by Tom Ricks. There's one written order issued by the USS Barb submarine captain Gene Fluckey that really stuck out. Issued before he went to bed while his sub patrolled off the Japanese coast during WWII, Fluckey instructed his officers:
"Do not approach the (lighthouse) closer than three miles nor be more distant than five miles. Immediately evade all small craft and aircraft. Call me for all contacts or anything unusual. Call me in doubt. Call me if you doubt you are in doubt. Taut watch -- this is a hot spot."
I don't know why, but I'm fascinated with crisp, clear instructions issued by leaders. Ulysses S. Grant was famous for dashing off quick notes that left no doubt what he expected and why. But I've never read an order that addressed doubts about doubts. Fluckey's order is impressive. ... I've had a few non-military coaches and bosses who were good at giving commands. But I've also received my share of passive-aggressive, vindictive, silly, bureaucratic and/or corporatese memos, as has everyone else. I used to snidely save the "best and worst" memos that crossed my desk, but I stopped collecting them years ago after becoming a manager and realizing that leading is harder than it looks. ... FYI (as if you care): I've found that telling people what to do is the easy part. It's the 'why' that's key to motivating people without insulting them. Read Fluckey's last line. It's a classic 'why' explanation that makes clear what's at stake.
¶ 6:01 AM
'Now, it's personal with 160 people,' Part II The best you can say about these stupid hires is that they occurred when he was on his Aloisi insider zig before he went on his recent get-tough outsider zag. ... Patrick has got to find his true bearings. Maybe he's recently found them. But who knows. ...
A question for Hub Blog: What kind of 52-year old man who has served as governor for nearly three years "has got to find his true bearings"? Answer: The kind of man who has no business being in politics in the first place. If you don't believe in anything, really, and don't have the guts to fight for something, you have what we've got. Vacillating, weak, non-leadership.
As for the Celts, I love this team, its character and toughness. Win or lose, a successful season as far as I'm concerned.
On this one, the governor is right. He sent the House a letter promising to veto any sales tax hike before critical reforms are passed. This reasonable request offended House members’ sense of sovereignty, the way U.S. interference in a Central American election would offend that country’s population. The governor’s letter was an act of gamesmanship, but what’s wrong with that? Yes, he got religion late in the game. But he got it.