The Celtics: 'A functioning team'
We interrupt the 24/7 Super Bowl coverage to bring you this special Hub Blog news alert: The Celts are playing well. From Reader No. 1: "With the Celts resurgent, here's some coaching-level analysis and dissection
that goes way beyond the usual 'old guys getting into shape' blather... We are lucky to have Paul Pierce, whose many skills make these plays work. And Doc, who is working the many new guys into a functioning team."
Kevin H. White: The first among five great mayors
Former Mayor Kevin White’s sad death
brings back many old memories, some good, some bad, but mostly good, in appreciation for what he did for the city. The Globe’s Brian Mooney sums it up best
for me: “From 1968 to 1984, Mr. White was chief executive of a fast-changing metropolis, which had emerged from decades of economic stagnation and insularity with an explosion of growth and construction downtown.”
Simply put, Kevin White was mayor of Boston at a pivotal point in the city’s history, when the city could have easily lurched in either direction, back toward the “old Boston” or forward toward a “new Boston.” He chose the latter. Not taking anything away from him, but Kevin White didn’t lay the groundwork for the “new Boston.” His predecessors did, John B. Hynes and John F. Collins. They’re the ones who effectively wrestled Boston away from James Michael Curely and his divisive old-style ethnic politics that had paralyzed the city for decades. They say only Nixon could have gone to China. Well, only two Irish mayors, Hynes and Collins, could have countered Curley’s anti-business and anti-Brahmin sentiments, pushing Boston’s stagnant economy forward into a new era. Kevin White not only understood what was at stake, he expanded and clarified the new vision for the city. His 16-year hold on office almost insured that the pro-businesss/pro-development attitude in City Hall couldn’t easily be swept away by another Curley-type character.
Luckily, White was succeeded by two other strong mayors, Ray Flynn and Tom Menino. You might say White’s long tenure as mayor was bookended by two pairs of mayors who made sure Boston didn’t and wouldn’t go the way of other northeast cities, such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland and other basket-case metropolises that went into severe long-term decline in the ‘60s and ‘70s due to political corruption, ineptness and misguided government policies.
It might sound corny, but Boston has been blessed now with five straight great mayors. Obviously, each had their own strengths and weaknesses, no one can deny that. Kevin White left office with a posse of fed investigators on his tail, it should be remembered. He also was never going to win a retrospective Profile in Courage Award for the way he handled the busing crisis in the ‘70s (his stance on busing was pretty much to dodge and weave).
By and large, though, White and the other bookend mayors deserve enormous credit for sticking to a vision of Boston as a city that was more open, dynamic and dignified than it was during the first half of the 20th Century.
So, Kevin White, thanks and rest in peace.
More recommendations for Boston Reading List
Jan sends in some recommendations for Hub Blog's Boston Reading List.
Here's the note from Jan:
My first recommendation would be the fabulous
- Lost Boston by Jane Holtz Kay. The (almost) life long Bostonian wrote a beautiful book about the parts of Boston that have been knocked down or burned up.
- Boston Italians by Stephen Puleo. Awonderful history of one half of my extended family.
- A Delusion of Satan - By Frances Hill, a noted historian of the Salem Witch Trials revisits the events I hope we never forget.
As I told Jan, whether his recommendations get on the final Boston Reading List, well, it's so prestigious and sought after, it could take time (i.e. I have to read them and like them). I've already gotten the ball rolling: I just purchased A Delusion of Satan on Amazon. ... Fyi: I'll be updating the Boston Reading List one of these days. I've since read The Proper Bostonians
by Cleveland Amory. It makes the list, though it's a somewhat outdated in tone and substance. Basically, it's a light-hearted look at Boston's old Brahmin families, just before their final fall from power and prominence after WWII. It's kind of a Preppy Handbook
, but more sophisticated and rich.Update
-- Reader Jon writes in: "(Here's) the best work
on the Salem Witch Trials I've yet read (and I've read more than a few)."
Pigs fly! Even the WSJ says Mitt’s tax returns show need for a tax overhaul
Even the Wall Street Journal
thinks Mitt’s tax returns point to the need for tax reforms. Its editorial obviously comes at the issue from a different angle than the Economist’s editorial call for tax-code changes. See below. But there seems to be a consensus on the need to clarify and simplify our absurd tax system.
The most interesting part of the WSJ editorial: It concedes it “might be reasonable” to eliminate the “carried interest” provision allowing venture capitalists and other financiers to claim “capital-gains” status on what everyone else would consider “income,” in exchange for lowering the corporate income tax rate and other changes.
I can go for that. It’s just a matter of fairness. Financiers and others of their ilk shouldn’t be paying at lower rates as a result of screwed up definitions of what constitutes income vs. capital gains.
Btw: I wouldn’t mind a small hike in the capital gains tax rate. Historically, as you can see here
, the current 15 percent rate is lower than it has been in the past. But it’s not that much lower compared to other eras (excluding the deplorable Jimmy Carter 1970s). If they got rid of the loopholes, I could live with 15 percent.
The Economist: 'America's rich should pay more'
The Economist magazine has a balanced editorial
about how and why the rich like Mitt and Warren Buffett should pay more in taxes. Thankfully, it doesn't embrace either President Obama's or Republicans' approaches.
Basically, the magazine suggests holding current income tax rates at current levels, closing loopholes, eliminating complexity and getting rid of provisions that only people like Mitt and Warren can take advantage of when filing taxes. The editorial doesn't quite come out and say what loopholes need to be addressed, but they should include the one that lets venture capitalists, hedge fund managers and other financiers to define their "incomes" as a form of "capital gains," allowing them to pay far lower tax rates than the average American taxpayer. See the post below. Somehow, the financiers have convinced Congress and the IRS that their carried over "fees" are actually a form of "capital gains," even though the gains were made on the backs of other people's and institution's investment money. This is why the argument that they're only investing their "own money" -- and thus deserve to keep the benefits of that earned money via lower capital-gains taxes -- is so bogus. They don't and didn't make their fortunes off of their own money. They made it off of others' money -- and yet get to reap the capital-gains tax benefits. It's legal. But it's wrong and unfair.
Shakespeare once said a rose is still a rose by any other name. The same applies to income: Income is still income by any other name. The issue here isn't so much legitimate capital gains. It's about who gets to claim "capital gains."
FYI: A good case could be made that Mitt, as a technically retired individual, can and should claim capital gains on past earnings. But here's the problem: When at Bain, did he pay taxes at the lower capital-gains rate or at the higher income-tax rate? Is he still receiving money from Bain and paying taxes at the lower capital-gains level? Warren Buffett, who's still working full time, says he's paying the lower capital-gains rate.
Mitt's lower tax rate
They really are different from you and me. ...
Please, spare me the baloney argument
that Mitt's paid a 15 percent capital gains rate on money he "already paid the top 35 percent income tax rate on when you first earned it." Mitt and other financiers make their fortunes by investing other
people's post-income tax money. Mitt and other financiers don't make their fortunes by investing their own post-income tax money. We all know this. It's basic knowledge. It's not a secret. It's how venture capital, private equity and hedge funds work. The financiers make their money by investing other people's money. And yet people like Mitt and other financiers regularly pay lower capital-gains tax rates
based on investment returns from other people's money? ...
What a tax system!
Btw: By "other" people's money, let's face it: we're largely talking about funds from 401(k) accounts, public pension systems, IRAs, mutual funds, and other "institutional investors," as they're euphemistically called to downplay the fact that financiers are making fortunes off of average people's retirement money.
'Does God Love the Patriots?'
Reader No. 1 sends in this Charles Pierce column
with the comment, "Aside from his obligatory and Tourette's like Nixon reference, a great summary of Sunday." ... The esteemed Reader No. 1 also sends in this Bill Barnwell review
of Sunday's two great championship games.Update
-- I still can't believe the Patriots are the favorites
. The Giants beat them in Game 9. The Giants play tougher. Etc. But the Pats are simply a 'safe' bet in God fearing Vegas, I guess.
'Three cheers for Tom Brady's realism,' Part II
Reader No. 1 has more on the Pats game yesterday, from the perspective of watching the showdown with his two daughters:
We had a hot debate at home in the final 2 minutes - after Boldin hauled in the big pass, I asked Daughter #2, "Looks like overtime, what do you think?" "Be quiet!" was her angry response.
Then - the "Oh My God" moment with Lee Evans and Sterling Moore in the end zone - for a flash of a second, you knew we'd lost horribly, except we hadn't. I like Sterling Moore's attitude.
And then Cundiff. And as he hurried on, I said - I swear to God - "He's going to miss." He just didn't look ready. And - I finally got a prediction right.
Daughter #2 found this game quite stressful, she is a big fan. For what it is worth, I predict a similar intense Super Bowl.... Boomer likes the Giants.
I share Boomer's sentiments. But what about Reader No. 1's daughters? What are their gut instincts about the Super Bowl? The local blogosphere needs to know!
'Three cheers for Tom Brady's realism'
The Pats really didn't deserve to win yesterday. But they deserve to be in the Super Bowl this year because of their play all season. They overcame the odds and a lot of doubts. Dan's right
: There is a hint of 2001-2002 nostalgia in the air. But I'm afraid the two seasons, separated by 10 years, could also be seen as bookends for an era, one at the start and one at the end of a glorious era. This may be the Pats' last chance at another Super Bowl in the Brady/Belichick era. I got to say: The Giants look tough. Very tough. This is going to be a hard game to win. I'm not too optimistic. But, then, I wasn't optimistic in 2002 either.
Anyway, here's Reader No. 1:
Apparently you can lose the turnover battle and win the game! Unless you are playing the Giants.
Dreadful body language on Billy Cundiff rushing out onto the field forecast the inevitable miss - tough way to be remembered in sports history. The finishes on both games put new meaning into the term "Special Teams."
Three cheers for Tom Brady's realism.
The 2-week hiatus can only mean one thing: watching lots of highlight films of Super Bowls past. Time to buy a new hat .
Update -- The Patriots are favorites
? The Patriots
? After yesterday?
The key to today's Pats-Ravens game: Turnovers
From Reader No. 1: "A reasoned analysis
of the only thing anyone in these parts will be watching this afternoon. Brady turnovers in last two Foxboro playoff horror shows were game changers (Raven strip sack two years back, red zone INT vs Bigmouth Jets). Win the turnovers today, and win the game."
The real winner in yesterday’s S.C. primary: Barack Obama
After hearing about Newt Gingrich big South Carolina win yesterday, the Hub Blog mind hippity-hopped back to this pre-primary Michael Barone column
headlined “As S.C. goes, so could U.S.” … Well, it’s not going to happen. Newt Gingrich will not be “standing on the West Front of the Capitol taking the oath of office” next January because of the S.C. vote. More than likely, that man will be Barack Obama, for yesterday’s primary outcome wasn’t so much a victory for Newt and a defeat for Mitt, but rather it was a huge win for Obama, who gets to sit on the sideline as the GOP applies a self-imposed divide-and-conquer strategy on itself.Update
-- Of course, Obama could still yet annoy the hell out of everyone
before the election. Reader No. 1 on the linked Dowd column: "A small masterpiece. And yet, he will probably get another four years to be unappreciated and misunderstood."Update II
-- Here's perhaps the best and most succinct
explanation yet on why Gingrich won: “Wow, I am so totally shocked that a social con sorta won Iowa, a northeasterner won New Hampshire and a southerner won South Carolina. Look out establishment, it’s anything goes!!!!”
Lt. Gov. Murray’s car(eer) crashes, thanks to his ‘old school’ pal
It’s tempting to say Lt. Gov. Murray’s political career is now all but over, thanks to the Globe’s devastating piece
that shows Murray probably cracked up his state car because he was worried sick that his hackerama relationship with Michael McLaughlin was about to be exposed. But this is Massachusetts. The ‘old school’ pols never die, they just fade away for a while and end up at obscure boards, eventually re-drawing the seating arrangements for a new generation of sons, nephews and friends to take over. …
Did I tell you that I’m reading Howie Carr’s new book Hard Knocks
, a fictional account about a “web of politicians dirtier than mobsters and criminals nobler than senators”? It’s pretty damn good.
The New GOP Mantra: Criticizing Capitalism = Embracing Communism
So it’s no longer OK to criticize even aspects of capitalism. Rudy Giuliani
on Newt’s attacks on Mitt’s private-equity past: “The stuff you’re saying is one of the reasons we’re in the trouble we’re in right now — this total, ignorant, populist view of the economy that was proven to be incorrect with the Soviet Union, with Chinese communism.”
I know, I know. Huh?
But it’s the same type of mindset that’s been on gory display since the Wall Street collapse in 2008. The second someone criticizes any aspect of capitalism, some conservatives and Republicans whip out their copies of Road to Serfdom and Atlas Shrugged. You see, it’s not a debate about what type of capitalism we want moving forward (such as Too Big Too Fail vs. Not Too Big Too Fail). To free-market ideologues, it’s an all-or-nothing debate of Capitalism vs. Communism. Nothing in between. It’s capitalist freedom versus socialist gulags. Anyone who doesn’t embrace the former is embracing the latter. It’s sophomoric logic, but it’s what now dominates right-wing economic thinking these days. It’s why Republicans can’t bring themselves to reform Wall Street and eliminate the Too Big Too Fail system we have now. To reform Wall Street would be to acknowledge capitalism isn’t perfect. To acknowledge capitalism isn’t perfect is to head down a slippery slope toward socialism. Therefore … blame Barney Frank!
As for Mitt’s old Bain Capital job, it’s fair game to review and criticize his past. Granted, most of Newt’s criticisms are tired stretches. But Mitt’s the one who made his Bain experience a centerpiece of his campaign. He’s the one who says his Bain experience will guide him in his decision making once in the White House. But now we’re not supposed to even question his moves and decisions at Bain? His strategic uses of layoffs, bankruptcy filings, tax provisions, asset sales, dividend payouts, and other measures are all of a sudden off limits to discussion? He can't defend them? That’s what Rudy and the Limbaugh crowd are all but saying.
The Tebow showdown in Foxboro
Reader No. 1's thoughts on yesterday's great Broncos-Steelers game and this Saturday's Pats game:
I was saying just as we sat down to dinner (last night) with the family that - this Steeler/Bronco game has been on forever. We were at the 3 hour mark with six and a half minutes to play. And then...
The Steelers tied the game quickly, perfect pass from Big Ben to former Patriot-killer Jericho Cotchery, but it apparently used a lot of clock.
The Broncos went nowhere, didnt' use much clock, always a bad sign.
The Steelers couldn't close the deal in the last two minutes, plenty of clock to do it - not a good sign.
And then - the kickoff, and the Broncos ended it using very little clock.
What an awesome game, not just the fantastic finish, but the close calls, the reviews, the great passes... just awesome More than made up for the dreadful Giants/Falcons and Saturday's inevitable outcomes.
So now - the Pats host the Broncos on Saturday night, on almost the 10th Anniversary of the Snow Bowl/Tuck Rule Game. TEN years... a lot of time has passed. Just to remind us of how much time, we watched the great ESPN Special "The Brady Six" earlier today.
Is it time to pass the baton? That's one angle for sportswriters this week, and with humility, better than the 'Josh McDaniels revenge' angle. Of course, we love historical and revenge angles in Boston, I'm sure some local sportswriting legend other than Bill Simmons can combine both.
Incidentally, the McDaniels story should raise some flags - you won't find a lot of organizations with clearer chains of command and accountability than NFL teams, and the Patriots in particular. How's this going to work exactly next week and, cross fingers, the week after that and in the Super Bowl? In Bill We Trust!
Penn State fans suffering from bad case of Green Bay Packers Syndrome
So some Penn State fans don't want an outsider
coming in to coach their much vaunted football program. You know, the program engulfed by allegations of locker room pedophilia, management cover ups, failure to follow the law, flunking the most basic moral test of protecting the most innocent in society. Yeah, that program. ...
It's going to be a long re-building process for Penn State if their most ardent fans have their way. Remember the Green Bay Packer Syndrome, i.e. the never-ending quest to build success by reliving the past. It rarely works. In the case of the Packers, they brought in coach after coach with alleged magical associations with the late Vince Lombardi. They allegedly "understood" the "Green Bay way." They all sucked. The Celtics suffered from a variation of the Green Bay Packers Syndrome in the 1990s and early 2000s, always insisting some new addition had to "bleed green" to succeed. The Norte Dame football program has had its own strain of the Green Bay Packers Syndrome, always bringing in some coach with a quasi-Cinderella tale that fits with alums' fairy-tale image of the program. (Never mind that the last two Notre Dame coaches to win national championships were hardened NCAA journeymen and scoundrels; the alum prefer to stick with their fairy-tale delusions.)