Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pulling a fast one with Fast Lane

Fast Lane works. It's fast, convenient, and helps increase traffic flow. That should be financial incentive enough for the state, but apparently they aren't done charging you to travel on their roads. The state now plans to charge for replacement transponders because, well, other states are doing it.

Fast Lane already pays for itself. Toll collections are more accurate, meaning the state loses less money. The toll plazas no longer require as many workers, so the state doesn't have to pay salary, health and other benefits, or a pension. All it has to do is cover the equioment installed. There's less idling traffic, which cuts pollution significantly. Hell, you could argue that people are getting to work faster, increasing productivity for the state's employers.

And with all that, you are going to charge someone extra money to do somethig you want them to do in the first place? This makes sense how?

It doesn't help that the tolls are a selective tax that should have been abolished years ago, when the intial projects they funded were paid off. I'll accept the fact that we do have to pay for the Big Dig. But we all should foot the bill for public works projects that benefits all of eastern Massachusetts. The South Shore gets a free ride into town every morning, paid for by me on the North Shore and all those poor slobs in Metrowest. The idea that there's not space enough for a toll plaza is foolish. You just built:

  • a tunnel which required freezing the living earth under your feet and spanning water so dirty divers couldn't see their own hands
  • the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world
  • one of the busiest interstate highway interchanges in the world (90/93)
  • a subterranean highway while the existing highway remained in use above it
And you're telling me putting an outhouse-sized booth on a ramp at the Mass Ave. exit on 93 is just too difficult to handle?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

stupid, stupid boomers

Baby boomers want paper checks for social security because they like going to the bank. Aparently, they don't trust direct deposit, so me and everyone else with a job have to pay millions more each year so they can feel secure in something that they are guaranteed to get anyway. Because they like to go to the bank
Please. It's just another reason to slap a boomer. It's right up there with "still thinks it's funny they can't program a VCR clock," and "think they really stopped the Vietnam War."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Romney unveils his political strategy

Romney has spent the better part of the past year barmstorming ealry primary states across the country, pulling himself out of the moderate positions he used to win election in Massachusetts. Now that he's all but certain to run in 2008, he has to cover his tracks. How do you do that? Blame the media.

Romney really, truly belives we're all stupid. And why shouldn't he? We're the ones who let him get away with office shopping between Massachusetts and Utah. We bought it when he said he took a moderate position on abortion. We elected him. We let him trash the city of Boston when it hosted the Democratic National Convention. We allow him to mock us when he stumps for his presidential campaign. He thinks we're stupid because we are.

Mitt Romney is a do-nothing governor. There's no list of accomplishments from his tenure as governor. His budget reforms were largely rejected. His education reforms were rejected. His insurance reforms are actively being rejected. He hasn't delivered on health care. What is his legacy? What makes him such an attractive candidate? At some point, someone will figure out the emporer has no clothes.

But that hasn't stopped the Repunlican party from picking a fraud before, so who knows how far he'll go.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Johnny Damon's gone...

...and I don't care.

The Yankees totally overpaid for Damon, offering him $52 over four years. There's no way Johnny's worth that much, especially in years three and four of the deal. He's a great leadoff hitter and solid defensive centerfielder, but not irreplaceable.

Torii Hunter is not the same player, but he could be a good short-term solution. Coco Crisp, Jeremy Reed, Juan Encarnacion are also possibilities. I also think the Sox will talk to the Braves about Andruw Jones if the braves don't contend this year, and will talk more seriously in the winter of 2006.

But please, remember to breathe. It's a tough loss for the Sox, but not insurmountable.

Filene's building sweepstakes underway

Seven developers are interested in the Filene's building, according to the Globe.

It's a complicated deal, because the building is protected as a historic site, and Filene's Basement has a long-term lease, popular support and plenty of political cover. I'm OK with a residential tower going up over the building, which at least one developer is proposing. Creating a residential component will inject new life into the area.

Of course, people get stupid when it comes to Downtown Crossing. When the city confirmed a million-dollar spruce-up for the area a couple of months ago, critics screamed about the mallification of the area. If people get that huffy about new planters and restored sidewalks, what will they think of condos in the area?

But putting people in the area puts action on the street level. It'll help foster movement in the area after 7 p.m., which is a major problem for such a marquee destination.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Charlie Tickets

The T has finally outlined its plan to roll out the new charlie ticket systemwide.

I live off the blue line, and it is true that things are working better than when the kiosks and new turnstyles were installed. Still, it's incedibly annoying that the card works almost nowhere else. I'm back to waiting for tokens when I come home, because i can't buy tokens at Wonderland.

Also, I remember the T promising the system would be systemwide by the end of this year, not next year. And even that was a delay, because an automated system was promised when the fare went to $1. I remember that clearly, ebcause the T disingenuously listed that as an accomplishment when they raised fares to $1.25 three years later. So let's get cracking.

Romney out, nation yawns...

No, I wasn't surprised when Gov. Romney announced he wasn't running for re-election. Neither was anyone else, although the reaction seemed otherwise. The Globe's Brian McGrory thinks he's a strong candidate for President, even though he's been a middling to failed governor.

McGrory is only explaining the Romney camp's thinking, but it's still a bit rosy. I think Romney is a second-tier candidate at best. His best hope is a strong Iowa, a win in New Hampshire over the wildly popular John McCain and at least second place in South Carolina. If he doesn't do that, he'll bow out early. If he does hit that trifecta, he runs through to the primary and becomes a handsome VP candidate. At the very least, he'll be a shoo-in for Homeland Defense Director or another cabinet post.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Back from Florida

I've been down in Florida for a work-related conference, which explains the lack of posting. I'll have a review up Syriana up soonbut for now, here's a quick story from my trip.

I had about six hours to kill between the end of the conference and my flight. I read about 70 pages of my book (Mission to America, which is great), and decicded I'd take a cab to Downtown Disney and catch a movie. I walked up just as "King Kong" was about to start, and thought, wow, that's really lucky.

I forgot the friggin thing is three hours long. I started to seriously freak that I would miss my flight. The movie was fantastic, and I plan to finish it this weekend, but I had to leave just as Kong broke out into the streets of New York.

If you're keeping score at home, I spent $30 on the round trip for cabs, $6 for the movie and $8 for popcorn and a Coke. That's $44 for a movie I didn't get to finish.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Wow, Miguel Tejada just single-handedly revived the Manny trade talks. From Gordon Edes today:

And almost providentially, even as the Sox' brass were flying back to Boston last night, a possible solution to the Manny dilemma may have dropped out of the sky. Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, claiming to be unhappy with the lack of progress the Orioles have made in putting together a winner, wants to be traded.

Mercy! On the same day the Sox trade their shortstop, arguably the best shortstop in the game might be available, a former American League MVP who drove in 150 runs in 2004 and comes as close to offering fair value in a potential Ramírez swap as anyone out there. And here's what makes it imperative for the Sox, who were already discussing the possibility yesterday, to do everything they can to make this happen: Even the dollars make sense. The Orioles owe Tejada $48 million on the six-year, $72 million contract he signed before the '04 season. The Sox owe Ramírez $57 million.

Also, I've come around on the Marte deal. What I didn't know was that the kid is major league ready. Maybe it's bad form to say I was wrong, but I'm willing to do that.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sony's remedy just as sickening

Sony is still in hot water with its draconian DRM attempts. The latest CDs, which use a completely different secret program that you can't block, also creates a hole in secrity.

Congress needs to act. The issue of digital rights for both comsumers and businesses has become a real wild west scenario, with businesses now resorting to hacker tactics to make sure people don't steal music. It's fine to try and protect your product, but not if it means exposing those customers to security threats, or damaging their computers. Come on, now.

Dallas dealings

Mark Loretta for Doug Mirabelli: I like it. Mirabelli deserves a shot as a starter, and it wasn't going to happen in Boston. Loretta, despite an injury-riddled 2005, is a great short-term solution at second base while Pedroia gets more seasoning. That, presumably, is the best course of action, unless the Sox trade...

Edgar Renteria for Adrian Marte: This doesn't make as much sense to me. Sure, Renteria had an off year, but moving him for a top prospect? The extended theory, that Marte will be packaged for Julio Lugo and Aubrey Huff, rings a little more true.

Also, so long to Kevin Millar. Maybe I was the last person in Boston who liked the guy, but he was a solid player who smoothed over a lot of tension in the clubhouse. That counts for something, even if your bat starts to fade.

It's all a bit unsettling, however. If these deals all go through, you're infield will feature four new players. That takes time to gel, and could blow up in the Sox's face. This many changes via free agency and trades reeks of recent MLB shopping sprees, like the Orioles in the late 1990's, Tampa Bay's attempt to buy relevancy with Grag Vaughn, Vinny Castilla, and Jose Canseco, and more recently the Steve Phillips Mets.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Keep Manny

The talks over any Manny Ramirez trade seem to have stalled, according to to the Globe's Gordon Edes. A new deal, however, involves Edgar Renteria going to the Braves in a three-way deal that'll net the Sox Julio Lugo from the D-Rays.

Trading Manny would be a disaster. The very thought scares the Hell out of me. Moving Manny now would mean losing TWO power hitters, because no one would pitch to Ortiz with Trot hitting cleanup. Even a Glaus or Alfonso Soriano behind Papi isn't a guarantee of future success.

I honestly don't get the frustration with Manny. People scream every time he gets a day off, but he played 152 games this year--he only had 10 days off. They moan that he doesn't hustle down the line, but his OBP is .388 and OPS is an insane 0.982. And that's a down year for Manny.

It's amazing that after all these years, people still cling to old, discredited baseball myths. Hustle is a definite plus for any baseball player, but I'd rather take Manny's jog down the line and his .300/40/150 than Troy Glaus's hustle and .250/35/100, thank you kindly. Manny makes about a dozen mistakes a year in left field. Let's dock him a week's worth of RBIs and then compare his numbers to everyone else. Still want Orlando Cabrera instead?

There are other former batting champions in the league. There are other World Series MVPs in the league. And other RBI leaders, and other Hank Aaron and Silver Slugger award winners. Manny is all these things. He's also one of only about five or six current players who could reach Hack Wilson's RBI record (Manny, Papi, Giambi, Sheffield, Pujols and who?).

So maybe we all need to take a step back and realize that as this guy goes, so goes the franchise. It will take two power hitters to replace him. This off-season is incredibly thin, and the best hitter available --Paul Konerko--is already gone.

You get a deal in place and give me a call. Then we'll talk about whether any new combination replaces what Manny brings to the table.

EJ Dionne got a month ago

EJ Dionne has a smart take on the Alito nomination and why conservatives are running from the grand national debate on abortion that they've demanded for years.

The problem for Dionne, however, is that the always-excellent Dahlia Lithwick at Slate wrote about the same topic, and better, last month. Oops.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


A girl is in a coma, and her father is pushing to keep her on life
support. If she dies, he could be charged
with her murder
. The Supreme Judicial Court has agreed to hear the

Monday, December 05, 2005

Alito: Death by 1,000 documents

I don't understand why the Samuel Alito nomination is still considered a shoo-in. As more documents are released and studied, there are more and more difficult issues he needs to face. At some point, you would think somebody would say, "Look, each of these may be a small thing, but taken together, there's a pattern of clear advocacy and questionable actions on your part." This AP story does exactly that.

The list is getting longer every day. The man presided over cases in which he had a financial interest.

He advised the Reagan administration to use guerilla style tactics to chip away at abortion rights, and didn't provide the document when asked by the Congress.

Then there was his full-throated support of shooting potential felons when there's no threat posed to police officers or the public. The memo specifically outlines Alito's beliefs as he tries to lobby his seniors to take the position. That's a far cry from his claims that those memos reflect the attitudes and opinions of a very conservative administration.

At the very least, Alito has a very loose definition of "honest." Isn't that enough to seriously damage his chances when he sits before the Judiciary Committee? Is this a meme that's waiting to develop?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Here we are


I'm still formulating a mission statement for this site, so forgive me if I seem all over the place. Most likely, that won't really change, but we'll see how things go. I have no real expectations for this blog, which I probably shouldn't tell you, but I'm speaking to non-existent visitors right now, so I'm not sweating it.

I'm from the Boston area, and that informs a lot of my world view. So I'm going to draw on a favorite quote of mine to serve as the working theme for this site (It's sure to change). While working to build a new Boston Garden, arena President Larry Moulter said "Boston has three major industries: Sports, politics and revenge."

So sports, politics, and revenge. Sports is clear enough; I'm a huge Red Sox fan, and that'll take the most of our sporting coverage. Expect the other hub teams to make an appearance here and there, and national sports talk on occasion. I'm also a movie nut, so we'll likely talk movies as well. That's not really sports, but it's entertainment, and that's close enough. I told you I'm all scattershot.

Politics is for both regional and national topics. I suspect the bulk of the posts will reside here.

And revenge is all about stuff happening around Boston. I live here, it's what's around me, and goddamnit but if it isn't a wonderful and bizarre place to live.

At this point, the whole "Sports, politics and revenge" thing makes absolutely no sense. I'm comfortable with that.