Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sorry, Ma, but you had a good run

OK, so according to the Globe, the new torture bill would allow the President to detain legal aliens indefinitely and with no recourse to petition the courts with a writ of habeas corpus.

Apparently, the scourge that is my mom has to be stopped.

I mean, hey, that whole habeas thing is a bit overrated anyway, right? Sure, it's been a cornerstone of our code of laws for 791 years, but Alba seems to have changed everything. Seriously, mom, what did you do?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mihos wins, but Patrick benefits

So I slept on it a little bit, and I think that Christy Mihos actually won that debate last night. While Patrick did land one or two clean punches on Healy, Mihos was certainly the motor that drove many of the answers. The other candidates and Healy especially, had to react to Christy's positions and bombastic statements.

Did he come on too strong? My initial reaction was yes, a little, but afterwards the most vivid memory is of him hammering Healy on the Big Dig, so maybe going that big with an attack was useful. Also, he still came away as likable, sort of like your irascible but fun uncle.

I think the guy moved the needle a little bit and may clip some of Healy's support among independents and may nibble at some really conservative voters, which is bad news for Healy.

Patrick did alright in that he didn't implode. He landed a few good shots, but mostly could hang back and look reasonable because Grace Ross was staking out way-liberal stances and Mihos brought the shovel to smack Kerry Healy. He shined in comparison to Healy thanks to the work of the other two candidates. All in all, a good night's work.

Kerry Healy was playing defense all night, and then was flat when she touched her bread and butter issues (taxes, illegal immigration, the balance of power in the state). At times, she was literally fending off three players at once, especially during the Big Dig segment. You have to wonder if Republican Presidential hopefuls were watching how the Big Dig plays against Healy. The same failure to recognize and react to the problem could tar Romney in the primaries 14 months from now.

Grace Ross was certainly the most liberal person on the panel, but she wore it with a smart common people theme, and used softer language to describe her positions. Sort of a Class Warrior without the sword. She came off well, even if she was a bit unfocused earlier in the debate.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Gubernatorial Debate!

6:00 p.m. Here we go! Chris Wallace is here, fresh from his beat-down at the hands of Bill Clinton.

6:01 p.m. What's with the HBO Boxing After Dark intro graphics? "OK< JIM, the debate is scheduled for 12 rounds followng the unified rules..."

6:02 p.m. Taxes: Patrick: $980M in new taxes and fees under Republicans! And I'll hypnotize local towns to lower property taxes, even though I have no way to actually make that happen. Ross: Huh? Mihos: Towns are starving thanks to Healy and Romney! Healy: We don't need no stinking taxes! (hole empty answer on her main issue)

6:05 p.m. Property taxes and budget shirtfalls: Healy: People are leaving because of the taxes? I thought it was because there aren't any more jobs. Collectivized healthcare purchasing is a good idea. Patrick: Again with the $980M in new taxes under Republicans. Seems kinda tinny to me. Ross: (what the Hell is she wearing?) Help to the small businesses by increasing the minimum wage? Mihos: Big Dig is to blame? What?

6:08 p.m. How can you roll back both the income tax and property tax? Mihos: WE HAVE TO DO IT! More Big Dig, and a shot at the Sox. Healy: "My opponent Deval patrick" and special interests (Message to Mihos and Ross: Screw you!) Patrick: Special Interests Healy's talking about were the Massachusetts congressional delegation. First clean point of the debate goes to Patrick. Ross: Huh?

6:10 p.m. Patrick breaks in: We all agree on creating pportunities and job growth. Healy: Agrees to increase local aid. Stronger on rolling back income tax to 5%. "They deserve the roll back." Ross to Healy: You have the power to Veto. Where were you? Mihos: (yelling again) "That's what we're sick of in this state...throwing bombs at each other." Heh.

6:12 p.m. Affordable Housing: Ross: If we had a system that was flat for all taxes, we'd have about $3B more, mostly from people on the top. Now is openly soliciting for a sweetheart land deal. Mihos: "We're overtaxed." "This state is unafordable/, that's why people are leaving in record numbers." It appears Mihos is wholesale stealing Healy's playbook while poking her in the eye. Healy: Patrick took a pledge with AFL-CIO! How can you negotiate for the state? Patrick: I never traded a quid pro quo (ed-cough, cough, cough).

6:15 p.m. Voter questions introduced my Maria Stephanos! MCAS: Patrick: In favor, but we "slap it on top of school systems already under strain." Remedial programs. Other measures of child's progress. Ross: "We have a generation now that may not make it out of high school." Test is the reason why, apparently. No Mittens in school in winter! Mihos: "Fist to come out against" MCAS. More local funding. "It was a tool, it's now a weapon." (great line). Healy: It's not about funding, it's about standards. (to deval): You were against it before you were for it. wicked flat reposte)

6:18 p.m. Ilegal immigrants going to college: Healy: I will always be opposed to that proposal. We should use that money to lower tuition for students who are citizens. Patrick: I disagree, but there are good points on both sides. "People are not coming here for in-state tuition, they're coming here for jobs." Healy/Romney support businesses that hire out illegal immigrants. Ross: Immigrants who work here pay taxes here! Mihos: Used work illegal one, two, three, four times. Drags healy's husband into this, connects her to GWB. Healy: (Can't get a word in edge-wise as Mihos hectors her to respond to his silly attack).

6:22 p.m. Illegal immigrant driver licenses: Patrick: I want to know the name and faces of the people who are here. (good line, delivered flat). "People aren't coming here for driver's licenses, they're coming here for jobs." Ross: "What we really need to look at is what happened to our economy." Has nothing to say about drivers licenses. Mihos: "The Democrats want their votes, the Republicans want cheap labor." (to Healy) How many corporations has your administration fined for using illegal immigrants. Healy: It's Ton Reilly's fault! (point to Mihos) License is "most basic form of identification" in this country. If illegals have livceneses, they win...

6:24 p.m. (to Mihos) Would you push to arrest illegals driving w/o a license? Mihos: Yes, and I'll call INS (ed-which no longer exists) Healy: Calls Mihos on INS and agrees to lock up people driving. Matter of right or wrong. Patrick: It's a matter of priorities. With gun and gang violence "soaring" there's more important things for cops to focus on. Work with Kennedy and Kerry for "real solutions." Ross: Illegal immigrants make the worst wages. (to Mihos) You cry about the companies, but you want to go after the individuals (point to Ross). Use cops to stop drugs!

Shonda Schilling has a question! (Wow, it's missus bloody ankle!) Question on teacher merit pay: Healy: Love it! And let's give incentives for good teachers to work in underperforming schools. Mihos: You can call me Christy, and I'm against merit pay. Make these decisions at the local level, not from "elites up on beacon Hill." (Oy.) Ross: Best measure of school performance is how much money a town has. Tells an unfocused anecdote about class size. Patrick: Loves incentives to draw teachers to underperforming schools. Likes merit pay "in a way that encourages collaboration, bot doesn't defeat it."

6:30 p.m. To Patrick: It's a (an?) historic election: What has changes that Mass mihtbe second state to elect an African-American governor, or first female gov. in Mass history, or first independent. Why's Mass ready for a black governor? Patrick: If that was the only issue, I wouldn't win. I'm black, but I'm also a successful businessman, have led in gov't., in non-profits, yada, yada, yada. "Checked out, check back in" makes it's first appearance in the debate. Ross: The critical issue is race WIll be a critical factor, anyone who says otherwise isn't telling the truth. So will gender. Mihos: (Good God, this guy's got a tan. It's Geaorge Hamilton-esque). Republicans suck! Democrats suck too! Everyone is an indempendent now! Healy: The reason why people support me is I understand what it takes to make Mass more affordable. Auto rates, etc.

6:33 p.m. To Healy: Which policy do you identify closely with Romney? Least identfy? Healy: Most with fiscal restraint, least with abortion. Patrick: "Fiscal disciple is the responsibility of any governor." "prine economic pump." (Dud is smooth). Third time he mentions $980M in taxes and fees. Ross: Prison is too expensive! Shelters are too expensive, let's put people in housing. Republicans are wasting our money. Mihos: Now stealing Patrick's $980M line. Raised gas tax. "Ask a barber on the street what's happened to his license!" (ed- I love this guy) Cut to commercial. In a debate? Classy move, Fox 25!

6:38 p.m. And we're back.

6:38:30 p.m. To Mihos: How are you not just a spoiler out to screw Kerry Healy? Mihos: "How can you spoil a system that's rotten?" (good line). Big Dig is proof everything's FUBAR. Jane Swift violated Christy's civil rights, and Healy cheered her on! Mihos just stole Patrick's checking out nostrom. Healy "You're my hero, Christy." If Deval wins, we'll go back to the Dukakis era where there's only one party in control (ed- It took you 40 mionutes to hit your biggest selling point?) Patrick: People want broader experience. Big Dig was a grea tproject, but there were huge problems and there was hardly any attention paid to this. Ross: I make about $20K-$30K a year, and these peeps are super rich! "They have no clue what the rest of us face."

6:42 p.m. To Ross: Why are you even here? Ross: We need to talk to real people about real issues. "It's called trying to rebuild democracy." She's totally pulling at my Nader heart strings. Patrick: I grew up on public assistance. We're not about drawing divisions, we want to build community. Healy: Balance is about to be lost on Beacon Hill (Did she just concede)? If it weren't for me and Romney, a cap gains tax would have been retroactively applied! Mihos: I'm spending my kid's inheritance to run! Ross to Patrick; I didn't say you were divisive! I'm saying 60% of us are in a recession!

6:46 p.m. Voter Question! How we gonna keep businesses here, creating jobs? Ross: All of the tax breaks are going to the top brackets and corporations! We need real universal health coverage. Healy: If we're serious about job creation, roll back the income tax! And let's work on our permitting process. Mihos: I AM a small business owner! We can't afford to live here! Whoa, he "agrees with Kerry on this issue." Patrick: Permittign needs to be fixed. We need to connect good ideas with capital. Fix the roads!

Why is no one looking into the camera? Isn't this like debating 101?

6:49 p.m. Big Dig: To Mihos: What responsibility do you bear? (meatball down the middle for Mihos) Mihos: Fired for speaking up, voted to recoup funds from bechtel, voted for oversight, took Matt Amorello to court for documentation. Romney/Healy allowed the Big Dig's property manager to sign off on the commonwealth's responsibilities! Healy: Wanted to merge MadssHighway and Turnpike Auth. (yawn). It took a tragedy to get the merger done. Patrick: "That stem to stern review was promised when" thre Romney admin. came in. Healy isn't taking respnsibility for her failures in Big Dig. Healy responds: We totally have done an independent review. Patrick again: And it took a death and that is a "shocking shame." Ross: You shoulda had every contractor in your (healy's) office and demand they fess up now! Mihos: Hitting hard on Healy. "Two people are dead today because you did nothing. (woulda scored a point except he's coming off WAY too hard). You are paying the companies everyday!

6:54 p.m. To healy: Romney was late into the Big Dig game, right? Healy: We were totally interested in doing something, but no one would give us any information. What could we do? Patrick: I commend the gov and lt. gov for your work since the accident. But the point is leadership is taking on the problem from day one, not making excuses (scoring big points.) Ross: Both Patrick and Healy have taking money from Big Dig contractors. Cashman wants permits for LNG in Fall River and new Wind Mills. There should be no new permits until everything's straightened out. Mihos: The Big Dig is the state's project. Everything has to be voted on by THEIR Hwy Dpt. "This intentional indifference to blame everyone except themselves is what has caused this mess."

6:57 p.m. Sick time abuses. what can you do to stop this from happening? Patrick: I'll stop it! Ross: We need collaborative leadership! Mihos: Independent Authorities "poster childs" for what's wrong w/ Mass. Amorello totally paid himself and his "hacks" off with sick time, vacation time, etc. Healy: Independents were supposed to remove politics. What they did was remove responsibility. I'll fix 'em! Then she blanked on UMASS.

6:59 p.m. Question from Jasper White: How you gonna help fishermen while protecting the environment? Mihos: Screw Cape Wind! Ross: "The Fisher Industry has also suffered greatly." "We have to increase agricultural and fishing and those sort of things." healy: Fighting in Washington to protect our fishermen. Patrick: We all love Jasper's cooking! Fishermen are drug addicts? What?

7:02 p.m. Mr. Patrick has asked for everyone to run a clean campaign. Shouldn't you be ready to handle criticism and sharp elbows as a governor? Patrick: I can handle it, but let's all get along and work together on stuff. Ross: I totally agree with Deval. Mihos: I want to give people a chance to listen to the issues. Wants a discussion on the issues after hitting Healy with a sledge hammer for an hour. Healy: Word, let's keep it clean. I want Deval to tell the 527s to not participate in the campaign. Patrick: Don't associate me with those 527s!

7:06 p.m. Closings: Ross: I was a community organizaer. We should all have a voice! "the heart of massachusetts is a just heart."

7:07 p.m. Healy: thanks the sponsors (second time tonight). I see and I believe in higher stds in our schools, more charter schools, merit pay. DP oppposes those positions. "Under Deval Patrick, taxes would only go up." Deval's soft of crime!

7:08 p.m. Mihos: "I love this state. That's the only reason I'm running for governor." I'm the only person here FROM this state! "Everything I have is here; this is my home. Massachusetts is worth the fight." Christy's Proposition One is on my Web site!

7:09 p.m. Patrick: Every election is about a choice. I want us to be about the politics of hope. Everyone has ideas, but those ideas don't go anywhere without leadership. I'm totally a leader. "I'm not asking anyone to take a change on me: I'm asking you to take a chance on your aspirations."

Liveblogging the debate

I plan on liveblogging tonight's gubernatorial debate. I've never done
anything that ambitious with the site before, and have hemmed and
hawed about it all day. But I've decided to try. We'll see how it

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Gerry Callahan just ruined WEEI for me

Well, that's it for me and WEEI for a while, at least in the mornings. Gerry Callahan just called Jesus Christ "stupid."

It gets better: It wasn't everything about Jesus that was stupid, just the whole forgiveness thing. You know, love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, "forgive them father, they know not what they do." That thing.

I'm not even religious, and I found that offensive.

The duo were talking about the nun in Mogadishu who was shot by Muslim extremists as a response to the Pope's speech last week. As she lay dying, she mumbled "I forgive you" over and over.

This had Callahan tied in fits, saying she was an idiot for forgiving two guys who shot her, and that her action essentially gave them permission to kill more nuns. When John Dennis calmly tried to explain that she was trying to emulatre Christ, and retold the whole "forgive them father" story, Callahan called Jesus stupid for forgiving the people who killed him.

Never mind that it's the basis of the entire Christian belief system. Forgiving others is stupid, because it gets in the way of Gerry's bloodlust and the President's political interests. What a jerk.

Kerry Healy needs a new music guy

Watching the post-election coverage last night was dull dull dull. But one thing caught my attention: When Kerry Healy was introduced, the loudspeakers at the hall started playing Van Halen (OK, Van Hagar's) "Dreams."

Dreams? As in, "My hope to be the next governor is a dream?"


Monday, September 18, 2006

Deval Patrick for governor

The primary is tomorrow, so I have an endorsement for my four readers: Deval Patrick for governor.

There are competing interests in this race: The best interests of Massachusetts and the best interests of the Democratic Party. These are the interests presented by the candidates. And while most voters don't necessarily care about the health of any one political party, I do.

Tom Reilly, unfortunately, is not a good fit for either role. His deplorable performance in the first televised debate was the latest in a string of gaffes, and that shows that he's a good guy who isn't ready for the type of politics a governor must deal with on a day to day basis. He may have won the second debate, but the fire he showed then was tempered by the first debate's ersatz cries of indignation over the release of readily-available financial records.

Both Patrick and Chris Gabrieli, however, would be good governors, I suspect. Gabrieli has shown a better grasp of the finer details of policymaking and would thus be a stronger player on Beacon Hill.

Gabrieli is also more committed to the job. A governor Gabrieli would run for re-election until his own wake. This is his ceiling as a politician; Good humor aside, he's not built for a federal race at any level. And this seems like a job he wants, and not a weigh station for bigger and better things. As governor, Gabrieli would work hard for the interests of the state.

So would Patrick, although perhaps not as effectively as Gabrieli. Yet.

That's the second consideration in this election: Deval Patrick is still green, but he's a candidate that is built for higher office. The Democratic Party needs to develop candidates for national offices, and Patrick could be a key player in that.

I am very wary of giving the governor's office to another politician angling for a different job, but Patrick has the dynamism, charisma, and ideas that will translate well into a senatorial bid. He even has the build of a presidential candidate. I'm not running the guy for president just yet; I'm just saying his background, public speaking abilities, policy ideas and charisma are the foundations of a presidential candidate. Whether he has the temperament is still a question, especially after the second debate last week.

The larger picture is a candidate who will do a good job as governor, and has the ability to learn on the job and groom himself for higher office. Although that means he's likely in the job for one or perhaps two terms, it may be a short term we can live with.

I lamented to my friend that there was no senatorial opening for Patrick, because that would be a great fit for him, and it would give us Gabrieli in the state house. Maybe that's the dream scenario, but it's not reality. I hope that Gabrieli doesn't hang it up and runs again when Patrick does take that next step.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Racism! at the Stop n' Shop

I was a little sort on cash the other day, so I took my half filled jar of coins and went to the local Stop n' Shop. They have those Coinstar machines, which take a big wet bite out of your total payout (like 9%), but are super convenient.

I walk in the store, and there's a line to use the machine. There was a young Latino couple at the machine, some middle-aged white lady and then me. The young couple's engaged in light conversation in Spanish and pulling out obscene amounts of change from plastic bags. It's clear they've been there for a while, because their total's over $100, even with another bag of change to go.

The lady in front of me turns around and looks at me, which I thought was weird. I live in Revere. People don't look at each other.

When the couple pulls out their second bag of change, the wife looks back at the line (there's someone behind me now) and smiles. The lady in front of me turns around again and gives me a "Can you believe this?" look. What the Hell? I realize that this is some sort of trial by fire for this woman, and that she thinks I'm her partner in adversity.

I can't figure out why she was so agitated that people sometimes have a lot of change. So I sort of suck in my bottom lip and make my eyes all wide, trying to convey a "Hey, what are you gonna do?" sort of look.

The couple finally ends after rolling through like $250 worth of change. No lie. They must have set some sort of Coinstar record. Now it's put-upon lady's turn at the machine.

She gets to the first menu on the machine, which asks if you want the instructions in English or Espanol. She audibly grunts and SMACKS the English button. All of a sudden, everything is clear; she's not upset some couple took a long time at the machine; she's upset some Latino couple took a long time at the machine.

Great. Some racist is trying to make communion with me in the Stop n' Shop.

She punches through the menus and the machine is ready to take her change. Except she doesn't know what to do. The racist lady doesn't know how to use a Coinstar machine, even though the instructions—helpfully written in English, as requested—are on the screen, next to the picture of change falling into the tray.

"What? How does this work?" she asks.

"You have to put your change in that tray and slide it down the slot on the side."

"Oh! OK, thank you!"

So she dumps her change in the tray…and freezes again.

"Now what?"

"Now lift the tray and the coins will fall into the slot."

"Oh! Oh, OK. Thank you again."

Now she grabs the handle and pulls the tray up, dumping all her change into the slot and overwhelming the machine. It accepts like $7 of change from her and rejects the remaining $20-something, which falls into the rejected coin tray.

"What? What happened?" she asks.

"It didn't read the change. You have to take it out of that bottom tray and try again."

"OK, you know what? I don't have time for this, and I certainly don't have the BALLS of that OTHER couple. I'm just going to put this change back in my bag [ed. Note: She really was giving a play by play like this] and take my slip for $7. Thanks for your help."


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A good first step

The Hancock Tower is up for sale. That's step one. Step two is convincing the buyer to re-open the observatory that was surreptitiously closed for "security reasons" after September 11.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Remember that number. 292.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Have you had the news cookies at Dunkin Donuts? Sweet Lord God, they're good.

I had gotten one the other day, and I couldn't believe it. So when I went to my regular Dunks today the guy asked if I wanted my regular, and I said, "No, I think I'll have one of them cookies instead."

Both he and this other worker literally cheered when I said that. Seriously. They said they were sent to learn how to bake them and stuff, and people were taking home as many as they could after the session was over.

So I asked about that story in the Globe, saying Dunks was going to expand to lunch foods and stuff. They seemed less enthusiastic. "There's one in Nashua selling hot dogs," said the guy with a sigh. "That's weird. I can't get used to that." Amen.