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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Brainwashed?

It started as a small blip on the radar screen. Our (former) governor, back on the campaign trail in Iowa after vanquishing Matt Amorello, boasted he wasn't afraid to take on any issue.
"The best thing for me to do politically is stay away from the Big Dig -- just get as far away from that tar baby as I possibly can," Romney said, answering an audience question about whether his new responsibility for the project's safety carried political risk. "But I got elected as governor of Massachusetts. It's part of my job to do what I think is the right thing."
But the blip on the screen is getting bigger as a debate begins on whether ill-chosen words will hamper or doom his nascent candidacy. And there's some family history he must surely be thinking about.

The scene is 1968. Michigan Gov. George Romney (a liberal Republican) dipped his toes into foreign policy by taking a trip to Vietnam. (Interestingly, George Romney resigned to run -- something Mitt has only partially done).

Trying to explain why he was flipflopping his position from pro-war to anti-war, the elder Romney said he had been "brainwashed" into supporting the war. Game. Set. Match.

But back to today. It appears the new favorite term of the GOP to describe tough, sticky situations is "tar baby." While rooted in the classic Uncle Remus tale of B'rer Rabbit, there is a difference of opinion over whether it is a derogatory term.

No less a literary light than African-American poet and writer Toni Morrison, author of the novel Tar Baby, insists it is not.
"How it became a racial epithet, I don't know," she said. "It was my attempt to rescue the phrase from its low meaning. I wanted to annihilate the connotation and return the meaning to its origins. Apparently, I haven't succeeded."
Certainly not if you read the Boston Herald -- presumably a Romney-friendly newspaper, which gleefully highlights his "UnMittigated Insensitivity" in a series of stories today.

While Mitt has offered the obligatory apology, the obvious question becomes whether this is similar to the loose-lipped moment that brought down his dad politically.

Personally, I take my brain without starch.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Super Mitt

Look, out in Iowa. It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's Super Mitt.

Fresh from routing Matt Amorello and bringing truth, justice and Bain Capital Way to the Big Dig repair project, our (former) governor heads back out on the campaign trail, new superhero story in hand. I guess everything is fixed, right?

Meanwhile, back in Boston, Romney attempts to play the fiscal reformer, vetoing "spendthrift" legislation from that darn, old Democratic Legislature. But the shallowness of his actions is truly visible.

The final formal day of the two-year session comes Monday. After that time, the Legislature will not be able to override his vetoes. Anything that he truly does not wish to see become law can be vetoed on Tuesday with recourse. Take, for example, his veto of $31 million to finish the covers on top of the O'Neill Tunnel ramps that surface where the old Central Artery used to be.

The money, obligated by the state in early 1990s, would allow work to advance on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the swatch of parks, museums and buildings that will cover the scar where the artery used to be. The area right now resembles a wasteland -- and a pedestrian crossing in that area takes his or her own life into their hands.

Romney says the money should be used to fix the tunnels -- and besides people in Pittsfield shouldn't foot the bill. (In fairness he said the same thing when he vetoed a cultural facilities fund that helps Pittsfield, New Bedford and Lowell among other cities) -- a veto rightly overridden.

He also offered that non-profit organizations should be able to raise money to pay for the highway "beautification." Hey, why not throw in the extra 35 cents the MBTA is raking in from commuters? When is a commitment a commitment? And what about Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff?

Let's also take a look at Mitt's decision to veto the minimum wage bill, a stance highly popular with the red meat Republicans intent on reducing the tax burden on the superwealthy. That veto also came Friday -- enough time to allow a legislative override.

So Mitt has clearly taken two stands designed to make him look good to national audiences -- trying to rein in the Big Dig monster and toeing the line in keeping wage earners in their place. Count on those issues being in his campaign commercials.

Don't expect any mention that he cynically took those stands with timing that allowed him to grandstand knowing he would be overruled. If he truly believed in his positions, he could have acted next week.

A new flower from the Turd Blossom

See, it's the media's fault for the corrosive nature of American politics today.

Karl Rove, the creator of the divisive strategy of appealing to the hard right Christian base by demeaning and defaming the opposition which has shredded the nation to an historical level, took time out from his busy schedule to analyze our malaise.

Guess what? It's not his fault. It's that darned liberal media.

I'd be one of the first to agree that the media can sometimes get too hung up on strategy and the scent of power. Been there. Done that. But for the meanest strategist to blight this land since Lee Atwater to look in the mirror and see only the media may suggest he really is undead.

The litany of Turd Blossom's evil deeds is far to long to list here -- and if you're reading this you probably know it cold.

Perhaps more interesting, maybe others are too? While Ohio will once again be a battleground in the Christian Right's push to putsch, there are also interesting signs that some sanity may be on the horizon -- before we have our own religious-based civil war.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tolerance

Tom Lehrer had it right.

Read today's Times in print and it's a pretty depressing appearance across the top of the inside national pages. Intolerance -- in Delaware, Seattle and Santa Ana, California. Not to mention Haifa, Beirut, Baghdad and Tehran. Or Mumbai and Islamabad.

And through it all, George W. Bush (you know the uniter, not the divider) fiddles and diddles trying to come to grips with the emotions he helped to unleash as part of his and Karl Rove's quest for election.

OK, the Bush political machine is not directly responsible for the Aryan Brotherhood and their ilk. But in his quest to appeal to the Ayatollahs of the Christian Right he certainly bears some responsibility for the sordid little story in Georgetown, Delaware. Consider this attitude:

"What people here are saying is, Stop interfering with our traditions, stop interfering with our faith and leave our country the way we knew it to be, said Dan Gaffney, a host at WGMD, a talk radio station in Rehoboth, and a supporter of prayer in the school district.
Or this:
"We have a way of doing things here, and it's not going to change to accommodate a very small minority," said Kenneth R. Stevens, 41, a businessman sitting in the Georgetown Diner. "If they feel singled out, they should find another school or excuse themselves from those functions. It's our way of life."

Is he Shiite or Sunni? Or another form of fundamentalist? Isn't this what we are allegedly fighting about in Iraq? Democracy, which includes freedom of religion and religion and tolerance (and courtesy) toward the beliefs of others?

Meanwhile, across the continent, we find a classic situation where intolerance mixes with easy access to weapons to create a classic one-sided grudge match. Time will tell what other demons possessed the suspect, who declared "I'm a Muslim American, I'm angry at Israel." But the fact this could happen at all is a sign of the malaise gripping this country.

And through it all, W. displays a stunning indifference to the urgency needed to calm to what is taking place along the Israel-Lebanon border.

Maybe he's just a fan of another piece made popular by Lehrer.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Maybe Mussolini will take the Big Dig job

After all, he made the trains run on time, which is more than you can say for Dan Grabuaskas.

Consider if you will that the MBTA, facing one of many strong opportunities in recent years to encourage commuters to abandon their cars and ride the rails (and buses) performed as usual. That of course, is M(ediocre) B(ad) T(errible) A(trocious).

Not enough locomotives, no air conditioning -- the usual litany. Grabuskas, Romney's hand-picked person for the general manager's job (and someone who doesn't take the T to work) was supposed to clean up the system and make it sparkle.

I guess one person's management whiz is another person's political hack.

Don't go shopping for DC living space yet Dan.

Basra by the Charles

Now that Mitt has dumped Matt and taken responsibility for the Big Dig, all will be well. The tunnels will be safe, taxpayers will get professional management and won't have to eat the cost of public sector waste, fraud and abuse.

This item of out Iraq, however, sound eerily familiar. Now matter how much Romney wants a scapegoat for the errors that have plagued this job under four Republican governors, the cold hard fact is he has never leveled his campaign jabs at the real culprit -- Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

The Times recitation of the problems that plagued the construction of the Basra Children's Hospital, read like Big Dig II:
The Iraqis assert that management blunders by the company have caused the project to teeter on the verge of collapse; the American government says Bechtel did the best it could as it faced everything from worsening security to difficult soil conditions.
The big difference is the Iraqis have learned a lesson we have not. They have dumped Bechtel.

Personally though, I like Brian McGrory's suggestion even better.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

It's only money

Lost amid all the sound and fury over the Big Dig tragedy is the premiere of the gubernatorial candidates' television ads. Kerry Healey should probably keep it that way.

Buried in her classic GOP "we're overtaxed" message is a statement that demands a response as the Big Dig mess gets deeper.
Suspend the gas tax -- with a $1 billion dollar surplus, we can afford it.
There you go again, as the Gypper might have said. Gasoline tax dollars are allocated to the state's roads and bridges. Even if she wasn't comparing apples and oranges by linking the gasoline tax with the income tax, Healey obfuscates a major point. Someone is going to have to pay for these repairs.

We already know it won't be the feds -- they've capped their contributions. It's nice to think it will be Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff but that's way into the future, if ever. No, it will be you and me who fill up.

And any money that goes to the Big Dig does not go to the other crumbling roads, bridges and tunnels neglected by the Romney administration. (See, for example, Storrow Drive and the Longfellow Bridge. And every other city and town has its own horror stories.)

The "surplus" that comes from income, sales and other taxes, goes to pay for public safety, education, public health and local aid, among other things. The rollback to 5 percent is an entirely different question (and a bad idea in a state that still has not made up for the damaging cuts to those services, cuts that force property tax increases or the layoff of teachers).

To blithely equate the "surplus" with high gas prices and an election year call for a tax cut is Bushonomics at its worst. Let's see what the bailout for the Republican "managed" Big Dig project will be before we condemn every city and town to move their public swimming pools into the potholes.

Turning a blind eye

It's becoming increasingly clear with each passing day that the folks who have led this state for the last decade SHOULD have been aware of the problems that culminated in concrete slabs falling from the I-90 connector, killing a Jamaica Plan woman. The question is why didn't they do anything?

It's somewhat heartening that 50 percent of poll respondents are not buying the message being offered by (former) Gov. Mitt Romney that Matt Amorello is to blame for everything.

The Globe and the Herald have done some good reporting to find the documents showing the concerns raised during the headlong rush to finish the way over time and not on budget. But the question for these players is the same as for Romney and other Turnpike Authority critics -- where've you been all these years?

There has also been some good thumbsuckers produced, trying to get to the bottom of the Massachusetts mindset that allows this to happen.

But it's become increasingly clear that it's going to take an objective national media -- and an erstwhile presidential candidate -- to get the answers we should have gotten years ago. It would not have been that hard.

Yes, Mitt may look good in shirtsleeves, explaining how epoxy should hold a bolt into the ceiling. But where's Mitt been for the last 3 1/2 years? Alternating between pointing fingers and ignoring the problems -- just like his predecessors.

The same holds true for Tom Reilly. And as for Kerry Healey -- maybe she should do more than help Mitt into his orange vest (thanks Globe for not posting the picture or column!)

Oops!

(Former) Gov. Mitt Romney has been putting on a fairly impressive show for the (campaign commercial) cameras recently, rolling up his sleeves, figuratively, to show he's in charge of the Big Dig investigation.

But leave it to Mitt (or, to be fair, very sloppy staff work) to miss something trivial -- like the law.

Let's remember, it's not about ideology. It's about competence.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Oh what a tangled web we weave....

The latest orgy of violence in the Middle East is the Bush administration's "policy" coming home to roost.

Short of friends in the region because of an obtuse policy that presumed to impose democracy where none has ever really thrived, the United States now must stand back and watch the flames erupt. And has anyone noticed that things are not getting better in Baghdad?

A few facts, as far as I can discern them. Hezbollah, which runs southern Lebanon with the help of Iraq and Syria, has been provoking Israel, first with kidnappings, then with missiles. Standard tactics of Islamic militants.

Israel, like the United States, does not believe in measured responses. Provocation merits retaliation, but Israel (and the US) is often it's own worst enemy by overreacting. Instead of basking in world sympathy for the actions of religious extremists, Israel winds up a pariah in the face of the world because of an intemperate response (sound familiar?)

In the meantime, Iran, already in the Bush administration's bomb sights and on record in spouting virulent anti-Semitic falsehoods, has little to fear from arming its allies in Lebanon. Ditto for Syria, which in effect has run Syria since the end of their civil war.

Meanwhile, over in North Korea, Kim Jong Il plays similar mind games, clearly recognizing that US forces tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan means no harm will befall him.

Quite a foreign policy, W.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars but in ourselves

So Mitt has Matt one step closer to the exit. Where are the rest of us, except of course for being stuck in traffic?

The unseemliness political posturing in the immediate aftermath of death of Melina Del Valle (including Romney's ill-tempered and politically insensitive remark about the mountain coming to Mohammed) obscures what should be the real focus here: the mismanagement that took place long before either man set foot in a tunnel.

Where is the outrage at Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the mammoth organization that "managed" this project. Or Modern Continental, which has a very checkered, but unchecked history in constructing this mess. Not to mention a history of ignoring the rules.

None of these logical targets have in the sights of our (former) governor as he has professed anger over the Big Dig and focused instead on ousting Matt Amorello. Only now, sensing a potential threat to his sham image as a great manager, Mitt has "grabbed the reins" by seeking to head up the investigation. The Legislature, wanting to avoid the obstructionist tag, went along.

But the results of a Romney investigation are almost as predictable as the latest starting probe of Attorney General Tom Reilly. The "independent" investigation will blame Amorello and the Turnpike Authority for the falling ceiling panels. Reilly will similarly pick off some low-hanging fruit.

But the real scandal that needs to be investigated (but won't be) is how B/PB and Modern Continental were able to go so long without significant oversight. And the fault there can be distributed broadly.

Let's start with the Turnpike Authority, led for the last 16 years by a series of appointees of a number of Republican governors -- none of whom is named Romney. The Jane Swift-appointed Amorello actually came in to fix the messes created by the Welducci appointees named Kerasiotes, Natsios and Capka.

While Amorello has not covered himself in glory -- and should resign -- he is a scapegoat. Period. End of sentence.

There have been some efforts -- notably on the part of the Globe and Inspector General Greg Sullivan and his predecessor Robert Cerasoli. What has been lacking is follow-up: by Romney, the Legislature, Reilly, the Globe, the Herald, the Artery Business Committee and the rest of the business community.

That lack of follow-up has allowed Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff and Modern Continental to produce a shoddy construction job that is now the nation's laughing stock. The only one's laughing harder are the companies that have pocketed the taxpayers' billions.

The proper authority to investigate this highway nightmare is not our (former) governor, a gubernatorial hopeful, a US attorney who has returned some meager indictments or a special blue ribbon panel. No this one should indeed go to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Taxpayers deserve no less -- and Boston drivers, as crazy as we are, deserve a lot more than we have been getting from our "leaders."

I've Got a Secret

It appears Arlen Specter is looking to go back to the '50s (at least in terms of game show mentality) with his unique "compromise" for determining the legality of the Bush administration's wiretap program.

Simply put: let a secret court decide and keep its ruling a secret.

No one is questioning the right of the American government to use covert methods to search for REAL enemies. That's what the FISA court exists for in the first place -- despite the administration's decision to sidestep it.

It is even reasonable to accept that its business remain secret. Telling is whether or not this or that warrant (you know, 4th Amendment stuff) is legal could hamper the business of tracking down REAL enemies.

I even buy the idea of allowing this court to determine the legality of the administration plan. But to allow it to keep its decision secret? Who is protected? Not the REAL enemy. And let's face it. A favorable ruling would be leaked in a heartbeat by an administration that views secrets as something only they can dole out like candy.

I'm a big enough person to take the bad news if the court were to rule everything Bush has done is illegal. Why isn't the administration big enough to handle a public chastising if it is wrong?

The proposal is pure Specter: he's a lot of strong talk who, in the end, caves to the bullies on the right.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Let the finger pointing begin

Mitt Romney took time out from his New Hampshire vacation to come down and visit Boston, pose for the obligatory pictures showing him touring the site of the Big Dig collapse and working with staff. He then came up with his usual lame call for Matt Amorello's departure.

Whether Amorello stays or goes at this point is really a moot question. The incompetence that has marked the Big Dig's construction has many, many villains. Their names also include Kerasiotes, Natsios, Weld, Cellucci and Swift. For that matter, add the name Reilly, who has done a slow motion investigation of cost overruns until he got campaign year religion.

Since the Mittser is engaging in fingerpointing because he doesn't know what else to do -- let's add some admittedly partisan perspective since this will now be a major campaign issue. And that perspective says that every name above, with the exception of Reilly, carries an "R" after it.

Republican competence can be summed up in two words: Big Dig. From the days of Jim Kerasiotes lying through his teeth about the project being on time and on budget (word echoed by Cellucci during a gubernatorial campaign), the Weld, Cellucci, Swift and Romney appointees have continued to produce a project noteworthy for its cost overruns, shoddy construction and all-round incompetence.

Sort of reminds you of Iraq? Substitute Parsons Brinckerhoff, Bechtel and Modern Continental for Halliburton and you won't be far off the mark.

So remember, when Kerry Healey calls for another Republican in the Corner Office to keep a tab on the Democrats in the Legislature, those boyos had virtually nothing to do with this killer embarrassment called the Big Dig.

Oh, and a note to the pundits who think Mitt is the best thing since sliced bread among the GOP republican candidates (he's running?): Don't just read the press releases. Pay attention to what's happening in his state.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

We won't get fooled again

Memo to the T "planners": This fare increase may not be as easy to slip through as you hoped.

In a rare instance of worthwhile reading, City Weekly is loaded this week. The volume, however, come from readers reacting to last week's piece on the Charlie Card automated fare collection system and how easy it is to cheat. Just like this Green Line rider, I haven't had much experience with it, much like Michael Chertoff (his own three-car train?)

But the experiences of other riders -- particularly those with "helpful" MBTA employees -- resonate (as does this letter, and those here, here and here.) And there's an excellent point here about the T reaping extra dimes for less-than scintillating bus service.

And I agree with this writer, who expects the punishment to fit the crime. My suggestion: riders should suffer the same fate as the card's namesake -- don't let them off.

Fight the fare increase.

Not worth the trip from New Hampshire

Mitt Romney's commitment to Massachusetts was made clear by his decision to hold a rare Saturday news conference to announce his budget vetoes. Aside from being able to stick it to the Statehouse press corps unaccustomed to working Saturdays, he told reporters the timing allows him to spend a full week at his New Hampshire vacation home.

The rare Romney sighting, coming after an exhausting travel schedule tied to his nascent presidential campaign, was in keeping with his national vision. The Bay State's latest gift to the nation took up his veto pen to protect taxpayers against excessive spending and unwarranted intrusions on executive authority. Sound like anyone we know (minus actual vetoes of course)?

Seasoned observers on Beacon Hill suggest this budget still does not come close to restoring all the cuts made at the height of the slashing earlier this decade. And that is significant because those cuts came in education, public safety, public health and local aid. Often forgotten in the noise is that cuts at the state level often result in property tax increases at the local level as communities struggle to maintain "frills" like police, fire and teachers.

And of course, the Romney veto message is more geared for Des Moines than Boston.

"When you look at the budget the governor has announced, and the ones in the House and Senate, they're really quite similar in the broad strokes," said Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-backed budget watchdog group. "Today, he's made a big point of the differences, but up till now there have been many more commonalities than differences in priorities and spending levels."
Enjoy your week in tax-free New Hampshire Mitt. I suspect you can pickup a few votes there with the new you. But I can't help but notice you didn't send your kids to school there.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Really SWIFT

The Bush administration was in high dundgeon about the threat to security posed by the decision of the New York Times and other publications revealing secrets by reporting on the use computers to track the financial dealings of terrorists.

Well, now we learn that the administration, as usual, does not practice what it preaches about computer safety or anything else.

Freaking Bumblers and Incompetents. Is that what FBI stands for?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day, Part 3

Eleven score and 10 years ago, we didn't mark this day with fireworks, cookouts and baseball. Rather, in a bold experiment, some men wearing unbearably hot woolen clothing and powdered wigs, sat in Philadelphia and took the audacious step of spelling out their grievances against their government.

Fast forward those 230 years (and ignore that in today's American society those men would be snidely characterized in a certain way that, among other things, would deprive them of their right to marriage). A reading of that document bears out some stark similarities between George III and the current George.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences


You get the idea.

As we mark another Independence Day, let's also look at some of the rights lost or threatened by an administration elected by the Supreme Court after failing in a bloodless coup by impeachment. Let's also look at what their concept of democracy has meant for the world.

We are at war with Islam, no matter that our own view is that we are at war with Islamic fascists. The hatred dredged up by more than three years of hostilities in Iraq cannot be measured. Whether the "enemy" is al-Qaeda, foreign fighters or Saddam's loyal bitter enders, one thing is clear: the Shiite and Sunni fighters share a common hatred of Americans, one that will put us in harm's way long after the Casey withdrawal plan or the remarkably similar Democratic counterpart.

We are at war at home, where Karl Rove, George's Turd Blossom, has unleashed the hounds of reaction seeking to blame Democrats and liberals for every ill the administration has caused. And the ills are many:
It seem apprpriate to close with these thoughts (and with the expectation that the feds will be on my Internet doorstep to investigate these dangerous words):

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Happy Birthday America.

Sometimes a leak is just a leak

It's been noted many times before in many other venues, but not all leaks are created equal according to the Bush administration.

Murray Waas has (OK a leak) that George Bush ordered Cheney and crew to go after Joe Wilson after he showed the emperor had no clothes about Iraq and WMD. A nice general deniable order to destroy Wilson's credibility that prosecutors say led to Scooter Libby's outing of Valerie Plame -- then lying about it.

So once more evidence that truth is fungible in Republican hands.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Recall Romney

It's time to say sayonara Mitt. Adios. Au revoir. Auf weidersehn. Buh-bye.

Our (former) governor continues to gallivant around the country, testing the waters for a presidential campaign that looks at Massachusetts as nothing more than a foil (second item). His lack of contact with the reality of Massachusetts was powerfully highlighted by his call for using the State Police to crack down on illegal immigrants.

One problem though. (By the way, where is former State Police Col. Reed Hillman on this one?)

And of course, there's the Romney-Healey effort to advance the "compassionate conservative" agenda by vetoing the Legislature's to legalize hypodermic needle sales as a way to combat HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

There's six months left in this term marked by fraud and dishonesty -- positions taken for one election that were turned 180 degrees when the boss decided on greener pastures.

Here's a purely symbolic gesture (a quick look at the Massachusetts Constitution doesn't find the hard and fast language): let's recall Mitt. Sure, it gives Healey six months in office, Let's use that time to make her defend the ineptitude of the administration she represents as she tries for a term of her own.

Red state welfare

Those "compassionate conservatives" get their exercise railing against the abuses of people Ronald Reagan used to call them "welfare queens," living off the public dole without a lifting a finger.

The GOP Congress was supposed to put an end to that practice -- and even Bill Clinton called for an end to "welfare as we know it."

He succeeded, much to the unhappiness of a lot of liberals. What we didn't count on was those "fiscal conservatives" creating a new form of welfare -- perfect for the red state brethren,

The Washington Post exposes yet another massive raid on the treasury by crusading reformers like Dick Armey. Yes, it's true, farm state Democrats like Tom Daschle and David Pryor participated in the raids. But as the Post points out, the real feeding time came under GOP "leadership."
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) used his power as chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture to push through $3 billion in "emergency" assistance to grain, cotton and dairy farmers. That was only the beginning of a retreat by Republicans fearing retribution at the polls in key "red" states with broad farm constituencies.
Now we have "po' folks" in the Houston neighborhood that has been home to George H.W. Bush and Ken Lay feeding at the public trough. Texas appears to be one of the largest recipient of this ill-gotten federal largesse.

Are you surprised?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The cost of war

Happy Fiscal New Year -- at least in Massachusetts.

The start of a new spending cycle seems a good time to ask the question: does anyone really know the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan? We have somewhat of a handle on the number of American and "coalition" lives lost. We know in overall terms about the loss of American values and the standing of America on the world stage -- the squandering of the 9-11 capital.

But what about hard and fast dollar totals? There are varying estimates from the left, the reputable media and the administration. But is there a central place to find out how much has been spent since 2001 on war materiel, salaries and reconstruction aid? Here's one effort -- notice how much attention it received?

And is there anyone reporting on how we are spending our children's and grandchildren's future in the desert sands to rebuild a nation we destroyed -- even if they don't really us there?

Or how eliminating the "death tax" will only make matters worse?

I kind of thought so.