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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Flea-ting thoughts

As an anonymous blogger, I have a personal interest in the fallout from the dramatic courtroom admission that an anonymous medical blogger was writing about his own malpractice trial.

Globe blogger Elizabeth Cooney writes:
If there was any remaining doubt, the settlement of Natick pediatrician and medical blogger Dr. Robert Lindeman's malpractice trial removed any illusion that blogging could be done anonymously.
With due respect, Lindeman's problem was not that he blogged anonymously. It was that he blogged anonymously about his own medical malpractice trial, as the Globe notes, taking swipes at the plaintiff's case and the plaintiff's lawyer; revealing the defense strategy; accusing jurors of dozing.

The issue is not anonymous blogging. It is arrogance, hubris, stupidity and a whole bunch of other words like that.

To blog anonymously about your work, especially when it is in a field where privacy and confidentiality are paramount, is overwhelmingly arrogant. It is about taking cheap shots, as Lindeman did, swatting at the "fleas" who make your life miserable on a daily basis.

I blog anonymously to avoid linking my employer with my political views and opinions (although many know I write this blog and are quite encouraging). To me, that's just basic common sense.

And, oh by the way, I don't write about my employer. That's even more common sense.

In the end, it wasn't anonymity that brought down flea. It was arrogance and stupidity. His punishment was public humiliation (and apparently a fat settlement for the plaintiff.)

Don't look for me to unmask anytime soon.

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Law & Order: Campaign version

It may come down to the ultimate trivia question of the 2008 campaign: who is the best actor in the field. On the Republican side, you have Fred Thompson, star of small screen who plays men of character, and Myth Romney, who plays a conservative.

Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch
is about to join the already crowded GOP field, raising the heart rates of conservatives longing for another actor to save their party. Tall, with rugged looks and a deep voice marked by a southern twang, Thompson appears ready to vault into the top tier of what many view as an uninspiring field.

Romney, whose leading role has been as an absentee Massachusetts governor, thought he had cornered the movie star market with the perfect hair, good suits and the ability to say whatever words are placed in front of him.

In many ways, Romney's acting credentials are more impressive -- he played a liberal in his race against Ted Kennedy in 1994, a moderate running for governor against Shannon O'Brien in 2002 and a full-throated conservative four years later.

The early line says Thompson's arrival spells trouble for the Man, the Myth, the Legend in his own Mind. After all, Thompson has a more impressive resume, including US Senator and the Man Who Blew the Lid Off Watergate.

Oh sure, he has his own problems: his red pickup truck is more Hollywood prop than actual vehicle of choice. And he may be forced into competition (a phony one at that) a little too soon for his organizational preferences.

But Thompson's greatest strength -- for now -- is that he's someone else. He's not McCain. He's not Rudy. He's not Mitt. GOP faithful have kicked the 10 sets of tires -- particularly the top three -- and have found them wanting.

That indeed spells the greatest potential for bad news for the man from Utah-Michigan- Massachusetts-New Hampshire who has been trying to win hearts and minds.

Giuliani will always have the mantle of leadership during 9-11; McCain a respected senator and heroic prisoner of war. Romney at best can claim credit to "saving" the corrupt Salt Lake City Olympics. As this blog and many others have repeatedly noted, his record as Massachusetts governor was that of doublespeak coming in between lengthy absences from the job.

But Thompson will undoubtedly find things a lot more difficult as the real deal candidate rather than the Hamlet-like savior pondering his fate. His fellow candidates, not to mention the media, will take a closer look at everything.

Law & Order fans may also be very annoyed -- what's the fate of the program (or the DA) when federal equal times requirements may force the elimination of reruns?

Thompson's move now leaves only one former Tennessee Senator pondering his political future. But, in what could make the TV actor nervous, this one has an Oscar on his mantelpiece.

And what about Myth? He's got his own video performances to share with the electorate.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Some of my best friends are Democrats

Myth Romney is starting to spend the raise before he gets it.

Just a few days after a Des Moines Register put the Man, the Myth, the Legend in his Own Mind at the head of the pack in Iowa, the Mittster is starting to talk like a front-runner. As his own people will tell him -- bad move.

We can start with the fact there is no agreement on his lead. And his South Carolina numbers look sickly, if not deadly.

But that didn't stop Magnanimous Mitt from telling a group of New Hampshire Republicans that he can work with Democrats. Just ask his pals in the Massachusetts Legislature.

Yep, just ask his Republican pals in the Legislature -- before they head off to events for McCain or Giuliani.

Then there's the magnanimous gesture of saying that if elected, he will donate his salary to charity.

Let's leave aside the question of whether taxpayers should foot the $400,000 donation to charities of Romney's choice. A better move would be to forgo his salary, as he did in Massachusetts.

Of course, then people would face the same problem we did -- you get what you pay for.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lies, damn lies and Republican politics

So much for the Straight Talk Express.

Posturing and obfuscation are tools of the trade for Myth Romney, so it's no surprise to hear him parrot the lies of the Bush administration that we need to fight them over there, blah, blah blah. Ditto for Rudy Giuliani, who needs to burnish his alleged credential as the terrorists' worst nightmare.

But Mr. Straight Talk McCain?

The Globe reports today that the three GOP front runners continue to traffic in the disinformation offered by W. and Darth to justify their Iraqi misadventure. You know the one that says Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were in cahoots to spread terror around the corner and around the world.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney identified numerous groups that he said have "come together" to try to bring down the United States, though specialists say few of the groups Romney cited have worked together and only some have threatened the United States.

"They want to bring down the West, particularly us," Romney declared. "And they've come together as Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, with that intent."

Romney couldn't identify Massachusetts legislators. Why should we presume he can identify Islamic groups that seem as intent on destroying themselves as destroying us?

Giuliani draws an unproven connection between six domestic terrorist wannabees in New Jersey and bin Laden. McCain, desperate for the handful of still loyal Bush voters, parrots his master's voice in saying bin Laden would "follow us home" from Iraq.

Memo to McCain: bin Laden is hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan, where he has been since we broke off the legitimate effort to capture him as the mastermind of 9-11 to embark on the Hussein Follies.

There is no dispute that al Qaeda has become a greater force in Iraq -- since we toppled Hussein and let loose the chaos that grips that country today.

But the fact the McCain, Romney and Giuliani choose to ignore "the facts on the ground" to pursue the Bush myths shows just how far the "leaders" of the GOP have fallen.

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Fish or cut bait, Part 2

Another voice heard from in the ongoing debate over how Massachusetts needs to deal with a fiscal situation that is forcing people to choose between police or libraries.
"Something has to be done and continuing to raise property taxes isn't going to solve the problem for very long," said Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. "The Legislature will respond responsibly when they absolutely must, and it's our job to make sure they must by not giving them more revenues, either local option or higher property taxes."
No disagreement there, Barbara. Property taxes are too high --despite the implied promises of your Proposition 2 1/2. Reducing the property tax is one of the campaign goal of that liberal Democrat who stole the Corner Office after 16 years of your GOP cronies.

But it's very inappropriate for the self-described No. 1 voice of the "little guy" -- who has had an opinion on ever issue under the Golden Dome is 25 years -- to leave it as "something has to be done."

Same question as that directed at Sal DiMasi: are you going to use your political capital and offer a suggestion or simply stay on the sidelines and criticize whatever decision is reached?

Since I assume any solution you would offer doesn't involve new taxes -- what else do we cut beside libraries? Police? Fire? Teachers?

What say you Barbara?

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Fish or cut bait

OK, Speaker DiMasi, if you aren't for closing corporate tax loopholes or legalizing casino gambling, what is your plan for bringing Massachusetts the dollars it needs to protect and educate its residents?

Surely that topic is higher on your priority list that clamping down on rogue North End parking valets?

The Speaker doesn't think much of Treasurer Tim Cahill's suggestion that the time is finally right for casino gambling in Massachusetts. Shrinking lottery revenues and the very real likelihood of an Wampanoag-run casino that would keep most of what it brings in prompted Cahill's change of heart.

DiMasi told the Globe:
"At first blush, I don't think the treasurer has put forward a particularly new, unique, or financially sound proposal," said DiMasi, who has been a consistent opponent of expanding gambling.
This is not a defense of Cahill's proposal -- although it does have a taste of pragmatism that has long been missing as billions of Massachusetts' residents gaming dollars head to Connecticut. Nor is this a defense of casino gambling in general. The arguments on both sides are far too complex for this space.

But this is a call for the Speaker to spend some of his political capital on being part of the solution. So far this year, the House has passed a budget that digs far too deeply into rainy day funds. At the same time DiMasi has "slammed the door" on changes in the corporate tax structure.

So if tax law changes and new revenue sources are not an option, what is? Dipping into our savings until they are gone?

We're waiting Mr. Speaker.

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Wrong target

The netroots are inflamed with rage at House Democrats, labeling as "cowardice" the passage of an Iraq war funding bill without firm timetables for withdrawal.

I join the vast majority of Americans who believe it is long since past time to end US participation -- which translates into lost lives and squandered billions. I think I am also in the majority in saying this is not the time to create a typical liberal circular firing squad and take out our wrath on those who agree with us.

Compromise is a word that has become sullied in our hyperpartisan era. The House vote was a compromise -- somewhat distasteful to be sure -- but the first step on a long road. Check out the vote tallies and notice how Republicans provided the margin of victory.

We are in the midst of divided government, in every sense of the word. The Democratic majority rests on slender roots and there simple are not enough votes to get things done as we would prefer, at least not yet.

Netroots zealots should target those districts where Republicans provided the margin of victory to a compromise that only delays the inevitable -- and only until September. George Bush's demagoguery about not supporting the troops remains full throated -- even as he throws more of them in harm's way.

But the list of bitter-enders who will support him until the end (of his term) is growing shorter. Let's not build it back up by attacking those who chose a strategic retreat to fight another day with more tools at their disposal.

Cancel that circular firing squad.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Interesting reading today, watching previous critics rise to the defense of an embattled state official.

In particular, the Herald uses exquisitely bad taste in labeling the replacement of Harry Spence as commissioner of the Department of Social Services as a "drive-by shooting," (By the way guys, who said it? The quote is never backed up. Another enterprising writing effort?)

By all accounts, Spence did an overall good job in running one of the most unruly agencies in state government. Appointed by Jane Swift, he served through the Romney years too -- during which several high profile child abuse cases sprang to the front pages.

But oh those cases, in particular that of Haleigh Poutre, the youngster DSS sought to prematurely remove from life support and Rebecca Riley, the child from Hull whose death is still being played out in examinations of the use and abuse of medications for the controversial diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder.

Spence and his supporters are correct the issues were deeper than just abuse, involving the intersection of medicine and social services. But aren't those supporters the same ones calling for the scalp of other embattled leaders of hidebound agencies such as the medical examiner's office?

Spence had more than five years to change a culture of an agency seemingly impervious to change. While his list of public service tasks is impressive -- and his devotion to the public sector laudatory -- it is quite appropriate for a third governor to make a change.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken

So the question of the hour is: if Myth Romney is so tough, why did he bail out for his last two years as head honcho of the "toughest place."

The Man, the Myth and the Legend in his own Mind is on the airwaves dredging up pictures of John Kerry and Mike Dukakis to proclaim:
"In the most liberal state in the country, one Republican stood up and cut spending, instead of raising taxes. He enforced immigration laws, stood up for traditional marriage and the sanctity of human life."
OK. He stood up with (convicted felon) Speaker Tom Finneran to balance the state budget (as required by law) without taxes. His other claims, well, they just don't pass the smell test, as this post (by way of Blue Mass. Group) vividly point out. (I particularly like Ted Kennedy saying Romney was "multiple choice" on a woman's right to choose.)

And Romney has yet to be really called to task for, in effect, quitting his job with two years to go after trying to engineer a GOP resurgence in the Legislature that, by any standard, failed miserably.

If Myth Romney is as tough as he claims to be, why did he proclaim, with 20-20 hindsight, that he would have been "a lot smarter to stay in Michigan" if he had foreseen his plunge into GOP politics.

Yeah Myth, you're tough. Not as tough as Frank Perdue of course. Just tough enough to fool some folks for a little while.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Straw man poll

Give George Bush some credit -- he can see symbolism just as well as some of his Republican friends and Democratic opponents.

Bush is chiding Congress for plans to take a vote of no confidence in Albert Gonzales. Why the stubborn refusal to face facts that a handful of Republican senators are already on the record as wanting to throw the bum out?

Because he can see the real political theater. The resolution would carry Gonzales' name, but everyone knows the real vote of no confidence would be directed at him.

Why else does one of the leading House impeachment managers in the sordid Congressional coup against Bill Clinton come out against the vote.
"If the president wants to keep him in his job, I will work with him," Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., said on ABC's "This Week." Political power plays like no-confidence votes, he added, are what have given Congress a 29 percent approval rating in the polls.
Gonzales is a surrogate for Bush's record of incompetence, lies and distortion, not to mention contempt for the Constitution. His fingerprints are also clearly behind the laughable, not to mention contemptible move to pressure John Ashcroft while he lay in an ICU. Does anyone truly believe Gonzales and Andrew Card acted on their own?

Graham certainly had a far different view of Congressional authority when the GOP insisted on impeachment in the face of a lie about oral sex. Talk about political power plays.

This nation has long since registered its lack of confidence in Bush and his cronies -- if I recall he is the one at 28 percent in the polls.

Bush has defiantly insisted the only "accountability moment" that mattered was the 2004 election -- and he has defied the public will on Iraq since then (although he may not be slinking to the Iraqi Study Group position).

Votes of no confidence are one of the better tools available to democracies where leaders have lost their way. If Bush objects to using Gonzales as a surrogate, we can always go the direct route.

It's called impeachment. And there would be a lot more evidence than a blue dress.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Wascally wabbits

I guess a quick jump in the polls tends to focus the other guy's attention.

John McCain has some choice words for our boy Myth Romney, now that the Mittser is showing signs of life in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Talking about Romney's latest acrobatic stunt -- being for immigration before he was against it -- McCain unloaded the kitchen sink.
"Maybe I should wait a couple of weeks and see if it changes because its changed in less than a year from his position before," McCain responded, referring to his rival's immigration stance. "And maybe his solution will be to get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn."
Where to begin?

McCain's oppo research dug back into the oldies but goodie bin to dig up one that even I had forgotten: Romney's employment of undocumented Guatemalans to tend to the landscape of his Belmont manse.

And of course McCain couldn't resist a swipe at Romney's insistence that he hunted "varmints" before he became a lifetime member of the NRA.

Personally it wasn't as good as McCain's put down at the South Carolina debate, where he took aim at Romney's deeply held (and poll tested) positions.
I haven't changed my position on even-numbered years or have changed because of the different offices that I may be running for."
Welcome to Myth Bashers, Senator McCain.

Yo, Myth. You might want to consider the problem of peaking too early?

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Points to ponder...

... when not worrying how Paris Hilton will survive doing time in the slammer.
  • Has anyone asked Bernie McGuirk how he feels about sharing the airwaves with convicted felon Tom Finneran? And just how many sides does George Regan have to his mouth? And why did the Globe rollback of a Page One story on the WRKO publicity stunt run on the obits pages? Stay in New York Bernie, and take George with you.
  • Is there another human being on the planet, aside from George Bush, who thinks Alberto Gonzales is qualified to do anything aside from breathing?
  • Anyone else as depressed as I was after watching the tribute to Walter Cronkite's 90th birthday? Aside from the sorry reflection on the state of journalism (hello again Paris!), it was sobering to recall all the turmoil of the '60s -- and how little we have learned. Take Cronkite's reporting from Vietnam, substitute Iraq and who would know?

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Friday, May 18, 2007

One down...

Paul Wolfowitz has taken his sorry case of professional ethics, a fig leaf "victory" and what undoubtedly is a nice cash settlement and walked out the door.

We know Alberto Gonzales doesn't have even the same minimal level of shame to do the same.

Let's be clear: this is not, as some Wolfowitz apologists would suggest, a payback to the Bush administration over Wolfie's role in creating the Iraq War, or for trying to clean up the World Bank.

Nope. On just about every ethics scale known to civilized people, top bosses don't arrange for cushy jobs -- soft landings or no-shows -- for their girlfriends.

That is an immediate fireable offense, except in Bush's World, where a presidential chief of staff and a White House counsel find nothing wrong with trying to con a sedated man in intensive care -- and then pass it off as saying they were only paying their respects.

Or a vice president who continues to lie and slander his foes as traitors in the face of overwhelming evidence of his efforts to con the people who elected him.

The stench of this administration will take decades to cleanse. The blot to our reputation around the world may never clear.

Bye Wolfie.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Morning in Massachusetts

The sun came up in the east this morning and it will set in the west. The Earth still spins on its axis, the Red Sox are still in first place and Massachusetts drivers are still clueless.

Three years after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's ruling that gay marriages are legal and just, the world continues as it always has -- despite the dire predictions of those who insisted the decision was a corruption of the natural order of things where marriage is between a man and a woman.

You know, the same people who defended slavery and segregation. Or who believed who should not have the right to vote, let alone have the right to control their own bodies.

In fact, life is so normal and predictable that the couple whose decision to stand up for their rights have divorced. Hillary and Julie Goodridge joined the estimated 40 to 45 percent of American couples who end up separated or divorced.

Yet somehow we continue to fight the battle where a minority of citizens (170,000 petition signers out of an estimated 4.1 million registered voters) believe it is just and proper to determine the civil rights of others through the ballot box.

You know like those folks who supported slavery or opposed a woman's right to vote.

The Massachusetts Legislature, meeting in Constitutional Convention on June 14, has the ability to end this once and for all. What's needed is the shift of just 12 votes from the previous legislative session to end this ludicrous battle to selectively deny rights.

Failing to do the right thing just might jolt the world off its axis. Then again, nothing would surprise me anymore about the inability of politicians in this nation to do the right thing when it comes to gender-based issues.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

House of Cards

The only person missing was Jack Bauer.

Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the attempted cloak-and-dagger end run around him (and the Constitution) is something straight out of 24. Is this a TV script or congressional testimony?
"I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me."
Wearing the black hats were former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and then White House Legal Counsel Albert "Heckuva Job" Gonzales. Their mission? Get Then US Attorney General John Ashcroft, lying in an intensive car unit to overrule Comey and sign off on an NSA wiretap scheme that he and Comey had already rejected.

Toss in cars racing through a nighttime Washington, federal agents ordered to disobey Card and Gonzales if they tried to throw Comey out of the room and a late night meeting at the White House where Comey insisted he have a witness and you have a plot that even Jack Bauer would have a hard time handling.

But this was all too real -- featuring the man George W. Bush has expressed confidence in as the nation's chief law enforcement official.

Any plot where John Ashcroft is an heroic figure defending the Constitution is scary enough. Throw in Gonzales' consigliere method of operation and not even Wes Craven looks frightening in comparison.

What I really want to know is how Gonzales managed to get out of law school? He makes John Mitchell look upstanding.

But what are we to make for Card, the one-time reform king and great hope of the Massachusetts Republican Party? He mist have spent too much time hanging around with his brother-in-law Ron Kaufman.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

End of an era?

One of the leading ayatollahs of the Theocratic Party has passed from the scene.

While conservatives insist we speak no evil of Jerry Falwell, it is important to look at his legacy -- and the changes his attitudes and beliefs have brought to American politics must be analyzed.

And, my conservative friends, they are not good.

I cast no personal aspersions on Falwell -- he was probably a wonderful fellow who was wonderful husband, father and grandfather who patted puppies. And please rest assured I do have my issues with the Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

But Falwell and his colleagues -- particularly Pat Robertson -- have cheapened the public discourse by ignoring the First Amendment protections for all religions.

Falwell and the "Moral Majority" (which, as the saying goes, was neither, just ask Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart) demonized those who did not share their fundamentalist Christian world view. Who can forget when Falwell blamed "feminists, gays or lesbians" for the 9-11 attacks perpetrated by a totally different religious fundamentalist sect.

The narrow-minded sectarianism that believes only certain followers of Jesus have the wisdom and know the true path is a slap in the face of Catholics, many Protestants, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, to name a few.

Their insistence on injecting their religious "truths" into the American mainstream has created a poison that infects the American body politic to this day. While it may not come close to matching their venom of the Sunni-Shia rift, the venom behind comments like that 9-11 rant -- even after he apologized -- is too hard to ignore.

Few can dispute that Falwell was a leading political figure of his generation -- much as Joseph R. McCarthy was of his era. The fissures created not only in the United States but around the world as a result of his single-minded pursuit of his own religious worldview, are deep and will be long in healing -- if they can ever heal.

Falwell, Robertson and others who believe that only fundamentalist Christian beliefs are appropriate for a nation that was founded on the belief that all faiths should be embraced, left an indelible blot on the Constitution.

May Falwell rest in his own version of peace. And may the United States recover from the divisions created by that his vision.

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They don't even lie well

Paul McNulty says its simply a matter of needing to earn more money with two kids in college and the need to pay some bills. Of course, he doesn't have another job lined up but he does have credentials as a management consultant who can shake things up.

Well at least he didn't resort to the tired old classic of wanting to "spend more time with his family."

As is the case with every "loyal Bushie," McNulty denies the controversy surrounding his boss -- and his role in it -- had anything to do with his resignation as No. 2 in the Justice Department behind Albert "I Can't Recall" Gonzales."

Gonzales continues to hang on -- serving as the latest punching bag for the administration that rewards incompetence with medals. The unlikelihood of Bush jettisoning his designated fall guy -- and the distasteful thought of a confirmation hearing -- allows Gonzales to twist in the wind.

The Decider has decided that honesty isn't as important as Turd Blossom, who continues to do his thing on the American people.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Romney Edition

Myth Romney had a chance to shine in the national spotlight, trading quips with Mike Wallace and showing off his family at his New Hampshire home. I missed it myself, other pressing business, like counting my socks.

But thanks to the wonders of the web, I've had a chance to read the story -- minus the gimmicks. And it reminded me yet again what the heart of the problem is: as described by Wallace, the man has no core.
Over six feet tall, trim, fit, his hair graying slightly at the temples, he looks like a president. His movie star presence somehow reminds you of Cary Grant or Ronald Reagan.
Oh sure, as Wallace notes, Romney balanced the Massachusetts budget (required by law) without taxes (required by Tom Finneran); and he ran the state like a CEO (allowing it to bleed jobs and people, just like our Harvard MBA president is running the country.)

When done with the obligatory glowing biographical sketch, Wallace, does touch on Romney's core problem. Unlike Rudy Giuliani, who has flipped, flopped and flipped again on a woman's right to choose, Romney has contorted himself on the Holy Trinity of the Theocons: abortion, guns and taxes.

Wallace dutifully runs him through his changing positions on these issues -- from the moderate of the 1994 Senate race and 2002 gubernatorial race to the man who now believes that choice resides in the states, not woman. I thought conservatives wanted government not to intrude in people's lives?

Or the man who supported the Brady Bill and a ban on assault weapons who is know a "lifetime" member of the NRA who shoots "varmints" (OK, maybe once or twice).

Or the man who called a no-new taxes pledge a "gimmick" in Massachusetts only to sign one now while insisting:
"Well, I didn’t change my mind. I was running for governor of Massachusetts," Romney explains. "And now I'm running for a different office. And I wanna make it very clear, I won’t raise taxes."
I'm all for clarity. It's OK for people to change their minds, even on deeply held beliefs, as some Romney defenders suggest. Those conversions come after much thought -- and angst. They don't come based on electoral calendars.

Romney's "conversions" have come in the chase for the nomination of a party where three of its 10 candidates don't believe in evolution and one can even get away with uttering: “I’m in the private sector and for the first time in my life I’m earning money. You know that’s sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that."

Romney is appealing to a sliver of extremists who are intent on imposing their religious and "moral views" on the rest of the nation -- much as the real ayatollahs in Iran.

That someone whose own faith is held with contempt by those same American ayatollahs makes his pander fest even more unforgivable.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sound investment

Senate President Terry Murray's first budget leak is probably her best -- the creation of funds to finance life science, new technology and housing investments. One big problem -- it requires a budget surplus and by all indications so far there isn't one coming down the pipeline soon.

Murray's proposal, which she dubs the Senate Job Growth Initiative, certainly takes aim at the key issue facing the Commonwealth by calling for investment in industries that hold the potential to create jobs -- and the creation of housing the would be affordable to the workers who hold those new jobs.

It's basically a Mom and Apple Pie approach -- note the lack of naysayers. It would siphon off anything over the first $50 million of any surplus over the next five years to new accounts.
After that, up to $25 million would go to the Emerging Technology Fund, which provides loans and guarantees to technology-based manufacturers; up to $25 million would go to the Life Sciences Investment Trust Fund, which provides grants for research and commercialization of new biotech products; and up to $12.5 million each would go to the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which helps communities develop affordable housing, and the Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund, which rewards communities that foster denser housing near transportation facilities.
But we are looking at uncertain times ahead. There's been a lot of back and forth over whether FY07 would end with a surplus. Myth Romney contended it would not -- and he engineered in 9C cuts on the way out the door. Deval Patrick rescinded those cuts but there's no word on where we stand with just under two months left in the fiscal year. And next year looks bleak.

Nice idea, but it will go is anybody's guess right now.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Curmudgeon Corner

Here's where I do a little bit of Andy Rooney whining while hoping to jump start sluggish page views...

You know what really bugs me?
  • Unknown callers. You get caller ID and put your phone numbers on the Do Not Call list and you still get bombarded with "unknown callers" multiple times a day. If they're not breaking the law by calling me (yeah I know the rules), aren't they doing something wrong by blocking their number?
  • Junk fax calls. All of the above, especially those that come at 1 or 2 in the morning. But even though you're on the do-not-call list, you need to call to get off the list. And every 800 number is different. Why have laws if they aren't enforced?
  • Speaking of which, drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians gone wild. There's a reason stop signs are octagons. That's so those people who are red color blind still know what they are. Funny how so many drivers don't. Or that think the far edge of the crosswalk is the stop line. Or that sidewalks are for parking. Or Tour de France cycling to avoid cars that don't stop at signs or crosswalks or for jaywalkers.
  • Instant death checks from credit card companies. You know, those checks made out with your name and address that are designed to use and run up debt at 18 percent interest (if you have good credit). Haven't those companies ever heard of identity theft?
  • Deliveries. Let's start with newspapers that charge you a premium for home delivery, make you pay a month or three in advance and then tell you you can always read the paper on the web when the delivery doesn't show up. No kidding. And it's a lot cheaper! No wonder newspapers are bleeding circulation and dying.
  • Package delivery. You know the company that only delivers on weekdays, doesn't have its local office open on Saturday for people to come by and pick up packages that won't be left because signatures are required. I can think of another thing Brown does for me.
How's that for starters? Chime in with your own pet peeves. Meanwhile, I'll go eat my bran flakes.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

"I'm hoping somebody better comes along"

Myth Romney is on his charm offensive. He probably should consider a surge.

Despite good fund-raising and good hair, the Mittser continues to languish in third or fourth place in the polls (depending on non-candidate Fred Thompson's inclusion). He only recently vaulted to the top spot in one New Hampshire poll, despite the fact that Massachusetts candidates traditionally own Granite State voters. And as we all know, he has more positions than a yoga master.

And now we come to find his support is not only a couple of feet wide, it's about a nanometer deep.
“If nobody better comes along, I’m going to vote for him,” an evangelical minister told the New York Times. “But I’m hoping somebody better comes along.”
It is a reflection of the sorry state of the conservative movement in general, and the Republican Party in particular, that the 10 white males running around the nation clamoring to replace George W. Bush that a serial flip-flopper registers anything more than an asterisk in polls. Let alone make the cover of Time, or joust with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes.

While the Romney camp is undoubtedly reveling in this wave of national attention, they should take heed of the comment by the Iowa minister. Or this psychological analysis of Mittser compared to his father George, which can only be termed as searing. Some excerpts:
Whether Romney 2.0 is a real deal is precisely what everyone wants to know these days. Beyond the appearance and the résumé lies perhaps an important difference from the earlier Romney. Whereas George stood firm and true against the prevailing political winds, Mitt seems as if he can dress himself as a politician for any season. You can't help wondering whether what he learned from his father's steadfastness was an object lesson in what not to do if he doesn't want to end up as a footnote in someone else's Presidential memoirs.
Time's Karen Tumulty also does a solid job marking the Romney "conversion" on abortion rights and guns, to name too. She also reminds us again of Romney's word when it came to running for governor -- telling Jane Swift he wouldn't challenge her before backing out on that promise.

There's also a good counterbalance to the Romney commercials touting his "accomplishments" in four years.
There's two ways to look at this guy. One is that the glass is half empty. The other is that the glass is totally empty," says Stephen Crosby, a Republican who served in the Swift administration and is now dean of the graduate school of policy studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Romney's ads and campaign speeches boast of engineering an economic turnaround. But Michael Widmer, president of the nonpartisan Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, points out that the state has lagged most others in job growth. And while Romney closed a $3 billion deficit without raising taxes, he did it in part by raising numerous fees, as well as shifting some of the burden by cutting aid to cities and municipalities.
Well, at least we know Romney believes in evolution. At least when it comes to political questions.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

It all depends on the meaning of the word "fair"

The Globe offers ample proof today of why taxpayers have a hard time accepting the complaint from business leaders about the "fairness" of the Patrick administration's efforts to close corporate tax loopholes.

That's because there is no fairness in the system -- even when it was designed to be there.

It comes as no surprise that the Romney Administration fiddled and diddled with implementing a system to collect the $295 per employee charge on each worker not covered by companies. Or the "free-rider" levy to compensate for the use of charity care by those same uninsured employees. Myth Romney was for his health care reform law before he was against it.
"The previous administration had no intention of collecting it, so the infrastructure was not put in place," said Representative Patricia Walrath, cochairwoman of the Legislature's Committee on Health Care Financing.
So now the "taxpayers" -- please note that's you and me and not corporations -- are going to be left with the bill.

That's why Deval Patrick is out hustling up support for his call for some new structures that could bring in more money for cash-strapped cities and towns, not to mention the state.

The package calls for allowing communities to collect a tax of up to 2 percent on hotel and restaurant tabs; requires some local pension funds to join the State Retirement Board; allows communities to buy health insurance through the state's Group Insurance Commission; and eliminate a property tax exemption for telecommunications firms. Communities levying the hotel and meals tax would be required to dedicate at least a quarter of the revenue to reducing residential tax bills.

I don't expect to see the telecommunications property tax exemption dropped any time soon. I suspect we'd see the local options meals tax before that.

Oh, wait a minute. Corporations pay meals taxes when they wine and dine customers. Oh never mind, that's deductible as a business expense. My bad.

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Planned politicking

There are beliefs -- and then there are beliefs.

Myth Romney and Rudy Giuliani, the GOP's acrobatic experts are coming to recognize that changing your positions is not as easy as changing your socks. Everything is fair game -- including your family's actions.

Romney and Giuliani were for a woman's right to choose before they were against it, as we all know. And Rudy, after a stab of consciousness or exhaustion from the flip-flopping -- is apparently for it again.

Mitt, on the other, now faces the wages of hypocrisy -- answering for his wife's action.

I normally wouldn't hold a politician accountable for the beliefs or actions of a spouse -- there were always rumors that Susan Weld did not share her husband Bill's voting preferences. But that didn't matter because that former Massachusetts governor didn't really veer from his political tracks. Hillary Clinton is a whole separate posting.

But in watching this current batch of GOP hopefuls try to pander to the Theocons who are trying to create a fundamentalist state on our shores, the actions of a spouse become relevant.

The same holds true, by the way, when an entire political party falls into the Theocratic thrall, which makes for fun viewing as Planned Parenthood reminds John McCain who was among its founders. Hint: The name is spelled Goldwater.

The wife of McCain's predecessor -- and the one-time conservative icon Barry Goldwater -- was among the founders of Planned Parenthood in Arizona. And you may recall Goldwater wasn't too happy with today's Theocratic Party -- and neither are his living allies.

That's why your mother told you telling the truth is easier because you don't have to remember your lies. Mitt and Rudy must have missed that lesson.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A wise investment

Massachusetts has a history of trailblazing -- from the Industrial Revolution born in Lowell to the high technology and biotechnology revolutions nurtured in the labs at Harvard. MIT and UMass.

But Massachusetts has never been good at finishing what it starts -- with industry inevitably moving away for cheap resources and cheaper labor. The $1 billion biotechnology proposal unveiled yesterday by Deval Patrick, Terry Murray and Sal DiMasi is an effort to change that track record.

I can see the advertising tag line: Stem Cells: They're Not Just for Political Pandering Anymore.

The proposal highlights the different economic and philosophical differences between Mitt Romney and Deval Patrick.

The gone-and-unlamented former governor staked his claim to fame in this area at using stem cells to trump up his bona fides with conservative voters across the country. To make his posturing stronger, he used a lame duck appointment to install a crony in a key role in developing future policy.

Patrick, on the other hand, has come out of the gate with a proposal designed to highlight one of the centerpieces of the Massachusetts economy -- health care and life sciences -- and take a gamble that maybe, finally we can develop and keep an industry here.

It's instructive that he has been joined in this effort by the Legislature's Democratic leaders. It's equally instructive to listen to what passes for leadership among the state's conservatives, including the nearly-dead state GOP.

"This is a completely inappropriate direction to be taking," said David Tuerck, director of the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative think tank. "It's an industrial policy where the governor gets in the business of picking winners and losers and trying to do what private capital markets are . . . already doing quite well."

House minority leader Bradley Jones, Republican of North Reading, wondered why Patrick would propose such an expensive plan at the same time he is grappling with a budget that is out of balance.
The free market has voted in the past -- taking its jobs and tax revenues to North Carolina and elsewhere. The investment into public resources such as UMass to generate research -- and hopefully, down the road, jobs -- is an entirely appropriate function of government.

And, of course, there's the old line of you've got to spend money to make money. Yes, we are grappling with an out-of-balance budget this year. The investments, however, are in capital funds through the issuance of bonds. The near-term cost to the operating budget is for the cost of paying interest on that $100 million annual investment.

That said, Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation is right on one thing:
It's a question of priorities. From my perspective, this is an economic bet. The jury is still out."
Betting on stem cells and biotech as a foundation of the state's economic future is one I'm ready to take far more readily than one used as a foundation for one politician's personal future.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lies, damn lies and polls

A late spring and an early presidential campaign share one thing in common: polls sprouting like weeds. Many of them just as valuable.

A WBZ-TV survey shows Myth Romney jumping to the top of the GOP pack in New Hampshire (a place I continue to insist a Massachusetts-based candidate MUST occupy to have even a shred of credibility -- what took him so long?) Jon Keller attributes this to Granite State voters finding the Mittser a "devout and devoted family man struggling with difficult moral issues, trying to balance dogma with logic and sensitivity."

Meanwhile, a Newsweek poll finds Romney scrapping the bottom of the field when it comes voters looking for "political courage." I attribute this to people examining Romney's "conversions" on abortion,, stem cells, guns, gay rights and taxes and seeing a man with no moral center or courage of convictions.

Different polls, different audiences and different questions produce different results. None of then should be taken seriously at this point. If polls are snapshots in time, these are digital photos that should be erased on the screen.

But they are reflective of the fact that Romney's flips are not going over well, but the GOP field doesn't inspire too much confidence in anyone right now.

At least he wasn't running in France.

UPDATE: This Globe story reveals some of the methodological flaws in the Survey USA-WBZ poll.

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Good housekeeping

It's a bit overdue, but it's a good move anyway.

Deval Patrick continues his shakeup of state government, telling commissioners and department heads they need to reapply for their jobs. He'll give them the word by June 1 on whether they can stay or go.

The practice is a common one when a new CEO comes in, particularly in politics. Patrick delayed the move until now, no doubt to get a budget in place. The delay hasn't been without cost: Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Suzanne Bump was slimed by two Romney-appointed labor commissioners and House Rules Committee Chairman Angelo Scaccia tried to become administration personnel secretary and keep Mental Retardation Commissioner Gerald Morrissey in place.

Patrick is going to be judged by the success or failure of his team. It ought to be his, not Mitt Romney's or Bill Weld's.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Promises, promises...

Rupert Murdoch says he'll respect the Wall Street Journal in the morning. Another key voting bloc doesn't believe him. But will it matter in the end?

Rupe the Rude is putting on a charm offensive to woo the Bancroft family that owns the Journal. He's quick to point out he respects the paper (although the stories are too long). More political coverage, more technology and maybe even an independent editorial board. But he respects it.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. David Carr is only the latest to point out the history of Murdoch's promises and his actions. And Fox News Channel and the New York Post will always remain at the top of list of Murdoch's "fair and balanced" efforts.

And speaking of promises, the Times seems to have bought into those being offered by Boston Now, offering a love poem to the concept of incorporating blogs into news coverage.

The Times reporter glosses over the fact that this new, hip version of newspapers still is impossible to find on its own through Google (ever hear of meta tags, guys)? A quick look at the offerings (or at least the ones that work) suggest I won't be abandoning Universal Hub or Blue Mass. Group if I'm looking for an aggregator of random thoughts or ideas.

And that print edition, remains, well...

Russel Pergament and John Wilpers have gone a long way on promises and hype. Congratulations to them for getting the New York Times to think this journalistic effort is part of "All the News that's Fit to Print." Now let's see if they can deliver.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

It's not about faith, it's about beliefs

So the graduates of Regent University (personnel service to the Justice Department) decided to show their tolerance by not walking out on Mitt Romney because they don't believe a Mormon is a true Christian?

Regular readers know that I harbor no affection for Myth Romney, who has abandoned virtually every position he professed to believe in between the time he ran for governor of Massachusetts, then abandoned that job to bring his "message" to the national stage.

But I have no quarrel with Romney's Mormonism. It's not the Supreme Being you worship (or even whether you worship). It's about what you believe in -- and Romney has shown he believes in saying and doing anything to get elected.

But it is truly frightening to look at the intolerance being preached by America's Ayatollahs -- creating a Sunni-Shia split within the ranks of those who profess belief in Christianity. And it is also terrifying to see how the Armies of the Right are looking to impose their narrow-minded views on those who believe in Judaism, Buddhism or other faiths.

The rush by Republican GOP hopefuls to symbolically kiss Pat Robertson's ring is unseemly. It's even more unseemly that a university is so rigid in its beliefs that, as one student said, "it was a very big deal" when it was first revealed that Romney would be speaking.
Christie Moler, 36, who received a doctorate in psychology, said Romney was wise not to openly talk about his faith, which she said some would have interpreted as disrespectful. Though many Regent students are tolerant of Mormonism, she said, a family friend had this reaction upon learning that Romney would be at the podium: "I can't believe Pat's allowing that to happen."
Whatever happened to loving all of God's children?

While this kind of narrow-mindedness is no longer shocking from Robertson and his disciples, it's a bit tougher to stomach a party where three "candidates" can stand up and declare they do not ascribe to one of the most basic scientific principles of our time -- with some so fearful of the concept they (Robertson for example) would turn back the clock and refuse to teach evolution in the schools.

The Theocons of the Religious Right are intent on creating a religious state every bit as fundamentalist as those in Iran and Saudi Arabia. If Romney's choice of faith is a subject of debate among those who profess to pray to the same Supreme Being, we should all pray to whoever or whatever we believe in that sanity and rationality will prevail.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

No more excuses

C'mon, admit it. Is there any excuse for losing a body? Or botching the tests of DNA samples? Or not telling the truth about the real cost of things?

Have the lies surround Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein's culpability over 9-11 hardened us so much that we now tolerate things out of a sense of frustration.

Yet, the excuses keep mounting. Consider this defense of suspended Medical Examiner Mark Flomenbaum:
"My impression of what's going on is that Flomenbaum is perceived by the current administration as a liability to them, and they're either posturing to say, 'We've gotten the bad apple out,' or they are making irrational decisions," said William Schneiderman , a former director of emergency medical services for the Boston metropolitan region, who does not know Flomenbaum.
Or read between the lines of this remark from a long-time spokesman for state transportation projects, explaining why the estimated cost of the Big Dig is rising -- again:
"As we've worked with the administration to update the project's costs, the Turnpike [Authority] has been fully forthcoming," authority spokesman Jon Carlisle said in a statement.
In a nation whose national leaders reward lies and incompetence with medals -- and fling slurs at those who disagree with them -- we focus on Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith rather than the sad truth that we have lived with "leaders" who promised pie in the sky and delivered pie in the face.

In Massachusetts, we are seeing the fruits of 16 years of Republican cronyism within a system that has outlived its usefulness. Once, the independent authorities -- such as those that run the turnpike and port authority -- were successfully shielded from politics because board members served staggered terms and weren't beholden to any one person.

But the failure of that system is evident in the stench that emanates from the Big Dig -- and the Weld, Cellucci, Swift and Romney chums who overran budgets and under monitored quality. Or in the incompetence of the public safety system whose leaders could have done better by installing Quincy in the medical examiner's office and Gil Grissom in the crime lab.

Deval Patrick's efforts to take responsibility -- and accountability -- for those agencies is running up against the natural tension between the executive and legislative branches. The ability of lawmakers to reward friends and influence policy is just too great to resist -- especially after Democrats were shut out of running the state for 16 years.

It may or may not be too early to declare Flomenbaum a failure. But Patrick deserves credit for taking on the issue in contrast to the overwhelming disinterest of his predecessor -- who now runs around the country claiming he was a great executive who stood up to lawmakers.

It also lends a strong argument to his campaign take control -- and ultimate responsibility -- for what happens in state government.

The buck needs to stop somewhere.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Yawn!

It's far too early to waste my time and attention on any presidential primary debate that includes Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter. So, it's far too early to take seriously any of the 10 men who stood on stage and paid homage to Ronald Reagan in what is now the real 11th Commandment.

Myth Romney didn't trip over his shoe laces and Rudy Giuliani's bobbing and weaving over his stance on a woman's right to choose lent some credence to the Man from Massachusetts-Utah-Michigan's claim that every flip-flops on fundamental(ist) issues.

But the ultimate proof that this debate was about ideology and not competence was the failure to lay a serious glove on the current occupant of the Oval Office -- and the obsessive insistence in the face of six-plus years of dishonesty and deceit on W.'s part to say we are better off today than under Bill Clinton.

As the line goes, no one died from Clinton's lies.

A recent poll shows a majority of Bush voters have no regrets over their 2004 vote. My obvious political slant leaves me flabbergasted in trying to understand how -- when faced with a record of failure that has resulted in death and devastation from Baghdad to New Orleans and has made America a pariah nation in the world -- any Bush voter can sleep at night, let alone still defend him.

But then again, three of the men who stood on that stage actually raised their hands and admitted publicly that they do not believe in evolution. The Republican Party's obsession with Clinton and unending support for Bush suggests they are all unafraid of being made to look like monkeys.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Leave no stone unturned

It's an encouraging sign that Massachusetts Democrats are bringing a new team and a new strategy to the table.

The Globe reports that national party help may be enlisted to help round up the last remaining votes needed to kill the anti-gay marriage proposal awaiting another battle in the Legislature. Far from indicating weakness as ballot questions supporters suggest, it is a sign of a new strategy -- rising from Deval Patrick and, in all likelihood, Senate President Terry Murray.

It is significant that the seemingly first official act by Democratic State Party Chairman John Walsh, who ran Patrick's campaign, would be to sound out national party leaders to help kill the noxious proposal. The success or failure of the amendment has been the unspoken wild card in the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign.

What Republican in their right mind (OK, a potentially infinitesimal group) would want to run on the record of George Bush and Iraq? So, the need for the GOP to raise one of their usually reliable wedge issues become even more important.

Take away one of the nastiest issues around today and the Republicans will be denied one of their best tools to change the subject from the stewardship of the Bush administration. At the same time, you eliminate Myth Romney's only claim to "accomplishment" among the haters.

So does enlisting national help constitute weakness? Hardly. It's a smart political move, the kind you don't usually see coming from Democrats.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

How do you pay for it, redux?

The signs appear to be lining up on Beacon Hill for a monumental battle that will redefine Massachusetts and its place in America for years to come.

Overblown rhetoric? Not if a likely proposal from Deval Patrick aimed at retaining the state's historic role as leader in public education meets up with the Massachusetts Legislature's fear of the Taxachusetts label.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

Patrick is dropping louder and broader hints that the way to property tax relief in cities and towns is through a shifting of a larger piece of education funding burden to the state. Paying for those shifted costs is the heart of the problem.

As the Globe notes:
Currently, the state covers less than 40 percent of the cost of local education, with cities and towns picking up the rest through the property tax. While it is a stable source of revenue, it places a sometimes difficult burden on the elderly or people with fixed incomes, and some argue it increases the disparity between communities based on personal income and property value.
That less than 40 percent is becoming an ever-increasing burden to empty-nesters and couples without children but who believe a good school system is an important element of the quality of life -- and property values -- in a community. But ever rising tax assessments is pushing their good citizenship to the breaking point.

The state's share has been the focus of court battles now stretching over two decades to come up with an equitable funding solution that treats Lawrence and Andover students the same way in the classroom despite the yawning property value gaps across those borders.

The state's share means Chapter 70 funding, named after the section of state law that spells out how schools are financed. And that means the "broad-based taxes" -- income and sales. Welcome to the problem.

With the House digging in its heels at the thought of corporate tax loophole closing -- and the dream of a 5 percent income tax still alive in the CLT crowd -- tax reform seems to be a dead issue here.

So how do you solve this huge contradiction between a basic and vital service of government -- public education -- with the long-standing tenet of conservative tax politics that you can have
something for nothing?

Unless you are George Bush and the federal government which can run up the credit card for our great-great-great grandchildren to deal with, something has to give.

So far, the Massachusetts House doesn't want to see that. The budget they passed added $175 million to a bottom line that was already being propped up by the "rainy day" fund.

Now I know it's been awful gloomy around here, but that rainy day hasn't arrived financially. Oh, we may be in for yet another downpour, but generally times are good.

But by boosting spending without real consideration of the long-term picture, the House did taxpayers a serious disservice.

What happens when you face a serious proposal, like the one percolating in the Patrick administration, to overhaul school funding to improve education?

Yes, casino gambling is out there on the horizon, a siren song of cheap and easy bucks. And the arguments against snagging a piece of the pie that New Englanders wager annually are becoming weaker all the time.

The Patrick proposal likely won't hit until after this budget is put to bed and lawmakers recess for the summer. And with everything, the devil will be in the details.

Maybe the House's wager on a better economy generating enough revenue to meet all are needs will come in. Or maybe it will hit three lemons on the slot machine of tax policy.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What liberal media?

Rupert Murdoch, the leading conservative media mogul in the world, wants to get bigger (and no doubt badder).

Murdoch wants to add Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, to an empire that already include the Fox News Channel and the Weekly Standard, two of the most right-leaning news organizations in America.

Fox, as you know, is headed by former Nixon and Bush Senior adviser Roger Ailes. The Standard is edited by William Kristol, son of one of the founder of the neo-conservative movement and the man who served as Dan Quayle's brain.

Murdoch's unsolicited bid adds yet another element of uncertainty to the newspaper world rocked by declining circulation and advertising revenues -- not to mention standards. The move is in many ways similar to pressures that led to the sale of the Tribune Company to Chicago real estate tycoon Sam Zell -- and the steady downsizing of the Globe by its parent, the New York Times Co.

The initial word is the Bancroft family, which owns Dow Jones in a structure similar to the by which the Sulzbergers own the Times, oppose Murdoch's bid.

But time -- and cash -- have a way of changing the equation, as Time Magazine's David von Drehle notes.

Leave aside the Journal's Neanderthal editorial page, and you are talking about one of the best -- and least ideological -- news gathering operations in the country. The implications of consolidation within the Murdoch empire are terrifying.

Further consolidation of media holdings would continue the drive the profit over quality debate, chronicled by Ben Bagdikian, further toward the profit side. It would also graphically represent the largest rightward slide yet of the media as shown by Eric Alterman.

As Dan Rather once said: Courage.

UPDATE: Need more proof that this is not liberal paranoia?
"For years, he has coveted The Wall Street Journal. He has made no secret of the fact that he would like to own it," said Kenneth Chandler, former editor of the Boston Herald, once owned by Murdoch. "From a political viewpoint, it would be a strong counterweight to The New York Times as a national political force in this country."

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Mission Accomplished

Where have we heard this before?

The commission accused him of having decided hastily to go to war, neglecting to ask for a detailed military plan, refusing to consult outside the army and setting “over-ambitious and unobtainable goals.” One result ... was that (he) had been responsible for “a severe failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence.”

And, following in the footsteps of the "Leader of the Free World," the leader of the only functioning democracy in the Middle East offers his critics a resounding phwwwfft.

The description of wartime mismanagement by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sounds frighteningly similar to that of AWOL Flyboy George W. Bush, four years after he stood on the deck the USS Abraham Lincoln to declare "Mission Accomplished."

Olmert, elected within the context of a parliamentary system, is under serious pressure to resign. One Cabinet minister has already stepped down and his parliament could force the issue by a vote of no confidence.

Bush, elected by the people (allegedly) feels no similar pressure. Despite a vote of both houses of Congress to set a timetable for withdrawal from a quagmire without end, i.e., a vote of no confidence, Bush delivered a formal veto mesage to offer his latest phwwwfft to the American people.

And his Secretary of State has already raised a proverbial middle finger to congressional leaders who think Bush will now consider a compromise that reflects the will of the American majority by setting performance benchmarks for our Iraqi "allies."

Israel should rejoice in a democracy where leaders are subject to the will of the people. Maybe that will be the case in the United States of America one day.

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