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November 30, 2005

"Give. Me. A. Break."

Mike Wallace was on WBUR's On Point this morning. You simply must hear the one question that he would ask George Bush. I won't transcribe it, but start listening to the clip at about 27:30.

Not so much a question as a complete demolition, you'll find.

UPDATE: Ok, I transcribed the best part:

WALLACE: What in the world, sir, Mr. President, prepared you -- what in your background prepared you to be the Commander in Chief of the supreme power in the world? Your military background? No. Your business background? No. Your travels? You were an incurious man for such a long time, I'm at a loss to understand. And you were -- according to Bob Woodward in his book Plan of Attack -- you said when asked if you ever talked to your dad, George H.W. Bush, Number 41, about what you might do better or different: "No", you said, according to Bob Woodward. "No, I look to a higher Father."

Give  me a break.

... So many people say [W] is such a likeable guy. [Clears throat.] I pass.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 01:20 PM in National | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

November 29, 2005

Tim Murray in the Lt. Gov. race?

Mariposa at Beyond 495 calls our attention to a most interesting tidbit in a holiday party invitation sent out by DDemDispatch: the invite notes that Worcester Mayor Tim Murray has confirmed his attendance in the capacity of candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

Well, well, well!  This has been rumored for some time, but nothing official has appeared on it yet.  And one can't really call this invitation an official statement of Murray's candidacy for the no. 2 job on Beacon Hill.  Nonetheless, it's pretty good evidence that, as everyone has been anticipating, Murray is indeed planning a run for Lt. Gov.

If Murray does join the race, it will shake things up substantially.  He has been Mayor of Worcester since 2001, so his experience in public office is substantially greater than any of the three declared candidates, and he's obviously got a substantial base of support in a major city.  Beyond that, I honestly don't know much about him.  But hey, the more the merrier!

Posted by David at 07:16 PM in Massachusetts, Vote 9.16.2006 | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack

A Teacher Runs in Foxborough

An important update in the 1st Bristol race from Cos.  --David

There's a Democrat running in the 1st Bristol special election, but it's not Feeney. The Sun-Chronicle reported last week that "Claire Naughton, of 4 Everett Lane in Foxboro, took out papers Monday in the Foxboro town clerk's office to run for the Democratic nomination for the seat."

Since then, Naughton has hired staff and is setting up a campaign office. She's a retired teacher in Foxborough and apparently well known in the community. As I noted in a previous post, this traditionally Republican-held district has voting patterns that show it to be a swing district. It sounds like we have an exciting race to look forward to.

As of 2pm on Tuesday, the Foxborough Town Clerk's office reports they know of nobody else running aside from the Republican candidate, Ginny Coppola. With just a few hours to go until the filing deadline, it seems unlikely anyone new will jump in. That means we won't have contested primaries on either side, and the real action in this district is all for February 7th.

Posted by Cos at 03:23 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bush Closes in On One Year Off

W., who already holds the record for most vacation days ever taken by a President, is closing on a full year of R&R as the death toll in Iraq mounts, according to Harper's. The well-informed readers of Blue Mass. Group will no doubt recall Bush was on vacation when Katrina struck, and was also taking time off when then-CIA Director George Tenet first found out that Zacarias Moussaoui, an Islamic jihadist, had been taking lessons on how to fly a 747. Clinton, by contrast, spent just 152 days on vacation in eight years. Some have found humor in W.'s achievement.

Posted by Bob at 03:22 PM in National | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 28, 2005

Candidate Questionnaires in the Somerville special election

PDS member Cos reports on PDS's questionnaires and upcoming candidates forum for the State House seat vacated by Pat Jehlen's move to the Senate.  --David

The Progressive Democrats of Somerville (PDS) today posted questionnaires filled out by the two candidates vying for PDS endorsement in the 27th Middlesex special election: Denise Provost and Elizabeth Moroney. (It's not yet clear whether Ward 5 Alderman Sean O'Donovan is running ... sound familiar?  The Somerville News reports that O'Donovan is in the race - but all they really say is that he pulled papers. We'll know who's on the ballot Tuesday night.)

The PDS questionnaire covers a variety of topics including local aid, election reform, police and public safety, the development of Assembly Square, and social divisions in Somerville. And both candidates will appear in person at the PDS November meeting this Tuesday, November 29th, at the College Avenue Methodist Church, 7-9pm. Each candidate will speak for about 5 minutes, then take questions for about 15 minutes, then PDS members will vote on an endorsement. The meeting is open to the public, so if you'd like to get to know these candidates, read their questionnaire responses and come to the meeting.

One measure of how valuable the PDS endorsement could be in this race: The number of volunteer precinct captains in the recent state senate special election who were affiliated with PDS is larger than the number of precincts in the 27th Middlesex.

[disclaimer: I am a member of PDS.]

Posted by Cos at 06:39 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

More Patrick campaign tea leaves

.08 acres points to this Adrian Walker column about Deval Patrick, which makes this intriguing comment: "I had called after reading that one of his top consultants, Dan Payne, had left the campaign. Supposedly Payne had left because he didn't want to work with another of the top consultants." (That, of course, would go counter to Payne's parting shot that "When your opponent is taking on the gov over auto insurance rates and you're celebrating your 100th home-made web site, something's not right." Spin it how you want.) Well, it would be interesting to know who that is; and if Payne/Consultant X are mutually exclusive, is this a net positive or negative for the campaign?

Walker says that "too many people -- 80 percent, according to various polls -- still don't know who he is." But if that's true, how is he beating Healey in the polls? How is he a statistical dead heat with Romney, rising 11 points since the last poll, more than any other candidate? Did "Anyone But Romney" become that much more attractive as a candidate?

I have no idea what to make of any of this. Polls are weird.

However, ... it's been discussed in the comments of David's original Payne post that Patrick may want to "throw a few more elbows" in the campaign. Reilly calling Healey on 'RKO about illegal immigrants and education was a gutsy move -- or cheap shot, depending on how you see it; either way it certainly was effective as political theater.

The departure of Payne and RFK's would-have-been 80th birthday have made me wonder: How do polticians who tout compassion deal with the inherent nastiness of adversarial democracy? Josh Marshall recently got an email from a Republican reader which said: "Democratic politicians tend to be wimps. Anyone can see how easily they get pushed around by interest groups in their own party; when criticized aggressively, they tend to seek sympathy rather than hitting back." (My emphasis, natch.) Well, how do you advocate for better health care and caring for old people and poor people and the environment and kids and not being a dick in international affairs -- and be properly aggressive? How can compassion be the flag to rally around and fight tooth-and-nail for, as opposed to a soft underbelly to be exploited?

We gotta figure that one out. Right now Reilly's not doing a bad job of it ... but it could be done even better.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 06:16 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 27, 2005

Cashing in their chips

Now this is cool ... er, warm: Mt. Wachusett Community College has reduced its heating costs and CO2 output by switching to wood chips and other biomass fuels:

Instead of shelling out nearly a half million dollars for electric heat, the college paid a mere $31,000 for the woodchips. The savings is so great that school officials say the $2 million heating system conversion cost will pay for itself within 10 years.

At the same time, Mount Wachusett has so far reduced its greenhouse gas emissions -- a polluted mix mostly containing carbon dioxide -- by nearly 19 percent.

Now, it's been said that a university is "an aggregation of sovereignties connected by a common heating plant". Doubtless in some of our local universities, some duchies and principalities are chafing under that oppressive servitude. Perhaps they might declare their allegiance to the lowly wood chip?

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 03:15 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 26, 2005

Open Document, Insert Foot II: Electric Boogaloo

Globe reports that the Romney administration is investigating Peter Quinn, director of the Informational Technology Division, for not getting permission to go to some out-of-state conferences:

Romney administration officials are investigating whether Quinn violated travel procedures by not obtaining written authorization for six of the trips -- to Brazil, Ottawa, San Francisco, and other cities -- since September 2004. For six other trips, he received written approval from his supervisor.


Quinn proposed the major change-over to using open-source formats for state documents. The insinuation is that he may have been influenced by "sponsoring companies" of these conferences. However, as anyone who gets a glossy flyer from one of these things knows: "... a galaxy of computer companies are listed as sponsors of many of the conferences."

Is this a real conflict of interest, or a witch hunt? The Globe takes credit for piquing the administration's interest: "The state launched its inquiry after the Globe began asking questions about the trips earlier this week". Can we be sure this investigation was in response to our intrepid muckraker, and not in response to some phone calls from a certain lobbyist for a certain arm-twisting corporation? Is the Romney administration going to use this as a side-show to scrap the whole idea, as they seem inclined to do?

Regardless, if you're an open-source/free software enthusiast, the FSF wants you to call your reps to support the change-over.

(See my disclosure at the end of this post. Thanks to Adam Gaffin for putting two and two together... maybe.)

(Update:  More full disclosure: I should have mentioned earlier that my brother now works for, and I have stock in, Red Hat, which is a company that does open-source software. I have not seen any specific mention of them as a company that would gain business due to the proposed change-over, but I suppose it's possible. Sorry for the omission.)

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 11:03 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Great! So we're in agreement then!

U.S. to draw down troop levels:

President Bush will give a major speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in which aides say he is expected to proclaim the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for withdrawing U.S. forces.

I mean, hasn't it been more than a little preposterous for Republicans to complain that anyone who didn't think that we should just be there forever was a traitor, or a coward? And now they're just following the national mood. Why? Because they have to.

See, it doesn't matter what the Republicans want, or what they want the public to want. We still live in a democracy, and they get spooked when folks get sick of the war and accompanying lies. Josh Marshall nails it: Really, the only thing left is the face-saving -- whatever's left of that fabulous face. And the draw-down will have to begin before the '06 elections.

Really, this is a victory for the anti-Iraq-war pro-sanity side -- and reality finally caught up with BushCo. But this also leaves us with a decision, at the intersection between policy and politics:

  • Should national leaders temporarily soften their language on Bush and Cheney, making it easier for them to do the right thing by allowing them to save face? You know, "We're glad the president has taken this preliminary step to finishing the job in Iraq," etc. (This strategy can easily be reversed in time for the elections, since in any event, the Republicans do need to be held accountable.)
  • Or, should relentless pressure and criticism be kept up, since that's how we got to this place to begin with?
  • Or both? Good cop/bad cop?

Morally and strategically, I don't think withdrawal is a cut-and-dry issue. The Iraqi forces are clearly not ready -- that would take several years under the best of circumstances.  We could be looking at a situation of real civil war -- even worse than what's there now, more on the model of Yugoslavia or the India/Pakistan partition. Murtha thinks that the U.S. is only making the problem worse, with some obvious justification ... but worse than what? Does unimaginably worse chaos ensue, this time with real security implications for the U.S.?

So, insofar as pro-sanity politics influences policy ... What do we want? Only horrible choices remain.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 07:40 PM in National | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Polling: Employers should pay their share

How the heck did I miss this? At the end of the State House News Service's email bulletin was this gem:

The notion of raising taxes on businesses who can afford to provide health coverage, but don't, earned overwhelming support: 66 to 29 percent. [my emphasis] But [SHNS pollster] Chervinsky cautioned: "Citizens almost always embrace business taxes without realizing the direct impact that has on them personally. One of the problems with sampling public opinion is that people are inclined to say, 'Sure go ahead, tax 'em,' without taking into account all the implications. The citizenry is a little unrealistic."

Dear Mr. Chervinsky:

  • "...without considering the direct impact on them personally"? Do you have any idea why this is such a hot issue right now? Maybe because this issue affects so many of us personally? Can you imagine?
  • "Unrealistic?" Look, thinking that the current situation is OK is unrealistic in the extreme. Maybe we're just fed up, and think businesses should pay their fair share.

I've said it before: If businesses don't like the assessment for helping to cover their employees, they need to get with the single-payer bandwagon and start pushing. Stop your bitching and help us fix the problem.

(Thanks to the Healthy Blog for the catch. Duh.)

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 03:47 PM in Health Care, Massachusetts | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack