Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!


Like, you know...

Great video of the number of times Caroline Kennedy said "you know" in a recent interview (h/t to richardhowe.com):

Howie on Marzilli

Howie has a nice column today taking on former State Sen. James Marzilli's request for a $27,000 a year pension rather than the $14,000 to which he is entitled. Why is he asking for more? Because the Commonwealth of Massachusetts allows state employees under 55 with 20 years of "service" who lose their job (including losing re-election) to apply for a bigger pension.

Um, Gov. Patrick, since you're looking to cut $1 billion from the budget, why don't you start with scams like this?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of local weekend/overnight talk at WBZ?

Brian at savewrko.com is hearing rumors that Steve LeVeille (M-F 12am-5am), Pat Desmarais (Sat 7pm-9pm) and Lovell Dyett (Sat 9pm-12am) have been laid off from WBZ 1030. While I confess that I don't listen to these guys that much, I like that WBZ has live, local talk programming on Saturday nights and overnights. I do like Desmarais but I must say that I find Dyette hard to listen to. I know he is an institution but he is not my cup of tea.

Anyway, stay tuned.

Sick Ward

Lynn has been sick since last night and sometime this evening I started feeling lousy (although I feel better now). Lynn had today off from work and spent most of the day in bed. I had planned on doing some work at the library but stayed home and actually slept for about 2 hours myself. Kevin is also showing signs of being sick (I will spare the details) so stay away from our place for a few days!

Knocking down Caroline

Brent Bozell of Newsbusters has a fantastic column on Caroline Kennedy. You can see it all here but I have pasted it all below with some emphasis from me:

One sign the liberal news media live in a plastic Manhattan bubble is their undying ardor for the Kennedy Myth, best known by that public-relations construct "Camelot." Instead of a president and First Lady, they believe, we had the King and Queen of Glamour. Never mind if their marriage was a joke and his list of presidential accomplishments was short. Never mind if the Republican half of the country feels sickened by the obsession. The media preferred the myth – and they still do to this day. It is why they are promoting the anointment of unaccomplished Caroline Kennedy for the U.S. Senate in New York.

The very same media which spent months dismissing former mayor and Gov. Sarah Palin as too inexperienced for national office is now championing a woman whose primary qualification – her only qualification -- is her last name. The very same media which still mock Palin’s folksy "you betcha" or her interview with Katie Couric don’t seem to notice when John Fund reports that in one 30-minute interview on the cable news channel New York One, Caroline Kennedy used the slang "you know" a total of 168 times.

How will Caroline Kennedy be expected to cast votes in the Senate when she’s cared so little about voting as a citizen? Faced with reports that she had missed voting in several New York elections, including the 1994 re-election effort of Sen. Daniel Moynihan (the Senate seat she now expects to be handed like royalty), Kennedy told the Associated Press "I was really surprised and dismayed by my voting record. I'm glad it's been brought to my attention."

What?
There’s a long line of New York politicians who are more qualified and more deserving of a Senate seat than this dippy heiress – even liberal ones. Yet they have to watch this wannabe sound like one of her limo drivers just handed her the dismaying news of her own voting history?
You know?
But the Kennedy-worshiping media elite just can’t stop scratching their Camelot itch, showing those ridiculously over-broadcasted home movies of the Kennedy kids, and marveling over Caroline Kennedy’s life story. From "Nightline," here’s ABC high-fructose syrup specialist John Donvan: "She would be the fourth Kennedy to be called senator. Surely a new dynastic record. And her return to Washington would close a circle after nearly half a century. For this is where, when her dad was the president, we first came to know the little girl, riding his shoulders, saddled up on ponies."

Riding ponies in your playground years somehow qualifies you for federal office, at least if your last name is Kennedy.

Donvan set the bar of qualifications incredibly low, for Caroline Kennedy had no drug arrests or overdoses, and no rape trials, unlike her cousins: "Other Kennedys of her generation ran afoul of the law, but Caroline Kennedy raised her kids and did work for charity and did the family name proud." Never mind that she admitted doing drugs in the 1970s "like a typical member of that generation."

Caroline is also allegedly qualified because she had no Chappaquiddick: "Consider this, Ted Kennedy, same name, but it took him years to figure out how to become the Lion of the Senate, with multiple missteps along the way, not always doing the name proud....At least she has kept it the way it was remembered, as part of a story that so many wanted to believe in."

Back in August, this same network treated John McCain’s choice of Palin with nothing less than contempt. They "looked a little like father and daughter out for an ice cream," said ABC’s David Wright. This is the same David Wright who swooned when Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama last January. Obama became the "adopted son of Camelot...blessed not just by the Lion of the Senate, but by JFK’s daughter."

McCain aide Mike DuHaime attempted to tout Palin’s "incredible life story" when she was first picked, but ABC anchor Bill Weir told him that in the "brutality of a national campaign," Palin was neglecting her duties as a mother: "She has an infant with special needs. Will that affect her campaigning?" This is the same Bill Weir who found the first whispers of Caroline Kennedy for Senate "exciting to talk about."

Reporters are incredibly transparent in their biases these days. Experience is a huge issue – unless a Kennedy is running. Motherhood isn’t a qualification for office – unless a Kennedy is running. Smarts are important – unless a Kennedy is running.

In short, the media have a slight possibility of being fair – unless a Kennedy is running. You know?

Obama's Mother-in-Law

If you haven't heard, Barack Obama's mother-in-law will be living at the White House. No big deal, right? Not if you're a writer for the very impartial Boston Globe. Beth Teitell had these very objective thoughts:

What to make of this? Is he taking this "team of rivals" business to a whole new level? Does he want an in-house check on executive power? Or maybe it's a gift from No Drama Obama to comedy writers and voters still in withdrawal from Tina Fey's Sarah Palin. It's delicious, isn't it, to imagine Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, swanning around the West Wing in a caftan - a la Endora from "Bewitched" - haranguing Obama about how poorly he's running the country.
Besides the fawning, hasn't Teitell heard that mother-in-law jokes are about as old as Milton Berle?

Dumb or smart?

State Rep. David Torrisi of North Andover has come out and said he will not vote for Sal DiMasi for Speaker of the House. Torrissi is the chair of the House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development...for now. If DiMasi is re-elected, look for Torrissi to become the assistant to the assistant back-bencher.

The Lowell Sun has the story here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Obama vs. Bush's workouts

Have you noticed all the slobbering over Barack Obama's work-out routine by the media? Pictures of Obama bare-chested caused heart attacks in newsrooms around the country and shows like "The Insider" have been going ga-ga over Obama's pecs. Now, I will be honest, I wish I was in shape like Obama but I wished I was in shape long before his gym routines became front page news.

Take a look at an except from a front page article in the Washington Post on Christmas Day: "The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games." This article was written by some guy named Eli Zaslow. At first I thought it was written by Hugh Hefner.

Anyway, Michelle Malkin has an interesting compare and contrast of the media's treatment of Obama and President Bush's exercise routines. I think you know where this is going. See it here.

Ken Burns' Letter

I recently wrote a letter to Ken Burns asking if he had ever considered making a movie on Norman Rockwell. I got a very nice reply back from his assistant saying that while it is a good idea, Burns is working on five movies right now that will keep him occupied for the next 15 years. That's good news for us - more Ken Burns' movies in the pipeline!

As for me watching all of his "short" movies - I have five left to go. I just finished "Mark Twain" today.

The Collapse of the Globe

In 1993, the New York Times bought the Boston Globe for $1.1 billion. Now, it is looking to dump it along with its share in the Boston Red Sox because of its precarious financial situation. Tucked away deep in a Financial Times article about the sale is this nugget: the Globe is now estimated to be worth between $27-54 million!!

Ouch. Nice work boys!

h/t to Brian over at savewrko.com

More on Caroline

I found two great anti-Caroline Kennedy columns today, one from Howie and the other from the New York Daily News' Michael Goodwin. See Howie's take here and Goodwin's here.

And we're back...

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas Day. In the Catholic Church, the Christmas season extends into early January so have a good Christmas season.

This weekend, Lynn, Kevin, and I were in Wyomissing Hills, PA. Our friends John and Rita Jolls moved down to Pennsylvania last year and bought a home in Wyomissing Hills this summer. They have a beautiful home on top of a hill (hence the name) in a wonderful neighborhood.

We got there around 7:30pm on Friday after a long drive down (about 8 hours). We stopped once but we hit a ton of traffic in Connecticut and on the George Washington Bridge. Once we arrived, we got some dinner and caught up with John and Rita. The next day we took a drive to Amish Country and went to the National Toy Train Museum and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Both were a lot of fun and the latter had a huge playroom for Kevin.

After those places, we went to lunch at a smorgasbord (where John got some bad food poisoning) and then to a few more shops. Sunday, Lynn and I went to mass at Saint Ignatius Church which is down the street from John and Rita's house. We actually went to separate masses because Kevin does not act like a choirboy when he is at mass! I went to mass at 7:30am and it was packed. Lynn went at 10:30am and was impressed as well with the crowd.

We headed back home yesterday around 4pm and made it back to Dracut a little before 11. It took a little longer because we stopped 3 times and we took the Tappan Zee Bridge home rather than the GW. All in all, a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
Laudámus te,
benedícimus te,
adorámus te,
glorificámus te,
grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam.

Last minute errands

Kevin and I will be making some last minute errands today. I have to buy some stocking stuffers for Lynn and then do some food shopping. I also need to run to the library to get another Ken Burns' movie. You may recall that I am watching all of his 1-2 hour movies and I have 6 more to go.

The only unknown is when we will go to mass. Lynn isn't sure if she is getting out of work early. I'd like to go to mass at 6pm tonight so we can take it easy tonight and tomorrow morning. But, she works until 6 so it all depends if she gets out early. The mass schedule tomorrow is 8am and 10am but that would be rushing it with Kevin. He's not into opening presents yet but I'd still like to not have to rush out. We shall see.

Poor Obama

Check out this headline on Yahoo News: "Blagojevich questioning takes up Obama's time." If this involved a Republican governor and President Bush, the headline would be much more damning towards Bush rather than be sympathetic to Obama's precious time being consumed.

All I want for Christmas is a tax cut

In a Christmas Eve column, Howie takes on Gov. Deval Patrick's 2006 campaign promise to lower property taxes. How's that going?

See the column here.

Marzilli wants more

Remember State Sen. James Marzilli? He was a state senator from Arlington who resigned in disgrace because he has a bad habit of sexually harassing women. Well now, Marzilli wants the state to double his pension because he "lost" his recent election. He did resign before the election but his name was still on the ballot. Thus, state law allows politicians under 55 with more than 20 years of service to double their pension if they lose an election.

Merry Christmas taxpayers and remember - I voted yes on Question One.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fish on Christmas Eve

This year, Lynn, Kevin, and I will be staying home for Christmas Eve. We always went to her sister's house in Middleboro but they stopped doing that last year and so we went to my aunt's house in Medford. But, with Kevin a little older now Lynn wanted to stay home and have Christmas Eve here with him. I asked her this morning what we're going to have for dinner and she seemed perplexed by the question. She asked, "Do you want to get Chinese food, isn't that what you've always done?" Um, not sure what she means, perhaps she is thinking of New Year's Eve but having Chinese food on Christmas Eve seems too "A Christmas Story" for me.

But, thanks to Dom over at Bettnet, I think I have my dinner menu - fish. In Italy, it is customary to eat seven variations of fishes on Christmas Eve. While I am as Irish as they come, I think I will adopt this Italian custom for tomorrow. I don't think we'll cook seven fishes but rather steamers, shrimp, and lobster (maybe). I will have to borrow my parent's lobster stuff (hint, hint) but it will be fun. Thanks Dom!

Christmas Shopping

Like most men, I always leave my Christmas shopping to the very end. Each year I say I am going to start early but I never do. Thus, I headed to the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua yesterday...along with hundreds of other procrastinators. Luckily I knew what I wanted so I was in and out pretty quickly. I still need to get a few more things and I know what they are so I will be done quickly today.

Last night I went to a birthday party for a co-worker in Bedford, NH. Before I went, I met Lynn at the mall so Kevin could get his picture with Santa. I just dropped him off as I was late for the party but the traffic going into the mall was horrific. Then, I guess the line to see Santa was long and anyone who knows Kevin knows he does not do lines very well. I feel bad - I was at a beautiful party drinking wine and eating fondue while Lynn was dealing with hell at the mall!

After the party, my friend Andrew Nelson and I headed over to Saint Raphael's Parish in Manchester to visit with the pastor, Father Jerome Joseph Day, O.S.B. Father Jerome is a monk from Saint Anselm College and the monks staff the parish. I know Father Jerome from my days at Saint Anselm and I also had him as a professor for a Communications class. He is a native of North Adams but he lived in Chelmsford for a time while he worked at the Lowell Sun.

All in all, a very pleasant evening....for me, not Lynn!

Patrick and the Globe

Lately it seems like the Boston Globe has a bone to pick with Gov. Deval Patrick. Recently they lambasted his new Secretary of Transportation and now they're giving him a hard time for sitting in Bob Kraft's box at Sunday's Patriots game. Patrick was there for a National Guard reenlistment ceremony and then watched the game with Kraft. But, that didn't stop the Globe from taking some shots that made him seem aloof and political:

Yes, Pats fans, that was Governor Deval Patrick you spotted in the warm owners' box at Gillette Stadium during Sunday's broadcast of New England's drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals, the same governor who often has to be updated by his aides on the names of key players...
Landolfi discounted any thought that Patrick was accepting an improper freebie from a team owner who is on the potential receiving end of significant state assistance.
Just a few weeks ago, the Patrick administration designated 500 acres near the stadium as a growth district, meaning it would be eligible for fast-track approvals and state infrastructure money.

The Krafts have been considering the property for a 1.5-million-square-foot office development and biotech research park.

And last year, the governor signed legislation that makes a dozen liquor licenses available for the huge new Patriot Place development next to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
But for those who have watched the governor express awkward enthusiasm for Boston's teams and players and stumble over their positions and names, the explanation that he was working is credible.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Garden is Rocking Again

I wonder when this last happened: the Celtics and Bruins are the best teams in their respective conferences. The Celtics of course are the best team in the NBA but the Bruins are number two, 3 points behind the Sharks.

I was at a Christmas party on Saturday and actually uttered these words to the person controlling the remote control: "Put on NESN and see how the Bruins are doing."

I have followed the Celtics since 1986 but not as closely as I once did. Last year I started paying more attention and watched the playoffs like I used to when I was in elementary school: biting my nails, hitting the couch, screaming at the TV - it was great!

As for the Bruins, I gave up on them long ago, perhaps after they traded Ray Bourque but I can't remember. I can only name two of their players (Thomas and Chara) but I am sure I will pay more attention as the season winds down. For once, there will be two sports to care about in February and March!

I told you

All I'll say is read this and remember, don't blame me - I voted yes on Question One.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Howie on Caroline

Howie Carr has a great column today on Caroline Kennedy (notice how all of a sudden she no longer goes by Schlossberg) and her "campaign" for U.S. Senate. You can see the whole column here but here is a taste:

If her name were Caroline Schlossberg, her candidacy would be a joke.

History is repeating itself - and this time it’s even more farcical than in 1962, when Eddie McCormack, the state attorney general, uttered his famous put-down of then-29-year-old playboy Ted Kennedy:
“If your name were Edward Moore, your candidacy would be a joke.”

The difference between Massachusetts 1962 and New York 2008 is that Teddy had to run for the office. Forty-six years later, his niece Caroline expects - no, demands - to have a Senate seat handed to her, on a silver platter.

Elections? Kennedys don’t need no stinkin’ elections.

Apparently the U.S. doesn’t have a Senate anymore. We have a House of Lords. Instead of seats, we have peerages.
By now everyone has noticed that all the media hags who were so bent out of shape about Sarah Palin’s alleged lack of experience are touting Caroline’s deep hands-on credentials as . . . honorary chairman of the American Ballet Theater.
Not chairman, mind you. Honorary chairman.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Vacation

Yesterday was our last day of school for the calendar year. We have two full weeks of Christmas vacation as we head back on January 5. This was planned already, it is not because of the weather. Our principal likes to try and give us two full weeks whenever possible and it worked out this year.

It should be a productive vacation. I have a number of papers to correct and some lessons to plan. I also hope to do some cleaning around the house as Kevin will still go to his daycare - he goes two days a week and we have to pay either way so he may as well go. We're all also going to Philadelphia after Christmas for a few days to visit some friends.

Today we're headed to Middleboro for Lynn's family's Christmas gathering. Her parents live in Boston and her sisters live in Melrose and Middleboro. We always went to Middleboro for Christmas Eve but now with a bunch of little ones, they feel that it is too much for the kids to drive all the way there on Christmas Eve. So, instead of going to Middleboro on Christmas Eve, we all go down the weekend before. I feel we should still go down there on Christmas Eve but I don't make those decisions!

Friday Dump

If you want to get something out to the press but want to guarantee that no one hears about it, release it on a Friday. Better yet, release it on a Friday when most TV stations are focusing on a snowstorm and people are paying little attention to anything else.

That is exactly what Gov. Deval Patrick did yesterday when he announced the appointment of Jim Aloisi as Secretary of Transportation. Bernard Cohen, the current secretary, is resigning on January 2 and Aloisi was rumored to be the replacement. They say that Cohen is leaving on his own terms but the word on the street is that Patrick did not like him and that he was not a butt-kisser. Furthermore, he was not afraid to be upfront and honest about what the state could and could not do.

So, what better way to make things better than by appointing a hack from the Mike Dukakis days? Aloisi is a hack's hack - the ultimate political insider, someone who loves the culture of Beacon Hill and who you think of when you think of Massachusetts politics.

Thanks Deval, is this what you meant by "Yes We Can?"

See Jon Keller's take here as well as Howie's great column on Aloisi here.

UPDATE: The Globe has a surprisingly scathing article on Aloisi's appointment. Some of the best lines:

While Aloisi is intimately familiar with the state's transportation problems, he is also a controversial choice, in part because he wrote the law that saddled the Turnpike Authority with the Big Dig's debt and later made money representing the authority as outside counsel.

As a key lawyer working on the Big Dig, he was part of the team that kept a cloak of secrecy over the true cost of the $15 billion project. He has been a staunch defender of Matthew J. Amorello, the combative former Turnpike Authority chairman, praising him in a book Aloisi wrote about the project.
As a gubernatorial candidate, Patrick ran as an outsider and railed in televised ads against the "Big Dig culture."
"They've got one hell of a challenge to cut through the public relations of this," said Senator Mark C. Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat who has been critical of Aloisi's candidacy for the job. "How do you convince the public to have faith in the leaders when, in this case, Jimmy Aloisi's talent and experience have been a common thread in all of the problems."
The governor's choice of Aloisi did not appear to sit well yesterday with some in Patrick's core constituency, sparking a discussion on Blue Mass Group, a left-wing blog that has been strongly supportive of Patrick.

"When it's the bottom of the ninth, two outs, two on, and the home team down by two . . . who do you want at bat?" wrote David Kravitz, one of the blog's cofounders. "Do you want a .205 hitter with a record of not many extra-base hits and a lot of strikeouts? 'Cause that's how Aloisi strikes me."

Republicans also ridiculed the governor's choice yesterday.

"The hypocrisy of this appointment is staggering," said Barney Keller, spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party. "James Aloisi is the embodiment of the Big Dig culture that candidate Patrick once decried."

When asked yesterday whether he was a part of the Big Dig culture, Aloisi said: "I don't even know what that phrase means. I don't think so. I know I can distinguish what has worked and what hasn't. Judge me not by what you think I'm going to do but by what I actually do."

RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

STOP THE PRESSES!!! CALL OUT THE NATIONAL GUARD....IT IS SNOWING....IN DECEMBER....IN MASSACHUSETTS!! OH THE HUMANITY!!!!!

Yikes, get a grip people. Jon Keller says it well here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Tent?

How often do we hear that Republicans need to be more accepting of other point of views and open up their party to people who differ from them? Well, it seems that when the shoe is on the other foot, the left cries like a baby. Barack Obama has asked Pastor Rick Warren to offer a prayer at his inauguration next month. Warren is pro-life and anti-gay marriage and homosexual groups are up in arms.

One group has said, "By inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table" while another said "We feel a deep level of disrespect when one of the architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination."

Conservatives always have to compromise their beliefs and grin and bear people of different view points. It is high time that the liberals did the same.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Charles on Caroline

I have always said that you don't need "experience" to run for political office. Anyone can run for office as long as they meet the constitutional requirements. Thus, I don't oppose Caroline Kennedy seeking Hillary Clinton's Senate seat because of a lack of "experience" but because I loathe people getting a political position because of who they are or who they know. Charles Krauthammer said it perfectly last night on Fox (h/t to NRO):

It's not a question of experience. You often get inexperienced candidates who come out of nowhere. You get rich businessmen and the occasional actor or sports star.

It's a question of entitlement. The only thing she has that makes her somebody to even be considered for this office is pedigree. I mean, I hate to be a good government scold, but I would think that one of the reasons for the American experiment is to abolish the idea of government by pedigree.

Now, of course, we have in history— the Adams and the Harrisons, the Rockefellers, the Kennedys and the Bushes. But it seems a bit of an epidemic these days.

First of all, you have a senate stacked with plutocrats as a result of our campaign finance laws, which give an enormous advantage to anyone who is a rich. They run, and the opponent has to grubbily raise money, and you end up with a sizable number of very rich people coming out of nowhere in the Senate.

And what you also have is what we saw… where John Kennedy had his college roommate, Ben Smith II, sit in his seat until two years later until Teddy was old enough and had reached the age of 30 when he inherited it.

And Biden has done exactly that in Delaware. He has gotten a family retainer appointed now to the Biden seat who will keep it warm and will not run again when in two years the Biden son, who is now in Iraq, will return and take that seat.

Look, Caroline Kennedy is a worthy socialite. But if she wants it, she should run and not accept an appointment. It is OK to run on pedigree, but do it in an election and not in an appointment.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Whopper Virgins

Perhaps you have seen the new ads for Burger King's Whoppers. They go to remote areas of the world and find "whopper virgins", those who have never tasted a hamburger and ask them to compare the Whopper to the Big Mac. It is a funny idea, a blind taste test ad with a twist.

Of course, some are now accusing Burger King of "corporate colonialism" and "cultural bullying." Give me a break - it is a freakin ad campaign. No matter what you do these days, those on the left always seem to find some way to be offended. You like Christmas? Whoa, careful, that may offend non-Christians. Do you support the Washington Redskins? Well, you must be anti-Indian - - -oops, Native American.

Check out this quote by some sanctimonious group called Food First: "While (Burger King) spent millions of dollars happily tracking down people with no 'hamburger awareness' the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has to go begging because they can only get one-thirtieth of the money they need to rebuild the developing world's shattered food systems," said Food First, an advocacy group that fights hunger."

What the hell are they talking about? Only an advocacy group from the left would find some way to work in the United Nations when talking about the Whopper. What do BK and the UN have in common? Nothing. One is a successful, multi-million dollar company that is pro-actively trying to increase its market share while the other is a group of corrupt do-nothings who sit around and pass resolutions and then doing nothing about them.

The pontificating does not end with Food First. Some columnist from some publication called Adweek calls the ads "culturally tone-deaf." That has to be one of the most PC phrases I have ever heard. What a load of crap.

Anyway, see the article here. By the way, I have never had a Whopper or a Big Mac but I am going to have one of each very soon just to stick it to Food First and Adweek and all the other self righteous do-gooders.

Expose the Scams

Jon Keller of WBZ Channel 4 wants to know about taxpayer funded construction jobs that are being "delayed." If you know about any of these scams, see his posting here or e-mail him at kelleratlarge@wbztv.com

I may e-mail him about the University Avenue Bridge project in Lowell. Most people who live in Dracut use the bridge to get over the Merrimack River and it has been undergoing work since August. It doesn't impact me all that much as I work north of Dracut but my wife takes it everyday and her commute to and from Route 3 has become a nightmare. The project was to be completed on December 12 but now they're saying it will be the end of the month. That's not too bad but I never trust those estimations.

Stop the Pike Hike Caves

Today, a group called Stop the Pike Hike was to mount a boycott of the Mass. Turnpike but caved after the City of Boston practically demanded that they call it off. The city was afraid that public safety could be compromised and the group said it would not be able to "sleep at night" if something happened.

Please - the city schooled Stop the Pike Hike and won big time. This was not a "public safety" issue but a way for the government to stop a protest and a PR coup.

In its place, Stop the Pike Hike called on people to pay their tolls in coins. Good idea but I would venture to guess that the majority of people who use the Pike everyday have a Fast Lane transponder. Nice try trying to save face guys.

UPDATE: The Globe has a story and video of the protest here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Electoral College

Tony over at richardhowe.com reminds us that the electors from the Electoral College meet today in all 50 states. In Massachusetts, 12 people from around the state will meet at the State House to cast votes for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. On January 8, the votes will be counted in a joint session of Congress and Obama and Biden will be declared the president-elect and vice-president-elect.

The National Archives runs the Electoral College and they have a comprehensive website on the process, its history, etc. See it here.

Sen. Obama, you're no Abraham Lincoln

He's never come out and said it but Barack Obama seems to think he is somewhat like Abraham Lincoln. He, like Lincoln, is coming into office during difficult times and has decided to embrace his political foes and have them become part of his cabinet (i.e. HRC). But, let's be real. When Lincoln took office on March 4, 1865, seven states had already seceded from the country and another four would leave a month later. War was imminent and when it was over, it would be the bloodiest war in American history.

Certainly Obama has a tough road ahead of him but his crises, I think, pale in comparison to Lincoln's or even FDR's.

Politico has an article on this topic here. Here is a taste:

In Barack Obama's appearance last month on CBS's "60 Minutes," the conversation turned to the president-elect's long-time love of Lincoln. "There is a wisdom there," Obama told interviewer Steve Kroft, "and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful."
Humility? Obama's frequent invocations of Abraham Lincoln — a man enshrined in myth and marble with his own temple on the National Mall — would not at first blush say much about his own instincts for modesty or self-effacement.
And now there are early rumblings of a backlash to Obama's ostentatious embrace of all things Lincoln, with his not-so-subtle invitations to compare the 44th president to the 16th, the "Savior of the Union."
Simply put, some scholars think the comparisons have gone a bit over the top hat.
Sean Wilentz, a scholar in American history at Princeton, said many presidents have sought to frame themselves in the historical legacies of illustrious predecessors, but he couldn't find any examples quite so brazen. "Sure, they've looked back to Washington and even, at times, Jackson. Reagan echoed and at times swiped FDR's rhetoric," said Wilentz. "But there's never been anything like this, and on this scale. Ever."
Eric Foner, a Columbia historian who has written extensively on the Civil War era, agreed that comparing one's self to Lincoln sets a rather high bar for success, and could come off like "a certain kind of hubris." "It'd be a bit like a basketball player turning up before his first game and saying, 'I'm kind of modeling myself on Michael Jordan,'" he said. "If you can do it, fine. If you're LeBron James, that'll work. But people may make that comparison to your disadvantage."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Extra Tipping

Margery Eagan has an interesting column today on Christmas tipping/presents. I guess some wealthy school districts have had to tell parents to limit the amount of money spent on gifts to teachers. Eagan mentions some teachers who have been given gift certificates to spas, use of vacation homes, etc. Yikes, I've haven't been that lucky.

But, Eagan points to the larger issue: the apparent need to tip everyone for everything at Christmas. Each December, I get a self-addressed (not stamped) envelope from the person who delivers my newspaper. Each December, I put the envelope right in the recycling bag. I give my newspaper person a $10 tip each month for a $15 dollar newspaper. In addition, he or she is paid by the Lowell Sun. I am sympathetic to the fact that he or she does not make a lot of money but I am not exactly rolling in dough myself.

Paul Sullivan, the late WBZ talk show host and Lowell Sun columnist, always said we should not have to tip extra at Christmas to everyone. He specially mentioned newspaper delivery people. I figure he worked for a newspaper so I am not that far off in my thinking.

Please don't think I am a scrooge. I do give people extra at Christmas but just not everyone I deal with. I wish I could be that generous but if I were, I'd be asking Congress for a bailout myself.

Busy day for Kevin

Kevin had a good day today. First, I took him to an indoor playground in Lowell called Perpetual Motion. This place was in an old mill and had slides, climbing things, balls, swings, toys, etc. - it is a great idea. It costs $7.50 to get in but Kevin had a blast. We would have stayed longer but I had to get him home for his nap. I will be sure to add this place to my summer list of places to go. Then tonight we all went to Dance Expressions in Tewksbury for a Christmas sing a-long. There were about 15 other kids there and Kevin got to bang drums, run around, use a tambourine, etc.

Now, the best news of all: no school tomorrow! I guess the building doesn't have power so we'll end up with a four day weekend. Life is good.

Turn around at St. John's Seminary


Once on the brink of closure, Saint John's Seminary in Boston has experienced a sort of rebirth the past couple of years. When Cardinal Sean O'Malley came to Boston in 2003, many suggested that he close the school but he wanted to give it one last try. According to a great article in today's Globe, he said, "When I arrived, the enrollment was way down, and there was a lot of pressure on me from some of the pastors to close the seminary," O'Malley said. "I told the priests, we have to give it one good try to see whether we can save the seminary, because once we close it, we'll never get it back, and for New England, with the large Catholic population that we have here, the presence of our own seminary is very important."

There are now 83 men studying at the seminary but only 39% of those are for the Archdiocese of Boston. That means more and more dioceses are sending their men to Saint John's. That is good news. The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend (Indiana), for example, used to always send their seminarians to Saint John's but pulled back some years ago. This despite the fact that the bishop of that diocese, John D'Arcy, is from Boston and worked for years at Saint John's.

You can see the whole article here, it is very encouraging.





Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ken Burns

I recently showed my students some of Ken Burns' documentary "The Civil War." I've seen some of his work but I have now been inspired to watch all of his movies. Most of his movies are about an hour long and are pretty diverse. The topics range from the Brooklyn Bridge to Frank Lloyd Wright to Thomas Jefferson. His most famous are his mega-movies like "Baseball" and "Jazz" but his smaller ones escaped me.

My goal is to watch all of the "small" ones between now and the end of the month. Thank goodness that my library or neighboring ones have all of his movies. In addition, we have a subscription to Netflix and you can watch all of his movies on-line via Netflix.

You can see his filmography here.

Back up

We finally got our power back on sometime in the middle of the night. Lynn came to my parent's house after she got out of work and her and I went out to dinner. It was one of the few times we have been able to go out alone since Kevin was born. We all headed back home to Dracut around 9:00. I checked National Grid's website before we left Melrose and it said our condo had its power back on. But, as we turned onto our street the whole area was pitch black. But, it came back on eventually.

The one good thing is we will save a few bucks on our electricity bill this month!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dracut making the news?

I am getting a ton of hits from around the country with people googling "dracut, ma power outage." Has Dracut made the news?

Life on the frontier

Yesterday we got hit with a nasty ice storm and lost power around 3:30am. I didn't have school today as a lot of New England was nailed. It is now 3:30pm and we still don't have power (I think). Kevin and I went to my parent's house in Melrose as our place was getting cold and dark. We went to the mall this morning to play at their indoor play area and we the came home and slept for a couple of hours.

We will hang out here until 7:30 or so and then head back. I am not optimistic that power will be back at that point. Ugh.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stop the Pike Hike

Last month the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority voted to raise tolls at the Sumner Tunnel and Ted Williams Tunnel (both in Boston) to $7 and the Allston-Brighton tolls from $1.25 to $2. Last night in Boston, the Pike held a public hearing about the toll hikes and over 150 people (mostly from East Boston) turned out in droves.

A new group called Stop the Pike Hike has called for East Boston residents to boycott the tunnels next Tuesday, the 235th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party! I love it.

I don't think the Pike will raise the tunnel tolls to $7 - that would be way too much. I agree with the idea that they did this so people would support an increase in the gas tax instead.

Nonetheless, you can see the Globe's coverage (with video) here - it is great stuff.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Barack's Middle Name

Traditionally, when presidents are sworn into office they use their full name. I've wondered if Barack Obama was going to use his middle name since it is somewhat, how shall we say, different: Hussein. Now it seems he will use it. See the story here.

We've got nothing on Illinois

Certainly Massachusetts has its share of corruption and inept politicians but Illinois takes the cake. See Howie's take on Gov. Blagojevich and the impact it will have on Massachusetts here.

No to Caroline Kennedy

Scott Lehigh has a good column in today's Globe about how Caroline Kennedy should not be appointed to replace Hillary Clinton as the junior senator from New York. Kennedy, he said, is a good person and has done some good fund-raising work but is very private and has not done anything to merit appointment to a Senate seat.

Further, the idea that Kennedy is a logical choice because women want a high-profile champion is a curious one. Despite her fund-raising work, Caroline is someone famous not because of what she's done but because of who she is. If she's appointed to the Senate, her selection wouldn't be based on the merits but on her name.

New York's congressional delegation has a number of politically experienced women who have won House seats on their own. Picking one of them would send a message of an appointment based on accomplishments.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sal Gets It

I am no fan of Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi but good for him that he is calling out the public employee unions for not doing their part to help alleviate the budget woes. In 2007, the state passed a law which allowed cities and towns to buy into the state health insurance system rather than going it alone. The plan would have saved cities and towns almost $800 million. The catch, however, was that 70% of the local union members had to agree. To date, less than 30 municipalities and school districts have stitched over. So, DiMasi is calling for the state to lower the threshold from 70%. See the story here.

Jon Keller of WBZ has a great posting about the unions refusing to budge. You can see it all here but I wanted to quote part of it:
It's a pitiful display of indifference to the precarious condition of municipal finance, coming from many of the same folks who regularly lecture their neighbors about the community's dire needs when it's time for a property-tax override or the defeat of a tax-cutting balllot question. The unions had nearly two years to make a better show of good faith than that, with a backdrop of general economic meltdown, and they still wouldn't give an inch. DiMasi's forthcoming bill dropping union sign-off on GIC membership will be a real gut check for the legislature.

Did he or didn't he

You certainly have heard by now that Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois was arrested for trying to sell Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat. He allegedly said the following:

"(The seat) is a f****** valuable thing you just don't give it away for nothing."
"I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I'm saying. And if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself."

In addition, he told the Tribune Company that he would hold up their sale of Wrigley Field unless they fired critics of his at the Chicago Tribune.

In response, Obama said "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening." Hmm, that's funny because on November 23 Obama's political adviser David Axelrod said the following, "I know he's talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them."

Of course, Obama's office says, Axelrod "misspoke." Have you heard that one before?

Rockwell on You Tube

As you may suspect, I am a member of the Norman Rockwell Museum and yesterday I received their annual report. It mentioned that the museum has its own page on You Tube with a number of museum produced videos. If you're interested, you can see it here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

2/2

Republicans are 2/2 now in big elections since November. First Sen. Sanxy Chambliss of Georgia won his run-off election and yesterday Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson was defeated by little known Anh Cao. You may recall that Jefferson was caught by the FBI with cold hard cash (literally) in his freezer about two years ago and was recently indicted for bribery.

Now we just need Norm Colman to fend off Al Franken in Minnesota's Senate re-count.

Howie says it all

I don't have much to add to what Howie has to say in today's Herald. Let's just say he sums it all up.

A Rockwellian Day

Lynn, Kevin, my friend Bill, and I headed out for Stockbridge, MA this morning around 9:00. We got to downtown Stockbridge around 11:20 and walked around the quaint town. As I mentioned yesterday, every year the town reenacts the Norman Rockwell painting "Main Street Stockbridge at Christmas." In addition, they had other events like Santa Claus, Christmas songs at a Church, horse drawn carriages, carolers on the steps of the Red Lion Inn, etc.

Kevin was having a good time running around but there was nothing really for him to do. We went to a the local Church's kid's center but you could not play with the toys, only paint. Kevin is too little to paint so we left quickly. Lynn and him took a ride so he could fall asleep (which he did for 90 minutes). I guess they also did some shopping and got some lunch.

So Bill and I walked around with his parents and then spent some time at the Norman Rockwell Museum. After we headed north to Pittsfield to visit with our friends Jay and Pam Green. We headed home around 7:00 and got home a little after 10.

The best part of the day was that it was snowing in Stockbridge. It was not heavy snow but it was enough to add some real Christmas feel to to the day - it was perfect.

Now I am exhausted from all the driving and walking around outside. I am waiting for some clothes to finish in the washing machine and then off to bed. Another classic New England day thanks to Norman Rockwell!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holidays vs. Christmas

My cousin Bill Hicks has a nice post on his family taking in the annual Home for the Holidays festivities in Melrose. He linked to a Melrose Free Press article on the events and I was struck by the number of plain vanilla "holiday" references. There were some mentions of Christmas but I am sure the editors will publish a correction next week.

Personally, I was offended by the mention of Melrose Oriental Rug offering a buffet of Armenian food. Hey now, isn't that a little too specific? Shouldn't it be "Far East Continent Rug" and "ethnic food?"

Here are some examples of what else they have to offer:

1. "Traditional tree lighting." Hmmm, we lighting trees on fire? Why this tradition?
2. "Holiday Lights." I've always loved New Year's Lights!
3. Alas, the annual "winter wreath" raffle is no more. Shucks, how about the Christmas wreath raffle?

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton (aka Father Louis) died forty years ago this December 10. The Trappist monk and author was in Asia for a conference when he was electrocuted by a fan after he took a bath.

PBS's "Religion and Ethics Weekly" has a fantastic video profile of him here. It is about 10 minutes long and well worth a look.

Christmas in Stockbridge

One of Norman Rockwell's most famous paintings is his 1967 "Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas" seen above. Every year on the first Sunday of December, Stockbridge reenacts the scene and Lynn, Kevin, and I are heading out there tomorrow to see it. My friend Bill is also going and we're going to meet up with his parents who are spending the weekend out there.

The reenactment goes from 12-2 and after that Bill and I are going to go to the Rockwell Museum. Lynn is going to take Kevin to the Berkshires Museum in Pittsfield to see their aquarium. It is the only thing we could find in the area for an 18-month old. I even called the Visitor's Bureau and that was really all they could come up with. There isn't even a McDonald's with a playland out that way! I guess when the entire county has a population of less than 200,000, there is not a huge demand for kid's places! We would take him to the Rockwell Museum but he needs a place where he can run around and get worn out.

That stupid Constitution

Many people want The Leader to be enthroned now and not have to wait until the constitutionally mandated January 20. On PBS last night, Gwen Infill (the soon to be author about a book on Barack Obama) said that some people feel Obama "should be President now." Peter Baker of the ever so fair and balanced New York Times agreed:

People voted for change and this strange, odd 77-day waiting period that we impose, in effect, between our election and our inauguration -- which is necessary to build a new government and get ready -- but it's such a long period in a hyperactive 24/7 fast-moving culture that we have today. And Barack Obama is trying to find some balance between respecting President Bush, who's still in charge, and finding a way to assert leadership. He's had, so far now, six press conferences since the election. He's going to have a seventh on Sunday, Pearl Harbor day. This is an unusual amount of public exposure for a President who hasn't yet taken office and he's been faster in naming his top appointments than any President-elect in modern times. He's got more than half of his cabinet and senior White House team already named. He wants to show action, he wants to show leadership but he has a little bitted number of tools to do it.
That damn Constitution...it always gets in the way.
H/T to Newsbusters.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Finally

This is the definition of getting your comeuppance.

Why?

If you were 27 years old and about to work as the speechwriter for the President of the United States, why would you allow a photo like this to be taken of yourself and placed on-line? See the story behind the photo here.

A hack who gets it

Howie has a funny column today on the Norfolk County Registrar of Propate, Patrick W. McDermott, cracking down on employees taking sick days. It is no surprise that state employees take time off for the littlest of "illnesses" and, as McDermott says, "effects of a prior night’s celebratory activity.”

McDermott is offering an extra half day off before January 2 to any employee who has not used more than 10 of his 15 sick days yet this year. Guess how many are eligible? 6 of 22.

See the whole column here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Paid to do your job

So I am a high school teacher. In order to stay on top of my game and current, I attend a number of workshops, lectures, classes, etc. throughout the year. I am actually going to one tomorrow night at the National Archives in Waltham and this is the second of seven or so classes I am attending there. I do not get extra money for taking these classes - I go because they help me be a better teacher. If I didn't stay up to date and informed, my students would suffer, my teaching would suffer, and I would hurt my school.

It seems that the Massachusetts State Police, however, feel that you and I should pay them more money just for staying fit and in shape (Isn't that their job??).

The Herald reports today that if they pass a "fitness test" they get a 2.5% bonus. Over the past two years, over 2,000 state troopers have received this bonus at a cost of $11 million to taxpayers.

$11 million. 2,000 troopers. For doing something they should already be doing.

Don't blame me, I voted yes on Question 1.

Palin still has it

Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss (what a great name) won his run-off election yesterday which now prevents the Democrats from getting to a filibuster proof 60 seats in the Senate. Chambliss credited Gov. Sarah Palin for firing up the base and getting people excited about the election. Politico has the story here.

Palin still needs to win over non-Republicans and I think the media's hatchet job on her makes her a tad vulnerable. We shall see. Anyway, here are snips from the article:

“I can't overstate the impact she had down here,” Chambliss said during an interview Wednesday morning on Fox News.
“When she walks in a room, folks just explode,” he added. “And they really did pack the house everywhere we went. She's a dynamic lady, a great administrator, and I think she's got a great future in the Republican Party.”
Chambliss said that after watching her campaign on his behalf at several events Monday, he does not see her star status diminishing within the party.
The Republican also thanked John McCain and the other big name Republicans that came to Georgia, but said Palin made the biggest impact.
“We had John McCain and Mike Huckabee and Gov. Romney and Rudy Giuliani, but Sarah Palin came in on the last day, did a fly-around and, man, she was dynamite,” he said. “We packed the houses everywhere we went. And it really did allow us to peak and get our base fired up.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Harry Reid: Sen. Jerk

I've always contended that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a complete jerk. He is one of the most miserable partisans on Capitol Hill and I cringe everytime I see his face. Now, I have further proof that he is a creep. The Capitol's Visitor Center opened today and this was one of the benefits Reid cited:
"My staff tells me not to say this, but I'm going to say it anyway," said Reid in his remarks. "In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol. It may be descriptive but it's true."

Kerry Snub

The Track Girls from the Boston Herald are a couple of gossips and I really don't put a lot of credence into what they have to say. But, they have an interesting take today on the apparent snub of Sen. John Kerry for the Secretary of State position. They also say that Sen. Hillary Clinton took the job because she was upset Sen. Edward Kennedy did not appoint her to a health care task force (I find that hard to believe).

You can see the whole "story" here.

The Fall of Matt

The Boston Herald has a story on the pathetic state of former Massachusetts Turnpike Chair Matt Amorello. I am no fan of Amorello - he was the hack of all hacks and literally ran the Turnpike and Big Dig into the ground. He hired all these other hacks to work at the Turnpike and he spent money like it was going out of style.

Now it appears that his spending ways were not just at work. Amorello and his wife are filing for divorce and they are drowning in debt. Amorello has not worked since May and has actually been ordered by a judge to apply for jobs! He and his wife have the following financial troubles:

1. $130,000 on Mrs. Amorello's credit card
2. $17,000 behind in mortgage payments
3. $8,650 owed to Target
4. $15,987 owed to Citibank

As much as I think Amorello is a bum, I hope all works out, you never want to see someone implode like this, especially when kids are involved. But, I guess what goes around comes around.

Howie has a special Tuesday column on this, see it here. Some of the good parts are:

Poor Fat Matt. This guy was a legend in his own mind. He ran for Congress. He made over $200,000 a year. He had photos of himself plastered all over the walls at 10 Park. He wrecked a Turnpike car under mysterious circumstances and got away with it. And now a judge orders him to get a job. The robed wonder has the nerve to tell Fat Matt, who had to be pried out of the public trough with the Jaws of Life, to apply for 15 jobs a week.

Your Honor, what about the Eighth Amendment? Surely this qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment for a 50-year-old man who has never done a lick of honest work in his life. And yet his estranged wife Charlotte, a former Massport hackette, writes this about him:
“He has received no income since May 2008 and has made minimal efforts, if any, to find gainful employment.”
He spent six years in the Legislature - that makes him unemployable under any definition.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Globe and the Red Sox

The New York Times, which owns the Boston Globe, has a 17% ownership stake in the Boston Red Sox. The Globe has done their part to promote the Red Sox by doing "articles" on such things as Red Sox trip packages and Red Sox items. But, they rarely acknowledge in their article that they have a financial stake in the items the "article" mentions.

The newest example is caskets that have Red Sox logos on them. The "article's" lead is so corny and reads just like a sales pitch:

For years, lifelong Red Sox fans wanted their team to win the World Series so they could finally go to the grave in peace. Now, they can do it encased in the team's logo as well.

Yes, the officially licensed Red Sox casket has arrived. The team logo is embroidered on the soft velvet of the lining and pillow, each of which is as white as a home uniform on Opening Day. The logo also appears on the exterior of the casket, which is made of high-gloss 18-gauge steel accented with baseball bat-style wood, tassels, and polished chrome - more Cadillac than bullpen car, headed for the hereafter.
Is this an article or an advertisement???