Friday, February 27, 2009

Yes we can...fool pro-lifers

Yep, all you pro-life Catholics (and others) who voted for President Obama must be pumped now. The Leader has now said he will seek to overturn a conscientious objector rule for medical professionals who refuse to participate in abortions.

First the Mexico City Policy was reversed and now this. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just wait for FOCA. Oh, and I can't wait until he appoints replacements for John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Way to go there guys. You fell for this fraud hook, line, and sinker. Nice work.

Spring like day

It is a beautiful day in Massachusetts today. It is close to 60 degrees and, well, it was sunny (I just looked outside and it is now cloudy and windy - what happened?). Kevin and I wanted to shake cabin fever so we went to the park this morning. The ground was wet and muddy and Kevin did get soaked but I didn't mind, it was good just to get out. There were a ton of people at the park so they all had the same idea.

I opened up the door to the deck to let some air in and Kevin just went down for his nap. I have a ton of DVD's to watch (to prepare for lessons) so I am going to use this time to watch some. First up - documentary on Woodrow Wilson!

Via la revolution

I really sense a revolution brewing in Massachusetts against Gov. Deval Patrick and the hacks who never seem to get laid off, who get huge pensions, and who retire at 52. Howie Carr shows why people are so ticked off in today's Herald:

There are two Americas, only they’re not the two that the lecherous John Edwards described in his doomed campaign for president.

The two Americas are the Dreaded Private Sector (DPS), where life grows gloomier by the hour, and the Public Sector, where happy days are here again, especially in Massachusetts. I know, not everyone on a public payroll is living large, but let’s face it, life right now is a lot cushier.

In the DPS, every week there are farewell parties for co-workers who have been laid off. In the Public Sector, the farewell parties are for colleagues who have filed for disability pensions at age 42.


In the Public Sector, if you can pass a physical test to prove you can do your job, you get a bonus. In the DPS, you don’t get fired - this week.

In the DPS, your pay just got cut. In the Public Sector, you just got a pay raise.


In the DPS, you pay into your pension plan for years, maybe decades, and at the end, you get nothing. In the Public Sector, if you’re a justice on the Supreme Judicial Court, you pay nothing - nothing! - and then at the end you get a big fat pension.

In the DPS, the gas tax goes up, and the money comes out of your pocket. In the Public Sector, if you’re in the Legislature, the gas tax goes up and eventually they just increase their own per-diem travel allowance, which, by the way, operates on the honor system.


In the DPS, if you don’t abuse your sick days, you don’t get fired. In the Public Sector, at least at Massport, if you don’t abuse your sick days, you retire with a six-figure payout for all your “unused” days on top of the 80 percent pension and the health plan.

In the Public Sector, you get off Bunker Hill Day, Evacuation Day, Patriots Day, Columbus Day, etc. etc. In the DPS, you’re kidding, right?


In the DPS, people look for “work.” In the Public Sector, they’re looking for a “job.”

In the Public Sector, if you cheat on your taxes, you have the right to claim it was an “honest mistake.” If you’re in the DPS and you cheat on your taxes, you have the right to remain silent.


In the DPS, you have to pay for parking. In the Public Sector, you get free parking and a free car.

The two Americas are diverging - one’s standard of living is plummeting, the other’s is rising. In Massachusetts, the two sectors do only one thing together: They drive to tax-free New Hampshire to buy their gas, booze, soft drinks, cigarettes, electronics gear, furniture and everything else - to beat the taxes that make Taxachusetts Taxachusetts.

Following the talking points

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is seen as a rising star in the Republican Party and may run for President in 2012. That is why he gave the Republican response to President Obama's speech on Tuesday night - it was a way to get his name and face (a young, minority face) out there.

I didn't see the speech but I guess it wasn't very good and the Democrats (aka the media) have been nailing Jindal all week for it. Why? They want to bring down a potential opponent for Obama. They did the exact same thing to Sarah Palin. They see a threat and when the person stumbles, they stick to that story until the person is beaten to a pulp.

The Boston Globe did that today with an editorial about Jindal's performance. Gee, they don't have an agenda, do they?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two more years

The Simpsons were picked up for another two years by Fox. This will bring the show into its 22nd season, which will pass Gunsmoke as the longest running television series in history.

I confess that I haven't watched much of the new Simpsons lately but it is still the greatest show on TV. I always have a Simpsons reference for my students and I show an episode on occasion (when it relates to the material of course).

It's funny, the show has been on for so long that some of my students have never really watched it. I can't blame them entirely. The show's peak was the 1990's when my students were babies (and before) so they never knew the show in its prime. So, I am doing my part to fill in the gaps with them!

Blushing bride and her dogs

So it appears that Tom Brady married Gisele Bundchen today in California. Brady is Catholic and I assume Gisele is too since she is from Brazil so they were married in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is pretty strict about weddings and doesn't allow a lot of the flowery crap that people do these days at weddings. But, California is California so I was not surprised to read this:

The bride, 28, donned a form-fitting ivory lace strapless gown with a trumpet skirt, scalloped edges, long train and a floor-length veil with attached handmade satin roses and attached satin headband, all by Dolce & Gabbana. Her three dogs also wore matching Dolce & Gabbana floral lace collars.

What is Brady thinking? Yeah, Gisele is a knock out but she is so Euro-trashy and has turned an All-American blue blood into someone who rather read Czechoslovakian poetry while eating wheatgrass and drinking Cosmos.

Knights of Columbus Scholarship

I have been a member of the Knights of Columbus for over ten years. I cannot recall the exact year I joined but it was when I was a student at Saint Anselm College. We had our own college council and were quite successful. Some of my fondest memories from college are from the Knights. I have not been as active since I left college because of the demands of life but I am still an active member.

The Knights are best known for their charitable work and outreach to those in need. In these days of $20,000-$50,000 college tuition, any little aid can help. Thus, I encourage anyone applying to a Catholic college to consider applying for the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus scholarship. The application is a word document and I can't upload it into this post so call the Massachusetts Knights at 781-551-0628 or e-mail them at MAStateKofC@verizon.net for an application. The deadline is April 3, 2009 so don't delay.

Vennochi on Menino

Joan Vennochi feels, like me, that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino may be on his last legs. You can read her whole column here but this is the money part:

Boston may chafe at Menino's known flaws, but for 16 years the residents who turned out to vote for him basically accepted them. He is not smooth or well-spoken. He rewards friends and holds grudges. He maintains tight control over development in Boston, and, for that matter, everything else.

For a long time, he escaped blame for major institutional defects.The Boston Public Schools are losing students and trying to close a projected $100 million budget deficit. The mayor ignored warnings about mismanagement of the Fire Department, and until the pension scandal got too hot to ignore, he let the Firefighters Union push him around. Violence continues to plague poor and minority neighborhoods.

But Menino prevailed because he was viewed as a dedicated, hardworking, and fundamentally honest public servant who is doing the best he can to tackle complicated urban problems.


At a certain point, doing your best isn't enough to keep your job. Or, at least, a mayor should be forced to explain why it should be enough. In the past, Menino was able to skip the explanations by marginalizing opponents.

This time, the city deserves to hear them, and might be finally ready to demand them. After 16 years, Menino is part of the establishment. He's comfortable, maybe too comfortable for voters whose lives are growing less comfortable in today's economic environment.


A desire for change is natural. Massachusetts voted for it by electing Deval Patrick as its governor and the country followed suit by electing Barack Obama as president.
Boston is ripe for similar political change. The only question is whether there's a mayoral challenger strong enough to rally around.

Belated birthday

I turned 33 (yikes) a few weeks ago and today my wife took the day off to take me out. We're going to visit the Sam Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain and then have lunch at one of my favorite places - Doyle's (also in Jamaica Plain). Tonight I am headed to the Franklin Pierce House in Concord, NH for a talk on Daniel Webster.

Should be a good day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We're not stupid

I love the Red Sox but I HATE when they try to treat us like we're fans of some expansion team. Case in point: home games are being moved from 7:05pm-7:10pm this year. The second I saw that I knew the reason - to sell more radio and TV ads, to sell more beer on Yawkey Way, etc. I think everyone else knows that too, we're not dumb.

But, Larry Lucchino has to try to spin it this way:

"Moving the starts by even a few minutes will give them a little more time to make it to Fenway Park from work or home, take advantage of pregame festivities and ballpark amenities, and reach their seats before the first pitch. And if fans are enjoying the game broadcast, they will have more opportunity to listen to the expanded pregame show on WRKO/WEEI or catch the first pitch on NESN."

Please Larry. This may work for the Pink Hatters but the majority of us who were fans before it became a fad can see right through you.

Numbers, numbers

Check out this article from the Boston Globe about a protest this morning over Governor Patrick's proposed 19 cents hike in the gas tax. Most of the article is devoted to the number of people that were there with the author quoting a number of different sources. If this were a liberal protest, there would be no mention of the crowd size, no matter how small.

Empty suit

I think the stock market is telling everyone what we've been saying about President Obama for a long time: he is a good speechmaker with little substance to back it up.

From the AP:

Stocks fell on Wednesday as investors found little new in a major speech by President Barack Obama on how he planned to stabilize the economy, while gloomy home sales data weighed on the market.

There was a little bit of an overshoot to the upside yesterday and we're just giving some of that back early as President Obama didn't have anything substantive to say last night.

What if this were John McCain?

Can you imagine the hell John McCain would have gotten if this was him?

By the way, Mr. Vice President, what is a website number?

Mumbles in a jam

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is in a bit of a pickle. It seems that city workers did work on his house and on his son's house between 1997 and 2004. Menino and his people swear up and down that the work was done after hours and he paid full price for the work. Just one little problem...they can't find any paperwork (i.e. checks) related to the work. How inconvenient!

I am convinced that this is the end of the road for Menino. He faces three challengers this year and a number of stories like this keep popping up.

You've had a good run and now it's time to move on, Mr. Mayor.

Stick 'em up!

Howie gets it right again today: the governor is now a stickup artist. See it here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Addressing Congress

Again, this is my inner government geek kicking in: When the President of the United States is addressing a joint session of Congress, the Vice-President is present as the President of the Senate. That is why he sits next to the Speaker of the House during the speech. Thus, when the President is saying his introduction, he should say, "Madame Speaker, Mr. President..." Not "Mr. Vice-President."

President Clinton said "Mr. President" his first two years but for some reason changed it to Mr. Vice-President later. President Bush always said "Vice President Cheney." Tonight President Obama said "Mr. Vice-President."

Change we can believe in my arse!

EXTORTION

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is officially in the shakedown business. Do you want higher tolls on the Mass Pike or an increase in the gas tax? If we don't raise the gas tax, there will be higher tolls. If we do raise the gas tax, the toll increase will not go into effect.

What the hell?? These guys would make Vito Corelono blush.

What will happen if we stand up to these people? Just ask Jack Woltz:

Before and after

Rocca over at Whispers in the Loggia has a great picture (via the New York Times) of the incoming Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, and his predecessor, Edward Cardinal Egan. Dolan is on the left and Egan on the right: can you see why people are happy Dolan is coming to New York and Egan is retiring?

BUS!!! BUS!!!!

Kevin is obsessed with buses. Whenever he sees one, he yells "BUS! BUS!" He also calls trucks and SUV's buses and we've tried to get him to say truck or car but he just says "BUS" again. The "Curious George" episode where George and the Man in the Yellow Hat take a bus has been on a zillion times in the past week and I worry that Kevin is going to have a stroke.

So, I decided that I am going to take him on a bus ride tomorrow in Lowell. We have a local transit authority called the LRTA and we'll jump on somewhere and go for a ride around the city. There is one little problem, however. I just read in the Lowell Sun that the drivers may be going on strike! Ugh - save it for later in the week if you can guys. Let my boy get his ride and then you can take on The Man.

Monday, February 23, 2009

School vacation!!

Since I teach in New Hampshire, our February vacation is the week after Massachusetts. So, well, I am on vacation. This teaching thing is so great.

I have no big plans for the week but I have done some pre-spring cleaning this morning. Lynn and I have a big computer desk in our living room (an armoire to be exact) and it is full of statements, papers, bills, etc. I went through everything this morning and shredded old paystubs (some dating back to 2007), bank statements, etc. and filled an entire grocery bag with the rubble. I also filed away all of our 2008 tax forms. The desk looks so much better.

I think this morning/afternoon I will do some more housework and maybe, MAYBE do some school work. Lynn is taking Thursday off and taking me out for my birthday (a few weeks late but that's OK) and on Saturday we're going to a party her company is putting on at Gillette Stadium.

So, it will be a good week, nothing overly exciting but a good week off.

Why I hate the New York Times

As expected, the New York Times labels the new Archbishop of New York as a "conservative" in the second paragraph of a story on their website. Furthermore, a headline for an accompanying article says "A Genial Enforcer of Rome's Conservative Line." Oh look, he is conservative but does it with a smile. Yikes!!!! Don't be fooled.

The freaking media - they always mention the ideology of someone on the right like it is something to be concerned about but they never, ever, ever label a liberal.

Good riddance New York Times, may you be out of business soon.

New archbishop for New York

The Archdiocese of New York underwent quite a culture change when bureaucrat Edward Egan was tapped to replace the beloved John O'Connor as Archbishop of New York in 2001. Cardinal O'Connor was a man of the people and was loved by all. Cardinal Egan is a capable administrator who is very colorless.

The story goes that Egan was brought in to fix New York's finances because O'Connor never had the heart to do things like close schools and services. In his 8 years as archbishop, Egan has helped steer the financial ship but has made few friends and people were counting down to the day he turned 75, which took place last year.

Now, Pope Benedict XVI has named Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of Milwaukee, as the new Archbishop of New York. Dolan is an amazing man who has a great personality and a great sense of humor. His priests love him, his people adore him, and women swoon after him (I made that last one up but it seemed to fit the prose).

You can read all about it at Whispers in the Loggia. This is huge news but not unexpected. Alleluia!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Deval's Scam

Howie Carr nails it today. Last Friday, Gov. Deval Patrick revealed his transportation "reform" plan which of course means tax hikes and toll increases. But, the governor promises to reign in bloated pensions and to layoff 300 workers. Sure.

Howie's column is so good it is all below:

Gov. Deval Patrick, what part of “no” do you not understand?

No to the 19-cent increase in the gas tax.


No to the obscene hike in the tolls.

I know, the highest state gas tax in America will merely cost the “average” motorist “one large cup of coffee a week.” It’s the least we can do for what Deval calls the infrastructure - the bloated T pensions, the sticky-fingered Mass Pike tolltakers and Troop E’s detail-inflated, six-figure salaries, not to mention the “prevailing wage” scam - methadone-addled ditch diggers making $50 an hour.

How appropriate that Deval’s as-yet-unwritten legislation is called the “Transportation and Economic Security Plan.”

Economic security, all right. For hacks and pinky-ring union thugs.

Like Wimpy in the old Popeye cartoons, Deval will gladly give you “reform” tomorrow for a tax increase today. He leaked his soak-the-motorists scam to his sycophants at the dying broadsheet Friday morning, then delivered the speech on the Friday afternoon of a school-vacation week. How much more do you need to know?

Still, you owe it to yourself to read the entire opus - preferably on an empty stomach. Let’s get right to it: “Every time we hear another story . . . about a state worker collecting one pension from the T while earning another in state government, the average citizen gets madder.”
One of those double-dippers would be the son of Billy Bulger, he of the $197,000-a-year state pension, with whom Deval met regularly at Mul’s Diner on West Broadway during the 2006 campaign to concoct grand schemes to beggar the working man. Another of those MBTA double-dippers is the boss of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, Jim Rooney, several of whose board members Deval appoints. Maybe I missed it, but have any of Patrick’s MCCA appointees ever raised concerns about Rooney’s rip-offs?

“Don’t perpetuate the Big Dig culture,” Deval intones.

Right . . . the one that provided sleazy Jim Aloisi, Deval’s new transportation secretary, with millions in legal fees, not to mention one of those tsarist pensions that make us “average citizens” get madder.

“Let me be clear: the ‘23 years and out’ rule, where T employees start receiving a pension earlier than any reasonable retirement, is coming to an end.” Let me be clear: If you believe that whopper, you’re probably still holding your breath waiting for that property tax relief that candidate Patrick promised you in 2006.

Strangely, there wasn’t a single word in his speech about removing the toll booths on the Pike, which were supposed to come down in 1987. He does mention the “stiff imminent increases in tolls” that his Pike board may be rubber-stamping soon. He’s quite worried about all of us from “the North Shore, East Boston and MetroWest,” though not concerned enough to order his tax-fatted hyenas who run the Pike to take that extortionate option off the table.

Deval does promise to eliminate “about 300 positions,” no names attached, and I predict neither of Rep. John Fresolo’s siblings will have to be extracted from their Worcester toll booths with the Jaws of Life.

How stupid does Patrick think we are? As long as the Pike toll booths are up, we are all held hostage, like that rich businessman shaken down by the “escort” from Canton who kept blackmailing him every time she ran short on dough.

Don’t blame me, I voted for Muffy. For the rest of you guilt-ridden sheeple, how’s this one-party rule thing working out for you?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another double standard

Here is a quote from a story in today's Boston Globe:

In an interview with the Globe, Wilburn, a businessman, said he felt he had been used by the FBI to topple a pair of prominent white politicians, while four months after the first arrest, no black officials have been charged in the investigation.

Outrageous, right? This guy Wilburn feels that just because some white people have been arrested, that it should be balanced out with black people getting arrested as well? What a racist.

Of course, this is not a real quote, rather, the words "black" and "white" were reversed in the actual article.

Oh. Never mind then.

The final days?

I don't typically consider the gossip girls at the Inside Track to be good sources of hard news but today they have an interesting take on Sen. Edward Kennedy's battle with cancer. They seem to think Kennedy is in the final days of his life and may die within months.

The Track wonders if Kennedy's wife Vicki is now being propped up more and more in preparation for a run for her husband's seat when he does pass.

I think the Caroline Kennedy debacle in New York would also haunt Vicki and there are a number of people salivating for that seat. I don't think Vicki could just waltz into it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Be consistent

The New York Post, as you may have heard, published a pretty controversial cartoon this week of a dead monkey who had just been shot by police. In the cartoon, one police officer says to another, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

I for one think it is a reference to the monkey who went crazy in Stamford, CT earlier this week and had to be shot by police and the opinion of some that the stimulus bill is a waste of money and paper. But, some people feel that it is a poke at President Obama, given the fact that black people have been portrayed as and called "monkeys" by racists. I really don't think the Post would publish something with that intention but they had to know this cartoon may have raised a red flag.

Then I saw the following in an article today in the Boston Phoenix:

As the dust settled from new House Speaker Robert DeLeo's massive re-shuffling of state legislative leadership this past week, insiders and pundits pored over the assignment lists like high priests reading entrails, divining the winners and losers on Beacon Hill — and clues to the style and ideology that might prevail for the new two-year legislative session and beyond.

Largely unnoticed, though, was a trend that mere names on paper failed to convey: the move away from leadership by aging white men.

The article's author, David Bernstein, also posted an item about the article on his blog in which he said "I don't want to make it sound like the old white guys' days are done in the House..."

Now, to me Bernstein is saying that the fact that less "old white guys" are in leadership positions is a good thing. But, would a newspaper ever say "old black guys" or "aging black guys" in such a cavalier way? If black legislators were losing power, the newspaper would run grave articles condemning the power brokers who made that decision and call for more diversity. But, white people lose power and it is part of a laugh line.

My whole point here is that we need to be consistent with what we call racist. If we're going to be so sensitive about race, we need to call it both ways.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Which is it?

Yesterday, President Obama said the economic stimulus package the most sweeping economic reform packaged in American history. Today Gov. Deval Patrick said the package will not be a "panacea."

Um, which is it?

Pope takes Pelosi to task

Pope Benedict XVI reminded "Catholic" Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi today about the Church's teaching on abortion and the importance of legislators supporting those teachings. Well done Papa!

From the Boston Globe:

"Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."

Shocked, shocked I tell you

Surprise, surprise. Since President Obama took office, six members of the media have gone to work with the federal government. They claim it is because the industry is dying but Politico asks the $64,000 question: Would they have took the jobs if John McCain were elected?

More on Baker

Charlie Baker has told the Boston Herald, about running for governor, "I’m certainly going to consider this, but it’s going to be an uphill climb." In addition, a new website has been launched called Draftcharlie.com.

Baker was the commencement speaker at my Graduate School commencement and gave a great speech. He is also known as a financial wunderkind and worked for many years as Bill Weld's Secretary of Administration and Finance. For the past few years, he has served as the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim. So he has the background and public speaking ability and there is desperation for a solid Republican to run in 2010. It looks good.

Do as I say...

A number of years ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts lowered the state income tax rate from 5.85% to 5.30%. Liberals were irate saying we could not afford a tax cut and needed to sustain current spending/revenue levels.

As a compromise, the Legislature said people could still pay the 5.85% and simply had to indicate that on their tax returns. So how many paid the higher rate in 2008 so far? 293. Howie Carr explains here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One hour off

I usually wake up around 6:15-6:30 and I set two alarms: my alarm clock and my cell phone. My alarm clock woke me up this morning and after hitting snooze a few times, I got up around 6:20. I was still tired and my cell phone alarm hadn't gone off so I was a little confused.

Nonetheless, I took a shower and when I got back to the bedroom, I noticed that it was still pitch black outside. The sun is usually breaking by the time I leave so I checked my cell phone and saw that it was 5:40, not 6:40. I must have hit the hour button on my alarm clock and moved it up an hour.

So, I got a nice early start to the day. I do like leaving the house around 6:00 so I was glad I messed up!

It reminded me of when I was a junior in college and I woke up one night thinking I overslept. I jumped out of bed, got dressed, brushed my teeth, grabbed my books, and headed out. As I was running down the stairs I stopped and realized I was somewhat sleepwalking. I don't remember what time it was but it was the middle of the night.

Baker for governor?

Signs are beginning to point to Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker running for governor in 2010. He recently spoke at a Lincoln Day Breakfast in Malden and he was recently interviewed by Jon Keller on channel 4 where he said he was "thinking about" running.

Stay tuned.

Left hand, meet right hand

So last week, the University of Massachusetts said they were going to raise fees next year by $1,500. That would mean that the average student at UMass Lowell, for example, would pay only $1,454 in tuition but $7,727 in fees!!! How does that make sense?

Well, the board voted last week to delay the vote on the increase saying they wanted to see if the stimulus package would provide any money for colleges. But, I think that the university system can save some money right now since it has come out that most of the state's highest paid workers are hanging their hats at UMass.

The Globe reports today that 94 of the top 100 most paid state employees work at UMass. One guy, the associate dean of the College of Natural Resources and Environment, made $613,065.44 in 2008.

Take a look at the full list here and if you go to UMass, you best be protesting those fee hikes until the cows come home.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cops above the law

I have made no secret of my loathing for the Boston Globe but every now and then they do hit a homerun.

Today they did a story on employees of the Boston Police Department parking in handicapped spots around Police Headquarters in Roxbury. The Globe watched the spots for six weeks and not one ticket was written. Typically, parking in a handicapped spot carries a fine of $120 and a $93 towing charge.

You can read the whole story here but I laughed out loud at this part:

One repeat scofflaw: the driver of a Toyota Corolla registered to Irene Landry, the city's supervisor of Parking Enforcement, who oversees the 194 parking enforcement officers who write 1.3 million tickets a year.

When a Globe reporter called Landry's office on Feb. 10 to ask about the Toyota, Landry was stunned. "I will investigate," she said. "Trust me when I tell you that."

Within five minutes of that call, her son Anthony, a police dispatcher, and three other police officials hastened out of Police Headquarters in shirtsleeves, got into their illegally parked cars, and drove away.


Happy Washington's Birthday


Morning in America

I tuned into Bill Bennett's Morning in America show this morning on Sirius and he and his callers were talking about Presidents Day. So, I called in to talk about how it is Washington's Birthday, etc, etc, etc. I guess he had said that it was Washington's Birthday but I missed that part of the show. He said President's Day, however, is part of the vernacular.

It was pretty cool to call in and I surprisingly got right on the air. I've seen Bennett for years on CNN and I enjoy his work.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gee, what a shock

Don't be surprised to see Obama's disciples to try something like this. Oh wait, they already did.

Saying goodbye

My aunt Fran has been very sick for the past 6 years or so. She recently has been battling cancer and has been in and out of hospitals for years now. She has always "cheated death" but it seems that the good Lord will be calling her home within the next couple of weeks.

Family members and friends have been coming home to spend the last days with her. Today my cousin Shawn came up from Florida, my aunt Joanie flew in from London, and tomorrow family friends the Joyce's will be in town from Florida.

Today my parents hosted a get together in Fran's honor at their house in Melrose. All of my aunts and uncles from my mother's side were there as were 8 out of the 12 cousins, among others. It was a really nice afternoon and it wasn't really sad. I think we've been prepared for this time for awhile and it was nice to all be together one last time.

Perhaps this won't be the last time we're together but we are realists. As Fran prepares to go home, please pray for her, her dedicated husband Bill who has literally waited on her hand and foot despite his own illnesses, her five children, her four grandchildren, her six brothers and sisters, all of us neices and nephews, and all others.

Saint Benedict, patron of a happy death, pray for her:

O God, great and omnipotent judge of the living and the dead, we are to appear before you after this short life to render an account of our works. Give us Fran the grace to prepare for her last hour by a devout and holy life, and protect her against a sudden and unprovided death. Let her remember her frailty and mortality, that she may always live in the ways of your commandments. Teach her to "watch and pray" (Lk 21:36), that when your summons comes for her departure from this world, she may go forth to meet you, experience a merciful judgment, and rejoice in everlasting happiness. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

By George IT IS Washington's Birthday: Day 7

From Prologue:

On the bright side, there is the federal Office of Personnel Management's holiday Internet site, which attempts to verify the correct federal holiday title, noting: "This holiday is designated as 'Washington's Birthday' in section 6103 (a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private business may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law. "

At Mount Vernon the public relations department removed all references to the Nixon proclamation and Presidents' Day from their Internet site in December of 2003. Both Mount Vernon and the National Park Service's George Washington's Birthplace National Monument offer the most accurate look at the heritage associate with the Washington's Birthday holiday.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

By George IT IS Washington's Birthday: Day 6

From Prologue:

Washington's deeds and words continue to inspire. Can we afford to ignore the contributions of George Washington, or shall we restore the connection to this special heritage and our unique historical past...Federal holiday history continues to be a work in progress.

Friday, February 13, 2009

By George IT IS Washington's Birthday: Day 5

From Prologue:

Ahhhh, the Internet. A haven for homemade home pages. As web writers began pointing fingers at who was responsible for the federal Washington's Birthday holiday title being changed to Presidents' Day, web sites unanimously attributed the change to a presidential proclamation—issued by President Richard Nixon—who was in office when the "Uniform Monday Holiday Law" was enacted in 1971.

Like a platter of hors d'oeuvres, word-for-word segments of the "alleged" proclamation were passed from one web site to another (including educational based and various U.S. embassy sites) as if cut and paste was the new style of web writing. Supposedly—it was surmised—Nixon had issued a presidential proclamation in 1971 changing the name from Washington's Birthday to Presidents' Day.

Had any writer cared to call the Nixon Presidential Materials Staff of the National Archives and Records Administration; the staff at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California; or the law library at the Library of Congress, they would have learned that no such presidential proclamation exists. As an archivist at the Nixon staff commented, this phantom presidential proclamation was 'the ultimate in presidential urban myths."

13 and 14 year old parents

Yep, that's right. See here.

Pension grabbers

I only have a couple of minutes before school begins but I wanted to link to Howie Carr's Friday column. In it, he reminds us why the state is hemorrhaging so much money: bloated pensions to hacks. He has the list of the heavy hitters and you won't be happy when you see what they're raking in.

See it here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why am I not surprised?

Imagine the following statement in an article in the Boston Globe:

"I believe that the display of religious signs and symbols, such as the Star of David, in the classroom is contrary to the letter and spirt of open intellectual discourse that makes education worthwhile and distinguishes first-rate universities from mediocre and provincial ones," Kevin Murphy, chairman of the department of Irish language and literature at Hebrew College, said.

Of course, there is no Kevin Murphy, chairman of the department of Irish language at Hebrew College. But, if there were and he uttered these words, I am pretty confident that he would find himself branded an anti-Semite and would be looking for work.

No, these words were said by Maxim D. Shrayer, chairman of the department of Slavic and Eastern languages and literatures at Boston College, expect he said "crucifix" instead of the "Star of David." It appears that Professor Shrayer, and others, feels that a Catholic university should not act Catholic.

Um, ok.

By George IT IS Washington's Birthday: Day 4

From Prologue:

The question facing Congress is whether to restore the holiday to the February 22 birth date or shift the holiday to the fourth Monday in February, allowing February 22 to occasionally fall on that Monday.

Perhaps Congress can find the answer right in its own backyard—within the halls of the Capitol. Members can ponder the question while gazing at the Apotheosis of Washington mural adorning the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Or contemplate how their annual congressional February ritual of reading Washington's "Farewell Address" came about. What reason did the citizens, in 1862, have in bringing petitions to Senator Andrew Johnson demanding the reading of the address on Washington's birthday? The country was in the midst of civil war. The citizens looked to Washington's words for strength, and Johnson carried the message: "I think the time has arrived when we should recur back to the days, the times, and the doings of Washington and the patriots of the Revolution, who founded the government under which we live." Is there ever a time in our country's present or future circumstances that we could not benefit from being reminded of how the citizens who came before dealt with the crises associated with being a country?

Leading headline

Headline I just saw on Yahoo:

"Poll: 38% want probe of 'war on terror' excesses under Bush"

Of course the media would never write:

"Poll: 62% do not want probe of 'war on terror' excesses under Bush."

Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln


Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps our greatest President, Lincoln had the guts to take on the Southern issue heads on. He paid dearly and he is in a sense, an American martyr.

Harvard will be hosting a conference in honor of Lincoln's bicentennial. I will be going as it will be a who's who of Lincoln/Civil War scholars including James McPherson and Doris Kearns Goodwin. See the details here.

Sacrifice for all...except hacks

Gov. Deval Patrick has been going on and on about how everyone needs to make financial sacrifices right now and go with less. That's fine by me, I am willing to make sacrifices...as soon as the hacks do.

Yesterday Howie Carr introduced us to a new employee on the state payroll - Mark Sylvia. Sylvia will be making a cool $117,000 as director of the new Green Communities Division at the Department of Energy Resources (I thought there was a hiring freeze).

Prior to landing this very essential job, Mr. Sylvia was the Plymouth Town Manager. When he left that post, he pocketed:

$49,036 in unpaid sick time
$20,78 in unpaid vacation time
$31,400 in severance pay

Yep, our public servants are really making sacrifices.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

By George IT IS Washington's Birthday: Day 3

From Prologue:

Before 1971, Washington's Birthday was one of nine federal holidays celebrated on specific dates, which—year after year—fell on different days of the week (the exception being Labor Day—the original Monday holiday). Then came the tinkering of the Ninetieth Congress in 1968. Determined to create a uniform system of federal Monday holidays, Congress voted to shift three existing holidays to Mondays and expanded the number further by creating one new Monday holiday.

Washington's Birthday was uprooted from its fixed February 22 date and transplanted to the third Monday in February, followed by Memorial Day being relocated from the last day in May to the last Monday in May. One newly created holiday—Columbus Day—was positioned on the second Monday in October, as Veterans Day—ousted from its November 11 foxhole—was reassigned to the fourth Monday in October (although rebellion by veterans' organizations and state governments forced the 1980 return of Veterans Day to its historic Armistice date of November 11).

That Washington's birth date—February 22—would never fall on the third Monday in February was considered of minimum importance. After all, who could ever forget all that George Washington meant to this country?

Spending Czar

Gov. Deval Patrick announced today the appointment of Jeffrey A. Simon to oversee the spending of money from the federal stimulus package.

So, let me get this right. We are applying for federal funding because we desperately need money. Once we get that desperately earned money, we will hire someone to pass that money out.

I called the governor's office today to see what Mr. Simon would be earning and if he would have a staff. The nice young lady who answered the phone said that information is not yet available and I should call back next week.

Only in Massachusetts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Choose a new quarter

A few years ago, the US Mint produced the quarters with state symbols on the back. Now they're going to issue quarters with a the picture of a National Park from each state. Gov. Deval Patrick will make the choice for Massachusetts and you can vote on your favorite.

Click here to vote (I voted for Minute Man National Park in Lexington).

h/t to Left in Lowell

No room for Hillary

Dick Morris brings up something that had been on my mind: what is Hillary Clinton's role as Secretary of State? I began wondering when President Obama began appointing special envoys George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke. Mitchell is Obama's point man on the the Arab-Israeli conflict and Holbrooke will take on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Clinton must have been reading Morris' article as she came today talking about North Korea and Iran. But, is she, as Morris thinks, on the outside of Obama's circle?

By George IT IS Washington's Birthday: Day 2

From Prologue:

For students in Texas, the renaming of the state's Washington holiday to "President's Day" established the beginning of generations of children whose connection to Washington was fading. California took the opposite tact, requiring schools to promote lessons about George Washington on the Friday before his Monday holiday.

Perhaps the ultimate ironic reaction occurred in George Washington's native home state of Virginia. Ignoring not only the correct federal title but Virginia's own state holiday title— "George Washington Day"—the state's Department of Education ousted the accurate "Washington's Birthday" holiday title from the 1998 Standards of Learning in favor of the advertising soundbite.

By the late 1990s, the snowball effect took hold. With more publishing houses substituting Presidents' Day for "Washington's Birthday," children's holiday books based on incorrect research were infiltrating their way into school and public libraries.

Schools in Washington's own birth county (Westmoreland County) and the City of Alexandria (near Mount Vernon and home to the long-running George Washington Birthday Parade) succumbed to the Presidents' Day phrase. At the beginning of the 2004–2005 school year, of Virginia's 134 school districts, only two received an "A" for accuracy. Both the Fairfax and Richmond County Public Schools systems listed the correct "Washington's Birthday" holiday title on their respective Internet sites.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Washington's Birthday Success Story

As part of my "campaign" to get people to refer to the third Monday in February as Washington's Birthday, I e-mailed the Dracut Library today and asked if they would change their website. It said, "The Library will be closed on Monday, February 16 in honor of President's Day."

Well, I e-mailed the library's director today and pointed out that the holiday is actually Washington's Birthday and attached the Prologue article and a link to the US Office of Personnel Management which shows the list of federal holidays. I said that as a History teacher, I am interested in getting people to honor and remember our first President.

The result? See here.

By George IT IS Washington's Birthday: Day 1

From Prologue:

For advertisers, the Monday holiday change was the goose that laid the golden "promotional" egg. Using Labor Day marketing as a guide, three-day weekend sales were expanded to include the new Monday holidays. Once the "Uniform Monday Holiday Law" was implemented, it took just under a decade to build a head of national promotional sales steam.

Local advertisers morphed both "Abraham Lincoln's Birthday" and "George Washington's Birthday" into the sales sound bite "President's Day," expanding the traditional three-day sales to begin before Lincoln's birth date and end after Washington's February 22 birth. In some instances, advertisers promoted the sales campaign through the entire month of February. To the unsuspecting public, the term linking both presidential birthdays seemed to explain the repositioning of the holiday between two high-profile presidential birthdays.

After a decade of local sporadic use, the catchall phrase took a national turn. By the mid-1980s, the term was appearing in a few Washington Post holiday advertisements and an occasional newspaper editorial. Three "spellings" of the advertising holiday ensued—one without an apostrophe and two promoting a floating apostrophe. The Associated Press stylebook placed the apostrophe between the "t" and "s" ("President's Day"), while grammatical purists positioned the apostrophe after the "s" believing Presidents' deferred the day to the "many" rather than one singular "President. "

Advertising had its effects on various calendar manufacturers who, determining their own spelling, began substituting Presidents' Day for the real thing. Eventually, when printed in the newspaper or seen on the calendar, few gave thought to its accuracy.

There is no President's Day

One of the biggest misunderstandings in America today is that the third Monday in February is called President's Day. In fact there is no such holiday. The third Monday in February is George Washington's Birthday. Throughout this week I will be quoting from an article from a magazine called Prologue - a publication of the National Archives. The article, written in 2004, is titled "By George IT IS Washington's Birthday."

The confusion about the holiday stems from a 1968 law that called for most holidays to be celebrated on Mondays (with the exception of New Years, Christmas, etc). There was an amendment to the bill to change Washington's Birthday to President's Day but it was never passed. Thus, the third Monday of February was (and is) to be known as the observation of George Washington's Birthday.

I am trying to get people to use the term Washington's Birthday and I refuse to say President's Day (although I do trip up at times). The holiday is meant to honor our nation's first President and national icon. Let's do just that!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Power to the people

Back in December WBZ 1030 laid off overnight talk show host Steve LeVeille citing the poor economy. He was replaced by some syndicated show out of St. Louis and listeners were irate. The Globe reports today that the station received 8,000 e-mails of protest, advertisers were being boycotted, and "Bring Back Steve" pages sprung up all over the internet. The result - LeVeille was brought back last week!

This is indeed old news as it was announced weeks ago but I never blogged about it. The Globe article today reminded me to talk about it. I confess that I don't listen to LeVeille all that often as I'm rarely up that late. If I am, I actually listen to Coast to Coast on WRKO just because it is so strange - it's like watching a train wreck! But, I was so excited that WBZ caved into the pressure and brought Steve back. I am a big proponent of live and local talk and feel that LeVeille does a great job (although we do have different political views).

Welcome back Steve!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Facebook

So I am officially addicted to Facebook. I signed up about a year ago and really did nothing with it until a few weeks ago. Now I've found friends from college, connecting with family friends, chatting with people I never chat with, etc. I "friended" my roommate from my freshman year of college tonight - the first time him and I have had any contact since we graduated in 1998.

I kind of feel girly being on Facebook but there are a ton of guys doing it so I don't feel as bad. Lynn is bummed because I have yet another excuse to be on-line.

Sunday dinner

Tomorrow being Sunday, I will be cooking and having company. My parents and sister will be coming by to have a triple birthday celebration - Meaghan's was in December and my mother and I are a year older this month.

I am going to make a pork loin, mashed potatoes, carrots, and a chocolate cake - all from Ina Garten's recipe books. Her stuff is so tasty and easy to make and makes me look so good!

UPDATE: So I think I am going to take a break from Sunday cooking for a few weeks. Man do I make a mess in the kitchen! Ina makes everything look so easy but it is a process. The cake came out pretty good I think but we'll have to wait until tomorrow to taste it. The pork is marinating over night so all that is left are the potatoes and carrots.

10,000!!

Wow, tonight this blog got its 10,000th visitor. Certainly those are not 10,000 unique visitors and a lot are me (although I have programmed it not to count my visits) but I am pleased to reach such a milestone. I never thought this blog would ever get this many visitors - thanks to all for their support and for reading!

Wedding bells

My oldest cousin George Dargan got married today to his girlfriend Cathy. I haven't seen George in many years so it was nice to see him again, especially during such a happy occasion.

The mass was at St. Mary's Parish in Danvers and the reception at the Knights of Columbus in Salem. The hall is a beautiful old mansion that has been renovated into a hall/meeting area, it was very nice.

There were 11 of our family members there today and we were all able to fit at one table (it was snug but not too bad). It was nice to catch up with people as it's been a while since I've seen some of them.

George's marriage makes 5 of us 12 cousins who have tied the knot with another engaged. Who would have thunk it?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Norman Rockwell Museum Turns 40

One of my favorite places in New England, the Norman Rockwell Museum, turns 40 this year. The museum was originally a building in downtown Stockbridge that was having financial trouble and Rockwell displayed some of his paintings there to help it out.

Now, the museum is a beautiful building on a sprawling campus about 1/2 mile from downtown. In honor of the 40th anniversary, the museum is hosting a number of events and activities. Read about the museum's history and 40th anniversary events here.

Howie saves a life

Howie Carr received a call on his show last night from a woman who was threatening to kill herself because of the poor economy and its impact on her life. Carr talked her out of doing any harm to herself and today the woman is still alive and well.

In addition to working at WRKO, Howie also of course writes for the Boston Herald who covered the story today. The writer of the article, Jessica Heslam, had the following tongue in cheek lede:

Howie Carr does indeed have a heart. The hardboiled WRKO radio host and Herald columnist tried to dissuade a female caller - distraught over the bleak economy - from killing herself, divulging that his own grandfather committed suicide during the Depression.

Heslam of course was joking about her friend and colleague as Howie as a curmudgeon is part of his bit (although it is an act because I've met him a few times and he is the nicest guy you'll ever meet).

Anyway, one of my favorite websites, Newbusters, picked up on it and said this was an egregious example of a conservative getting made fun of by the liberal media. I love Newsbusters but they missed the joke here.

On his way...

My friend Andrew Nelson, who is studying for the priesthood at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, was installed yesterday as a lector. This is the first of many steps towards becoming ordained to the presbyterate (aka priesthood) which is about 4 years away for Andrew.

It is a small step but it means he is progressing along! Read all about it here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Falsely accused

Many years ago, a teenager from Warren, MA disapperared and is presumed dead. The girl, Molly Bish, was a lifeguard at a pond and hasn't been seen since her mother dropped her off at work one summer day.

Some local news station did a news story on this and while I hate to post something about such a sad and tragic story, I think you will get a little chuckle at the mug shot they show:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sweet, sweet revenge

I usually take what the Globe says about the Red Sox with a grain of salt since they own 17% of the team. But, Eric Wilbur has a great case of schadenfreude vis a vis Manny Ramirez. If you haven't been following, Manny is a man without a team because of his prior boorish behavior and the outrageous salary demands by his slime ball agent Scott Boras.

See it all here and feel better about the world!

After all that...

After suing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the right to marry and changing the definition of marriage, Hillary and Julie Goodridge have filed for divorce. I seem to recall they separated some time ago but they're just now getting around to divorcing.

Gay marriage is a non-issue in this state now but I am still very much opposed to it. I wish these two women no ill-will but come on - you uproot our traditions, customs, and way of life and then divorce.

It's kind of like Norma McCorvey, the Roe of Roe v. Wade. Because of her, 43 million babies have been killed since 1973 but now she is pro-life. Gee, a little too late there Norma.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pleasezzzzzz

I know politicians like to use hyperbole when speaking to the media and they can get a little carried away but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi better hope her nose doesn't start growing after this whopper:

“I didn’t come here to be partisan, I didn’t come here to be bipartisan,” she added. “I came here, as did my colleagues, to be nonpartisan, to work for the American people, to do what is in their interest.”

Why bother?

So I filed our income taxes tonight via Turbo Tax and we'll be getting a nice refund from Uncle Sam and Holy Mother Commonwealth. But, I wonder why I even go through the trouble of filing. Will I go to jail if I don't? No, I can become:

Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Health and Human Services
A U.S. Representative for New York

Paying taxes, apparently, is for suckers.

Gregg is foolish

So tomorrow President Obama will nominate Sen. Judd Gregg to be his Secretary of Commerce. Gregg would not leave unless he got assurance from Gov. John Lynch that he would appoint a Republican to replace him and that Republican appears to be J. Bonnie Newman (yeah, I don't know who she is either).

Gregg is a fool. Newman is not going to run for re-election in 2010 and New Hampshire is so blue now that his former seat will go Democratic. However, Gregg is popular and he would have been able to hang on to it if he stuck with it.

Stick a knife in New Hampshire...

Democrats = Idealogue

An amendment to the Children's Health Insurance Program was introduced in the U.S. Senate that would have extended health assistance to unborn children. Of course, all but 2 Democrats voted no because when it comes to unborn children, the Democrats will never vote yes on anything that comes close to underminding abortion. Infant Born Alive Act? Can't allow that. Partial-Birth Abortions? Sure, why not?

Our own Sen. John Kerry, who calls himself a Catholic only when he is trolling for votes from old ladies with pictures of JFK in their living room, voted no. The only Republicans to vote no were RINO's Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter.

Keep voting for Democrats my fellow Catholics, it's working wonders.

Guess the political party

Whenever a negative story is published about a Democrat, the media does its very best to ensure you don't know the person is a Democrat.

Case in point here.

It's funny cause it's true

This was my favorite commercial during last night's Super Bowl because it was me before I became a teacher:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Judd Gregg: Persona non grata

So it seems that President Obama wants to tap New Hampshire Sen. Judd Greeg to be Secretary of Commerce, a very important position because..........gee, you got me, I have no idea. No word if Gregg will accept as he and his fellow Republicans are worried that Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, will appoint a Democrat to the seat. Well duh.

If Gregg takes the position, he will be persona non grata in Republican circles as the Democrats will then have 60 seats (assuming Al Franken wins in Minnesota). The White House has made it very clear that the only reason they are considering Gregg is to get the 60th seat and thus have a filibuster proof Senate.

The senator should think long and hard before taking the job. If he does, his name will be mud, the Democratic takeover of New Hampshire will be complete, and Gregg will wilt away doing nothing as Secretary of Commerce as the Obama Administration laughs all the way to the bank.

The Union Leader, New Hampshire's biggest newspaper, weighed in yesterday. See it here.