Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hello pot...

So Al Franken is now the Junior Senator from Minnesota giving the Democrats a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. Yikes.

Over at Blue Mass Group they gloated:

Somebody call the Republican waahmbulance. What a bunch of sore losers.

Republicans are sore losers? Um, remember the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections gentlemen? Of course you do, you never stop complaining about them!

Not only that, the Democrats are the worst winners.

Obama=Pandering

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the beginning of the gay rights movement. To commemorate this as well as Gay Pride Month, President Obama had a reception at the White House yesterday. He said, in part:

"...there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted. And I know this is painful and I know it can be heartbreaking.”

That's fine, Mr. President. But where do you stand on gay families and full marriage rights? Oh that's right, you're opposed to gay "marriage." So, sir, while you're pandering to the homosexual lobby, keep pretending that you're above it all and while you mock others remember that you're one of us on gay "marriage."

The truth is that the gay community is mad at Obama for being opposed to gay "marriage" and for not repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. This reception yesterday was nothing more than an opportunity for Obama to pander and cast stones.

Crooks

Under current Massachusetts law, if an employee gets hurt when filling in for a supervisor, that person's pension is calculated based on the supervisor's (i.e. higher) salary. That provision is being eliminated after today and what a shock, 25 Boston firefighters have filed for retirement disability at the last minute saying they were hurt filing in for their supervisors.

This practice has been so common in the Boston Fire Department that the FBI is investigating the department! The Boston Globe found that 102 firefighters filed for such disability pensions over the past six years alone.

When the practice was exposed in the papers a year or so ago, firefighters were indigent that people would "pick on them." Please. The union that represents the BFD is actually meeting with Legislative leaders trying to reinstate the "King for a Day" provision.

Listen, the taxpayers respect and love firefighters but the days of them literally stealing are over (I hope). Even Mayor Thomas Menino thinks so:

“People should not be fooled,’’ said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “What the Legislature did in closing this loophole is not only appropriate, but in the best interests of the taxpayers.’’

Hold on to your wallets

Just when you thought you got by with just an increase in the sales tax, Gov. Deval Patrick drops this one on us:

“We haven’t done that yet. We haven’t finished that work yet,’’ Patrick said, when asked if he would keep pushing for a gas tax. “And whether that’s the gas tax or something else, we’re going to have to face those issues, I think sooner rather than later.’’

Patrick also called the budget "austere" and "painful." But in comparison to the FY 2009 budget, this is $1 billion less. That's certainly a lot of money but to go from $28 billion to $27 billion doesn't really seem like a lot proportionally speaking.

Monday, June 29, 2009

One year mark

This Thursday will be the first anniversary of this blog. I was sitting exactly where I am sitting now when I conceived of the idea: on my love seat. It was just before noon and I was bored - I desperately needed a hobby other than parks and kid's places. I was always reading blogs and out of no where it hit me - start my own! It was going to be about anything really and over the year it evolved into a political blog.

That first month I had 103 postings (guess I WAS bored). Since then I have tempered it a bit but I've had a lot of fun working on this. I had so much fun that I started another blog called Dracut Politics which is just about, well, the politics of Dracut. That's been a great pleasure as I've met some local pols, did some election forums with the other Dracut blog (Dracut Forum), appeared on WCAP a couple of times, etc.

I've had a passion for politics since I was in high school but it dimmed over the past few years. Now with these blogs and the classes I teach, I am fired up again and am loving every minute of it.

I am grateful to those who have actually read my thoughts. In comparison to other blogs, this is a blip on the radar screen (and that's being generous). But, I have amassed over 15,000 visitors and I have gotten feedback from folks, kind and not so much! I know I can be grumpy and critical at times but I figured no one wants to read plain vanilla political commentary or boring banter. I try to be funny but also contribute to the conversation, I hope it works.

Head in the game

After 25 years, it seems that Sen. John Kerry has gotten the hang of the old Senate thing according to today's Globe. The article says that with Sen. Ted Kennedy out of commission, Kerry has stepped up his profile with Massachusetts' communities and taking the lead on national issues. It's an interesting read, see it here.

One quick aside, however, on how aloof and distant Kerry is from Massachusetts politics. In 1996 when Gov. Bill Weld was challenging Kerry for his Senate seat, State Rep. Bill Reinstein walked up to Kerry and introduced himself as "Butchy Cataldo." Kerry slapped him on the back and said, "It's good to see you again Butchy."

Gee, you think?

Headline in today's Boston Globe about Red Sox owner John Henry's wedding:

Henry-Pizzuti ceremony a hit

Wow, must have been a lot of fun! Oh, by the way, the Boston Globe owns 17% of the Red Sox.

Weight update

Ugh, up 2 pounds this week. I confess that I wasn't very good this weekend and yesterday I was at a birthday party and the cake was darn good.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Historical ignorance

The state of Rhode Island's official name is the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The colony was founded around the mid-seventeenth century by Roger Williams who had to flee the Massachusetts Bay Colony. William's crazy ideas of religious liberty and separation of Church and state didn't go over to well with those wacky Puritans so he had to get out of dodge.

Rhode Island, thus, was a refuge for people who wanted to flee Massachusetts' religious zealots (wow how have times changed). Williams also advocated for the abolition of slavery and the practice was made illegal in 1652.

But, this is not enough for some legislators in Rhode Island who want to drop the words "Providence Plantation" because the word plantation conjures up images and thoughts of slavery. You dopes - the word plantation is a word that was used to describe farms or pieces of land.

And I thought Rhode Island was the last hope for sanity in New England!

Lowell School Committee

Over the past few months up here in Greater Lowell, there has been a lot of intrigue over threats Lowell School Committee member Regina Faticanti allegedly made against Lowell Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chris Scott. The Lowell schools are facing a multi-million dollar deficit and Scott looked into the possibility of privatizing the cafeteria service. In response, Faticanti allegedly called Scott and threatened to "rip her arms and head off." I heard she said she would rip Scott's mammary glands off (using a four letter word that begins with t) but that was left out of the recent Lowell Sun article.

Faticanti allegedly also called Scott "politically stupid" and swore at her up and down. Scott is pressing charges against Faticanti for threatening to commit a crime. The case is proceeding in court but I wonder how far it will go. Faticanti has been on the School Committee for over 20 years and is very politically connected. Ironically, she words for the Middlesex Sheriff's office as an "assistant unit manager", whatever that is. According to the Boston Herald she made $35,743.94 in 2008 and there is also a listing for a Regina M. Faticanti who made that exact same amount as an adjunct professor at Northern Essex Community College. Same person?

I hope this is the end of Faticanti's political career. She is a bully and no employer in its right mind would allow someone to remain on the job after making such threats to an employee. If these charges are true then the Lowell School Committee must do the right thing and remove Faticanti from office. They're meeting in August to discuss this matter but the Lowell Sun reported today that they have already cancelled three meetings about this. Seems fishy to me.

Pick your poison

I will give the Legislature credit: they reorganized the transportation system in the state (and eliminated the Massachusetts Turnpike), passed a ethics reform bill, and made some changes to pensions. But, I am still very skeptical as it is rare for the Legislature to make substantive and real reform, it's usually just window dressing meant to placate the masses. They said they eliminated the hack ridden MDC some years ago but all they really did was change the name to the DCR.

In return, Gov. Deval Patrick said he will sign the FY 2010 budget which calls for a 25% increase in the state sales tax. I confess that this doesn't bother me as much as a gas tax or income tax increase. The sales tax is really discretionary as items such as food, clothes, etc. are exempt. Plus, I live right on the New Hampshire border and if I need to make any major purchases I can go to Nashua.

Perhaps because I am a news junkie and am one of the few 30-somethings that actually subscribes to a newspaper, I didn't think much of Patrick saying he will sign the budget while in Springfield on a Friday. I figured it was because he goes to his house in Richmond on the weekends and this way he could already be out that way and avoid the traffic. But, today's Globe says that the fact that he released his statement on the budget on a Friday afternoon (4:23pm) "said much about the political risk" of raising taxes. Also, it dawned on me that by being out west, he avoids a lot of the Boston media glare.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My lucky day

I have to thank Lynn's uncle Paul for helping me win a $99 gift card to the 99 today.

He sent out a forward today about the 99 restaurant. When I saw that I started craving their buffalo wings and I went to their website. I noticed they had a Facebook page and checked it out. It said that the 999th person to become a fan of their restaurant on Facebook would win a $99 gift card. I looked and they were at about 993 fans so I thought I'd go for it. So I kept on hitting refresh and when it hit 998 I became a fan and became number 999! They are e-mailing me a gift certificate as we speak.

Day on the farm

Kevin and I headed to Davis Farmland in Sterling today. We have not gone on any trips this summer and I was feeling a little cooped up. After a quick stop at the Lowell library (which is absolutely stunning by the way) for a book they had that I needed we headed west.

Sterling is about 40-45 minutes from us and was worth the trip. This place has a huge petting zoo, animals roaming around, pony rides, hay rides, water park, playground, etc. Kevin had a blast and it was tough getting him to leave. I wasn't sure how he'd do on the pony ride but he really liked it. We ending up staying for about 3 hours, 45 minutes of which was spent in the cafe eating lunch and avoiding the rain.

If you need a place for the kids, I cannot recommend Davis Farmland enough. The staff is very present and helpful and friendly and there is a ton to do. Good place to wear out the kids too!

God rejoicing over death

More proof that the Episcopal Church is completely and utterly irrelevant. "Rev." Nina Churchman (surprised that she didn't change her last name to Churchperson to be PC) is upset at her "Church" for proposing a blessing for women who have had abortions. The crux of her concern is that the blessing says the woman has to ask forgiveness and feel sorry about her abortion. "Rev." Churchman said (bold emphasis mine):

"God, unlike what the liturgy states, also rejoices that women facing unplanned pregnancies have the freedom to carefully choose the best option - birth, adoption or abortion - for themselves and their families."

Yep, God rejoices over the killing of an unborn child. Pathetic.

See more here. h/t to the good Deacon.

Kerry and Sports

Howie has an amusing column today on John Kerry and sports. He makes reference to one of my favorite moments from the 2004 campaign - when Kerry got Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz messed up and referred to the great Manny Ortiz (pronouncing Ortiz as Ortez).

Howie also talks about Kerry's excuse for his poor first pitch at a Red Sox-Yankees game that same year:

“My pitch was not spectacular. It was funny. We had this young kid who had just come back from Afghanistan, or Iraq? Iraq. And he’s a young military guy. He was truly quaking. I mean, I went up to him beforehand and I was worried, you know, that anything I threw . . . so I sort of threw this thing easy and it went plunk. That’s the worst thing in the world."

Great stuff, read it here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

King of Pop Dead

That's what Drudge is saying.

Car again

I got my car back today thank goodness. The brakes were fixed and I guess my transmission problem was caused by a piece from my car alarm breaking off and jamming something in the transmission. They didn't charge me for the transmission work but I did shell out for the brakes. Gulp.

But, the brakes were really, really bad and it beats buying a new car. Plus, the mechanic (Blanchette's in Dracut) has season tickets to the Lowell Spinners and they gave me tickets to the July 1 game (I am not that special, they have a sign saying people can ask for tickets so I did). Kevin is into baseball lately so hopefully he likes it. I am sure he'll last in his seat for about 2 minutes then want to get up. Luckily they have a kids area - I am guessing that's where we'll be spending most of the game.

What liberal media?

Each year, Rep. Niki Tsongas has a 5th Congressional District Day in Washington. This year's event is today and top it off, Tsongas is giving out tickets to tonight's Red Sox-Nationals game to donors who came to DC for the day. No big deal to me but what caught my eye in an article about this in the Lowell Sun was this:

A fundraising reception last night at America Restaurant near Union station kicked off the 5th District Day activities, with a full day of speakers scheduled today including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Sen. Thomas Daschle, ABC's This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire.

Um, what is a "news anchor" doing speaking at a reception for a Member of Congress???

UPDATE: I sent this story to Newsbusters and they e-mailed me back to tell me they called ABC. I guess Stephanopoulos is taking part in some non-fundraising activities. In re-reading this, it does not say he was at the fundraiser but rather one of a set of speakers speaking to people today. Mea culpa.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Romney's Lucky Day

Dan Kennedy makes a good point. With Mark Sanford now out of contention and many other Republicans self destructing (Palin, Ensign, etc) Mitt Romney may be all set for 2012.

No car

My good old 2000 Saturn (167,000 miles) is nearing its final days. The brakes are going and the shift (it is a standard) is getting hard to, well, shift. I really don't want to get a new car so I brought it into the shop today to see what they can do. However, it's not worth it to put a lot of money into this car. If the repairs cost too much money then I may get a used car but we shall see.

In the meantime, it is raining, I have no car, a small condo, and an active 2-year old boy. God be with me.

Impressive

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post usually makes my skin crawl but he has an amazing column today on yesterday's press conference by President Obama. As you may have heard, the White House arranged for the liberal Huffington Post to ask a question about Iran. The mainstream media was pretty ticked that there was a plant in the audience - and a plant from a partisan website to boot.

Milbank characterizes this as "The Obama Show":

But yesterday wasn't so much a news conference as it was a taping of a new daytime drama, "The Obama Show." Missed yesterday's show? Don't worry: On Wednesday, ABC News will be broadcasting "Good Morning America" from the South Lawn (guest stars: the president and first lady), "World News Tonight" from the Blue Room, and a prime-time feature with Obama from the East Room.

He then describes the number of "journalists" that were there from around the world and their obvious star gazing. He concluded:

A couple of more questions and Obama called it a day. "Mr. President!" yelled Mike Allen of Politico. "May I ask about Afghanistan? No questions about Iraq or Afghanistan?"

Sorry: Those weren't prearranged.

Brutal...but I love it!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nice

I can't wait to read this.

What liberal media?

CNS News does a great job today comparing the media's treatment of President Obama playing golf vs. former President Bush.

They point out the following Washington Post article from August 5, 2002:

On Aug. 5, 2002, The Washington Post wrote about President Bush golfing near his parents’ home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Under the headline “Before Golf, Bush Decries Latest Deaths in Mideast,” staff writer Mike Allen described Bush as he “sprang from his golf cart at 6:15 a.m. and said he was distressed to hear about the latest suicide bombers in Israel.”“Bush, wearing khakis and a knit shirt, was holding a driver in his gloved left hand,” Allen wrote.“However incongruous the setting, the president plunged ahead,” Allen wrote. “There are a few killers who want to stop the peace process that we have started, and we must not let them,” he [Bush] said. “I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers.”“His business out of the way,” Allen wrote, “Bush barely paused for breath before saying, ‘Thank you. Now watch this drive.’”

But, on June 9, 2009 the same newspaper carried the following headline: “Just the Sport for A Leader Most Driven.” The article said in part:

"What’s the deal? Why golf?” Post staff writer Richard Leiby wrote. “The attraction seems to be simple. It’s a great escape; the game demands such attention that nothing else matters. It’s time spent with friends, an unhurried afternoon in loose clothing (shorts seem to be Obama’s preference).”Leiby continued, “To some, Obama’s frequent outings reflect a cool self-confidence.”Leiby even quoted a sports psychologist who said Obama seemed able to play golf despite the grim reports by the media about the wars and the economy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ain't going to happen

We spoke with our real estate agent tonight (aka my uncle) and he told us what I already knew: we will never be able to sell our condo in this market. I was researching condo sales in Dracut last night and in looking at the prices, recent sales, etc. I knew we didn't have a chance.

Truth be told I am kind of relieved. We're were not ready to buy a new place, both mentally and financially. Both of our cars are getting up there and we have about a tiny bit of credit card debt. This will give us more time to save money and pay off some debt.

Weight update

My sister Meaghan has lost a ton of weight over the past couple of years. I can't remember when she started and how much she has lost but she looks great and has done a good job maintaining it. So I consider her somewhat of an expert on this sort of thing and yesterday she suggested that I not weigh myself everyday but rather once a week. She said otherwise I will go crazy and get frustrated.

So, I am going to take her advice and weigh myself every Monday. Because my scale was off last week I am heavier than I thought. So I weighed 276 this morning. I will keep you posted.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Well said

Last summer was my first summer home alone with Kevin. The previous summer Lynn was on maternity leave but last year it was my turn to be solo. It was hard at times and I could not wait until Lynn got home at 7pm.

Last summer I also got into "Jon and Kate Plus 8." Lynn was a fan of the show and I admit that I started to enjoy it too. As someone who was home alone with a kid, I took comfort in Kate being home with 8! But, slowly but surely the show began to change. It was no longer about a couple struggling to raise a family on one income. They now made enough money so Jon could quit his job and there were a ton of ad placements for stuff like Gap, Juicy Juice, etc. I could not stop laughing when Jon was talking about his day in one episode and said, "Then I had to check out some stuff about my car insurance. So I went to allstate.com. It's a great site and has a lot of great feature.

Not only that, they were going on these extravagant trips to Hawaii and Utah. They were no longer a regular family, they were "Hollywood." Now this season is even worse. They have a million dollar home, Kate looks like a model, and each episode seems to be about some product or to promote some reality show star like "American Chopper."

I found a great posting from some guy named Michael who shared my feelings. Read it here but below is a sample:

Unfortunately the new season to me seems to be no longer about the family dynamics and instead about introducing the various celebrities on the other TLC shows and building the celebrity that is Kate Gosselin. Gone is their simple home and simple lives and in its place are well manicured lawns, a massive estate and egos to go with it.

I really miss the earlier episodes of Jon & Kate Plus 8. The bickering, the antics and the raising of their children, it always made me smile. It was real and something that I am sure I am not alone in being able to relate to.

The show worse still no longer focuses on raising children but instead is all about Kate and the stars that come onto the show.

No longer is it a family friendly reality show now instead its a big ego trip and one that I no longer enjoy to watch. Its really disappointing to me to even write this since I was such a huge fan of the show and its real look at a struggling family. Now the family is loaded and I am unable to relate to them and worst of all the dynamic that I used to love is completely gone.

You've got to be kidding me...

So I realized today that my scale was off balance so I calibrated it and realized I am about 9 lbs. heavier than I thought!!!!!

Oh the humanity,

Culture change

Joan Vennochi of the Globe highlights the need for a serious culture change up on Beacon Hill. Highlighing the back scracthing that went on during Sal DiMasi's tenure, she concludes with the following:

Certain actions can be deemed “illegal.’’ But in a practical sense, “ethics’’ cannot be decreed. Ethical behavior is a mindset. It’s a way of thinking about right and wrong, with a specific overlay for elected officials.

Who comes first - the people I know or the people I represent, including those who voted for someone else?


What is the definition of loyalty - first helping friends who want something from government or first helping the friendless who need something from government?

What is power - the ability to enrich a small circle of insiders or the strength to say “no’’ to the connected out of respect for the unconnected?

Changing existing law can make it harder for lawyers to find loopholes on behalf of disgraced politicians. But what really must change are public expectations. The voters have been electing people who believe in friends helping friends do business. Beacon Hill’s culture won’t change, as long as Beacon Hill’s players remain the same.

Changing the law is less important than changing the prevailing principles of those who are sent by the people to do the people’s business. The people’s business should be bigger than friends helping friends.

Howie on the state budget

Howie Carr nails it today with a column on the FY 2010 state budget. Read it all here but below is a taste:

From the news accounts, you’d think this new budget was the end times. Words like “slash” and “lean” and “deep cuts“ and “steep” and “belt-tightening.”

Why, the state hasn’t had a budget this low since October 2007.

Look on the bright side though: They saved Bunker Hill Day. The hackerama was shocked - shocked! - that Republicans would suggest rescinding a day off for hacks only - and without public hearings.

Odd, though, how these same layabouts couldn’t be bothered with any public hearings when they decided to raise the sales tax 25 percent to grab another $900 million. They had no hearings or roll calls on the new 6.25 percent alcohol tax-on-a-tax - wouldn’t want to put any of the Democrat sheeple on the hook, would we?

Simultaneously, they’re using an updated version of the Prop 2 override playbook. Whenever a town wants to scare the voters into increasing their own property taxes, they begin to cut services, in the order in which taxpayers care: fire, police, high school football, garbage, libraries.

Now it’s the state’s turn to play Chicken Little. They’re going to close a dozen Registry of Motor Vehicles branches - places everyone has to visit at least occasionally. That’ll teach a good lesson to those taxpaying bastards who actually have to work for a living!

Whatever the state is saving by closing the RMV branches, they could have saved five times as much by closing the sleepier district courts, and no citizen would have noticed. But they’d never shut down those plush payroll patriot palaces, because that’s where the solons have stashed all their unemployable friends and kinfolk.

So the sales tax goes up Aug. 1. Which means that this year the annual August sales-tax holiday comes early, and it lasts the entire month of July. Stock up on everything, folks, especially booze.

You can store distilled spirits forever.

Meanwhile, Gov. Deval Patrick, who by the way has nothing on his public schedule today, is threatening to veto the tax increases unless he gets a so-called ethics bill. Yawn. Say goodnight Deval.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

House hunting

When my wife and I were getting married, we knew we wanted to buy a place rather than rent. That was in 2005 when housing prices were out of sight. So, we settled on a condo and ended up in Dracut. We love it here and now want to stay here and raise our family here. So, we've been looking at houses informally but now we really want to buy one.

Problem is we have a condo to sell first. It's a great place, wonderful neighbors, quiet and tranquil, exterior is being painted as we speak, etc. but too small for our needs. With one 2 year old and hopefully more in the future we need more space.

So, if anyone out there is looking for a nice condo at a good price, let me know and I can get you more details. You can e-mail me at brianflaherty at ymail dot com (type the e-mail address the typical way, I wrote it like this so spammers won't pick it up).

Israel on the Holy See

The great Michael Paulson of the Boston Globe interviewed the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See yesterday. Mordechay Lewy was in Boston this week to speak at Boston College. He seems to be very well versed in Catholic theology and history and comes to the defense of Pope Pius XII.

Paulson's interview is here but I wanted to point out some interesting parts below:

Q: What do you actually do on a day to day basis?

A: (laughs) Try to convince Jews that the menorah is not any more in the cellar of the Vatican Museum. I'm not joking. I've had very many requests of that kind. To intervene, to find it, and to bring it back in a diplomatic pouch. There is a legend that says the menorah from the Second Temple, after the destruction, was the war booty of Titus, brought to Rome, was shown where war victories were shown, in a temple of peace. It's shown in the Arch of Titus.

Q: Does Israel have an interest in preserving a Christian population?

A: It's not a question. We are obliged to. To be a holy land is not only a blessing, it's a burden. And if you are saying 'holy to three monotheistic religions,' it's an obligation to make it happen, or to preserve it as it is, but not to work against it.

Q: What is your assessment of the pope's visit?

A. The visit was a success. No doubt.

Q: There was some criticism of the way he characterized the Holocaust.

A: People who were expressing those disappointments, which to my mind were unjustified, were on second or third thought retracting them. It didn't cast a real shadow on the visit. It was filling the columns in the press for one or two days. The speeches of the pope were of enormous importance to everybody, not only to us, but to everybody. What he contributed at Yad Vashem was a completely different approach which was an enrichment to the culture of memory, and it was almost a wake-up from an unexpected corner for people to think a little bit differently, and not to expect a ritual. This pope is not one who is getting into existing patterns of rituals – it's not a challenge for him intellectually – so he would like really to set his mind and contribute his own thoughts, which are rather deep thoughts about what Yad Vashem means.

This pope…didn’t come as a German pope, and this was a second misreading of him – I never saw him as a German pope, although we communicate in German with each other – he wasn't elected as a German pope, and he doesn't see himself as a German pope, no matter what the Germans say. So it's more through the head, the theological mind…He's not a newcomer to sort out what kind of approach Catholics should have toward Judaism as a result of the Second Vatican Council. He has contributed a lot, and we have a friend in him. This is often misunderstood, because he's a conservative. He is an example that you can be a conservative in terms of theological approaches, (and) also in terms of what he calls the hermeneutic of continuity after the Second Vatican Council, and then, all of a sudden, still be very friendly to Jews. This is a little bit surprising for many liberals within the Catholic Church who feel very much frustrated and think that the main prerequisite of this liberal spirit is their approach to Judaism. We need to work a lot to make them understand that continuity doesn’t mean necessarily to have anti-Jewish approach.

Q: Do you have a position on Pius XII's historic role?

A: Historically speaking, I think he was neither a hero nor a villain. It is probably the right thing to think of a more balanced view of him. The problem is that we are looking at him through the filter of a post-conciliar church. He is definitely a protagonist of the pre-conciliar church, and the pre-conciliar church has, as its main assignment, to seek all possible means to salvation for its own flock. He is not a pope for the Jews; he is not a pope for the Mohammedans; he is not a pope for everyone who was not Catholic. 'My main task is to save the souls of the Catholic Church.' This is why he did a concordat with the Germans. He didn't make a concordat because he was Hitler's pope. This is a mistaken concept. He did it in order to survive, to make it happen that the church can survive a godless regime. This was the term that they used. He tried also to make a concordat with the Soviet Union, but the Russian Orthodox Church didn't like this idea. It is wrong to look for any affinity between him and the Nazis.

It is also wrong to say that he didn’t save Jews. Everybody who knows the history of those who were saved among Roman Jewry knows that they hid in the church, they hid in Roman monasteries, in the Vatican itself people were hidden. To look for written evidence, an order of the pope, well…this is odd. This is not how it works.

Weight update

Still around the same - 269/270 this morning. I confess that I had perhaps one snack too many last night so I could have lost another pound perhaps. But, I just had a slice of toast with peanut butter for breakfast and a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. I wasn't exactly filled up, mistake on my part.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What liberal media?

Headline from the AP:

Sotomayor quits women's club after GOP criticism

Part of the text of the article:

Federal judges are bound by a code that says they shouldn't join any organization that discriminates by race, sex, religion or nationality.

So did she quit because of the mean old GOP or because, well, the law says so?

Walking paths

One of my oldest friends, Bill Champion, gave me a heads up about a walking/bike trail in Windham. It is 4.1 miles long and surrounds a lot of scenic land. The trail's website says:

This is a scenic stretch of trail, which traverses by a farm pasture, apple orchard, two ponds and marshes, and is predominately wooded. There are two bridges that the trail crosses. One is built of New Hampshire granite as an archway and provides a unique architectural significance. Two high stone cuts provide a cool section of passing on hot days, and in the winter support multi-colored ice flow “sculptures.” The trail also passes several stonewalls, and a cellar hole from an 1800’s sawmill.

If the weather is nice tomorrow I am going to check it out!

There is another great trail right near me in Dunstable called the Nashua River Rail Trail. This trail is literally on the New Hampshire state line. Like the Windham one, it is an old train route and has bike and pedestrian paths. Lynn, Kevin and I went to this last summer and it's really nice.

Weight update

So progress is beginning to be made - I lost about 1 pound or so. The scale was teetering between 270 and 269 so to stay motivated I will say 270.

I went walking around 8:15 last night and about a half hour in it started to pour so I had to call it a night. The forecast calls for more and more rain but I will do my best to get it in. My mother suggested that I walk at the mall but I'd feel too geriatric if I did that!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Get over yourself Part II

Previously I told you about Sen. Barbara Boxer who insists on being called "senator" and not "ma'am." Well, it seems that the office manager of Washington Rep. Jim McDermott does not like to be called Liz (her name is Elizabeth). Liz flips out on this person and demands that she be referred to as Elizabeth. She also demands to know who told her to called her Liz.

See the hysterical e-mail exchanges Liz had with a lobbyist of some kind over at Politico. Oh, and by the way Liz - never put anything like this into writing.

I have heard that people in Washington can be major league a-holes. I remember reading in the now defunct magazine "George" an article about the biggest jerks in Washington. I remember reading that some Congressional aide picked up his boss at the airport one Monday and asked him how his weekend was. The representative flipped out saying they were not friends and he should not ask questions like that.

I always wanted to work in DC when I was younger but perhaps I made a better decision.

Get over yourself

Sen. Barbara Boxer of California is so vain she demanded a Brigadier General refer to her as "senator" rather than "ma'am" at a Senate committee hearing:

"Could you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am?' It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title. I'd appreciate it."

The guy was answering her question and she interrupted him and said the above quote. She said it in a very condescending and demeaning way. What a self-righteous moron.

See video below:

Weight update

Not surprisingly my weight stayed the same this morning - 271. I needed to go to CVS yesterday and Kevin and I walked there rather than drive. It is about a 4 mile round trip walk and it took us about 1:15. Unfortunately it looks like rain today so I am not sure if we will get a walk in today but I will try. Nothing worse than going on a walk and getting stuck in a storm miles from home!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What liberal media?

President Obama today named members to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships (whatever that is). Take a look at the list and see which media member (who recently interviewed Obama) was appointed to this very important commission.

See here.

I'm fat as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!

I am fat.

I just weighed myself and I weigh 271 pounds, about 100 pounds more than what I should weigh given my height. It wasn't always this way. Until I left for college I was an average weight. But, once I got to college and discovered chicken parm calzones, Pepsi vending machines and, yes, beer, I ballooned up. When I went home for Columbus Day my freshman year someone told me I got huge. A few years later my parents picked me up for the summer and my mother was so embarrassed by how fat I got she wanted to drive away!

I took off a ton of weight the summer going into my junior year. I lost so much weight the ladies in the cafeteria asked me if I was sick! But, I then turned 21 and had more legal access to beer, especially the $1.25 drafts at the school's pub. About 3 years after I graduated I lost a lot of weight but once again put it back on.

I hate being fat and am committed to doing something about it. I have had some reality checks as of late - fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, fat jokes, being unable to sit in some of the desks at my school, being out of breath after walking up some flights of stairs, etc, etc, etc.

So, I am going to use my blog as a chance to expose my poor eating habits and my weight. I am going to update my weight on here everyday so the whole world (well, those dozen or so people who actually read my blog) can keep tabs on me and hold me accountable.

My name is Brian and I am fat.

Amazing

I am currently reading Joseph J. Ellis' book "American Creation." It details the founding years of the United States between the Revolution and the Louisiana Purchase. As I am reading it I keep on thinking of the protesters in Iran and the possibility of change in that country. I also cannot help but wonder if the Bush Doctrine of pushing for democracy and progressive change in the Middle East is coming to fruition (see Iraq and Lebanon).

My friend and fellow blogger Andrew Nelson mentioned a great resource for following the news in Iran: Andrew Sullivan's blog over at The Atlantic. Check that out as well as Twitter.

Summer Vacation!

My summer vacation has begun. Finals ended on Monday and yesterday was our final meeting, clean-up and BBQ. I did have to go back to work last night to help with a book sale and recycling but I volunteered for that.

In thinking about what I want do this summer I realize that I have a lot to do (if I do it all). There are things to be done around the house, I need to lose weight, read books, watch some documentaries, prepare for next year's classes, take a class in July, go to a conference in August...oh yeah, and have fun with Kevin.

Today I think we're going to keep it simple. We're going to the park this morning, a walk this afternoon, and then to the library this evening. I am not going to take as many day trips as we did last year but we will go away. I will try to find a lot of cheap (i.e. free) things to do. It's tough going to the park or library everyday! Plus, our condo can feel confining and I just need to get out somewhere.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Was he right?

Wow, just read this (from Victor Davis Hanson at NRO Corner):

They’re rioting in Iran over a probably fraudulent election and the use of violence to suppress dissent — part of the “robust” debate that President Obama just welcomed. Meanwhile, the “optional” and orphaned war in Iraq, which led to real democracy, is now, after January 20, mysteriously once again a sign of the “winds of change.”

It used to be that a South Korean leader, worried about a cowboy America, would visit Washington to lecture an American president about grating U.S. bases while talking grandly about a “Korean solution” and the growing “sunshine policy.” Now it is more likely that a worried Korean president will have to persuade his skeptical American counterpart to keep imperialist U.S. troops on the DMZ to order to deter a nuclear Armageddon.

There is some value to the present irony. Erstwhile U.S. allies can begin to fathom the wages of their much-desired “post-American world.” It appears that it wasn’t George W. Bush’s Manicheanism that “played into the hands” of Mr. Ahmadinejad, who now has a fresh lease on power, despite the U.S. charm offensive of the last six months.

The truth is that the United States now gives more attention and concern to former enemies than it does to present allies. We now believe that provocative acts arise from misunderstanding, not planned aggression. Possible military action against aggressors hinges on U.N. approval and global consensus. We have leapfrogged Europe and are now quite to left of it on matters of foreign policy. It is assumed that disputes involve 50/50 culpability and do not arise from the greater bad-faith efforts of one party. This is the world our allies largely wanted, and it is fascinating to see it play out about them.

Nice weekend

Yesterday we had Kevin's 2nd birthday party. Like last year, we held it at a park here in Dracut. The park has a number of tables (with cover), playground, fields, walking paths, and a water area. Kevin's grandparents, aunts, cousins, great-uncles/aunts, and friends were there, it was a great time. The party started at 4pm and we all didn't leave until about 7:30. Some folks from Lynn's family came back to the house and helped Kevin open his presents. His cousins love opening presents and were taking them out of the bags faster than he could keep up!

Although Lynn did most of the work and deserves all of the credit for the party, I was pretty tired and went to bed around 10pm. Kevin let us sleep in this morning as I didn't get up until 8:45 or so and we all went to the 11:30 mass. Kevin likes to run around at Church and play with the water bubbler in the foyer. Lynn wants him to stay in the pews more and not think Church is a playground! He did pretty good today but Lynn did have to bring him to the foyer once. He was also pretty loud in the pews and wasn't shy about screaming!

As tough as it is, we like Kevin going to Church so he gets used to it and absorbs things. He too loves going to Church and often says during the week "I go to Church." He knows a lot of the sights and recognizes pictures of Mary, the cross, candles, etc. He also is getting the hang of making the sign of the cross and blessing himself with holy water.

Today feels like a lazy Sunday and given the dreary weather, I am in the mood to cook. I am going to make Ina Garten's spaghetti and meatballs and for the teacher cookout on Tuesday I am making Ina's orzo and roasted shrimp salad - amazing stuff!! But, before that Kevin will soon be going to take a nap and I think I may too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shocked, shocked!

I was watching a bit of CNN tonight and they expressed surprise that there may have been election fraud in the Iranian election. With 47% of the vote counted, incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a 37% lead over Mir Hossein Moussavi.

I am shocked too. If you can't count on a fanatical, anti-Semitic, Holocaust denier to run a fair election who can you trust?

Early to bed

Now I love my job and actually enjoy getting up in the morning. But, I am very, very ready for summer vacation! This week we started final exams on top of commencement, baccalaureate, and baseball playoffs. It's been a tiring week and I fell asleep on the couch last night around 9:15pm.

We have our last day of finals on Monday and Tuesday is our final clean-up, meeting, and cookout. We also have a book swap for the kids that night and I volunteered to help. It will feel really good to head home on Tuesday night knowing I don't have to go back to work for another two months. I am taking a week-long class in July but that's a lot different from work.

I am looking forward to spending time with Kevin as I feel like I haven't been home much in the past few weeks. I also need to get serious about losing weight this summer as I saw some pictures of me that were taken in the past few weeks and was embarrassed beyond belief. I've put on a ton of weight this academic year and I need to take it off or drop dead in the classroom like a teacher did today in Medford.

This is your State Legislature folks

Looks like Worcester has a real classy state representative in Bob Spellane. Not only did this guy dump his wife for a 27 year old and then get her some plum job in the insurance industry but recently he made a scene at his kid's baseball game because his ex-wife owes him $19.

Howie has the story here.

Inside the NY Times

I don't watch the Daily Show but I saw a segment they did last night when one of their guys interviewed folks over at the New York Times. The reporter, Jason Jones, destroys the newspaper industry and makes fun of the workers right to their faces. For example, he asks the editor, Bill Keller to tell a joke. When he doesn't, Jones says one. "What's black and white and red all over?" Keller says, of course, a newspaper. To which Jones responds, "No, your balance sheet."

Great stuff, see it all below:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
End Times
http://www.thedailyshow.com/
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorNewt Gingrich Unedited Interview

Chicago politics

Remember when President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Karl Rove and others were pillared by the media because a number of U.S. Attorneys were fired? Bush et al were accused of playing politics with the positions and putting in people more loyal to the president.

Now, it seems that President Obama has done something similar. The Inspector General for Americorps, Gerald Walpin, was fired by the president this week. It just so happens that Walpin has been investigating Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson for spending Americorps money on personal matters. It also just so happens that Johnson is a major supporter of Obama.

Ironically, the president did not follow law that surrounds the firing of Inspector Generals. Because IGs are meant to be non-political, they must have ample notice before they are fired and they must notify Congress as to why the person is being fired. Obama did not do these things initally. Oh, by the way, the co-sponsor of the legislation that created this law? Sen. Barack Obama.

See the scoop here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What liberal media?

"One awkward moment for Barack Obama at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, his daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."

Can you imagine the hand ringing, media outrage, and calls for the firing of David Letterman if he said these words? But, he said it about Sarah Palin and her daughter so it's OK.

Bruno Furor

I can't say I am a huge fan of Sacha Baron Cohen. I've seen some "Borat" skits which were pretty funny but I never saw the movie and I never found Ali G to be funny. This summer Cohen is coming out (no pun intended) with a movie on his gay character Bruno.

According to Drudge some gay rights groups and journalists are worked up about it and worry about the "societal implications" of the film. They're also demanding that Cohen "remind the viewing public right there in the theater that this is intended to expose homophobia."

Right. But, when a movie is produced that bashes the Church, Catholics are told "It's only a movie."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

1990 all over again?

In today's Boston Globe, Scott Lehigh wonders if 2010 will be like 1990 in Massachusetts politics. In 1990, the state was facing an economic meltdown, the name Taxachusetts was coined, and the governor was despised. Sound familiar?

The ground was fertile for a Republican takeover of the Corner Office and a good number of pick-ups in the Legislature. Lehigh says that the best hope for the GOP is Charlie Baker. Baker is still making up his mind but Lehigh's sources say Baker is going to go for it.

Lehigh said, "In politics, you can spend forever calculating the angles, but ultimately you have to go with your gut."

I agree. Go for it Charlie!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fantastic

This is great - the New York Senate was controlled by Democrats until yesterday when two Democrats joined the Republicans to form a bipartisan coalition of sorts. This effectively returned the balance of power to the Republicans. There is a slight problem in that the two Democrats who defected are pretty shady - one is facing charges that he stabbed someone and the other is being investigated for campaign finance issues - so we'll see how that works itself out.

This move is similar to what one sees in a parliamentary system of government in which coalitions of different parties are formed. It will be interesting to see what happens.

See the story here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Final journey

The Boston Globe has a very touching story today about Father Jim Field, the pastor of Incarnation Parish in my native Melrose. Father Field is dying from pancreatic cancer and is using his illness and death as a real teaching tool for his people.

I was not a parishioner at Incarnation and honestly, I think I've been to Incarnation 3 times in my life! Two of the times I was there, Father Field was very kind and gracious to me. The morning my wife and I were leaving for our honeymoon, we went to mass at Incarnation because it fit into our schedule perfectly. My parents, who live in Melrose, were driving us to the airport so it worked out. My wife worked at the other parish in Melrose, St. Mary's, and so one of Incarnation's employees recognized her and we told her why we were there. Father Field then came over and congratulated us and then recognized us from the altar.

The other time was when I was doing some recruiting for the Knights of Columbus. Father Field let me set-up shop in the back of the Church and he acknowledged me during mass.

I wish Father Field nothing but the best as he heads home to God. I am sure he will be missed by many.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Busy times

Been a lot going on in my corner of the world. My school had a project fair last night and since I ran it, I was also at school Thursday night setting up and getting everything ready. I also had to hang some signs from the gym roof. I am scared of heights so this was an adventure. Thankfully I had some students helping me who knew how to tie good knots and get the sign to look good. The fair went until 7pm last night and we then had a BBQ to celebrate.

This morning I went to Melrose to help my father with something. He and my mother bought a new bedroom set at a Yard Sale in Melrose and they needed help moving it. Problem was that the set would not go down the stairs so the owner removed a window and we were able to lower everything down to the ground. Now, I confess that I am not very manly with things like this so thankfully my cousin Nathan was around to help. We were able to get everything into one trip thanks to Nathan's truck.

After this, I headed back to school to correct the projects from the fair and to clean up the gym. Typically the students would do it on Monday but I found out yesterday that the gym was being used on Sunday. Luckily some parents and students came to pick up their projects and I was able to coax them into helping me clean-up.

On my way home I saw Lynn and Kevin out for a walk. I stopped and drove them the rest of the way home. Kevin got a haircut today and looks like such a little man.

Now, I am relaxing and enjoying a Sam Adams Irish Red. I think I may take a shower soon and head to bed - been a tiring few days.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What liberal media?

So The Barack Obama News Network (aka NBC) produced a two-part, behind the scenes interview with President Obama and aired it this week. As part of it, Obama did a spoof with Brian Williams for "The Tonight Show." Conan O'Brien took over as the host this week and Williams asked him how he felt about O'Brien taking over the job.

The Barack Obama Newspaper (aka New York Times) actually took NBC to task for this:

There was a time when such cross promotion between a network news division and its corporate entertainment sibling – during a presidential interview, no less — would have caused rebellion in the newsroom. It will be interesting to see what reaction, if any, there will be to this bit of stunt programming at NBC News.

It will also be interesting to see if there is any political blowback, especially from those who believe that some in the news media are too chummy with the president and his administration.

Disgusting

I am just as horrified by the death of abortion doctor Dr. George Tiller as the next guy. As someone who is pro-life, I usually think that killing people is wrong so ergo, the murder of Tiller was wrong. But, those who are pro-abortion, in my mind, are disgusting in their praise of Tiller's work. Tiller was one of three people in the country who performed partial-birth abortions, a practice so barbaric and evil that Tiller should have been in jail for doing them.

But, the folks over at Blue Mass Group hail Tiller today for "helping the vulnerable" and for being a "hero of [the] movement." This is what a hero passes for in the liberal camp? Their hero would do the following (from Wikipedia):

Usually, preliminary procedures are performed over a period of two to three days, to gradually dilate the cervix using laminaria tents (sticks of seaweed which absorb fluid and swell). Sometimes drugs such as pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin, are used to induce labor. Once the cervix is sufficiently dilated, the doctor uses an ultrasound and forceps to grasp the fetus' leg. The fetus is turned to a breech position, if necessary, and the doctor pulls one or both legs out of the birth canal, causing what is referred to by some people as the 'partial birth' of the fetus. The doctor subsequently extracts the rest of the fetus, usually without the aid of forceps, leaving only the head still inside the birth canal. An incision is made at the base of the skull, a blunt dissector (such as a Kelly clamp) is inserted into the incision and opened to widen the opening,and then a suction catheter is inserted into the opening. The brain is suctioned out, which causes the skull to collapse and allows the fetus to pass more easily through the birth canal.

To brand Dr. Tiller a hero is a disgrace. He was a monster.

Sweating it out

David Bernstein (whose amazing blog I just discovered) says that Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo is having a meeting with the Democratic members of the House today at 1pm. Bernstein wrote:

Speaker Robert DeLeo has called a caucus of all the Democratic House members this afternoon, at 1:00, to talk about the DiMasi situation -- I'm told that DeLeo intends this primarily as a "taking stock" conversation. But, I'm also told that there may be some push-back from some of the more aggrieved members, who want some real assurance that DeLeo himself is not going to turn into a huge political liability for the membership. Not that anyone thinks DeLeo is corrupt -- they don't -- but that DeLeo might have been DiMasi's unwitting dupe, and the public might not feel like making that distinction. DeLeo is the guy who inserted a lot of DiMasi's questionable measures into bills, in his Ways & Means Committee. And think about this: doesn't it make sense that DiMasi orchestrated DeLeo's succession in the expectation that doing so would retain DiMasi's ability to make things happen for his "clients"?

I don't expect any serious effort to replace DeLeo as Speaker, but lawmakers -- who almost all voted to retain DiMasi in January -- are sweating bullets right now about the political future. DeLeo's got a tough job ahead trying to guide them through this.

If you're curious who voted for DiMasi back in January, you can see the House Journal from that day here. Rep. James Miceli spoke on behalf of Rep. David Flynn, who was absent, and said the following:

I would like to call to the attention of the House the fact that one of our colleagues, Mr. Flynn of Bridgewater is unable to be present in the House Chamber for today’s sitting due to illness, he would like to have spread upon the records of the House the fact that he supports Representative-Elect Salvatore F. DiMasi of Boston for the position of Speaker of the House, and would cast his vote for Mr. DiMasi if he could be present for today’s session. Any roll calls
that he may have missed today or for the next several weeks is due entirely to the reason stated.


Flynn is a real old-timer who has been around forever so he doesn't care, I am sure. But, it can't look good to be so in the back pocket of DiMasi that because you can't be there for the vote, you ask that it be publicly stated on the floor as a way of kissing up to DiMasi!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Turning 2

Some how, my son Kevin turned 2 today. He was born at 2:29am on Saturday, June 2 at Lowell General Hospital. My wife and I got to the hospital at 7am the previous day as she was being induced. We thought the baby would be born that afternoon or so but it got later and later and we then thought it would be sometime in the morning on the 2nd.

We didn't know the gender of the child so we had one girl's name and two boy's names picked out: Margaret Catherine for a girl and Joseph or Kevin for a boy. We figured we'd wait and see what the baby looked like if it was a boy before we chose a name. When he was born, he looked too Irish to not be named Kevin. But, we waited too long to tell the nurses his name (actually just a few minutes!) so a lot of his papers initially said "Boy Flaherty."

Coincidentally, I found out later that day that the Feast of Saint Kevin is June 3, the day after Kevin's birthday!

In honor of Kevin's birthday, I am taking him to the doctor today for his annual physical. We have a 6:20pm appointment and after that we will have a cake. Kevin HATES, HATES, HATES the doctor so I am not looking forward to this, especially since shots are in the cards. We're not having his party until next week because I have to work this Saturday.

Anyway, happy birthday dude!

3 in a row

Today former Massachusetts Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi became the third straight Speaker to be indited. DiMasi was charged in federal court today on bribery and corruption charges.

If the state GOP does not use this to their advantage in 2010 (along with the other shenanigans of the Democrats), then they deserve to close up shop.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I'll take it

So New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said recently that President Obama "doesn't get paid that much. He's on a budget, too."

Hmmm, the President of the United States gets the following in salaries and perks:

1. $400,000 annual salary
2. Free housing
3. Free food
4. Free house keeping
5. Free butler service
6. Free use of an airplane
7. Free use of a helicopter
8. Free bodyguard protection
9. Free limos
10. $50,000 expense account
11. $100,000 nontaxable travel account
12. $19,000 entertainment account
13. Free health care
14. Use of Camp David

So, tell me again how the president doesn't make a lot of money and has to live within a budget?

What liberal media?

CBS Evening "News" anchor Katie Couric was Princeton's Class Day speaker today. While doing so, this "news" journalist took shots at a number of politicians. Care to guess which political party they all belonged to?

She also referred to Madeline Albright as a "great woman", praised Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, poked fun at Miss California ("No one has done more to motivate gay rights activists since Anita Bryant"), and gooed over Sonia Sotomayor. To be fair she did take a shot at Elliot Spitzer and had good words for Gen. David Petraeus.

Also, the speech read like the ramblings of a 20-something airhead, not the remarks of a professional newswoman. I know she is trying to appeal to a young audience but this is pandering at its worst.

See the speech here. By the way, why did she post the speech over at the liberal Huffington Post??