Monday, October 26, 2009

Obama letdown

The Globe has an interesting article today, via the LA Times, about the Obama "hangover." With Republicans poised to win governor's races next week in New Jersey and Virginia (with Democrats currently holding the seats), a perception that Obama is "dithering" in Afghanistan (14 more soldiers died today), an unpopular health care proposal, and an economy that is not recovering, Obama is unable to repeat his magic from 2008:

What the party is finding, though, is that the electricity of 2008 is tough to recapture. Some Democratic candidates running for local office around the country call the phenomenon the “Obama Hangover.’’ It is proving tougher to recruit volunteers and get people to vote.

“It’s like the morning after the party,’’ said Michael McGann, a Democrat running for clerk of courts in the Philadelphia suburbs. “The party was wonderful and exciting. The day after it’s like, ‘Gee, I don’t want to do that again for a while.’ ’’

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Those who forget history...

Starting tomorrow night PBS' "American Experience" will air a 5-part series on the 1930's. Each episode airs on Monday at 9pm.

The episodes are as follows:

1. The Crash of 1929
2. The Civilian Conservation Corps
3. Hoover Dam
4. Surviving the Dust Bowl
5. Seabiscuit

Should be amazing, learn more here.

Taxachusetts coming back?

With the state facing a massive budget deficit, many liberals are calling for the one thing they know best: raise taxes. As the Globe's Joan Vennochi points out, this is the last thing Gov. Deval Patrick needs right now.

Still, it seems like a tough time to sell new taxes to many people, including the governor.

Patrick faces a challenging political environment, illustrated by low approval ratings and the need to call in his friend, President Obama, to help raise money and fire up supporters.


Now, he has to weigh pressure from a tax-loving liberal base against the antitax sentiments of more moderate voters.

Over the past year, much of the news out of Beacon Hill reminded Massachusetts of everything they dislike about state government.


A House speaker and a state senator were indicted on corruption charges.

Outrageous examples of state pension abuse raised the rhetoric level of radio talk show hosts and the blood pressure of average citizens.


The governor’s attempt to slide a state senator and supporter into a $175,000 job in a state bonding authority became such a flashpoint, the lawmaker walked away from the job.
Meanwhile, state troopers still collect overtime as they direct traffic around construction work sites.


When the public is periodically enraged by examples of patronage, waste, and corruption, it’s harder to engage in a rational discussion of how much money should be spent on health care, human services, public safety, schools, and local aid.

But we should have it. With Bay State unemployment at 9.3 percent, the highest rate since 1976, there is an argument that more people need help from government.

Sizer is dead

When I was in graduate school, one of the most influential books I read was Ted Sizer's "Horace's Compromise." It was a blueprint for secondary education reform that consisted of smaller class sizes, small teaching loads (80 students per teacher), more interactive classes, and a focus on the bigger picture rather than mundane facts and trivia.

Sizer went on to write two other books in the series, "Horace's School" and "Horace's Hope." I have all three books although I've only read the first one in full. Someday I'll read the other two.

Anyway, I saw today that Sizer died this past week of cancer. Reading his obit got me thinking about his books again and education reform. I was recently appointed the co-chair of my school's accreditation team and it's been an exciting opportunity to help shape the future of the school. I think I am going to go back and delve more into Sizer's ideas as we work on this process.

The Globe article on Sizer is here but below is a taste:

Dr. Sizer, who also served in the 1980s as chairman of the education department at Brown University, founded the Coalition for Essential Schools in 1984, which spread his approach and theories across the country through schools that adhere to a set of common principles.

Among those are the belief that teachers should be directly responsible for no more than 80 students and get to know each child in depth. Also included in the principles is “less is more,’’ a phrase Dr. Sizer often repeated and one that runs counter to prevailing trends toward standardized testing that require students to memorize a broad range of facts in a multitude of subjects.

“Rather than try to cram thousands of facts into a kid’s head, decide what’s really important and spend more time on it, on powerful concepts, rather than trivia that they forget after the test is over,’’ Gardner said. “What Ted would say is what’s missing now is the desire to learn, the passion to learn.’’

Dr. Sizer believed schools should inspire students to want to read and expand their knowledge even when tests weren’t looming. Students, he would say, should develop “habits of mind.’’

Friday, October 23, 2009

Howie on visit

Speaking of President Obama's visit, Howie Carr has a great column today on the number of liberal groups who will be protesting his visit.

A snippet:

W
elcome to Boston, Mr. President. Stand by for the angry moonbat demonstrators.

They’re mad as hell at you and they’re not going to take it anymore. They don’t like what you’re saying on two or three issues out of a hundred. So you have to be ridden out of town on a rail.

Celebrate diversity - get somebody fired for having a different opinion. Welcome to my world, Barack.

What liberal media?

So we keep hearing that the vaccine for the H1N1 virus is being delayed for various reasons. Can you imagine what the media would be saying if George Bush were still president. They would be doing story after story on the people who have died and blaming Bush for their death.

Today, President Obama will be in Boston for a speech at MIT and a fundraiser for Gov. Deval Patrick. Fine by me but will the Boston media complain about the cost of security and the impact on traffic like they did when Bush came to town for similar events?

You know I'm right.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blame Game

Rich Lowry of National Review has a great take down of President Obama and him still blaming President Bush despite the fact that he has been in office for almost a year.

A taste:

Obama complains of having to clean up what he charmingly calls "somebody else's mess." Obama took office during a stomach-churning financial crisis, and he now brags, "We've rescued our economy from catastrophe." Who's "we"? When then‑Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke confronted Bush with the magnitude of the crisis last fall, he told them to do anything necessary to fight it.

Bush's support of the ideologically uncongenial TARP legislation, together with Bernanke's expansive actions at the Fed, rescued the system. But Obama takes the credit, while pretending Bush heedlessly let the economy burn - a tack that is in equal measures petty and dishonest.

Obama also blames Bush for the deficit, now at $1.4 trillion. Whatever his own profligacy, Bush didn't compel Obama to spend money nearly as fast as it could be printed, or to roughly double the projected debt over the next decade. Obama's motto apparently is, "Stop Bush - before he makes me spend again!"

In international forums, Obama acts as if Bush were the former president of another country, or a disgraced former leader ousted in a coup. No calumny is too much to heap on him, and no defense is ever offered. Obama might at least avoid implicitly accusing his predecessor of war crimes. He might at least credit his predecessor's, and his country's, good intentions in toppling Saddam Hussein and promoting democracy in the Middle East. No, he's incapable of it.

Obama should be grateful that Bush ordered the surge in Iraq against Obama's opposition. If he hadn't, Obama likely would have - on top of everything else - inherited a strategically central Middle Eastern country in full-scale civil war. Does Obama express any appreciation, or any humility about his own mistaken call? Of course not.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Memories

One of my first part time jobs was with Cerretani's Supermarket in Melrose. I worked in their produce department for over a year and then it became a Shaw's and I stayed there until 1999.

I just found a Facebook group for people who worked at Cerretani's and someone posted a commercial for the Cerretani's in Reading. People from the area will get a huge kick out of this:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Make a Difference Day

"Make a Difference Day" Food Drive for the Dracut Food Pantry

On Saturday, the Dracut Food Pantry is open for the increasing number of families who are struggling to put food on the table. Saturday is also USA Weekend's "National Make a Difference Day", which promotes volunteerism and helping others. While the food pantry board of directors and volunteers serve Dracut residents in need, townspeople are invited to "make a difference" by dropping off non-perishable food items at any of three locations in Dracut. All items donated will help refill the shelves for the holiday openings.

Drop-off locations are:

Dracut Fire Station, 488 Pleasant Street
Moses Greeley Parker Library, 28 Arlington Street
Dracut Barber Shop, 1974 Lakeview Avenue.

All non-perishable food items or toiletries are welcome. For more information, visit www.dracutfoodpantry.com or call 978-957-8600. To become a Friend of the Dracut Food Pantry, receiving newsletter updates each month, email friendsdfp@comcast.net

Another great weekend

Every year, I head to my alma mater, Saint Anselm College, for the annual homecoming football game with some friends. We could really care less about the game as the team is perennially horrible but it's always nice to go back and reminisce and see some people.

Yesterday was this year's homecoming game and once again, I met Dan and Dave in the school dining hall for lunch (our other friend Bill came later). We then caught about 3 quarters of the game and after Saint A's was down by 40 something points, we decided to head out!

We were all very close to the monks who live and work at the college so we decided to take a walk to the monastic cemetery to "visit" some of our friends. I think we counted 13 head stones that date back to the time we began at the college (1994) and sadly, we learned that another monk, Bro. Armand, had died the night before. We then took a leisurely stroll around campus and we headed north to Dan's house in Shapleigh, ME for the night. Dan made some tasty appetizers and grilled pizza for us and we hung around watching football and enjoying the fire and the company.

After we cleaned up we decided to watch the Yankees-Angels game and play a card game that we used to play a lot in college and it was then off to bed. I fell asleep on an arm chair but somehow I woke up on the couch.

I woke up before everyone else this morning so I decided to make the coffee and pancakes. Being the good Catholic boys we are, we all then headed to mass at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish in Sanford. It was a long mass as the church is huge and it took a long time for the two collections and communion. Not only that, the priest was elderly and spoke veryyyyyyy sllloowwly and the pastor gave a long talk about a fundraising campaign.

After mass we headed back to the house where Dan made his world famous pasta sauce with meatballs and I read the paper and fell asleep on the couch (it's a cozy house, what can I say). I headed home around 4 as Lynn needed to be at a meeting at 6pm. It was nice to be away but even better to see Kevin waving to me through the window as I walked into the house.

Another great fall weekend.

Lots happening

I realize that my blogging as been sparse as of late, sorry about that faithful readers. School has been very busy this year as in addition to teaching, I am also one of the chairpersons of our decennial accreditation and that has been taking a lot of time. Not only that, I just haven't found much politically to write about. There is a lot going on but I think I am having a little case of writer's block. I need something to really strike me in order to blog on it and nothing really as gotten me excited as of late.

But, I am sure the Muse will appear soon...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good riddance

This day was long overdue.

See here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"You can act like a man!"

Al Martino (aka Johnny Fontaine from "The Godfather") died this week. He was a part of one of the greatest scenes in the movie in which he is complaining about a movie role he didn't get.

How does Don Corleone react?

Well duh

They say that the Catholic Church is dying in France. Gee, I wonder why:

"Mass" at Plobsheim, France, Pentecost 2009 from Donald Jenkins on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time on Catholic schools

Time Magazine has a good article this week on Catholic schools. As a Catholic school teacher and one who hopes to stay in Catholic education for my entire career, this is a somewhat hopeful article. There are still challenges ahead but I think with some creativity and hard work, we can turn things around.

See it all here but below is a taste:

So if money isn't reliable, maybe it's the system that needs to be overhauled, which brings us back to young John Eriksen's original point. Leaders have to divorce themselves from the church's old practices. "One of the big dirty phrases in Catholic education is 'It's a business,' " says Eriksen, who spent several years as a consultant for Catholic schools before becoming superintendent. "But at the end of the day, we are private-education providers. We charge tuition and offer a service in return, and a school run effectively is able to educate more people."

His diocese, which covers 40 schools in three counties that run the gamut from wealthy to downright impoverished, recently centralized all operations under three professionals experienced in doing all the things required to run a healthy school district: marketing, financial management and fundraising. Whereas in previous years schools were run by one priest who was ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the school, boards composed of lay professionals are very slowly becoming a necessity.

Fun in the country

Lynn worked yesterday so Kevin and I headed north to the bustling town of Brookfield, NH (45 minutes north of Portsmouth). My friend, and Kevin's godfather, Bill was at his parent's house for the weekend and we love visiting them. They live in a country home, on a very quiet street surrounded by trees and farms. The foliage was amazing and the air was cool and crisp.

After we arrived we took Kevin to a nearby horse farm but Kevin seemed to be more interested in their barn cat! After a tasty lunch of homemade pizza we went apple picking at a beautiful orchard in Milton, NH where they had delicious apples and great scenery (and a fun tractor ride). We then headed back to the house for homemade apple crisp and some spaghetti. Kevin had a great time playing with Bill's friend's son Noah, I think he appreciated having someone his own age around!

We headed home for the 1:45 drive around 8pm and since he hardly napped (maybe 10 minutes), Kevin was asleep within minutes. Another great fall day!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ugh

Is it me or is it starting to feel like the '90's again vis a vis Boston sports?

Overdrive

Lynn, Kevin, my parents, and I all went to the Harvest Festival at my Church yesterday. It was a real nice time - lots of food, games for Kevin, a fire truck for kids to climb in, craft booths, hill for Kevin to roll down, great foliage, etc. My father and I each had a plate of the apple crisp and it was amazing...crunchy, brown sugary...dang tasty!

My parents stopped by our house after we left the festival and Kevin wouldn't fall asleep for his nap so we took him to Goss Farm in neighboring Dunstable. Kevin took a ride on their cow train, watched the corn cannon, checked out the animals, and enjoyed some apple donuts. On our way home we noticed the Dunstable Fire Department was having an open house so we stopped in. They had a big ladder truck you can climb so Kevin went up a little ways. He also checked out another fire truck, fired a water hose, and enjoyed some pizza. Phew.

Between no nap and lots of fire trucks and farms, Kevin was dead to the world before 8pm. Another great fall day!

Howie on Nobel

Howie Carr has a funny column today on President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Here is a taste:

Either the Red Sox win this afternoon at Fenway or they go home for the winter. There’s only one man who can absolutely guarantee this must-win game.

Now pitching for the Red Sox: Barack Hussein Nobel Obama, the southpaw who wants to get both of his paws on your wallet.

So what if he’s 48 and has never played the game? He’ll get the “W” - that’s the lesson of this Nobel Peace Prize nonsense. He can throw the ball in the dirt in front of home plate - strike one! He can toss it over the catcher’s head - strike two! He can roll it to the plate like he’s back in that Pennsylvania bowling alley - Yer out!

It’ll be a perfect perfect game: 81 pitches, 81 strikes, at least if the home-plate umpire knows what’s good for him, if he doesn’t want to be called a . . . well, you know what Barack’s Kool-Aid-swilling cheerleaders call anybody who dares say the emperor has no clothes.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Harvest Time

The great fall weekends continue. Our initial plans were to go to Acadia National Park (inspired by the Ken Burns movie) but remembered that our church is having its annual Harvest Festival today from 10am-4pm. If you're in the area, you should come on by, it's a fantastic fall event: games for the kids including bouncie houses, lots of booths, Trunk or Treat, baked goods, a Parachute Plop at 1pm, food, games, etc, etc, etc. The church, Saint Francis, is tucked away on a quiet country road surrouded by farms and trees. The folliage is amazing! For this event you park at a nearby farm and you can get a hayride over to the church! I prefer to walk as it's very scenic.

Tomorrow we're going to Melrose for a birthday party and then on Monday Kevin's godfather Bill is coming down and I think we're going to check out Goss Farm in Dunstable. Lynn is working on Monday because they're paying time and a half so it will be an all guys day.

Friday, October 9, 2009

HI-Sterical

If you missed "The Office" last night then you missed one of the funniest episodes in a long time. The final scene was an absolute classic...watch below and keep your eye out at 1:40 and 2:15...made me and my wife cry laughing.

If you're not a fan of the show and you don't understand the dance routine reference then you may not appreciate this...enjoy either way.

Liberal reaction

Here is a sense of what liberals are saying about the recent Nobel Peace Prize Winner:

I agree with GGW in the comments: Obama should decline the prize. He just hasn't done anything yet that is Nobel Peace Prize-worthy. As a result, the Nobel Committee looks like it's making a naked political play, rather than rewarding real accomplishments toward international peace. And Obama looks like he's winning perhaps the world's most prestigious award for making nice speeches, and for not being George W. Bush. That shouldn't be enough.

Jon Keller weighed in too:

Mr. President, an appalled nation is begging you -- turn down this sham award. Read off a list of more deserving recipients. Say you hope to be truly worthy of the award sometime in the future. Put some meat behind your oft-repeated statement that the work you are doing is about the people, not your own ego. Don't let your enemies resurrect their damaging spin from the election that you're really the candidate of lefty Europeans and other America-haters.

h/t Universal Hub

Whatever

I can't say I was all that surprised when I heard President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This was more about a slap in the face to President Bush and less about Obama. It is the international community making a political statement rather than "honoring" Obama. An expression I read a lot this morning was the Nobel Prize Committee has now jumped the shark. Very appropriate.

The beautiful thing is that no one, even liberals, feel Obama deserves this "honor" and it just makes him look more and more like an empty suit. Also, when your biggest fans are snooty Europeans, that doesn't exactly play well with the people that actually elect the man, you know, American citizens!

This is also a slap in the face to the prior presidents who received the award - at least they did something! Teddy Roosevelt negotiated peace between Japan and Russia, Woodrow Wilson proposed the League of Nations, and Jimmy Carter has done a lot of humanitarian work. What has Obama done? To paraphrase Hillary Clinton, he's given some good speeches.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Guess they're not all that bad...

I can be tough on the Boston Globe but hey, I am willing to let bygones be bygones...especially when they quote me and give a plug for my ol' blog on Dracut politics. And I just found out that my school newspaper wants to do a profile on me.

Howard Stern look out, there is a new king of all media in town....

See Globe article here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Masterful

As a History teacher, I appreciate the depth and insight of Ken Burns. I enjoy his movies immensely as you know but his latest, "The National Parks" actually moved me. Both my wife and I got misty eyed at some parts and I developed a deeper appreciation for our country and its landscape.

If you didn't see the movie, you have a few more days to watch it for free on-line. After Friday, it will be taken down.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Countdown...

One of the blogs I always read, The Wine-Dark Sea by Melanie Bettinelli, is on child #3 and in the past she has put a sort of pregnancy countdown on her blog. So, I am doing what every good blogger does - steal the idea :) I have put the countdown at the top of this old blog so you can see how far along baby #2 is. God willing, he/she will be born on February 10.

Cheers

Congratulations to my cousin Michael and his wife Lisa on the occasion of their wedding this weekend in Colorado. My parents were able to make the trip West and they sound like they're having a good time exploring.

Anyway, here's to a lifetime of happiness.

Yeppers

This needs no additional commentary:

Holy Moses

Sports Illustrated has a section every month called "Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us." I have one to add - a Boston Globe columnist kind of comes to the defense of Howie Carr.

Joan Vennochi's Sunday column is about the boycott of Howie's advertisers led by some anonymous poster named "Ernie Boch III" at the moonbat infested Blue Mass Group. This guy is not related to the car salesman although I admit that I blogged about a post this guy had on Speaker of the House Bob DeLeo some months ago and I think I said it was the car guy - sorry Mr. Boch. But, I wasn't alone as tons of people have been called the real Boch slamming him for his boycott!

Anyway, Vennochi doesn't defend Howie's views but does credit him for putting his name to his words, unlike "Ernie Boch III" who remains anonymous.

Here in the Merrimack Valley we have similar issues. There is a blog in Lowell called "Lowell Shallot" and the guy destroys Lowell's politicos. No one knows who he is and he has somewhat become persona non grata in the blogosphere. Actually, he hasn't posted in weeks so I wonder if he gave up In Dracut we have a website where people post anonymously and take vicious attacks at town officials. I myself have been attacked a few time but rather tamely.

I, like many, don't put a lot of credence into people who attack and post with a fake name. Be a man!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Loving the fall

I vowed last month to make the most out of the Fall and I think we're doing pretty good thus far. Last weekend, Lynn, Kevin, and I headed to Shapleigh, ME to visit my friend Dan Puopolo. Dan has a vacation house right on Mousam Lake and on a picture perfect Saturday he took us out for a ride on his boat. We then drove around town, stopped in to visit the parents of another friend in nearby Brookfield, NH, and then headed back to the lake house. Dan made pizza on the grill and we all relaxed the night away.

Today we headed out to the Berkshires. It was a rainy day but I know October will be over before I know it so we didn't let some rain stop us. We took Route 2 (aka the Mohawk Trail) out so we could see some foliage and scenery. There was a lot of fog so we didn't get a perfect view but we saw some good sights, especially by Cold River. We also stopped to see the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, a beautiful spot for a quick visit.

We took Route 2 all the way to the end and then headed south on Route 7 to Lenox. There we met up with my good friend Jay Green who is a volunteer and a director of the Berkshire Scenic Railway. Kevin nearly had a stroke seeing a huge train as well as a toy train set he could play with. We took a ride on the train and we were lucky to have an entire car to ourselves (pays to have friends in high places). Jay also let us stand outside at the back of the train which was amazing. After the ride we spent some time back at the store with the train set and then headed to Jay's house in Pittsfield.

Jay and his wife Pam have two small dogs which was perfect for Kevin. He was laughing hysterically running and playing with them. After some pizza and apple pie that we picked up at a farm stand along Route 2, we decided to head home.

This is Fall in New England. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Next week, either Acadia National Park in Maine or the Harvest Festival at our Church. TBD.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Howie responds

Howie Carr responds to the moonbats over at Blue Mass Group who are leading a boycott of his advertisers. Good stuff but as I predicated, Howie is kind of hoping their efforts do lead to him being kicked off of WRKO as he wants out bad:

I guess they want me out of that AM radio station. Now, that’s funny, because what do these Birkenstock-wearing vegans think I’ve been trying desperately to do for the last, oh, four years?

Good luck, “Ernie.” If you can get me out of here, you’re a better man than me. So go ahead, make my day. Please. I beg you.

Good effort

Fantastic headline on Drudge after President Obama's bid to have Chicago host the 2016 Summer Olympics failed:

THE EGO HAS LANDED: WORLD REJECTS OBAMA: CHICAGO OUT IN FIRST ROUND

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What liberal media?

I like Dan Kennedy a lot. My uncle John cannot stand him and I find myself in the unusual position of defending a liberal when we're talking about him! But, I read Kennedy's blog daily and I watch him all the time on "Beat the Press."

But, Kennedy, a media critic, always contends that the media doesn't have a liberal bias and they often times bend over backwards to conservatives to prove they're not. You can see Dan's thoughts here but I respectfully suggest he check out Newsbusters every now and then, maybe he'll see what we're talking about.

You don't know sacrifice

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Oprah Winfrey are in Copenhagen to try to convince the Olympic Committee to select Chicago for the 2016 Olympics (I assume the summer). Fair enough, I hope we get it.

But, Mrs. Obama said something that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. In a speech she said, "As much of a sacrifice as people say this is for me or Oprah or the president to come for these few days..."

Um, how is it a sacrifice for the Obamas and Oprah to travel on the most luxurious airplane in the world, have drivers, ready made hotel rooms, food, fawning crowds, etc, etc, etc??? If that's your idea of a sacrifice, Mrs. Obama, then you're living quite the life!

30 years later

Today is the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's visit to Boston. On a very rainy night, he said mass on Boston Common for 400,000 hearty Bostonians! I was only 3 at the time so I don't remember it but my uncle John was working in Boston at the time and he has talked about the huge crowds and the rain.

In honor of this anniversary, Catholic TV has some video of the pope's visit here and here.

h/t to Rocco.

Brillant

Faithful readers know that I am a huge fan of Norman Rockwell. We have one his prints in our house, his "Triple Self Portrait."

Thus, when I saw the following on my cousin Shawn's Facebook page, I could not stop laughing:












What liberal media?

Headline on Yahoo News:

President Obama's advisers are split on Afghanistan, complicating his task

If President Bush were still president, this headline would read:

President Bush's advisers are split on Afghanistan, showing a lack of leadership

Boycott Jeff Carbone Insurance

The moonbats over at Blue Mass Group are leading a boycott of Howie Carr's advertisers because of a column he wrote last week on Judge Thomas Connolly.

As a result, Jeff Carbone Insurance, which was a huge sponsor of the show, dropped their advertising on the show. So, turn around is fair play. Everyone, boycott Jeff Carbone!

Howie may not really care as he hates his station, WRKO, so he may be happy about this but either way, lets not let the Moonbats win.