Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More Ben LaGuer bombshells?

In her column in today's Telegram and Gazette, Dianne Williamson suggests that not only does Ben LaGuer have more letters from Deval Patrick, he claims that someone tried to pay him to release them:

[Kerry Healey] was helped in her endeavor by supportive letters written by Mr. Patrick to Mr. LaGuer and to the Massachusetts Parole Board in the late 1990s. The letters to the Parole Board sought freedom for Mr. LaGuer; the letters to Mr. LaGuer were warm and addressed "Dear Ben." Two of the letters were made public by The Boston Globe after the newspaper obtained them from an archive at Northeastern University.

Last week, however, Mr. LaGuer said he was approached by an intermediary at the prison Oct. 18 and handed a telephone number jotted down on a piece of paper. If he called that number and read all the letters he's received from Mr. Patrick, he would be paid $50,000 to $60,000, Mr. LaGuer said he was told.

He said that offer was upped to $100,000 shortly after. The telephone number Mr. LaGuer said he received is the number for an attorney at [a Boston law firm].....

Steve Kenneway, president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, said the grievance was filed after Mr. LaGuer complained to an officer that he was "visited by people he didn't know and was offered money for documents." According to Mr. Kenneway, the two male visitors were initially denied entrance but then escorted by management to a private area typically reserved for legal visits. The sergeant on duty wasn't allowed to be present for the visit, Mr. Kenneway said.

"There definitely is something strange about this whole scenario," Mr. Kenneway said. "There is absolutely something that went wrong with this visit. There was definitely a breach of protocol, and I can't get a straight answer from anybody."

A spokeswoman for the law firm said the charges were "'absolutely untrue'", and a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said they believe LaGuer made the story up.

Mr. LaGuer, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, said he rejected the offer to sell Mr. Patrick's letters. "If I did that, I would have no honor," Mr. LaGuer said. "The idea that I would take $60,000 to betray a friendship seems pretty outrageous. I have to live with myself here."

Mr. LaGuer claimed that he has more letters from Mr. Patrick than were obtained by The Boston Globe, although he indicated that they're not in his possession at the prison, partly because inmates aren't allowed to keep valuables in their cell.

I'm not sure I believe anything LaGuer says. I think he's a self-serving huckster who will do anything to keep his name in the papers. But suspending my own disbelief for a moment, if these allegations are true, there are two bombshells here:
  1. There are more "Dear Ben" letters from Deval Patrick to LaGuer.
  2. Someone (the article implies that it was the Republicans) wants to get this info so badly they were willing to pay LaGuer for it.
Can you imagine how devastating it could have been to Patrick's campaign if voice recordings of LaGuer reading the letters he allegedly received from Patrick were broadcast on your TV, radio, and on robo-calls? $100,000 would be chump change for that material. (I suppose you could also argue that the opposite is true: it would be worth that kind of money to "silence" LaGuer. Although if his story is true, getting the letters read out loud over the phone wouldn't suppress anything.)

In any event, I wonder if the first act of a Patrick administration will be to take phone privileges away from LaGuer. He's probably had enough of LaGuer referring to their "friendship." Honestly, does the guy have his own secretary too? Can any inmate take calls from reporters seemingly every day? Something tells me that Patrick's people don't think LaGuer is helping.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Stunner: Worcester T&G endorses Patrick

I have to say I wasn't expecting this. The Telegram and Gazette editorial board is pretty conservative; they don't make a habit of endorsing Democrats (They endorsed Weld, Weld, Cellucci, and Romney in the last four elections). While I realize that the chances were higher this year because of Tim Murray's presence on the ticket, the endorsement doesn't spend a ton of time on Murray's contribution. I think it speaks both to the breadth of Deval Patrick's support and the failure of Kerry Healey to resonate among those voters responsible for the Weld-Cellucci-Romney run.

A couple of excerpts:
In debates, political ads and on the campaign trail, Deval L. Patrick has laid out a broad and appealing vision for moving the state forward. He also has demonstrated a refreshing inclination toward consensus rather than confrontation, along with leadership and communication skills that are indispensable to effective governance.

We believe Deval L. Patrick and Worcester Mayor Timothy P. Murray, his highly capable running mate, would be a potent force for a positive change in the governor's office and in Massachusetts.

Mr. Patrick has tended to speak largely in general terms about how he would accomplish his goals. Yet over the course of the campaign he has provided a number of clear indications of the direction his administration would take.

Our recommendation of the Patrick-Murray team has been influenced in no small measure by the off-putting campaign of his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Kerry M. Healey.

While some voters may conclude that Mr. Patrick's entanglement in the legal maneuverings of a convicted rapist was ill-conceived, the cynical campaign of fear Ms. Healey wove around the episode was a far graver lapse of judgment on her part. The ploy has backfired, deservedly, not only failing to attract the voters she and her handlers thought it might win over, but also driving away supporters whose sense of fair play has been deeply offended by the campaign.

While Gov. Mitt Romney and Ms. Healey have made some notable accomplishments, the confrontational relationship with the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature has severely limited their effectiveness.

We find credible Mr. Patrick's determination to build a relationship based on collaboration and mutual respect and believe that the Patrick-Murray team would be a change in the right direction.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fitchburg named one of the "worst cities in America"

I might place Leominster's ugly step-sister on the list of the worst cities in Massachusetts, but I seen enough of America that I wouldn't put it on a list of the worst places in the country. But author Dave Gilmartin has:
Garden State progeny Dave Gilmartin's book "The Absolutely Worst Places To Live in America" (Thomas Dunne Books, $11.95) serves up serious contempt for two Bay State communities, Allston and Fitchburg.

"It's very hard to respond to the nonsense that is in the book because it is so mean-spirited," said Dan H. Mylott, mayor and life-long resident of Fitchburg....

His complaints about Fitchburg include "illegal drag racing, theft, hanging out at payphones, drugs and mispronunciation."

"My reaction is, if Fitchburg is so bad, then why do we have so many people moving here from Boston? All this from a guy from New Jersey?" said David McKeehan, president of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce.
Because they're all moving to Leominster.


NFL Picks, Week 8

For entertainment purposes only. Picks are against the spread, straight up winners are in bold.

Tennessee (-3) over Houston (W, 28-22)
Philadelphia (-7) over Jacksonville (L, 6-13)
Cincinnati (-3.5) over Atlanta (L, 27-29)
Tampa Bay (+9) over N.Y. Giants (L, 3-17)
Chicago (-16) over San Francisco (W, 41-10)
Green Bay (-4) over Arizona (W, 31-14)
Seattle (+6) over Kansas City (L, 28-35)
New Orleans (-2) over Baltimore (L, 22-35)
San Diego (-10) over St. Louis (W, 38-24)
Pittsburgh (-9) over Oakland (L, 13-20)
N.Y. Jets (+2) over Cleveland (L, 13-20)
Denver (-3) over Indianapolis (L, 31-34)
Carolina (-5.5) over Dallas (L, 14-35)
New England (-2) over Minnesota

Against the Spread
LAST WEEK   4- 8- 1  .346
TO DATE 48-45- 7 .515
THIS WEEK 4- 9- 0 .308
SEASON 52-54- 7 .491

Straight Up
LAST WEEK   5- 8  .384
TO DATE 64-36 .640
THIS WEEK 6- 7 .462
SEASON 70-43 .619


Grand Theft Auto: AUC

Among the controversial aspects of the Grand Theft Auto series of video games are challenges where the main character is charged with starting gang wars between various ethnic gangs in the city. Looks like certain students at Atlantic Union College have recently decided to take it on themselves to act out the game in real life:
Atlantic Union College took on the look of a crime scene Oct. 16, when police from Lancaster, Clinton, Bolton and Sterling responded to a brawl that court documents describe as "out of control."

"Students were throwing anything they could get their hands on and people were getting hurt by flying projectiles," the report, filed by officer Everett Moody of the Lancaster Police Department, read.

According to police, the altercation began in the college's gymnasium in what some say was an ongoing dispute between a group of Bermudian and Haitian students.

Those tensions came to a head during the game, Moody's report stated.

Fleurette Montes, a sophomore at the college was in the gym when the verbal argument started.
"I was in the stands at the gym and this Bermudian boy came and threatened me that 'if I mess with the Bermudians I will get hurt,'" Montes said. "Then chaos happened."

According to police, the verbal altercation moved outside and at some point resulted in Reid stabbing fellow student Reggie Lowe in the leg. Lowe was transported to the hospital, received six stitches and was released. Student Clay Smith was also treated for minor injuries.

But according to Gibson Bartelus, a junior and a resident assistant in the men's dormitory, he was escorting Reid back to Student Services following the argument in the gym when he said he noticed three other students pursuing them. Bartelus said one of the students picked up and was wielding a "keep off the grass" sign and that Reid was defending himself when the stabbing occurred.
I'm saddened that this sort of thing is happening at my alma mater. Although, to be honest, the vision of students chasing each other around the campus mall with a "Keep off the Grass" sign is kind of funny.

Thankfully, the administration is focused on what's really important here:
"We did a shakedown of the men's residence hall and we did find a couple of knives but we found no guns and such," [Vice President of Student Services Dean] Mentges said. "And we didn't find any alcohol. There were officers there watching and we went through quite succinctly. It took a couple of hours."
I'm not sure having the officers go through "succintly" would be qualified as a "shakedown," but whatever works. And I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear that they didn't find any alcohol. Sure, we found a few weapons here and there, but thank God we didn't find any booze. Now that would really be a problem.


Friday, October 27, 2006

5,000 strong

No Drumlins welcomed it's 5,000th visitor today. Since adding StatCounter to the site on January 26, here are other milestones:

500th visitor -- May 23
1,000th visitor -- June 30
2,000th visitor -- August 15
3,000th visitor -- September 8
4,000th visitor -- September 28
5,000th visitor -- October 27

The case against Claire Freda for state rep.

Since April, I've been expecting the race for State Rep between incumbent Jen Flanagan (Democrat) and City Councilor Claire Freda (Claire Freda) to heat up, but it has been unnervingly quiet. Until this week. Apparently Freda has been saving up her ammunition for the final two weeks: out of the blue, the campaign has exploded in a full-on assault of nastiness.

Last night, the Sentinel and Enterprise hosted a debate at city hall and it was ugly. I watched the last two-thirds of it on local access TV and let me tell you, I had to shield my five-month old son from the contempt coming off the screen and out of the speakers. The thing should have been rated TV-14 (hate).

One thing that was clear is that Claire Freda thinks that she deserves to be state rep, that she should have won the Dem primary in 2004, and that young pretty Jen Flanagan has no business holding the seat she's been wanting for years. So Freda made two tactical decisions: she would leave the Democratic party (despite having been a member of the State Democratic Committee), and she would run on a platform of opposing anything and everything Flanagan has done over the last two years, regardless of value.

As such, Freda's campaign has been an entirely negative one. She has yet to provide a rationale for why she should be elected. As far back as April, Freda questioned Flanagan's priorities in passing legislation to provide for more school nurses across the state. Never mind that it takes a good legislator to pass a bill when it has no obvious constituency in the state house. In Freda's narrow world, a legislator's only responsibility is to the 43,000 residents of our city, the children of Massachusetts be damned.

Freda's contempt for the representative and the school nurse measure is so strong, that she suggested last week that Flanagan pushed the bill because she is beholden to others:
"Who told her school nursing was a priority? Her mother who is a nurse? Mary Jane (Simmons, former state representative who Flanagan was an aide for), who used to be a nurse, and all the Mass. Nurses Association that have been pushing her for a couple years," Freda said.
Suggesting that a former state representative who died in office while proudly representing this city is a special interest no different from a union group is unbelievably crass and shameful.

She followed that up with a smear mailing suggesting that Flanagan advocates letting level 3 sex offenders attend state colleges. In response to Flanagan's claim that banning sex offenders from attending college when they return from jail would be unlawful, Freda said "hiding behind the Constitution on that isn't appropriate."

Hiding behind the Constitution? Last I knew, state reps were supposed to uphold and defend the Constitution, not take stands on issues for political gain. But Freda believes that Flanagan would have been better off to demagogue the issue instead of defending the constitution.

In the debate last night, Freda criticized Flanagan for working on issues facing the Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg, the state prison in Gardner, the Worcester County House of Corrections, and other projects in surrounding towns. She even criticized her for hiring an aide who lived in Winchendon (the horror!). It is clear that Freda believes that a representative's only concern is inside the borders of the town she lives in.

I'm worried that Freda would have a hard time representing us in Boston. It seems like she'd go absolutely crazy having to travel through Lancaster, Harvard, Littleton, Acton, Concord, Lincoln, Arlington, Cambridge, and Boston to get to the state house. I can't imagine what that commute would be like after a few years of Freda representation; it sounds like in her world, the roads, bridges, and services in each of those cities and towns would completely crumble because all of the money was funneled to Leominster. I've got an idea. Let's move the State House to Leominster too!

Oh, and let's not forget the tired, old, "the Democratic party isn't the same party I grew up in" tripe. She's trotted that out a couple of times as well. She thinks the party is too liberal, that it doesn't represent the same values it did when she was growing up. that it doesn't speak to the issues of working families, and so on and so on. Let's be honest about this: She doesn't think gays should marry, women should have the power to choose, or minorities have the same opportunities for work that the rest of us have.

Claire Freda is a Mitt Romney Republican, and she should admit it.

She's also solely negative. If Jen Flanagan had said at the debate last night that the sky was blue, Freda would have responded that:
  • Flanagan was obviously an out-of-touch liberal because she believes the sky is a color represented in the rainbow flag of the gay and lesbian movement, and that traditional Democrats like herself are alienated by the idea of the gay blue sky;
  • Flanagan's mother and the late former rep Mary Jane Simmons were both nurses who wore blue scrubs, so Flanagan is obviously beholden to the special interests of moms and dead reps;
  • Freda has noticed the sky in Fitchburg is blue when she has peered over the border, so Flanagan obviously cares more about the sky in the surrounding towns than the sky in Leominster. LEOMINSTER FIRST!
For Flanagan's part, based on the debate last night it doesn't appear that she was expecting the campaign to turn this nasty. She seems incredulous that the items she is most proud of have been attacked for being out of touch. Because she was not ready for this sort of nastiness, she seemed a little defensive during the debate last night. She had a little bit of that sneer and swagger that combined with her youthful looks and Leominster accent made her come across as a petulant teenager arguing with her mother over curfew.

In her closing statement, Flanagan outlined all of the things she has done for the city in her two years and made a good case for why she should be reelected. She would have been better served to hammer those points for the entire hour, rather than try to parry the criticisms of her issues. Jennifer Flanagan has been a credible legislator and will represent Leominster proudly for the next two years if we are smart enough to send her back to Boston.

Since Claire Freda is concerned only with Leominster, we would do well to leave her on the city council where she belongs.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

My favorite political ad of the season

The best I've seen so far:


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Here we go, Boston, Here we go!"

Friday, Kevin Paul Dupont snuck a line into the last paragraph of his Bruins column that touched a nerve with me. He wrote:
Late in the third period, the sellout crowd chanted ``Let's Go, Bruins," and to hear that again on Causeway was to hear an echo from a long-forgotten past.
I appreciate the point he was trying to make, but "Let's Go, Bruins" is not "an echo from a long-forgotten past." It's an abomination.

"Here we go Bruins, Here we go! (clap clap)" Now that's an echo from the past. "Let's go, Bruins" is just another obscene New York-ism (like Macy's and the New York Times) that has taken over what used to be a Boston tradition.

When I was growing up, if you turned on the radio and caught a Bruins-Rangers or Red Sox-Yankees game, you could tell who the home team was just by the chant of the fans. The New York fans sang "Let's Go, Rangers (clap, clap, clap clap clap)" while fans in Boston cheered "Here we go Bruins, Here we go! (clap clap)." Whether it was the Bruins or the Celtics, the Garden would absolutely sing. If there was a trademark Boston cheer, that was it.

But sometime over the last 15 years, Boston lost it's cheer.

I'm guessing it has to do with the success of the New York teams in the mid-to-late 90s. My generation grew up with the Celtics championships and year after year of Bruins playoff teams. Every big game I saw on TV while I was growing up was from the Garden. Every night, you'd hear the crowd roar "Hear we go, Bruins/Celtics, Here we go!" while John Kiley played along.

But the generations that came of age since the Bruins and Celtics fell off the map grew up with great New York teams and learned how to be "fans" watching them. It's not that they grew up fans of the New York teams, but when they see the Rangers, Devils, and Yankees in the Stanley Cup or World Series year after year, and they heard "Let's go Rangers/Devils/Yankees!" over and over and over again night after night, they just assumed that's the way it's done.

It's not. And it's cringe-inducing. No respectable Red Sox fan should ever cheer "Let's Go Red Sox (clap, clap, clap clap clap)." Yet it's all you ever hear. For God's sake, that's the same cheer Yanks fans use to call out their lineup before every game ("Der-ek Je-ter" clap, clap, clap clap clap "John-ny Dam-on" clap, clap, clap clap clap)!

30 years ago that cheer would have got you beaten in Fenway Park. Had you run a "Lets Go, Bruins" in the Boston Garden in the 70s, Mike Milbury would have come into the stands and beaten you with your shoe.

So please, in the name of Bunker Hill, the Boston Pops, Brigham's Ice Cream, Dunkin Donuts and all that is holy, let out a good "Here we go Bruins, Here we go!" next time you're at the Garden. Leave the baby New York stuff to Philadelphia (I hear there is a lot--a lot-- of culture there).


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, Yankee fans!

Someone in MLB marketing will probably get fired for this:

October 24, 2006 -- Talk about bad timing.

A new Yankee Christmas ornament sanctioned by Major League Baseball and bearing the team's official logo features a beaming Santa waving - as he pilots a plane.

"My reaction at first was, 'I don't believe it,' " said Midtown lawyer Denis Guerin, who yesterday received glossy literature touting the "Yankees Victory Plane" - "a limited-edition annual holiday treasure" - in the mail....

According to the advertisement, "The 2006 Annual Yankees Ornament makes the ideal gift for every New York fan on your Christmas list."

"Your team spirit will soar" with the plane on your tree, it says.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Sentinel and Enterprise defies logic, endorses Healey

The Sentinel and Enterprise endorsed a candidate for governor, Sunday. Here is an excerpt:
This election comes at a crucial time in the state's history as the cost of living continues to rise, more people are leaving Massachusetts than coming in, and crime is up and the quality of public education seems to be going down.

In addition, voters must realize that all taxpayers - workers, homeowners and businessowners - are footing an increasingly growing bill to pay to educate, care for and sometimes house illegal immigrants. Massachusetts is at a crossroads and needs a strong leader to help put the Commonwealth back on the right track to prosperity, public safety and excellence in education.
Well, obviously with all of those bad things happening to the Commonwealth, we must need to go in a new direction. Certainly any logical thinker would make the connection that with so much going wrong, we should look to elect someone who hasn't been in the corner office for the last four years. Right?
That's why we're endorsing Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey for governor.
It's no surprise that the Sentinel and Enterprise endorsed Kerry Healey--editor Jeff McMenemy wrote a column (disguised as a news article on their website) two weeks ago essentially parroting the Lt. Governor's talking points. But if they are going to do it, at least they could make an argument for Healey that is based on logic.

There may be a lot of good reasons to vote for Kerry Healey (although I can't think of one off the top of my head), but arguing that we need to elect her to fix all of the problems that have worsened in the four years that she has been in office is illogical lunacy.


"The sting of unboozed Democrats"

I think the point of this letter to the Editor of the Telegram and Gazette is that Washington Dems hold a grudge agaist the prsedient because he didn't provide enough liquor at the inauguration. Or something. If you can figure it out better than I can, let me know.
The first day of President George W. Bush's presidency, he was in conversation with the Democrats about having parties. Mr. Bush said "No," and after that he went to bed early and was up early. In Washington, that's a no-no. So, for six years, we've witnessed the sting of unboozed Democrats and the enemy is Mr. Bush.
"The Sting of Unboozed Democrats" would be the great title of a book or a blog. Wish I'd thought of it first.

Previous T&G Letters to the Editor:
"Why is Mitt Romney ashamed of Massachusetts?"
"hot condiments cause them to be...interested in sex"
Disgust with that nasty Francona grows
It's that dirty Francona's fault
T&G reader takes on terrorism
Worcester: the San Diego of the East
Is State Senator Barrios a Bush Crony
Rem-Dawg Debate Rages in Worcester
Jerry Remy has "lost all touch with reality"


Saturday, October 21, 2006

NFL Picks, Week 7

For entertainment purposes only. Picks are against the spread, straight up winners are in bold.

New England (-5.5) over Buffalo (W, 28-6)
San Diego (-5) over Kansas City (L, 27-30)
Houston (+9.5) over Jacksonville (W, 27-7)
Pittsburgh (-2.5) over Atlanta (L, 38-41)
Miami (-5) over Green Bay (L, 24-34)
Philadelphia (-5) over Tampa (L, 23-24)
N.Y. Jets (-3.5) over Detroit (W, 31-24)
Cincinnati (-3) over Carolina (T, 17-14)
Denver (-4.5) over Cleveland (W, 17-7)
Washington (+9) over Indianapolis (L, 22-36)
Seattle (-6.5) over Minnesota (L, 13-31)
Arizona (-3) over Oakland (L, 9-22)
Dallas (-3.5) over N.Y. Giants (L, 22-36)

Against the Spread

LAST WEEK   4- 9- 0  .308
TO DATE 44-37- 6 .540
THIS WEEK 4- 8- 1 .346
SEASON 48-45- 7 .515

Straight Up

LAST WEEK   6- 7  .462
TO DATE 59-28 .678
THIS WEEK 5- 8 .385
SEASON 64-36 .640


Friday, October 20, 2006

Republican: Use schoolbooks to stymie snipers

Today's dispatch from the lunacy disguised as Republican "ideas": let's give every school kid an old textbook so they can use it to ward off bullets from school shooters.

MINCO, Okla. -- One of Oklahoma's nominees for state superintendent of education has proposed a unique idea for protecting students from outbreaks of violence.

Bill Crozier, a Union City Republican going against incumbent Democrat Sandy Garrett, said he believes old textbooks could be used to stop bullets shot from weapons wielded by school intruders.

If elected, he said he would put thick used textbooks under every desk for students to use in self-defense....

"This would be to protect the children in an immediate situation. This is something that any student, any classroom in the country could do immediately," he said.

Crozier said he believes his test was not scientific. Instead, he said, he wanted to demonstrate what might happen if a student used a textbook as protection in the event of a school shooting.

"Not everybody would be saved in that situation, of course. But many of them would, and instead of running away or being lined up ... this is a way for the children to fight back," he said.

And there's video. The guy rounded up some fellow good old boys and taped himself essentially stalking and hunting innocent schoolbooks. If you do nothing else this weekend, please, click this link and spend five minutes watching this. You won't be disappointed.

Previous crazy Republicans:
More Republicans in Fantasy Land
Santorum: No terrorist attacks because "Eye of Mordor" drawn to Iraq


Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Let's make them all charter schools" and other thoughts on tonight's debate

It's tough to say what the low point of the night for Kerry Healey was--she certainly had her share. Let's take a look at the ways she fared poorly tonight:

Most egregiously, she refused to criticize Governor Romney for making Massachusetts the butt of his jokes and the foil for his rightist campaign for President. She couldn't have had one teed up any better, and she whiffed. Instead of taking the opportunity to both stand up for her state and separate herself from a governor with high unfavorables, she just grinned. Healey looked like a jilted schoolgirl who had just been told that her jock boyfriend was cheating on her with someone else and refused to believe it. Face it Kerry, Mitt doesn't love you anymore.

But that was just the worst of her night. She looked to be stunned that Deval Patrick actually came out aggressively when asked about Ben LaGuer and the Healey advertisements, and seemed flat and unsure of her response. She appeared to be unprepared for an aggressive response, and I thought she fared poorly in the first couple of segments, culminating in Patrick's admonition that Healey "get off her high horse."

She was a little too cute on the charter school question. She was on strong ground right up until the end, when she proposed to scrap the oldest public school system in the nation in favor of a collection of charter schools. Her odd little quip ruined what otherwise should have been a good issue for her.

Finally, she ended the day as she started it, getting nearly booed off the stage. This morning she was heckled by 700 oldsters and their canes. Tonight, she earned hoots by trying to goad Patrick into a one-on-one debate.

Deval Patrick was OK. I thought he did a decent job on the question of the Healey ads. He refused to take the bait on whether or not the ads have the taint of racial politics (I think they do and he probably does too, but he was smart not to go there), and finally defended himself on LaGuer. He was helped by the format: Healey didn't get to respond until after Grace Ross and Christy Mihos had their say, and by that point she had been battered by all three candidates and couldn't respond directly to Patrick.

I thought the "high horse" comment was a little over the top, but it seems like many others thought it was a good moment for him. It may have been his high point: as the debate moved into the areas of taxes and education, he started to take on water a little bit. He just can't seem to talk specifics. Ross got a good shot on him about his fuzzy positions on education (Remember, his running mate actually came out in favor of the MCAS as the sole graduation requirement on Tuesday, which would be a huge change in policy), and Mihos attacked him credibly on his inability to articulate specific details of his plan to ease property taxes.

I continue to think Grace Ross is the most comfortable with her positions. If she looked like Kerry Healey and had the money of any of the other three candidates, I honestly think she could be a significant factor. But she's broke and doesn't look gubenatorial, so she's not. If Patrick had defended himself on the LaGuer issue as strongly and confidently as Ross defended him, he never would have been in the mess he found himself in.

Mihos had a couple of good lines, but it seems like he just likes to hear himself talk. My wife says he reminds her of a bobblehead doll.


Old people heckle Healey

Make sure to take an hour to watch tonight's gubenatorial debate. This is actually the second debate on the schedule today. The first, sponsored by AARP, didn't go so well for Kerry Healey:

At one point, the group of 700 senior citizens with canes and gray hair drowned out Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey with boos as she tried to criticize Democratic candidate Deval Patrick on taxes.

"You will see your taxes go through the roof if you have a Democrat in the corner office, Democrats in both the House and the Senate," Healey said before being cut off by boos from the crowd.

It's too bad this morning's debate wasn't on TV. I'd have enjoyed seeing Healey get booed by a room full of seniors shaking their canes at her.


More Republicans in Fantasy Land

Yesterday, we learned from Republican Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum that the only reason the US hasn't suffered a second terrorist attack over the last five years is because "the 'Eye of Mordor' has instead been drawn to Iraq..."

Today's dispatch from the Republican Congress also comes from Pennsylvania, where incumbent Representative Curt Weldon says the FBI's investigation of him and his family is politically motivated because a dwarf, er, informant named Grumpy said so:

Weldon said yesterday that a retired FBI agent had "confirmed to me that a person who works on my opponent's campaign was bragging that the campaign knew three weeks ago" about the FBI's investigation into Weldon and his daughter's company....

So who's this retired agent? He's Gregory Auld, a Weldon supporter. Auld says that a man at a local gym, whom he calls "Grumpy," because he doesn't know his name, told him that three weeks ago, a guy in a [Democrat Joseph] Sestak T-shirt (Auld doesn't know this guy's name, either) said "something big" would happen to Weldon in three weeks.

Doesn't sound too convincing to me. Perhaps Weldon should have waited for confirmation from Sleepy and Bashful before going public with his concerns.

If there had been an eighth dwarf named "Wacky" (I'm probably stretching the dwarf-thing a little too thin), he probably be the one providing talking points a Republican congressional candidate in North Carolina, who came up with this one in a debate yesterday:
Vernon Robinson, who has run a series of brash advertisements about the two-term Democratic congressman [Brad Miller], charged that Miller wants to import homosexuals to the United States and supported scientific studies that would pay teenage girls to watch pornography.
I'm continually stunned at the Republican wackos who are able to get themselves elected (or nominated). Something tells me that we only get to see the true levels of nuttery when panic starts to set in, as it has this election cycle.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Santorum: No terrorist attacks because "Eye of Mordor" drawn to Iraq

What a fruit loop:

LEVITTOWN - Embattled U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said America has avoided a second terrorist attack for five years because the "Eye of Mordor" has instead been drawn to Iraq....

"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.

"It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.," he continued. "You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States...."

[A] spokesman for Democratic opponent Bob Casey Jr. questioned the appropriateness of the analogy."You have to really question the judgment of a U.S. Senator who compares the war in Iraq to a fantasy book," said Casey spokesman Larry Smar. "This is just like when he said Kim Jong Il isn't a threat because he just wants to 'watch NBA basketball.'"

According to a Patriot-News editorial, Santorum said the North Korea dictator "doesn't want to die; he wants to watch NBA basketball" as a reason for why Iran is the bigger nuclear threat.

At least he won't be voting in the senate much longer.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Murray fumbles the MCAS, and other thoughts on the LG debate

I now realize why these candidates are running for Lt. Governor as opposed to Governor. None were particularly inspiring.

I was disappointed in Tim Murray. It was the first time I have heard him in any extended remarks, and I didn't think he came off very well. He looked like he was running for class president, rather than the state's second-highest elected office. I though he was evasive--instead of answering moderator Jim Braude's questions directly, he seemed to use each question as an opportunity to repeat a canned line. When he did speak extemporaneously, he seemed to speak not with conviction, but as someone who was hoping to be liked.

He also carved out a new policy position for the campaign. Braude asked Murray if the MCAS "would be the sole graduation requirement under a Patrick-Murray administration, or no?" Murray responded, "Yes it would, but we believe we can also improve it by value-added assessment."

That's not what Deval Patrick's position paper says:

I support the MCAS, including the addition of a science component, as a high school graduation requirement. However, I do not believe it should be the sole assessment of student academic progress.
I read that to say that the MCAS should be one among many requirements. If the MCAS is the sole requirement, these other "value-added assessments" are meaningless. Just before Murray's policy shift, he tried to defend the Patrick/Murray position by pointing to similar positions by republicans:

Deval Patrick and I support the MCAS, but think there are ways to improve upon it, as outlined by Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, and Mayor Bloomberg, in terms of value added assessment.
I can't imagine that Jeb Bush and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have ever said anything about the MCAS (I did a quick Google search and cannot find any comments). Even if they did believe that the MCAS could be improved, I'm sure they wouldn't say so publicly, since Mitt Romney is a fellow Republican.

I'm sure Murray was trying to say that Bush and Bloomberg have suggested improvements to the tests in their respective states, but he sounded uninformed Actually, he sounded like someone who remembered bits and pieces of this soundbite, but not enough to get it right.

Reed Hillman seemed gruff and abrasive. He frequently interrupted his opponents and seemed to teeter on being angry. His demeanor made it seem like he was always on the attack, even if he wasn't. I suppose intensity and passion is a good thing, but there is a fine line between being passionate and being in your face, and I thought he crossed it a number of times.

On another note, perhaps it was the lighting in the studio, but I was continually distracted by Hillman's resemblance to suicidal cult leader Marshall Applewhite.

Independent candidate John Sullivan acquitted himself nicely. He has a calm, almost grandfatherly way about him and was much more effective than the head of his ticket, Christy Mihos, in arguing for their candidacy as an alternative to the two major parties. Kristen Beam at MassLive (the Springfield Republican's web site) agreed: "It was interesting and refreshing to hear from Independent Christy Mihos's running mate. At a few points throughout the night I thought John Sullivan should be running for governor, not Mihos."

Finally, I thought Green-Rainbow Party candidate Martina Robinson was also credible. I thought she was hurt by her speech assistant (Robinson has Cerebral Palsy and has some difficulty speaking), who either didn't take very good notes or didn't listen very well, since I was able to understand Robinson just fine. I also thought that Robinson's halting speech pattern made Braude uncomfortable, and he cut her off a couple of times when she seemed like she had more to say.

(Debate quotes via Political Intelligence.)


Why is Mitt Romney ashamed of Massachusetts?

Is Mitt embarrassed because of the gays, or the liberals, or the gay liberals?

Maybe it's one of those. Or maybe that's just a cover story for the real embarrassment exposed in a letter to the editor of the Telegram & Gazette: our rest areas!

My husband, I and two friends went to Maine to our trailer. On our way home, we needed to stop at the Massachusetts rest area. As we proceeded to go inside, my friend and I couldn't believe the unsanitary, deplorable condition it was in. As we entered, we walked into water covering the whole interior of the floor because of a blocked, overflowed toilet. There was paper all over the floor and hardly any toilet paper in the dispensers, no soap, and the hand dryers were not working very well....

I was honestly ashamed to tell anyone that we were from Massachusetts.

Shouldn't these facilities be somewhat of a priority? Visitors from other states must feel the same way when they use these rest areas. It doesn't leave a very good impression. Where are our state tax dollars going?

Our state tax dollars are going to publish the governor's presidential campaign speeches on the state's web site, for one.

Previous T&G Letters to the Editor:
"hot condiments cause them to be...interested in sex"
Disgust with that nasty Francona grows
It's that dirty Francona's fault
T&G reader takes on terrorism
Worcester: the San Diego of the East
Is State Senator Barrios a Bush Crony
Rem-Dawg Debate Rages in Worcester
Jerry Remy has "lost all touch with reality"


Saturday, October 14, 2006

NFL Picks, Week 6

For entertainment purposes only. Picks are against the spread, straight up winners are in bold.

Updated Sunday, 10:10pm: Ugh! What a brutal week!

Cincinnati (-5.5) over Tampa Bay (L, 13-14)
Tennessee (+10.5) over Washington (W, 25-22)
Dallas (-13) over Houston (W, 34-6)
Buffalo (-1) over Detroit (L, 17-20)
Seattle (-3) over St. Louis (L, 30-28)
Atlanta (-3) over N.Y. Giants (L, 14-27)
Philadelphia (-3) over New Orleans (L, 24-27)
Baltimore (-3) over Carolina (L, 21-23)
Miami (+2.5) over N.Y. Jets (L, 17-20)
San Diego (-10) over San Francisco (W, 48-19)
Pittsburgh (-7) over Kansas City (W, 45-7)
Denver (-15) over Oakland (L, 13-3)
Chicago (-10.5) over Arizona (L, 24-23)

Against the Spread

LAST WEEK   5- 6- 3  .464
TO DATE 40-28- 6 .581
THIS WEEK 4- 9- 0 .308
SEASON 44-37- 6 .540

Straight Up

LAST WEEK  13- 1  .929
TO DATE 53-21 .716
THIS WEEK 6- 7 .462
SEASON 59-28 .678


Friday, October 13, 2006

Kerry Healey lost the election today

The Lt. Governor was probably going to lose anyway, but after what might be the lowest smear I've ever seen in mainstream politics, her campaign is finished.

I'm talking about the story in this morning's Herald that Deval Patrick's sister was raped by her husband over a decade ago:

Deval Patrick's brother-in-law is a convicted rapist who has been notified by officials that he is in violation of laws that require sex offenders to register with the state, the Herald has learned.

Bernard Sigh was convicted in 1993 in San Diego of raping his wife, Rhonda, who is Patrick's sister. He pleaded guilty, served a short jail sentence and was put on five years probation, officials said.

The Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board sent Sigh a letter this week alerting him that he is required to register. The letter informed him he has 10 days to comply or he will face criminal prosecution, according to Kelly Nantel, spokeswoman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety.

Nantel said the board recently learned of Sigh's rape conviction and after reviewing his record, "determined he is required to register."

This story smells to high heaven, as media critic Dan Kennedy explains:

"Recently learned," huh? Rape is an incredibly serious crime, and if Sigh's got to register, then he's got to register. By the Herald's account, though, it does seem that there are some nuances worth considering. Sigh was convicted 13 years ago of raping his wife; they later reconciled, and they've lived quietly in Milton since 1997. Or at least they were.

The real story here is who tipped off the Sex Offender Registry and then leaked it to the Herald. This is really sordid stuff.

The other "real story" is that Patrick's opponents (despite my gut feeling, I hesitate to say "the Healey campaign" since there is no proof yet that an official campaign worker is directly involved in the leaking of the story) have finally gone so far that Patrick is ready to fight back. He took the hits over the LaGuer case and the Songer case without much retort. But he's not taking it anymore:

I got into this race with no illusions. In a world where negative campaigns are commonplace, I expected to have my own accomplishments trivialized, my own judgments questioned, my life choices challenged. I haven't always liked it, but I knew it was a price I would have to pay to be an agent of change -- not just in our policies, but in our politics.

And I took the time to prepare my family for what I thought would be coming.

My sister and her husband went through a difficult time, and through hard work and prayer, they repaired their relationship and their lives. Now they and their children -- who knew nothing of this -- have had their family history laid out on the pages of a newspaper. Why? For no other reason than that they had the bad luck to have a relative who is running for governor. It's pathetic and it's wrong. By no rules of common decency should their private struggles become a public issue. But this is the politics of Kerry Healey. It disgusts me. And it must be stopped.

Kerry Healey has never offered a single reason why she should be governor that doesn't depend on tearing me down. She has no vision, no plan, no positive agenda, and no leadership experience. Her record on jobs and the economy, on health care, on higher education, on crime has been one of shortcuts, gimmicks and failure. And so rather than deal with that, she has done everything she can to change the subject.

Well, my message to the Healey campaign is that I will not let you run from your record any longer. You can try all you want to change the subject and shift the blame, but we are going to expose for all just how your failed policies and your failed politics are the reason so many people are stuck and struggling and losing hope. The garbage peddlers who shopped this story around town are part of that failed politics, too.

We are going to ask the people to choose whether the politics of fear, division and personal destruction is what they want or whether we're better than that and are ready to finally throw out those who dump this trash in the public square.

We need a change. Gimmicks, slogans and dirty politics is no substitute for progress. The politics of fear is no acceptable alternative to the politics of hope. That's the change we need. And if anybody in the Healey campaign or in the public thinks I am unwilling to fight for that, you have badly underestimated me.

I thought the questions about Patrick's roles in the LaGuer and Songer cases were legitimate. I completely disagreed with Healey's position on those issues and thought that she overplayed her hand with the gloom-and-doom commercials and by parading victims rights advocates and old Florida lawyers onto a stage, but I didn't think the basic questions were out of bounds.

Dragging Deval Patrick's sister into the gutter inhabited by Kerry Healey's supporters and baring her secrets in front of the world and her children is a dirtier tactic than I could have imagined. I think many voters will think the same thing. And I think they will start turning away from Healey in droves. I'll bet yesterday's poll showing that Healey had closed within 13 points will be as close as she gets.

What did Patrick's opponents have to gain through this smear? They believe the public will think that Deval is so "soft on crime," that he tolerates a brother-in-law that would rape his sister. Too twisted to be true?

So the question is, was Patrick really "unaware" of the need for a convicted rapist to register as a sex offender, or does he just not see rapists as sex offenders?

Clearly, Patrick has a soft spot for rapists like Benjamin LaGuer, why not his own brother-in-law too? Did he conveniently become unaware that his own brother-in-law had to register?

I don't think many other voters will come to the same conclusion. Rather, they will see this story for what it is: the lowest, dirtiest smear the state has ever seen. And they will punish Kerry Healey for it.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Matt Lorch? Yuck!

Michelle and I both cringe when we see channel 7's new anchor Matt Lorch. He's unwatchable. Yet, channel 7 must love him, since he seems to be absolutely everywhere.

It looks like we're not alone. Universal Hub points out that another local blogger "really, really, really hates Matt Lorch." Meanwhile, Bruce at Boston Sports Media Watch posted an old video of Matt Lorch when he was a little less smug:


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sentinel and Enterprise blows it on Deval

The Sentinel and Enterprise had an opportunity to lead the way in covering the Deval Patrick-Ben LaGuer controversy, and they fumbled their chance away. Worse than that, their editor embarrassed himself and his paper with a cliched, poorly written and improperly placed column Sunday which belied the paper's failure to cover the story with the fairness and effort it deserved.

Let's start at the end. After failing to add anything substantial to the Patrick-LaGuer story in the ten days since Leominster mayor Dean Mazzarella spoon-fed the story to the Sentinel, editor Jeff McMenemy penned a column Sunday titled "Deval Patrick just doesn't get it." Rather than bringing anything resembling an original thought to the page, McMenemy essentially reprinted the scripts of Kerry Healey's campaign commercials:

Patrick again defended his actions on behalf of the convicted killer [Carl Ray Songer] and again said he was "proud," of his work on the killer's behalf.

"The issue in this case was whether the appropriate punishment was death or life in prison," the Patrick campaign said in an e-mail sent out. The federal appeals court agreed with (Patrick) that the death sentence violated the Constitution of the United States."

I'm not a lawyer, like Patrick, but I spent 10 years covering courts and crime in three states -- I've probably seen the inside of more criminal courthouses than Patrick ever has or ever will -- yet I don't understand how this poor cop killer's Constitutional rights were violated by giving him the death penalty.

To me, putting a convicted killer to death seems like not only the fair thing to do, but the right thing to do....

He'll also likely raise your taxes, increase the already bloated state bureaucracy, give in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants and fight against charter schools.

The smug McMenemy, veteran of a decade of taking notes from the courtroom gallery ought to take better notes. I'm not sure how he doesn't "understand how this poor cop killer's Constitutional rights were violated by giving him the death penalty" after writing a sentence previous that "the federal appeals court agreed with (Patrick) that the death sentence violated the Constitution of the United States."

Actually, I am sure. It's because the entire thing is a recitation of the stuff we've been seeing in TV ads and hearing on talk radio for two weeks. McMenemy is nothing more than a lazy parrot, devoid of anything original. At least some of Patrick's critics can articulate a rationale to vote against him that doesn't devolve into a series of tired talking points. The editor of the Sentinel is not one of them.

But as tired as McMenemy's piece was, he compounded the issue by posting the piece in the news section of the online Sentinel and Enterprise. As much as I disagree with McMenemy, he certainly can fill his weekly column with whatever tripe he sees fit. But a scrupulous editor would keep it in the opinion section where it belongs. A hack would disguise it as "news." Perhaps if McMenemy had studied journalism more closely than he studied constitutional law, he'd have a better handle on the difference between news and opinion.

Not that this is the only example of the Sentinel screwing up this story. In fact, the Sentinel has been two steps behind the story every step of the way, despite being in a position to lead the coverage.

Near the end of last month, Mayor Mazzarella decided it was time to step into the spotlight and advance his name recognition, profile, and the candidacy of the Lt. Governor he had supported in 2002. So he dropped a dime on the Sentinel and the Telegram & Gazette and started the ball rolling on the story that has dominated state politics for the better part of the last two weeks.

The Sentinel was on the story first, yet despite being the paper of record in the city where LaGuer raped his neighbor, they did not follow up. They printed the original story on September 28, followed that with an article the next day chronicling Patrick's response, and then nothing for nearly a week, until running a story on October 5 which was basically an interview with Kerry Healey and a recitation of the case. In the meantime, the Boston Globe was doing the legwork to find the extent of Patrick's involvement in the case.

While I realize the Globe has infinitely more resources than the Sentinel, the local paper had the advantages of being local: they knew the players, the community, and the history behind the case. The paper did not use any of those advantages, instead waiting for someone to break the rest of the story before reacting. For instance, the October 5 article basically is a rehash of the Globe stories of the day before. "Healey's statements came on the day the Boston Globe reported that Patrick wrote letters between 1998 and 2000 to the state parole board, asking that LaGuer be released," wrote reporter J.J. Huggins.

Huggins also adds "
Patrick's letters to the parole board, which the Sentinel & Enterprise obtained Wednesday, show Patrick supported LaGuer as recently as six years ago, not 10 years ago like he told reporters in a statement last week." Well, I "obtained" those letters Wednesday as well, along with anyone who looked them up on the Globe's Web site.

The next day, the Sentinel finally added a little local flavor, but it had nothing to do with adding to the story narrative, but instead consisted of "man on the street" interviews and reactions from local Democrats.


Friday, October 6, 2006

The (Somewhere Short of) Great '80s

If you ever take for granted how lucky we are to be fans of the Red Sox and Patriots in this decade, I ask you to watch the following retrospective on the '80s from Bob Lobel and the sports crew at channel 4.

A few things stand out:
  • We were so proud of the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins for just getting close. That's not good enough any more.
  • Both the Pats and Bruins had nicer uniforms then than now.
  • Bob Lobel had his own hair (and color).
  • "...Esasky's gone, we'll never win!" as though the only thing standing between the Red Sox and a World Championship was the loss of Nick Esasky!
  • I can't imagine how depressing a '90s "highlight" video would be.
(via BSMW message board)


Thursday, October 5, 2006

NFL Picks, Week 5

For entertainment purposes only. Picks are against the spread, straight up winners are in bold.

Indianapolis (-18.5) over Tennessee (L, 14-13)
Carolina (-8) over Cleveland (T, 20-12)
Buffalo (+10) over Chicago (L, 7-40)
New Orleans (-6.5) over Tampa Bay (L, 24-21)
Miami (+10) over New England (T, 10-20)
St. Louis (-3) over Green Bay (T, 23-20)
NY Giants (-5) over Washington (W, 19-3)
Minnesota (-6.5) over Detroit (W, 26-17)
San Francisco (-3.5) over Oakland (W, 34-20)
NY Jets (+7) over Jacksonville (L, 0-41)
Kansas City (-3.5) over Arizona (L, 23-20)
Philadelphia (-2) over Dallas (W, 38-24)
San Diego (-3) over Pittsburgh (W, 23-13)
Baltimore (+4) over Denver (L, 3-13)

Against the Spread
LAST WEEK   9- 4- 1  .679
35-22- 3 .608
THIS WEEK 5- 6- 3 .464

SEASON 40-28- 6 .581

Straight Up
LAST WEEK  10- 4  .714
TO DATE 40-20 .667
THIS WEEK 13- 1 .929

SEASON 53-21 .716


Patrick could have avoided this mess

Let's not forget that Deval Patrick could put all of the information about his involvement with the Ben LaGuer case out there on his own terms, and done so when everyone was preoccupied with other news.

As I wrote yesterday, if Patrick had been honest about his role in the LaGuer case when the opportunity first arose, he could have used it to his advantage. I'm not talking about the news reports that surfaced this weekend, I'm talking about the end of August, when the first round of stories about this issue broke.

The Herald first brought up Patrick's involvement with LaGuer on August 29 (quote via Hub Politics):

Democratic candidate for governor Deval Patrick once joined other pols and lawyers in backing a convicted rapist's bid for parole, support that is being highlighted on a Web site dedicated to the controversial case.

The Herald article didn't dig as deeply as recent Globe articles have, which should have given Patrick the opportunity to get his entire involvement with LaGuer out in the open in a context most beneficial to his campaign. Not only that, as Blue Mass Group pointed out at the time, the story was buried in the Herald because of interest in the John Mark Karr case.

In effect, Patrick had a "get out of jail free" card (brutal pun intended) and he blew it.

The Herald article also foreshadowed Healey's attacks on Patrick's record defending criminalssentencedd to death:
LaGuer is not the first convicted violent felon Patrick has backed. When he was an attorney for the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s, Patrick fought to save two cop killers from death row, winning one of the appeals.
It's hard to understand how Patrick let things blow up on him in the general election when he could have laid out his position during the primary season.


Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Jackson at four months

Jackson's four-month "birthday" was Monday, here are some recent pictures:

Rooting on the Patriots.

Relaxing after a night on the town.

Looking up.

Busy at his desk.

Get it out there, Deval -- UPDATED

The one thing that gets politicians in trouble is their inability to get all of the information out ahead of a story. Their first reaction to a question or challenge about anything controversial in their past is to acknowledge as little as possible in hopes of getting the issue out of the way. Time and time again, if they would just own up to their positions, there would be no controversy.

Now, Deval Patrick is facing some pretty tough questions about whether or not he mischaracterized his involvement in the appeals of convicted rapist Ben LaGuer. From today's Globe:

....Patrick issued a statement suggesting he no longer supported the effort to free the convicted rapist. Patrick said he had reviewed the history of the case and concluded that "justice has been served," in light of a 2002 DNA test that confirmed the prosecution's case against LaGuer.

In the same statement, issued Thursday night, Patrick sought to minimize his ties to LaGuer: "My sole involvement in this case was more than 10 years ago, when I wrote a letter on Mr. LaGuer's behalf."

At an event last week he told reporters: "I know who he is. He is someone on whose behalf I wrote, I think, maybe 15 years ago."

His spokesman, Richard Chacon, told the Sentinel & Enterprise that Patrick's comments in support of LaGuer were made when Patrick was working as a lawyer at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the 1980s.

But letters obtained by the Globe indicate Patrick's involvement was more recent and more significant than he has suggested. He wrote the Parole Board in 1998 and again in 2000. He also wrote at least twice to LaGuer himself, addressing the notes "Dear Ben."....

On Aug. 5, 1998, and again on April 3, 2000, Patrick asked the Parole Board to set LaGuer free.

The problem here is that Patrick could have released all of this info himself, and rendered this a non-story. Patrick is a civil rights lawyer. He has fought his entire adult life for fairness, and yes, that includes fairness for both the accused as well as the accuser. There were issues with the evidence and the original trial that convinced an awful lot of people that LaGuer deserved to be retried.

Lots and lots of people were shocked when the DNA tests concluded that LaGuer was the rapist after all. I don't think Patrick had any reason to shy away from his position, except for the reflexive instinct of politicians to hope that controversy goes away. had I been a Patrick advisor, my statement would have read something like this:

Recently there have been questions about a statement of support for convicted rapist Ben LaGuer that appears on a web site advocating for his retrial. In the years following his conviction, I came to understand through letters Mr. LaGuer wrote to me and a review of his trial that there were problems with his trial. As such, I advocated for Mr. LaGuer's appeals for retrial and parole through a series of letters to the court and to Mr. LaGuer himself.

In 2002, a DNA test concluded that Mr. LaGuer did, in fact, commit the crime. While I am still troubled by some of the irregularities at his trial, Mr. LaGuer has had his day in court, and the evidence he sought to exonerated him has shown the correctness of the verdict.
Now would that have been so hard? Just let everyone know that you thought the trial was shaky, you wrote a number of letters on LaGuer's behalf, the evidence proved him wrong, here are copies of the letters, and that's the end of the story.

UPDATE: Looks like Patrick's campaign was thinking the same thing, to an extent. From a press release:

Deval Patrick has said that almost 10 years ago he wrote a letter on Mr. LaGuer's behalf. He was not alone in expressing concern about the case at the time. Dr. John Silber of Boston University, legal scholars, newspaper editorials and many news reporters also expressed concern; indeed, several investigative reporters looked into the case and raised questions as well.

Deval felt strongly at the time-- and does so today-- that whenever issues of fairness are raised in our court system, they should be addressed in a serious manner.

Deval has said that after reviewing an update to the case--including DNA evidence that was not available at the time --he now feels that the right outcome has been achieved and that justice has been served in this case.

That's a pretty weak defense, essentially rehashing his earlier responses. He doesn't acknowledge the multiple letters to LaGuer. He does talk briefly about "issues of fairness," but doesnt make that the center of his statement.

Just as weak is his attempt to compare this to Lt. Governor candidate Reed Hillman's attempts to get parole for a friend who was serving time for DUI. Is it important? Yes. Should he use it as a way to muddle his own issues? No. Why not stand up proudly for your position--even if it was later proven incorrect--instead of bobbing and weaving?


Tuesday, October 3, 2006

"Cool, a windmill!" and other thoughts on tonight's debate

After last weeks debate for governor, I vowed not to vote for Christy Mihos because he wanted to throw people in jail for driving with expired auto registrations. But tonight, he proposed that the state help everyone to buy their own windmill.

Not "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage," but a windmill on every roof.

Inspiring, isn't it?

Well, that still won't be enough to get me to vote for Christy. Even if it were, I'd have to discard what might have been the most disjointed, rambling, cliche-ridden, stream-of-consciousness, manic debate performance I've seen in quite a while. Think of Admiral Stockdale on crack.

No, if I were to choose my candidate based solely on tonight's debate, I'd be voting for Grace Ross. She was really good. Of all of the candidates, she seemed to be the most comfortable speaking about the issues and how they fit into her view of government. She is unelectable for a bunch of reasons (no money, no major party support, uninspiring physical appearance to name a couple off the top of my head) but if we were back in the days when everyone got their news over the radio and third parties had a real opportunity to get votes, Ross would be a player.

(Of course under those circumstances, Mihos would automatically win, because a black man and two women would not even be on the ballot, but work with me.)

On the other hand, Deval Patrick again was trying to take the air out of the ball. He's way ahead, he knows it, and he's doing everything he can to make sure he doesn't make a mistake. In an effort to say nothing to offend, he ends up saying nothing at all. It's a good strategy if you're ahead. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Bill Clinton in 1996: Agreeing with opponents, co-opting parts of their ideas when they are obviously attractive, and not taking the bait when he's attacked.

As in the last debate, I thought Kerry Healey was adequate. In fact, I thought she was a little better than last time. That might have been more because Mihos was flailing around and was unable to attack her as he did in the first debate. But I think she was also better at pointing out her difference with Patrick. Because of the order in which the candidates spoke and a format that did not allow them to spar with each other, Healey was able leave her attacks of Patrick unchallenged.



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