Friday, June 29, 2007

I agree with the president on something. Hard to believe, I know.

The planets must be aligned, because I find myself agreeing with President Bush in a dispute with Ted Kennedy. Perhaps I have a fever or something, I'm sure this will pass.

Anyway, the issue is Reed Hillman. The man who was an unsuccessful candidate for Lt. Governor in 2006--and looks a lot like the suicidal cult leader Marshall Applewhite--has been nominated for US Marshal for Massachusetts. Kennedy is opposed:
President Bush yesterday nominated Reed V. Hillman, a former State Police commander and an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 2006, as US marshal for Massachusetts, but both US senators from the state immediately said they would oppose the nomination....

"I am disappointed that the president has chosen to move forward with the nomination of Reed Hillman, and I will be opposed," Kennedy said in a statement issued by his office. "It is important for our citizens to have confidence that political considerations are not unduly affecting law enforcement administration. Mr. Hillman does not meet the criteria."
And what is the criteria?
Traditionally, the marshal's job has gone to a prominent political figure from the same party as the president. The White House has usually allowed local political figures in the 94 marshal districts to reach a consensus on a candidate.

But Kennedy has advocated for what he has termed professionalizing the US Marshals Service, and last year he added a provision to the Patriot Act establishing criteria for marshals. According to the criteria, marshals must have experience in "command-level" management and experience protecting court personnel.
Seems to me that a former Commander of the State Police would have "command-level" management and experience. Kennedy should take his own advice and ensure "that political considerations are not unduly affecting" his opposition to Hillman's nomination.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Barack got tested for AIDS" and other thoughts on tonight's Democratic debate

You're looking nearly live at Howard University for tonight's Democratic primary "forum" (why not just call it a debate). And awaaaaay we go...

The security force is wearing bright yellow "CSC Event" t-shirts. This is the same company that provides security at sports stadiums across the country. Hopefully the audience has been tailgating all afternoon and is well oiled. Somehow I doubt it.

Although it looks like Patrick Kennedy is in the audience. Perhaps there was tailgating after all.

And there is New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. I suppose if they are going to spend the first 10 or 15 minutes introducing this guy and that, they can at least keep us entertained by letting us celebrity-watch.

One of the questions going into tonight's event is whether or not this event is tailor-made for Barack Obama. I don't think that's fair to Obama. In fact, I think the pressure is on him to a certain extent. If he doesn't win, the media will frame it as a major failure.

Al Sharpton in the house.

Hooray Deval. The 2016 presidential race starts tonight. This little speech is the best one he's given since before the election. Although he is a little too fast on the intros.

Fashion Notes: Mike Gravel appears to be wearing Khakis and Loafers. Richardson has a silver tie from the Regis 2000 collection. Hillary appears to have a huge belt. Now, on to the issues:

The question: Is race the issue of the 21st century?
  • Joe Biden answers by whacking his senate counterparts on support for Sam Alito and John Roberts.
  • Richardson with a nice answer about being authentic, that dealing with race is more than appointing Supreme Court justices. Take that Joe Biden!
  • The best Edwards can do is to repeat his tired old "Two Americas" speech? Weak.
  • Obama's answer sounds like he's trying to walk a tightrope. On the one hand, he's talking about "our struggle" in reference to racial issues, on the other hand, he's got a little of that "shared responsibility" code that white voters want to hear. I think he's going to be tip-toeing all night.
  • Mike Gravel will end the war on drugs. John Edwards is trying not to laugh at him.
The question: Why do black graduates have high unemployment than white dropouts?
  • Joe Biden says it's because we don't start teaching "disadvantaged youth" early enough.
  • Richardson: did you know we fixed this in New Mexico?
  • Edwards is stuck on poverty. The question wasn't about poverty, it was about the an education gap. Although I appreciate his talking about improving the conditions in rural communities as well as inner-city neighborhoods. The conditions in disadvantaged rural communities are often overlooked.
  • Gravel actually seems to be connecting. Although after saying the Democrats haven't done any better at fixing the education gap than the Republicans, and that the black community needed to take responsibility themselves, he then ticked off a bunch of ways the government could provide money if we weren't at war.
  • It takes a village. Thanks, Hillary.
The question: What is the plan to fight AIDS?
  • Richardson doesn't sound like he has a plan. I think he's making it up has it goes. Needles. Condoms. Penetrating minority outreach in communities. Kind of an unfortunate juxtaposition there, Governor.
  • Edwards, on the other hand, knows his stuff and has a plan. That's the way to answer the question, Bill.
  • Obama doesn't have a plan, but does have a nice turn of a phrase "The African-American community has a disease" of poverty which leads to poor health care, education, wages, etc. That's the key for Obama: get people to hear his theme, not snoop around for a position.
  • Gravel still fighting the war on drugs.
  • Does Chris Dodd actually get traction with anyone? I just can't listen to him. He's probably a really smart guy, but all I hear is "blah, blah, blah." And what the hell was that arm wave?
  • Hillary is right about the lack of interest in the subject because it's a minority issue, although the phrase "outraged outcry" is a little awkward. Her answer is the first one all night that has really connected.
  • Joe Biden: "Barack got tested for AIDS." Barack doesn't look happy about that revelation. Isn't that a HIPAA violation or something?
The question: Do the rich pay enough in taxes?
  • John Edwards gets the question first. Talk about a batting practice fastball for Mr. Two Americas.
  • Barack won't say that the wealthy should be taxed more, just that the "Bush tax cuts" should be repealed. Come on, man. This was an easy one.
  • Gravel wants to abolish the income tax in favor of a national sales tax. Huh? Wha? Where did that come from?
  • It's a little ironic to hear Biden talk about how "regular people" have it tough when he helped pass that awful bankruptcy bill that protected big banks and made it tougher on families in debt to get relief. I don't believe him.
The question: More whites are arrested, more blacks in jail. What's that about?
  • There's Barack with another line. "Justice is not just us."
  • Kucinich wants to end mandatory minimums and the death penalty. I'm with Dennis.
  • Now Donna Brazile is laughing at Mike Gravel.
  • Chris Dodd wants to eliminate the difference between crack and powder cocaine. I suppose that could be taken out of context, eh?
  • Biden: Hey, don't blame us, it's the states' fault.
  • Richardson isn't going to get anywhere now that they've cut the answer time down to 30 seconds. He can't answer a question that briefly.
The question: Would you guarantee a right to return to New Orleans?
  • I wouldn't, but I'm not running for president. Just because they built a city under water 150 years ago doesn't mean we should do that again. And no, I don't have a plan for what we should do with everyone who was displaced.
  • All of the candidates appear to disagree with me, it's just a question of who can do more for New Orleans (Clinton has proposed a TEN POINT PLAN! Beat that, Biden!)
The question: Outsourcing a problem or Global Economy?
  • Other than Gravel--who suggested the problem is that of businesses needing to pay for health care--everyone thinks outsourcing is a problem.
  • As an aside, this is the second time Biden has started his answer with "I agree with everything that's been said." Which has to be a lie if he thought about it, since Gravel didn't agree at all with Dodd and Clinton.
  • Maxine Waters appears excited about Kucinich ending NAFTA. I'll bet she'll be waiting an awful long time for that.
The question: What does our inaction in Darfur say about America's moral leadership?
  • Dodd suggests we take unilateral action to stop the killing. I'll bet that won't fly with most Americans.
  • Clinton and Biden want a "no-fly zone."
  • Richardson still wants to boycott the Olympics. Now there is a no-fly zone.
  • And Mike Gravel says that none of the other Democrats have the moral judgement to be president. I guess that's as good a place as any to end the debate.
I thought Hillary and Kucinich did well. Biden did not. Obama connected, but was light on specifics (as usual). I'll bet many will include him with the winners My man Bill Richardson had solutions (except his awful answer on AIDS), but he's got to find a way to get them across in 30 seconds.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Jackson and Rosie

Things have been busy enough at work the last week or so that I haven't had the inkling to blog, but I wanted to share a few pictures of Jackson's first trip to Davis Farmland (he particularly enjoyed the water park) and Rosie. Here they are...

Jackson ready for safari.

He found a goat.

The water park is much more fun.

Mr. Misty.

Spouting off.


Waiting for Mama to come in.

A kiss for Father's Day.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Turn those ice cream trucks off!

Finally, someone out there is thinking straight:
City Councilor Sal LaMattina said he has been repeatedly awakened late at night by the jangly jingle of one Frosty truck, the music accompanied by an amplified female voice screeching, “Hello,” and he will call for a hearing today on whether ice cream trucks should be forced to go back to tingling bells rather than bellowing tunes.
I don't think Councilor LaMattina is going far enough. Frankly, I think the trucks should be banned from making any noise at all. Perhaps the absolute worst thing about living in my previous home in Leominster was hearing that infernal "Music Box Dancer" every single night from Patriots' Day until the end of September.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cracklin Rosie, make me smile

We adopted a puppy this afternoon. My niece Kayla started calling her Rosie when she came over to play with her, and it appears the name will stick. Here are a couple of pics of Rosie:

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Gisele should take this up with Tom

Supermodel and girlfriend of Patriots QB Tom Brady seems to have misplaced her concern about condoms:
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Gisele Bundchen is the biggest international star on the runway during Rio’s Fashion Week, but she’s also making headlines for criticizing the Roman Catholic church’s opposition to condom use and abortion.
Considering Tom's impending fatherhood, me thinks Gisele should be more worried about Tom's apparent opposition to using a rubber.


Monday, June 4, 2007

"9/11 led us down a cul-de-sac." and other thoughts on last night's debate

You're looking not-so-live from St. Anselm College. I watched the Sox-Yanks game last night instead of the debate, so sue me. Here we go...
  • Dennis Kucinich is from the city of champions. He's also standing on a box.

  • For what it's worth, Wolf Blitzer should also have a box.

  • Whoa, that dude in the front row is seriously cross-eyed.

  • Obama with the old line about needing to fight them there so they don't come home, or some sort of bunk. This is the thing that Bush has been most successful at. He's been talking this way for so long that even the Democrats have co opted some of his language.

  • Kucinich: "9/11 led us down a cul-de-sac." I don't know what that means.

  • Biden says we can save 2/3 of the soldiers lives if we give the troops V-shaped vehicles. I'm guessing there is some context to that suggestion, but without it he sounds like he's getting his ideas from watching the Jetsons.

  • Hillary's answer on her votes on Iraq was much better than Obama's. I don't know why, but Obama doesn't do well in this format. In the debates to date, he has appeared unsure on his feet. I'd expect more.

  • Obama is apparently so nice that he can't even attack John Edwards without stumbling over the punch line. And he's allowed Clinton to take the high road in this section. She sounds much better in the early going than she has in the other debates.

  • Senator Dodd has this way of tailing off and not finishing his thoughts. Ted Kennedy does the same thing. I wonder if it's a product of the ability Senators have to "revise and extend" their remarks.

  • This question about genocide in Iraq is a silly one. If we should stay there or anywhere) because of the possibility of genocide, then we will be everywhere. I mean, you could argue that genocide is possible in any society.

  • Why do we need 67 votes to end the war? To sustain a veto? It seems like if the senate wanted to cut funding, it would only take 60 votes to break a filibuster. If the president vetoes it, then it's on his head.

  • As Clinton is dodging and weaving around the question of why she didn't read the National Intelligence Estimate, Michelle just said "I hate it when they go around and around and don't answer questions." She then curled up with a blanket and a pillow.

  • Michelle on Mike Gravel: "This guy's a nut job."

  • Richardson's problem is that he is trying to talk about his broad ideas and policies, and not answer Blitzer's narrow questions. Wolf wants him to respond specifically to the word "amnesty," while Richardson is trying to outline his entire program.

  • What the hell is Biden talking about? He's started about four different thoughts trying to answer this question about immigration.

  • Barack thinks we need to toughen the border with Canada? I swear, he's making this stuff up.

  • I hate this "raising your hand" shtick. And Obama is right, the "official language" question is a stupid question. This debate so far has been full of "gotcha" questions and code words, not real discussions about policy.

  • Hillary seems much less shrill and much more in control tonight. She's also touching the right bases on health care when she talks about the insurance companies and big Pharma wanting to keep the system as it is.

  • Wolf does not want to let Richardson lay out anything resembling a complex plan about health care or anything else. He hates long answers. Please, let people talk about there ideas. Now he's trying to cut off Chris Dodd, too.

  • Obama's statistic about 25% OF California's drivers not having insurance despite the state requirement has to be wrong. There is no way the number is that high. Massachusetts is a mandatory state, and I can't imagine there are many of us who don't have insurance. In fact, if you lose your coverage, you lose your registration.

  • Would a gay Arabic linguist in fact be a cunning linguist if she were a lesbian?

  • You know things have changed when a Democrat like Hillary Clinton is more comfortable quoting Barry Goldwater than a Republican would be.

  • Richardson starts his answer about gays in the military with "I'd do what we did in New Mexico." Forgive me if I'm wrong, but the governor of New Mexico can't do anything about the military, can he?
  • And there's a picture of Wolf Blitzer's ass. Not a good camera angle.

  • Hillary is more uncomfortable about the question about her husband than she has been about any of the others.

  • Chris Dodd says the question about how to lower gas prices is "a question that deserves complex answers." When a senator starts his answer with that line, you know he has no idea what he's talking abut and is going to try to filibuster his way out of an answer. Dodd is now admirably demonstrating the art of saying nothing.

  • I think I'm going to jump off at halftime. I'm tiring and the Red Sox game has just started.

  • Richardson doesn't think the oil companies are gouging us. That may not play well with the base.
That's it for me. First impressions were that Hillary was the winner. Obama and Dodd were losers. Richardson may also have been a loser in the sense that he seemed to be clashing with the moderator on every question.


Never Forget: Jerry Trupiano was not good

Some freelance writer named Ted Weesner, Jr. hijacked the Globe opinion page this morning and subjected many unsuspecting readers like myself to a mournful, wistful wet kiss to Jerry Trupiano's unemployed mug.


Accepting that we're all entitled to our own opinions, however misguided, I think it's important to point out that at his best, Jerry Trupiano was merely tolerable. At his worst, he was unlistenable. But Weesner disagrees with me, so I'm going to take this opportunity to explain why Weesner hasn't the first clue what he's talking about.

Early in the column, the author claims that there has been a torrent of unhappiness over Trupiano's exile from the broadcasting booth:
Longtime broadcaster Jerry Trupiano's contract was not renewed by the organization, and many feel like a loved one has been stolen away.

The degree of unhappiness is both surprising and not hard to locate. Google "Trupiano" and you get a glimpse of live grief on display.
I took Weesner up on his challenge, and googled "Trupiano." Among the top 50 hits, here is what I found:
  • 22 Tony Trupiano, Radio Host/Political Candidate
  • 10 Jerry Trupiano
  • 3 Trupiano's Italian Restaurant
  • 15 Assorted Trupianos
Of the 10 references to the deposed sportscaster, four were news interviews with the broadcaster and five were biographical references. Just one was a fan reaction piece, and even that one spent more time listing Trupiano's shortcomings than his redeeming qualities.

In other words, after googling Trupiano as instructed, I found exactly no "examples of live grief," save for Trupiano's own disappointment in being fired.

Weesner continues:
...if you listen to the new team of broadcasters -- there are two who alternate with Jerry's old partner, Joe Castiglione -- there's been no mention of the missing personality.

This despite the fact that baseball announcers refer regularly to the past, both near and far. It's a little eerie. In the way that Lenin purged Trotsky's image from official photographs, it's as if Trupiano never existed.
Or, in the way that Weesner doesn't mention the names of Dave O'Brien and Glenn Geffner, as if they do not exist. I'm going to give Weesner the benefit of the doubt here and assume that he is being intentionally ironic.

Back to the column:
A good broadcaster is also a good storyteller, providing sharp detail, colorful character, a lucid view of unfolding scenes, all the while trying not to get in the way of "our" picture.
I couldn't agree more. Which is why the man who spent the last 13 years muddying every last fly ball by yelling "Way Back! Waaaaay Back!" only to follow that with the news that the drive was caught 10 feet in front of the warning track was not a good broadcaster. Worse than getting "in the way of 'our' picture," he often described a picture that didn't exist.

More Weesner:
It may not be too much to say that Trupiano's paternal gravitas offered -- much like the experience of listening to baseball itself -- a kind of temporary shelter from life's storms.
Trupiano's gravitas was on display every night as he informed us that Tim Wakefield, Mike Lowell, Fred Lynn and Daryl Boston were members of the All-Massachusetts Town Team, or that Jim Rice and Bob Lemon headed the All-Food team. A temporary shelter from the game at hand, if not from life's storms.

The author goes on to explain that he gained an affection for Trupiano while driving across New England to visit his ailing mother, that Trupiano's voice provided comfort and excitement to the anxious traveler. I can appreciate the sentiment. Over the years, I have traveled home alone late at night a number of times from out of state and I knew that I could always find Lovell Dyett or David Brudnoy on WBZ after dark. There were definitely some nights when the sound of home kept me driving.

There were nights when the sound of Jerry Trupaino made me wish I were driving off a cliff.

Weezer finishes his column with this:
Someone once told me we can never have too many mothers. The same can surely be said of fathers. For many of us, for a while, Jerry Trupiano was one, unseen but very much heard.
Touching, but I've always thought of Trupiano as that crazy uncle that corners you at a family reunion. You know, the one who talks your ears off, spewing unlistenable craziness until someone--in Troop's case, Joe Castiglone--jumps in to rescue you.


Friday, June 1, 2007

Oh, you mean that kind of immersion

My first thought was "We're opening a school teaching torture?" when I read this headline:

Then it struck me that the article referred to students learning "the bulk of their lessons in Mandarin Chinese, including math, science, and history." and not waterboarding.



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