Thursday, August 28, 2008

Robert Feuer forum rewind

Thursday night, the Sterling Democratic Town Committee hosted the fourth of a series of candidate events, a conversation with Robert Feuer, a candidate for US Congress in the first Massachusetts district. As in earlier forums, I hosted the event and asked most of the questions.

Below is the first segment and links to the other segments. You can watch these as well as the video of our earlier forums on the Sterling DTC YouTube channel.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Knuuttila's Supermarket Sweep

The final push in the race for state senate began last night as Jennifer Flanagan and Brian Knuuttila squared off in a debate in Gardner. Apparently Knuuttila decided it was time for the tried and true tactic of turning the debate into an episode The Price is Right. From the Telegram and Gazette:

Mr. Knuuttila, 50, also challenged Ms. Flanagan, 32, on her “real world” experience, noting she had been working in the Statehouse since she was 19 years old. He said a well-rounded legislator would have experience beyond Beacon Hill.

“What is the price of a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs?” Mr. Knuuttila asked. “Do you know?”
The Sentinel and Enterprise (note to the editor: paragraphs are a wonderful thing, look into them) had it a little different--quoting Knuuttila as asking about “a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread”--but essentially the point was the same…Flanagan might be out of touch because she’s been working at the state house for most of her adult life.

What a bunch of hooey! Perhaps Knuuttila was looking back at his near decade in the house and knows just how out of touch a rep can get, but working on Beacon Hill is quite a bit different than a Senator or President going to Washington and having his or her staff do all of the shopping, cooking, cleaning, whatever.

Unfortunately I wasn’t there to hear Flanagan’s response, but I can tell you how I’d have responded if he’d asked me that question:
I paid $1.79 for a dozen eggs, $3.29 for a half-gallon of organic milk for my son, and $3.29 for a loaf of bread at Market Basket Sunday. In fact, I was a little disappointed that they weren’t having a two-for-five special on the bread because I was going to get an extra loaf to throw in the freezer if they were on sale.

But being a senator is about more than that. Do you know what a school district has to pay to hire a nurse? Or how much an uninsured resident has to pay each month for the state’s health care plan? Or what it will cost to repair the dams that are crumbling in Sterling?

Well I do, and while I can’t do anything about the cost of bread or milk or eggs, I fight for our district everyday on those and a hundred more issues. That’s what the people of the district are deciding, not who’s best at playing Supermarket Sweep.
OK, so I wouldn’t have added the last sentence about Supermarket Sweep; that would have been a gratuitous shot to take in a debate. But I’d have tried to turn it around to show that not only do I have an excellent grasp of the sort of trivia that comes up in a “gotcha” gimmick of a question, but that I also have an excellent grasp of issues that I can actually do something about.

Who knows…maybe the question will come up again.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

That should help a lot

After hearing Hillary Clinton's speech tonight, the press looks kind of silly for all of the bandwidth they wasted wondering about the Barack-Hillary rift.

That was one of the best speeches I've ever heard her give. As she was speaking, it crossed my mind that if she'd brought that to the campaign trail, Barack Obama might have been speaking tonight and Clinton on Thursday.

Bill Clinton will also be great tomorrow night. I heard him speak in Worcester two years ago at a Deval Patrick rally and he was fantastic. He is a uniquely compelling speaker and I'd be stunned if he doesn't command the crowd tomorrow. There is no doubt in my mind that he will bring the wood to John McCain while making a strong case for Obama.

There's been some discussion in the press that this convention is too much about the Clintons, but it's the Clintons' people (i.e. working class white Democrats) that can lock this thing up for Obama. Two nights of Hillary and Bill pounding McCain and validating Obama could go a long way toward that end.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Today's Sentinel: "Who should Obama pick for VP?"

The editors at the Sentinel and Enterprise must think following politics is a little like watching the olympics--you know, how you stay away from hearing the results so you can watch it on TV as though it were live. Apparently, they figured that all of their on-line readers would check out over the weekend and wait until later today to find out Obama's pick for VP, since they posted this article just before 8:00 this morning:


The article also includes this gem:
Former Gardner State Rep. and current Democratic state Senate candidate Brian Knuuttila was just as supportive of Clinton, but "doesn't think it's going to happen..."

Knuuttila said Obama could also do well by nominating a conservative democrat, such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, to boost support in the south.
Um, Florida Governor Charlie Crist is a Republican...

The Sentinel posted an article titled "Obama introduces running mate Biden" a full two minutes later. Guess they didn't want to keep their readers waiting very long.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Biden, good choice

I have always been a fan of Joe Biden, so I was happy with this morning's announcement that he will be Obama's running mate. Of all of the candidates that have been considered "serious" in recent weeks, he was definitely the best. Just a couple of quick thoughts...

1. He is the perfect candidate to solidify the "I'm with you" narrative that McCain has allowed with his gaffes about his many houses, etc. Biden is the least affluent of the 100 senators, famously (or soon-to-be famously) commuted by train from Wilmington, Del. to Washington every night during his early years in the Senate. And was a single parent with young children for years after his first wife was killed in an auto accident (compare that with McCain leaving his wheelchair-bound first wife for a young blond heiress). Hopefully McCain will choose Mitt Romney to help solidify the rich, multiple house-owning, out-of-touch Republican ticket.

2. Not everyone likes him. Michelle, for instance, doesn't like him at all. She thinks he is a smarmy know-it-all. I don't imagine that will change her vote to McCain (I'm guessing nothing short of Obama choosing Clark Rockefeller as his running mate would do that), but I wonder how he will play with other young women, or it if will even matter.

3. The GOP is already out with a couple of ads showing Biden saying Obama isn't ready to be president, that he like McCain, etc. Ultimately this wont matter a whit--every candidate has bad things to say about a rival--but the GOP has to do it because they're expected to. These things are a lot like the pitcher throwing over to first base to check on a runner over and over again. Most of the time it doesn't result in an out, but the pitcher has to do it anyway in attempt to slow the runner down a step.

4. I love the idea of sending out the text message at 3:00 AM. After so much talk in the primary about who would be ready to take the call at 3:00 AM, it seems perfect. But I'll bet that some Hillary supporters will see it as a slap to the face, and we'll start to see stories come across the wire any minute now about peeved Clintonites feeling like their candidate was being mocked. Deal with it.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Game on in Pepperell

Seems a little gamey to me.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

100% committed or a step too far?

I’ve been wondering when challenger Steve Kerrigan would start taking it to Representative Hank Naughton in their primary contest. I guess the answer is "August 19."

Kerrigan has been beating Naughton in the mail and on the ground—I’ve received five or six fancy, designed brochures from Kerrigan compared to one misprinted postcard from Naughton, and Kerrigan leads 2-1 in visits to the homestead—but he hasn’t been either specific about his plans for the House or willing to contrast his vision of government with Naughton’s. It’s been my thought all along that a challenger can only get so far without making a direct contrast with the incumbent. In short, you have to knock the champ out.

But I figured that if Kerrigan started to draw contrasts with the incumbent, he’d do so around specific votes or issues, or even the old rumors that Naughton may be looking for greener pastures in the judiciary. I didn’t think he’d go there:
“I have a 100 percent commitment to serve, 24-7, and I’m not starting as a traditional freshman because I’ve had to deal with all the issues before,” Mr. Kerrigan said...

Mr. Kerrigan pointed out that Mr. Naughton, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which handles money, was absent on July 3, the day the $28 billion state budget was voted on.
Let me be more precise. I’m not surprised that Kerrigan is mentioning his “100 percent commitment” because this has been his one consistent overriding message. While he doesn’t say so directly, readers and listeners are left to infer that Kerrigan doesn’t think Naughton is as committed to being a representative as he should be. But I am surprised that Kerrigan would use a vote that Naughton missed while serving in the Army Reserves as evidence:
Mr. Naughton, 47, who joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 2003 and did an eight-month tour of duty in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, said yesterday he was on reserve training at the time of the vote.

“I filed my (yes) vote with the clerk, and everyone was aware of what my vote was,” he said.
I just can’t imagine why Kerrigan would pin Naughton down as being less than 100% because he spends a couple of weeks a year with the armed forces, but there you are. Perhaps the item was taken out of context—I tend to arch my eyebrows a little bit when a reporter relays an assertion this specific as a narrative rather than using a quote—or perhaps Kerrigan didn’t realize that Naughton was serving that week. I don’t know. But using one’s military service as a reason he should not be reelected is pretty risky business.

(For what it’s worth, the reason for Naughton’s absence should have been clear. On June 10, the Clinton Item reported that he would be sent on active duty to the United Nations and Fort Dix during the summer. I can also vouch for the representative. I emailed him of June 29 to start the process of scheduling our forum in Sterling and he replied on July 6, apologizing for the delay as he away from email on active duty.)

It will be interesting to see how the campaign sharpens over these last four weeks. Based on a couple of his answers at our forum last week, it sounded like Naughton was aware of the criticism that he is not “100 percent committed.” I wonder if using the Naughton’s military service as an example is taking that criticism a step too far.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rep. Harold Naughton forum rewind

Thursday night, the Sterling Democratic Town Committee hosted the third of a series of candidate events, a conversation with Rep. Harold Naughton, a candidate for reelection in the 12th Worcester District. As in the earlier forum with challenger Steve Kerrigan, I hosted the event and asked most of the questions.

Below is the first segment and links to the other segments. You can watch these as well as the video of our earlier State Senate debate on the Sterling DTC YouTube channel.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7


Monday, August 18, 2008

Congressional Candidate Robert Feuer to speak in Sterling

If you have even the remotest interest in the issues facing our communities and the commonwealth as a whole, you need to get down to the First Church in Sterling Thursday night at 6:30 to take part in a discussion with Robert Feuer, candidate for U.S. Congress.

Bring friends, loved ones, supporters, enemies, whoever. This will be an open forum, so if you or someone you know have some issue that is near and dear to your heart, come on down and ask the candidate what he thinks about it.

Here is the official release:
The Sterling Democratic Town Committee will host a forum with Robert Feuer, Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, on Thursday, August 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Butterick Municipal Building in Sterling, 1 Park Street, on the Sterling Town Common. The event is open to the public.

Feuer, a Stockbridge attorney, will discuss the issues facing the nation and the district, and answer questions from voters. Feuer is running against incumbent Congressman John Olver in the September 16th Democratic primary to represent the First Massachusetts District.

The first district includes all of Berkshire and Franklin counties as well as parts of Middlesex, Hampshire, and Worcester counties, including Sterling, Leominster and Fitchburg.

For more information, visit the Sterling Democratic Committee on the Internet at

Nathan Bech wrong on redistricting

I have to give Republican congressional candidate Nathan Bech a little credit. He certainly has taken one campaign strategy to heart and run with it: slam your opponent for every position he takes (In the campaign handbook there is probably a note that says the exception to the rule is that if your opponent actually says something true or sensible you should forgo criticism of it, but I'm guessing Bech just stopped reading when he got to the part about attacking).

What is the basis for Bech's latest attack? Congressman John Olver said last week that if Massachusetts loses a congressional district after the 2010 censust, the state house should combine the four counties of Western Massachusetts into one district.

I've gotta say, that's about the most sensible thing I've ever heard from John Olver.

But, since Bech's book says you must attack even the best and most obviously true statements of your opponent, Nathan Bech replied with this:
"This plan will obliterate the leverage of our poorest and most rural communities," Bech said in a statement. "I still want to fight for Gardner, Athol, Leominster, and Fitchburg."
First, Gardner, Athol, Leominster, and Fitchburg don't qualify as our poorest and most rural communities. Maybe Athol would be on the "poorest" list, but none of them are at all rural.

And one more thing...Those of us in North Central Worcester County don't want you or John Olver or anyone else from the land of Shay's Rebellion representing us. We share common issues with Worcester, not Pittsfield, Amherst and Greenfield. The best thing for us would be for the state house to redistrict us into Jim McGovern's third district where we belong.

Ask any citizen of the North County what they think of John Olver and 80% of them will say "Who?" Ask nearly any politician in the North County about John Olver and they will roll their eyes. To a person, they would rather share a district with Worcester than with the Berkshires.

If Nathan Bech wants to make hay with voters here, he ought to heartily endorse Olver's plan to redistrict us out of his territory, but make the argument about being fair to the people of the North County, as opposed to Olver's explanation of how it would benefit the West.

But that would mean agreeing with the opponent, a tactic missing from the Bech playbook.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Obnoxious American...Announcers

I forgot how much I hate Al Trautwig, and by extension the entire way NBC covers gymnastics. In the first 15 minutes of tonight's coverage of the women's team qualification, we got the following:

1. A pissy diatribe from Trautwing about how it's so sad that we'll never have a perfect 10 again under the system. Oh, get over it. The more complex system is better because it allows more precise scoring. So you can't bellow "a perfect 10!" after a routine. Boo hoo.

2. A dark rendering of the horrible Chinese for using underage athletes. Just look at them, America. They're obviously too young. The enemy is cheating and harming young girls while they are at it. Just remember, America, if our girls lose, NBC wants you to believe it's not because the Chinese were better, it's because they are cheating. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. But it doesn't appear that it has been proven. Get back to me when you have something other than the carping of a former US coach.

3. As the Romanian team was struggling on the balance beam, Elfi Schlegel sneered that the Romanian team just seemed so unfocused and undisciplined and that 30 years ago they would never have been joking around the chalk bowl, and their former coach was commenting on how different the attitude of the girls was. Well, of course it's different. 30 years ago, if a Romanian gymnast was caught joking around the mat or falling off the balance beam her family would be sent to the gulag before the games were over and she'd be shipped out to meet them as soon as the plane touched down. The fact that they can have a little fun is a good thing. Perhaps they aren't as good anymore because Romania doesn't put half of their GDP into Olympic sports in an attempt to prove that Communism is all that.

So after setting the stage for us with that baloney and a two-minute montage of gritty American girls working out in at dawn and looking at the camera with determination etched on their faces while Trautwig narrated that they had to fight through such hardship as the Iowa floods and some indication that the fates were conspiring against them (he really said that), the American athletes proceeded to stumble and flop their way through the floor exercises and the parallel bars. Was it because they were upset about not being able to strive for 10s? Too old? Or perhaps they just don't work hard enough? If they weren't Americans those would be the reasons, why not for our girls?

Or maybe they just had a bad day. Maybe the Romanians had a bad day. And maybe the Chinese girls just look young. Al, why don't you and your troupe of yahoos just let us watch the games and enjoy them, and leave your storylines behind.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Live-blogging the Opening Ceremonies -- Part 2

You're looking live at Beijing, where...what? This isn't live? It's on tape. Oh.

Scott is joining me, in red. I'm writing in blue. Part 1 is here. On to the parade of nations...

9:21 -- Michelle thinks the Greek women look like Stewardesses. I like the "Bob Kraft-style" white collars of the men's shirts.

9:23 -- Michelle: The president of Turkmenistan should have made sure the colors matched, instead of a booger green and a puke green.

9:25 -- I've heard that the president of Turkmenistan is kind of nuts. Holy mackeral, Malaysia is wearing some of the most garish pajamas I've ever seen. Meanwhile, the group of Mali looks like a bunch of holy men. I've never even heard of Mali, so maybe they are.

9:26 -- Why do the Yemenese get bagpipes for their background music?

9:28 -- The Marshall Islanders found the immunity idols on Castaway Island!

9:29 -- Those bamboo necklaces were first outlined as part of the Marshall Plan. Complaints about this joke can be sent directly to Lance at nodrumlins.

9:30 -- I think I'd be more apt to buy something that was advertised in HD.

9:31 -- Unless they are trying to sell you Randy Johnson's face.

9:31 -- Do the Ecuadorans put the country name on their pants so they can look down and remember where they are from?

9:32 -- I like the yellow waistcoats the Jamaican women are wearing. The blazers for the men, not so much. If I had been doing the Project Runway challenge, I would have made waistcoats for Americas women as well.

9:33 -- I like the Country and Western-style suits the Belgians are wearing.

9:34 -- Israeli athletes or American tourists. You decide.

9:35 -- All I know is, you don't mess with the Zohan.

9:37 -- Benin has some amazing habadashery. Sponsored by Jiffy Pop.

9:38 -- Those red and white polka-dotted shirts are something else.

9:39 -- WTF is Denmark wearing? T-shirts and jean jams? I'm calling Morton to ask him what his nation was thinking. Denmark's outfits were apparantly designed by Pacific Sunwear.

9:39 -- I'm not sure a man wearing capris and a belly shirt can win a medal. But Denmark will probably prove me wrong.

9:41 -- I really like those Ukranian neck ties. Where can I get one of those.

9:44 -- I've seen hordes of Brazilian tourists at Disney World that looked just like their Olympic delegation. Instead of a brazilian flag they should have had their flag-bearer use one of those little orange tour group ones.

9:46 -- The team members from the Bahamas are wearing silk nooses?

9:47 -- Michelle: "That Panamanian outfit makes her look like a waitress. Hey Flo!"

9:49 -- I would have been happier if the Cubans were all wearing those red Che Guevara t-shirts, like they were at a Rage Against the Machine concert. Also, if they were chopming on giant cigars. I love that stuff. I hear the Cuban rowing and swimming teams are very strong.

9:54 -- Makes me proud do be an American, the president does.

9:54 -- I thought Bush was about to raise his hand and shout for a peanut vendor. "Hey, hot dog! Over here. Gimme a coke too."

9:55 -- More capris. If you ever wondered why America was superior to Europe, there you go.

9:58 -- Thank you, Canada, for proving the fashion possibilities of the painters cap.

9:58 -- My God, those Canadian outfits are hideous. Michelle -- "What's the deal with the gold lamay shirts and the painters' caps with the hand-drawn leaf?"

9:59 -- Michelle: "This guys glasses in the [ExxonMobil] commercial's glasses re incredibly crooked. Couldn't they have found someone without crooked glasses?"

10:05 -- Spain's ladies look nice in the 40's throwback jackets and skirts. Allow me a moment to google the lyrics of "ladies of Spain". The men, however, look ridiculous in those blood red smoking jackets.

10:05 -- Michelle: "[The Spaniards] look like they work at McDonalds. Mustard and Ketchup."

10:06 -- Gotta like the double-breasted jackets on the Congolese delegation.

10:07 -- I love the smirk from Bush when Iraq came in. Golf clap and smirk. Perfect.

10:08 -- I wish they'd have shown his reaction to the Iranian delegation.

10:09 -- I think he pulled out the "football" and started pounding codes into it.

10:09 -- The Hungarian women look like they got caught out in a paint ball field. Michelle: "I think I'm going to have seizures."

10:14 -- Some of these nations are waving these silly little plastic flags instead of nice, real miniature flags. I wonder if those plastic flags were made in China? I bet those kids form the opening ceremony make those little flags like 11 hours a day when they aren't being used as public relations props.

10:16 -- When they show Bush and Mrs. Bush, the two of them never seem to be talking or anything. Maybe she's busy live blogging or something.

10:16 -- Michelle: "Those Croatian outfits look like Italian table cloths, and --- oh, the women don't even shave! Who chooses sleeveless outfits for women who don't shave?"

10:21 -- Now, why is Bob Costas trivializing the contribution of the two UAE women athletes? Doesn't matter if they are the daughters of politicans or not.

10:22 -- And I really like Azerbaijan's neckties. Perhaps the best ties of the night.

10:24 -- Great Britain looks sharp, conservative but sharp. As you might expect. I liked the outfits Namibia was wearing, which marks the first time I've ever written, said or thought the word Namibia.

10:25 -- I think the British Virgin Island team picked up those shirts at the airport gift shop on the way out.

10:25 -- Are those Romanian jackets an actual color recognizable by the human eye? Or is it some sort of alien virus?

10:26 -- One of Tuvalu's athletes only had one arm. Maybe he does discus?

10:28 -- The French have those square-bottomed knit ties! I have a couple of those from high school! Maybe those crazy Europeans aren't so fashion-distressed as I thought?

10:29 -- The Polish women are all wearing prom dresses.

10:29 -- Michelle: "Who put Olga in that dress?"

10:33 -- Bulgaria has some nice, simple, clean outfits that make their neighbor countries of Hungary and Romania look pretty silly.

10:33 -- The South African open-water swimmer who lost half of her leg would have a better story if it had been bit off by a shark than in a motorcycle accident. I think she ought to rethink that.

10:35 -- John McCain: "Cindy, that's the Soviet Union. Why does Matt Lauer keep calling it Russia? Stupid media."

10:37 -- I don't like the Scally caps. Otherwise, I give the US outfits a thumbs up. The women's ascots are nice. In fact, the men might also look nice in ascots.

10:40 -- Are some of the US athletes flashing gang signs to the camera? Good thing Paul Pierce isn't on the team this time.

10:41 -- I think I'm the wrong guy to ask.

10:42 -- I'll call Mayor Wong and see if she has an official city guide to gang signs.

10:43 -- I hear you two run in the same circles.

10:44 -- Zimbabwe made their jerseys out of recycled Kansas City Wiz uniforms.

10:46 -- The president is tapping his knee with the American Flag! Can't wait to read all of the conservative bloggers accusing him of desecrating the flag and dishonoring America.

10:49 -- My Own Worst Enemy on NBC looks like a surefire crapfest. Not "her father is the district attorney!" bad, but bad. Ironically, of course, Christian Slater actually is his own worst enemy. Or, maybe it's his agent.

10:49 -- Christian Slater is doing a network TV series about a schizophrenic something or another? Didn't he used to be cool?

10:51 -- John McCain: Cindy, I think it's really neat that we let Georgia have it's own team. Is that because they had the Olympics in 1996? Will Illinois get a team after 2016?

10:53 -- John McCain: Nice to see Czechoslovakia send so many athletes this year.

10:56 -- Matt Lauer correctly recognizes Kobe Bryant and talks about how other athletes are flocking to him, but fails to notice that the guy getting his picture taken with Bryant is Roger Federer, only one of the greatest tennis players in world history. Maybe Kobe was flocking to him to get tips on how to win titles.

10:58 -- John McCain: Look at that Cindy, the Czechoslovakians went out, changed their clothes, and came in with a different flag. Neat.

11:00 -- I like the South Korean outfits too. Very nice ties.

11:01 -- One of the dudes from Cameroon was talking on his cell phone while he was walking in the parade. Seriously, that doesn't really seem like the time. He was probably talking to someone in a movie theater.

11:01 -- ...or behind the Red Sox dugout.

11:04 -- Um, I don't think that was Federer with Kobe.

11:04 -- And here's Federer again, having quickly changed national allegiences. He wants to get to Kobe again. Double dipping.

11:07 -- I see that New Zealand is being outfitted by the effects wizards at WETA.

11:07 -- The Kiwis are wearing those tuxedo T-shirts people wear to wedding receptions to be "funny."

11:10 -- That Nike ad with the "I got soul but I'm not a soldier" song -- which is annoying -- also features single frame images of both Jonathan Papelbon and the DC Comics superhero The Flash for no apparent reason.

11:15 -- Having Dirk Nowitzki anywhere near your team is no way to win more medals.

11:16 -- And Kobe tries to swat Jennie Finch and the women's softball team out of the way so he can get more camera time. Obviously awaiting his next visit from Roger Federer.

11:17 -- Jennie Finch should consider herself lucky that's all she got from Kobe.

11:19 -- Sox lost.

11:21 -- And Australia decides to show Canada how it's done. And by it, I mean burning my eyeballs out.

11:21 -- The first lady of Australia looks like she is more fun than Laura Bush.

11:24 -- That little kid's Chinese flag is stapled to the stick upside down.

11:24 -- Probably made in China.

11:27 -- Bob Costas already making excuses for the Americans if they don't win the medal count.

11:30 -- Well, I am going to call it a night. I am all Chinaed out. Unless Mothra lights the torch, I doubt I am going to be missing anything.

11:32 -- The little kid is quite a cutie.

11:40 -- They make everyone stand for the Olympic Anthem and the raising of the Olympic flag?

11:46 -- If they're not careful, they're going to torch one of the national flags around the track.

11:51 -- Whatever you do, DON'T DROP THE TORCH!

11:55 -- Alright. That was one heck of a finale. I'm out.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Live-blogging the Opening Ceremonies -- part 1

You're looking live at Beijing, where...what? This isn't live? It's on tape. Oh.

Scott is joining me, in red. I'm writing in blue. Away we go...

7:48 -- And here we are for the Summer Olympics. Yay. Lance and I will be live-blogging tonights opening ceremonies, but in the spirit of the event we will also be operating on a bit of a tape delay, just like the opening ceremonies themselves. Thus the time stamp you see on these entries will not correspond to the actual time America receives these events. In other words, if you're reading along at home -- which I am guessing most of northern Worcester County will be doing, especially Rep. Jennifer Flannigan -- you will have already seen everything we're discussing.

Well, so what.

7:51 -- As an aside, in order to prepare for this event, I've watched this week's Project Runway, which had the contestants design outfits for the US Olympic Team to wear during these opening ceremonies. Of course, none of these designs were actually used in the games, but no doubt some of them will be superior to whatever mess America throw up on the world stage. They always seem to wear some awful beret or tam-o-shanter or something that no actual person would ever wear ever.

7:55 -- NBC has some hype leading into the ceremony itself, beginning with Tom Brokaw crawling out of his coffin to provide a brief snapshot of modern China. I applaud the attempt, however brief and shallow, to provide perspective on the games. Including a maudlin section about this years Earthquakes, however, is kind of... I dunno. Iffy.

7:57 -- Now we have commentators Bob Costas and Mat Lauer reporting from inside the Bird's Nest, which would be cooler if they were actually perched inside an enormous bird's nest, with, like, Big Bird as a co-commentator. If they did it wouldn't be any more awkward that this, since the two are standing next to each other, making Lauer look like some sort of gangly giant compared to the hobbit-like Costas. I think Lauer is actually hunching over to fit into the picture.

8:00 -- Apparently there are 15,000 performers for the ceremonies, which are costing over $300 million. This better be the best staged performance of "Our Town" ever put on. I wonder if $300 million could have helped any of those Earthquake victims? Now some bronzed guy is saying that the Chinese are viewing this as the riskiest thing they have ever done. Synchronized dancing with giant masks is the riskiest thing China has ever done? Really? I've taken bigger risks ordering General Tso's Chicken. You never know how that stuff is going to be prepared.

8:04 -- I am watching Elmo and Abby Cadabry pretend to be chickens. Gordon is now also pretending to be a rooster, which is probably the riskiest thing he's ever done. There is a muppet chicken who is swooning over Gordon, probably oblivious that she is about to become General Tsao's Chicken.

8:05 -- And we have an interview with some Americans who appear to be wearing tonight's outfit. Sure enough, it comes complete with these white cab driver hats and blue blazers. They look like a rowing crew from Yale circa 1905.

8:11 -- Okay, here we go. After some obligatory shots of President Bush infecting a new continent, the ceremony starts with 2008 drummers pounding on colored tiles. Yep, the ceremonies are derived from Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" video. It does look pretty cool, but it would be much cooler if all the performers moonwalked off the stage afterwards.

8:16 -- 2008 Chinese guys wearing facepaint and sheer silver dresses and screaming and pounding their drums in unison. My Dad just commented that they appear to be summoning the Dragon Emperor. If I see one more ad for Mummy 3 I am going to beat Brendan Frasier like an ancient drum.
This spectacle is kind of scary, though. I think all over America, people are heading outside to check on their safehouses and make sure the bunker is stocked with canned goods and shotgun shells.

8:16 -- A big foam Z just swung across the screen on a vine while yodeling. Apparently the screaming and pounding worked.

8:17 -- Oh wait. I'm still watching Sesame Street. Never mind.

8:20 -- Matt Lauer is trying to provide context for the symbollism of the ceremony as though he were one of my World Lit professors. But trust me, Ann Parrish could break Lauer like a balky colt.

8:21 -- So that's what happened to Trev Alberts and Steve Emtman...

8:25 -- 52 kids representing the weeks of the year come out and... wait, they represent the 52 ethnic groups that comprise China. Hey, one of them is the Dali Lama! No word on if they have any kids from Darfur represented. The kids just turned the flag over to a group of goosestepping soldiers. Hmm. SO far this ceremony is a bit on the "we're going to crush the world" side of things. Not quite the Olympic spirit. They then play the Chinese national anthem. Do all national anthems sound like unmusical shouting to everyone outside that nation? Except, of course, the Canadian national anthem.

8:31 -- Okay, this part is cool. A giant scroll unfurls, with an LED screen on it, and a bunch of dancers come out and draw on it with their bodies. Costas just said that "already these ceremonies seem unlike any other". I could have sworn he was about to say "seeming like they've been going on for hours and hours".

8:36 -- They now have some cool moving blocks that are emulating wind and water droplets and stuff. They supposedly represent Confucian ideals, but they also bear a strange resemblance to Space Invaders. Or like that Mahjong game that comes with Windows. Now it turns out that the unified movement of the blocks is not via a computer program but via hundreds of people working in perfect unison. Hmmmm, people being used as cogs in a giant computer program. Yep, it's China!

8:41 -- Some guy named Josh, who is the NBC Chinese expert guy, is droning on and on about the symbolism of the performances and it's interesting and everything but I'm going to guess that most of the country is watching this on mute, if they haven't already switched over to Spike TV to watch UFC 72. I can't help feeling that I've seen these stage routines at EPCOT.

8:44 -- A guy is waving a giant ouija board around that has a gold ladle nailed to the center. Josh! Josh, c'mon, what's the symbolism here?! Thanks for nothing.

8:54 -- What is with the 2008 booger-green colored nymphs?

8:55 -- They represent the importance of boogers in Confucian thought.

8:57 -- And GE starts the onslaught of China-themed advertisements. I wonder how pervasive this is going to be? If the next CSI is about a Tong War, I'm going to be kind of irritated.

8:58 -- Do you think John McCain is still awake watching this, or is it about his bedtime?

8:59 -- They've had eight years to prepare for this night and NBC had to bring in an Chinese "expert?" Couldn't Matt and Bob have studied this stuff?

9:01 -- Where in the world is Matt Lauer? Obviously, not in China.

9:02 -- Michelle: "It's not karate, you [moron] it's tai chi. Who just said that?" Me: "The "Chinese expert'" Michelle: "Do they think we're so stupid that we won't understand if they call it tai chi? I hate him already." Me: *silent*

9:04 -- They were distracted by how much this looks like a scene from Revenge of the Sith, with 2000 clones of Jango Fett overrunning the Jedi. Those kids in the center represent the Jedi children that Anakin murdered to complete his transformation into Darth Vader.

9:06 -- 2008 Tai Chi performing waiters. Nice.

9:08 -- If there is one guy who should have got a whoopin' when he was in school, it's Matt Lorch.

9:09 -- Man, enough with this journey through Chinese history. How does it take this long to tell? A bunch of stuff that nobody in Europe ever cared about, the Boxer Rebellion, Communism, the Rape of Nanking, the Gang of Four, the Chicago Seven (?), Tiananmen Square, Yao Ming, now let's play ball already. Lyrics copyright Billy Joel.

9:10 -- Michelle thought for a brief moment that the top of the sphere coming out of the floor of a stadium was actually a nuclear missile. Ha ha. Jokes on us. See you in another life, brother.

9:12 -- It's the world's biggest Golden Snitch.

9:13 -- Michelle: "Sarah Brightman...on weed. I suppose she could just be amazed."

9:13 -- No, the entire Olympic Games are just a clever marketing ploy for Pineapple Express -- opening today! Check local listings.

9:15 -- AAAAH! All those giant posters of Mao have been recycled and now just feature random people's huge melons. Get those giant ugly faces away from me before I have a panic attack.

9:15 -- Do you think the kids fought over who got the white kid umbrella, who got the black kid umbrella, the Chinese kid umbrella, etc?

9:17 -- Michelle pronounces the opening ceremonies "pretty cool."

9:18 -- I'm pronouncing them "pretty long". Finally we get to the parade part. Everyone loves a parade. Not everyone loves an hour of Chinese militant symbolism.

9:20 -- Why is French one of the official languages? Weren't they driven out of southeast Asia decades ago?

On to part 2.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Knuuttila's endorsement error

Last week, State Senate candidate Brian Knuuttila rolled out an impressive list of endorsements in a release to the local newspapers. The list included current and former state representatives, mayors, city councilmen, selectmen and other elected officials from across the district. It even included a couple of Republicans. But it turns out the list was both a little too impressive on the one hand, and not as impressive as it seems on the other. The Times and Courier took a closer look:
...somebody along the line at Knuuttila H.Q. made a bigger mistake, including Lancaster Democrat Stephen Kerrigan’s name in the press release.

Just one problem: Kerrigan hasn’t endorsed anyone in this race. But we had to call him to get that news, and the Kerrigan-for-Knuuttila press release was up there on our Wicked Local sites in Bolton, Clinton and Lancaster for a day before we corrected it...

...he also lists (as his original press release did before being edited) Mark “Ellworthy” as a Clinton selectman (the real Mark Elworthy, now a Finance Committee member, has been a former selectman for two years) and Esteban Mendoza as “Parks and Recreation Director” — a small quibble here, as Mendoza is chairman of the parks board, but not director of the department.
Knuuttila’s list of endorsements on his website also listed the Kerrigan error until it was corrected last evening (it now just shows a blank bullet point under the Lancaster heading). The Times and Courier couldn’t get anyone to explain on the record how the error was made—was there some sort of misunderstanding between the candidates? Just a clerical error?—but it was made. And it’s still out there. While the Times and Courier got it right before they went to press (although they had published the misinformation online), the Clinton Item listed the incorrect endorsement in their August 5 edition, even though it had been publicly debunked six days earlier.

The non-endorsement and the way it has played in the press might actually help Kerrigan in Clinton. While I doubt that too many voters make their minds up on the basis of endorsements, one might make the leap to one candidate in a race they don’t follow that closely if they perceive that candidate is aligned with one that they strongly support in a different race. Knuuttila has had his signs out in Clinton since February, and many of the Knuuttila houses are also displaying Kerrigan signs. If Knuuttila’s people think Kerrigan is on their side, it can only help.

Conversely, if a supporter of Jennifer Flanagan sees the error and wonders what the deal is with this Kerrigan guy, Kerrigan can point to the Times and Courier correction as proof that he isn’t taking sides in the race.

For what it’s worth, Flanagan’s endorsements are up on her web site and I haven’t heard of any disputes to the...hey! Why aren’t I on the list?


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Endorsement -- Jennifer Flanagan for State Senate

When they go to the polls on September 16, Democrats and unenrolled voters in the Worcester and Middlesex district have a choice to make when they cast their vote for State Senator. I have made my choice. I strongly endorse Representative Jennifer Flanagan of Leominster and urge fellow Democratic primary voters to join me in sending her to the State Senate.

Representative Flanagan has earned my vote through her strong advocacy for the North County as well as her commitment to statewide causes during her four years as Leominster's state representative. Most recently, she helped secure $75 million to pay for upgrades to the Fitchburg commuter rail line and over $50 million for capital improvements at Fitchburg State College. But any good representative can bring projects home to the district. What sets Representative Flanagan apart is her commitment to an agenda outside of simply increasing local aid.

During her tenure, Representative Flanagan has been a tireless advocate for protecting the health and safety of the children of the Commonwealth. Earlier this year, Flanagan's bill that would criminalize the harboring and exploitation of minor runaways was included in the Comprehensive Child Abuse and Neglect Legislation. In her first term, she successfully fought for increased funding for school nurses despite widespread criticism from closed-minded local politicians who thought she should sit on the back bench and concentrate solely on local aid. Despite her critics, she has continued to fight for increases in school nurse staffing.

Beyond her success on both local and statewide issues, Representative Flanagan has shown that she is not afraid to vote against the house leadership, including her vote to keep Governor Patrick's casino bill alive despite the opposition of Speaker Sal DiMasi and the majority of the house. She is also on the right side of personal freedom, strongly supporting a woman's right to choose and the right of gays to marry.

Jennifer Flanagan's record of bringing local aid to the North County, her strong advocacy for children, her independence, and her commitment to progressive ideals make her the right choice for state senate.

Disclaimer: This is a personal endorsement and does not reflect the views of the Sterling Democratic Town Commitee as a whole. The Sterling DTC has committed to remain neutral in primary races.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Souring on Dunks

Last month, I complained about attendants at our local Dunkin Donuts placing my chocolate frosted donut face down in the bag. That hasn't been fixed, but at least they aren't selling spoiled donuts. Unfortunately, they don't only sell donuts.

I picked up a handful of munchkins and a bottle of milk for Jackson this morning. After taking a drink of his milk, Jackson handed it back to me and said "I don't like it." I took a little taste and I don't blame him; it was pretty sour.

After a little further investigation, it turns out The Dunkin Donuts in Sterling sold me a bottle of milk with an expiration date of July 22. Perhaps Sterling's health inspector should pay them a visit and see what other spoiled food they're peddling.



No Drumlins Copyright © 2009 Premium Blogger Dashboard Designed by SAER