Friday, November 27, 2009

Why sports editors should stay out of politics

The Globe Sports Editor on duty last night clearly missed the high school civics class on the difference between the legislative and the executive branches.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Steve Pagliuca: "I don't know if I have to vote on that or not."

You are looking live at the studios of WGBH-TV in Boston as the four candidates for US Senate are getting ready to face off for...

OK, who am I kidding. I have a 3-year-old and a 9-month-old. There is no way in the world I was able to watch a 7:00 pm debate live. I'd have loved to, but unless they're going to debate after 9:00, I'm just not going to be able to do it. So I recorded it and am now checking in a couple of days later. That's just the way it's going to be.

Anyhow, Emily Rooney is in her chair and we are ready to go...
  • Martha Coakley, are you stiff? No, and let me cooly and calculatedly and unemotionally tell you why.

  • Good, Rooney asks about the Father Goeghan case right away. I hope they get into that a little more, I think that is one area that deserves to be fleshed out. For her part, Coakley briefly explained that she did the right thing, and was not intimidated by the church.

  • Alan Khazei just can't stop talking. Coakley and Michael Capuano gave succinct answers and Khazei gave his stumps speech, which wasn't really related to the question about whether or not he's going to raise hell in the Senate.

  • Steve Pagliuca can't answer whether or not he'd had to sacrifice because of the recession. Because the answer is no.

  • Capuano charges his kids rent, and says he couldn't afford to let them stay with him for free? Really?

  • Rooney asks Khazei why he's in last place. She's asked more good questions in five minutes than Peter Meade did in an hour in the first debate. For what it's worth, Khazei is explaining why he's NOT in last place.

  • Pagliuca is really uncomfortable talking about his personal financial situation. He can't say what he would do with the Celtics if he wins.

  • Here is one of the differences between living inside 128 and living out here. Coakley says she doesn't make a big salary and hasn't. I'm pretty sure (I'll need to check later) that as Attorney General and before that District Attorney she makes quite a bit more money than we do. I certainly don't begrudge how much money she does or doesn't have, but the idea that she (and Capuano earlier) live paycheck to paycheck is hard to believe.

    (Update: According to the Boston Herald database of state workers' salaries, the Attorney General makes $133,644 and the Middlesex County District Attorney brings in $148,843. She makes a lot more money than she thinks she does.)

  • They have moved on to the question of what the candidates would do if their bishop told them that they could no longer take communion, using the Patrick Kennedy situation as an example. Interesting to hear the way the candidates describe their own religious situation. Khazei says he is a Catholic. Capuano says he considers himself a Catholic. Coakley says she grew up Catholic. Interesting that only one of them was comfortable describing himself as a Catholic without qualification (Pagliuca said he was raised an Episcopalian).

  • Coakley hits this one out of the park. I'm going to find the actual quote, but she essentially said she can't accept a church that protects pedophile priests telling people what they have to do to be a good Catholic.

    (Update: Here is the exact quote, courtesy of the Globe: “It seems to me a little bit ironic that a church that was willing to overlook the victimization of many, many children over several years is
    now turning around and saying to people who are good Christians, good Catholics, that, ‘You can’t join this.’")

  • Pags trying to answer a question about tort reform. He really doesn't have any more than a superficial grasp of any issue.

  • Khazei going on and on and on. I think he'd probably be a good senator. He seems wonky enough. Talking with him over lunch would probably be fascinating. But this is a debate, not lunch, and he needs to find a way to be more succinct.

  • Having said that, I'm not really interested in tort reform, and I'm glad to have the opportunity to catch up while these guys talk about it. They are actually getting into it here, though, for the first time. Khazei is for it (and Pags is tagging along), Coakley and Capuano are not.

  • Coakley would let the Bush tax cuts expire. Capuano agrees. Pags and Khazei too. I'll go on record right now as saying that each one of them will vote to extend at least the portion of the tax cuts that helped out the middle- or lower-class if they get the chance.

  • Funding health care--Khazei would tax the "gold-plated" health care plans. It's a bad idea. There are a number of people in employer-based plans who have what might be considered a "gold-plated" plan.
    Capuano wants a tax on individuals making over $500,000 (families over $1 million). Capuano is absolutely right on this one. Coakley punts, saying "we'll find some way to pay for it." That is not a plan.

  • Capuano is all fired up at Pagliuca. Pags has said--twice--that Capuano would not vote for the house bill. Cap has had enough. He's bringing the heat about the details of the bill itself, and sarcastically attacking Pags for "repeating sound bites" and asking him "Why don't you take out another ad?" Pags responds with what actually does sound like the same old sound bites (60th vote on health care, 400,000 dying, etc. etc.). Coakley hops in and explains her position and suggests to Pagliuca that women's rights don't have to compromised to get a bill. Pags responds that he is pro-choice which gets an "Apparently not!" from Coakley. Great exchange.

  • And Capuano zings Pags: "You would have voted for the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, because they have good titles." Kapow!

  • Emily Rooney with the eye roll! Fantastic!

  • Pagliuca is talking about all of the jobs that Bain has created. I guess he's got to defend his business, but it is risky ground. There are plenty of examples of companies that haven't done so well after being taken over by venture capital and private equity firms.

  • Talking about the footbridge at Gillette Stadium. Capuano with a good answer (although it might not be popular): I don't care as much about who gets the bridge as I do about how many people are employed to build it.

  • When the debate turned to foreign affairs, all of the life went out of the room. Pags and Khazei want nothing to do with this. Nothing at all. Capuano and Coakley are having a good discussion on the issues, but it's pretty clear that this isn't the priority for these four.

  • For instance, Rooney just asked Pagliuca if he would vote to defund the troops. Pags answer: "I don't know if I have to vote on that or not." Where have you been the last eight years, Steve Pagliuca? The entire 2004 election ended up being about John Kerry's vote on funding the troops--you know, "I voted for it before I voted against it." And you don't know if you have to vote on funding for the troops?
That's it. That was a hell of a lot better debate than the last one. Capuano and Coakley were clearly winners. If you want your candidate a little bit fiery and willing to mix it up, Capuano would be you winner. If you were looking for someone who came across a little more reflective, Coakley was your winner. Khazei was OK. Pagliuca was in trouble every time he was forced to deviate from his script. He is clearly not ready for this.

And I am clearly ready for bed...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Convicts who torched "Mary's House" finally put away

Two arsonists from Clinton--whose torching spree culminated in the destruction of Sterling's most famous historical site--have been found guilty of setting fires from Sterling to Florida, Mass. and are headed to the big house for 15 years:
WORCESTER — Two Clinton men were sentenced to state prison yesterday for a 2007 arson spree from Central Massachusetts to the western end of the state that the judge called “random, reckless and unnerved acts of evil.”

Saying they acted with a “sense of impunity” and a total disregard for the consequences of their actions, Judge John S. McCann sentenced John Rousseau [at right] and Michael P. Dreslinski [far right] to 14-1/2 years to 15 years and a day in state prison with 30 years of probation that will begin immediately and keep the two longtime friends, both 30 years old, under the court’s supervision until they reach age 60....

The first of the two local fires destroyed the 18th century homestead of Mary Elizabeth Sawyer, the so-called “Mary Had a Little Lamb House,” at 108 Maple St., Sterling, which was on the National Register of Historic Places.
The fire two summers ago was a really big deal in our neighborhood. The Sawyer House is less than a mile from our home, and the blaze shook up some neighbors who have been living on the hill for decades. Apparently there had been a series of barn fires in the area in the late 1970s, including one barn in our neighborhood that was torched. At least one of our elderly neighbors was fearful that the same thing was happening again.

I guess in some ways the same thing was happening, but at least this burning spree was spread out over the whole state, and not centered in one terrified community.

A real shame in all of this is that one wonders if the destruction could have been prevented. I guess it's typical whenever a serial criminal is finally put away to wonder if law enforcement could have done more. Typical or not, I'll ask the question anyway. Why couldn't these two have been put away before it got to this?

At sentencing yesterday, Judge McCann noted that Rousseau and Dreslinski had a long criminal history, going back to their teen years:
Noting that both defendants had adult criminal records dating back to 1996 that included breaking and entering convictions and arson-related crimes, Judge McCann said neither had shown “a propensity for rehabilitation.”

The judge said in a sentencing memorandum, “Their swath of destruction has grown wider each year and brought us to the present.”

He called the setting of the fires two years ago “random, reckless and unnerved acts of evil evolving over a one-month period of time.” He said the crimes jeopardized the lives of the property owners, their neighbors, firefighters and, in the case of the Florida fire, railroad workers whose communication system was temporarily shut down.
The record is full of missed opportunities. In 2003, Rousseau admitted to police that he had set a series of fires around Clinton that fall. At his trial, the confessions were thrown out and the charges were eventually dropped. Looking back at some of the stories from the trial, the similarities between the 2007 fires and the 2003 fires is stark:
Rousseau, 26, is accused of setting four fires in abandoned buildings as well as in a Dumpster behind High Street. There were no injuries in any of the fires. Rousseau is also charged with impersonating a police officer and four counts of breaking and entering in the night to commit a felony after he allegedly hacked into police radio frequencies and pretended to be an officer. He also allegedly hacked into the CSX railroad frequency and reported false bomb threats and explosions on the tracks in Clinton. He is currently living at his Wilson Street home monitored by an electronic bracelet.

The case was investigated for months by local and state police as well as the state fire marshal's office before the charges were made in November 2003.
Fires in abandoned buildings? Check. Hacking into railroad radio frequencies? Check. Corroborating with Dreslinski? Check. Once the charges in the 2003 fires were finally dropped, the Times and Courier wrapped up the story with a timeline of Rousseau's and Dresinski's exploits, starting with the vandalization of a Bolton school with a swastika.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end. After briefly flirting with a run for Clinton selectman, Rousseau teamed up with Dreslinski to set fire to buildings in Florida and Greenfield in late July, 2007. Even though the state police had fitted Dreslinski's truck with a GPS and knew he and Rousseau had been in the July fires, they did not arrest the pair until two weeks later, after they had torched the Sawyer house and a barn in Holden. It's too bad that the state couldn't have pulled together the evidence on the July fires in time to stop them from burning again.

For that matter, it's a shame that the authorities couldn't have been just a little more careful when this happened six years ago. I understand that the job of police and prosecutors is tough--certainly a lot tougher than my job. For the sake of our liberties, they have to be nearly perfect when it comes to locking someone up. Perfections is too much to ask of anyone, but a little perfection here would have gone a long way.

At least now there won't be a next time...until 2024 anyway.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Look

Well, I was screwing around with the design of my blog and I inadvertantly blew the whole thing up, so I have been scrambling to find a new template that works with Blogger (my previous design predated the Blogger relaunch in mid-2007). I'm not sure that I'm in love with it, but it will do, at least until I find something better.

Unfortunately, I've lost the comments from the last four years. While I was plugging along, my comment provider was bought out, so now that my template has changed, apparently the only way I can migrate the comments from the old design is to pay $12 per year. Not. Going. To. Do it.

Updated November 23: I figured out how to get back to the old design and the old comments. I'd kind of decided that I liked the new design...if I can figure out how to migrate the comments over, I might stick with it.


No Drumlins Copyright © 2009 Premium Blogger Dashboard Designed by SAER