Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I heard the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's version of "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo" on the radio three times in a half-hour today, so it must be Christmas. I hope you are as happy to see Santa as Jackson was at his Papa's Christmas Party last Tuesday night.

This post comes with creepy music video:

Friday, December 11, 2009

JFK Jr., Lady Di, and...Scott Brown?!

It's nice to see that Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown has a healthy self-esteem. In an interview with Chet Curtis last night, he put himself in some pretty exclusive company. When asked something what makes him, he answered (at about the 5:15 mark):
I live every day it's like it's my last. Especially when JFK junior passed away and Princess Di—they’re powerful handsome rich people and they’re dead and they can’t make a difference. Well, I still can. I can work every day and try to make a difference.
That's right, the only difference between the powerful, handsome, rich JFK Jr., the powerful, handsome, rich Princess Diana, and Scott Brown is that Scott Brown is alive.

Right. Otherwise, they're indistinguishable.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scott Brown, Relic

Fresh off his rousing victory in the Republican Senate primary, Scott Brown wasted no time in going after Democratic nominee Martha Coakley, unveiling an innovative, fresh line of attack sure to catch the Democrat off guard:
Brown signed the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a promise not to raise taxes on the American people, and immediately challenged Coakley to do the same.

“When I first ran for state office, I signed a pledge not to raise taxes. Today, as a candidate for U.S. Senate, I am renewing that pledge. Very simply, I will not raise taxes on the American people,” said Brown.
In his wide-ranging press conference, Brown also went on to wish the Buffalo Bills well in their third try at a Super Bowl win, congratulated Bill Weld and Charlie Baker on their innovative plan to roll the Big Dig debt into the Turnpike Authority, and reiterated his opposition to President-elect Bill Clinton's health care proposal.

Hey Scott! 1992 wants its gimmick back.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Live-blogging the Senate results

I'll be keeping an eye on the returns as they come in, but first, an update from Sterling.

7:50 -- To give you an idea of how slow it was at 6:15 pm when Michelle and I went to vote, we were able to park in one of about 10 spaces in front of the school, instead of the auxiliary parking lot. I've never been able to park there; there are always more than enough voters to fill those spaces. When we entered, there was no line. In fact, I only saw four other voters in the polling place. After casting my vote for Mike Capuano, Jackson read the ballot box and reported that there had been 461 votes cast. That would be just under 16%. I imagine they will not get to 20% turnout.

8:06 -- Watching the WBZ-TV Webcast, following Twitter, and constantly refreshing for results. FWIW, Jon Keller is better on TV than he is when he writes on his blog.

8:10 -- Here's the problem with twitter: first "results" from Boston are being retweeted all over the twitterverse: "early Boston returns Caps 33% Coakley 22% Khazei 33% Pagliuca 11%". Which is exactly how percentages would look if there were exactly nine votes cast. Early returns indeed.

8:14: Actually, the Globe site has the same results, but for the town of Gosnold. Which in fact did have only nine votes.

8:33 -- is blowing it big time. The graphic and map at the top of the screen shows Capuano with a 23 point lead, while the town-by-town breakdown correctly show the lead is Coakley's.

9:06 -- Well, there wasn't much to that. I change and feed the baby, do a chore or two, and I find out that the race has already been called for Coakley. I'll be interested to see how Sterling and other area towns voted.

9:14 -- For what it's worth, still hasn't fixed it's results, with 53% of the vote in.

9:50 -- Sterling finally reported in the last couple of minutes (or at least, our results were finally posted by the AP. Coakley 52%, Capuano 22%, Khazei 13%, Pagliuca 13%. On the Republican side, Scott Brown defeated Jack E Robinson 89% to 11%. It looks like 1,183 total votes were cast (732 Democratic votes, 451 Republican), for a turnout of around 21%.

Looking just at raw vote totals, Scott Brown received the most votes in Sterling:

One year ago this week

It was one year ago that Mother Nature decided that we'd been having it a little too easy, so she covered everything with an inch of ice and let gravity do the rest. In a lot of ways, we haven't completely recovered.

If you drive North on route 12 out of the center of Sterling you'll notice that the east side of the road was never really cleaned up, and large trees and debris still remain just behind the guard rail. The Municipal Light Department is still working in the northwest corner of town to permanently repair power lines that were patched together last winter. Looking up at the trees in my yard, I still see large branches that are just teetering on the edge of other limbs, waiting for the next round of ice and snow and wind to bring them the rest of the way down.

Coincidentally, the next round may be here soon:
Snow is expected to reach the east slopes of the Berkshires and Connecticut valley between 3 and 5 am Wednesday... and should reach the Merrimack valley between 5 and 7 am. The snow should quickly become heavy at times... perhaps falling at the rate of one inch per hour during the Wednesday morning commute.

The arrival of milder air will cause the snow to change to sleet and freezing rain Wednesday morning... before an eventual change to rain Wednesday afternoon. There is still uncertainty as to how fast this transition will take place.

Snowfall totals of 4 to 8 inches are possible... with the 8 inch amounts likely to occur from the Worcester Hills into southwest New Hampshire. A light coating of ice is also possible.

Be prepared for the possibility of downed tree branches and scattered power outages.
I guess I'll need to get the generator out tonight and fire it up, just in case. I'm not planning on being caught off guard again.

A look back at the 2008 Ice Storm in Sterling.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm voting for Michael Capuano tomorrow

I'm not going to go on and on about why, I just think he's the best of three decent candidates. He has shown both a commitment to progressive values and positions and the ability to get things done for Massachusetts.

Both Martha Coakley and Alan Khazei would also make good senators and the Democratic Party and the people of Massachusetts will be well served if either of them win. But we will be better served if Congressman Capuano is elected, and I will do my part tomorrow by marking my ballot for him.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The elusive Mr. Fur

It's been nearly two full years since I weighed in on the lair of looniness that is the Telegram and Gazette Letter to the Editor page. But this one got me:
Mr. Fur...spent three days and three nights up in the tree. We tried to entice him with cans of tuna but to no avail.

Finally, we contacted a local arborist with a cherry picker, who will remain nameless, to come and get Mr. Fur down from the tree. At my husband’s insistence, he finally came and rescued Mr. Fur. It took all of 30 minutes and we were charged $375. Although we were forewarned of the cost, such a small amount of time and effort on the arborist’s part could have resulted in a lesser, kinder cost.
Firstly...Mr. Fur?!

Secondly...I was getting a big time Helen and Stanley Roper vibe when reading this story. I can see poor Stanley standing at the base of the tree, holding a can of fish and calling "Come on down, Mr. Fur" day after day before finally calling someone just to get Helen off his case.

And finally, I was happy to see the writer protecting the identity of the cherry picker, so it's friends Thomas the Tank Engine and Roary the Racing Car wouldn't make fun of it when it got back from the rescue.

Previous T&G Letters to the Editor:
Best Letter Ever
In God we trust, in e-mails we don't
"suspiciously left-wing"
T&G Readers are off their meds again
"I like Jasmine Guy"
BREAKING: Election fraud in Auburn
"The sting of unboozed Democrats"
"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"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday's Debate: The Sarah Palin of the Democratic Party

I was going to live blog tonight's debate, but I bagged on it. Just didn't have the fire.I figured that no one was going to win the race based on tonight anyway, but I suppose someone could lose it. I'm not sure either of them happened, but here are my thoughts...

Mike Capuano and Steve Pagliuca appear to have embarked on a strategy of Mutual Assured Destruction. Capuano is right on this one: Pags is lying about his record. But the two of them go back and forth at each other like schoolyard rivals, and it ends up sullying both of them. Capuano just keeps sniping at Pagliuca for his wealth and ability to run TV ads. For two straight nights, he's accused Pags of being willing to send women into back-alleys to get abortions (for what it's worth, Martha Coakley lent credence to his charge by not disavowing the point when given the chance).

Pags volleyed back by comparing the abortion charge to the Republicans' nonsense about "death panels." He then called Capuano the "Sarah Palin of the Democratic Party." Which is just ridiculous. Pags is not a fighter. He comes across like the nerd who makes fun of the class bully than tries to find a way to keep his nose from getting broken. His charge fell as flat as you would expect.

Of course, the more those two guys fight, the better off Martha Coakley is. I have to say, she is looking better and better to me with each performance. I'm not sure if it's because she is becoming a better candidate or if it's because she is elevated purely by the Capuano-Pagliuca sideshow, but whatever the reason, I would be much more comfortable voting for her next week than I would have been had the primary been held three weeks ago. I still think she's too cautious and I disagree with her on important issues like the PATRIOT Act, but I haven't ruled her out.

As with last night, I thought the other candidate who did well was Alan Khazei. If I were scoring a winner, I'd give tonight's debate to Coakley and give second place to Khazei, but that isn't to say that Khazei did poorly. On the contrary, I think he again made a very good case for his election. He spends too much time talking about PAC and lobbyist money (I really don't think that wins too many votes--certainly not enough to warrant the attention he gives it), but he also articulates more solutions than any of the other candidates.

I'm still not sure which direction I'm headed, but I guess it's about time to get off the fence.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tonight's debate: Khazei wins; Pagliuca is "proud of Burger King"

Tonight's senate debate is in the books and my reviews are in: Alan Khazei was fantastic. He was easily the winner. He gave specific proposals on the big issues and has finally found a way to present them without sounding long-winded. Martha Coakley also did very well. If it really is her race to lose, she isn't doing much to lose it. She seems like she's loosening up a little bit and actually showed some warmth and passion when talking about health care. Michael Capuano let his anger show, and it hurt him quite a bit. He was alternately passive agressive and whiny when dealing with Coakley, and downright nasty to Pagliuca. It's almost as if he knows he's not going to win and is getting pissed about it. Steve Pagliuca? You know you're having a bad night when you're relegated to saying "I'm proud of Burger King." Pags, you had a bad night.

Live blog!

You are looking live at a nondescript studio in Needham God! Ed Harding is going to moderate this debate? Ed Harding? Was Butch Stearns not available? Congratulations to all of the candidates. It doesn't matter how bad you flub an answer or how stupid you sound, you're going to be light years ahead of the moderator on the seriousness scale.

Anyway, on with the show...
  • The infinite black background makes each of these four look like zombies. Pagliuca looks particularly ghoulish. If the kids were still up, they'd run away screaming.

  • The first question is on Afghanistan, and I have to admit, that I am resigned to the fact that we're putting more troops in, and none of these guys are going to stop it. In the end, they are going to vote for authorizing funds because this or that will be tacked on to get their votes. Not to mention that it's going to be tough to "vote against funding the troops" when a Democratic president is asking for it.

  • On the PATRIOT Act, Coakley says we need to "build in the kind of civil liberties that we need." No, we already have civil liberties. We don't start with a law and then find a way to fit in our civil liberties. We start with our civil liberties and find a way to build laws around them. This is one of the fundamental problems I have with the Attorney General (and generally with other candidates that come from a law enforcement background). She is conditioned to fight crime first and worry about liberties second. I guess that's OK if your job is to put bad guys in jail, but that is not the job of a Senator.

  • And instead of calling Coakley out on it directly, Capuano pulls some passive aggressive nonsense about "I heard three nos and one non answer" and has to be asked three times by Harding who he's talking about. This isn't high school, Mike. If you have a problem with the AG, you need to call her out. Hinting and rolling your eyes and generally being a pissy bitch isn't going to get you one vote. Your point (which essentially was my point above) is completely lost in your childish peevishness. Grow up!

  • While they go around on this, why isn't anyone directly challenging Coakley on her defense of the PATRIOT Act as AG?

  • Oh, now we're getting twitter comments scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Hey Channel 5, I have an idea, how about completely distracting from the debate itself by filling the screen with stuff that a bunch of people who aren't running for senate have to say.

  • While I've been distracted, Janet Wu has been berating Coakley about her personal finances and the other guy with the beard has been trying to get Khazei to admit that he thinks people who buy scratch ticket are immoral and that he wants to restrict civil liberties by opposing casinos. See, this is what I hate. Small-time reporters trying to impress themselves by being tough. You don't appear tough, you appear petty. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Ed Harding has been a bright light so far.

  • Pags is uncomfortable talking about his political background. He shouldn't be. He's got this question before. In fact, the four questions from Wu and Grizzly Adams were all rehashes from the first debate. A waste of time.

  • Khazei has been impressive. He has specific plans and is able to articulate them. His answers on Afghanistan and job creation have been better and more specific than Capuano's, and the congressman should be the best candidate on specifics.

  • Arrgh! They are missing the point on the footbridge at Gillette Stadium, a park and ride lot, and the Nantucket Bike Path (and for what it's worth, a bike path and a park and ride lot help the entire community, so they shouldn't be lumped in with the footbridge). It's not about who gets the end result, it's how many jobs are added to build these projects.

  • Khazei mixes up TARP and the Stimulus. Capuano and Pags let him know.

  • How can these guys whiff on the question of what they've done in their own home to save money during the recession. Capuano: light bulbs. What about them? Did you switch to energy saving models, just buy new ones? Pags: We've redoubled our energy efforts and given more money to charity. What? Coakley: We cook a lot more. Grocery shop, eat in, and don't go out as much as we used to. And she has a little smug smile because she knows she got the answer right and the other two muffed it.

  • And then she comes out with one of the most absurd things I've heard in a long, long time. She claims that one of the reasons she opposed the decriminalization of marijuana was that it would lead to more public transportation workers driving trains and buses under the influence of pot. Where the hell did that come from?

  • Janet Wu wants to know why Khazei thinks he will be more successful than Deval Patrick has been. Huh? These are the people who bring you the news every day. Scary, isn't it?

  • More Pags, this time on health care: "There are 45,000 people dying. I talk to them every day." "I see dead people!

  • Capuano has really developed a dislike for Pagliuca. He's really going after him hard on Pags' charges that Capuano would not vote for health care reform. Really nasty.

  • I know I'm hammering on Pagliuca--probably too much--but here is a great example of how he just doesn't get it. Coakley gave a really good, personal, heartfelt answer about end-of-life issues. She talked about her experience with her mother, and how they dealt with her mother's terminal leukemia diagnosis. No one was going to give a better answer. Yet Pagliuca jumps in before Harding can ask the next question and spews a series of statistics. He has no sense of when to talk and when to shut up.
The candidates are on to their closing statements, so I'll give you mine: Khazei was fantastic. He was easily the winner. He gave specific proposals on the big issues and has finally found a way to present them without sounding long-winded. Coakley also did very well. If it really is her race to lose, she isn't doing much to lose it. She seems like she's loosening up a little bit and actually showed some warmth and passion when talking about health care. Capuano let his anger show, and it hurt him quite a bit. He was alternately passive aggressive and whiny when dealing with Coakley, and downright nasty to Pagliuca. It's almost as if he knows he's not going to win and is getting pissed about it. Pagliuca? You know you're having a bad night when you're relegated to saying "I'm proud of Burger King." Steve Pagliuca, you had a bad night.


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