Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Third man out: Stolz says no to run after all

Well, so much for last week's story that Hank Stolz is running for state representative in the First Worcester district. According to an article to run in tomorrow's Worcester Magazine, the local TV and radio personality says, "Never mind."
Worcester radio and cable television host Hank Stolz, who had mulled running for state representative as an independent or Democrat, pulled out of the race last week in order to continue hosting political discussions and offering commentary on WCRN-AM 830 and Charter TV 3, according to this week’s Worcester Mag.
Lest you think I have some unusual insight into the inner working of Worcester Magazine, the scoop actually came across the RSS feed for WoMag's sister publication, The Landmark. The Landmark's Thursday edition comes across the wires on Wednesday morning, so their piece references a WoMag article that wont be published until tomorrow.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hank Stolz is third man in for State Rep

Worcester Magazine reported this week that Hank Stolz, host of a WCRN radio show and a Worcester Cable TV show is leaving the Democratic party to run for State Representative as an independent. The story:
“I feel much more comfortable running as an independent,” Stolz told our sister paper, The Community Journal. He said both major parties have litmus tests for their candidates, and he doesn’t believe he fits into either mold. “The politics are starting to prevent what it is that is right for the district,” he said. Not to mention the power of the independent voting bloc that helped propel Scott Brown to the Senate.

Stolz has been exploring a run for sometime; Worcester Magazine reported back in December that he was looking at running as a Democrat.

At least Hank didn't toss out the whole "I didn't leave the party, the party left me" baloney that other candidates have used when bolting to run as an independent.  (Or maybe he did, the complete article in the Community Journal is still behind a pay firewall). But I'm interested to know what he thinks these litmus tests are.

While Democrats generally hold a certain set of values, the Democratic party in Massachusetts is certainly diverse enough to accept most all comers. Of our elected officials, we have some who are pro-life and others who are pro-choice. Some voted in favor of gay marriage and some opposed. Some believe in strict gun control and others get A ratings from the NRA. Many oppose the death penalty while others are in favor. There isn't complete consensus on budgetary issues...I'd love to hear what Stolz thinks these "litmus test" issues are.

The same is true for Republicans in the state. Even though there are many, many fewer of them in the state house, they also hold a diverse set of views on most issues.

As far as the race itself goes, my gut tells me that this could help Democrat Ken O'Brien quite a bit. Assuming Kimberly Ferguson is in the race on the Republican side, there will be two center-right candidates in the November election vying for the conservatives and conservative-leaning independents, as well as those who want to vote against the incumbent party.

Democrats and Republicans have nearly the same number of registered voters in the district, however Independents usually break for the Republican (this isn't just a Scott Brown phenomenon, it's been this way--at least in Sterling--for as long as anyone cares to remember). Having two strong candidates to split the vote on the right could be just what O'Brien needs to push through.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sentinel misses the irony

The top story in today's Sentenel and Enterprise is an article titled:
Locals say golfing great's sex scandal is getting too much media attention
You know, because having a tiny newspaper in a town publish an 856-word piece above the fold isn't "too much media attention."

As you can guess, there isn't anything newsworthy in the article -- unless you consider a series of man-on-the-street interviews about a subject that the interviewees say is irrelevant to be newsworthy -- but one guy quoted extensively seems to be a real charm:
Gary Derinzo of Ashburnham, who watched the announcement, said too much attention has been placed on the incident and that it should be left to Woods and his wife to work things out.

"I think the media should leave him alone. He deserves a private life. The guy goes out and gets a little something on the side, let them work it out," said Derinzo.... "He's got a problem. Everyone has a sex addiction in their own way. Everyone has their own dark corner, he just got caught."
Note to self: keep your head down and your eyes straight ahead the next time you go to Ashburnham.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Matt Lorch surge

For reasons I cannot explain, over the last two days I have had a veritable tsunami of page hits from people searching the Web for Matt Lorch. Apparently this blog has become something of a landing place for Matt Lorch lurkers, since a post I ran in 2006 is the fourth most popular item that comes up in a Google search of his name.

So, why is Matt Lorch suddenly so popular? I have no earthly idea. I suppose it could be because he's rumored to be moving to another TV market or some such thing, but I'd like to think it has to do with this infamous clip of him attempting to do sports in a previous market:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Did Scott Brown just step in it?

You had to figure that at some point someone was going to bring politics into the domestic terror attack in Austin, Texas. But count me among those who did not expect Scott Brown would be the first.

Apparently Senator Brown appeared on Fox News earlier today and when asked for his reaction to the event, he said this:
Well it's certainly tragic and I feel for the families obviously being affected by it. And I don't know if it's related, but I can just sense not only in my election, but since being here in Washington, people are frustrated. They want transparency, they want their elected officials to be accountable and open and talk about the things that are affecting their daily lives. So I'm not sure that there's a connection, I certainly hope not. But we need to do things better.
Really? I probably should give the Senator the benefit of the doubt because, despite his meteoric rise, he still is a novice on the big stage. But it sure does seem like Senator Brown is saying that the suicide pilot had a point, and if elected officials were just a little more accountable and transparent that this sort of thing wouldn't happen. Fox News host Neil Cavuto sensed it too, because he gave Brown a chance to walk back a little. Brown didn't bite:
Cavuto: Um, you know invariably people are going to look at this and say, well, that's where some of this populist rage gets you. Isn't that a bit extreme?

Brown: Well, yeah, of course it's extreme. You don't know anything about the individual. He could have had other issues, certainly. No one likes paying taxes, obviously. But the way we're trying to deal with things and have been in the past, at least until I got here is, there's such a logjam in Washington. And people want us to do better. They want us to help solve the problems that are affecting Americans in a very real way.

And I think we, I'm hopeful that we can do that, with a lot of the things that are coming forward. At least what I'm hearing through, and speaking with my colleagues this seems to be a diff[erent] feel...there's kind of a message that was sent with my election, the fact that I was elected by a substantial margin taking the former Ted Kennedy's seat. They want difference up here and I'm hopeful that's going to happen.
Senator, the attack today had nothing to do with "a logjam in Washington," and I certainly hope that the attacker didn't believe in "the kind of message that was sent with [your] election."

I saw this on a couple of progressive Washington blogs this evening and figured it wouldn't become much, but then a Google search of Joseph Stack (not a search of Scott Brown) turned up this piece from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. If this gets past the blogosphere and into the mainstream, Brown could be facing some heat for the first time

I think we may be hearing Senator Brown clarify things tomorrow.

Updated: CBS News has also picked this up.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Live Blogging the Winter Olympics -- Part 2

Part 1 is here. Part 2, joined in progress...

10:38 -- The longer this ceremony goes, the more cynical I become. Is it supposed to work like that?

10:39 -- It's not the ceremony, it's Sarah McLauhlin doing that.

10:39 -- She's hot. Mirrorball is worth a download right now, people. And "When Somebody Loved Me" from the Toy Story 2 soundtrack? I'm still pissed they gave the Oscar to that Phil Collins excrement from "Tarzan". What a load.

10:40 -- I mean, it's no "It's Hard Out There For A Pimp," but it was Oscar worthy.

10:41 -- I've been waiting for a Greg Kinnear action flick. Thank you, Hollywood Jesus.

10:43 -- Let me see if I get this straight. Some good ol' boy from Jim Crow Georgia riding his bike in 1959 inspired a bunch of South Korean engineers to build the 2010 Kia Sorrento? That's not the least bit implausible.

10:44 -- They were inspired to find a faster getaway car if the Klan ever came for them.

10:44 -- Oh good, more time spent kissing Quebec's ass. That's, like, 60% of their national budget, isn't it?

10:45 -- And on fiddle: Hellboy.

10:46 -- Oh please, play Cotton Eyed Joe. Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please!

10:47 -- You can have all of the tattoos and Mohawks you want and if you wear that much eye-liner, you're still going to have a hard time convincing me you aren't a little light in the loafers.

10:47 -- This shit is so crunk.

10:48 -- I don't mean you, of course, I mean the fiddler.

10:48 -- Not that there is anything wrong with that.

10:50 -- Are all of the Dropkick Murphys there? Or just most of them?

10:51 -- Since Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Marco Sturm, and David Krejci are in the Olympics, the Dropkick Murphys were contractually obligated to come along. International law says "Where four or more Bruins or Red Sox congregate, the Dropkick Murphys must accompany them."

10:51 -- I see bra technology has not yet reached the great white north.

10:55 -- My face is starting to hurt from wincing at this program so much.

10:56 -- I'm sure "A tribute to Canada's Vast Prairies" will make you feel more at that Donald Sutherland doing the narration?

10:58 -- It is. He was great in Dirty Dozen. "Very pretty, general. very pretty. But will they fight?"

10:59 -- Now we just need Telly Savales to come out with a knife in one hand shouting "Whores!" and this party will really get going. Right on, Canada!

11:00 -- I'd settle for a "Ho-bag!" from the gallery.

11:02 -- As of this very second, the "Both Sides, Now" page on Wikipedia has not yet been updated with the 2010 Vancouver Olympics cover. Don't you wonder who cares so much about stuff to go onto Wikipedia and update it? I mean, why does this song even have a 1,500 word entry?

11:03 -- That was Joni Mitchell? My, her voice has deepend over the years.

11:03 -- Wikipedia has now, in fact, been updated.

11:04 -- I watched a documentary about Joni Mitchell a few months ago. It actually wasn't nearly as boring as this mess.

11:05 -- Hey, it's the Flying Tomato! Whoop-de-effing-do.

11:06 -- Lindsey Jacobellis is transfixed by the sight of snowboarders not wiping out. Hard to fathom. Maybe she's studying them for pointers. "How do they do that?!"

11:08 -- That nameless Canadian chick may have won the gold, but Lindsey Jacobellis got to be in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial every 15 minutes for a month. You think Ms. Canada there got that kind of scratch from Tim Horton's?

11:09 -- And here's a skating tribute to the motion capture used in Canadian director James Cameron's "Avatar".

11:10 - -They did not just say slam poetry. No they didn't.

11:11 -- I think a fat guy with a neck beard and Eurostyle glasses defines Canada better than any poem could hope to.

11:12 -- The ultimate symbol of the Vancouver Games: Kyle Orton.

11:13 -- "Canada is the 'What' in 'What's New.'" He's no Robert Frost, eh?

11:14 -- "And what's more, we didn't just say it. We sprayed it."

11:15 -- The wonders of Hi-Def.

11:16 -- And now, the part we've all been waiting for...pasty old white men with accents.

11:18 -- How is it that the Canadian flag is tangled in the wind when they are in a dome?

11:18 - "We share with the world what it feels like to be a Canadian: boring."

11:19 -- I've been to Tim Horton's. I paid with a Loonie. I know what it's like to be a proud Canadian.

11:20 -- "A world in need of peace..." The teabaggers aren't going to like this.

11:21 -- C'mon, Don Cherry!

11:22 -- Do you know why Don Cherry's nickname was "Grapes?"

11:24 -- Speculation centers on his groin, but... no.

11:25 -- You are correct, petit frère. Supposedly he wore pants so tight that his balls were readily noticable. So the Bruins players started calling him "Grapes."

11:26 -- That's the same reason my friends call me "The Hydra."

11:29 -- I hate Bode Miller. Get him off my TV.

11:29 -- What the hell is this jabberwocky? Don't they speak English in Canada?

11:30 -- Listen, If Spanish were the official language of the Olympics, we'd probably get all of this in English, French, and Spanish.

11:32 -- Song of peace? Sounds like a time for me to sing a song of piss. Bathroom break. No offense to k.d., but I only listen to the Jason Castro version of this song.

11:32 -- k.d. lang. Your Super Bow LXII halftime show.

11:34 -- If k.d.'s suit were black she would be a dead ringer for Johnny Cash. And no, that is not a compliment.

11:36 -- Prop Bet: has k.d. lang said "hallelujah" more in this song, or in the rest of her life combined?

11:36 -- No bet.

11:38 -- Dan the Audi Man loved that last ad.

11:39 -- 12 more minutes of this nonsense? Holy crap.

11:40 -- With that outfit on, Donald Sutherlind looks like Hollwood's version of St. Peter waiting to greet you at the pearly gates. That or Sarumon. One or the other.

11:41 -- Damn. Bobby Orr not going to light the torch. Not a bad consolation prize, I suppose.

11:41 -- Okay, Orr isn't carrying the torch. it must be Gretzky. What a total ripoff. That wispy little creampuff couldn't carry Orr's grapes.

11:42 -- Holy hair.

11:42 -- To hell with the torch, they ought to just light her hair. It would probably take the whole two weeks to burn.

11:44 -- Was Gretzky ever an Olympian? Isn't it usually an Olympian who lights the torch? Or does his stint as coach count?

11:45 -- A little Googling confirms that it will be Gretzky. Hope that doesn't ruin it for you.

11:46 -- The fact that it's Gretzky is what ruins it for me. Does anyone outside of Canada like Gretzky?

11:47 -- He's the Great One. Well, him and an X-Large Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

11:49 -- Great One, Schmrait Frun. Whatever.

11:50 -- Do you think everyone is standing around the stadium looking at each other waiting for NBC to come back from commercial?

11:52 -- They're taking bets on whether Gretzky comes out in a Phoenix Coyotes jersey. I wonder whether the people of Arizona think he's the great one?

11:53 -- They should announce that the Coyotes are moving back to Winnipeg. That would mean a lot more to Canada than having Gretz light the torch.

11:54 -- And yes, I call him Gretz. Me and Gretz are tight.

11:55 -- How did Cameron get that gig?

11:57 -- Something is going to emerge from the stadium floor? Something is going to emerge from my pants! HA!

11:57 -- And then...nothing happened. Looks like Gretz needs Mark Messier to set him up.

11:58 -- Okay, grapes, keep it together.

11:59 -- Six billion dollars and they cant even light the torch correctly. How 'bout that Canadian ingenuity?

11:59 -- I think this is a re-enactment of the emregence of Superman's Fortress of Solitude just before Supes goes to fight Zod in "Superman II."

12:00 -- OKay, that lasted forever. I'm out of here. Peace, y'all.

12:02 -- Wait! Gretzky is going outside to light the real cauldron. You can't quit now!

12:03 -- I'm not following Gretzky around the city to light a billion other malfunctioning cauldrons. Unless one of them has Petr Klima in it.

12:04 -- You'd follow Bobby Orr around the city to light a billion cigarettes.

12:07 -- Vice President Biden is wearing a pin that includes the Canadian and US flags crossed. Bet you a dollar to a donut that someone criticizes him for that tomorrow.

12:10 -- That's it. Peace Out. I hope you enjoyed the opening ceremonies.

Live Blogging the Winter Olympics

You are looking live at Vancouver. Where the world has gathered in a domed stadium. Just like they did in Greece oh so long ago. Scott is joining me (and carrying the ball for the first half hour or so). His comments are in red, mine are in blue. And away we go...
8:36 -- Welcome back to the Olympics. Man, it seems like we never left. But that's probably just because all of these excruciating NBC Olympic features are exactly the same. Here's a brief recap of what we've seen over the last half hour or so: Arnold Schwarzeneggar carried the torch for a mile or so, during which time California fell approximately $77 million more in debt; Dan Patrick interviewed two ice dancers, and just typing that makes me want to punch myself in the nuts a dozen times; Apollo "Creed" Ohno showed his soul patch on national televison, which I hoped would be outlawed by now by FCC deceny standards (by the way, he always makes me wonder when Smashing Pumpkins are going to reunite. Just saying.); and Cris Collinsworth of all people took a break from doing the voicework for Madden 2011 just long enough to interview the biggest moron in the history of American sports, Lindsey Jacobellis. 
Yeah, we're off to a rocking start here. I hope Lance logs on soon to give me a break; I'm going to need a few seconds to question the universe for allowing NBC this TV contract.
8:44 -- Apparently the world premiere of the new "We Are The World" video is coming up. Am I the only one that thought the original was a pile of schmaltzy crap? Haven't the people of Haiti suffered enough without subjecting them to a Lil' Jon and Joe Jonas duet?
8:47 -- Speaking of which, they just had a commercial for it and I literally mistook Qincy Jones for Muhammed Ali. I am apparently a douchebag.
8:48 -- Did they really just claim that these are some of the "best" artists in the world? And then they lead off with Justin Beiber. You know what, I'm not the douchebag after all, these people are. I mean, I hope they make a billion dollars to help the people of Haiti, because I personally would pay that much just to ensure I never have to hear that sonic assault ever again.  
8:54 -- They showed a nice commercial featuring Canadian superstars imporing people to vacation in British Columbia. that is to say, Canadian-born superstars. I wonder how many of them became U.S. citizens once they hit it big in America? Just curious.
8:55 -- Dan Patrick is now conducting the most painful interview ever with a group of American snowboarding women. Lindsey Jacobellis suddenly has context.
8:58 -- A nice new ad for the U. S. Census. Their new campaign features a guy in a bathrobe a giant mustache parading through the neighborhood. Not bad. it's definitely a step up from their last campaign, "kill yourself and scrawl the word Fed across your chest." That one was a bit of a bust.
8:59 -- Okay, enough crap, let's get to the ceremony already. Here we go. 
9:01 -- And the show has started off with a bang, with Dudley Do-Roight riding into the pavilion on a moose. Actually, it's starting with a sequence showing a snowboarder rushing down a mountain. I'm waiting for the Russian skiers to start chasing him, shooting out of their semi-automatic ski poles just before he parachutes off the side to a waiting submarine. Hey, everything is better when Roger Moore is involved. I hope he's the one lighting the torch. My actual guess: Wayne Gretzky. Though it should be the actual greatest player in hockey history, Bobby Orr.
9:04 -- I was hoping when the snowboarder whipped off his mask it would turn out to be Canadian native Michael J. Fox.
9:07 -- The Prime Minister was apparently as confused by "The Vice-Royal Salute" as everyone else in the free world. I appreciate that he started singing along during the one stanze of the national anthem, though.
9:08 -- Finally! Dudley Effing Do-Right! Hell yes! Like, eight of them.

9:09 -- They should have had Rene Rancourt sing the national anthem. Give some fist pumps, get the crowd juiced up. This is the worst version of the Canadian national anthem I have ever heard. It has the Celine Dion stink all over it. The arrangement is terrible! Brutal. 
9:12 -- Is Alec Baldwin really the best person to be giving out marriage advice? 
9:15 -- So, what did I miss? Dancing Bears? Singing Inuits? Bearded men in toques?
9:15 -- I want one of those hiuge totems for my house. Or... I guess I want one of those huge totems to be my house. As long as it's a Windfury Totem, that is.  And I want that wolf-hat too. The bare-chested wolf-hat look is big this year, I think it's the centerpiece of Michael Kors's spring line.
9:16 -- Apparently, I did not miss the singing Inuits.
9:17 -- No, that appears to be happening now.
9:18 -- This explains the Inuit dominance at ping-pong.
9:19 -- Phil Sheridan would have a field day if he saw this. 
9:22 -- It doesn't look like the guy from the Greek Olympic Committee has found the Grecian Formula, if you know what I mean.
9:23 -- The fact that the Argentine alpine skier is my size tells you why no South American team has ever won a medal.
9:25 -- The Australian team hung a Kangol flag from their balcony? What, is Samuel L. Jackson leading their contingent?
9:25 -- Now, there is a classy outfit. The Austrians are apparently the only ones to get the memo that this was going to happen inside, so

9:26 -- Jackson Pollack designed Azjerbaijan's pajamas.

9:29 -- To hell with all of the running suits. How about a little style.
9:30 -- A point for the Cayman Islander's hats.
9:31 -- Was the crowd booing China? Or were they just saying "Mao"?
9:33 -- "Obama isn't there, so I doubt it was 'Mao.'" -- Sarah Palin

9:34 -- Maybe they were booing because they finally heard the new version of "We Are the World."

9:35 -- I believe Jaromir Jagr wore those pants for most of his 500 or so NHL goals.
9:35 -- I see Estonia got a hold of Mom's bedazzler.

9:36 -- Is that Ethiopia? I thought it was a group of DHL employess making a late delivery.
9:36 -- I'm going to say that the Finnish suits are in homage to their ski troops and they accidentally gave them camouflage outfits instead of all-whites. I can't imagine any reason other than mushrooms. Probably a Nike thing.
9:37 -- Are the French waving white flags? Just asking...

9:38 -- A bunch of French atheltes are on the scene. Let's hope FIFA isn't around or you might as well give them the medals now.
9:40 -- There's apparently no "I" in "Germany".
9:40 -- Apparently even in German, there is no I in team. Isn't that what the German police wear when directing traffic?

9:42 -- Jinx. You owe me a Molson's.
9:42 -- You know the world has changed when the British are the first team wearing berets.

9:43 -- That's in honor of Field Marshall Montgomery. He was a huge fan of the halfpipe.

9:43 -- And there are apparently no hairdressers in Hong Kong. Egads.

9:44 -- Iceland does not scream "Winter Olympics." It screams "Drunken Bankrupt spa-goers."

9:46 -- OK. "Spa-goers" is pretty lame.

9:46 -- You'd think that Bollywood could turn out more than three ice dancers.

9:46 -- It's a long way to Tipper-arrrry! It's a long long way to go!"

9:48 -- Looks like Berlusconi gave all really of the Italian men Mickey Mouse gloves...probably to keep them to from groping the other athletes.
9:49 -- Those shamans must be getting really tired of dancing.
9:49 -- Speaking of Shaman, these ceremonies wouldbe really improved if there was an Alpha Flight appearance. That's a reference for all my fans who came over from my website to follow us tonight. All none of them.
9:50 -- Now that is an effin' hat. Too bad the rest of the Kazakhs aren't wearing that bedazzled, tri-cornered top.
9:50 -- Time for the obligatory Borat joke. C'mon, Costas. Don't let me down.
9:51 -- You are going to cross-post this on your website, right? I mean, the winter olympics seem like it would be right up you readership's alley.
9:56 -- Probably not , but it may be time for a spotlight on The Sportsmaster.

9:56 -- The guy from Moldova is having a pretty good week...not because it's his birthday, but because he's not in Moldova.

9:56 -- The Monte Carlo team getting ready for their Christmas family picture.

9:58 -- ...and Matt Lauer and his wife met on a double-Dutch.

9:59 -- WTF is that cape that lady was just wearing? I can't even formulate a joke about it, it was just too freakish.

9:59 -- I am from New Zealand. I am the Falconer.

10:01 -- Must not make Polish joke after seeing those outfits. Must resist.

10:02 -- Is it just me, or does every country with one athlete just have a guy competing in cross-country skiing? "Can you walk on skiis? Yes? Here's a plane ticket to Canada. Grab a flag."

10:03 -- OK. The Russian outfits are the leader in the clubhouse. The Varsity jackets with the Russian team design on the shoulders and leather sleeves are really nice. Especially the red ones with the white sleeves that the men are sporting. Best thing to come out of Russia

10:05 -- Olympians gorge on chicken mcnuggets? The gold medal count may be down this year. The crispy golden batter count, however, will be up. As will the cholesterol count. I wonder how Mrs. Obama feels about an ad showing dozens of pre-teens mowing McDonalds food?

10:06 -- The Slovenes look sharp too.

10:08 -- Spain, wearing hats marked "VANCOUVER" in large letters on all sides will not make the people cheer for you any more than they already would.

10:00 -- Bob Costas said "Cooch." Heh heh, heh heh heh.

10:10 -- Lauer got it right, it is, in fact, Istanbul, not Constantinople. A common mistake.

10:12 -- He thinks it will be a warm reception? He's never listened to Montreal Canadiens fans greet the U. S. national anthem before a game, has he.

10:12 -- Marco!

10:13 -- The difference between 2008 and 2010? Joe Biden isn't waving the flag updside down and probably won't be patting the female athletes on the ass.

10:13 -- Biden gets to do all the cool stuff.

10:13 -- Which also makes him the only politician in American currently doing anything.

10:17 -- Matt Lauer: "So many Canadians in attendance." No shit, Sherlock. Welcome to Vancouver!

10:18 -- Maybe if he had one of those Spanish hats he'd remember where the Games are being held.

10:18 -- Did they just say they were going to settle in to enjoy the show? The show? There's more of this crap?!

10:19 -- Only another hour and a half. Glad you signed up for this, huh?

10:19 -- And now, in recognition of Canadian history, the delegation from Canada will pull down the totems. Commence!

10:20 -- This would be the worst thing I have ever heard, but I already listened to "We Are The World 25 For Haiti" tonight.

10:21 -- OK. Time to be honest. You wrote this theme song, didn't you?

10:22 -- I think this is Kara's new "American Idol" single.

10:22 -- I don't know about you, but I'm just having a had time getting Inuit.

10:23 -- I was wondering who that dude doing the terrible Brian Adams impression was. Answer? Bryan Adams.

10:25 -- I have to say, Crunch n' Munch is underrated. I don't like Cracker Jack at all, but this Crunch 'n Munch stuff is OK.

10:26 -- I never realized how unbelievably cheesy Candaians are. They aren't nearly this bad on Ice Road Truckers.

10:28 -- The extreme northern natives of Canada apparently were pioneering habadashers.

10:29 - -I hope this is a St. Elsewhere's type snow globe, so I can wake up from this nightmarish dream sequence.
10:35 -- This google docs program couldn't possibly suck any worse.

10:36 -- Looks like it's time for me to publish this and move on to part two. See you in another life, brother.

Hammerin' Hank hits Hub hacks

State Rep. Hank Naughton is taking on Massport over perks that allow workers to cash in unused vacation time for thousands of dollars a year. From today's Herald:
An outraged Democratic lawmaker, fed up with Massport’s lavish vacation buyback program, vowed yesterday to file a bill to end the plum perk, even as Gov. Deval Patrick expressed his own frustration with the big-spending agency.

“In this difficult economy, we need to watch where every nickel and dime is being spent,” said state Rep. Harold P. Naughton Jr., adding he intended to submit the bill by the end of the week.

“Across the board, we need to think of better and more efficient financial solutions,” Naughton added.
It's great to see our rep taking the lead on issues of waste in our quasi-public agencies. Lest anyone think it's an election-year ploy, Hank was also one of the legislators that tried to strip Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day from the list of Suffolk-county only holidays.

Call or email your state rep and ask him or her to help Hank reform Massport.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Telegram tries passing the buck on controversial cartoon

Shortly after the earthquake in Haiti, the Telegram and Gazette published a political cartoon on their opinion page that showed two relief workers piling up dead bodies while discussing Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. The cartoon wasn't funny or particularly thought-provoking. But apparently it was controversial, as a number of readers wrote letters to the editor to protest it's insensitivity. Here are excerpts:
The insensitivity to the suffering of the Haitian people and what they are experiencing is second only to the stupidity and careless disregard of the Telegram & Gazette in printing such trash.
Did it occur to anyone at the T&G how this would affect families and friends of both victims and volunteers in Haiti? If a student at a school had drawn this, they would have been suspended and recommended for psychological evaluation.
I’m utterly disgusted that a local newspaper, that teaches so many families across this state, would publish something as tasteless as this. Turning the catastrophe in Haiti into a joke is an incredibly low and vile thing to do.
What is funny is the Telegram's handling of these complaints. Here are the headlines the Telegram editors slapped on these letters:
  • Disgusted by syndicated cartoon
  • Syndicated cartoon insensitive to Haiti
  • Syndicated cartoon was in poor taste
The editors want to make it clear to you that this was a syndicated cartoon. In other words, don't blame us for what some jamoke in a studio somewhere decided was funny. (One of the three letter writers did note that it was a syndicated cartoon, but the other two did not).

Of course, the Telegram has dozens of syndicated cartoons to choose from each day. While the Telegram's in-house cartoonist may not have drawn this one, it's editors still needed to decide which cartoon to run. Just because it is "syndicated" doesn't absolve them of their responsibility.

Here is the cartoon. You can decide for yourself if it's offensive or not:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2010 Snow Bowl

It's time to compare the local weather stations to see who does the best job of forecasting today's storm. The estimates below are for Sterling, based on the snowfall maps that were posted online at 8:00 this morning:

WBZ (Channel 4): 4-8 inches
WCVB (Channel 5): 4-8 inches
WHDH (Channel 7): 3-5 inches
WFXT (Channel 25): 4-8 inches
N.E. Cable News: 8-12 inches
Weather Channel: 3-6 inches
Weather Underground: 4-6 inches
Nat'l Weather Service: 3-6 inches

Looks like NECN is going out on a limb on this one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Praising Democrats not allowed

The race for Lew Evangelidis’ seat in the State House is heating up, with Holden Selectman Ken O’Brien running as a Democrat and fellow board member Kimberly Ferguson likely running as a Republican. But the debate really got started four weeks ago when O’Brien wrote a letter to the editor of The Landmark thanking Governor Deval Patrick for restoring transportation funds he had previously cut from the state budget.

Apparently, if there is one thing you can’t do in this district, it’s to publicly praise a Democrat, as the Landmark has received letters and guest columns for three straight weeks eviscerating O’Brien for daring to defend the Governor. The assault from the right culminated in a “Speak Out” column by Darin McCarthy which was peppered with myths, half-truths, and omissions. I think there were a couple of good points in there, but it was hard to get past the errors.

And because I just can’t let old news pass without a comment, I’d like to try to set the record straight. Here are excerpts of the letter:
Countless thanks to both Mark Ferguson and Elliott Lockwood, who both wrote articles in previous weeks (Jan. 14 and Jan. 21) bringing to light a letter by Holden Selectman Ken O’Brien (Jan. 7). In the letter Ken O’Brien went on a completely tactless, partisan rant praising our governor Deval Patrick for reversing his own decision to rob our transportation funds earlier this year.

Here is O'Brien's letter. Here again is McCarthy's letter. Which one is the "tactless, partisan rant?"
Yes, Ken, the vast Republican executive branch has been a widespread problem in Massachusetts for some time now. His letter proves to me how completely out of touch he is, how outright partisan of a town official he is and, more importantly, how absolutely stupid he thinks the taxpaying voters are.
I sense sarcasm. I wonder if Mr. McCarthy remembers that the executive branch was controlled by Republican governors from 1991-2007.

I guess being a partisan town official is a bad thing. Mr. McCarthy is probably surprised to see that Select Board Chair Kimberly Ferguson is running as a Republican. I imagine he will be writing another letter to the editor shortly decrying the partisanship of that town official. I also find it interesting that Mrs. Ferguson's husband wrote a letter earlier that was critical of Ken O'Brien. Nothing like softening up the opponent as your spouse is exploring a run for office.
What do you think of the fact that the Massachusetts Democratic Legislature, stating that such a critical seat should not be appointed by one person, reversed the succession law in 2004 so that then-Gov. Mitt Romney could not appoint a senator had John Kerry won the presidency? What do you think of the fact that the Democratic Legislature reversed that same decision in 2009 (at Ted Kennedy’s urging just prior to his passing) so that Deval Patrick could appoint an interim senator, in order to cast critical votes on Obama’s health care overhaul? By the way, how did that self-serving political move play out, Ken?

Should Martha Coakley have just been handed the senator’s seat without having to earn it?
I'm going to answer for myself here. The legislature should not change succession laws based on circumstance, they should change them based on what is right. They should not have changed the laws in 2004 or 2009 in response to specific events. However, the law as it is currently written is the best solution. The governor should appoint a temporary replacement so that the state's interests are protected, and the people can decide a replacement shortly thereafter. It would have been better to make that change in 2006 or 2008 or 2010 when there was no specific case in mind.

Of course, if McCarthy is implying by the tone of his questions that the law should not have been changed, then his answer to the question of whether or not Coakley should "have just been handed the senator’s seat without having to earn it?" must be a resounding yes. Based on the way the law was before 2004, whoever was appointed would have been handed the seat without having to earn it. In a climate where the appointee was a permanent replacement, Coakley may very well have been the pick.
How many more state senators and speakers (Marzilli, Wilkerson, and DiMasi) needed to be indicted by the federal government because she, as the state’s top law enforcement official, failed to prosecute some of them herself, Ken? I believe her arguments were mostly that she felt the federal government had better investigative tools and jurisdiction.

Oh no, here come the inaccuracies. Jim Marzilli was indicted by the Middlesex District Attorney's office because his alleged assault happened in Lowell. The AG's office would not have had jurisdiction. With Wilkerson and DiMasi, Coakley did explain that state law did not was not nearly as strong as federal law when dealing with public corruption. Thanks to Governor Patrick and the Democratic-led legislature (oh no, am I going to get a nasty letter now?), ethics reform was passed last summer. The tougher ethics rules make it harder to get away with corruption under Massachusetts law and make it easier for corrupt politicians to be prosecuted in state courts.
When Sal DiMasi was up for re-appointment, who in the state’s Legislature unanimously voted in his favor, only to see him step down under federal corruption allegations weeks later? I’ll give you a clue: there are 144 of them, out of 160.
Here is the rundown of the vote on January 7, 2009:

135 -- Sal DiMasi (D)
9 -- Brad Jones (R)
1 -- William Greene (D)
14 -- Present

Techinically, it wasn't unanimous in the Democratic caucus because there was one vote for Green and nine who voted present. However, if we use McCarthy's counting method and tally a "present" vote as an affirmation of DiMasi, then he must have been royally angered at Representative Lew Evangelidis because Big Lew also voted present, in an apparent--by McCarthy's logic--show of support of DiMasi.
What of Deval Patrick’s pick for transportation secretary, James Aloisi? What of the fact that while campaigning, Deval specifically used words that he was against the “Big Dig culture,” yet in appointing Aloisi as transportation secretary (the Friday before Christmas during a snowstorm), the taxpayers’ stocking full of coal was a stooge lawyer who helped write the law that saddled the Turnpike Authority with the Big Dig’s debt, and later he cashed in to the tune of $3 million in legal fees, working as an outside counsel. And the list goes on and on.

Aloisi did "help write the law." Who was he helping? Current Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, who was then Secretary of Administration and Finance. From the Boston Globe:
And the decision to assign the project, and much of its debt, to the Turnpike Authority in two bills passed in 1995 and 1997, was also crafted during Baker’s time as a top finance man on Beacon Hill. In 1997, when critics were cautioning that the state was not setting aside enough money to pay for the Big Dig, he defended the turnpike plan as “the right mechanism for dealing with a situation that everyone admits is going to be challenging.’’....
Former House Transportation Committee chairman Joseph C. Sullivan, who led the panel when many financing decisions were made, said Baker had a heavy hand in the plan to assign Big Dig expenses to the Turnpike Authority.

“The primary author was the governor and, instrumental in that authorship, was Secretary Baker,’’ said Sullivan, a Democrat and now mayor of Braintree....

“It would be impossible to get that kind of a monster created without the [administration and finance] secretary, the governor, and the legislative leadership,’’ [Senator Mark Montigny] said. “It’s just too big of an undertaking.’’

If you're going to blame Aloisi for the Big Dig mess then you have to blame Baker, as they were working hand in hand to saddle the Turnpike Authority with billion of dollars in debt. I'd think having the guy who masterminded the whole scheme in the corner office is more dangerous than appointing his cohort to a bureaucratic position. But that is for voters this fall to decide.
Four more years? Was it also not a fact that Deval Patrick in 2006 campaigned that he would reduce property taxes in Massachusetts? How has that worked out for everyone?
Patrick campaigned on "property tax relief" not "property tax reduction," and you know what? He has delivered. In each of the first two years of Patrick budgets, property taxes have risen at a slower pace than any year since 1992. Of the 16 budgets filed during the years of Republicans, the last 15 caused property taxes in cities and towns to rise faster than they did in 2008 or 2009.

Under Romney, the average property tax bill rose 23.5% from 2003 (the last Swift/Celluci budget year) to 2007 (the last Romney budget year). Broken into two year blocks, property taxes rose 11.9% in 2004-05 and 10.4% in 2006-07. As a comparison, in 2008-09, property taxes have only risen 7.3%.
I understand that you have to get tax revenues from somewhere to prevent the impoverished state government from having to forego pay raises.
Yeah, all of those high pay, no work hacks like prison nurses and mental health workers don't deserve raises.

Sigh. Looks like it's going to be a rough and tumble summer.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The nightmares are on me

Last night when I was putting Jackson to bed, he slipped and fell and hit his forehead on the floor. Nothing serious, but Michelle got a freezer pack, wrapped it in a towel, and had Jackson hold it on his head for a couple minutes while he calmed down.

Jackson asked why he had to keep the towel around the ice pack instead of putting it directly on his skin, which led to this unfortunate discussion:
Me: That is much too cold to put on your head without the towel.

Jackson (trying it): It doesn't feel too cold.

Me: Buddy, if you keep it on like that for too long, your boo boo will get worse.

Jackson: What will happen?

Me: If it gets too cold, it will start to turn blue and it will hurt very very much.

Jackson: What happens if my skin turns blue?

Me: Then we'd have to go to the doctor so she could make it better.

Jackson: How will the doctor make it better?

Me: Well, if your skin is blue for too long, the only way the doctor can fix it is by taking some healthy skin from your back and putting in on the boo boo.

Jackson (becoming hysterical): You mean the doctor is going to take skin off my back and put it on my head?

It is at this point that I realized I had fallen into the trap of trying to answer every "Why?" of a three-year old instead of just saying "Because Daddy says so."

So if you hear screams in the middle of the night coming from the second floor, it's just an imaginary skin graft operation.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mass. Republicans looking to repeal 1933 anti-discrimination laws?

I was checking in at leading Republican blog Red Mass Group earlier today and there are times when I just can't figure out if they intentionally don't get it, or if they just can't bother with the details.

In a very popular post over there about the evils of H. 1728 (derisively known as the "Bathroom Bill"), one of their editors argues against a law that has been on the books in Massachusetts for 77 years.

The editor thinks that H. 1728 is being written so broadly that it infringes on freedom of speech. For instance, this gem:
Section 24 specifically bans the the type of content that can be "published, issued, circulated, distributed or displayed, in any way, any advertisement, circular, folder, book, pamphlet, written or painted or printed notice or sign, of any kind or description" by private citizens in direct conflict of our first amendment rights.  To be clear:  I am not talking about government publications.  These are regulations on us as private citizens not employed by the government.  They want to ban what we can write in books. 
He either doesn't realize or is not willing to acknowledge that the law he quotes was passed by the legislature in 1933. That's right. Massachusetts' leading Republican web site opposes anti-discrimiation statues that have been on the books since the 1930s.

Section 92 A. No owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement shall, directly or indirectly, by himself or another, publish, issue, circulate, distribute or display, or cause to be published, issued, circulated, distributed or displayed, in any way, any advertisement, circular, folder, book, pamphlet, written, or painted or printed notice or sign, of any kind or description, intended to discriminate against or actually discriminating against persons of any religious sect, creed, class, race, color, denomination or nationality, in the full enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges offered to the general public by such places of public accommodation, resort or amusement, provided, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to prohibit the mailing to any person of a private communication in writing, in response to his specific written inquiry.
Emphasis added to show that the language Red Mass Group finds so offensive has not changed since the original 1933 act.

As you can see, the law is on the books not to "ban what we can write in books," but to keep business owners from putting up signs that say "Whites Only", or from including "No Irish need apply" in a newspaper advertisement. It's an anti-discrimination statute, period.

Over the years, the section has been amended to include sex, sexual orientation, and disability among other reasons that one cannot suffer discrimination.

That is what H. 1728 does: it adds bisexual and transgender to the definitions of those protected from discrimination. It doesn't take away anyone's right to free speech, right to use the bathroom, or anything else.

So, a question for local Republicans. Do you guys really support a repeal of the anti-discrimation act of 1933, or do you just not read the bills you oppose?

Monday, February 1, 2010

T&G readers not entitled to their own facts

The late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." Unfortunately, that sentiment does not apply to the letters to the editor that appear in the Telegram & Gazette each day. 

On an almost daily basis, the letters to the editor include one or more missives that include factually false information. Here is the one from today that got me going:
To all of the hardworking, taxpaying, middle class Americans out there who, like myself, continue to struggle through our failing economy, here is what going green means to me. Unless you are very wealthy — or at the other end of the spectrum, extremely poor — expect no help whatsoever, if you should decide to go green and replace older windows, insulate your home, or restore an aging furnace.

Going green, for most of us, means being left out in the cold.
This is demonstrably untrue. I appreciate that our society allows people to be as uninformed as they want to be. And I'm very grateful that our newspapers can print just about whatever they want without interference. But at what point should the opinion page editor say, "you know, that is a lie," and either chuck the letter or add an editor's note that reads "Editor's note: According to the IRS, federal tax credits of up to $1,500 are available to taxpayers who make energy-efficient home improvements."?

Federal tax credits are available to anyone who chooses to "replace older windows, insulate your home, or restore an aging furnace." The only requirement is that you do so with materials that have been rated highly efficient. Using those materials is not difficult to do and they are not hard to find. In fact, Home Depot, Lowe's and other home improvement stores list qualifying products on their websites. If you go to the store in person, materials that qualify for tax credits are clearly marked.

And those materials are not boutique products that are premium priced. The energy-efficient shingles cost the same as those that do not qualify for the credit, the difference is that qualifying shingles are a lighter color and reflect more of the sun's rays, cutting down on air conditioning costs. The energy-efficient insulation is the same Fiberglas insulation we have used for years; as long as the R rating is high enough, it qualifies for a credit. Nearly every storm door on sale at Home Depot qualifies for a credit as long as it is paired with a wood or steel door. If you are buying a storm door to replace an older model, it is likely going to qualify for a credit.

I know, because in the last year we replaced the roof on a section of our house, replaced two storm doors, and added insulation to the ceiling of another section of house. Because we did all of those things with materials that are rated highly efficient, we will be getting a tax credit of 30% of our cost when we file next month.

It seems to me that newspapers either should avoid publishing letters that are factually false or make sure that readers know that the writer is not entitled to her own facts.


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