Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I am just here for a minute - I've got too much work to do to spend time bllaarrrghing. I just want to share a thought I actually had about a month or two ago. All the anger and discouragement people were feeling against the Republicans (on a national level) peaked way too early for the Democrats to make any use of it. And the Democratic Party is defined by an inability (and maybe even a lack of willingness) to manipulate the voters the way the Republicans can and will. I'm predicting only slight changes in the balance of the House and Senate, with a more than likely continuation of the status quo as far as majorities are concerned.

As far as the election for Massachusetts governor goes, I said all along that the Democrats squandered the opportunity to get out in front when they went with this touchy-feely, let's-all-bring-something-to-the-table strategy of running three candidates through the summer and having a primary. Deval was it at the convention. Deval was it at the primary. Deval should have been it all along. They'd have several million dollars to spend (instead of a little over $1 million), and the Healey campaign wouldn't be able to say things like "even Tom Reilly called Deval Patrick soft on crime." Way to go Massachusetts Democratic Party. You now have 42 days to overcome the political inertia of an electorate who are probably a lot more comfortable voting for a Republican woman than a black man, or who are more than likely going to stay away from the polls altogether. Not than an extra three months of one-on-one campaigning was going to change the minds of the many unenlightened folks who vote for the candidate they would prefer to have a beer with, but it could have given Patrick more time to convince voters that he has more on the ball than Healey. Instead we got to listen to Reilly and Gabrielli snipe at each other over a moot point.

I am still completely convinced that Sal DiMasi and Bob Travaligni have no interest in sharing power with a Democrat in the corner office. Why split the spoils and the patronage when you already control the approval process for the most important appointments? When you've got the kind of overwhelming control that the Democratic Party has in two of the three branches of government, taking the third branch becomes more of a liability than an asset. And the executive branch is the easiest to concede without actually committing to any substantive changes in policy. Vetoes can be overridden, rulings can be overturned, and executive agencies can be investigated to the point of impotence. Think of this: Massachusetts has had Republican governors since 1991, and we are still the national touchstone for liberal government. Don't think for a second that the Massachusetts Democratic Party is embarrassed by that characterization, or is trying too hard to change it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

...And How Sad Is That?

Busy busy busy. I've got a church yard sale, two graduate seminars, a paper/presentation for a professional meeting and about a half-dozen overdue social commitments to cover. But what made me so excited I just had to take a break and update my blaarrggh?

Today, when I got to work (after a 30 minute delay caused by those mentally defective chimps collectively known as the MBTA)I found in my mail box a brand new, "professional series," Swingline stapler. It has a staple remover...built into the handle! This is the best thing that's happened to me since I played a Miles Dethmuffen gig in Cleveland and got a barbecue chicken sandwich...with coleslaw right on the sandwich! Delish!

So, the staple remover, it's one of those pinchy kinds, and it slides out of the back of the stapler. Totally cool. And the stapler itself goes through, like, 25 pages at once. Beefy!

Plus, I voted this morning, and that's always cool. Then I got the paper and saw that Ed King died. I try not to speak ill of the dead, but I'm not going to pretend to like the guy just because his number came up, you know? It can be said for him that he worked really hard for the things he believed in. Too bad he believed in things like execution, bare-bones social welfare programs, a tax structure that favored the rich, and a lot of other social-Darwinist crap that became popular thanks to the Goldwater-Reagan Repugnocrats. Minimum sentencing requirements, terminal injections, and bigger prisons aren't going to make the crime rate go down, boys. People will stop robbing and stealing when the alternatives are more attractive. As long as half the population is forced to exist in dead-end jobs on subsistence wages, jacking a suit for his wallet is going to be a lot more appealing than emptying the garbage at BKs.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Color coding.

I was involved in a conversation recently about the whole "red state/blue state" comparison. People from blue states make sweeping generalizations about people from red states, and vice versa, and the whole thing is based on such a small sliver of political information as to be useless.

Imagine this: a man is arrested for murdering his family. He is a brutal sociopath with no remorse. In the course of the investigation it is mentioned in the media that the last thing he did before committing these atrocious murders was sit down to his daily morning cup of coffee. The same day, it is announced that an extremely wealthy philanthropist has decided to hand over all his wealth to a charity organization for AIDS orphans. Billions of dollars are going to be made available to these children; it will positively affect the rest of their lives. In the midst of the story, the philanthropist mentions that the idea came to him over his morning cup of tea, which he has every day. Do we jump to the conclusion that all coffee drinkers are murderous, raving lunatics and all tea drinkers are saintly, generous humanitarians?

It appears that the American media would answer "yes." Based on one political characteristic of a state - which presidential candidate was supported by a majority of voters - newspapers, TV networks, political bloggers, columnists and others have grouped the entire population into two categories. You're a red stater or a blue stater. Forget the fact that you could come from a state that supported Bush for president, but that also has Democratic majorities in both houses of its state legislature. Or a state that supported Kerry for president but has had a Republican governor for fifteen years. And forget the fact that participation of eligible voters ranges from approximately 49% to 77% across the states (http://elections.gmu.edu/Voter_Turnout_2004.htm).

This oversimplification of the political dialogue in the United States is one reason people give up voting in the first place. I know it sets me on a ranting rampage, but that could just be the coffee talking.

In a completely unrelated note, a friend of mine used a term at lunch the other day that was new to me, and I wanted to share it (he may have coined it himself; I googled it and didn't come up with anything in the context he used it in): business roadie. This is a person who sets up audio/visual equipment and/or catering materials for business functions and meetings. I don't have anything to say about this (other than the fact that I've done some of this kind of work as an administrative assistant), I just thought it was a useful and interesting turn-of-phrase and I wanted to pass it on.