The Angry Cyclist

A fleeting grasp of civil, well reasoned discourse.
This blog will comment on topics of interest like politics, business, taxation, the War with Islam / Islamofascists, road cycling, football, and others.


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Marc Herold,
Grand Seigneur, University of New Hampshire

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Wednesday, May 28, 2003
 
Culture Clash

I don't feel a need to comment on 9/11/2001 as a defining moment in our history, as this should be obvious to the non Chomskyite set. I will, however, note this issue , and its resolution, as something approaching the weight of 9/11 or an identifiable inflection point. This lawsuit's a measurement of our tolerance of other cultures, even as some strains of Muslim culture court and exploit this weakness, and in this case, to essentially force the issue of whether we agree with this idea: there is no need to integrate fully, or at all, into American society because the Koran says so.

We ask for a certain degree of conformity, this one reasonable on its face (!), and the result is a lawsuit. Good luck getting your fucking drivers license in Saudi Arabia, you despicable, ungrateful cunt.


 
Giro d' Italia Update

Alessandro Petacchi ties Mario Cipollini's record of six wins in a single Giro by winning Stage 17 of the race. This is after Petacchi crashes during the time trial. Amazing, given the amount of road rash he had on him.

The Giro's shown on OLN at 11:00 PM (in addition to live at 9:30 AM, 3:00 and 8:00 PM), for the diehards. Should be fun to watch the sprint highlights, but like Rob, I agree that the mountain stages are far more interesting. Check it out tomorrow and Friday.


 
Another Jackass

In every sense of the word.

Teenagers Kids do the damndest things, don't they?

UPDATE: I just saw the home video of this 'prank' on the local news. This complete piece of white trash heats up a plastic cup (think mini-Slurpee) in a microwave and throws it onto his supposed buddy's back, while he's sleeping, resulting in 2nd degree burns. My shock at the utter stupidity shown by residents of the white trash black hole in the general vicinity of Columbus, Ohio is sooo understated...


Saturday, May 24, 2003
 
Fear Factor

When you run out of arguments, just start demagoging (italics mine).

A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL

Fear of taxes


Really, it's not fear, it's about getting your money's worth...

5/24/2003

PRESIDENT BUSH is about to sign a tax cut that is the product of economic fallacy and political gamesmanship. The success of this bill, and the contortions that the Massachusetts Senate is performing to balance the state budget, are the result of a dangerous delusion about taxes. Unlike Massachusetts, the federal government has no obligation to balance its budget. Congress has voted to raise the ceiling on the national debt by $984 billion to pay for Bush's huge budget deficits.


As a percentage of GDP, this 'huge budget deficit' is at a couple of percent, even by Paul Krugman's counting. This isn't large in historical terms.

Bush hopes that the $350 billion tax cut package approved this week will jump-start the economy to insure his reelection. The loss of revenue will force the government to go the the bond markets for money that would find more productive uses in private investment.


'Finding more productive uses in private investment' is quite an admission by the editorial staff here. Did Jeff Jacoby slip someone a copy of "Wealth of Nations"?

''There's no better way to help our economy than to leave more money in the hands of the men and women who earned it,'' Bush said in January. That statement ignores the 1990s economic boom, which was facilitated by two major tax increases. Congress and the Clinton administration brought the budget into balance, which eliminated the need for major new government borrowing.


Please. Tax increases stimulate the economy? An accurate and honest reading of the 1990's, the early parts thereof were characterized by slow economic growth, then the economic boom. What happened in 1994? Republican control of Congress, shutting down the spending spigot.

In Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said during the campaign last year: ''As governor, I'll reduce taxes and change our job growth strategy so we can attract good jobs.'' He implied that a high tax rate is holding the state back and ignored the reality that the state income tax was much steeper in the early 1990s, when Massachusetts began an economic recovery. The phasing in of the tax cut approved by voters in 2000 coincided with the onset of economic difficulties, which the cut did nothing to mitigate.


The state tax cut and the 'onset of economic difficulties' is pure coincidence and intuitive bullshit. If taxpayers get tax cuts, they're likely to spend less money? Does that make any sense?

We on this page favor an increase in the state income tax from the current 5.3 to 5.6 percent -- still far less than its peak a decade ago


Surprise, surprise.

This would obviate such dubious expedients as the state Senate's proposed fee on property owners' insurance. Romney promises to veto that if it reaches his desk, but he has approved fee increases almost equally strained. The cost to record a new mortgage has increased from $40 to $175, with only $5 of that for improved service. The rest of the increase is a tax on anyone who buys or refinances a home.


This tax is bad, but increasing the income tax is not? I would expect the class warrior in them to support the mortgage fee / tax, since these people are obviously rich.

The state Senate would raise fees a total of $500 million and devastate the state rainy day fund -- all to forestall new taxes. In Washington, Congress so loathed taxes that it passed a $350 billion bill that was kept artificially low by the quick phasing out of many cuts. Supporters want to make the reductions permanent before the sunset provisions take effect.


It is no doubt possible to devise federal and state tax codes that impede economic growth
.

Yes. They're called tax increases.

Neither the federal nor the state codes qualify. Governments perform essential services that should not be questioned ought to be financed without recourse to unnecessary borrowing, excessive fees, or false rhetoric.

This story ran on page A14 of the Boston Globe on 5/24/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Friday, May 23, 2003
 
A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Remember the first time you ever heard of the Darwin Awards? Here's mine, from around 1995.

"Darwin award" Nominee: You all know about the Darwin awards -- it's an annual honor given to the person who did the gene pool the biggest service by killing themselves in the most extraordinarily stupid way.

Last year's winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke(tm) machine, which toppled over on top of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda out of it.

And for this year's nominee, the story is:

The Arizona (U.S.) Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded into the side of a cliff rising above the road, on the outside of a curve. The wreckage resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it was a car. The type of car was unidentifiable at the scene. The boys in the lab finally figured out what it was, and what had happened.

It seems that a guy had somehow got hold of a JATO unit, (Jet Assisted Take Off, actually a solid-fuel rocket) that is used to give heavy military transport planes an extra `push' for taking off from short airfields. He had driven his Chevy Impala out into the desert, and found a long, straight stretch of road. Then he attached the JATO unit to his car, jumped in, got up some speed, and fired off the JATO!!

Best as they could determine, he was doing somewhere between 250 and 300 mph (350-420kph) when he came to that curve . . .

The brakes were completely burned away, apparently from trying to slow the car.

TODAY'S LESSON: Solid-fuel rockets don't have an 'off' switch . . .


Sorry, it's still funny after all these years...



 
There Goes The Neighborhood

It's tough to make Chelsea more of the dump laughingstock than it is now, with its beautiful views of the Tobin Bridge and all, but the Hells Angels are chipping in.

A convicted dope dealer for the Hells Angels, ordered by a federal judge to steer clear of his biker buddies, has set up house in Chelsea for the outlaw motorcycle gang's Boston chapter, the Herald has learned.


Sounds like a probation violation, doesn't it?

Christopher Ranieri, 35, who according to U.S. District Court records is on supervised probation until 2006, purchased the fetching 2-story home at 138 Franklin Ave. in November for $400,000 - nearly double its $250,100 assessed value, according to city records.


Look for the 'assessed value' to increase shortly.

Neighbors said the harborview property's high-tech surveillance camera system, wooden-plank fence and colorful visitors heightened fears that were confirmed this past weekend when a black-and-gold sign was hung on the front of the house proclaiming ``Hells Angels MC Boston.''


Subtle, no?

``I don't like the idea of somebody like that living so close to me,'' said one neighbor, who perhaps wisely did not want to be identified. ``I'd rather have some pleasant neighbors you could get along with and talk with.''


I'd think that if you got to know these guys, the chances of your house getting broken into drop dramatically.

But another neighbor, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, offered an entirely different perspective on the Hells Angels.

``They're great. They're really nice, believe me,'' the neighbor said. ``They're definitely the least of our worries on this street.''


See what I mean about Chelsea? It's right out of the horse's mouth.

Chelsea police Capt. Brian Kyes said his department is ``monitoring the situation'' on Franklin Avenue, but the Hells Angels have so far only raised ``quality of life'' concerns.


"Can't pinch 'em if they're not doing anything wrong."

``Noise, motorcycles,'' Kyes explained. ``Obviously they're loud when they come up the street. It's a shock change for that neighborhood.''

Attempts to reach Ranieri and his attorney were unsuccessful. Other Hells Angels members declined comment.


"Fuck you, and get outta my face!"

After he and 15 fellow alleged associates of the Hells Angels were swept up on federal drug charges in the fall of 1996, Ranieri pleaded guilty on Feb. 2, 1998, to trafficking methamphetamines. Two months later, Judge William G. Young sentenced him to three years' imprisonment, to be followed by five years' probation, stipulating that Ranieri was ``prohibited from associating with any member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club,'' according to official court records.


Does this guy have a job? Where's he getting the cash for a $400K house, if the cops didn't seize his assets when he got busted in 1996?

Federal authorities refused comment yesterday on whether Ranieri's probation was still in effect.


Someone dropped the ball and is about to get reamed, big time.

The property's former owner, Diana Cate, 67, said she had ``no idea'' who the new family on the block would turn out to be, but Bruce Sachar, an attorney for the Hells Angels in Lynn, said there's no cause for alarm.

``The current Angels breed are accountants, electricians, contractors,'' Sachar said. ``There's a camaraderie there and they have motorcycles in common.''


...and running meth labs, too?


Thursday, May 22, 2003
 
Lock In JDAM Coordinates

...to this meeting.

Because they're not serious about peace.


 
Strange News Item

A woman's been fined for petting a killer whale:

Woman fined for petting killer whale
By Associated Press, 5/22/2003


Counterintuitive logic going on here - isn't it kind of stupid to want to pet a 'killer' whale?

GOLD RIVER, British Columbia (AP) Sandra Bohn will have to cough up $74 after petting a killer whale.

Bohn could have been fined a thousand times as much under the federal Fisheries Act's marine mammal regulations, and whale watchers are on notice that "the sentence next time will be quite different," Judge Peter Doherty said Tuesday.


That is, if you're really that stupid...

Police Cpl. Jacquie Olsen said that while the fine was small, the point was made.

"This is the first offense of this kind that's ever been heard in court," Olsen said. "We've set the bar."


"...very low."

Bohn admitted petting a 3-year-old male orca known as Luna, who was separated from his family group and settled in remote waters on the west side of Canada's Vancouver Island.

The fear for Luna has been his growing familiarity with people. Marine mammal experts say touching or petting a whale could change its behavior patterns and lessen its chances of reuniting with its pod, or clan.


Sounds like a good thing.

Bohn said after the court hearing that residents of this town on the west coast of Vancouver Island have been petting Luna for the last couple of years. She said she was at the wharf on Nootka Sound with four or five others when she was cited Feb. 7.


"Fine their asses!"

"I won't be going down there again," Bohn said.


Uh, was this more than a 'petting'?


 
Which Animal Personality Are You?

Sounds about right (can't these fuckers spell?):

Wolf
What Is Your Animal Personality?

brought to you by Quizilla


 
Kerry's In Trouble

A current poll reveals that he would lose to President Bush in Massachusetts.

Is this the universe where Spock has a beard?


Monday, May 19, 2003
 
Fun With Numbers

Laurence Kotlikoff and Jeffrey Sachs team up to lay blame for a 44 trillion dollar something-or-other at President Bush's feet.

OUR GOVERNMENT is going broke. The feds face bills that are far beyond our capacity to pay -- by $44 trillion to be precise. The longer we ignore them, the bigger they get. Yet President Bush is working overtime to deepen our fiscal trap. This $44 trillion figure is not ours. Nor is it some other academics' calculation. It was produced last fall by economists and budget analysts at the US Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congressional Budget Office. The study was ordered by then Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil and was slated to appear in the president's budget, released in February.


I had some problems independently verifying the report, or seeing if someone may have commented on this already. I haven't seen it yet. Paul O'Neill had different views than the president, which is why he's not around anymore.

O'Neil instructed his team, led by Jagadeesh Gokhale, Federal Reserve senior economist, and Kent Smetters, then deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury, to answer the following question: Suppose the government could, today, get its hands on all the revenue it can expect to collect in the future, but had to use it, today, to pay off all its future expenditure commitments, including debt service net of any asset income. Would the present value (the value today) of the future revenues cover the present value of the future expenditures?

The answer is no, and the fiscal gap is the $44 trillion. Now, that is big bucks by anyone's definition. It's four times current GNP and 12 times official debt. Imagine everyone in the country working for four years and handing over every penny earned to pay this bill, and you'll grasp its size.

Unfortunately, we can't ascribe the $44 trillion calculation to overly pessimistic assumptions. On the contrary, the assumptions are optimistic with respect to future longevity as well as growth in federal health expenditures, discretionary spending, and labor productivity.


There are two questions you can ask: Is the federal government taking in too little money or is it spending too much money?

Gokhale and Smetters asked a follow-up question: By how much would taxes have to be raised or expenditures cut on an immediate and permanent basis to generate, in present value, the $44 trillion? Their ''menu of pain'' is mind-boggling. Entree A is raising federal income tax collections (individual and corporate) by 69 percent. Entree B is raising payroll tax collections by 95 percent. Entree C is cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits by 56 percent. Entree D is cutting federal discretionary spending by more than 100 percent, which, of course, is not feasible. Combination platters are also available. For example, we might select quarter portions of entrees A through D. But no matter what combination we order, digesting this medicine is going to be plenty painful.


I think the New Deal and Great Society programs had something to do with this...

Why are the nation's fiscal affairs in such a mess? The reason is straightforward. Baby boomers are just five years from starting to collect Social Security retirement benefits and eight years from starting to collect Medicare benefits. When all 76 million boomers are retired, we'll have twice the number of elderly beneficiaries, but only 15 percent more workers to pay their benefits.


Europe's in much the same boat, if it's any consolation. It's too bad the deafening shrieks from the usual DemocRATic groups drown out reasonable debate when partial privatization of Social Security get brought up.

If the fiscal gap and its associated menu of pain are unfamiliar, there's a reason. You can scour the thousands of pages of the president's FY 04 budget, and you won't find the analysis. It never made it in. When Secretary O'Neill was replaced last December, the analysis was yanked from the budget.

To be clear, limiting our need to know is not just a Republican responsibility. When it came to publishing a generational accounting analysis in the FY 92 budget, President Clinton's political watchdogs overruled OMB and pulled the same trick. And bankrupting has been a collective effort of all postwar administrations, each of which has cared more about the next election than the next generation.


It's clear to me that neither party is hell bent on reducing spending.

Our current team leader, President Bush, is doing his part. Taken together, his first tax cut and his proposed second tax cut, which is about to be passed by Congress, account for roughly a sixth of the fiscal gap. The president, an ardent believer in supply-side voodoo economics, is convinced his tax cuts will stimulate growth and dramatically raise revenues. Neither economic theory nor economic facts supports this view. In fact, the president is not only burying us in explicit and implicit debt, he's undermining the economy's future performance.


I think using the phrase 'voodoo economics' doesn't help his argument. When Kennedy & Reagan cut marginal rates, federal revenues increased (although the chart doesn't do justice to the Kennedy time period).

The stakes are now too high for more political games and flaky economic theories. Democrats and Republicans alike need to send our leaders a firm message: Deal responsibly with the coming generational obligations! If we don't, we can look forward to massive cuts in future Social Security and Medicare benefits, tax hikes, high inflation, and bitter political strife. Putting aside the president's latest tax cut would be an excellent start on the road to responsibility.


Guys? We can't even get judges confirmed because of ten obstructionist DemocRATS. What makes you think they're interested in these big issues?


 
Tour de France Selection - Wild-Cards

What a surprise. Three of the four teams are French teams. Mario Cipollini's team, despite a record-setting win by Super Mario, gets shafted.


Saturday, May 17, 2003
 
Boston's Liberty Tunnel - Update

Here's the salient part on what the Massachusetts State Police are going to do on that northbound stretch of the new I-93:

Meanwhile, Pike officials are going to start setting up speed traps in the new tunnel - something they said was being considered prior to Machado's wild crash early Wednesday morning.

The speed traps, done randomly between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m., will entail shutting down the left-side on-ramp to I-93 northbound from Atlantic Avenue to accommodate the six state troopers that will be parked alongside the roadway watching for speeders.

Mucci said only drivers vastly exceeding the 45 mph speed limit will be cited.

``We're not looking for 46, 47 and 48 mph offenders,'' said Mucci. ``We're looking for excessive speed . . . we're trying to educate (motorists) and deter (speeders).''

Pike Chairman Matthew Amorello, meanwhile, said the agency is also considering a move to use its vast network of Big Brother cameras to issue warnings to daredevil drivers and may put up roadside speed monitors to inform motorists how fast they're traveling.

The Pike is barred from using the cameras to issue citations, but Amorello said the goal would be to issue warnings ``in a friendly fashion.''


Yeah, that'll be the day...



 
She's An Original, All Right

Theresa Heinz Kerry has read the memo from her husband's campaign handlers and is now 'on message'.

GOVERNOR ROMNEY'S recommendation to eliminate the Prescription Advantage Program for senior citizens is a reminder that age discrimination still exists. Ending Prescription Advantage affects the oldest and most vulnerable citizens in Massachusetts. The governor's message is ''your needs are too great and the costs are too high for us.'' People deserve better. The state is acting like an insurance company by getting rid of the people who need help the most. At a time when states are dismantling Medicaid programs due to soaring costs and indecision on a Medicare prescription drug benefit, the elimination of Prescription Advantage guarantees that Medicaid enrollment and costs will skyrocket even further.


It takes convoluted logic to equate budget cuts with 'age discrimination', doesn't it?

In addition, the elimination of Prescription Advantage guarantees that poorer seniors will end up in hospital emergency rooms because they cannot afford their prescriptions; more seniors will enter nursing homes because their acute illnesses will become chronic and, in some cases, life-threatening.


'Guarantees'? It might help to know just how much, on average, prescription costs will increase if this plan's eliminated to see if 'guarantees' is more like 'some', 'half' or 'many'.

Let's just cut to the chase to finish this article's review:

Finally, Massachusetts is pursuing a waiver from the federal government to shift many of the lower-income seniors from Prescription Advantage to Medicaid. If it is granted this, too, will result in a significant savings. This is a time to reexamine history, not reject it. People have a right to expect government to approach their problems with common sense, compassion, and fiscal restraint. Senior citizens deserve prescription drug coverage. Now that we have shown how it can be done, it is time for Romney to do it.


'People have a right to expect government to approach their problems with common sense, compassion, and fiscal restraint.' There's the standard nanny-state argument for justifying almost any government program. We're from the government, and we're here to help you...


 
Boston's Liberty Tunnel - A Warning

Many thanks to the nitwit driving, on a suspended license, an 18-wheeler through the Tip O'Neill Liberty Tunnel that was 9,000 pounds over the load limit and doing 70 MPH to boot has drawn the attention of The Man

THE NORTHBOUND tunnel of the Big Dig stretch of Interstate 93 has been open just a few weeks, and already there have been two serious accidents involving speeding vehicles, according to police accounts. In the first, a motorcyclist died. In the second, a tractor-trailer went out of control and smashed against the tunnel wall, tying up traffic through the Wednesday-morning rush hour. The two accidents come amid reports of other drivers far exceeding the tunnel's 45 miles per hour speed limit, especially during lightly traveled night hours. Matthew J. Amorello, chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, has sensibly responded by having State Police officers set up a speed trap using the onramp of the Atlantic Avenue entrance to the tunnel. State Police Major Michael C. Mucci said troopers will be focusing on both truck and car motorists who are flouting the speed limit.


The State Police were already doing the speed trap at that on-ramp (just after the crest of that stretch of road); expect this to become a 'permanent feature'. My advice - keep it under 55 and you're fine.


 
The Hot Seat

William Bulger, brother of James 'Whitey' Bulger, will testify in public and give Howie Carr months of material.


 
The Giro - Opinion

Rob's wondering about a few things:

Dear Angry Cyclist:

About the Giro: I read today that they had a "rest day." Can you please tell me what the fark they've done to deserve a rest day? Was there a time trial yesterday that I missed? Did they ride up a half dozen passes in back to back grinders in the Dolomites? Maybe a grueling TTT that left everyone wasted? NO. There's been one mass gallup after another, one massive field flying into some straight and boring-ass finish. The exception being stage three. But at 145 Km's and only three and a half hours of racing, I have to again ask... WTF? What have you done to deserve a "rest?" Every time the field flies down the road, riding along in a train of big-sprinter leadout men, that's a day off. I'm sorry, but its true. Just take my word at this one.


About the 'rest day', it wasn't really earned, but from the layout of the course this year, the longest travel day occurred after Stage 5 in Sicily, so I'm sure the organizers weren't happy about it, either. I suppose that's why they do stages in Sicily every third or fourth year. About the day off comment: You'll have three teams, max, taking turns pulling the peloton while everyone else hangs in the draft. That is a pro day off / extended training session unless you're one of the top ten guys.

Look, this is exhibit "A" to the fact that the Giro is the easiest Grand Tour out there. They are effectively turning it into a two week race by stacking all these flat sprint finishes with no TT's. The organizers should be embarrassed. I mean, they plan out a race with the sole reason of getting the World Champ, Stupor Mario, a stage win or two before that rest day, and he can't even deliver the goods. Now they have a boring race, and I'm left to wonder, again, WTF?


Well, yes, it's been a bit boring, but it always gets interesting in the mountains.

Anyway... looking forward to what you have to say. Also, is there any doubt that Tyler would be the odds on favorite if he decided to do the Giro this year? Liege-Romandi-Giro? How sweet would that be?

Gotta roll

Rob


 
Giro d' Italia update

Alessandro Petacchi wins again, and Cipo's hinting at retirement. We move to the mountains today. You happy now, Rob?


 
Sage Advice

Susan Estrich, Dukakis' campaign manager in 1988, has had it with the Bill and Hillary show.

The Clintons are back.


What do you mean? They never left!

Sidney Blumenthal -- much-hated former Clinton aide, ethically challenged former journalist -- $850,000 advance in hand, has a new book out on May 20, attacking everyone who ever attacked him or the Clintons, rehearsing once again the old right-wing conspiracy, every attack on them, answered. The right wing conspiracy revived, answered, again.


Check out Andrew Sullivan's blistering take on Sid's book.

Hillary's book is next.

Could someone please tell these people to shut up?

The Democrats might have a chance of electing a new president if they could get the last one, and his defenders, to clear the stage. It doesn't matter if they're right or wrong. They should be history.

The Clintons suck up every bit of the available air. Nothing is left for anyone else. They are big, too big. That's the problem.


The Clintons, environmentally unsafe.

The 2004 candidates need a chance to get some attention, to rise to Clinton's level, which they'll never do so long as the likes of Sidney Blumenthal are playing into the hands of conservatives in insisting on debating the scandals of the 1990s.


Insert Karl Rove conspiracy angle here...

Don't get me wrong. No one spent more time defending Bill Clinton than I did. Too much, according to most of my friends. But in a constitutional crisis, there was no choice. Enough is enough.

There's no excuse for a grown man to have an affair with an intern, whether his name is Bill Clinton or Jack Kennedy. What the former president did was wrong.


Can't help but notice that they were both DemocRATS, too. Just an observation.

It's bad enough that Fox has given Monica Lewinsky a talk show. Of all the hundreds of women who could help find Mr. Personality, the last one on earth who's earned the right to do it is the Queen of Blow Jobs of the 1990s.


I wonder if that's on Monica's resume?

The Republicans shouldn't have impeached him for it, but he shouldn't have given them the ammunition. And we shouldn't still be discussing it.


Susan, it wasn't about the blow job, OK? It was about lying under oath.

Why are we? Or, to put it more accurately, why are they?

Not because it serves the interests of Democrats of the future.

It doesn't help Howard Dean, or John Kerry, or Dick Gephardt.

It makes George W. Bush look good.


What's sad is that they still can't figure this out. Well, sad for them.

It gets Sidney on TV shows. If the issue is ethics, no one has less than Sidney Blumenthal. He used to call me, during the Dukakis campaign, which I was running and he was supposed to be covering, to offer covert advice, which if accepted might result in better coverage. Much later, when I criticized him, he tried to get me in trouble with my editors. All the while, I was defending his boss. That's Sidney. He's Hillary's best friend. No wonder Republicans are delighted to see his return to the spotlight.


That's just what Thomas Oilphant was accused of doing to Peter Torkildsen, former Mass. Republican congressman back in 1995 / 1996, a positive story for a vote on the liberal cause do jour (I've tried to find a link for this three months ago; too bad I don't have access to LEXIS / NEXIS).

It raises money for their causes.

The Bill and Bob (Dole) show on CBS has proven to be a colossal bore. The ratings have fallen. Is anyone getting the message? I fear not.

Let's not mince words.

Hillary Clinton is never going to be president of the United States. There is no more divisive figure in the Democratic Party, much less the country, than the former first lady. And I like her. But many women don't. Even Democratic women. Even working women. Not to mention non-working, independent, non-political women. She can be a great senator. She's smart, hard working and effective. She is much respected among her peers.


But she still pisses everybody off. That's not leadership.

But the more people talk about her as a future president, the more money Republicans raise. The more people talk about her as a future president, the less attention the current candidates, who might win, receive.

Revisiting the scandals of the past does no service to the Democrats of the future.

Bill Clinton is a brilliant man. But the more attention he gets, the more the Democrats of the future suffer. He would be the first to say this, if it weren't about him.

Enough with the Clintons. Please. Not for the sake of the Republicans. But for the Democrats ...


Wednesday, May 14, 2003
 
Giro d' Italia Update

I was saying what about Mario Cipollini? He lost the Stage 5 sprint to the 'maglia rosa', Alessandro Petacchi at the line. I had him much further off. Guess I'll shut up now...


Tuesday, May 13, 2003
 
Giro d' Italia Update

Robbie Hunter becomes the first non-Italian to win a stage this year, which makes up for his disqualification on Stage 2, because he rode Fabio Baldato off to the right side barriers, failing to hold his line as specified in the fine print.

Tomorrow's stage goes into Sicily (the only stage there, and the first one since 1999) with one monster Category 1 climb. Mario Cippolini's not looking too well at the moment, and won't improve with that climb tomorrow. His shot at Binda's all-time win total (he needs one to tie, two to beat it) starts looking shaky as well, not to mention his team's shot at le Tour.


 
Captain Hairdo Update

I wasn't aware of the details of the Senator's first divorce until now. He's not going to have a nice time despite the best efforts of the Boston Globe otherwise. You think Howard Dean will be to first to sling this bucket of mud Kerry's way?


 
Brave Sir Robins

A renegade band of Texas state DemocRATS have booked state in order to deny quorum to the Republicans, in charge of redistricting in that state.

I can only interpret this stunt as pathetic denial. The Democrats have been in power in that state since Reconstruction, and now they refuse to do the work they're elected to do. This fits in well with the Senate Judiciary committee bottling up Bush's judicial nominations in committee, preventing a full vote on the Senate floor. Not that they had a lot of respect in my eyes before, but it's plain to see that the only collective interest in the minds of DemocRATS is in the exercise of their power.

In Washington, DeLay mocked the Democratic legislators.

"I have never turned tail and run," DeLay said. "Even when I'm losing, I stand and fight for what I believe in."


I humbly suggest a new official song for the Texas DemocRATS. What balls they have...


Sunday, May 11, 2003
 
End Run

As cities and towns cope with the budget deficit, many of them are choosing to override the local property tax caps instead of making budget cuts, or, as the article phrases it,

The override outbreak leaves homeowners across the state with a whammy of a choice this spring: swallow big property tax hikes or see their schools, police stations and firehouses gutted by layoffs.


What pisses me off about the whole thing is that this mess is entirely of the State House's doing. They can massively increase spending during the good times but use every rhetorical trick in the book (cutting services to the bone, etc., ad nauseum) to avoid even a discussion of cutting back spending of any sort. Meanwhile, "moderates" like the Boston Globe's Charles Stein urge us to split the difference in the name of compromise. This arrogance and indifference to taxpayers is what led to Question 1 getting 45 percent of the popular vote last year. If such a vote were held this month, I think it would pass this time. If it did, it would be the biggest political event in Massachusetts since Dukakis getting the Democratic nod for the 1988 presidential race.


Thursday, May 08, 2003
 
Good Bad Movies

I stumbled across some commentary about Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze. I couldn't help but read the whole damn thing. If you're a Jeff Healey fan, it's worth watching for that alone.


 
Giro 2003 Review

I have a lot of respect for the people who write for procycling, but when they talk up Marco Pantani as a 'big favorite', I have a serious problem with it.

Marco Pantani
While Garzelli and Simoni where having a humdinger of a battle at Trentino, Pantani withdrew with toothache. This year, Il Pirata has raced quietly and successfully but without a win, he has stayed out of the media and he has relocated his training base to Spain where he seems to have found the peace of mind that has eluded him in the past few years. Pantani returned to Italy on Thursday following an extended training session in Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains. No doubt Pantani is hoping that a little altitude training will round out his preparation for what will be a career-make or break Giro for the 33-year-old.


Please. Simoni and Garzelli are kicking each other's asses, and Marco pulls up lame with a toothache? Are these guys serious? How much is Marco paying them to write this shit?

Don't worry about the tooth, Marco. You're about to get drilled.


 
Nice Call

There will not be any dormitories built at the UMass - Boston landfill campus, partially due to budget constraints.

The move comes days after Gov. Mitt Romney's administration quashed a $371 million bond deal that would have funded a 2,000-bed dormitory at the University of Massachusetts' Boston campus as well as other projects.


There's cause and effect for you.

Hart and other elected officials in recent weeks have raised the volume of criticism, saying building the first dorms on campus would change the mission of the commuter school. There are also neighborhood fears over more students living in the area.


Bingo.

With Bulger turning to the Legislature to help battle Romney to keep his job and an overhaul of public higher education at bay, the university president apparently decided the dormitory was one more fight than he couldn't handle needed.


Bulger grew up about 2 miles from the campus.

UMass needed to borrow money and wanted to begin improving relations with Romney. By law, the governor must sign off on any UMass bonds.


So fuggedaboutit.


 
Kuttner On The DemocRATS

Bob Kuttner reviews the debate from last week and finds, well, not much.

Democrats take their eyes off the prize

By Robert Kuttner, 5/7/2003

THE WINNER of the Democrats' first debate was . . . George W. Bush


And they say Bush is stupid...

If you missed the televised South Carolina debate last Saturday night and only read about it in the papers, you might conclude that the whole thing was a demolition derby. In fact, only a small part of the debate was candidates criticizing each other. But that part grabbed the headlines, and a little attack goes a long way in damaging the whole field. George Stephanopoulos, as moderator, sounded like a cross between Jerry Springer and a ''Survivor'' show MC, egging on contestants to attack each other. It didn't take long for some to take the bait.


So maybe it wasn't a 'small part of the debate', Bob. Maybe the whole thing was a circus?


Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean tried to set a good example by refusing to play Stephanopoulos's game. Stephanopoulos asked if Dean still felt that Senator John Kerry was trying to have it both ways on the Iraq war. Dean replied: ''That's not up to me to judge that. That's up to the voters.''


Good answer. No balls, but a good, safe answer.

Senator Joe Lieberman, at first, also managed to stake out his own position without trashing the rest of the field. ''No Democrat will be elected president in 2004 who is not strong on defense,'' he said, implicitly distancing himself from doves Dean and Dennis Kucinich but not making a direct attack.
'

When you're the only one willing to align himself in the defense of this country, it's damn near impossible to avoid 'trashing' your opponents, as though genuine disagreements are a bad thing. Reasonable people can disagree on things, Bob.

But soon Stephanopoulos had his slugfest. Senator John Edwards grossly misrepresented Representative Richard Gephardt's health plan, claiming it would take ''almost a trillion dollars out of the pockets of working families making $30,000 to 40,000 a year, giving it to the biggest corporations.''


While Senator Edwards takes 'thousands of dollars from low-level employees' at law firms who have no prior history of making political donations.

Balderdash Baloney. Gephardt proposes to repeal most of Bush's tax cut (the part that went to richer people) and use the proceeds for a corporate tax credit to be used to buy employees health insurance. I'm not sure this is the best strategy, especially since many corporations already provide health insurance. But it's certainly not a trillion-dollar transfer from working people to corporations. Shame on Edwards.


That's interesting, Bob. In previous columns you said that the entire Bush tax cut went to the rich. Do you now mean that some tax cuts actually go towards the bourgeois? Shame on you, Bob.

If Edwards was guilty of the worst caricature of a fellow Democrat, Lieberman played the dangerous game of reinforcing the Republican stereotype of Democrats generally. On Gephardt's health proposal, Lieberman said, ''We're not going to solve these problems with the kind of big spending Democratic ideas of the past.''


Is it a stereotype if it's true? Then again, I should be an equal opportunity abuser, just to be consistent, right?

Let's see, what would those big, bad, outmoded spending ideas be? They are Social Security, Medicare, and federal aid to education -- programs that have endeared Democrats to two generations of voters. Why run against your party's own heritage? Why make the Republicans' job easier?


Because these programs, as currently structured, lead to actuarial insolvency in about 20 to 25 years, and it's not a very responsible thing leaving future generations to deal with the mess long after the current members of Congress are dead or playing shuffleboard in a wealthy Florida retirement community? Is that your idea of civic responsibility, Bob?

(Another recent Lieberman ersatz-Republican howler: ''You can't create jobs by being antibusiness.'' Is it pro-jobs to tie the hands of the SEC, as Lieberman worked to do, so that Enron-style scandals can occur?)


Enron happened as a result of deliberate fraud, aided and abetted at the highest levels of that corporation. Oh, and let's not forget about fraud and abuse at Tyco, and Global Crossing, and Aldelphia, and WorldCom, and Dynegy, and MicroStrategy, and...

The Democrats are still basically a liberal party


Fucking genius, this guy...

Lieberman won't win Democratic primaries by running as the most Republican-sounding Democrat in the race, but he will damage his party. There are principled differences among the Democratic field.


Isn't this one of them? Is this the Bob Kuttner Litmus Test, to see which candidate can grab their ankles the firmest in the midst of a bin Laden buttfuck?

They have antiwar candidates and prowar ones, candidates who would repeal Bush's tax cuts to balance the budget and ones who want to restore massive spending some social investment, candidates who claim to be business-friendly and others who are populist and anticorporate.

Yet all of them have more in common with each other than with George W. Bush. If Bush is reelected, he will complete the job of packing the federal courts (note to Bob - look up the word filibuster), privatizing social insurance, and making public investment a fiscal impossibility. It matters less which Democrat emerges as survivor than that the nominee not be damaged goods.


Bob wants the Democratic candidate to completely tow the party line, the more liberal, the better. Not a winning formula, in my opinion.

The primary process is a democratic way of airing issues and of taking the eventual choice of party nominee out of smoke-filled rooms.


Not in Boston, bucko.

But if the next 12 months produce mainly infighting, the party's standard-bearer will limp into the general election bruised, battered, and ineffective. The Democrats ought to remember that they are auditioning for the job of party nominee, not for the post of savaging the rest of their own field. They need a pact to ignore the goading and keep their fire trained on Bush.


That will happen when the also-rans run out of money and they start getting thumped in the primaries. Not soon enough for Bob, though.

Ronald Reagan, running for California governor in 1966, proposed an Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. Democrats could use a little of this old time religion.


Aren't liberals for the separation of church and state? What's next, Democrats in drag?

It fell to the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is not exactly famous as a unifier, to warn good-naturedly: ''Republicans are watching. Let's not start fighting. . . . We should not have the bottom line tonight be that George Bush won because we were taking cheap shots at each other.'' Amen, Reverend.


Advice that will be ignored as a self-serving statement by Al 'Unifier' Sharpton.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

This story ran on page A23 of the Boston Globe on 5/7/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Tuesday, May 06, 2003
 
Deep Thoughts

Just when you've seen all the absurd 'Bush is Hitler' / 'Bush is Saddam' comparisons, take a look at who members of the Roman Catholic Church are comparing George W. Bush to:

Post September 11 2001 jitters are leading the US to embrace a formula of instilling fear of the United States as a protection from catastrophic attacks that echoes the philosophy of the brutal Roman emperor Caligula, acording (sic) to the director of the Office of International Justice and Peace at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.


...

He said: "While a doctrine of preventive war may derive in part from an ethic of responsibility - to protect ourselves and the world from catastrophic attacks - it also has elements of an ethic of fear."


How about protecting the backsides of young boys from the perverts in your church? I bet every one of the victims can attest to this 'ethic of fear'.


 
Tyler Hamilton Update

He bagged the time trial on the last stage of the Tour of Romandie, which left him with the GC title as well as the winner of that stage.

This was where the race would be won and lost. Whereas most riders were clearly struggling on the long climb, with sections of 12 per cent, Hamilton looked easy and came through the last split 42 seconds faster than anyone else. He lost a second or two as he tired on the drag up to the line, but only mechanical failure could have stopped him bettering Zülle’s time.


He has the background, that's why. Here's Tyler on the climb up Mt. Washington back in 1997 when he set the then record of 51:56 up the 7.7 mile course. Look closely at the gears he's using - it looks like 39 teeth in the lower front ring and I believe a 25 in the back (Shimano gruppo - Campy's stock large sprocket has 26 teeth). I was using the mountain triple front ring (22 teeth the whole way) and I'm too embarrassed to put my time on the same page as his.


 
Standing Headline

French surrender help Iraqis escape


There's something about that French notion of liberty I don't quite understand...


 
Forget About The Checkbook, Senator

I suppose there's a reason Kerry keeps waffling about whether to steal the wife's checkbook 'tap into the personal fortune'. Maybe he forgot what was in the prenupital agreement. Hell, he forgets about a lot of other things.

Her financial arrangement with Kerry: "Everybody has a prenup. You have to have a prenup. You've got to have a prenup. You could be as generous or as sensitive as you want. But you have to have a prenup."


You will be generous to your husband's campaign, won't you?

'Charles DeGaulle' gets the last word:

The candidate (JFK - ed), meanwhile, praises the prospective first lady as "nurturing and incredibly loving, and fun, zany, witty. . . . Definitely sexy. Very earthy, sexy, European. She knows how to speak with her eyes."


There's another Euro reference. I'm tellin' you guys...


 
A Second Look

Too bad I didn't get a chance to look at the Democrats on Saturday night. Opinion Journal has a different pecking order:

Two of the candidates--John Edwards and Bob Graham--seem likely to join Fritz Hollings, Tom Harkin, Dick Lugar, Orrin Hatch and others in the Annals of Forgotten Senators' Presidential Campaigns.


Ouch! No, I didn't try to pick the Kentucky Derby winner, either. My football picks have been a lot better.

This leaves four more or less serious candidates: Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman.


I still think Dean's a flash in the pan and far too liberal (no support in the South). I was quick to write off Lieberman as a 2000 casualty, but he's right in that no one else in the Democrats can run credibly on this issue:

Lieberman made the point that no Democrat can win who isn't credible on national security. This is true, and it's also self-serving: Lieberman, who has been more of an Iraq hawk and for longer than most pols in either party, meets this test better than any of his opponents. You'd think this would cause him trouble with the antiwar voters who constitute the Democratic base, but not necessarily. If, as we suggest, these people's pro-Saddam views are merely a proxy for their hatred of Bush, then Lieberman, as part of the losing ticket in 2000, can appeal to them despite favoring the liberation of Iraq. And during Saturday's debate he did just that.


I'll be watching the next debate, sans an appearance from the recently exhumed Gary Hart, who withdrew from contention today.


 
Here's A Surprise

William Shatner does a cover of the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", which isn't very surprising given his other endeavors. Also not surprising is that his version sucks.


STAR Trek legend William Shatner's version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds has been voted the worst Beatles cover of all time.

The former Captain Kirk, 72, beat children's TV pigs Pinky and Perky, who did a version of All My Loving, and Will Young and Gareth Gates with The Long and Winding Road.


What's Shatner thinking, a run on American Idol? I hope not.


 
Stanley Kurtz On Bloggers

After getting feedback from a column he wrote last week, he thinks bloggers can step up their game.

The blogosphere is usually filled with self-congratulation (often deserved) about its own innovations and advantages. But let me raise a problem. My column from last week, “The Libertarian Question,” evoked a tremendous response--far too many e-mails and blog comments to answer individually. There were some critiques by bloggers that might have been worth answering, had they been even minimally respectful instead of riddled with sophomoric insults.

I’ve learned through hard experience that when an otherwise intelligent e-mail contains a direct insult, it only brings trouble to reply. I try to hold to the same rule for blog critics, many of whom seem to spend more time crafting insults than arguments. In a given paragraph, the typical blog critique of my last article interspersed outright misrepresentation of my position with proclamations of amazement at my boundless stupidity.

The biting wit that works so well in the hands of a smart and basically fair-minded fellow like Instapundit is devolving into something shallow and mean-spirited in the blogosphere as a whole. Venom is no substitute, either for argument or for a good accounting of an opponent’s argument. It has come to serve as a way for bloggers to assure themselves that people who are not, say, libertarians, have no points worth listening to. And at some level, I think bloggers know that their insults actually protect them, by making their targets less likely to respond. After all, who wants to dignify this stuff with a reply. Insults are cowardice disguised as courage.

When the blogosphere gets this way (and it does pretty often), it shuts down debate.

The blogosphere offers a welcome antidote to the safety and blandness of the academy. But sometimes the failings of the blogosphere show why we developed those academic conventions of respect in the first place. Under the guise of rough and tumble frankness, the blogosphere risks turning into a society of like-minded partisans congratulating themselves on being smarter than all the idiots who see things differently. Cass Sunstein was wrong. Bloggers do read those who disagree with them. But often their way of responding only reinforces parochialism.


I got similar feedback when I started with Herold's Afghanistan counting, and I concede the point. When I disagree with something, I'll at least point out why I disagree with it or think it's wrong, and leave the insults out of direct correspondence with other people. Doubt that will happen in normal posts, though.

If you ever get a Jones for insults, though, here's a site that will help you out.


Saturday, May 03, 2003
 
Hatin' Democracy

That's the only way I can interpret the Globe's disappointment with yesterday's partial nuking of the odious McCain - Feingold campaign finance reform law.

Special-interest ruling

5/3/2003

A FEDERAL COURT panel in Washington undercut democracy yesterday when it struck down parts of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, and proof is likely to come in the next few days and weeks.


The courts have consistently ruled that money in political campaigns is an amplification of free speech, since modern-day campaigns have to use mass media to get his or her message across. The Globe completely ignores established precedent in this area.

The ruling will be appealed immediately to the US Supreme Court, which is expected to have a final decision by the fall so that the national campaign can proceed under court-sanctioned rules. But the special three-judge panel that ruled yesterday put its version of the law into effect immediately.


When this law was written, it was predicted by many as containing so many restrictions that it would wind up there. Everyone in Congress that voted for this crap law ought to be ashamed of themselves for trying to pass laws that blatantly ignore the Constitution.

Without doubt, this will mean that political parties and special interests will resume the feeding frenzy that occurred before last Nov. 6, when the law took effect. During that period, contributions of $1 million and more poured in to the parties, and a resumption will only validate the cynicism of disaffected citizens who see how influence can be bought.


"More soft-money checks for Senator Kerry, please!"

Yesterday's ruling was mixed, and DemocRATS reformers generally said they had not expected to do well before this court. They were pleased that aspects of the law's ban on soft money and some of the limitations on independent expenditures were upheld.


Naturally. That's because they're fascists.

Representative Martin Meehan of Lowell, the House sponsor of the reform along with Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut, said late yesterday, ''I am confident we can prevail before the Supreme Court.''


Marty "Term Limits" Meehan - case in point.

At 1,700 pages, yesterday's decision was one of the longest and most complex on record. Even lawyers who specialize in the intricacies of campaign finance were working well into the night to decipher it.


If we're generating so many pages on this, doesn't that tell you that something may be wrong? I'm not being an alarmist, but I don't wish to be ruled by lawyers and judges, grand masters of the 1,700 page hoop jumping instruction set.

In general, the court appeared to say that parties could raise ''soft money'' - donations not subject to the restrictions on amounts and sources that apply to individual candidates - but only if the money goes to genuine party-building efforts and not to support candidates, as has been done blatantly in the last four presidential elections. The McCain-Feingold law had prohibited nearly all soft money.


"Appeared to say" - that means the court is punting on the issue.

Similarly, the ruling overturned a part of the law barring independent groups in the closing days of campaigns from airing ads that mention candidates. But it upheld a backup provision that prohibits such ads from advocating or opposing candidates.


So independent groups cannot, by law, advocate or oppose a particular candidate in the periods leading up to the election date? If that isn't unconstitutional, you might as well throw the whole goddamn document away.

One discouraging aspect of the ruling was its partisan taint. The Republican National Committee was a lead challenger to the law, and key parts of the ruling striking down reforms came on 2-1 votes, with the two judges named by Republican presidents prevailing over the one judge appointed by a Democrat.


"Of course, had it been two DemocRATS and one Republican on that panel, there would be no partisanship taint whatsoever."

The issue here is not free speech.


cough Bullshit! cough Bite me! cough

Wealthy individuals, corporations, unions, and special interests have ample ability to express their views.


Really? How so? By running editorials in large regional newspapers?

The question is whether they have the right to smother democracy by drowning out the voices of individual citizens.


Don't individual citizens 'have ample ability to express their views', say by voting?

The Supreme Court should uphold McCain-Feingold, and quickly.


As Frank Zappa used to say, bad facts make for bad law. By placing unprecedented, onerous restrictions on a way donations can be used by candidates and independent groups, the whole law ought to be nuked, then thrown on the ashbin of history.

This story ran on page A10 of the Boston Globe on 5/3/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


 
More Dumb Republican Ideas

Guys? Don't play the DemocRATS game by filing stupid lawsuits. There are other ways to fight back. This isn't one of them.


 
Senator Daschle Singing A Different Tune

He must have seen his latest poll numbers to now agree with President Bush:

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Bush deserved "great credit" for his leadership during the war and praised the work of the military. Days before the war began, Daschle had blamed Bush's failed diplomacy for making the fighting necessary and was criticized for his remarks.

"In 21 days, we eliminated somebody who for 20 years has repressed and tortured his own people and posed a serious security risk," Daschle said.


How cynical of Daschle to slip the 'we' in that sentence, no?



Friday, May 02, 2003
 
That's Gotta Suck

Francisco Perez took a wrong turn with a few hundred yards remaining as he was leading the third stage of the Tour of Romandie. Local boy Laurent Dufaux, who knows the road better than Perez did, won the stage. Tyler Hamilton came in 4th (whooo!).


 
What The Fuck?

Please tell me this is some sort of joke.

A group of House Republicans, saying they've found a creative solution to the budget crisis, is proposing that the state look into selling naming rights to some 600 parks, forests, and recreation areas.


Stupidity, apparently, is indifferent to political parties.




 
Lawsuit Of The Week

A valedictorian is fighting a recent trend of multiple valedictorians being declared for a given graduating class by filing a lawsuit intended for her to be sole claimant of the title Moorestown High School valedictorian of 2003.

Guess what she wants to be when she grows up?

The student said she plans to become a lawyer.


With something like this as part of your background? I'd be a double major, just in case.


 
John Kerry Truth Squad

When you keep screwing up, it's always handy to blame the hired hands for it.

WASHINGTON - Sen. John F. Kerry yesterday blamed ``staff error'' for failing to report 26 large donor checks totaling $294,000 last year to his political action committee.


"We cashed them, but, you know, forgot to write them down somewhere..."

``A routine investigation showed that we had 26 unreported contributions,'' said the Bay State Democrat's spokesman Robert Gibbs. ``We recognized the problem and corrected it immediately. We acted proactively.''


No, you reacted to something. What was it?

The fund-raising gaffe comes as Kerry heads to South Carolina for tomorrow night's debate with the eight other Democratic White House hopefuls - the first showdown as the 2004 campaign intensifies.


I guess LaRouche won't invited to the dance. Damn, I miss that guy!

The donations in question, collected Oct. 17 to Nov. 25, were discovered in March, Gibbs said. Kerry filed an amended report to the Internal Revenue Service last month on the bungled contributions.


It took you four fuckin' months to do a bank recon?

Gibbs could not say exactly how the donations - accounting for nearly half of the $626,900 Kerry's ``Citizen Soldier Fund'' PAC raised in 2002 - were mishandled.


"We're still waiting for someone to take the fall."

Several wealthy, prominent Bay State businessmen were among the 26 donors to Kerry's PAC, which the senator used to help pave the way for his 2004 White House bid.


But Senator Kerry is against special interest politics! Surely there's some mistake?

International Data Group Chairman Patrick J. McGovern gave Kerry's PAC $50,000.


Pat's a big hitter, as the donation shows.

Lelio ``Les'' Marino, head of Modern Continental Co., a major Big Dig construction firm, gave $25,000. Jay M. Cashman, another prominent Big Dig contractor; Robert Shillman, head of Natick-based Cognex Group; Boston Capital CEO John Manning and Raymond Property Co. President Neil Raymond all wrote $25,000 checks. Springfield-based Peter Pan Bus Lines gave $10,000.


Wonder what they're getting for all that moola?

The undisclosed checks were so-called ``soft money,'' the large, unrestricted donations from wealthy individuals, corporations and unions that were banned when the new campaign finance law went into effect late last year.


Kerry's thanking his lucky stars for this recent event.

Kerry's PAC account, which gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats in key presidential primary states, has since been closed.


Buying support down the road, a wise investment.

The PAC donors mirror Kerry's aggressive presidential fund-raising effort, which has tapped hundreds of prominent high-tech players, wealthy businessmen, financial services firms, attorneys and Wall Street executives in recent months.

Ameriquest Capital Corp. gave $18,000. Klein Financial Group in California wrote a $15,000 check. Miami attorney Milton Ferrell was a $29,000 donor.

Kerry mounted a strong PAC push during the final month before such large donations were banned, raising close to $878,000.


And there's always the wife's checkbook...


 
I Hope There Is A God

Because then I'll have plenty of entertainment tomorrow night if they give this guy a microphone. Looks like it won't happen, though.

WASHINGTON (AP) Perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche is back for an eighth try at the White House and already has enough campaign cash to rival the fund raising of some mainstream Democrats in the race.


Dennis Kucinich passes the donkey ears over to Lyndon for a while...

The 80-year-old economist has raised more than $3.7 million over the past few years, much of it through small donations and the Internet. Supporters handed out fliers at Washington subway stations this week proclaiming him the leader among Democratic hopefuls in the number of individual donations.


I was half mugged by one of his 'fanatics' last year. A charter member of the tin-hat, black helicopter crowd. Some tidbits on LaRouche can be found here.

...

LaRouche started fund raising roughly two years before others in the Democratic race, and as April began had collected more than several Democratic rivals, including Sens. Joe Lieberman and Bob Graham, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton, most of whom started raising money in January. He said his campaign spends money as it comes in; he reported about $120,000 left on hand as of March 31.


I'll go out on a limb and write all of the above off as serious contenders for the big prize. Unless Hillary enters the ring, I have Edwards, Kerry and Gephardt on the podium, in that order.


 
Your Tax Dollars No Longer At Work

The ciy of Cincinnati drops its lawsuit against the entire American gun industry. I can only hope this trend continues.


 
Funny, I Thought Segregation Was Over

Fucking ignorant redneck bastards.

Though this is not entirely surprising. I was in Atlanta a few years ago in the Buckhead section of town, the proverbial upscale / yuppie section. I'm in this bar and I start talking with this guy that looks like the lead singer of the Georgia Satellites (I see a recurring theme here already) and we somehow started talking about race. I don't remember exactly what preceded it, but he ended one of his sentences with "...as long as they (black people) know their place."

I know I shouldn't rush to judgement and paint everyone with the same broad brush, but I'm in one of the better bars in the best part of a up and coming world class city, and I'm sitting next to a Junior Kleagle. Fucking great. :-(


 
Tolstoy Alert

Keith Windschuttle sets the standard with this massive dissection of Noam Chomsky, if you have a half-hour to kill. If you don't know about the Cult of Chomsky, this is a must read.


 
No Class Warfare Here

... or is there?

The Legislature by Friday expects to approve a $93 billion budget that targets single residents who earn more than $100,000 a year with a 7.5 percent tax surcharge. Many of the nation's millionaires live in New York City, and people whose incomes top $500,000 a year will pay a 7.7 percent surcharge.

The Republican governor plans to veto many aspects of the Legislature's plan, which also hits the poor with a regressive 0.25 percentage point rise in the 4.0 percent state sales tax.


So an income tax 'surcharge' is all right if it hits the six figure crowd, but a sales tax is not because it's broad based also hitting the poor. Guess we need some intellectual backup:

Yet Peter Orzag, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute, said that because the economy now has too much capacity -- idle machines at factories, for example -- raising taxes on the wealthy would not hurt growth by cutting their appetite for goods and services.


No, it just provides a disincentive to invest in other parts of the economy that, I don't know, don't have excess capacity because the after-tax rate of return will be less because of this new tax. Great way to retain businesses and residents, isn't it?


 
Senator Dumbass?

That's Charles Schumer's new handle:

"Some [of his questions] I totally disagree with," Hatch of Utah said. "Some I think are dumbass questions, between you and me. I am not kidding you. I mean, as much as I love and respect you, I just think that's true."

A stunned Schumer asked if he heard the chairman correctly, to which Hatch said yes. Again, Schumer asked Hatch if he would like to "revise and extend his remark," congressional speak for change his mind.

A former trial attorney, Hatch replied: "No, I am going to keep it exactly the way it is. I mean, I hate to say it. I mean, I feel badly saying it between you and me. But I do know dumbass questions when I see dumbass questions."


Things are going to get very UGLY in the Senate soon...


 
The Conservative Caliphate?

On some level, you must admire the tenacity at which the Boston Globe's editorial staff brings to its campaign for John Kerry against the Bush administration. I'm not sure what level that is, though.

The Republican theocracy


Turbans! Get yer turbans here!

By Ellen Goodman, 5/1/2003

AS A CERTIFIED flap watcher, I will look back on the Rick Santorum controversy as the cormorant of its species. It took an enormous amount of energy to achieve a modest liftoff, and then it flopped unceremoniously back into the political ocean. The flapping began after the Pennsylvania senator offered his comments on the Texas sodomy case: ''If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.''


Nothing like using the wrong word to try to make your point, is there?

This brought outrage from usual and unusual suspects. The Log Cabin Republicans -- the masochistic wing of the gay movement -- protested that he was tarnishing homosexuals. Owen Allred, the leader of a breakaway Mormon sect, protested that he was tarnishing polygamists.


Gays that are into S & M, Ellen? Who ever heard of such a thing?

Meanwhile, the White House kept its lips zipped except to say that the senator -- often described as the original compassionate conservative -- was ''an inclusive man.''


I'll agree, that quote ranks high in the stupidity department. So tell us, how does this tar all Republicans?

When the air calmed, many wondered why nostalgia for segregation had taken down the number one Republican senator, Trent Lott, while gay trashing had left the number three Republican unharmed. But, all in all, this was less of a flap about homosexuality than about theocracy.


Maybe because the integration of gays in society hasn't been fully accepted by everybody, Ellen? Surely Ellen remembers the Boston riots caused by shipping white kids to black schools and vice versa? That's what happens when you force the issue on society with bogus laws and court rulings instead of letting society develop its own consensus.

Santorum opened another front in the ongoing internecine struggle between what may be described as the Shiite and the Sunni wings of the Republican Party. Or, if you prefer, between Taliban Republicans and Suburban Republicans.


When you disagree with your political opponents, resort to name calling and demonize them by comparing them to Kalashnikov-wielding terrorists. This is the Paul Begala school of intelligent, thoughtful discourse (when you run out of real arguments). It's also, well, unoriginal.

Let's go back to our friend Santorum. Last year, he told a Catholic newspaper that JFK's vow to separate his faith from his politics was wrong and has caused ''much harm in America.'' Judie Brown of the American Life League said approvingly: ''Senator Santorum is a very good example of the Catholic who practices his faith 24 hours a day. He does not leave it at home when he goes to the office.''


So Rick Santorum didn't learn that lesson of history. There was no possible way JFK, being the first Catholic to run for President, would have been elected if it weren't for that vow. It's one thing to have religious influences, it's another to be ruled by them.

This may have a nice holistic ring to it -- until you remember that this government was founded on a separation of church and state. And the line has gotten increasingly fuzzy under Bush II.


Is this like 'fuzzy math'?

It's not just prayer meetings in the attorney general's office. It's not just abstinence-only education and the rather hubristic assertion that God is on our side in battle. It's on the home front too.


"God is on the side with the biggest guns." Everybody knows that!

A couple of weeks ago there was a flap that didn't even reach the Santorum altitude. In an article in a Baptist paper titled ''America's Education Evangelist,'' Rod Paige, the secretary of (public) education, expressed his preference for college education. ''All things being equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school where there's a strong appreciation for values, the kind of values that I think are associated with the Christian communities.'' What would he say to those who disagree with him? ''I would offer them my prayers.''


Maybe he doesn't want his kids going to a party school. What's wrong with that?

I know this is what's called ''playing to the base.'' But the base is awfully basic. Even, um, fundamentalist.


"I know you are, but what am I?"

Remember what Jerry Falwell said after 9/11? ''I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians . . . all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, `you helped this happen.' '' Pat Robertson nodded his head in agreement.


And both of them were thoroughly abused in the (conservative) blogosphere.

Now fast-forward to the list of people who have been nominated to the theocracy, excuse me, the judiciary. Among those who are dubbed relatively moderate is Bill Pryor, the current Alabama attorney general, nominated to the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.


A good old boy on the docket, probably one of them pro-life Bible Thumpers. Nope, can't have that...

Pryor not only worked with Robertson to defend student-led prayer in school, he also defended a judge who displayed the Ten Commandments in his courthouse. At a public rally he said, ''God has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time and this place for all Christians . . . to save our country and save our courts.''


I won't put too much stock in getting help from the Almighty, but at the other extreme is the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges who ban the Pledge of Allegiance because of two fucking words.

The same Pryor wrote an amicus brief in the Texas sodomy case that might have been dictated by Santorum, except for Pryor's belief that protecting homosexuals would also protect necrophiliacs.


Here's what Pryor actually wrote:

The Texas law "does not criminalize petitioners' sexual orientation, which may or may not be a matter of choice," Pryor wrote in his brief. "Rather, the Texas anti-sodomy statute criminalizes petitioner's sexual activity, which is indisputably a matter of choice."

Granting a constitutional right to choose one's partner and whether or how to "connect sexually," Pryor wrote, "must logically extend to activities like prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia (if the child should credibly claim to be 'willing')."


I'm not defending this sodomy law in any way, as I believe that consenting adults should be able to do whatever they desire as long as no one (else) is harmed, or that society is not harmed. Pryor's argument is based on the notion that the Constitution does not afford gays the right to privacy in this area. Based purely on Constitutional grounds, Pryor's belief, and the Texas law, are wrong. Based on societal norms from one hundred years ago, this law was right, but isn't any longer.

The Taliban or the Suburban? The Republican Party has patched together a coalition of those who want to keep the government out of your pocket and those who want to put the government in your bedroom.


Like there's a lot going on there anyways...

But the theocrats are giving them more trouble than the Democrats. What do you say about a law that lets police break into an apartment and arrest two men for having sex with the wrong person? Tally ho, Taliban.


Wit, or just a twit? You decide.

Before the Santorum flap went flat, it rubbed some more of the compassion off the conservative. Memo to Rick: a swing voter is not a swinger. Memo to the White House: What happens in the privacy of a home may show up in the privacy of the polling booth.


Memo to Ellen: You'd rather not meet the real Taliban.

Ellen Goodman's e-mail address is ellengoodman@globe.com.

This story ran on page A19 of the Boston Globe on 5/1/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Thursday, May 01, 2003
 
Quote Of The Day

Quipped KABC-LA radio host Al Rantel Tuesday night after playing the Hillary audio for his audience, "Imagine waking up next to that every morning."


 
John Kerry Truth Squad

Another example of the 'factually challenged' (can't call them liars, right?) has been brought to light.

WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday that he will stop declaring that his first speech on the floor of the US Senate highlighted his support for the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights, a recollection he has learned is not true.


'He has learned' is interesting spin, don't you think? It was his speech!

As he has campaigned for the presidency, the Massachusetts Democrat has on numerous occasions stated that his maiden speech as a senator was about abortion rights. Kerry did so last month before a group of women in Des Moines, as he pledged to nominate only supporters of abortion rights to the Supreme Court.

But the Congressional Record shows that Kerry's first speech in the Senate, on March 19, 1985, was made in opposition to President Reagan's push to build 21 MX missiles.


So was Senator trying to deflect blame for that vote, or was he pandering to the abortion rights people?

A States News Service report at the time said that Kerry's planned remarks were reduced to a relatively brief four minutes, because more senior colleagues wanted to speak and floor debate had been limited to 10 hours.


Welcome to the Senate.

In an interview with the Globe Tuesday, Kerry sought to emphasize the importance he places on abortion rights by declaring that it was the subject of his first floor speech in the Senate.

When a Globe reporter told him that the States News account from 1985 raised questions about the accuracy of his statement, Kerry paused and said he may have been misled by a former staff member. He also pledged that if he were mistaken, he would never make the comment again.


Seemed pretty eager to stop saying it, didn't he? Busted.

An aide said later that the campaign will remove from its website a statement on Kerry's website declaring that ''Senator Kerry's first speech on the floor of the United States Senate was in strong support of Roe v. Wade.''

The Congressional Record shows that on Jan. 22, 1985, about three weeks after the former lieutenant governor of Massachusetts was sworn in as a senator, Kerry entered a written statement reiterating his support for the Roe v. Wade decision. His first spoken words on the floor were made on Feb. 7, 1985, when Kerry made brief remarks about civil rights. His first speech, which usually is a momentous occasion sometimes marked by applause from fellow senators, did not occur until more than a month later, when Kerry took up the topic of the MX missile.

''Certainly it would've been more precise to have referred to John Kerry's 1985 remarks on Roe as his `first statement as a United States senator' than as his first `speech,' '' said a statement issued yesterday by Kelley Benander, a spokeswoman for his campaign. ''The confusion was just that, confusion, and was unintentional. The record will be corrected, but will always reflect that John Kerry has throughout his 18 years in the Senate vigorously supported a woman's right to choose.''

Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com.

This story ran on page A3 of the Boston Globe on 5/1/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


 
Armstrong Fires Back

Lance wasn't happy with the Cannibal's comments.

Of Axel’s father, according to internet reports, Armstrong said: "I still love and respect the man, but it's not my style to lash out in the press. If I had feelings like this then the way to express them is man to man or face to face. No other options... especially when it involves close friends. And until now, I have not received a phone call from him expressing his concerns."


Not a lot of translation needed there.


 
MayDay!

Happy May Day, comrades!


 
Take The Quiz

On a scale from 0 (Jesse Jackson) to 40 (Ron Reagan), I scored 34, almost Bob Dole territory. That's whack.


 
Senator Rugburn?

Sorry, these news items are writing themselves.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003 10:35 a.m. EDT
Harold Ford Backs Kerry Despite 'Wilt Chamberlain' Lifestyle


Kerry scored 100 points in a game? Now I'm impressed!

Rising Democratic Party star Rep. Harold Ford offered an intriguing endorsement Tuesday morning for presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, saying that he thought Americans were sophisticated enough to accept a president who had cheated on his wife.


Cutting to the chase, aren't we?

Asked about Kerry's reputation for "putting up Wilt Chamberlain numbers when he was single," Ford told radio host Don Imus:

"What the last presidential race did, with President Bush and some of the - I think 'youthful indiscretions' is the way the president's campaign, then-governor and his campaign described it - I hope that - ah, I think that the American people are ready to judge people based on what they did in their, not only adult lives, but what they might have even done when they were married."


"Did you have sexual relations with that woman? How about the 20,000 women over there?"

Citing reports that an upcoming Boston Globe expose was set to examine Kerry's private life, Ford said, "I hope they do it in a fair way."


That means it will be buried reported somewhere past page A10.

A report last week in Washington's The Hill newspaper noted that the Globe had uncovered details of Kerry's 1980s affair with a 25-year-old British reporter who later dumped him for a rock star.


We need that rock star, please!

The Hill did not say whether Kerry was married at the time.


Of course. How convenient.


 
Migration Update

Let's examine recent New England demographic changes, shall we?

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday won the right to review five years worth of photographs taken by Manchester police gang patrol officers.

The organization first requested access to the pictures three years ago after learning of the police department's practice of photographing people who were stopped by officers, but not arrested. When the city refused, the civil liberties union sued, and won a lower court ruling that was upheld by the state Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The goal is to determine whether blacks and other minorities are being singled out by police.


The uncomfortable fact that won't get mentioned here is that Manchester, New Hampshire was a white town until the early 1990's, when the residents in the nothern Massachusetts area (mostly Lowell and Lawrence) instituted a migratuion northward into Manchester. Drive around Union Street sometime if you think I'm kidding. It used to be pure white trash. Nowadays you'll think you're in East Boston Mattapan or something. And that's with the Zoo (notorious old biker / dive bar) permanently closed.

Before anyone jumps on me for that statement, let me expand on that. The Zoo and its crowd in that area were the most heavily patrolled area for Manchester cops even back in the white trash days; a probation officer I know told me that half his 'clients' (from the entire state of New Hampshire) used to frequent the Zoo. What happened was the white trash moved out, and the refugees from Lowell & Lawrence moved in, leaving the nexus of activity (street dealing, etc.) relatively undisturbed, save for the personnel turnover. Let's not forget about those wonderful Federal contributions to this morass, known around town as the Rock Rimmon and Elmwood housing projects. Weed, coke, crack, 'ho's, it was there and it's still there. An unnamed relative used to go into the Zoo (hammered, natch) and lick ashtrays on $20 bets, I shit you not.

''The issue of racial profiling is a particularly sensitive and important issue nationwide right now, and here in New Hampshire, we are not immune,'' said Claire Ebel, director of the civil liberties group. ''The minority population in New Hampshire is growing, and we need to be sensitive to the fact that minority citizens are often subject to unwarranted police attention.'' (emphasis added)


The first part is right; the second part is wrong, as discussed above.


...

Andru Volinsky, who represented the civil liberties union, said if the city doesn't ask for reconsideration, he will make arrangements to view the photographs in the near future.

''If there is a pattern that shows people of a certain appearance are more likely to be stopped, that says something about the police directives given to the officers on the beat or perhaps the lack of training on diversity issues,'' he said. ''If there's nothing to hide, let's see what the photos look like.''


I think Andru's wrong, but not for the reason he's stated. I'd like to see where these 'police contacts' are taking place. I can make a resonable bet that about one quarter of these contacts are taking place within 1/2 mile of the police headquarters on Chestnut Street (it's near the Zoo, folks).