The Chimes at Midnight
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
 
This is plain disturbing...
Josiah Spaulding Jr. books a million dollar bonus as arts funding gets cut back all over the Commonwealth?
How much Shakespeare in the Park does a million bucks buy anyway?

So much for innovative public-private partnerships eh?

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Monday, July 30, 2007
 
July, a year before anything happens...
The summer doldrums are upon us, congress is in recess, the President dithers and the Boston Globe tries to talk up the prospect of brokered conventions next summer.
It won't happen but some vital space in the paper was filled up on a slow news day so that Brian McGrory can sleep tonight.
The truth is, it's been over a generation since the outcome of either party's convention was in serious doubt. You have to rewind all the way back to 1952 to find a situation where both parties had brokered conventions...that was Eisenhower versus Stevenson that year...a race for the ages in every respect.
Moreover, the "presumptive nominee" is determined earlier and earlier in each presidential election cycle, Dukakis had the nomination nailed down in Early April 1988, Kerry had it in the bag by the end of February 2004. This trend will no doubt reach a plateau in the near future unless New Hampshire moves up it's primary to December or something.
Anyway, the "brokered convention" meme is a punditariat hallmark they all write it at least once before an election, from the George Wills and Chris Matthews' down to the lowest most obscure blogger.
It's one of those indispensible cliches without which politics in this country would tank.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007
 
Candidate Mitt Romney has asserted that
"free trade" is the cure-all for Latin American poverty. This is a curious notion on his part, Romney is apparently fine with the importation of goods & inanimate objects made in foreign lands, but when immigrant labor wants to come in to clip our hedges and bag our groceries then suddenly he is a blustering protectionist.
Anyone else sense a contradiction there, automobile tires yes, filling station attendants no...that seems to be Mitt's thesis.

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Friday, July 27, 2007
 
So...What is John Kerry up to?
The Junior Senator from the Glorious Commonwealth of Massachusetts is gadding about with a vengeance:
He has called on the admin to refocus on Al Queda's presence in Pakistan/Afganistan.

He has co-drafted a bill to aid families that are caring for injured soldiers.

He isn't voting to confirm James Holsinger as Surgeon General.

He helped pass a bill raising soldier's pay.

He has asked FEMA to test those Katrina Trailers for formaldehyde contamination.

He has come out strong for implementation of the Dole-Shalala commission's recommendations to improve veteran's healthcare.

And he is fighting hard to get the State Children's Healthcare Insurance Program fully funded.

All this when he isn't railing against our current policy in Iraq or trying to get the barbarous practice of dog-fighting outlawed.
And this is only in the last ten days or so....
There are those who will snarl that none of this is leadership...but it sure seems to get good and close to leadership for me.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007
 
Duly Noted for the Record
The Chimes at Midnight is unalterably opposed to the construction of a casino in Middleborough Mass or anywhere else in the Commonwealth.
Casino gambling is a short-money solution to a plethora of structural employment & revenue problems that plague the Bay State. It is also confiscatory "taxation" of the working poor and a public safety burden of unknown dimensions on any locality.
If Humble Elias lived in Middleborough, he'd vote no on this deal.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
 
Trivial question...
Whatever happened to that nice reform minded consensus-seeking northeastern moderate...y'know that Mitt Romney guy?
Apparently he has taken to blustery wingnut utterances like this.

Boy oh boy we are far away from that nicey-nice moderate governor that Scot Lehigh and Brian McGrory sighed over aren't we?

But then it really isn't so hard to fool these guys, all a republican candidate has to do is show up and promise a lavish regard for the 1st amendment coupled to the usual fiscal conservative nonsense and most columnists fall over in a swoon.
Why?
Because that line more or less reflects their own prejudices, they want a champion of the first amendment (cause that is how they make their money) and someone who will keep taxes low because most of these guys are making over 100,000 a year. Add it all up and you get an unusual vulnerability to a amateurish opportunist like Romney.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007
 
"Mercy Sakes Alive!"...
(To quote the late great Madge Blake)..but it does seem that Senator John Kerry has come in for some good ink from The Boston Globe.
Seems like a big turn around for a newspaper that was seemingly desperate to scuttle JK's presidential candidacy in the lead up to the 2004 New Hampshire primary.
Ah well, the country is catching up to John Kerry's views on the issues and even Morrissey Boulevard must take heed.

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Monday, July 23, 2007
 
The Boston Metro's copy editor
ought to know that it is spelled "Karl Marx" not "Karl Marz"...trust me, you can't rely Microsoft word's spell-check ya gotta eyeball these things.
Check out the hard copy of today's Metro found anywhere on the MBTA if you don't believe.
Of course, they fixed it up on the website.
It's all the more embarrasssing because it's AP wire copy, someone presumably had to go in there compose a header and then screw up the spelling.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007
 
Then I ran into....
"The Air Marshal" down at the Menotomy Olde Time Market...he is otherwise a well connected democratic functionary with strong links to various name politicians. He opined that Niki Tsongas was a formidable player who'd be hard to catch as the summer wears on. Anyone who wants to overtake her has some serious ground to cross between now and September....or so he thought.
The Marshal went on to note that Barry Finegold had some some surprisingly strong fundraising and had an engaging stump-style. if anyone is looking for a late surging underdog Finegold might be the one.
Well neither he nor I live in the district so it's all bleachers-bluff y' unnerstan'.

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Friday, July 20, 2007
 
Happy Operation Valkyrie Day...
Today marks the 63rd anniversary of Colonel Klaus von Stauffenberg's 1944 abortive bid to assassinate Adolf Hitler and overthrow the Nazi Regime. Alas the scheme failed when the bomb (artfully concealed in a briefcase) was shoved far enough under a table in Hitler's Rastenberg lair to allow the Nazi leader to survive the ensuing explosion.
Stauffenberg of course was killed for this along with thousands of others in the usual post-coup attempt retribution.
It's hard to see what would've been different if Stauffenberg had succeeded, there were still plenty of Nazi bigwigs left alive who could've seized power all on their own in the wake of Hitler's death irregardless of what government the Colonel and his followers wanted to install.
And in truth, for better or worse, Stauffenberg is a conservative of a particular type, he was fine with the Third Reich until Hitler and his neurotic impulses started getting good Prussian soldiery needlessly annihilated on the battlefield.
Where was Stauffenberg's high and mighty morals on Kristalnacht?
Well what the hell, at least he tried to start something, lets give him that.
Alas it's all history now, something to be understood and remembered.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007
 
Ma 05
Humble Elias had a quiet chat with his olde school chum Napoleon O'Malley (known all over Lowell as the Sage of the Francis Gate)who opined that Niki Tsongas has pulled in a lot of out of district money and has big props as far south as Morrissey Boulevard but that Eileen Donoghue is running a close race and may just pull off an upset on Primary Day.
Jim Ogonowski the presumptive GOP nominee is goin' nowhere (ducking debates so sez Lynn in Lowell)and the other democratic contenders all have something but don't have enough of whatever it is.

Ah...but old Napoleon once asserted that Greg Hyatt had great comeback potential as well....

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007
 
Ghod Bless Jeff Jacoby...
His steadfast guzzling of the admin's Iraq-policy Kool-Aid is an inspiration to the rest of us.
This sentence, from the above-linked column is a unintentional howler of epic dimensions:
Rapt attention is devoted to the Republican wobbling; much less to the heartening dividends being returned by General David Petraeus's surge.


Dividends...like this?
Certaily the surge has created just enough peace and security for the Iraqi parliament to go into a summer-long recess.

BTW, I thought this was President Bush' surge...Petraeus is just the poor harried General on the ground...only the President, or these days his superior officer, The Vice President can initiate escalation.
Honestly, it's columns like this that ought to get Jeff the Medal of Freedom, or whatever honorific that is appropriate for zealous propagandists with their backs to the wall.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
 
Odds on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
can be found today at Channel Zero...
It is tasteless stuff though.
Monday, July 16, 2007
 
BTW
I read in the Globe yesterday, that Congressman Ron Paul, the token libertarian revolutionary in the GOP race, allegedly has more cash on hand at the moment than Senator John McCain.
As the immortal Rick Flair would say: "Wooooo!"

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Sunday, July 15, 2007
 
Steve Stark's current "Presidential Tote Board" column
in the Boston Phoenix, adds up Newt Gingrich's strengths and weaknesses as a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. It can safely be skipped, you've read it already in many many other places.
Ah...but Gingrich for President is an in-teresting notion within the context of the hard right's perpetual audition for ever newer men on horseback to save movement conservatism from an administration composed of movement conservatives.
Think of Newt as the GOP's own William Jennings Bryan, blustery and absurdly wrong about nearly everything. Gingrich has long been lauded by the credulous likes of Chris Matthews as a "man of ideas", most of those selfsame ideas being either puerile or simply bad.
Newt presents himself as an intellectual, he claims to be well-read, but like most sci-fi fans he hasn't revised his opinion about anything since he was sixteen years old.
In truth, he is the last of the bawling boob-bumpers, an invariable booster of naive solutions and crowd-tested nonsense, a fervent believer in every idiot nostrum out there from a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution to a space based missile defense shield.
The man is fond of quotation, but entirely bereft of sense.
Reporters and pundits, who always set a low bar for so-called thinkers in politics, love Gingrich for his baby-boomer credentials and his yappy college room-mate persona.
As President though, he'd be a perfect catastrophe, taxes might go down but the public debt will incur a national going out of business fire sale.
Hell,the cost alone of extending secret service protection to his ex-wives and mistresses would be prohibitive, irrespective of whether or not the nation is ready for a lecherous puritanical gargoyle as president.
For all Gingrich's alleged brains, he will be even more wrong headed than Bush and will no doubt stumble into a serious show down with a democratic congress within six months of his inaugural, landslide or not, count on that. Confrontation at first serious and then increasingly petulant and inane was a hallmark of his Speakership, nothing in his subsequent record indicates he has changed his modus operandi one whit.
Alas though, the GOP has fallen heir to an unbelievable succession of disasters all of their own making. They have unfailingly all of the great issues of the day in a pinched ideological fashion, with no recourse to the facts defining any situation no matter how complicated or perilous.
Their zeal resembles that of a gaggle of tenderfoot boy scouts building their first camp-fire only to end up burning down the campsite and much of the forest beyond...a catastrophe they feebly attempt to blame on John Kerry and the Dixie Chicks.
Ah but the GOP is desperate for a charlatan any charlatan who can make all this mishaugas disappear and save them from themselves. Hell they need Newt Gingrich, who else can they count on to believe in the face of so many setbacks and embarrassment?
Me? I doubt he is electable, like Guiliani he is an apocalyptic gaffe waiting to happen. Moreover, when he was Speaker of the US House, he was routinely dope-slapped by Bill Clinton with an offhanded glee. Senator Hillary Clinton must be slavering at the thought of running against a tried and true punk-ass b*tch like Speaker Newt.
But these are matters of fact and history, in other words just the sort of thing Newt will happily ignore when the moment of truth arrives.

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Friday, July 13, 2007
 
Wooga Wooga A-bandon Ship!
More swan-dives over the listing sides of the USS McCain.
John Kerry went thru a patch as bad as this, at one point he was polling behind Al Sharpton in New Hampshire...but he had the troops and a message. McCain has a wasted rep for integrity and too long a history of carrying just enough water for the White House to alienate his once beloved independents.
I revise my estimate, I'm not sure McCain will last til August at this rate.
In truth, he is a candidate who belongs to the past in every way. The days when a feisty sounding independent can crash into the GOP nominating process and carry the day like Wendell Willkie or Dwight Eisenhower are long gone. These days you start out groveling before the religious right, abase yourself before the market worshippers and if you get nominated you lie and smear til' election night.
That is the GOP path to power, men on horseback who don't owe the usual ass-holes bigtime need not apply.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
 
The Missus Departs
Lady Bird Johnson has up and died at the tender age of ninety-four.
I think of her and poor Pat Nixon as the last of the old-timey first ladys...dutiful and subdued...smart but burdened with too few standout role models when it came to being First Lady.
Ah well, being congenitally classy Ladybird coped....oh how she coped.
Her lasting contribution to the betterment of the Republic being the 1967 highway beautification act, an early blow against sprawl and pollution that was derided at the time as naught but a genteel southern lady's version of Flower Power. In time her passsion to beautify our roadsides would march in lock step with enviromentalism and anti-sprawl activism a host of worthwhile causes...we struggle even today to catch up with her ideas.
Well goodbye Missus Johnson give our best to Lyndon, Jack and Harry we'll try our best with the wildflowers out there.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007
 
Heard on WTKK this morning
amidst an advert for "Ken's Steak House" in Framingham a wee gratuitious snark at Governor Patrick and his alleged inability to get the property taxers lowered.
It is a little thing I know, but does Ken Steak House have to pay for the editorializing in their commercials or is that added in as a freebie?

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007
 
Michael we hardly knew ye...
Apparently, WTKK wants to hire Howie Carr to become their new drive time morning yakker replacing Michael Graham who replaced Mike Barnicle who replaced Don Imus....remember Imus? I could wax nostalgic I really could.
Well thank Ghod is all I can say, the Boston airwaves are all but bereft of wingnut windbags, Howie's proposed and as yet unlitigated move to WTKK will bring a welcome note of diversity to all white liberals infesting local radio.

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Monday, July 09, 2007
 
Pursuant to yesterday's post
on the virtues of flag-waving in Euclid OH by way of Jeff Jacoby's Globe column and as a public service to all eleven of my readers, including Michael Graham, I post this link to the United States Flag Code.

As an olde Eagle Scout, it just drives me crazy to see otherwise well meaning people flying the flag in rainstorms and the like so that the National Ensign gets soaked and looks like a bath-towel left on the line. There are rules governing the display of the flag of the United States, I wish people would read and abide by those rules.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
 
The Flag Children
Today, Jeff Jacoby lectures the Commonwealth on our lamentable lack of flag waving and contrasts Massachusetts unfavorably with the simple catch-in-yer-throat patriotism of his boyhood home, Euclid Ohio.
Then suddenly, seized as if by some frenzy, Jacoby drags Howard Zinn out of the Sacred Groves of Academia and rhetorically assaults the BU Prof with a tire iron.
Sigh....in other words, Jeff couldn't think of anything sensible to say about Scooter Libby's sentence commutation or the impending collapse of the Iraqi Government.
I often wonder, at the end of the day, when the sun is gone red with a nameless fury and things go still and quiet, when Jeff is done carving up scarecrows and cutting down straw-men by the regiment....if the Boston Globe columnist doesn't feel faintly embarrassed with himself?
I mean, he rarely makes a fair argument with a real opponent, generally his modus operandi is to seek out the weakest thesis advanced by the sketchiest character and run them thru a rhetorical wood-chipper.
Jacoby does this week after week, and calls it, "debate", but even he has to realize what a fraud the whole thing is.
Euclid Ohio may actuyally fly more flags that the whole of Commonwealth, but I doubt it.
One wonder though, are their columnists less inclined towards mental buncombe than ours?

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Friday, July 06, 2007
 
A revision
After reading this news item, I begin to wonder if McCain can make to Labor Day.
Right now it sounds like everyone in the McCain camp is in deep denial, but sooner or later someone has to sit down with the candidate and make them see reason.
It is always sad when it ends like this before a single vote has been cast, John McCain is much like Marc Anthony's legionaries who "saw reason" and simply melted away during the night leaving him alone against Augustus.
Here an already strained metaphor, collapses, for truly who is cast as Augustus among the tinpots, frauds, boosters and tedious glad-handers that comprise the current GOP presidential roster?

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Thursday, July 05, 2007
 
A-bomb tests over the Back Bay...
or so Channel Zero views the Esplanade Concert & Fireworks.
 
McCain on the Ropes?
Lousy fundraising and stalled message has compelled John McCain, once the GOP's Man on Horseback, to cut back his staff.
Maybe the rumors are true, that Big John will drop out before Halloween....
Well it's not hard to see why, McCain is wa-ay past his expiration date politically, he could've swept the country in 2000 but for Karl Rove. Now he is just too old, too mean tempered, and too tied to our current policy failures to get any traction out there. In the last eight years McCain's program has been one of the wonders of this world, he has carried water for this administration with a brown-nosers eagerness, yet all that has gained him exactly nothing in the way of props in the West Wing or among the GOP base for that matter.
And so quite literally, McCain falls with a thud between three stolls, if such a thing is possible.
Given this bizarre spectacle, is it any wonder that the independents who once swooned over McCain have moved on, to Bloomberg, Hagel or who knows perhaps Giuliani or Obama?
If McCain does bail, I suspect Giuliani will reap the benefit (assuming he hasn't blown himself sky-high by then) with Romney and Thompson picking up the scraps and leavings.
***
Well there you have it, a whole Steve Stark column in precis'...enjoy.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007
 
Late word has come to Humble Elias,
from a definitive source associated with WTKK 96.9 FM that morning man Michael Graham had did NOT take columnist payola from the Bush Administration.
Well I, for one, am glad that has been settled.
Our radio talk show hosts are a precious national institution whose credibility must be defended by All Citizens if democracy is to survive here in the Good Old US of A.
On that note, I wish all eleven of you out there a very happy Fourth of July.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
 
Libby Liberated...
As you well know, President Bush commuted Scooter Libby's sentence yesterday. I have very little to add other than to note that this does nothing but embolden all the sallow humorless geeks that run the campaigns of the current GOP presidential aspirants. If Libby can beat the rap, then what freedom, what license, what scope of action can they look forward to once they seize power?
This is why, to a man, the whole of the GOP field was for pardoning Libby, because they want that precedent set for their own people when the time comes.
The sheer market value of a highly placed staff job in the White House just went thru the roof as of today.

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Monday, July 02, 2007
 
Quick question...
So we can expect any day now for the Catholic Bishops to start beatin' down Rudy Guiliani on the basis of his multiple divorces and his equivocal support for abortion...right????
When will he come in for the whole nine yards, the pastoral letters, the pressure on his local parish to turn him out (preferably on a Sunday morning with a Fox News Crew nearby) the 10th century fulminations from stalwart church laymen as Pat Buchanan and Dinesh D' Sousa?
I mean, they did it to John Kerry for much the same reasons, their silence so far with respect to that champion of gay rights Rudy Giuliani is all the more puzzling.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007
 
Today...
Jeff Jacoby (rightly) took to task a disparate collection of commentator for their unseemly anti-Mormon utterances vis-a-vis Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy.
The Globe's own Laughing Young Senescence trots out some god-awful woswer from wa-ay down south and the usual postings at Moveon.org.
However, Jeff errs mightily when he compares Mitt's religious woes to those of presidential candidate John Kennedy circa 1960.
Then, Kennedy argued that his religion ought to pose no threat to the polity and then went on to reaffirm his belief in a rigorous separation of church and state.
Today, the "separation of church and state" is regarded as a dangerous remnant of Stalinist thinking on the part of most of the GOP's base and leadership.
For candidate Romney to come out in favor of such a notion would instantly brand him an apostate and some sort of dangerous tree-hugging agnostic weirdo.
Moreoever it is an article of faith in today's GOP that a bumptious blatting wowserism is a sort of super-qualification for the US Presidency.
Far from affirming a high way between church and state, most of the current republican presidential roster are openly promising only to take orders only from the Little Baby Jesus hisself once elected.
Therefore like all Mike Huckabee and all the other political parsons in the race, Mitt is making a great too-do about his close personal relationship with the big bearded spook in the sky.
Well if Romney (among others) is gonna make a gross public spectacle of his own pietism then it ought then it ought to be legitimate to ask politely and insistently as to where this christian politics is taking us?
Frankly if Mitt Romney wants to believe all that nonsense in the Book of Mormon, that is his business. If however he wants to publicly assert that his Bishopric in the LDC somehow gives him a profound insight into the spiritual needs of the nation, then I'm sorry that makes his Mormonism a legitimate line of inquiry.
At the very least, perhaps Bishop Romney would like to enlighten his future serfs as to whether or not the bible supercedes the constitution (as many of his fellow republicans profess to believe) and what steps he will take to impose Mosiac law on the USA.
I mean, why is his triffling with the US constitution at all, with the little baby Jesus telling him and everyone else presumably how to run things?
A crude formulation to be sure, but it's as good a start as any to the debate.

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