Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year

Thank you for visiting 'For Attribution' online.

We're taking a few days off this week to enjoy the holidays. However, we're keeping tabs on the latest news, and we look forward to resuming our regular blog posts on January 3, 2011.

We have no doubt that 2011 will be full of interesting political stories to talk about. In particular, we'll be keeping our eyes on the new Congress, how Massachusetts deals with its looming budget deficit, and how newly-minted GOP House members assert their fresh ideas.

It should be an interesting year.

Until then, we wish you and yours a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and Saint Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Saint Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The US national debt: $44,918 per person, and growing...

The Web site made a very interesting observation the other day.

This was the headline:

DEBT: $13,868,461,000,000

PEOPLE: 308,745,538

Drudge was basically making the point that the national per capital debt burden in this country is a staggering $44,918.

To put this in perspective, the size of this debt is roughly 95% of the United States Gross Domestic Product. And, according to the web site, it's also about 20 percent of our national assets (personal, non-profit, corporate and non-incorporated business assets).

In other words, if we liquidated all of the property in the United States, roughly one out of every five cents we collected would go toward repaying the national debt.

This is a crushing burden that presents a clear and present danger to the United States. The financial well-being of our country depends on resolving this problem. And, with so much of this public debt being held by other nations (about $4.4 trillion), it's a growing national security issue.

We sincerely hope that lowering the national debt will be a top priority for the next Congress.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Educating our kids is a state concern

Most political watchers were busy following news about congressional redistricting yesterday.

But, it's worth noting a separate political story that could have a much greater impact on the future of our state's residents.

According to the Boston Globe, the Massachusetts Board of Education voted unanimously yesterday to use national education standards instead of our existing state curriculum frameworks. (Please click here to read the full Globe/SHNS story online.)

Supporters will argue that adopting national standards is good because it brings Massachusetts in-line with other states and it helps us to get federal funding. And, to be fair, we're sure there are probably some parts of the national curriculum that will improve what Massachusetts already teaches to its students.

But overall, adopting national standards is a bad idea. We think there's something decidedly important about Massachusetts choosing what's best for its students, whether or not they do the same thing in Texas or California. Adopting national standards naturally inhibits our ability to make those choices and takes away beneficial parts of our unique curriculum.

Massachusetts has always distinguished itself by taking the lead in public education. We are home to some of the finest and richest educational facilities in the world. Public education is part of our state constitution. We pride ourselves in our teachers, dating back to the work of Horace Mann in the early 1800's. Why, then, are we now choosing to be a follower by ceding our educational authority to national concerns?

And, for that matter, why do we need a Board of Education anymore? With a national curriculum in place, exactly what is it that they are deciding for our students?

True leadership would be for the Board of Education to examine national frameworks and import worthy improvements into our curriculum, while preserving our state autonomy and ignoring whatever we don't like.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Massachusetts needs to come to its census

'Twas the week before Christmas
and at the Statehouse
not a creature was stirring....

Wait a minute, we interrupt this holiday rhyme with news that, indeed, there IS activity at the Statehouse in Boston - right now.

As we speak, Massachusetts lawmakers are anxiously waiting for news whether data from the federal census will result in the Bay State losing one of its ten seats in Congress due to a loss of population.

Say it ain't so.

And, while the census won't change the size of the state Legislature, state lawmakers are starting to wonder how their own districts will be gerrymand... uh, 'redistricted'... after the final numbers are in.

The consequences of redistricting are clear and well-known.

Brace yourself:

Redistricting of the state into nine congressional districts instead of ten would force one or more of the state's incumbent Congressmen to run against each other, unless someone leaves voluntarily.


And, the same is potentially true for some incumbent members of the state House and Senate, depending on how lines are drawn to reflect in-state population trends.


Then, there's this - losing a Congressional seat would mean that Massachusetts would also lose a vote in the Electoral College, a vote that could shift from this 'blue state' to a corresponding 'red state' that gained population recently.

Oh, the humanity...

Sarcasm aside, redistricting is a very serious matter for our state. It has long-term consequences for how every person here is represented in policy decisions, as well as dramatic effects on policy itself.

But the bigger question here is not about representation. It's about the fact that, whether or not Massachusetts clears the benchmark to retain its ten seats in Congress, we still seem to be losing population to other states. That's why there is concern in the first place.

No matter what the census numbers say, Beacon Hill politicians must take this as a clarion call, showing clear need for a new direction in state policy. We desperately need to change the mindset of how Massachusetts opens its doors to businesses and how it treats working families. That's the only way to keep jobs - and the Bay Staters who work at them - here in Massachusetts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Morning Quarterback Quick Hits

Here's just a sampling of the things that are on our mind this morning:

  • NEW SJC CHIEF - Today, Governor Deval Patrick will swear-in Roderick Ireland as this state's first African-American Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. We think it's a milestone worthy of applause, and we wish Chief Justice Ireland well as he assumes his new position. We also wonder who will be Patrick's nominee to fill Ireland's now-vacant Associate Justice slot. (For more, read the Boston Globe / AP story here.)
  • PER DIEMS - Did you see the story in the Boston Herald on Saturday about state legislators raking in per diems? (If not, you can read it here.) We've said it before and we'll say it again: we think the practice of paying per diems to legislators has got to stop, and we hope legislation will be passed this session.
  • LT. GOV. MURRAY - Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray went "On the Record" on WCVB Channel 5 yesterday. He had lots of interesting things to say about his political future and the fiscal climate of the state. Check out the video here to see what he said.

What do you think of all this? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Please post a comment below.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What does an apple go for these days?

We're guessing that you've probably heard the old saying about the student bringing an apple to the teacher in order to curry favor.

What you might not have known is that, these days, state ethics law would require the recipient public school teacher to file a disclosure that they received the apple with their appointing authority.

The state ethics commission has filed regulations that govern how all public employees accept, reject or report their receipt of gifts. The basic rule is that a public employee has to report the receipt of any gift under $50 where there is the perception of a conflict of interest. Receiving a gift over $50 is generally banned.

There is a special carve-out regarding class gifts for public school teachers. Teachers can accept a class gift of up to $150 (or several gifts with that aggregated value), if any such gift is identified only as being from the class, and the identity of givers and amounts given are not identified to the recipient. Parents may also give unlimited gifts to the classroom or the school, through the teacher, in accordance with the rules of the school district.

We're strong supporters of good government, and we think that starts with strong ethics laws. In this case, we can see the need for reporting or prohibitions when it comes to large gifts; in fact, we assume most teachers would feel at least slightly awkward receiving such a gift from a parent. But, doesn't it seem a little extreme to make teachers file paperwork every time they get a small thank-you or holiday present from a student? Don't they already have enough to keep track of? Is it worth it to have teachers report to the authorities every time they receive a scented candle or a refrigerator magnet?

We say, let's give teachers a break. The reporting requirement for trivial gifts to teachers ought to be removed. Let's let teachers focus on grading papers and planning lessons instead of filing ethics disclosures for small holiday gifts from their students.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two billion reasons to pay attention to Beacon Hill today

You might say that it's not particularly glitzy or glamorous. Some might say it's truly boring. Most people probably don't know it's even happening.

But, the so-called "consensus revenue hearing" at the Statehouse today is probably the most important (public) meeting that Beacon Hill politicians will hold all year long.

State law requires Beacon Hill leaders to meet each year to reach consensus on how much revenue they estimate the state will take in during the next fiscal year. This estimate forms the basis for how much money will be on the table when leaders craft the state budget over the next few months.

Here's the inside track on what's at stake.

By most accounts, the state is looking squarely down the barrel of a $2 billion budget gap going into FY2012. Much of this is due to the fact that state leaders plugged holes in the state budget with more than $1 billion of one-time federal economic stimulus funding in recent years. That money will disappear next year. State leaders have also spent down the state's Rainy Day Fund to the point that Wall Street is starting to wonder if we're spreading ourselves too thin.

The consensus revenue estimate is just that – an "estimate." By it's nature, it's basically a guess as to what revenues will be like in the coming year. And, although it has the appearance of being an objective, almost academic review of state finances coupled with scientific forecasts of revenue, make no mistake about it: the hearing is just as charged with political considerations as any other hearing on Beacon Hill.

So, how will state leaders react today?

One option would be to paint an overly-rosy picture of state finances at the consensus revenue hearing. Projecting higher revenues would create a smaller gap to fill, thereby lessening the need for cuts or tax hikes. The problem with this option is that it only works for a certain amount of time unless higher revenues actually materialize. Budget writers would have just kicked the problem down the road and postponed action on it. But, from a political perspective, this option is attractive because a problem delayed is a problem saved (so to speak).

Another option would be to emphasize the size of the gap as a way to create political support for making budget cuts and/or raising taxes. This is a more responsible option. However, there is a separate trap if revenues are understated because it creates a mid-year budgetary surplus - which is inevitably spent on supplemental items.

The best outcome from today's hearing would be if political leaders leave politics at the door of the hearing room and do their best to give taxpayers their honest and accurate account of the budget crisis looming next year. If there's really a $2 billion budget gap awaiting us, say so. Then, there needs to be a comprehensive review of state spending over the next few months, coupled with a substantive overhaul of the way the state provides essential services. This stem-to-stern review is the only way to make the large-scale cuts that will be needed to fend off a sizeable tax increase next year – a tax increase that no one in this economy would be able to afford.

That's what we think. How about you? What are your thoughts? Please post a comment below.

Monday, December 13, 2010

And the race is off...

The new Congress hasn't even been sworn in yet, and one of our family members (a male Republican) already received a robo-call survey asking about the presidential election last night.

The call led off asking if he would vote for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour for president if the election were held today, and then asked the same question about President Obama. It also measured support for the tea party, second amendment rights, abortion, same-sex marriage, "Obamacare" and lower taxes.

The call came in on a cell phone, which was a first for us. It was also on a Sunday night, just following a big football game.

We're speculating about who was responsible for the call and what they're getting at. Any thoughts? Do you think the point was the presidential race itself, or rather a way to find out support for some hot-button issues?

Friday, December 10, 2010

If I hear that $!%&^#@ hippopotamus song one more time....

These days, it seems like the only place to go for some optimism and holiday cheer is one of those radio stations that play holiday music 24/7.

But even there, this holiday season, the timeless melodies telling us it's "the most wonderful time of the year" ring hollow because the underlying chorus is anything but joyful.

During a time that is otherwise supposed to provide a break from their daily lives, the headlines are making it virtually impossible for anyone to relax.

Just today, we got news that "Framingham-based TJX Co. says it plans to eliminate 4,400 jobs and shutter it’s A.J. Wright discount stores." ( story). State Street, Raytheon, Genzyme and Biogen all made similar announcements in recent weeks. (Read more.)

These aren't anonymous people. Just log into Facebook and you're likely to find a friend announcing that they've lost their job. One friend recently posted that they were about to head out to the "office holiday / job security party" at his company.

Please pass the egg nog.

During this past election year, politician after politician told Massachusetts voters that creating jobs was their number one concern and priority. So, what are they up to these days? Turns out, not much.

We learned this week that a special commission created in 2008 to create jobs never even met. In fact, when asked by the press about the commission's status earlier this week, Governor Patrick's response was, "The who? The commission that I created?" (Hear his comments at this link.)

But rest assured, just because state officials aren't finding jobs for most Massachusetts residents, they've been having no trouble finding jobs for their cronies in the Probation Department. According to the Report of the Independent Counsel released on November 9, the hiring and promotion process within the Probation Department is so bad that it "represents a pervasive fraud against the Commonwealth." (For the full report, click here.)

It's beginning to look a lot like Massachusetts politicians are too busy stuffing their own stockings to worry about the fact that countless people this year are struggling to fill the empty space beneath the tree in their living room. And, no matter how loud you crank those holiday tunes, that reality isn't going away any time soon.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Eloquence and leadership from power hitters

If you're a sports fan, you know that Adrian Gonzalez is best known for power hitting and Tedy Bruschi is best known for power defense.

Yesterday, both were known for a completely different sort of power - the power of the spoken word. And, we think aspiring leaders should stand up and take notice.

Newly-acquired Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez wowed the Boston news media with his personal reflections about iconic slugger Ted Williams. And, it didn't hurt a bit that one of the first lines out of his mouth as a Red Sox player were the words, "I’m very excited to be in Boston and ready to beat the Yanks." Check out Herald columnist Steve Buckley's description here.

Meanwhile, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi charmed fans with his eloquent halftime talk of playing for the team during some of its most successful years. Check out the full text of what he said at this link from blogger Mike Reiss.

What's the common thread? Well, both Bruschi and Gonzalez spoke humbly and simply, without prepared remarks. They captured the essence of what matters to people and they spoke about it from the heart. No frills, no exaggeration, just plain talk.

It worked. It got us talking this morning. And, we think it's a style more politicians should adopt if they want to inspire people with the power of their words.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Take the politics out of redistricting

Three cheers to MA Secretary of State Bill Galvin for his proposal to implement an independent commission to help redraw the state's congressional districts.

You can read all about his plan to take politics out of the process here.

There has never been a more important time to do this, since Massachusetts could very well lose a seat in Congress this year. The way the district lines get redrawn will make a huge difference in the way Bay Staters get represented in Washington, D.C., not to mention the influence it will have on the political process for the next decade.

Just take a look at the existing map. Look at the snaking configuration of districts like the 4th District and the 10th District. How can anyone say those districts are compact and cohesive?

The only way to solve the problem is to take political self-interest out of the equation and to let objective consideration prevail. In fact, we think Galvin's proposal is so good, it ought to be extended to cover state legislative districts, too.

Let's be honest. Massachusetts politicians aren't just good at Gerrymandering - they invented the art. It's time to take politicians out of the redistricting process for good.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

"Hiring pickup?" What hiring pickup?

The headline of an AP story that broke on this afternoon caught us off-guard:

"Two-year low for layoffs hints at hiring pickup"

For real? We're not economists, but this just seems a little too good to be true.

Just yesterday, the Globe ran a feature article about how the clock is about to run out on many people's unemployment benefits and about how difficult it is for many of them to find a job.

"The Globe has been writing about Massachusetts residents who have relied on these [unemployment benefit] extensions, and reinterviewing some yesterday underscored how bad the labor market is. Nearly all were still looking for work," said the Globe story.

Also yesterday, State Street announced that it started a round of 400 layoffs here in Massachusetts. And they're just the latest example.

Does this AP headline today somehow suggest that things have changed overnight?

We are wary of economists and government officials who seem so eager to say the economy is on an upswing. It's easy to play fast and loose with economic data, especially unemployment numbers.

Yes, it's indisputably great news if the number of first-time filers for unemployment drops. But it's not necessarily a signal of a turnaround. There's only one number that makes any difference - the unemployment rate, which nationally remains unchanged at over nine percent. Even in the AP story, economists say they don't expect those numbers to improve anytime soon.

"The economy would need to consistently add 200,000 to 300,000 a month to make a noticeable dent in the unemployment rate.... It could take until near the end of this decade to drop the unemployment rate to a more normal 6 percent," says the AP.

Check out the stories yourself. What do you think? Please post us a comment:


BOSTON GLOBE 12/1/2010

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dude... so, like, what's a high school student to do these days?

One of us is the parent of small children and visited school this morning for a teacher conference. When the two of us got into the office later on, that experience got us talking. In particular, it got us thinking about what it must be like to be in high school these days and to be looking out at the prospects waiting for you after graduation.

What does a guidance counselor tell high school students these days? Well, at least when we were in school, kids graduating from high school had three basic options to choose from:

Behind door number one, you can pursue a higher education, whether it's college or some sort of trade school. There's never been a more expensive time to try to get a college education than now. And with millions of Americans out of work, the prospect of having Mom and Dad pay for school or being able to co-sign loans is increasingly bleak. This makes the promise of a college education more difficult than ever before to access.

That brings us to door number two – going straight into the workforce and getting a job. This is indeed a bleak prospect, with a national unemployment rate of about 9 percent. It's particularly difficult because some older Americans are underemployed as a way to get work after being laid off. As older Americans take these jobs, it's tougher for less experienced workers to obtain entry-level work.

Finally, there is door number three – serving your country by entering the military. This time-honored career is still a viable option for youth graduating from school. But, with America engaged in several ongoing conflicts and with trouble spots spanning the globe, it's a more dangerous option than it has been for years.

So, what's the solution? We don't really have one to offer, that's not the point of this post. It's mostly just an observation that for many high school students today, one of the most important promises of the American Dream (that you will inherit a world that is better off than it was in your parents' generation) is an increasingly-empty promise.

Are you or someone you know a high school student right now, looking at these options? Care to share your story? Any high school guidance counselors? What are you telling your students? Please post a comment below. We'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Drip, drip, drip... Why can't Obama fix a leak?

The Gulf oil spill this year was one of the biggest challenges for the Obama administration to-date. About 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the waters before the leak was plugged, endangering wildlife across the Gulf coast and threatening our economy.

No, the Obama administration didn't cause the oil spill. But, it didn't act nimbly enough to stop the leak for months, and more could have been done to prevent it.

Now, President Obama is facing a different kind of leak at the hands of another third party, one that threatens our national security and endangers American citizens.

WikiLeaks was not a sneak or surprise attack. The media has been teasing the latest round of released information for weeks. In fact, the New York Times and other papers around the world allegedly were given an advance copy of released documents for review. Yet, seemingly nothing was done to stop the release of this information.

Maybe we missed it, but where is the outrage from President Obama? What is being done to stop this leak of information, to hold those responsible for it accountable, and to prevent the release of classified information in the future?

Remember when the Tim Cahill for Massachusetts Governor campaign alleged that internal information had been released by its campaign consultants? Cahill's legal and public response to the alleged leak of campaign information about a statewide political race was seemingly swifter and more aggressive than what the Obama administration is doing to combat one of the biggest releases of classified national government information in the history of the United States.

Hundreds of thousands of documents have been released by WikiLeaks so far, some of them classified materials that deal with America's relationship with foreign nations and the war on terror. Think about the magnitude: if each of these documents was only one page long, the trail of supposedly-secret papers released would stretch almost 90 miles, or roughly the distance from Boston to Springfield. But there seems to be little shock or outrage about the leak because it is floating in the abyss of the Internet, where people are used to seeing supposedly-private information released for public scrutiny regularly.

WikiLeaks is not like tabloid sites showing videos of Paris Hilton, or like Tiger Woods' text messages being printed in the newspaper. This is serious business. American lives are at stake, and our national security is in serious danger, not to mention our reputation with foreign countries in the diplomatic community.

In the latest issue of Der Spiegel (Germany's main newspaper), the paper editorializes:

"Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information -- data that can help paint a picture of the foundation upon which US foreign policy is built. Never before has the trust America's partners have in the country been as badly shaken. Now, their own personal views and policy recommendations have been made public -- as have America's true views of them.",1518,731580,00.html

The lack of any meaningful response leads us to conclude that the real answer is either one of two things. One possibility is that the Obama administration disapproves of the leak but that it really isn't that outraged about it. We don't think the administration actually wants classified documents released, but perhaps having thousands of documents showing that the administration favors diplomacy over the use of force in dealing with foreign threats isn't seen as such a bad thing on balance. (After all, Obama campaigned on that foreign policy platform.) The other possibility is that, much like what apparently happened with the Gulf oil spill, the Obama administration actually doesn't have any idea how to stop this leak, and it doesn't know how to regain sound control over sensitive documents to prevent future leaks.

Both possibilities are equally alarming, and Americans deserve answers and a resolute response. One thing is sure: if a lone Army private supposedly armed with a Lady Gaga CD and a memory stick can do so much damage, American national security is at cataclysmic risk.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Problems with the "Four Loko" ban

Earlier this month, Massachusetts banned the sale of caffeinated alcoholic beverages and malt beverages that contain herbal or chemical stimulants (the most well-known beverage being "Four Loko").

We're not connoisseurs of these drinks and we acknowledge their harmfulness. So, we have no particular problem with their ban. But, we think it's worth noting a very interesting aspect of the ban that is being overlooked.

What actually happened here is the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (which is overseen by the state Treasurer) issued an emergency regulation to ban the sale of these drinks.

We think this is a poor precedent because this sort of policy ought to be set by the Legislature, which is in charge of making laws regarding the sale of alcohol (most of which are set forth in Chapter 138 of the General Laws).

There's a reason for that. Theoretically, the Legislature is supposed to be better-equipped than a constitutional officer to gather information about policy decisions, factor public input, and debate the issue. But, that didn't happen here.

Let's face it. There's no "emergency" behind these regulations; the "emergency" is that no one planned ahead for these beverages to be sold here and to lead to an under-age drinking problem. The Legislature is not known for its swift action addressing problems, but had there been a clear and present danger to public health, the Legislature could have issued a similar ban in an afternoon.

In addition, liquor store owners already faced with the complexity of complying with new and changing tax laws, now have to deal with an ever-changing list of banned products set forth in regulation (the regulation says new products can be added to the ban), and the potential penalty of having their license suspended.

At the end of the day, public safety is paramount. Having a ban in place is better than not having one. So, what's the danger here? The problem is a slippery slope of state law being made by people other than the Legislature, whether it's a constitutional officer, an administrative agency, or a court. The place for making laws is in the Legislature. And regardless of your opinion of our particular Legislature and what confidence you have in its abilities, we think it's still important to respect boundaries and keep things in their proper place.

Whatever the case, the ABCC's emergency ban is in effect for only 90 days. It will be interesting to see what the Legislature does after that time, or if a follow-up regulation will be issued.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Traveling to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving? Here's our travel guide.

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods of the year, and as usual, Massachusetts will open its doors to thousands of out-of-state holiday tourists this week.

If you're one of those tourists visiting us from out-of-state, welcome! If you're here for the first time in a while, you might notice that some things have changed. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Depending on when you last visited us, you might notice that things are more expensive than they used to be. Why? Well, in the past year or so, legislators have approved hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes and fees. Here's a primer:
    1. Our state sales tax increased from 5 percent to 6.25 percent last August. So, everything you buy will automatically cost more. (And, the tax is tougher to figure out in your head.) We apologize on behalf of Massachusetts for this extra tax, but we need your help paying for things like per diems for state legislators. Thanks for chipping in.
    2. Thinking of getting a nice bottle of wine as a holiday housewarming gift for your hosts? Well, bad news. When the sales tax increased last year, it was also expanded to cover the retail sale of beer and alcohol - and, that's on top of the pre-existing excise tax. We apologize, but there's also good news. Voters repealed the tax at the ballot box in November. So, if you come back next year, the tax will be gone. We think.
    3. Staying in a hotel instead of with relatives? More bad news. Massachusetts allows cities and towns to impose a local option tax on hotel stays, and it went up last year, too. It was a 4 percent cap, now it's up to 6 percent (6.5 percent in Boston). Our state doesn't pay enough local aid to fund municipal services, so it's up to you to make up the difference.
  • U r not going 2 like this 4 sure... No texting while driving in Massachusetts. Traffic conditions remain more or less the same, however, and it's still basically impossible to find out where you're going. Some of our roadways are being fixed up, though. Thanks for all of that ARRA stimulus money! (Just look for one of those huge green ARRA signs to identify funded projects. They're everywhere.)
  • Looking for things to do while you're here? How about hitting the casino for a little gambling? All you have to do is drive across the border. Massachusetts legislators failed to pass a casino bill before the end of the legislative session. Maybe next year.
  • Want some good news? We actually have a Republican US Senator from Massachusetts - Scott Brown. Unfortunately, Democrats control most other state and federal elected positions in Massachusetts. But, rest assured, we're working on it.
  • Flying home? Well, friendly TSA agents at Logan Airport have a goodbye pat waiting for you. It's not what you got the last time you flew out of Logan, and let's just say that it's not a pat on the back...

That should more or less bring you up to speed. Thanks for visiting Massachusetts, and we hope you'll come back real soon.

(Editors' note: Do you have an item to add to our list? Please post a comment below and let us know your suggestions!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North Korea - A problem child needing urgent discipline

This morning's breaking news is of trouble on the Korean peninsula, with reports that North Korea has bombed a populated South Korean island, killing at least two people.

You can read more about the breaking developments here.

North Korea's flexing of its military muscle exposes the pressing danger it poses to international peace. It also highlights the abject failure of the United States to address the North's menace. Recent events - including the naming of a successor to Kim Jong Il, advances in North Korea's uranium enrichment capabilities, and the North's alleged (albeit denied) sinking of a South Korean warship, among others - all show North Korea to be a problem child in need of urgent discipline.

The situation grows more difficult by the day, as the political clout of the United States in the region is increasingly compromised by the massive share of our national debt held by China, an ally of the North. This makes a satisfying diplomatic resolution more remote, and also inhibits American capacity to deal with the situation through force if necessary.

We think the Korean situation demands immediate international attention, with the United States taking a decisive leadership role to protect South Korea from incursion and to prevent the North from developing a nuclear capability. Diplomacy must be put on the fast-track, and additional options must be weighed if diplomacy fails. The international community cannot afford to sit idly by and wait until the situation spirals out of control.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's time to pull the plug on the federal death tax

Today's Boston Globe contains an interesting article on the federal estate tax, which should serve as required reading for everyone who owns a home or small business.

For many years, the state and federal government have levied estate taxes on accumulated wealth when people die. The very purpose of the tax is also its biggest evil - it's deliberately intended to prevent people from accumulating wealth from generation to generation. Proponents argue this tax is how to prevent development of a new class of "robber barons" from hoarding wealth. Opponents say the tax hurts common folk who want to pass on the family home or business to their kids instead of Uncle Sam.

As the Globe points out in its well-written article, the federal estate tax has been phased out in recent years under tax cuts enacted during President Bush's first term. But, due to a quirk in the law, the tax is set to rise from the dead as of January 1, 2011. And, it's going to pack a punch, with a 55 percent tax rate and an exemption of only $1 million (which sounds like a lot of money until you try to value a home or small business).

We think there are a couple of interesting points to make in light of this article:

  • First, we think Democrats in Congress should consider making it part of their lame-duck, end-of-session agenda to either make the repeal of the death tax permanent, or to enact a long-term tax with substantially lowered tax rates and increased exemptions. In terms of tax policy, this would inject predictability and fairness into the tax code while eliminating confusion and inequity that arises when people who die at different times are subject to vastly different tax rates. Politically, it would be a signal by Democrats that they listened to anti-tax and economic sentiment voiced during this month's mid-term elections. Democrats could one-up incoming GOP members by striking first to prevent a tax increase next year.
  • Second, we think Massachusetts lawmakers (particularly those in the GOP) should take a close look at the state tax structure to blunt the effect of any federal tax increase. This is particularly important given facts cited in the article about how the federal tax would affect Massachusetts residents more than people in some other states.
  • Third, we think it's worth pointing out the Globe's mention that some people might actually make end-of-life decisions based on the reemergence of the tax. This is illustrative of a broader point - taxes matter. They have a profound impact on people's lives, and people factor taxes into important decisions. This is especially important in the business setting. Perhaps the Globe will recognize at some point that, if people would be willing to make end-of-life decisions based on the estate tax, they definitely factor things like higher sales taxes and corporate taxes into decisions about whether to live in Massachusetts or to invest to grow jobs here.

It will be interesting to see if repealing or reforming the estate tax will be one of the last acts by outgoing Democrats this year, or if it's one of the first acts of a new GOP House in 2011. Either way, we hope this is one tax that won't be back to stay.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lyric speaks at the Greater Lawrence Kiwanis

Thanks to the Greater Lawrence Kiwanis for inviting us to speak at their weekly luncheon at the Lanam Club in Andover today.

The subject of our talk was the "New Political Atmosphere" following this November's elections. In particular, we spoke about how the political landscape changed in Massachusetts and nationwide, challenges for Republicans and Democrats in the next Congress, and how Massachusetts will deal with budget problems in 2011.

The Kiwanis is a great organization doing some much-needed work in the community.

Last night's Republican State Committee meeting

From our vantage point in the back of the State Committee meeting in Newton last night, it was clear that some activists and State Committee members came to the meeting looking for a fight.

But, it was also clear to us from the applause and from comments by State Committee members that GOP Chair Jennifer Nassour retains a lot of support.

As well she should.

The GOP made substantial legislative pickups this year. The House Republican Caucus is at its strongest point in years, and it was surreal to see so many new members stand in the front of the room to be recognized last night. As Nassour mentioned at the meeting, when she was elected State Committee chair in 2009, critics told her the party did not do enough to support legislative races two years ago. Nassour made it a point to do things differently this time, and we think this support was a decisive factor in many wins.

It was disappointing to us that last night - the final State Committee meeting of the year and in a year in which the party made so many gains - there were some people who wanted to spend time assessing blame and casting aspersions for the losses the party did sustain. If Republican activists want to beat the Democrats the next time around, they need to start now working collectively to build grassroots support and field another slate of good candidates, not waste time bickering about who will lead the charge.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nassour for the GOP

We're disappointed by reports in today's Boston Herald that certain people are apparently still pushing for a vote on replacing Jennifer Nassour as Massachusetts GOP Party Chair.

We believe Nassour has done an admirable job raising the profile of the Massachusetts GOP and promoting the election of GOP candidates statewide. In particular, she ran a very successful convention, she contributed to Senator Brown's come-from-behind win, and she assisted in the doubling of GOP ranks in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. These accomplishments, in addition to strong fundraising success, are unheard of in recent memory, and we think they more than entitle Nassour to complete her term as party chair and continue her work rebuilding the party.

We wonder how much of this is just unhappy grumbling about November 2's results, since there is no talk of an apparent alternative candidate. We're planning to go to tonight's state committee meeting to see what happens, and we'll be sure to share our impressions.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Boston media picks up on "For Attribution" blog

In a story posted on this afternoon, the State House News Service wrote about our recent posting on Five Easy Reforms for the GOP.

In particular, the posting talks about our suggestion for GOP members to refuse pay raises, per diems, pension, stipends and expense accounts. "Republicans could get the ball rolling by voluntarily pledging these reforms themselves and leading by example," we said in the post.

Please click here to read the full story. You can read the full blog post here.

Gov. Patrick and the Legislature need to do more to address violent crime

When Domino's pizza delivery man Richel Nova was brutally murdered in September, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley was quoted in the Boston Globe summing up the crime this way:

"This was one of those crimes that shocked the city in a year, unfortunately, of some pretty shocking crimes."

A new study being released today confirms Conley's statement. According to the Massachusetts Health Council, Massachusetts officially has a higher rate of violent crime than New York. In fact, Massachusetts leads the entire Northeast when it comes to violent crimes.

Governor Patrick, what are you going to do about this?

Whenever there is a violent crime, we have become accustomed to seeing Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Police Commissioner Ed Davis at a press conference expressing outrage and vowing to do more to combat crime. Mayor Menino, who had a personal connection to Richel Nova, was criticized for saying he would "slowly torture" the people who committed that crime.

But where have Governor Patrick, Senate President Murray and House Speaker DeLeo been? Why have they not been asked to do more to address violent crime statewide? Why does the press never take them to task for this issue?

Even the Boston Globe seems to give state government a free pass. In a recent Globe editorial about "grisly" murders in Mattapan, the paper credited government for building an expensive state-of-the-art library and community health center in the neighborhood where the crime took place. For the violence, they blamed the "depraved soldiers of the illegal drug trade," and they said the responsibility for dealing with crime lies with law enforcement and neighborhood residents.

We acknowledge the difficulty of solving violent crime. But, we also think leadership starts at the top, and political leadership on the issue of violent crime has been sorely lacking once you step outside City Hall. We hope that Governor Patrick's second term will give him and colleagues in the Legislature opportunity to do more than issue press releases about ways to deal with violent crime in our streets. Perhaps this morning's latest headline, this time about a murder victim in Governor Patrick's usually-tranquil home town of Milton, will give leaders renewed reason to focus attention on this issue.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Five easy reforms for the GOP

One of the bright spots for the GOP in Massachusetts last week was the fact that Republicans dramatically increased their ranks in the Legislature.

This infusion of conservatives in the Legislature is great news for anyone who thinks balance is a good thing, and it will be good to shake up one-party rule, if only a little. We think incoming GOP members should consider starting with five simple reforms that would save money and make an even more significant statement that Republicans are there to stand up for taxpayers and good government:

  • Refuse to take a pay raise. Under the Constitution, state legislators get an automatic pay raise every two years based on the economy. If legislators are given a pay raise this year, we think GOP reps should refuse to take it.
  • Don't take per diems. One of the perks of being a member of the Legislature is that you are paid just for driving to work. Maybe this made sense back when members rode horses from western Massachusetts to the State House, but these days, per diems don't make sense. We think GOP members should refuse to claim per diem payments.
  • Give up leadership pay. We respect members whose work as legislative leadership or as committee chairs requires them to put in more time and effort than rank-and-file members. But leadership stipends don't make sense in a full-time legislature, where it's assumed that all members put in full-time effort on legislative business (even if they don't). We think it would send a strong statement if GOP members refused to take leadership pay, particularly in the Senate, where there are only a handful of members.
  • Pledge not to take a public pension. A number of GOP candidates this year pledged not to take a public pension. We think GOP members should follow suit.
  • Eliminate legislative expense accounts. Each legislator gets several thousand dollars each year to cover office expenses. At the same time, many other public employees (for example, teachers) are required to pay out-of-pocket to cover work-related expenses. We think it makes sense to forego this payment, especially when members could raise campaign funds to cover these expenses.

We're not trying to pick on GOP members; we think these reforms should be made by all legislators. But Republicans could get the ball rolling by voluntarily pledging these reforms themselves and leading by example. Some incoming members, like Ryan Fattman from Sutton, have already pledged not to take per diems or a pension. We applaud him and others like him for this courageous position, and we wonder if others (especially longer-serving GOP members) will be willing to follow his lead.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Republicans are coming! The Republicans are coming!

Today's Boston Globe sounds the alarm that Massachusetts could lose $200 million in federal funding for projects here in the Bay State as Congress fills up with fiscally-conservative Republicans.

But when you look deeper in the article, you see that this coveted federal money is not intended for job creation, schools, or some of the other things you'd expect the government to invest in with a national unemployment rate over nine percent and a $13 trillion national debt.

Here's some of what's actually on the list:

  • Renovations for a new visitor's center abutting the Paul Revere House and new restroom facilities. Is this really a priority? We're sure Paul Revere would have liked more bathroom facilities in his house, too, but he didn't have the money for it either.
  • A $10 million cash infusion for the Edward Kennedy Institute for the US Senate. Isn't the $38.3 million federal funding already reserved for the project enough? The Globe says the facility "is scheduled to open in 2013 and is meant to serve as an educational facility and research center for students, academics, and elected officials." Isn't there another worthy education cause that would benefit everyone?
  • A $300,000 grant to replace a 911 communications tower in Newton. Newton just spent $200 million for a new high school. Could the community possibly have scrimped and saved a little bit to cover public safety costs?

This brings up two interesting issues related to last week's electoral results.

First, if Democrats in the Massachusetts Delegation lose their chairmanships and become less able to bring home the bacon for the Bay State with Republicans in charge of Congress, will they lose credibility going into the next election?

Second, with only a few weeks of Democratic hegemony left on Capitol Hill, what last-minute legislation will Democrats force through while they still have the chance? President Obama has two years left in his first term, but only two months left to accomplish his agenda without Republican interference.

Projects like the Paul Revere House and the Kennedy Institute both rely in part on private funding, but in times like these, maybe they need to rely on private funds even more. The Paul Revere House has been standing there for hundreds of years. Waiting an extra year or two until we can afford to put new bathrooms in isn't that long a wait, relatively speaking.

What do you think? Please post a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day

To all those who have served...

To all those who have sacrificed...

We thank you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Television in red and blue

Republicans like "Desperate Housewives?" Democrats like "Mad Men?"

So says a recently-released study by The Hollywood Reporter.

Here's what we noticed about their lists of the top 15 shows for each party persuasion:

  • Democrats seem to like pricey premium (cable) channels, whereas most of the Republican shows are on broadcast, basic cable t.v.
  • Republicans seem to favor shows about competition, like "Survivor," whereas Democrats go more for shows where it's not about winning and losing.
  • Twenty percent of the Democrats' top-15 shows feature former 'Saturday Night Live' personalities who poke fun at corporate America and/or public institutions.
  • Democrat-favored shows tend to air later in the evening, whereas many Republican-tending shows air at 8/9 p.m.

We won't get into the reasons behind these observations. We'll let you draw those conclusions yourself.

So, what do you think? Why are some shows more popular than others in Red and Blue demographics? Where do you fall on this list?

Please post a comment below and let us know what you think!

Massachusetts businesses feeling the post-election blues?

The Associated Press reports that Massachusetts employers have announced a wave of layoffs in the one week since Deval Patrick was re-elected Governor.

Could there be any doubt why? AIM reported before the election that business confidence was up, partly on the assumption that pro-tax-cutting candidates would be elected to the U.S. House in November. Could it be that Massachusetts businesses have the post-election blues after seeing Mass. Democrats prevail again?

One of Patrick's first initiatives when he took office was to raise corporate taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars. And, he capped off his first term by signing into law a crushing 25% increase in the state sales tax. Do we expect anything to really change in a second term, especially with the prospect of a multi-billion dollar state budget deficit next year?

It's disappointing to see tax policies sting some of our state's largest employers. But, small businesses are feeling the pinch too, even though it doesn't always make headlines. We see it every day as we talk to fellow small business owners struggling to deal with the rising cost of health care and tax increases.

These are the people who know on a deeply personal level what it's like to meet a bottom line and keep their people employed. These are the people who actually write the checks for health insurance, rent and federal and state taxes. They know first-hand how Massachusetts' economic policies rob businesses of any incentive to grow.

Small business owners are good citizens. By their very nature, they want to create jobs and be a thriving part of the state's economy. And, they're more than willing to pay their fair share for services they use. The problem is that, in Massachusetts, the government takes advantage of them. In the Bay State, growing your business means having to pay substantially bigger tax bills and deal with much higher costs of doing business. At the end of the day, it's often a wash, and small business owners simply can't get ahead - or even survive.

If we expect to retain and grow jobs here, our political leaders need to understand that small businesses need room to breathe, and that raising taxes is not the answer every time they try to spend money and state coffers come up short.

As a state, we rely on the entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners to keep our economy going. Yet, we do little as a state to encourage that spirit and allow it to prosper.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

"W" doesn't stand for wishy-washy

Did you see Matt Lauer's interview with President Bush on NBC last night?

There is much that will be said about Bush's new book, Decision Points, in the coming days. Much of it will likely focus on some of the controversial flashpoints of the Bush presidency: September 11th, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Hurricane Katrina, to name a few.

Instead of rehashing these arguments here, we'd like to focus on one particular factor of last night's interview. Whether you agree with President Bush's decisions or not, we think it's refreshing to hear Bush speak so openly and directly about the tough decisions he made as president. That quality is sorely lacking in American politics these days.

Ever since President Obama captured the nation's attention at the Democratic Convention in 2004, he has evoked comparisons to Lincoln and other great leaders based on his oratory power. But since Obama moved into the Oval Office himself, his words have lost persuasiveness because of his tendency to talk in circles without giving a straight answer or taking decisive action.

If Matt Lauer's interview last night had been with President Obama instead, NBC would have needed a mini-series to answer the same questions.

Americans thought Obama represented "change" because of his soaring rhetoric. Political watchers waxed poetic. Chris Matthews unabashedly said that, when he heard Obama speak, "I felt this thrill going up my leg." But, in hindsight and given the current state of foreign and domestic affairs, we think Americans are much more interested in having their leaders tell it to them straight. They don't have time or patience for a Lincoln-Douglas debate. They want to know the bottom line and they want to know how we're going to fix problems.

People will say Bush's straight talk is a sign that he lacks intelligence. But, we think it's a sign of honesty and trust in the American people. That kind of respect for candor over coddling is something we need more of in American politics these days.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Lyric appears on "Politically Active"

We joined hosts George Scione and Jamie Atkinson on Methuen's "Politically Active" show today to talk about state politics and the results of this week's elections.

We had a blast. Thanks for having us on the show!

Mary Z For Next Time Around

If you're a social media follower, you might have seen this post by Mary Connaughton yesterday:

Just changed my Twitter name from maryforauditor to Maryzformass #mapoli

And then there's this one from the other day:

A great night's sleep-will be raking tarpfuls of leaves. Not sure of my next move, but definitely still have public service bug #mapoli

Could this be a signal of a political comeback for Mary Z?

We certainly hope so. And we hope she'll be joined by a cadre of fellow Republicans who came close to winning last week. At the very least, we need leaders like Mary to stay active.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Democrats' Conundrum

There's a very interesting article in today's Boston Globe about how Democrats won here in Massachusetts on Tuesday.

Basically, Democratic State Party Chair John Walsh organized campaign volunteers to mount a massive GOTV effort in the waning days of the election. That effort resulted in an overwhelming 800,000 points of contact with Democratic voters on Election Day.

This effort is impressive, and the Democrats deserve credit for pulling it off.

But it also exposes a serious problem for Democrats, something we alluded to in our first post this week. Democrats have a well-oiled political machine, the by-product of being the undisputed majority party in this state for many years. But, their underlying big government platform is out-of-touch with the mainstream.

Massachusetts Democrats might have scored a victory on Tuesday, but they failed to earn a mandate. They used a winning organization to support a losing message. And, in politics, that's a serious problem.

Democrats risk continued vulnerability if they do not moderate their policies, particularly on taxes and spending. If they overplay their hand and continue business as usual, voter frustration will eventually catch up with Democrats, machine or no machine.

Meanwhile, Republicans have an opportunity to build on gains made with Scott Brown's victory and a number of strong (albeit unsuccessful) statewide campaigns this year, not to mention a House caucus that doubled in size on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see how this opportunity is used by GOP officials in coming months.

Blame gets us nowhere

You knew it would happen sooner or later.

The blame game for Tuesday’s election results began today with Worcester GOP committeeman Bill McCarthy assigning fault to Mass GOP party chair Jennifer Nassour. He wants to see her go, and he’s planning to call for her ouster at the next state committee meeting. Check out the Herald story here.

We think this is ridiculous and completely unhelpful to the party’s future success.

It’s true that the Massachusetts GOP weathered heavy losses on Tuesday in the statewide and congressional races.

But they also DOUBLED their numbers in the Massachusetts House of Representatives--an almost unthinkable feat just one year ago. Mr. McCarthy may not be impressed by that, but we certainly are.

We worked on Beacon Hill when the Republican caucus numbered only 16. The idea of adding one or two seats—forget about adding 17 seats—seemed like an impossible dream back then. Nassour certainly deserves credit for this success.

You’ve also got to look beyond Tuesday when measuring Nassour’s success.

Her chairmanship has brought fresh, new life to a Mass GOP that was old, tired and pretty beaten up. Anyone who has attended state committee meetings before and after Jenn became chairwoman will know what we’re talking about. From the night she announced her candidacy for the chairmanship, to the red-carpet style party she threw during the Massachusetts GOP state convention earlier this year, she has brought optimism and enthusiasm back to the Mass GOP.

Sure, the party’s GOTV operation needs work if we want to have a shot against the Dems next time around. But Jenn can get us there, and she deserves another shot.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Hell no, she won't go... least not voluntarily.

Published reports indicate that Nancy Pelosi intends to seek election as Democratic Minority Leader in Congress. This, despite an outright repudiation of Washington and of Pelosi's leadership this past Tuesday as the GOP swept back into control of the House.

For Republicans, Pelosi's arrogance in steadfastly pursuing a leadership role is a post-election gift. Republican candidates spent months scoring points by making Pelosi a symbol of everything that's wrong with Washington, associating her with Obamacare, bailouts and other failed policies. Just when they thought Pelosi wouldn't be around to blame anymore, suddenly, she's back.

However, perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Pelosi's announcement is President Obama. A Pelosi candidacy is an added distraction and another opportunity to point to Congress as the reason for failure in Washington instead of his own administration. If there is any good news for the President in Tuesday's mid-term results, it's that Americans generally blamed Pelosi more than Obama for the nation's problems.

Pelosi's stubbornness does pose a problem for House Democrats, however. Her candidacy itself means they have to answer a question they thought they could avoid after Tuesday's losses; namely, whether they endorse her as leader of the party and its agenda in the House.

If Democrats care about winning in 2012, their answer should be 'no.'

We're blogging.

If you know us, you know that we're both political junkies. It's in our blood.

Tuesday's election results here in Massachusetts weren't exactly what we were hoping for. But, there's a lot more to the story than just who won and who lost.

When we worked on Beacon Hill, just a few years ago, we could take attendance of Republican members by counting them on our fingers. The jokes about Republicans meeting in a phone booth started to have an element of truth. We think this last election cycle shows that things are starting to turn around, and the Republican party is capable of mounting a credible challenge to Democrats.

And we're here to chronicle that change. Welcome to our blog. Our first post is below. Please check back often.

No doubt certain newspapers relished writing delicious headlines on November 3 about the "Republican wave" not reaching Massachusetts.

That’s their spin. Here’s ours.

Don't let the results on Tuesday fool you. The Massachusetts GOP is stronger than it’s been in recent memory. For the first time in a very long time, Republicans offered voters a comprehensive slate of legitimate candidates and positions on issues that resonated with working families.

That scared the Massachusetts Democratic Party into action. But, Democrats did not win on the power of their ideas or the strength of their own candidates, or even their synergy with Bay State voters. They won due to a massive, old-fashioned GOTV machine that went into full-tilt in the waning days of the campaign.

Let's face it: Mary Connaughton should have won. Even the Boston Globe said so, after giving her opponent treatment usually reserved for Republicans. Sean Bielat was able to grab national coverage of his tough fight against Barney Frank. Jim McKenna did the impossible by forcing his way onto the ballot as a write-in candidate for statewide office.

Yet, all three candidates lost. So did Treasurer candidate Karyn Polito, who ran neck-and-neck with her well-financed and well-connected Democratic opponent, Steve Grossman, in the weeks leading up to the election. So did Congressional candidate Jeff Perry, who leveraged conservative principles and an extremely effective campaign organization to come within points of joining Scott Brown in D.C. (Full disclosure – we worked on both the Polito and Perry campaigns.)

What all of these candidates had in common is that the power of their message and the momentum of their campaigns got beaten back by the Democratic GOTV machine when it counted most. Basically, in Massachusetts, the Republican wave ran up against a dam of 800,000 doors knocked on by Democratic volunteers on Election Day.

Democrats deserve credit for this simple yet effective strategy. But Mass. GOP Chair Jennifer Nassour and all the GOP candidates also deserve enormous credit for coming so close to scoring a huge upset victory this year.

And, now we know how to win next time around.