Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lack of budget constitutes epic failure when put into perspective

It amazes us that the Commonwealth still does not have a FY2012 budget in place even though the new fiscal year starts tomorrow, July 1.

Just how amazing is it? Well, we thought it might be useful to put it into perspective by looking at what else has happened in the world while state lawmakers have been working slavishly to finish work on the budget.

First, a quick recap: The House released its budget plan to the public on April 13, 2011. This marked the beginning of formal legislative consideration of the budget. The House passed its version on April 28, and the Senate followed suit on May 26.

April 13, the night the House released its budget, was the same night the 2011 NHL Playoffs started. Since then, the Bruins competed in all playoff rounds and eventually won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1972.

On April 28, when the House passed its budget version, Prince William and the former Ms. Kate Middleton were still single. The royal wedding took place the next day (and it was supposedly being watched on live television by Representative Mark Cusack and others reveling in the House Speaker's Office/Chamber). That same day, jury selection in the corruption trial of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi was just beginning. That trial would last several weeks, until DiMasi would be found guilty of 7 out of 9 charges on June 15 (the same night the Bruins won the Stanley Cup).

The House budget was already passed and sent to the Senate days before the United States found and killed Osama bin Laden (May 1), which ended a manhunt ongoing since 2001, and weeks before the FBI captured fugitive Whitey Bulger (June 22), who had been on the lam since 1995. And both the House and Senate budgets were done deals before tornadoes struck western Massachusetts (June 1) and Sarah Palin visited Boston (June 2).

Yet, despite the fact that the House and Senate budgets were originally heralded upon passage for their frugality and austerity (translation - they didn't really do anything), there is no agreement on their terms many weeks later.

We're sure lawmakers are working tirelessly to complete work on the budget as soon as possible in advance of the upcoming long holiday weekend. Yeah, right. Could a last-minute deal still be reached so lawmakers could called in on the Friday before a long weekend to pass the budget? Oh, the humanity...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The tale of the tape

We could say a lot about what we think of President Obama. But we don't have to. Check out this video we found on YouTube, which pretty much says it all.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Time for Lantigua to step aside

Will somebody please tell Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua that it's time to leave?

Lantigua is under fire on several different fronts.

Things started off poorly for Lantigua, as he initially tried to hold (and get paid) for dual posts as Lawrence's mayor and state representative.

Thankfully, that's over now. But wait, there's much more.

There's an ongoing investigation by state campaign finance officials regarding Lantigua's fundraising.

Then, there's is an ongoing state and federal investigation supposedly looking into towing contracts, nightclub licenses and hackney licenses.

Meanwhile, back at City Hall, there are allegations that several Lantigua family members and romantic interests are on city payroll - and that they might have also improperly accepted fuel assistance.

And, to cap it all off, there's news in the Boston Globe that Lantigua has been sending surplus vehicles to his native Dominican Republic, basically as a thank-you for supporting him in his candidacy for mayor back here in the USA.

All of this, in a city north of Boston that has sky-high unemployment, benefitted from a recent $35 million state loan (bail-out) and receives enormous sums of local aid. Sadly, Lawrence is also a city with a proud industrial heritage and with lots of promise, so it's really tragic to see this happening to the city and its people today.

We're all for innocent until proven guilty, but the allegations against Lantigua are serious, growing, and starting to sound an awful lot like a pattern of corruption.

Will this be the last straw for Lantigua? We certainly hope so. Lawrence needs an extreme makeover, and it should start at the top. Lantigua needs to leave.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where's the pork?

It's interesting that Massachusetts legislators have not approved a final budget for Fiscal Year 2012 yet, despite the fact the fiscal year starts just days away on July 1.

The House and Senate adopted differing versions of the budget weeks ago. Since then, negotiators from both branches have been trying to resolve differences in a conference committee.

But, setting aside questions about the fiscal condition of the Commonwealth and value judgments about how state leaders are choosing to deal with them... the differences between House and Senate budget plans don't seem to be that controversial or substantial. Plus, in recent times, most of the interesting spending has been made mid-year in supplemental appropriation bills, not in the budget itself.

So, what's the hold up?

We're not sure. But, we can guess at several possible reasons.

It's possible that the House and Senate aren't really rushing to reach agreement. That could be out of laziness, or a deliberate attempt to stall and deprive Governor Patrick of a full ten-day window to review the budget before he issues vetoes. Or, perhaps a series of bad stories about the Legislature (Cusack, DiMasi, and now a Bulger in the news) has been distracting.

It's also possible that there is a lot of negotiation going on behind the scenes, but that it's not really about the budget at all. For example, it's possible that budget concessions are being used as chits to negotiate future deals on issues like casino gaming, which has been rumored to be waiting in the wings for later this session.

What's the real reason and when will be get a budget in place? Only time will tell.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Amidst good news, the hidden danger of the “Obama Doctrine”

President Obama addressed the nation on Wednesday night to formally announce his plans to withdraw 33,000 service personnel from Afghanistan by next September, reducing America’s presence in that country by about one-third to 68,000 troops.

Before we say anything else about the President’s speech, we want to make several points very clear. We have the utmost respect and gratitude for America’s military. We honor their commitment, their sacrifice and their accomplishment without qualification. And, we welcome these 33,000 soldiers home with open arms. We also give President Obama credit for honoring a commitment he made at West Point months ago to start drawing down America’s forces from Afghanistan this summer. Absent a compelling reason to continue commitment, America’s presence in Afghanistan needs to end and our troops need to come home so Afghanistan can resolve its own future for itself.

Thus, we support the basic announcement made in President Obama's speech.

However, in an attempt to make the case for bringing US troops home earlier than his top military brass wanted, President Obama made comments that relate more to future American military involvement than to the present decision regarding Afghanistan. We think these comments were unnecessary to sell the President's decision to an American public already predisposed to a reduction of force. And, more importantly, we think the President's comments are harmful to broader US foreign policy in the future. Here's why.

President Obama did not justify America’s troop withdrawal upon a claim that the mission in Afghanistan has been accomplished. He said only that we are "meeting our goals." We think this was a deliberate choice based on three factors. First, it is impossible to claim definitive victory because the mission at stake has not been clearly articulated (by Presidents Bush or Obama) in recent years, particularly as the hunt for Al Qaeda and Usama Bin Laden shifted to Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula. Second, claiming satisfaction of the mission would implicitly require the President to claim that America’s involvement in Afghanistan has rendered America safe, which is a risky proposition even after the killing of Usama Bin Laden and the apparent disruption of Al Qaeda’s network worldwide. Third, politically, President Obama did not want risk a Bush-style "Mission Accomplished" speech in the shadow of what he predicted still would be some future "dark days" in Afghanistan.

This left the President in the unenviable position of risking the perception of a military defeat or a retreat in the absence of a claim of victory. To avoid this conclusion, President Obama deftly attempted to pivot the message in his speech. He claimed that the withdrawal of troops is the result of waning public support for the war and a popular desire to refocus national attention on domestic matters (something President Obama called “nation building at home”). In other words, the President’s speech was not about victory or defeat, it was about shifting priorities. (It also was about building his political base and satisfying concerns expressed by his supporters going into 2012. Check out this link and this link of the President's Communications Director being booed by progressive activists at a recent conference.)

However, this argument alone is not enough to avoid the appearance of a retreat. To convincingly sell the case that America can simply leave Afghanistan because it is growing tired of war, President Obama had to downplay the original justification for America’s involvement in Afghanistan. To make a long story short, Obama told us that America can pull 33,000 troops out of Afghanistan at will because having them in Afghanistan is less important than solving other problems we face as a nation. And, to make this argument, the President was ultimately forced to put America's involvement in Afghanistan into context, which made him extrapolate his view of the Afghanistan conflict to a broader statement of foreign policy.

Thus, for the first time in his presidency, Obama articulated a doctrine for American military involvement overseas.

The Obama Doctrine calls for greater investment to solve domestic problems with a more limited military commitment overseas, employing a responsible investment of resources on a more targeted basis, and acting in concert with other nations.

"Already this decade of war has caused many to question the nature of America's engagement around the world. Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security, and embrace an isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face. Others would have America over-extended, confronting every evil that can be found abroad.

We must chart a more centered course. Like generations before, we must embrace America's singular role in the course of human events. But we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute. When threatened, we must respond with force -- but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas. When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don't have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own. Instead, we must rally international action, which we're doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their own destiny."

Transcript of the President's Address to the Nation, June 22, 2011

This, we believe, is the hidden future danger of Obama’s speech.

We can all agree on certain things. America is a peaceful nation. We seek a peaceful world where people live in harmony sharing a commitment to certain shared values; namely, a respect for human rights, freedom, democratic self-governance, and an open economy with free trade between nations. America has no desire to pick fights across the world. However, there must be a constant realization that our basic world view is not shared universally by all people. Scattered between America’s friends are people across the world who seek to inflict harm on Americans and on the American way of life. With regard to those people, our enemies, the message from America must be powerful, clear and consistent: we claim a unilateral right to act to protect ourselves from all threats, and we will employ whatever means are necessary to combat them.

President Obama undermined both parts of this fundamental foreign policy principle in his speech by calling for targeted involvement as a weapon of choice and by implying that America’s foreign policy is subject to buy-in by a coalition of willing allies. America’s strength and perception as a leader are based on its ability to reserve the right to act – as broadly and forcefully as possible, and alone if necessary – to protect its self-interest. America doesn’t need to ask permission to protect itself, and we don’t need to hold back. Despite the admitted problems we confront today, there is no domestic problem important enough for us to sacrifice these important tenets of our foreign policy.

If we want America to be safe and secure, then it's never a good idea to tell the "bad guys" that we're going to go after them in the future by charting a "more centered course." It would have been far better to simply tell the American people what the President has said before -- that the troop surge worked, so we don't need as many troops in Afghanistan, and some can come home. Period.

Ultimately, we think President Obama needs to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time, and his inability to do so is embarrassing to America. America’s greatest leaders are known for their ability to promote powerful foreign and domestic policies. There can and should be no trade-off between the two, as the future of our nation depends on the strength of both. By admitting that America needs to limit its foreign policy in order to resolve its domestic problems, President Obama has severely compromised America’s place of leadership across the world. He also overplays the success of the daring but small-scale raid that captured Usama Bin Laden and the NATO air campaign in Libya, overestimating their ability to serve as models for future military policy.

Obama's Doctrine is a dangerous message to send to America’s enemies across the world, one which was unnecessary to state in his speech in order to sell the American public on his plan to withdraw troops, and one which simply cannot be ignored amidst the justifiable relief felt by us all as our soldiers come home from Afghanistan this year.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Still no budget

Recent weeks have been chock full of stories about Beacon Hill.

First, there were the stories of Representative Mark Cusack and his alleged late-night State House escapades with colleagues. Then, there was news that former House Speaker Sal DiMasi was found guilty on several federal felony charges.

Here's one thing that hasn't been getting much attention until today: the House and Senate have not yet passed a budget for next fiscal year. And, the clock's ticking -- the state's fiscal year starts on July 1.

Chief on the list of people who should be disappointed by this lack of accomplishment is Governor Deval Patrick. Patrick has a constitutional right to take 10 days to review the budget that will eventually reach his desk and to consider reasons to veto parts of the bill. But, after today, that power erodes as a practical matter as the deadline for a signed budget gets closer with each passing day.

Most of all, though, it's the people of Massachusetts who should be appalled at the lack of meaningful work on Beacon Hill. By our count, there have been only 44 bills signed into law with this year almost half over, and most of those bills are so-called "special acts" like liquor licenses and sick leave banks.

Here's another way to put it into perspective: The House Budget was released on April 13, the same day the Bruins started their postseason drive toward the Stanley Cup. In the intervening weeks, the Bruins did the seemingly impossible, winning several postseason series matchups. On the other hand, the House, well... not so much.

We can only think that recent headlines -- brought upon legislators by themselves -- have been a distraction impeding actual work from getting done. That's just sad.

In the past, many have observed that it's not always a bad thing when the Legislature fails to pass bills. It's a fair point. But, on the other hand, if that's the case, then why do we have a full-time Legislature in the first place?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And the band played on...

By now, you're probably aware of the mysterious case of State Representative Mark Cusack.

According to published reports, Cusack was found in the Chamber of the House of Representatives with a female aide in the wee hours of the morning after the House passed its version of the FY2012 Budget back in April.

Yesterday, House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced that his office had conducted a probe into the incident, which he claims to have been made aware of only last Friday, and that Representative Cusack and the aide had been cleared of having broken any law or institutional rule.

Who knows what Representative Cusack and this aide were doing on the House floor that night. But, following Speaker DeLeo's announcement yesterday, we now know what they were doing immediately before they were alone in the House Chamber in the dark of night.

According to the Speaker -- who reportedly was not personally in the State House at the time of the incident -- the pair snuck into the House Chamber by way of a doorway connected directly to the Speaker's private office, which is adjacent to the Chamber. If you've worked in the House before, like we have, you know that use of this door is a pretty exclusive privilege; few people other than the Speaker and his leadership team are ever allowed into the Speaker's private office, and few of them are allowed access to the floor from there.

Apparently, Cusack and the aide in question were in the Speaker's office partying with a group of lawmakers and staff who were drinking alcohol and celebrating the passage of the budget.

There is so much we could say... So many roads we could go down here...

But, leaving some of those comments aside, we ask this question -- exactly what the heck were these representatives celebrating?

Did these guys get the memo that our state is in what leaders of their own party have called a fiscal crisis? Did they notice that the budget they passed increased state long-term debt service payments by 15%, pushed out the schedule to fund our pension system, and slashed unrestricted local aid to cities and towns by $65 million?

This is cause for celebration? (We highly doubt they were crying in their beer.)

C'mon guys. Get with it. People are hurting out here, and just because the state's problems seem better when you look at them through the bottom of a glass doesn't mean you're doing anything to make them go away.

Just weeks before this incident, Cusack himself told leaders in his district not to fret about the budget because, "We’re up there fighting." Fighting for what? The last brewski?

Notwithstanding the Speaker's measured public comments, Speaker DeLeo must be privately furious over this incident. We're sure this is the last thing the Speaker wanted to deal with at the same time a federal corruption trial against a former House Speaker was on its way to the jury. This incident is tough for an institution trying not to look like it behaves badly. We hope the membership will take heed and clean up its act, not just for their own sake, for the good of the majority of Massachusetts residents who don't get to walk through that secret door.

Friday, June 10, 2011

"All the gossip that's fit to print": "Newspapers" issue open invitation to dime-out Palin

This afternoon, the State of Alaska is making public a huge lot of over 24,000 emails from Sarah Palin dating back to when she was Governor of that state.

We're sure the next few days will be chock full of media reports about crazy, zany things she allegedly said or did in those emails, as is usually the case when the media covers all things Palin.

We leave it to you (or maybe to a future blog post from us) to decide if those reports are fair or unfair.

But we think there's something profoundly unfair and, indeed, odd about how the media plans to cover the email release. According to the political Web site, several major newspapers across the country are enlisting the help of online citizen volunteers to help their reporters sift through the emails that are released. The Washington Post, LA Times and New York Times all reportedly are asking members of the public to notify them if they find anything noteworthy or interesting in the email release.

Here's what the New York Times site says today:

"We’re asking readers to help us identify interesting and newsworthy e-mails, people and events that we may want to highlight. Interested users can fill out a simple form to describe the nature of the e-mail, and provide a name and e-mail address so we’ll know who should get the credit. Join us here on Friday afternoon and into the weekend to participate.

The Washington Post's Obmundsman, meanwhile, is saying this:

Sarah Palin and her e-mails are just too darn irresistible. The day began with an announcement on The Fix that The Post was looking for 100 readers to work in teams to sift through the former Alaska governor’s 24,000 emails, scheduled to be released Friday in Juneau.

The move was clearly an effort at crowd sourcing, the technique of enlisting the help of readers who may know more than journalists do about Alaska and Palin to make sense of the e-mails. And it was an “interactivity play”to get as many readers as possible to be engaged with The Post, particularly online, in a potentially major story.


This is not reporting a story. This is an anti-Palin witch hunt sponsored by major newspapers. This really is what Sarah Palin herself would deem "lame" and "gotcha journalism."

It's kind of sad that these newspapers have sunk to the level of asking their readers to report the news to them. Are these newspapers really doing so poorly that they can't pay their own reporters to do this work for them anymore? If these newspapers are trying to be neutral sources of record on the political landscape, this isn't the way to do it. And, if the story isn't important enough for the papers to cover on their own, why is it important at all?

All of this leads us to believe these newspapers are just looking for gossip. It's tantamount to a free-for-all public dime-out, and we don't like it. Usually, tips from the public are accepted by the newspaper, assigned to reporters, and reporters investigate them independently before printing. Will that happen here if someone contributes more than just a quote from an email, or will it just be printed? The Post specifically says they're looking for people with knowledge of Alaska, presumably to add context and go beyond the primary source documents themselves. Don't they have reporters who can do that work for them?

We don't oppose the posting of these emails. It's public information. Palin said whatever she said in them. We don't even object to reporting on the emails if there's something interesting and relevant in there (although, we note that Palin is currently neither an elected official nor an official candidate for public office, despite her high public visibility).

What we object to is this passive-aggressive way of reporting the news and the bias that underlies it. This is a way for the papers to report what they think is news without having to stand behind it and take responsibility for it. When a newspaper reports something, it's essentially saying the paper thinks it's important enough to report on. But by sourcing (sorry, "crediting") reports to readers, the paper can broadcast facts "innocently." If this what they want to be known for, then they should become a blog.

As we have said many times in the past, you don't have to sympathize with Sarah Palin to object to the media's treatment of her. Every action, every report, sets a precedent. Today it's Palin, tomorrow it will be someone else. In other words, today it might be someone you dislike, but tomorrow it might be someone you support. That's why the question that needs to be asked, and the examination that needs to be made, is objective.

It's not about whether the papers are doing it to a certain person and not someone else. The practice is just wrong, regardless of its target.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

What we're following today

Some days it's easy to come up with a blog post on a single topic. Other days, there's a lot of stuff swirling around our minds, but without any particular ultimate point or common thread. This is one of those days. So, we decided to post some thoughts here.

  • We praise Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick for what continues to be a very visible and hands-on response to the recent tornadoes in Monson and Springfield. Last night, he reportedly surprised graduating seniors by showing up unexpectedly at Monson's high school graduation. Check out Glen Johnson's story on the Governor today. We're Republicans, but we've gotta say: Very classy stuff, Governor. We're impressed.
  • Kudos also go to Mass. Rep. Niki Tsongas, who stands alone in the Massachusetts House delegation in calling yesterday for Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to step down for his... well, we're assuming you know that story.
  • Go Bruins. Awesome.
  • We are really looking forward to Monday night's GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire.
  • A check of the US Debt Clock this morning: US National Debt - $14.419 trillion; $46,287 per person, $129,280 per taxpayer; 97.8% of US GDP. Then, there's this USA Today article from over the weekend, citing $61.6 trillion in unfunded government obligations nationwide, amounting to $527,000 per household. Yikes. And yet, still no deal on the debt ceiling issue or spending cuts.
  • Yesterday, someone anonymously posted a comment in response to our post on the recent OPEC meeting, disagreeing with us calling Libya and Iran terrorist states. Well, thanks for your comment, but no apologies here. We call 'em like we see 'em, and we think this one's a pretty open and shut case. For those who disagree, we ask: exactly why, then, is NATO bombing Libya, and why is President Obama calling for stepped-up sanctions on Iran?
  • While we're on the subject of OPEC, US regular gas prices currently stand at $3.78 a gallon. You can read historical gas prices for yourself at this link.
  • A new report this morning says US jobless claims continue to rise. The US unemployment rate currently stands at 9.1% with 13.9 million people out of work. That's a total jobless population that's more than twice the population of Massachusetts, and almost equivalent to the total population of New England (14,444,865, give or take a couple).
  • If you're not following the sad saga of Lawrence Mayor Willie Lantigua, you should be. Here's the latest from today's Herald.

Ok, that's all for now. Time for an iced coffee and to get back to work on some other things. Keep cool out there, New England, it's fixing to be a hot one.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Oil prices on the rise again, thanks to Iran, Libya and Venezuela

It might be hot outside today, but don't gas up that car for a summer vacation just yet.

Gas prices are about to go up again.

The world's financial markets are in a dither as OPEC ended what some have called its "worst meeting ever." Member nations apparently left the meeting without an agreement to increase oil production, which is already causing oil prices to spike.

CNBC has a story about the meeting on its Web site, which you can read here.

There are lots of things to say about this situation, not the least of which is the crushing effect that a further gas price spike would have on our economy this summer.

But what we want to highlight is the unsettling reality that, according to the CNBC report, the situation at OPEC was the direct result of seven member states who dissented: Libya, Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Venezuela, Iraq and Iran.

Do we even need to mention that there are several terrorist states on this list of nations who directly control the price and availability of one of the most important natural resources in the American economy? NATO countries have been bombing Libya with airstrikes since March. Iran, which holds the OPEC presidency, is under sanctions for developing nuclear weapons. Venezuela is openly critical of the United States. And, then there's Iraq, where American sacrifice has been huge in recent years. Don't they at least kind of owe us one?

Yet, today, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Moamar Gaddafi, Hugo Chavez and others voted to make you pay more for gas this summer.

This is similar to the situation with the US national debt, a large amount of which is held by foreign countries. China alone has over a trillion dollars of US debt holdings (though it recently divested a large chunk of its short-term debt holdings, and has been shifting investment to Japanese long-term debt in recent days).

The sad truth is that much of the United States economy is subject to the control of foreign investors, many of whom are not exactly Uncle Sam's best friends. This isn't a new trend. And, it's not a Republican/Democrat problem. These are American problems, and they require American solutions. We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and trim our domestic spending/debt, so we can be more self-reliant. Fast.

Look, part of the reason why Donald Trump struck a nerve with the American public in his brief and ill-fated flirtation with the presidency is that he was plain-spoken in dealing with these issues. Check out this video. The players and positions at OPEC changed since Trump's speech, but his message was clear and on-point. When you think about it, why is Angola going to tell Americans how much we're going to pay at the gas pumps and how many jobs will be lost due to high gas prices in America this year? Donald Trump might not have been the guy, but don't we need someone to stand up for America at times like this?

So, what's President Obama's next move? What is his plan to get us out from under the thumb of foreign nations? What's the solution for gas prices? Much of the President's recent energy policy has been focused on US pricing, not on foreign countries seeking to impose high prices on us. And, what's the deal going to be on the debt ceiling? The President's recent announcement was to invite Speaker Boehner out for golf. We need bigger action in Washington to solve these problems.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Everybody plays the fool, sometime

In today's electronic age, political candidates bask in the limelight of the media on a near-constant basis. Every move they make, every word they utter is under constant scrutiny. And, usually, they like it because it suits their purposes.

Unfortunately, we're all human. And, when you find yourself in a position like that, it's usually only a matter of time before you make some sort of gaffe, big or little. It's kind of the political equivalent of the old adage, 'If you live by the sword you die by the sword.'

As we see it, that's what happened to Sarah Palin on a recent trip to Boston, where she recounted Paul Revere's midnight ride in a... well, somewhat less than completely scholarly way. And, of course, the press was quick to seize upon it:

Here's the link.

OK. Probably not her best moment. But, we have to take exception with the hoards of comments we've seen over the past few days that claim this video is evidence that Sarah Palin is "stupid."

This isn't a new phenomenon. Take, for example, former Vice President Dan Quayle, whose entire career is remembered by many to this day for the famous incident where he had a problem spelling the word "potato[e]".

If you think about it, why is Palin's experience any different from what happened to President Obama on his recent trip to Westminster Abbey, where he mistakenly signed the guest book with the wrong date (24 May 2008 instead of 24 May 2011).

This is a pretty serious mistake. After all, asking someone "what year is it?" is one of the first questions they ask people after they get hit in the head, just to make sure they don't have a serious brain injury.

Our point is that no one read into the President's mistake. There were comments about it, especially in the blogosphere, but no one seriously questioned his mental capacity, his intelligence, etc. It was just an innocent, fleeting "mistake." No need to invoke the 25th Amendment or anything. Fair enough. But, why is it OK for people to hang on Sarah Palin's statement, four days after it was made, and to raise so many questions about her knowledge of history, her intelligence, etc.?

We're tired of the double standard. We say, people should at least be equal opportunity. If the media is going to give President Obama a pass for his mistake (which even we're willing to concede was just an innocent flub), then Sarah Palin should get the same treatment.

Just for the record, there are reports today that Sarah Palin was actually more right than wrong about her depiction of Paul Revere's midnight ride. Check out this link. Sadly, for President Obama, it ain't 2008 anymore.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Massachusetts rises to the occasion in the face of tragedy

The full impact of this week's wild weather in Western Massachusetts is now becoming fully apparent, and we're finding the images truly shocking.

Storms like these normally don't happen here in Massachusetts. Just look at this YouTube video of the awesome power of the storm as it ravaged Springfield. Incredible.

One of the best representations of the aftermath that we've seen so far is this photo gallery in today's Boston Globe. We found these pictures especially moving - some of them because of the violent power of Mother Nature they showed, and others because of the equally strong power of human compassion they depicted.

Our hearts go out to all of the victims of this tragedy as they try to get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.

We also give credit to a very impressive response by state officials to the situation, including by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Much like he did during the MWRA broken pipe crisis, Patrick is showing himself to be a capable manager of a crisis in this situation, and we give him credit for being hands-on and on-the-scene.

We also want to thank members of the media for their role in protecting the public during the storm. We're news junkies, and we have to admit we had been following the recent severe weather outbreak as it tore across the country. Much like their mid-western counterparts we watched livestraming in recent weeks, local meteorologists were on-the-job telling people to keep an eye to the sky and to hunker down when storms got close. We watched NECN meteorologist Matt Noyes all afternoon, and there's no doubt in our minds that his attentiveness and on-air warnings saved lives in this storm. Kudos to him and his colleagues for a great job.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

ComMITTed to winning in 2012

It's official. Mitt Romney is officially a candidate for President in 2012.

Romney's formal entrance into the 2012 race is good news for the Republican Party. The GOP is in dire need of a candidate with Romney's credentials in the field.

We liked the tone of today's announcement. Romney's 2012 campaign started outside on a sunny farm in New Hampshire with country music playing, the candidate in rolled-up shirt sleeves dishing out chili with his hair whipping in the wind. It's a stark and welcome difference from 2008, when a formally-dressed and perfectly-coiffed Romney announced his previous candidacy from inside a darkened, stage-lit Henry Ford Museum.

At the same time, Romney's speech today showed that he is willing to talk tough about where President Obama is failing, and that's also a good thing. We think Romney stands an excellent chance of winning the GOP nomination. He's got great name recognition, his fundraising is good, and he has a record of success in the private sector.

Off to the races.