Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Crime and Politics in the Bay State

Just two weeks into the New Year, Bay State residents were horrified to hear the news that a 13-year-old boy, on his way to choir practice in Roxbury, was shot in the stomach.

Governor Deval Patrick and other leaders decried the violence and said they would address it with action. That's why it was so disappointing to hear about Patrick's latest initiatives in today's papers.

At the same time the Governor is pushing for tougher rules on the purchase of firearms in Massachusetts, he is also appointing Steve Tompkins, a former public relations official in state government who has no experience as a police officer or corrections officer, to manage the largest county correctional system in the state (taking the place of former Sheriff Andrea Cabral, who recently left her post to join Patrick's cabinet).

"It's a political job," said the Governor, "so the folks that are criticizing it as a political hire, tell them they're right."

We're not sure what's more brazen, making the appointment in the first place or coming right out and admitting the political nature of it in public. It's as if he's daring his political opponents to challenge him -- knowing, full well, that the only thing weaker than his rationale for making the appointment is the barely-audible chorus of opposition he's likely to hear questioning his moves in this true-blue state. It also strikes us as incredibly hypocritical to be talking about tougher gun laws one day and filling one of the state's top law enforcement jobs with a political appointment the next.

Somebody needs to stand up and remind the Governor that the reason why there is an interim Sheriff in the first place is because there is important public safety work to be done by the county's top correctional official. For the next two years, the work of superintending some of the city's worst felons will be done by someone whose specialty is government and public relations. If Patrick is treating it as such a throw-away job, why do we need it in the first place?

If the Governor wants us to believe he's serious about doing something to crack down on crime and violence, then he will have to try harder to come up with solutions we can take seriously. This appointment fails the test. It makes no sense, and it's result of a political calculation instead of anything that has to do with public safety.

We're tired of seeing these "interim appointments" doled out as if they are gifts to friends, even when they deal with sensitive areas like public safety. The same applies to the expected vacancy in the U.S. Senate to be left open if/when Senator Kerry is appointed to serve as Secretary of State.

Somebody needs to remind Governor Patrick that the only political hires that should be made in this state are by the voters at the ballot box.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

'Watch out taxpayers, they're coming for your wallets'

Meredith Warren was a guest on NECN's Morning Show this morning, where she talked about Governor Deval Patrick's State of the Commonwealth address:

Video Link

Monday, January 14, 2013

And the Golden Globes went to… the political gutter

You knew how it was going to go from the very beginning, with all of the references to Sarah Palin and the like.

Last night's Golden Globes show was a full-on display of how political, and how overtly-liberal, Hollywood has become.

It wasn't surprising. But, it was disappointing.

It's more than just the fact that most of the works in contention for awards last night were political in nature (Argo, Game Change, Political Animals, Lincoln, even Les Miserables).

It's that nearly everyone, from the hosts, to the introducers, to the award recipients, felt the need to politicize the evening and to make a connection between art and political life.

We wonder, was last night really intended to showcase and recognize acting talent, or was it to praise and reward those who successfully mocked Republicans on the Silver Screen?

Take, for example, Jay Roach, director of the movie Game Change. He praised HBO for its support of the movie, which he said earned HBO the title "Huge Brave Operation".

Apparently, what Roach meant was that HBO deserved credit for helping to mock Sarah Palin and her campaign. Roach said, "With you and Tina Fey, we now have the three most incredible impersonations of Sarah Palin, counting Sarah Palin". He was talking, of course, about fellow award recipient Julianne Moore, who played Palin in the movie and who took the opportunity to "give a shout out to two people who I think made a significant difference in the 2008 election – Tina Fey and Katie Couric".

It's almost amusing how obsessed Hollywood is with Sarah Palin. Most of the rest of America has already moved on. Then again, maybe it's not surprising, considering many in the room last night and others in their industry have made a lot of money poking fun at Sarah Palin and her family. (And then, of course, there are the rest of the people in the room, who made their fortunes making shoot-em-up violent movies and now want more gun control. But, that's for another post.)

Sadly, it appears to be in vogue to make fun of women like Palin who have the courage to run for elective office, even when you're in an industry that normally prides itself in supporting rights for women in society. And everyone who supports women's rights should be ashamed by that.

We wonder what Lena Dunham, who won two awards for her role in HBO's comedy Girls, thought of all this. She herself starred in a 2012 Obama for America campaign ad, "Your First Time," where (in the context of comparing voting to losing her virginity), she said she wanted to vote for someone who cares about women.

Dunham, of course, wasn't the top Democrat in the room. In fact, not even Eva Longoria, outspoken 2012 National Co-chair for Obama for America, could claim that honor. That award went to Bill Clinton, who was called upon to introduce clips from the movie Lincoln. In so doing, Clinton invoked Lincoln's legacy to encourage Democrats and Republicans to work together. We're thinking Lincoln himself wouldn't take kindly to having his legacy being used to encourage Republicans to give in to Democrats on the debt ceiling. But it was.

We know some people will tell us to lighten up, that it's just entertainment. But one man's entertainment is another man's political intolerance. Imagine if you replaced Republicans with any other group as the butt of all the jokes last night. There would be widespread (justifiable) disapproval. But, since it's Hollywood, and it's Republicans, it's OK. We think that's unfortunate. And, as Republicans, we just don't feel welcome anymore.

If Hollywood is going to talk politics, let's make it equal opportunity. Otherwise, it's just gratuitous piling on, and there's nothing funny about that.

We're going to think twice about dropping money on tickets to the next Steven Spielberg or Tom Hanks movie. These days, it seems like you're just making a direct donation to the Democratic Party, and we're not in a giving mood.