Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Globe's selective eye for negativity

I am not sure which is worse: the inevitable onslaught of political advertising that is already ramping up over a year before the 2012 election, or the endless media tut-tutting about "negative" ads that has already started.  

Boston Globe headline this morning: "Deceptive campaign ads hint at year of mudslinging."  Regular television viewers in the Globe's market could be forgiven the assumption that they were about to read about the ongoing saturation smear campaign by the League of Conservation voters against Senator Scott Brown.  But no.  This is the Globe, sillies.  The LCV's unprecedented multi-million dollar out-year pummeling of our incumbent Senator, featuring a barn coat clad actor tooling around DC in a smog-belching pick up truck, casually tossing litter out the windows, smearing oily hand prints across the face of our pristine Capitol city - those ads raised nary a hackle at the Globe.  It is the comparatively gentle Romney ad - his first of the cycle - that naturally has our local adjunct of the DNC's communications shop all in a dither:
Romney’s ad, his first of the campaign, shows a clip of Obama saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.’’ What the ad fails to mention is that the clip is from Obama in 2008, quoting an aide to his GOP rival, John McCain.

“The fact that you could completely undercut somebody’s meaning in order to serve your own ends is, frankly, in my mind, borderline criminality,’’ Totten said. “The problem is there is no one there to be the official referee. There is no umpire in the game.’’
Here's the ad:



Pretty much the whole left of center world agrees the ad is "deceptive." Google "Romney ad" and "deceptive" and you'll get just north of 8,000 hits.Why?  Well, because in 2008 when candidate Obama said "If we keep talking about the economy, we're gonna lose," he was quoting John McCain!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Top 10 Reads of the Week – Black Friday Edition (November 25, 2011)

The Grover Norquist Tax Myth – Charles Krauthammer [Washington Post]

Democrats are unanimous in charging that the debt-reduction supercommittee collapsed because Republicans refused to raise taxes. Apparently, Republicans are in the thrall of one Grover Norquist, the anti-tax campaigner, whom Sen. John Kerry called “the 13th member of this committee without being there.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid helpfully suggested “maybe they should impeach Grover Norquist.”

With that, Norquist officially replaces the Koch brothers as the great malevolent manipulator that controls the republic by pulling unseen strings on behalf of the plutocracy.

Nice theory. Except for the following facts… Read the Rest

Anarchy in the USA – Matthew Continetti [Weekly Standard]

Ever since September, when activists heeded Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn’s call to Occupy Wall Street, it’s become a rite of passage for reporters, bloggers, and video trackers to go to the occupiers’ tent cities and comment on what they see. Last week, the day after New York mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the NYPD to dismantle the tent city in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, the New York Times carried no fewer than half a dozen articles on the subject. Never in living memory has such a small political movement received such disproportionate attention from the press. Never in living memory has a movement been so widely scrutinized and yet so deeply misunderstood.

If income equality is the new political religion, occupied Zuccotti Park was its Mecca. Liberal journalists traveled there and spewed forth torrents of ink on the value of protest, the creativity and spontaneity of the occupiers, the urgency of redistribution, and the gospel of social justice. Occupy Wall Street was compared to the Arab Spring, the Tea Party, and the civil rights movement. Yet, as many a liberal journalist left the park, they lamented the fact that Occupy Wall Street wasn’t more tightly organized. They worried that the demonstration would dissipate without a proper list of demands or a specific policy agenda. They suspected that the thefts, sexual assaults, vandalism, and filth in the camps would limit the occupiers’ appeal… Read the Rest

Why there’s a debt stalemate – Robert Samuelson [Washington Post]

We haven’t had the robust democratic debate about the role of government that lies at the heart of America’s budget stalemate. The truth is that most Democrats and Republicans want to avoid such a debate because it would force them into positions that, regardless of ideology, would be highly unpopular. This does not mean that the congressional supercommittee, charged with making modest cuts in deficits, need fail. There is a basis for honorable compromise. Squandering it — as seems increasingly likely — would confirm politicians’ preference for fighting over governing.

Contrary to much press coverage, the committee’s Republicans opened the door to compromise by abandoning — as they should have — opposition to tax increases. Sen. Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania proposed a tax “reform” that would raise income taxes by $250 billion over a decade. First, he would impose across-the-board reductions of most itemized deductions and use the resulting revenue gains to cut all tax rates. Next, he would adjust the rates for the top two brackets so that they’d be high enough to produce the $250 billion. All the tax increase would fall on people in the top brackets… Read the Rest

They didn’t fail – they succeeded in doing nothing – John Podhoretz [NY Post]

The “supercommittee” has failed, or so we’re told. This group of six Democrats and six Republicans from the House and Senate couldn’t come up with $1.5 trillion in spending cuts and tax hikes to circumvent automatic draconian cuts to federal spending (to national defense in particular).

Now those cuts will occur. Or maybe they won’t, since none of this will take effect until the start of 2013. But it’s just awful anyway — a sign of incredible dysfunction in Washington. Our system is broken!

Oh, no, it isn’t. The supercommittee wasn’t a failure. It was a success, despite what everybody has said, is saying and will continue to say… Read the Rest

Thank You, Grover Norquist – Editors [Wall Street Journal]

So it's all Grover Norquist's fault. Democrats and the media are singing in unison that the reason Congress's antideficit super committee has failed is because of the conservative activist's magical antitax spell over Republicans.

Not to enhance this Beltway fable, but thank you, Mr. Norquist. By reminding Republicans of their antitax promises, he has helped to expose the real reason for the super committee's failure: the two parties disagree profoundly on a vision of government… Read the Rest

The Only Way to End Gridlock in Washington is for Obama to Run a Negative Campaign – Ed Kilgore [The New Republic]

[From the “good to know what the other side is thinking” file…]

Rebutting the main argument in Doug Schoen and Patrick Caddell’s latest travesty of an op-ed column (“The Hillary Moment,” in Monday’s Wall Street Journal) would be a pretty egregious example of shooting fish in a barrel. Their idea that Barack Obama should abruptly shut down his re-election campaign so that Democrats can run the Secretary of State is both ludicrous and pointless, aside from the fact that neither of these two Fox Democrats comes to the topic in good faith.   

On the other hand, Schoen and Caddell build their dumb and disingenuous argument on a premise that is accepted in better company than their own: that if Obama wins with a “negative campaign” focusing on the extremism of the Republican Party, he will make his second term a shambles, marked only by increased partisanship as insulted conservatives refuse to cooperate with his agenda. But this premise is as equally flawed as the other arguments the duo put forward. Win or lose, the kind of Obama campaign that Schoen and Caddell bemoan may, in fact, be the only way to end the polarization and gridlock and make governing in Washington possible again… Read the Rest

If you assume that the stimulus created jobs, then it’s a safe bet you’ll find that the stimulus created jobs – Pete Suderman [Reason]

That’s because, as I’ve noted so many times before, the reports rerun slightly updated versions of the same models of that were used to estimate that the stimulus would create jobs prior to the law’s passage. And lo and behold, if you create a model that predicts the law will create jobs, and then you rerun a mild variation of that model a few years later using updated figures about what money was actually spent, it still reports that the stimulus created jobs. But there’s no counting here, no real-world attempt to assess the reality of the stimulus—just a model that assumes that stimulus spending will create jobs and therefore reports that stimulus spending has in fact created jobs… Read the Rest

A World of Gifts – Rich Lowry [New York Post]

Eventually social science works its way around to confirming eternal verities. So it is with gratitude.

An article in a psychological journal a few years ago noted that “throughout history, religious, theological and philosophical treatises have viewed gratitude as integral to well-being.” Psychology has recently worked to quantify the wisdom of the ages and confirmed — sure enough — it was correct… Read the Rest

The NLRB Putsch – Editors [Wall Street Journal]

The descent of the National Labor Relations Board from independent referee to a wholly owned AFL-CIO subsidiary is speeding up. Now its two Democratic appointees are attempting to ram through a new rule requiring quickie organizing elections, with barely any notice and little consultation with its sole GOP member.

Once a sleepy, ostensibly independent agency, the NLRB has become the point of the spear for Democratic labor policy since Republicans took the House last year. Earlier this year its general counsel sued to block Boeing from making its planes at a new plant in South Carolina, a case that is still proceeding and could kill thousands of jobs… Read the Rest

Best Chart I Saw This Week

How did Europe get in so much debt trouble?  This chart says it all – James Pethokoukis [The American – Enterprise Blog]]

Unchanging Science – Joseph Bottum and William Anderson [Weekly Standard]

In retrospect, we probably should have paid more attention when, around 2005, activists shifted their primary vocabulary from global warming to climate change to describe the impact of human beings on this biosphere we call the Earth. Both phrases had been around for a while, of course. Global warming got its modern start back in 1975, when the journal Science published a feature asking, “Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” In one form or another, climate change has been in use since the physicist Joseph Fourier wrote of the greenhouse effect in the 1820s.

For that matter, both are unexceptionable meteorological terms with reasonably clear meanings: global warming a particular species or instantiation of general changes in the globe’s climate. The public purpose of those words, however​—​the political intent: That was a different thing altogether. For decades, global warming seemed a powerful, dynamic term to use​—​an apocalyptic phrase that summoned a grim vision of the eschaton, our world reduced to a lifeless wasteland. The only trouble was that it required the world to be, you know, warming. Constantly. A cold winter, and people started to wonder. A chilly spring, and people started to doubt… Read the Rest

The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Governor on LG Murray: Calling B.S.

Governor Patrick went on Fox Boston this morning for a wide-ranging interview.  Of course he got questions about Michael McLaughlin, the Chelsea housing authority mess, and especially Lt. Governor Tim Murray's suspicious relationship with McLaughlin.  I was at the gym on a treadmill at the time.  On the off-chance that any of my gym-mates read this, I apologize.  I know my frequent heavy sighs, grunts, gasps and just-under-the-breath cursing must have been more than a little bit disconcerting.

 Here's the entire interview.



Secure Communities / Matthew Denice?  He "wishes he'd known" he was going to be asked about that, because he's forgotten some of the details.  Here is a refresher on those details, which are are horrible/horrifying today as the day they were first reported.  And here's why everything the Governor said today on the topic is B.S.  Every.  Single. Thing.  Governor Patrick is a smart guy.  Even if he's forgotten some of the details of the Denice case, surely he spent enough time honing his talking points a couple of months ago when it was leading the news to know that they are B.S.  But there he sits and repeats them.

On the Murray/McLaughlin connection the B.S. was spread even thicker. 

How can the Governor possibly defend an average of three calls a week with a guy who is very evidently corrupt (and apparently has had a less than stellar reputation for quite some time)?  Here's his response:
 The lieutenant governor is in touch with local authorities all the time and thank goodness that he is because that’s a very important function of our office in general... People know at housing authorities, at veterans’ services organizations, in homelessness organizations, that if they need some help from state government they can go right to the lieutenant governor.
That's awesome.  "People know... that if they need some help from state government they can go right to the lieutenant governor."

"Help!!  My son has an OUI record but he wants to work at the Registry!!"  or

"Help!!  The Globe is calling about the hundreds of thousands of public dollars I've been secretly socking away!"

Yes, the LG is a helpful guy, no doubt.  "And thank goodness that he is..."

Pressed on the sheer volume of calls - interviewer Kim Kerrigan observed that she cannot think of anyone with whom she speaks with that kind of frequency other than maybe her husband - Patrick fell back on the completely bogus "phone tag" line that he used a few days ago.  "You should see the games of phone tag that we play."

B.S.  Total B.S.  Neither the Governor nor the Lt. Governor plays "phone tag" with local officials.  A local official who wants to speak with either of them calls his office, speaks to his scheduler, and schedules a call. Simple.  No "tag" necessary.

It's piling up.
Look at the premise the Governor wants us to buy here.  He'd have us believe that there is nothing unusual about multiple weekly cell phone conversations between the LG and a municipal housing official.  Par for the course - just the LG doing his job, responding to calls for "help." And he'd likewise have us believe that for each such conversation, multiple rounds of "phone tag" are standard OP.  Hundreds - maybe thousands - of town and city officials across the Commonwealth, all free to "go right to the lieutenant governor," all playing "phone tag."  Golly.  No wonder Tim Murray has to go driving at 4:00 in the morning to decompress. He must never get off the phone.

The best possible explanation here is that in fact LG Murray had an unusually close relationship with a guy who it turns out was a pretty serious crook, and he (Murray) knew nothing about McLaughlin's systematic theft of public money.  That's not a great story for the Administration, but it is at least a plausible and straightforward one.

The Governor's insistence on spinning completely nonsensical fairy tales only gives rise to wholly justified suspicions that there is more to the relationship than is currently known.

"Predictable as the tides"

Here's something I wrote a week ago yesterday, in a post about the volatile (yet entirely predictable) Republican primary
Sometime in the next week or so media leading lights will start to wonder out loud when Jon Huntsman is going to get his turn to surge. Shortly thereafter, Jon Huntsman will get his turn to surge. Predictable as the tides.
And here's a Boston.com headline this morning, over an article about last night's GOP debate:
Jon Huntsman excels in foreign policy debate; Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney clash on immigration
Hilarious. At this point the only reason Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are hanging in is the sure and certain knowledge that if they just stick around long enough, eventually each will get his turn as the media's flavor of the week.

Patiently waiting their turns

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Never let it be said Governor Patrick doesn't have a sense of poetry

Fresh off his signing of the casino bill, Governor Patrick headed this afternoon to historic Plimouth Plantation - intentionally or unintentionally highlighting the stark contrast between the Massachusetts he inherited and the one he is helping to create.

The gov's deputy press secretary is tweeting photos, one of which has the Gov huddling inside a replica Wampanoag Wetu house.  I took the liberty of assuming a little bit of topical dialogue.


WBZ radio needs an editorial reboot

I listen to WBZ radio nearly every weekday morning during my commute.  There is something comforting about its unvarying routine: weather on the tens, traffic on the threes, and in between a pretty good overview of the headlines of the day.  After a couple of cycles it gets repetitive and I flip to WRKO or Dennis & Callahan, but 'BZ is a pretty good early morning substitute for trying to read the paper while driving (which I'm told is contraindicated). 

The 'straight news' that WBZ provides has always been a little bit biased to my Massachusetts Republican ears.  For the last six years their news readers have fawned over Governor Patrick with as much ardor as anyone else in the Boston press corps.  But in context, with the morning 'news' (as opposed to 'news talk') alternative being WBUR, 'BZ has usually been palatable. 


Lately though  I am more and more frequently exclaiming aloud in my lonely car at some of the things that emanate from my radio.  Two examples from just this morning:

First, like everyone else in the Boston media it seems, WBZ has a burr in its collective saddle about Mitt Romney.  I don't honestly know from where comes this uniformly high degree of simmering hostility.  Mike Dukakis ran for President too, after all, but the Duke (when he pops up) doesn't get the audible sneer that characterizes most any coverage of Mitt.  This little bit this morning, though, went beyond the norm and into self-parody. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Looking Into the Casino Crystal Ball: Predictions

So now that the casino bill is done, destined for a quick signature  (strike that, replace with 'signed') by the Governor after a perfunctory review, it makes sense to take stock of the various predictions and promises offered up by gaming proponents in their successful drive to bring a little bit of scenic Atlantic City to our doorsteps, and to offer some predictions about how all of this is likely to play out.

1. Licensing Fees:  Proponents - including the casino champs Governor and Speaker DeLeo - estimate that each of the three regional casinos authorized by the bill that passed this week will garner an initial licensing fee of at least $85 million.  This is already a steep discount from the $200 million per license floor that was promised during the first Patrick Administration go-round on casinos.  Why?  Simple: because the economy stinks, and even though it will improve eventually, more and more states keep legalizing casino gaming.  With each new potential market, the amount a developer will be willing to pay to break into any one of them will drift inexorably lower.

2.  Revenues: We're promised anywhere from $300 to $500 million per year in casino revenues.  One word: Ha!  Not likely.  Same reason as above, only this time it won't be the developers who are stretched thin across the suddenly casino-studded landscape.  There are only so many people out there who are inclined to spend their time losing money in casinos.  If the market is not already saturated (and the sagging fortunes of Connecticut's casinos and Rhode Island's gaming facilities suggest it may be), then it will be soon.

3.  Jobs: Casino proponents, including the Governor, the Senate President and the Speaker, have promised 15,000 permanent jobs.  Recently the Globe reported that in Pennsylvania, ten full-scale casinos employ exactly that number of people.  We're planning three.  Math.  Look for pols to start referring to jobs "saved or created," and shortly thereafter to use the jobs shortfall as a rationale for more casinos (see next prediction).

This box can't open just a crack
4.  Before Long There Will Be More Than Three: A big selling point in Governor Patrick's early pitch was that casino licenses in Massachusetts will be limited to three (plus one "slots parlor").  We won't end up like California, with a sad, tacky little casino storefront at every interstate rest stop.  Pandora's Box can be opened but a crack.  NonsenseAccording to the Globe, there are already at least ten casino developers eying various locations across the Commonwealth, with more expected to jump into the fray as the highly-political and contentious local battles over the license bidding process heat up next year.  Three of these will get their licenses, and their casinos.  The others will sue, and eventually they will win. Even if they don't (or perhaps before they get a chance), politicians disappointed by the failure of revenue and jobs projections for three casinos to live up to expectations (see points 1-3 above) will quickly decide to double down - and will repeat their fanciful predictions in justification of the next round of licenses.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Know what WE don't appreciate, Governor?

So it turns out that Lt. Governor Tim Murray was pretty tight with Michael McLaughlin, the Chelsea housing official currently under federal investigation for finagling (and failing to report) a whopping $360,000 salary, and then snatching another $200K on his way out the door.  If you don't know what I'm typing about, read this and this before you continue.  

Specifically, Murray and McLaughlin were apparently phone buddies.  McLaughlin's cell phone records  show more than eighty calls between the two over the past seven months (and that's just the cell phone).

Yesterday Murray, joined by a testy Governor Patrick, argued that there is nothing inappropriate or even unusual about Murray's relationship with a crook.  Let's unpack their defense.

 

First, there's the "just doing my job" line.  McLaughlin was a housing official.  Housing policy is in Murray's issue portfolio.  What's the issue?  From Boston.com:
“Part of my portfolio is working with local officials - elected and appointed and others. I have dozens of phone calls on a day-to-day basis with lots of officials across the state including Mr. McLaughlin,” Murray explained.

Murray said he was outraged to learn McLaughlin’s true salary, which may be the highest for any public housing official in the United States.

McLaughlin “was a political supporter. As I said, he’s someone on housing issues that I would talk to from time to time, but I was not aware of the full extent of his contract, like everyone else, until that Globe article appeared on” Oct. 30, Murray told reporters. “He misled me. He misled other people. I’m disappointed. I’m frustrated, and I’m angry.”

 This defense relies on the (safe and reasonable) assumption that 99.9% of the voting population has no idea whatsoever what the Lt. Governor does, and therefore no basis to question the proposition that it is perfectly normal for him to chat an average of three times a week with a single local official.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Top 10 Reads of the Week – November 18, 2011

Liberals Playing to Type – Yuval Levin [Weekly Standard]

And now, as the fourth year of the Obama administration approaches, we find ourselves confronted with the reincarnation of perhaps the most damaging liberal type of all: the snarky, pseudo-alienated, disheveled young protester. There is much to complain about regarding Wall Street and its cozy relationship with the government, but the Occupy Wall Street protesters do not seem to have a clear idea of what that complaint might be, or what should be done about it. They seem increasingly to give vent, instead, to a vague unfocused ennui, unaware that their bizarre reenactment of their professors’ wistful exaggerations of the 1960s threatens to offend a great many Americans whose cultural memories extend further back than the invention of the iPod.

As the Occupy Wall Street movement has gradually turned ugly in recent weeks, the Democrats who had earlier associated themselves with the protests have no doubt begun to recognize the peril in which they have put themselves and their party by even tacitly encouraging the resurrection of this most disagreeable liberal type. They have yet to fully grasp, however, just how much damage the simultaneous reemergence of so many harmful and unpleasant aspects of the modern left may yet do to the Democrats in 2012… Read the Rest

The EPA’s Reliability Cover-Up – Editors [Wall Street Journal]

Some 830,000 Connecticut customers are only now having their power restored after a snowstorm knocked out the state's grid last month—but the Environmental Protection Agency continues to claim that its regulatory agenda won't degrade U.S. electric reliability. The reality is that the EPA's own staffers are—or used to be—worried, and their political superiors have erased the warnings.

In recent months, concerns have been growing that the agency's torrent of new air-pollution rules will lead to blackouts or to the rolling outages that crisscrossed California and Arizona in September. Yet the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has continued its "who's on first" routine to avoid its mandate to protect electric grid reliability, while the EPA is trying to rush out a new utility rule that on paper will reduce mercury and other emissions but is really designed to close coal-fired power plants… Read the Rest

California’s high-speed rail system is going nowhere fast – Editors [Washington Post]

THINGS JUST WENT from bad to worse for high-speed passenger rail in California. After the Golden State’s voters approved a $9 billion bullet-train bond issue in 2008, officials said they could build an 800-mile system by 2020, for $35.7 billion. The cost projection now, as issued by the state Nov. 1: $98.5 billion, with a completion date of 2033.

Time to pull the plug, right? Not according to Gov. Jerry Brown (D). The new “business plan is solid and lays the foundation for a 21st-century transportation system,” he said. Equally upbeat, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood offered Mr. Brown his congratulations on “a sound, step-by-step strategy for building a world-class high-speed rail network.”… Read the Rest

Jobs?  Who cares? – Editors [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

President Barack Obama has been on a seemingly non-stop, jobs-themed re-election tour for months. Yet he just postponed for at least an additional two years the creation of thousands of high-paying, private-sector jobs building a pipeline to bring $15-a-barrel Canadian oil to American refineries. The political cynicism here is stupefying.

The $7 billion, 1,700-mile Keystone XL project, proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada, would carry oil derived from Alberta tar sands to refineries in Texas.

It's a private project. Unlike solar and wind farm boondoggles, no federal subsidy would have been sought. Much of the pipe is already sitting in warehouses. It would be hard to envision a more "shovel-ready" project -- nor one better suited to reduce America's dependence on far more expensive oil imported from hostile foreign lands… Read the Rest

Obama not the man America voted for – John Steele Gordon [New York Daily News]

A year out from the election finds President Obama in parlous political circumstances. The poor economy he inherited has been very slow to recover, with unemployment stuck above 9% and long-term unemployment at record post-war levels. The housing sector, where most people’s personal wealth is concentrated, remains mired in deep recession.

Although the President had overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress in his first two years, he has only two major legislative achievements to his credit: the stimulus bill and Obamacare. But the first is widely perceived as both a total failure — the administration said it would keep unemployment under 8% — and motivated more by politics than economics. Its $800 billion was directed towards public service union members and liberal causes, such as “green energy,” rather than economic recovery… Read the Rest


Thursday, November 17, 2011

This wacky, crazy, zany Republican primary

Most of us live primarily in the moment.  It is hard to bring historical perspective to bear on the day-to-day.  That's why even President Obama is able to say with a straight face, as he frequently does, that his Administration has faced 'unprecedented' challenges.  Some (Lincoln, FDR, Grant, Truman, Ford...) might quibble, but whatever - the president is entitled to his perceptions.

I keep hearing that the ongoing Republican primary is like nothing we've ever seen before.  The word "crazy" is used a lot, to describe both the electorate's volatility and some of the candidates.  People who say this, it seems to me, forget that within the past decade John Kerry shared a stage with both Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton.  They forget that in a pre-DVR age, a Saturday Night Live writer who missed a general election debate involving Ross Perot might as well have hung up his satirist's pen.

Part of the problem is that there are too many debates this year - too many by orders of magnitude.  At the rate they are proliferating can two-a-days be far off?    They are working for my guy, generally speaking, both because he is doing a great job and because his opponents keep using the debates as opportunities to self-immolate in public.  But it's still too much.  If anyone were watching beyond the most hard core Republicans and slightly unhinged political junkies I'd worry about a 'pox on all their houses' effect, but hardly anyone is watching.  Except those satirists.  They love this year's debate schedule.

Most people - even most Republicans, I think - are aware of the debates only by proxy.  We see clips on the news and read the headlines.  '[Candidate X] Wins!' or '[Candidate Y] collapses!'  Occasionally   '[Candidate Z] commits worst gaffe in debate history!' and we all run to YouTube and giggle at the carnage.  The point is that for most of us, "our" impressions of how the debates - and therefore the primary - are going aren't really "ours" at all.  They are a distillation of the impressions of the media figures to whom we pay attention, who we trust to sit through the damned things on our behalf.

That might explain both the polling volatility and the utter and complete predictability of that volatility.  I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the Republicans responding to these polls, whoever they are, are consciously or unconsciously asking themselves a question before stating a candidate preference: "Let's see... who have I heard the most about this week?"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Casinos: that's gotta be some kind of record

Take a look at this screen capture from Boston.com:


3:01 p.m.: Mass. House passes casino bill... The Senate is expected to vote on the proposal as early as today."

3:30 p.m.: Mass. Senate votes to debate casino gambling bill.

That's gotta be some kind of legislative speed record, even in a state legislature famous for the last minute lawmaking luge.  The only real question is: how ever did they herd the Senators into the chamber so fast?  My bet is on a well-timed rumor of free muffins.

Both chambers still have to take one more procedural vote each, to "enact" the final bill and send it on to the Governor.  But this thing is done.  

Anyone inclined to agitation over the half-day turnaround between conference bill and tying the thing with a bow should note that our esteemed legislature had no choice.  They had to ram this thing through to passage, you see, because they are up against their "mid-week deadline" to wrap things up before their two month "holiday recess" begins.  And it isn't just the casino bill accelerating to warp speed, mind you.  They also have "pension reform" and redistricting to get through. Oh, and human trafficking/parole.  And a bill that is vastly important to the infinitesimally small percentage of the population with gender identity issues.  So it's a tough, tough week.  Lots to do before recess, and of course they have to squeeze in snack time too (union rules).

They are smack up against this hard deadline with so much to do because, well, because.... um...  Because they couldn't do any of this at any point in the past six months because of the, uh... [cough].  I'm sorry.  I've just got all this stuff twirling around in my head.  What were we talking about?

A cynic might assume that leadership does this - holds complex legislation in secret until the very last minute - to provide a ready excuse for a sprint to roll call that conveniently deprives opponents of any possible chance to impact the final vote.   There's no time to release the bill for public review, you see.  They have a deadline.  They have to get it done now.  So sorry.  But that would be cynical.  I prefer to think our legislative leadership are just congenitally poor managers of time.  No fault of their own.

I suppose congratulations are in order.  Looks like Governor Patrick has his legacy item.  After eight years in the big chair, his most significant, indelible mark upon the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts will be three craptastic, blinking, dinging and pinging, 24-hour gaming megaplexes, sited in three yet-to-be-determined communities (whether they and their neighbors like it or not) that will be forever altered by their presence.  Well done.  Hope n' Change. Together We Can (budget tens of millions annually to ameliorate the personal and societal impacts of gambling addiction).

Sorry.  I've been in a foul mood since this morning.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Remember the casino bill?

You know, the one taken by a conference committee behind closed doors a couple of weeks back? Well, it is done. From the State House News:
House and Senate negotiators agreed to a pact Monday that sets the stage for final approval of legislation to bring three casinos and a slots-only facility to Massachusetts.
The bill, which is expected to easily clear both branches of the Legislature, could reach Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk as early as Tuesday afternoon, and Patrick has indicated he supports the broad framework of the bill. If lawmakers pass the plan this week, Patrick would then have 10 days to sign, amend or veto it.
So. A piece of legislation concerning a matter of great public interest and no small amount of public controversy was released late Monday night and will likely be voted on and passed to the Governor's desk... by Tuesday afternoon.

Legislature to public: Another flip of the bird
This schedule reflects, of course, the legislature's rational and considered expectation that the many thousands of citizens interested in the issue will stay up late into the night reviewing the (as yet unavailable) legislation, and will present themselves bright and early at the State House, ready to share their views with their elected representatives - who will of course be eager to take those views appropriately into account when casting their final votes.

Or maybe it just reflects the same arrogant contempt for the public with which our one-party state government approaches most everything it does.

See you at the slots, folks.

Professor Michael Avery - Frontrunner for Dingbat of the Year

You've probably heard about this Professor Michael Avery at Suffolk Law School who decided to one-up Paul Krugman's despicable 9/11 rant by disparaging U.S. Servicemen and women, and those who support them, in reaction to a campus Veterans Day care package drive.



I couldn't agree more, of course, with those who insist that this country's greatness stems in part from our societal willingness to countenance such nonsense in the name of Free Speech, one of our most cherished liberties.  Absolutely correct.

Here are some other things that are absolutely correct: Suffolk students have the right to consider Professor Avery's comments in deciding whether to enroll in his classes.  Donors to Suffolk University have the right to consider them in budgeting their annual giving - and to make their thoughts known to the school's administrators.  And everyone writing and saying that this guy is a dingbat have the right to point out that he is, in point of fairly objective fact, a dingbat.

More, though, we should take careful note of the comments, and understand that Professor Avery occupies a position of influence over hundreds of kids whose "job" it is, when in his presence, to internalize his words.  And unfortunately he is hardly alone.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Top 10 Reads of the Week – Veterans Day (11/11/11)

The Significance of Veterans Day – Leon Kass [Weekly Standard Blog]

What exactly do we celebrate on Veterans Day? To be sure, we mean to honor the brave men and women, living and dead, who have fought America’s battles, past and present. But honor them how, and for what? About these matters, we lack a clear national answer.

Part of the confusion is built into the history of the holiday. It was first celebrated as Armistice Day, commemorating the cessation of fighting between the Allies and Germany in World War I—at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. When, a year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first Armistice Day, he spoke of the “solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service” and the “gratitude for victory.” But because World War I had been regarded as the “war to end all wars,” Wilson’s reasons for esteeming the victory had everything to do with lasting peace: “the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” Armistice Day was a day that celebrated the pacifist and internationalist dreams of a nation—and a world—sickened by maiming and slaughter on a hitherto unimaginable scale. The dreams were not to be realized… Read the Rest

The Case for Pessimism – Mark Steyn [Commentary]

In September 2009, Barack Obama and Muammar Qaddafi both addressed the United Nations. It is a pitiful reflection upon the Republic in twilight that, when it comes to the transnational mush drooled by the leader of the free world or the conspiracist ramblings of a pseudo-Bedouin terrorist drag queen presiding over a one-man psycho-cult basket case, it’s more or less a toss-up as to which of them was the more unreal.

Qaddafi spoke for 90 minutes, and in the midst of his torrent of words, his translator actually broke down and cried out, “I can’t take it anymore.” The colonel gravely informed the world body that the swine flu was a virus that had been created in a government laboratory, and he called for a UN inquiry into the Kennedy assassination on the grounds that Jack Ruby was an Israeli who killed Lee Harvey Oswald to stop the truth coming out about Kennedy being killed to prevent an investigation into the Zionist nuclear facility at Dimona… Read the Rest

The Case for Optimism – John Podhoretz [Commentary]

There is a growing propensity to place the blame for the disastrous fiscal and economic condition of the United States on the supposedly damaged spiritual condition of the American people. President Obama himself, inclined these days to blame the nation’s economic woes on his predecessor and on millionaires and billionaires, stepped on his own storyline recently when he told a Florida TV reporter that the American people had “gotten a little soft.” By saying this, he was echoing the view that something had gone wrong inside the body politic over the past decade or longer. The American people wanted benefits they didn’t want to pay for; they borrowed money they didn’t have; they refused to make tough choices. “The richest society the world has ever seen has grown rich by devising better and better ways to give people what they want,” Michael Lewis, the most influential financial journalist in America, writes in his new book Boomerang. “The boom in trading activity in individual stock portfolios; the spread of legalized gambling; the rise of drug and alcohol addiction—it is all of a piece.”

This secular-Calvinist argument has achieved standing because it seems to take seriously the most nagging aspect of the past 10 years: the role we should assign to personal responsibility when we attempt to understand what happened, how to keep it from happening again, and how to deal with the pressing matters ahead of us. It is also alluring because it spreads the blame far and wide, which seems appropriate for a cascading series of events that developed over decades and then all came crashing into each other… Read the Rest

The Public-Union Albatross – Philip K. Howard [Wall Street Journal]

The indictment of seven Long Island Rail Road workers for disability fraud last week cast a spotlight on a troubled government agency. Until recently, over 90% of LIRR workers retired with a disability—even those who worked desk jobs—adding about $36,000 to their annual pensions. The cost to New York taxpayers over the past decade was $300 million.

As one investigator put it, fraud of this kind "became a culture of sorts among the LIRR workers, who took to gathering in doctor's waiting rooms bragging to each [other] about their disabilities while simultaneously talking about their golf game." How could almost every employee think fraud was the right thing to do?… Read the Rest 

The Big College Scam – Jack Kelly [Pittsburgh Post- Gazette]

The ostensible purpose of federal guarantees for student loans was to make college more affordable. In fact they did the opposite, by fueling the massive tuition hikes.

Colleges spent the extra money to expand their bureaucracies, increase the compensation of faculty and staff, and improve physical facilities. Tenured radicals constructed comfortable bastions from which to assail the capitalist system by mal-educating the children of capitalists… Read the Rest

Romney Right Enough – Jennifer Braceras [Boston Herald]

By almost any measure, Barack Obama’s presidency has been a failure.

So, why (in an election cycle ripe with opportunity) do conservatives seem hell-bent on committing political hari-kari?

Why are so many conservatives out to destroy Mitt Romney — the only candidate with the unusual combination of intellectual firepower, professional experience and good old-fashioned competence needed to resuscitate the economy and challenge the liberal welfare-state paradigm?… Read the Rest

Student Body Left – Editors [Wall Street Journal]

As the default rate rises on federally backed student loans, President Obama has responded with a plan to make education lending even more expensive for taxpayers. That's hard to do, but he's determined.

In his first student-lending reform, which was rushed through the Senate as part of ObamaCare, Mr. Obama added $1 trillion to the federal balance sheet over the next decade by eliminating private lenders. Stage two, which he offered recently at the Denver campus of the University of Colorado, added easier repayment terms and debt forgiveness. Who says Uncle Sam is a scrooge?… Read the Rest

I Won’t Let Iran Get Nukes – Mitt Romney [Wall Street Journal]

The International Atomic Energy Agency's latest report this week makes clear what I and others have been warning about for too long: Iran is making rapid headway toward its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons.

Successive American presidents, including Barack Obama, have declared such an outcome to be unacceptable. But under the Obama administration, rhetoric and policy have been sharply at odds, and we're hurtling toward a major crisis involving nuclear weapons in one of the most politically volatile and economically significant regions of the world.

Things did not have to be this way. To understand how best to proceed from here, we need to review the administration's extraordinary record of failure… Read the Rest 

The 2011 elections: A split decision – Charles Krauthammer [Washington Post]

The 2011 off-year elections are a warning to Republicans. The 2010 party is over. 2012 will be a struggle.

To be sure, Tuesday was not exactly the Democrats’ night. They did enjoy one big victory, repeal of government-worker reform in Ohio. But elsewhere, they barely held their own. The bigger news was the absence of any major Republican trend. The great Republican resurgence of 2009-10 has slowed to a crawl… Read the Rest

What I Lost in Libya – Clare Morgana Gillis [The Atlantic]

Tuesday, April 5, started off as an exceptionally successful day. We had located the ever-changing front line of the Libyan civil war, a conflict we had come from all over the world to cover. Before the day was over, it would be exceptional in another way entirely—brutal, heartbreaking—as our initial success made us forget the cardinal rule of war reportage: don’t die.

There were four of us that morning, freelancers who had already racked up our share of near misses, together and separately. I’d known Jim Foley, a fellow American, the longest. He’d come to Ben­ghazi from Afghanistan in time to catch Qaddafi’s attack on the city on March 19, and he and I had been close ever since. He tended to address other men as “brother” within seconds of meeting them. Manu Brabo, a rangy Spanish photographer, also had a ready grin. We hadn’t gone out reporting as a group before, but we’d spent a lot of time talking in the media center and the hotel. I’d met Anton Ham­merl, a photographer from South Africa, only a few days earlier. His quiet charisma and professionalism had impressed me during an interview with a general in Ben­ghazi, and later that evening he had bounded up to me in the hotel, showing off a picture of his son, with whom he’d just chatted on Skype. And then there was me, covering the conflict for The Atlantic, USA Today, and other publications. The dissertation in medieval history I’d completed less than a year earlier had left me unsatisfied with academia and determined to work in journalism, where I could get a look at history being made…. Read the Rest

The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week

Really would have to be a take on the Perry oops, right?  From Funny or Die:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Do taxes pay for anything?

Earlier this week the Massachusetts legislature's Water Infrastructure Finance Commission issued a series of recommendations "calling for at least $200 million a year in new revenues to be raised" to deal with the "water and waste-water crisis" created by years of "neglected infrastructure." Possible sources of this revenue "include an expanded bottle-redemption law, new fees on fertilizers and pesticides, assessments on building permits or port fees, and a statewide water surcharge."

Just in case you've been under a rock for the past couple of years, "new revenues" is the universally preferred euphemism for tax increases and fee hikes. According to the Massachusetts Water Resources Advisory Board, that "statewide water surcharge" floated (heh) by our legislative watermeisters would increase consumer water rates by roughly ten percent.  And that's on the low end.  Check out these figures, reported in the State House News
Jennifer Pederson, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Works Association, said water utilities are concerned about fairness, equity and bureaucratic issues that would result if a water surcharge were assessed locally and deposited into a state fund. The association, in a letter to the commission, wrote that a "millage surcharge" of one tenth of 1 cent per gallon would lead to rate hikes of 17.8 percent in Attleboro, 23 percent in Worcester, 25 percent in Leominster, and 20 percent in Concord.
We've been hearing a lot about "new revenues" lately.  Replace "water" with "transportation" in the commission's argument for its "new revenues" and you pretty much have the Patrick/Murray Administration's periodic argument for a gas tax hike.  Always it is about the "crisis" engendered by neglected infrastructure.  Always the proposal is for "new revenues" to be "dedicated" to that infrastructure, as if the promise that the additional dollars pulled from our wallets will be put in a different state government pocket ought to make any difference whatsoever to the taxpayer already struggling under the cumulative burden of the Commonwealth's high cost of living.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mitt's Moment (Perry's implosion)

I've often thought that running a successful race for President - or for any contested office, really - is as much about seizing (or stumbling into) the right moment as it is about anything else.  In 2008, Senator Barack Obama was about as qualified to serve as President of the United States as he was to pilot the space shuttle, but he happened upon the scene at a moment when a majority of voters were uniquely receptive to a message of empty optimism delivered by a maestro of the teleprompter.

This time, as I watch Mitt Romney's putative challengers line up to self-immolate, one after the other, I cannot help but thing that Governor Romney just might have happened upon his moment.



Of course there is more to my 'Mitt's moment' theory than just Governor Perry's deer-in-the-headlights approach to debates, or Herman Cain's peccadilloes, or Congresswoman Bachman's penchant for saying exactly what pops into her head, as soon as it pops into her head.  If ever there were a time in my life when the United States is teed up to elect a calm, steady businessman who exudes both confidence and competence, it is now.

But it cannot be denied that to this point Mitt has been fortunate in his adversaries.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Who knew Keating had a second home?!?

Much of the news coverage of the Congressional redistricting plan released yesterday is giving the state legislative Democrats who drafted the map significant credit for the "politically explosive" (Globe) decision to combine the districts currently represented by Bill Keating (D-Newbie) and Stephen Lynch (D-Labor).  

Please. This move was about as explosive as Play Doh.  Here's the Herald:
Beacon Hill’s new congressional map is prompting U.S. Rep. William Keating to flee his recently adopted home in Quincy to take up residency in a new Cape Cod and South Coast district after lawmakers pitted him against veteran Southie congressman Stephen F. Lynch.

“After talking with my wife Tevis and our children Kristen and Patrick I have decided to run in the new 9th Congressional District, where we’ve owned a home for 17 years,” Keating said in a statement, apparently referring to his summer home in Bourne. He will have to run in the new district, which includes Plymouth, New Bedford and Cape Cod, in 2012.
Keating Family: On the Road Again
Anyone out there think the mapsters were not fully aware of Congressman Keating's summer home, and his family's remarkable geographical flexibility (the clan just last year moved from Sharon to Quincy to set Bill up for his 2010 run)?  If so, the Congressman has a gently-used investment property in Quincy that he'd like to sell you.

As the Globe notes, Keating isn't the only highly mobile member of the Massachusetts delegation.
It is not unusual in Massachusetts for political figures to relocate to run for Congress. Keating moved two years ago from Sharon to Quincy to campaign for that seat. In 1980, Barney Frank, a state representative from the Back Bay, moved to Newton to seek that congressional seat.
It seems when it comes to Congressional incumbency, these guys are much less worried about the districts they represent back home than they are about the seats - the literal ones - that they occupy in Washington.

And please let's stop with all the talk about how open and non-political was the Congressional redistricting process.  Were that in fact the case, presumably the redistricting committee's Republicans would not have been almost entirely excluded from the process.  Even the committee's two chairs, Rep Michael Moran and Senator Stanley Rosenberg, openly admitted to drawing the squiggliest of the lines with an eye toward incumbent protection.  Globe:
Another incumbent, Barney Frank, will keep his base of Newton and Brookline, while losing Democratic strongholds in the New Bedford area and in Buzzards Bay communities where he posted large winning margins.

Moran and Rosenberg defended combining Fall River with Boston suburbs on the grounds that Frank’s seniority as ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee is important for the state.
The Globe has the funniest - and most revealing - observation I've seen so far on this topic: "Even Republicans, who have been shut out of congressional seats for years, could have a shot of winning in the new configuration."

Imagine that!!  Even Republicans "could have a shot" at a seat in Congress!  In Massachusetts!  It is indeed a Brave New World this reconfigured map is giving to us.  Hope and Change.  Yes We Can (or 'Yes We Could Have A Shot,' I guess).

Look, the proposed map is an improvement over the existing one, which looks like it was drawn the same way Jackson Pollack liked to paint.  But everything is relative.  The new map is still obviously the product of one party control, engineered deliberately to provide incumbents the best possible chance to keep what they invariably think of a "their" seats in Congress.  So let's be glad of the marginal rationalization of the districts, but at the same time let's not allow these guys and their enablers in the press to go overboard with the self-congratulation. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

The nyets have it

Ordinarily I'd say that a British accent automatically confers upon the speaker a measure of inherent credibility that no debate opponent from any other part of the world can hope to match. When it comes to a shouting match about the consequences of socialism, however, the Russian accent trumps. Great stuff.

Pay particular attention at the very end, when the twitchy guy hovering in the background looses his closing salvo.

(h/t Todd Feinburg)

Top 10 Reads of the Week - November 4, 2011

The U.S. infrastructure argument that crumbles upon examination – Charles Lane [Washington Post]

All right-thinking people agree: America’s infrastructure is in bad shape. The only debate is over how bad. Is our infrastructure “increasingly third-world” — per Slate’s Jacob Weisberg — or a “national disgrace” and “global embarrassment” — as Barry Ritholtz suggested in a recent column for The Post?

Data seem to support this gloomy conventional wisdom. In the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest Global Competitiveness Report, the United States’ infrastructure ranked 23rd, behind that of Malaysia and Barbados. Barbados!… Read the Rest

For liberals, income inequality is the new global warming – James Pethokoukis [The Enterprise Blog]

Liberals think there are lots of ideas that intelligent Americans just aren’t supposed to challenge. If they do, they’ll be labeled “deniers,” intentionally raising a nasty comparison to Holocaust rejectionists. It’s politics at its absolute lowest.

Among the unchallengeable dogmata: the Obama stimulus created millions of jobs, Obamacare will save trillions of dollars, Dodd-Frank prevents future bank bailouts, and policy uncertainty isn’t an issue hampering the recovery. And, of course, global warming poses an existential threat to civilization and humanity. Make that an “undeniable” threat.

You can now add “income inequality” to the list, thanks to New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait… Read the Rest

Perry Flat Tax Is Fool’s Gold for Conservatives – Ramesh Ponnuru [Bloomberg]

Texas Governor Rick Perry’s tax plan is an attempt to solve a problem that no Republican has yet overcome: how to make a flat tax politically palatable. The result he came up with is a proposal that is neither flat nor attractive.

Perry’s mistake wasn’t in choosing the wrong details for his plan. It was in taking on an impossible mission. For all its superficial appeal, the flat tax cannot be made politically viable… Read the Rest

What’s Your Kid Getting From College? – William McGurn [Wall Street Journal]

For hard-working American families struggling to make ends meet, the student protesters at Occupy Wall Street must seem like cast members of a reality show designed to make them look shallow and self-indulgent. The irony is that these students and recent grads have a point about their college debt. It's just not the point they are making.

Here, for example, is a typical entry on the blog "We Are the 99 Percent." A woman is holding up a handwritten note that reads: "I am a college graduate. I am also unemployed. I was lead [sic] to believe that college would insure me a job. I now have $40,000 worth of student debt.".. Read the Rest

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Occupiers: Everyone should have it. No one should have to pay for it.

The urban campers of Occupy Boston temporarily de-camped from the Greenway this afternoon to march through the streets of downtown Boston.  To the extent that a single coherent theme to the signs and chanting could be discerned, apparently today's was a protest against "education debt."  Here's the Herald:
Members of the Occupy Boston movement, students from area colleges and union workers have marched through downtown Boston to protest the nation’s burgeoning student debt crisis.

The protest started at Occupy Boston’s Dewey Square tent city today and stopped outside Bank of America offices and the downtown Harvard Club before moving to the Statehouse.

Protesters said higher education has gotten too costly, in part because of onerous, high-interest loans. They said college is moving out of reach for regular Americans.
I'm not counted among the those who feel the need to preface any criticism of the "occupiers" with a few conciliatory words about the legitimacy of their complaints.  Sure a lot of them have genuine gripes - as do a lot more people out there who are spending their days and nights at infinitely more constructive/less annoying pursuits.  So what?  Times are tough, and everyone is finding ways to deal with it.  This guy's excellent rant pretty much sums up my own feelings (warning: language).

At first I criticized the "movement" for its failure to come up with a comprehensible set of demands.  As time marches on, though, that becomes more and more beside the point.  It's not like these people are holding a plane full of hostages.  They are squatting in parks.  It's a nuisance, but in truth they could remain in place for years and broader society would find no more compelling a need to bow to their "demands" than is felt today.

It's time to pack it in, gang.  Sticking around while the rest of the world loses interest is only going to encourage the militant few among you to greater and greater extremes.  Eventually someone is going to get killed, and surely the vast majority of you don't want that.  If you still have some yearning to social action left over after your shower and de-lousing, find yourself a candidate and start collecting votes for next November.

Anyhow, back to the education debt thing.  Dear Boston Occupiers: Please point out the person(s) who put a gun to your head and forced you to rack up a bunch of education debt.  I'll happily give him/her/them a piece of my mind on your behalf.

Turns out Gov. Patrick DOES have a coherent economic development strategy

With house money
Here's Governor Patrick yesterday at a Clean Energy Conference in Boston, discussing - or rather declining to discuss - the spate of recent bankruptcies of "Green" companies that were given bucket-loads of taxpayer cash and promptly choked on it:
“We’re not going to win every one, but we’re not going to win any if we don’t play.”
Whether it is literal gaming at his long-planned 'destination resort casinos' or betting with our money on dubious "green" companies, it turns out Governor Patrick does have a coherent economic development strategy after all -

and it's all about gambling.

Pretty devastating ad

I imagine this won't be the last Election 2012 use of a lot of this footage.  Well done.


(H/T Michael Graham)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

MA Casinos: WARNING - do not read this with a mouthful of coffee

Best & Brightest
Remember a few weeks ago when the Massachusetts State Senate painted itself in glory by loudly shouting down a proposed five year ban on legislators accepting jobs in the soon-to-be-born Massachusetts casino industry?  After one esteemed Senator indignantly proclaimed that such a ban would create "a presumption that the people in this body cannot operate with integrity," the Democratic caucus recessed behind closed doors and trimmed the five year ban to a more palatable single year.  All in favor?  The ayes have it.

Well it seems House Democrats don't much like being shown up in the self-parody department.  Are you drinking coffee?  Swallow.  Put down the cup.  Seriously - coffee stains most anything, and it burns when spurting out of the nose.

Ready?  Here's the State House News this afternoon, reporting on the first non-meeting of the casino conference committee (the joint House-Senate committee charged with trading horses in secret to produce a bill that the Governor has already secretly agreed to sign.  Or something.):
The House member leading negotiations on expanded gambling legislation indicated Tuesday that he's inclined to oppose an attempt by senators to block lawmakers from working in the casino industry for a year after they leave office.

"It's my sense that this matter is so important that we should not preclude the best and the brightest from being eligible even if those people would be in government presently," said Rep. Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee) told reporters at the State House.
Of course!  If the casino industry is to have any chance of flourishing here in the Commonwealth, surely we cannot deny it access to the brain trust that is the Great and General Court.  Glad I warned you about the coffee?