Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Morning Miscellany - Self-promotion, Beacon Hill indictments, GOP horse race, Insider trading, Still Occupyin', and a Dose of Perspective

Catching up on some randomness. First a bit of administrative minutiae:

Like us?  I always feel vaguely embarrassed on behalf of people - candidates for office, usually - who send out Facebook "invitations" to their "friends" that go something like this: "John Smith likes John Smith, and thinks you might like John Smith too." It is one of the clumsier aspects of an otherwise smooth and intuitive Facebook experience, and it could be fixed simply by allowing users to customize the language of an invitation to something less needy and narcissistic. What John Smith is usually trying to say is, "hey, I set up a campaign page - please check it out." Anyhow, as we enter the second month of 2012 I've finally caught up with 2008 and set up a Facebook "fan" page for this blog, so this weekend my friends were subjected to one of those awkward invites. If you check in here with any regularity please take a second to "like" the Facebook page, and henceforth you'll receive notification of new posts right there in your FB news feed. If you'd care to share the suggestion with a few friends I'd appreciate it all the more. Many thanks for reading. It makes me feel marginally less like a crazy person.

Too Constant?
Speaking of self-promotion and social media: I've received a couple of notifications recently that I'm on someone-or-other's "Constant Contact" distribution list. Constant Contact is a great service, and as it happens in each of the recent instances I've welcomed the inclusion and have no intention of taking up the sender on his/her offer to "opt out." But it occurs to me that a lot of people might be subconsciously turned off by the subtle implications of the name "Constant Contact." Rare is the person who wants to make that kind of commitment to a newsletter.

Bella Santorum.  It is something of a  cliché to say that three-year-old Bella Santorum's apparent close call with pneumonia this weekend is a poignant reminder of "what's really important" in the midst of an often ridiculous presidential primary season. But then sometimes a cliché says it best. The unfortunate situation is also a useful reminder that behind every campaign caricature there is a real human being, and a real family. I cannot begin to imagine what it feels like to have a child in mortal danger. I hope never to find out. Best wishes to the Santorum family, and especially to little Bella for a quick recovery and continued strength in her fight against what is apparently a very rough genetic condition.

It's In The Numbers.  It should come as no surprise to anyone following the GOP primary that the press has it collectively out for Mitt Romney. Still, it's nice to see confirmation of one's own impressions set forth using relatively empirical data. The Center for Media and Public Affairs conducted an analysis of network news coverage of the New Hampshire primary between January 1 and January 10, with striking results:
On the broadcast networks, evaluative comments of Romney were 78% negative vs. only 22% positive. By contrast, on-air judgments of Ron Paul were 73% positive vs. 27% negative, evaluations of Jon Huntsman were 71% positive vs. 29% negative, Rick Santorum’s evaluations were 56% positive vs. 44% negative, and comments about Newt Gingrich were 52% positive vs. 48% negative. Other candidates received too few evaluations to be statistically meaningful.
With coverage like that, it truly is remarkable that Governor Romney has now fought off, by my count, six "surges" against his on-again / off-again front runner status (Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, Santorum, and Gingrich take deux). And he is still leading the President in the all-important swing states.

Why all the hatin' on Mitt? The CMPA have a theory, which I happen to share: the nets' disdain for Mitt has less to do with the candidate himself than his stubborn persistence in the top slot. There are a lot of dollars to be made over the course of a drawn-out primary fight. And the press cares much more for the "horse race" than the substance. If they can help trip up the front horse, all the better.
There were over six times as many stories on the campaign horse race as there were on the policies of the candidates (105 vs. 16 stories). Even when the candidates’ backgrounds are added to the comparison, the horse race outpaced coverage of their records, personalities, and policies by a margin of over 3 to 1 (105 vs. 31 stories). In this respect FOX and the broadcast networks were very similar.
The media's favorite kind of horse race
Two Hundred and Twenty-Three Years Later...  In 1789 George Washington became the first President of the United States under our present Constitution. Nearly two and a quarter centuries down the road, Congress is expected this week to act on Senator Scott Brown's legislation barring members of Congress from engaging in "insider trading" based on information learned by virtue of their official positions. President Obama says he'll sign the bill. Pretty amazing that after two hundred years and change this common sense idea was still sitting on the idea table, waiting for a principled elected official to come along and pick it up. Well done, Senator Brown.

Best. Illustrative. Ever. This photo mock-up pretty much exactly captures my feelings about the whole global warming / climate change controversy. Perfect. (H/T Michael Graham)

Lawyerin' Up. Quick: can you remember a time when Beacon Hill wasn't laboring under a cloud of pending indictment(s)? Me neither. Oh the cloud approaches and recedes, but it has been a long, long time since our one-party state government went about its business under clear and sunny skies. Investigations, indictments, resignations, trials... ho-hum. We've apparently accepted all of this as par for the course here in the Commonwealth. And like everyone else we get the government we deserve.

I am as interested as anyone in the persistent rumors of a raft of federal indictments that have been pending / about to hit / coming this week / coming tomorrow for the better part of a month now. People with much better connections than mine have told me with confidence that there will be more than a dozen, though the majority of those will be probation department functionaries, not elected officials. I'm not as worked up as some, however, by the revelation that the Senate President has a criminal defense firm on retainer. I'd bet just about everyone named in the Ware Report has representation locked in and standing by. The smart ones do anyhow. I'll be surprised (unpleasantly so) if the indictments hit that high up the chain.

Yes, They Are Still Out There.  Out in California on Saturday "Occupy Oakland" protesters clashed with police, rioted, broke in to Oakland's city hall, smashed windows, spray-painted walls, and (you knew it would happen eventually) burned an American flag.  So naturally yesterday 400 members of the Occupy Boston movement marched through the Hub's streets in support of... Occupy Oakland. I think this is what's called a feedback loop. Question: are we still supposed to pretend that this gaggle is anything but a group of idiot malcontents? Obviously this behavior is just the next natural iteration of a dying movement's desperation to recapture the fawning media attention that abruptly abandoned it when the urban camping phenomenon got boring. 

Unworthy of support - or attention


  1. 1989 was a good year...Field of Dreams captured our hearts, the Exon Valdeez captured our attention, the 49ers captured the Super Bowl over Ickey Woods' Bengals and George Washington captured the White House..wait, what?

  2. Clever clever, Anonymous. Change made - thanks for pointing that out (and for putting the Ickey Shuffle back on the radar screen after so many years).


No spamming, flaming, cursing, or other such nonsense tolerated. Thanks for engaging on those terms - Greg