Sunday, October 31, 2010

Please Vote

Above is one piece of literature my neighbors and I distributed this past weekend to residents of Back Bay and Beacon Hill in Boston.

If you can't see it, it's a picture of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Christine O'Donnell. The text under the pictures reads: "These politicians are voting on Tuesday. They would like you to stay home. We can't afford for that to happen."

Please get out and exercise your right to vote this Tuesday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Endorsement: Governor Deval Patrick

Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) and Me
Invesco Field, Denver, Colo.
August 28, 2008

There is a clear choice in this year's Massachusetts Gubernatorial race. One candidate thinks the electorate is angry, and that the solution to all of our problems is to put the state government on notice. He promises to cut state jobs, a lot of them, in the thinking that a more streamlined bureaucracy will promote job growth. He promises to bring corporate board room precision to his job to reign in spending, whatever the consequences.

The other candidate, who happens to be the current Governor, Deval Patrick, doesn't think the voters are angry as much as they are perplexed and worried-- perhaps even scared. The sluggish U.S. economy over the past few years has us all anxious. We aren't so eager to go to Beacon Hill with pitch forks and torches as much as we want a state government that's part of the solution. We want a governor who understands. Deval Patrick is that governor.

To be fair, I have long had concerns that Governor Patrick does not focus enough on the future. He talks of his accomplishments during his first term. Looking at them on paper, I can see why. He has implemented quite a bit of reform. He took on big pensions. He worked with my State Representative, Marty Walz, and others to pass a new education bill. He's a huge champion of Cape Wind, which is a project that for far too long has been subject to NIMBY politics.

Unfortunately, the current mood of the electorate is not interested in what the Governor has done as much as in what he will do. And there is one issue that matters most (CNN caught onto this in the waning weeks of the 2008 Presidential campaign when they literally made it "Issue No. 1"). And that issue is jobs and the economy.

After volunteering for the Governor for the summer, I am convinced that he understands his constituents better than his opponents. On the stump with President Obama last weekend, he put it bluntly: "I am not satisfied." You are right, Governor. We are not satisfied, either. And it's because we are all worried about what's next.

At work each day, I stave off thoughts of the dreaded "double-dip" recession, wary that sometimes we get ourselves in these mental cycles that turn economic possibilities into economic certainties.

I definitely think the Governor could be doing more to help bolster the markets that I work in each and every day. I don't think he pays enough attention to the technology industries beyond clean tech. His administration has been suspiciously absent from the table at discussions organized by the Mass Technology Leadership Council; it's members have pledged to create a significant number of jobs in the near term.

But by the same token, my concerns cannot and do not outweigh what the Governor has done and what he pledges to do. And I cannot overshadow what his policies have accomplished for Massachusetts. An economy that is coming out of the recession faster than other states, according to job growth figures. An education system that was recently labeled the best in the country, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), SAT and ACT exams. An administration that believes in generational responsibility, especially with regard to the environment.

I also applaud the fact that Governor Deval Patrick has not "cut and run" like his predecessors. He has not used his current office as a stepping stone to something else. He is committed to finishing what he started. There's no question that his policies have seen success, and there's no question that his general belief in how government can work with private industry to grow our economy is the prescription we must continue to fill.

Finally, I cannot write about the Governor without also saying how much I am a fan of the Lt. Governor, Tim Murray. He is the perfect complement to Deval Patrick. Tim Murray used to be the Mayor of Worcester, and he carries himself like someone who will talk about cleaning the streets and then roll up his sleeves and literally clean the streets. I like that.

I am voting for Governor Deval Patrick and Lt. Governor Tim Murray on November 2. And I encourage you to do the same, because despite their accomplishments, they know we are not satisfied. And they aren't, either.

Charlie Baker: Too Tall to Govern

A Boston Globe profile on Mass. Republican Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker provides the perfect example of why he is just too tall:
"Baker’s 6-foot 6-inch frame makes him visible in any crowd, a definite plus. But his height can lend an awkward feel to his attempts at bonhomie — the big, arcing high-fives that sometimes miss their targets, the deep knee bends to fist-bump with silver-haired ladies, the emphatic punches at the air."

---From The Boston Globe, October 20, 2010; "For Baker, Relaxing Can Work," by By David Filipov.

How can we elect someone who can't even high-five his constituents?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chuck Norris

Taftville village within Norwich, Connecticut
October 17, 2010

Chuck Norris is running to be probate judge in the part of Connecticut I grew up in. I would vote for Chuck Norris.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Charlie Baker is Too Tall to Be Governor

I am voting for Deval Patrick to be re-elected Governor of Massachusetts. I think he has the best plan to continue to grow the Mass. economy (even though we disagree on casinos). I like his talk of generational responsibility. I also like that he wants to stay in his office and finish what he started.

I also think that Charlie Baker is too tall. Governor Patrick's Republican opponent is a nice guy, and I met him in East Boston this past Spring. But I think his height kind of freaks me out. I know it's not a rational reason, but it's a better reason than what I have heard from some people.

AP photo ahead of a recent debate. Charlie Baker (far left) towers above the rest. Gov. Patrick is second from right.

Where Obama Messed Up

President Obama had a choice in late January. Scott Brown had just defeated Martha Coakley to win a Senate seat from Massachusetts. It was clear to those who helped with the campaign that the overriding issue was healthcare. At the time, separate versions of healthcare reform had passed the House and Senate, and a soon to be convened conference committee would rectify the two versions into one. The Brown victory put that process in jeopardy. Brown became the crucial 41st Republican vote in the Senate; the Republicans could filibuster any action on the Senate floor and as long as they remained united, there was nothing the Democrats could do.

I support the President, and I supported healthcare reform (even though it didn't include a public option), and I voted for Martha Coakley. But the decision the President made in the days following Scott Brown's victory created the current political environment, where the President's party is poised to lose majorities in the House and potentially the Senate.

So what was President Obama's choice? He could have pulled a "Bill Clinton." In the days following the Brown victory, he could have declared the healthcare bill dead. He could have said he heard the will of the voters, and would instead focus all the energy within his administration's domestic policy agenda on creating jobs and making the economy better.

Even today, the economy kind of freaks people out. The recession officially ended in June 2009, but even since then, people have been skittish about the recovery. That's what voters cared about in January, and it's what they care about now.

The President instead decided the time was then to pass healthcare, even with Scott Brown a U.S. Senator. It was a bold move. The American people were confused by the healthcare bill. People I know who spoke to a lot of voters ahead of the Brown/Coakley vote concur that even in Massachusetts, voters didn't want the bill to become law and wanted Brown to win to stop that from happening.

In January, the President had already lost the messaging war regarding the bill, and he had lost it badly. The electorate thought the bill was a huge government takeover of healthcare, a government intrusion into personal decisions about health, and a costly, risky bureaucratic mess that was irresponsible given the shaky nature of the economy. None of this was true, but it didn't matter. The fact a large percentage of the electorate believed those reasons was enough. [Side note: How the President lost the messaging war in the months leading up to the Brown election would make for an excellent PR thesis topic.]

President Obama was able to get the healthcare bill passed, despite the Scott Brown victory. In the process, he angered quite a few voters, including those who previously weren't upset at him, simply because he ignored the mandate of the Brown victory; he didn't accept the Senate victory as a reason to stop the push on healthcare reform. For that reason, anything the President has done over the past eight months has been interpreted through that mindset. Everything he has done to help create jobs has been overshadowed by his insistence on healthcare reform.

The unfortunate part of the entire situation is the President has done quite a bit to help the economy. Efforts that Republicans have spun as bad have worked. But those programs are lost in the rhetoric.

If I were to give the President some advice, I would tell him one thing he probably already knows. That being that his decision on healthcare (while I applaud) has created the current volatile political environment and threatens the Democratic majorities.

I would then tell him one thing he probably doesn't know, and that's to simplify and focus his message. The American people are scared to death about the economy. That came through in January with the Scott Brown victory. For that reason, starting right now, the administration should not tout any of its previous accomplishments. It should focus on what it's going to do to help the economy. Every day and every minute. Nothing else matters.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Cheap Early Morning Entertainment

I went to both Red Sox/Yankees games yesterday at Fenway Park. The first was a regularly scheduled 4:10 p.m. game that was broadcast on Fox. The second started at something like 9:30 p.m.-- a game rescheduled from the night before due to rain. The strange schedule put Kim and I-- who attended the late game-- on the street at 1:30 a.m. when the nightcap finally ended.

The streets of Kenmore Square at 1:30 a.m. are quite lively. The T is pretty much closed, even though many fellow fans tried to get into the Kenmore station (signs inside Fenway advertised that extra trains would stop running at 1 a.m., before the close game ended).

First, we saw a gaggle of three young women alternatively shouting that the "Yankees s**k" and the "Red Sox s**k." Apparently they couldn't make up their mind, or they were confused by the fact that the two teams split the double header. Or maybe they just think all baseball teams s**k?

Second, we saw a separate group of women sprinting down the street in a vain effort to hail a cab. They would run ahead of us to a corner, try to flag down random cars (whether cabs or not), let Kim and I pass them, and then sprint ahead of us again, screaming, "NO ONE WILL STOP FOR USSSSSSSS!"

Third, we saw a strange display at the bus stop at the corner of Mass. Ave and Commonwealth. A group of young women were trying desperately to hold each other up. One woman was on the ground in front of the bus stop, pretty much asleep, while still smoking a cigarette. To be fair, Kim and I stopped and asked if they needed help or medical assistance. The response: "Not yet." A rather weird interchange ensued.

Finally, we saw one of those stretched hummer limos parked on Beacon Street, with a gentleman standing in the sunroof screaming "Let's gooooooo!" The driver was outside the limo, and another guy was banging on the door of a Beacon Street residence until some other man answered the door. A pretty loud argument followed. What I could surmise was the person living in the residence owed money to help pay the fare for the limo. At least that's my totally unconfirmed guess.

At that point, Kim and I found a cab of our own (at about Beacon and Fairfield, so you know how far we had to walk from Kenmore).

P.S. Very shocking to see how many revelers, especially young women, don't heed the call of the weatherman and wear appropriate clothing. It was cold out there. Yes, I am officially old.