Sacred Cods and Holy Mackerals

Trusting the MBTA
October 26, 2009, 1:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Come on, Enterprise editors.

“State may help pay for town’s rail costs” 

You’re playing right into the MBTA’s hands here. Haven’t you learned anything from watching the MBTA negotiate with South Shore communities over the last 20 years?

You’re making this sound like it’s all but a done deal, that the MBTA will GLADLY build a new fire station in North Raynham. The town may as well start picking out land already!

Those of us who are veterans of the Old Colony wars know how to translate MBTA-ese.

“The town is welcome to make this request” really means “Sure, the town can ASK for it. They can also ask for a sound wall made of pure gold, or a million kajillion dollars. Doesn’t mean they’re going to get it.”

But Egan also said the request would be addressed by the state only “after a preferred alternative is selected … and then we would request full data to support the need” really means “We’re going to make you jump through more hoops than a poodle on a variety show, looking for the smallest reason to reject your request.”

And that’s why the headline is misleading. Sure, the term “may help” implies that something could theoretically happen. It leaves a window open. But it oozes too much positivity.

It probably would have been more accurate to say “MBTA doesn’t rule out completely shafting town.” The implication being there that the MBTA will likely shaft the town..but there’s a chance they may not.

Raynham and Easton and Stoughton need to start cooperatng now.  Want to know why towns like Hingham and Scituate were able to get a whistle-free zone and oodles of mitigation dollars? Because they banded together and said “None of us is signing till we get a apckage akin to what the town towns got.” And they drove up the price, and drove up the price, and for the most part got a pretty good deal. It was a great deal, actually, considering what towns like Brockton and Bridgewater got, which was basically a whole lotta nothing.


Jon Gosselin finally grows a set
October 1, 2009, 12:36 pm
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TLC — the channel some refer to as Torturing Little Children, thanks to their emphasis on reality-based shows that invariable involve children in wierd situations — has been banned from the Gosselin home, per The Man of the House.

Now if Jon Gosselin had finally put his foot down, and kicked out the crews three months ago, I think most people would think this was the action of a man truly concerned how the ongoing divorce is going to impact his children. Unfortunately, this action comes a day after TLC announced they were dumping Jon from the show.

TLC should have stopped filming a while ago. What good can come out of recording a messy divorce proceeding, involving 8 kids, and broadcasting it worldwide? 

However, because this action was taken by the skirt-chasing father, and not the  “saintly” mother, it comes off as childish and petulant. It doesnt help he was photographed hanging out in Beverly Hills last night, either.

Mass. GOP gets their poster child
September 30, 2009, 9:20 am
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If I was in charge of the state Republican Party, I’d make state Rep. Paul Kujawski my poster child for all that’s wrong with Beacon Hill.

Sure, it may be a bit unfair for “Kujo” but, boy, does he play the part well.  He may do a good job representing the good people of Webster, but his transgressions are tailor fit for the Herald-style “Did’cha hear about dis guy?” gossip that goes on at every bar rail, coffee shop and soccer field.

There was the whole problem a few years back when he left a bag of cash and campaign checks at the bar across from the State House. He’s been found guilty twice of violating state campaign finance laws, most recently for using the fund as a personal piggy bank. He was arrested in 2007 for drunk driving but was polite enough to clean off the arresting State Trooper’s boots with his urine.

And now the latest news: that the same Democrat appointed to negotiate a “landmark” pension reform bill is trying to exploit the very loopholes he was appointed to close.

(That sound you hear is a million Massachusetts Democrats smacking themselves in the forehead)

It doesn’t hurt that he has the look of the classic state hack — doughy build, ill-fitting suits, with a whisk broom mustache.

I mean, Jennifer Nassour, the GOP Chairwoman, should be doing backflips this morning. This story is just precious. Between a 3rd consecutive indicted House speaker, a massive tax hike, and now a classic example of Beacon Hill largesse, how can you not have a full slate of candidates and an active base ready to tap into the seething anger of the average voter?

Why wouldn’t you immediately print up 500,000 flyers with Kujawski, DiMasi, and Deval Patrick and start mailing them out to the homes of unenrolled voters?

Jon Gosselin helps nudge up unemployment rate
September 29, 2009, 11:10 am
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People Magazine is reporting that Jon Gosselin is being dropped from Jon & Kate Plus 8 and that the show, as of Nov. 2, wil be called simply Kate Plus 8.

“Given Jon’s recent antics, there was no way the show could continue to portray him as a doting Dad, not while all this other crap was going on,” a source close to the show tells PEOPLE.

And I say BOOOOO!

Who is TLC to judge? A guy who was  married by 23, a father of 8 by the time he was 27, escapes from his nagging wife, and shouldn’t be allowed to blow off some steam? That’s bunk.

What’s more based in reality: portraying the challenges of a Dad trying to balance his love for his kids and his love for trashy girls? Or going along with this fantasy about Kate being a wonderful, loving mother, betrayed by her cruel husband, and just trying to survive in this unfair world.

US Sen. Dukakis? And Coakley vs. Capuano vs. Pagliuca
September 16, 2009, 2:42 pm
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I didn’t want to post today. I really didn’t. Frankly, I have too many things swirling around to be on spacebook and the twatter. Real, actual job responsibilities. A dog who may or may not have swine flu. Bursitis in the bocce elbow.

But the developments in the US Senate race are coming too fast to ignore them any more.

David Bernstein yesterday explained why Congressman Stephen Lynch’s decision not to run is so stunning. When Bernstein mentioned to an insider that he thought the only thing that would stop Lynch from running is a meteor strike, the friend replied back: “What makes you think the meteor would stop him?”

Basically, what it comes down to is Lynch’s luke-warm support for health care reform cost him too much union backing. Union backing (and a strong statewide showing from the Southie/Dorchester diaspora) were the only ways Lynch was going to win. And in a 100 meter sprint of a special election primary, that’s all you need sometimes.

But the unions abandoned him over health care and lined up behind Coakley. Game over for Lynch.

Coakley right now is organizing a monster of a campaign machine. She has many of the Party stalwarts, has access to the donor logs for fundraiser extraordinaire Barabara Lee and Senate President Therese Murray, and is snatching up union after union endorsement.

Congressman Michael Capuano will be able to peel off a few Party stalwarts and I’m sure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will help him raise a few dollars. But there’s not much else going for him. Pelosi is actually bordering on being more of a liability than an asset.

That leaves the newest entry into the race: Celtics part-owner, and Bain Capital exec Stephen Pagliuca. His biggest asset is a very deep personal savings account and the memories of the Celtics’ 2008 championship. He could tout his private sector management skills but beyond that, its not clear what other strengths he has. He won’t out lefty Capuano or Coakley. He has no natural base, no organization. Sure, his former partner Mitt Romney built up a base but he did so over several months, not 10 weeks.

Beyond all that, the favorite question on Beacon Hill is who would Gov. Patrick name to the interim seat, if the Legislature allows him to do so. The leader in the clubhouse — Mike Dukakis — makes sense if you’re a hard-core Democrat, but very well could close the book on any chance Deval Patrick has at being re-elected. If you’re Deval Patrick, the person you appoint should meet three qualifications: knows the players in Washington, understands the importance of health care reform, and isn’t looking for a long-term gig. Dukakis meets all three of those qualifications. 1988 wasn’t that long ago, he actually got a universal health care plan approved by the Mass. Legislature in the late ’80s (before it was overturned by the voters), and has no interest in being down at Washington fulltime.

Of course, his popularity among the Mass. citizenry isn’t exactly high. My prediction is that appointing Dukakis would signal that Patrick won’t be seeking re-election.

Bad people doing bad things
September 14, 2009, 9:20 am
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Boston Globe’s Ideas section had an interesting piece this past weekend on the writings of a formerly obscure economist named Hyman Minsky who, since the collapse of the financial system, has become a very popular fugure.

Minsky spent decades warning that capitalism, specifically, the financial markets, has a major genetic flaw that can lead to major meltdowns. Long periods of relative economic stability leads to financiers thinking everything is swell which makes them take more and more risks. “Success breeds a disregard of the possibility of failure,” Minsky wrote. Eventually, an increasing percentage of the economy becomes based on leveraged capital and debt. And all it takes is one watershed moment and the whole financial system crumbles.

The watershed moment of our generation was the cooling-off of the housing market. Basically, the tide quickly receded, exposing all the jagged rocks beneath, and the ship that was our economy crashed.

Any sensible economist should have seen what was happening in this country over the past 10-15 years, that too much of our recent economic successes were built upon the easy availability of credit. There is a reason why personal bankruptcies skyrocketed in the earlier part of this decade, and why savings account balances plummeted. Credit cards with $20,000 limits were given to anyone who could scratch their mark onto an application form. Home mortgages were given to people without checking income levels or even employment status. We were told going out to the mall was our patriotic duty.

Capitalism, as Winston Churchill might say,  is the worst economic system out there, except for all the others. It fails for the same reason pure socialism fails: because people invariably end up gaming the system for personal gain. And I would argue that this is why some governmental regulation is needed — not because capitalism is neccesarily bad, but because the people who are running it can be, and often are.

Sure, financiers can be prosecuted for their crimes. But what’s better:  putting Bernie Madoff in jail for 100 years, or preventing Bernie Madoff from ever being in a position to buld a $65 billion Ponzi scheme in the first place?

And remember, running a company into the ground isn’t neccesarily a crime. Sure the CEOs of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch may be unemployed, but I’m sure the hundreds of millions of dollars they earned from doing their jobs poorly will be enough to console them.

Faulty concrete ties to close down commuter rail lines
September 11, 2009, 8:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This story should be infuriating to everyone.

Basically, a Denver company promised that its concrete railroad ties would last twice as long as traditional wooden ties. Instead, they lasted half as long.

Turns out the whole Northeast freeze-and-thaw cycle is pretty tough on concrete! Who knew!

Here’s the worst part: the company has spent so much money fixing problems elsewhere such as New York’s MTA anmd the Long IslandRailroad, the company says it will file for bankruptcy if the MBTA tries to make it pay too. Nice. God bless corporate accountability.

So the MBTA is now forced to shut down non-rush hour service between Middleboro and Bridgewater for two weeks while they rip out the old ties and replace them. And this is just the start, because there are similar problems elsewhere on the Middleboro line, as well as along the Kingston/Plymouth line. (Don’t worry Greenbush riders, this won’t be a problem for you for at least a few years.)

 Don’t worry…it will only cost the MBTA $100 million to fix.