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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

It's almost midnight now, and time for some scary stories from Porcupine....

...about a United States Senator who invited the head of the KGB to come to America, and help him in his Presidential bid. So desperate was he to win that he contacted the brutal head the the secret police force, who had just finished summarily executing the head of the Hungarian revolutionaries who had tried to overthrow their Soviet masters, and offered "to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA." And also, "[He] believes that in order to influence Americans it would be important to organize ... televised interviews with [Andropov] in the USA." Uncle Walter and Auntie Barbara were implicated in this scheme.

....Or perhaps another story about the other Senator from the same state, who told college students that they had better study up, or they would find themselves 'stuck in Iraq'. Look and the video here, and decide how 'funny' YOU think he is...

....And of course, the story about the Congressman who would become be in line to become Chair of the House International Reations Committee, despite his close friendships with the brutal dictators Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez...
No, children, these are just scary Halloween stories....
Unless you live in....(cue music)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

No More Sex!

Porcupine vastly enjoyed the debate with the four candidates for Governor last night. John Keller of WBZ was fresh, crisp, and kept things moving along nicely. Towards the end, it struck Porcupine what the best feature of the entire debate was - there was no talk about sex.

No mention of choice, abortion, marriage (gay or otherwise), contraception, rape, gender equality. Not one question centered around any facet of the human reproductive system, and its various modes of operation and generation. Instead, all four candidates were asked questions none of them had been asked before.

How much did you give to charity? Would you decriminalize marijuana? How should gun permits be handled? Most of the discussion was devoted to taxes, budgeting, local aid and actual government. Considering this is an election to select a Chief Executive for the Commonwealth, it was wonderful.

Porcupine also liked the way that Keller forced Patrick to be more specific. For instance, on the decriminalization question, Patrick launched into another touching story about a family member's struggle with heroin. Keller snapped, 'Yes, but would you veto the bill or not?’ Very refreshing.

Porcupine thinks that we should declare a moratorium on all social and sexual issues for a while. The estimated 10% of the population who are gay have cannibalized 90% of the legislative agenda for the last few years. They and their supporters are entitled to their views, but enough is enough. No more sex for a while -let's talk about GOVERNMENT.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mr. Peter Porcupine Explains It All For You

So, you were wondering about how to vote on the ballot questions?

Did you know there were ballot questions?

There are three of them, and Porcupine opposes them all. If that is sufficient for you, good day. If you need further information, please read on.

Question One would allow the sale of wine in food stores, subject to local licensing laws. Porcupine says ‘food stores’ because proponents say grocery stores, and opponents say convenience stores. The proposed law defines a “food store” as a retail vendor, such as a grocery store, supermarket, shop, club, outlet, or warehouse-type seller, that sells food to consumers to be eaten elsewhere (which must include meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, fresh fruit and produce, and other specified items), and that may sell other items usually found in grocery stores. Most gas station convenience store would probably qualify. Many who oppose the question believe that such food stores may not be able to properly control liquor, but they sell cigarettes, and do a decent job of controlling those sales to minors.

Porcupine opposes the question for local economic reasons. He is a proud Chamber of Commerce member, and regards local package stores as community businesses. He had also opposed the Sunday sale of liquor, as small businesses found it hard to stay open and the chain stores had an unfair advantage. Now, to compete with supermarkets and gas stations for wine sales – the fastest growing and most lucrative type of liquor sales, now that distilled spirits are out of favour – will put many of these small businesses under. Porcupine sees no reason to put Bass River Liquors out of business in order to enrich Deb Goldberg’s Stop and Shop chain any further. Package store profits stay in town, and chain store profits are spirited away. Vote no for your neighborhood business’s sake.

Question Two is the most confusing. It would bring to the state a phenomenon called ‘fusion voting’, in which every candidate can appear upon every party’s ballot, and the winners are chosen by adding them all up. The idea is to encourage the proliferation of small, boutique parties – the Working Families Party and the Constitution Party are big in New York where this is done. Porcupine does not wish to encourage the trend towards extremism in political parties, and prefers to have closed primaries instead, forcing unenrolled voters to pick a party in order to vote, not encourage chaos in an already shaky voting system.

Question Three is the one with the most hidden agenda since ‘Ban Cruel Leghold Traps (and by the way, change the composition of the Fish and Wildlife Board)’ in 2000. Ostensibly, it would allow providers of home day care to unionize, even though they are independent contractors and business in their own right, and lobby the state for better reimbursement rates for day care. However, Massachusetts is not a right to work state. Home day care providers who do not WANT to be forced to join a union, and who perhaps have only 1 - 2 state subsidized children out of six charges may eliminate them from the slots, making it harder for mothers with day care vouchers to find care. Most women doing home day care WANT to be independent contractors - if they didn't they would probably work at a Center instead. They want flexibility in their operation and pay for it with a reduced margin. Why would they want to pay dues to the SEIU, and cope with ANOTHER behemoth bureaucracy? What happens when they call for a strike, for something they don't even want? Do they ditch their private pay clients? Far better to eliminate the state slots.

Also, legally, this is a questionable precedent. What's next - barbers, because the state regulates them? Veterinarians, who are ALSO closely regulated for practices? These are independent businesses, with no relationship to one another and different costs and expenses – and yet 50% plus one would force them all to join the SEIU. These are businesses, not employees, and for that reason alone the question should be voted down. The very real possibility that the most vulnerable women who depend upon day care vouchers would lose care is another excellent reason.

Here is a link to the Secretary of State’s web page explaining the questions – although if you Vote Porcupine, you’ll never go wrong!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why Women Don't Like Kerry Healey (Part One of Two)

This is an important election. It’s so important that I’m not calling Kerry Healey “Muffy” anymore.
Howard Lawrence Carr, ‘the most expensive Carr on OUR lot', Oct. 1, 2006

It’s too late, Howie. You created the Monster, and now you have to live with it. You may be more to blame for a negative outcome of the 2006 election than Christy Mihos.

Back in 2002, Mr. Carr favored arch-conservative Jim Rappaport for the Lt. Governor slot, and began calling the head of the Mass. GOP 'Muffy' to indicate that she is a cold, nasal, uninvolved, unintelligent cosmetic device used by Mitt Romney to enhance his own charm and electability in his contest against Shannon O'Brien. Hey! How can he be anti-woman? He bought the sleekest model available!

The problem is that Muffy never existed, although that would not be the first time Mr. Carr refused to let facts get in the way of a good story line. But, Muffy has become the public perception of Kerry Healey, a powerful imaginary figure, and Carr's mea culpa may be too little, too late. This mischaracterization is particulary potent with women, most of whom do not listen to Mr. Carr's show and may be unaware of the genesis of it, but are acquainted with the stereotype he created, and among whom the Lt. Governor is struggling to find an audience.

As we all know, Muffy is a multi-millionaire, born and bred in tony Beverly, with a perfect husband and two perfect blonde children. Doubltess her hobbies are riding to the hounds and exclaiming over supermarket scanners now that she has been forced to mix with the hoi polloi.

In reality, at the same young age that Deval Patrick won life's lottery and was whisked off to the boarding school Milton Academy and thence to Harvard, Clinton's Adminsitration, and Glory - without his feet ever touching the ground except for vacations ever again - Army brat Kerry Healy's father suffered a crippling heart attack. She was living then with her parents in a far from ideal neighborhood in Daytona Beach, and took a second and third job to help her mother with the rent so they wouldn't lose their home. As Deval began his prep school life, Kerry was working to graduate from public high school in Florida, and only went to college because of her exceptional scholastic ability which earned her a scholarship, which helped while she worked her way through school.

When she arrived at Harvard, she had never seen snow and had no winter coat. Anyone who knows how - patronizing - Bostonians can be towards a person with no upbringing or heritage can imagine how - welcoming - her enviornment was. Her reserve was born there, even as Deval was encouraged to be outgoing and pampered. She persevered, and was awarded a full scholarship to Trinity College.

Kerry Healey has worked hard all her life - and because she and her husband Sean were successful, the Muffy label was hung around her neck. It makes you wonder why you bother to get out of bed in the morning.

Porcupine rememers the first time he met Kerry Healey. She was the new head of the Mass. GOP and Minority Leader Fran Marini was giving her a hard time about meeting with the GOP caucus. She was on the far from glamourous fourth floor in the State House, in a tan coat, a little diffident, a little uncertain. Porcupine immediately took her to the offices of a half dozen Republican legislators and introduced her, mainly to annoy Mr. Marini and make his opposition to her appouintment a moot point. But what Porcupine remembers is her quiet determination in unfamiliar surroundings, and how gracious and warm she was when given half a chance.

Women have seen only the stereotype, not the person who has worked at jobs just like theirs, or the mother who is as concerned about her kids as they are (unlike Gabrielli, she has strongly resisted having them in campaign commercials), or the leader who is not afraid to take and stick to a stand, and works to build bridges rather than float from above.

Women don't like Muffy - will they find out that isn't who Kerry Healy is?

(to be continued)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Porcupine Goes Straight!

There is nothing in machinery, there is nothing in embankments and railways and iron bridges and engineering devices to oblige them to be ugly.
H.G. (Herbert George) Wells (1866–1946)

Porcupine has been traveling off Cape Cod on a regular basis for decades, sometimes daily. During all that time, when asked about a frightful commute, he would point out that he worked with people who commuted ninety minutes to two hours, and were in Lawrence or Lowell when they got home, instead of next to the ocean under a gauzy pink sky. ‘Nuff said.

However, Porcupine experienced a transcendental moment this morning as he drove off Cape Cod over the Sagamore Bridge – he drove straight – right through where the Sagamore rotary used to be! Yes, my friends, we’re out of the dark, we’re out of the woods, we’re out of the night….

For a few weeks, the ‘flyover’, which is really more of an underpass from the driver’s point of view, has been open, and by zooming under Route 3, you popped up on a newly paved and nicely signaled Scenic Highway on the land side of the Cape Cod Canal. But now, a new Rotary-less era has begun. Deval Patrick will have to find other illegal state land to plant his signs on.

Porcupine will miss the little trees, the invitation to the Bourne Scallop Festival and the cheesy plywood reindeer and carolers – somewhat. But there is a greater significance to this that should be pondered.

Four years ago, newly elected Governor Mitt Romney stood at the Sagamore Rotary and announced that it would be gone and replaced with the flyover before his first term was done. This assertion was greeted with the jeers it seemed to deserve by the cognoscenti of Bacon Hill and environs – a major public works project? In less than four year? Please!

Yet it has been done. There is landscaping and signage to complete, but the essential work on the project is completed. I would direct the attention of Deval’s Devotees, especially those among my friend on Blue Mass Group, who are caviling about the ‘Big Dig Culture’ of the Romney Administration that the only roads project that he had oversight of, start to finish under Mass Highway instead of an independent authority like Mass Turnpike or Mass Port, came in on time and under budget. The Legislature, which blocked his efforts for four years to merge the Turnpike Authority with Mass Highway, and eliminate its hack ridden budget like he did with the abolition of the infamous Metropolitan District Commission, have their own explaining to do.

So, on this Columbus Day, Porcupine wishes you all the joys of discovery – including what state government can accomplish when it is unfettered by political ineptitude.

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