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Sunday, December 31, 2006

The First Face of Janus - Redux

Below are Porcupine's Prediections for the year 2006, originally posted Dec. 31, 2005, and a comment and score - on a scale of ten - on each for accuracy:

As the Roman God looks into the future, here are some predictions for 2006 in no particular order:

The economy will continue to rebound, and there will be another act of terrorism on US soil. Between the two factors, the 2006 elections will see the GOP keep control of the House and Senate, but with only modest gains, forcing the Bush to more compromise to complete their agenda.

4 points - the overall economy did continue to do well, with the Dow Jones hitting a record high despite gas prices, but the GOP lost control of Congress with a modest loss; indeed, the Senate is still in play due to the sad illness of a single member. Bush will indeed have to compromise.

The Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District will begin its formal split, but the negotiations will go well into 2007. The regional formula allocation will be upheld in the interim by the Department of Education.

1 point - a piecemeal solution has been reached, but the compromise may not prove long-lasting. The Regional Formula is still in use by the towns.

Samuel will be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice after a brutal filibuster, but Frist will not have to exercise the ‘nuclear option’. Justice John Paul Stevens will die this year, giving Bush his third choice for the Court. Roe vs. will not be overturned in the cases pending now before the Court.

7 points - Alito was confirmed, there was no 'nuclear option' used, Roe vs. Wade was not overturned, but Justice Stevens has not died. Yet.

At least one town will vote to leave the Cape Commission, and at least one other Cape town will vote to adopt a split tax rate in response to the new senior tax credits.

Zero points - In 2006, Barnstable remains the only town with a split tax rate, but Porcupine still expects this predicion to prove accurate.

There will be further changes at the Mass. Maritime Academy, and more trustees will resign and others will not be reappointed.

10 points - Gov. Romney fulfilled his mission to make the Board more responsive and trustworthy, and after the court case, there were more resignations and reappointments.

Donald will be elected Governor of New York State, and will revitalize the GOP there. Weld will go on even more deer hunting trips, and will write a new mystery novel. Clinton will also be reelected in a landslide victory.

4 points - Hillary was indeed reelected, Weld has been off in the forest, but there has been no new book and The Donald has elected to revitalize Miss USA instead of the New York GOP.

Cape Cod will be hit by a Category 2 hurricane.

Zero points - A bullet dodged, once again.

The first case of avian flu will be diagnosed in the US, causing panic as vaccine will be difficult to obtain. There will be rationing, and criticism of the criteria used.

Zero Points - thank goodness!

Sen. Ted will make more seditious remarks, for which he will be praised by the liberal press.

9 points - Porcupine cannot accept the full 10 points, as this was such a foregone conclusion.

The Cape project will receive approval from the Federal authorities, but suit will be filed in Federal Court to block permitting of the project, which will run into 2007.

5 points - Important Federal permitting issues were decided, and court challanges were dismissed, but the issue remains far from resolved.

Mihos will choose not to run as an Independent, and will cede the primary to Kerry , who will face intense pressure to name him as her choice for Lt. Governor. Instead, he will run for State Auditor and will win. Patrick will run an aggressive campaign, but will lose the primary to the better funded and organized Reilly. Allegations that surface about Reilly’s work with the CIA in 1965 regarding Viet Nam and the coup in Indonesia will further damage him with progressive Democrats, and Kerry Healy will be elected Governor of Massachusetts.

Minus 2 Points - A less than zero score is needed here for such inaccuracy. Porcupine must predict what he thinks will happen, instead of what he hopes will happen!

Rep. DeLay will be convicted of only one minor charge pending against him, requiring only a fine, but that will force him to leave any leadership position. He will be reelected despite the conviction, and his resignation would be moot. Hastert will continue as Speaker, and Blunt as Majority Leader.

6 points - DeLay did leave leadership, and he did appear on the Texas ballot, but the change in the House and Senate changed the Speaker and Leader positions.

On Cape Cod, all Legislative incumbents will be reelected, although Atsalis will face a narrow victory, and Turkington a narrower one. Don Howell will be elected to fill Rep. Shirley Gomes seat, triumphing over Sarah Peake, whose vicious primary battle with Ray Gottwald will cost her both money and popularity. Bill Doherty will defeat Tom Bernardo after a difficult campaign.

8 points - As predicted all incumbents were reelected, and Bill Doherty did win his Commissioner election. Howeer, Don Howell failed to win the Republican primary, allowing Sarah Peake to be elected.

And now, on to 2006!

Well, out of a potential 130 points, Porcupine self-scored only 52 - less than half. Tomorrow, Porcupine will post his 2007 predictions, and will be more rigorous and less optimistic - and we shall see how he does in 2008!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Porcupine is gradually being swept away by Christmas festivities. Holly and roast beef predominate in his thinking. Good friends like Jacob Marley (sans most of his chain after his good turn for crooge), and other hristmas Spirits are coming to share the celebrations. I wanted to leave you all something to enjoy while I am enjoying myself and my companions.

I am proud of my books, and one of my favorites is a first edition of orothy Parker’s first book – marbled brown boards, black binding, the quintessential ‘slender volume’ of verse. In it is perhaps the loveliest Christmas poem ever written, and I share it here as my gift to you all.

"It's queer," she said; "I see the light
As plain as I beheld it then,
All silver-like and calm and bright ---
We've not had stars like that again! "

And she was such a gentle thing
To birth a baby in the cold.
The barn was dark and frightening ---
This new one's better than the old.

"I mind my eyes were full of tears,
For I was young, and quick distressed
But she was less than me in years
That held a son against her breast.

"I never saw a sweeter child ---
The little one, the darling one! ---
I mind I told her, when he smiled
You'd know he was his mother's son.

"It's queer that I should see them so ---
The time they came to Bethlehem
Was more than thirty years ago;
I've prayed that all is well with them."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Get Your Own White Christmas!

And help the Salvation Army, too!

Need a Snow Day?

Not feeling any Christmas Cheer yet in this fifty degree weather? As always, Porcupine has the solution!

Click on the banner to start the snowfall, and use your cursor to cut out your own flake! And be sure to donate to the Salvation Army, too!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Matter of Truthiness

When one fib becomes due as it were, you must forge another to take up the old acceptance; and so the stock of your lies in circulation inevitably multiplies, and the danger of detection increases every day.
William Makepeace Thackeray, (1811–1863), 'Vanity Fair'

So, First Lady Laura Bush has had a small cancerous lesion removed from her shin. Porcupine hope it was not painful, will not be serious, and can be healed quickly. The cancer was a squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, said Susan Whitson, her press secretary.

However, the Washington Press Corp has a very different view of being kept out of the loop for some 6 weeks. "Monday's revelation was the second case this year of a belated White House announcement. In February, the White House waited almost a day before disclosing that Vice President Dick Cheney had shot a fellow hunter during a quail-hunting trip", sniffed the Associated Press. Porcupine has difficulty seeing any equivalency.

Mrs. Bush was seen with a bandage on her leg in late October at a reception for the King of Sweden, and had minor surgery in early November. It is bad enough to have intrusive journalists, capable of making three people lost in the snow on a mountain into a cliff-hanging drama, asking personal questions, especially when you are not an elected official, and have no duties. Imagine having to do so while in pain and awaiting the results of a biopsy. Even worse, imagine for a moment if Laura Bush had done the full 'Betty Ford', and had Barbara Walters do an earnest and oozing interview - right before the mid-term elections. Aha! Playing the victim! Trying to bump up the President's numbers! A STOLEN ELECTION!

A new round of criticism of the Bush family's secret nature and overall regard for truth has begun again. Porcupine has been given permission to borrow a list composed by an on-line friend, Farron Hite, dealing with 'truth' through various administrations: -

--Clinton never inhaled, and "never had sex with that woman"

--Bush Senior: "Read my lips, no new taxes!"

--Carter: lied about the fundamental character of both the Sandinista and the Iranian revolutions

--Ford: [while nothing comes immediately to mind, I’m sure there was

--Nixon: “I am not a crook”

--Johnson: Tonkin Gulf Resolution and Warren Commission Report

--Kennedy: Lied about our involvement at the Bay of Pigs

--Eisenhower: Lied about the U-2 incident

--Truman: Lied about the level of penetration of the US government by Soviet agents and sympathizers

--Roosevelt: Misled the American people on several occasions with respect to the events leading up to WWII.

--Hoover: Lied about the damage to the American economic system caused by the collapse of the international financial system.

--Wilson: Lied about the Lusitania Incident

Need I go on?

So, perhaps we can place the relative importance of Mrs. Bush's very white lie about her personal health problem in its proper perspective, and behave like adults insted of jackals.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Marvin ~ 1993 - 2006 ~ R.I.P.

Let Each Man Have, At His End, Such a Horse, Such a Hound, and Such a Friend.
Andrew Marvell, English Poet

My dog died last night. He had been failing for some time, prone to the hip problem that so often plague German Shepherds, and took a sudden turn for the worse a couple of days ago. Marvin was half-Labrador, half-Shepherd, and entirely dense and good-natured.

He was about 14, and we had him for 11 years. We got him a the Brewster Pound when my son was so small he PROMISED he'd take care of the dog faithfully. He had been brought there by a family who had given him as a puppy to a teenaged son, who refused to care for him anymore when he got a driver's license. My son did a little better than that, but primary care fell to the adults. Even so, for all the time we had him, he never went hungry or cold, or had anybody hit him, or hurt him. So, he had a good dog life. He was dumb as a post, but he worshipped us all.

We buried him in the yard this morning, near the lilac bushes he liked, and placed some slates over him. He spent his last days lying under the Christmas Tree, doing an imitation of a present, breathing in the balsam and thinking of Maine. Maybe. Or maybe just hoping somebody would drop food on the floor where he could reach it.

He will be sorely missed. In honor of his passing, here are perhaps the finest words ever written on the subject of canine companionship and love.

The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its' clouds upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and
poverty, in health and sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, when the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master, as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its' journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger to fight his enemies; and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its' embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.

Senator Vest's Tribute to his Dog - 1870

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

We tend to forget the past difficulties, the many false starts, and the painful groping. We see our past achievements as the end result of a clean forward thrust, and our present difficulties as signs of decline and decay.
Eric Hoffer (1902–1983)

The Iraqi National Assembly was elected on December 15, 2005, by people who risked their lives to be able to vote. Due to disputes over alleged vote-rigging the results of the elected were only certified by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq on February 10, 2006. But this radient image belongs to that day:

Please read Porcupine's thoughts on this matter from August of 2005 (HERE) , and please attempt to wish the Iraqui people well, and success to their endeavor.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

So What Did Romney Say Exactly?

A great deal is being made of the hypocrisy of Gov. Mitt Romney, as he asks the SJC to rule that the people of Massachusetts must be allowed to vote on the definition of marriage in the Commonsealth, and a 1994 letter sent to the GOP organization of gays, the Log Cabin Republicans. Claims, and excerpts, are being tossed about to prove a Romney flip-flop.

Porcupine thinks people should make up their own minds, and posts a copy of the entire letter
HERE. In reading it, Porcupine does not see an inherent conflict in the Governor saying that he supports equal rights in the courts, for military service, and in housing, and still opposing gay marriage.

There is a difference between nuance and hypocrisy. Bless the Internet so people can access the source of 'comments' and decide for themselves.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Should You Retire at 65?

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

On December 7, 1941 — 65 years ago this moment - Japanese naval and air forces made a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at , Hawaii on December 7. Eighteen warships were sunk or damaged, about 170 planes are destroyed and about 2,000 Americans are killed. The United States declared war on Japan.

Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘Day that Will Live in Infamy’ has almost become a Trivial Pursuit question. Since the veterans of our last declared war are in their 80’s, this is perhaps not surprising. It is interesting to compare the 50th and 60 anniversaries of the event.

President Bush spoke to World War II veterans and families at Kilo 8 Pier, Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 7, 1991 — the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day:

"I expect if we went around the room, all of us would remember. I remember exactly when I first heard the news about Pearl Harbor. I was 17 years old, walking across the green at school. And my thoughts in those days didn't run to world events, but mainly to simpler things, more mundane things like making the basketball team or entering college. And that walk across the campus marked an end of innocence for me.”

“We triumphed, despite the fact that the American people did not want to be drawn into the conflict — "the unsought war," it's been called. Ironically, isolationists gathered together at what was known in those days as an "America First" rally in Pittsburgh — at precisely the moment the first Americans met early, violent deaths right here at Pearl Harbor. The isolationists failed to see that the seeds of Pearl Harbor were sown back in 1919, when a victorious America decided that in the absence of a threatening enemy abroad, we should turn all of our energies inward. That notion flew escort for the very bombers that attacked our men 50 years ago . . .”

"I wondered if I would feel that intense hatred that all of us felt for the enemy 50 years ago. As I thought back to that day of infamy and the loss of friends, I wondered: What will my reaction be when I go back to Pearl Harbor?... No, just speaking for one guy, I have no rancor in my heart. I can still see the faces of fallen comrades, and I'll bet you can still see the faces, too . . . But don't you think they're saying 50 years have passed, and we are at peace? Don't you think each one is saying: "I did not die in vain"?
At the time, White House speech writer Mary Kate Grant said, “The beginning and end of the speech came straight from him. That's what makes it a uniquely George Bush speech. It's statesmanlike, yet it has some of his personality in it…George Bush has an awful lot of historical credibility. He'll be the last President who fought in World War II. He was the youngest flyer in the entire Navy. What we tried to have people draw from this speech was that Bush was caught up, as the rest of the country was, in this intense hatred of the enemy, and now, 50 years later, he can say, 'We can't hold grudges against the Japanese,' because he was there. Ronald Reagan could not have given that speech, because he didn't fight in World War II. He wouldn't have that moral authority we established at the beginning of the speech."

Ten years later, at the 60th anniversary, a Bush was President again and we were still reeling from the second attack on America only a month before. In the interim, we all said as President Bush did, “50 years have passed and we are at peace”. We began to recklessly gut our military, and refer to it as ‘spending the Peace Dividend’. The results were catastrophic. Never again, we vowed, would we be so feckless, so unprepared.

Today is the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor day, and 9/11 seems far behind us. It is interesting to speculate what kind of pressure Harry Truman might have felt six years after Pearl Harbor, in the face of increasing American casualties in the Pacific theatre, entangled in the centuries-old rivalries between Japan, China and Korea - had he not chosen to end American involvement with the atomic bomb. As it is, President Bush does not enjoy the support that his father had on the 50th anniversary, or the support Truman had as he chose a horrific way to end WWII. Our brief moment of national unity has fled.

But please, hearken back on this anniversay to the words of the President's father in 1991 - "The isolationists failed to see that the seeds of Pearl Harbor were sown back in 1919, when a victorious America decided that in the absence of a threatening enemy abroad, we should turn all of our energies inward." We can never afford to take such an attitude again, and that alone is reason enough not to 'retire' Pearl Harbor.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Try Some ICE on That!

All the Federales say, they could've had him any day
They only let him slip away, out of kindness I suppose
Townes van Zandt, Pancho & Lefty, 1982

Thanks to some hard work by the Romney Administration, Massachusetts' own Federales in Blue, the State Police, will be able to do something which has been called for by sensible people for decades - detain llegal immigrants for deportation when they commit crimes.

When omney first instructed his counsel to contact ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the Federal center in Vermont which has jurisdiction, not all were happy. Last June, the Boston Globe reported, "This will overwhelm the State Police force, it will hinder real law enforcement, real community law enforcement, and it clearly will lead to racial and ethnic profiling," said Carol Rose, executive director of the merican Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. "That's not effective law enforcement, or effective immigration policy." Apparently, total statis and lack of any law enforcement is the ACLU’s idea of effective immigration policy.

Probably, they never thought it would come to pass. But last week, Massachusetts became one of only six states to permit their State Police to make these detainments. It is far from a carte blanche. A select group of troopers will receive 4 1/2 weeks of training on immigration and civil rights law and on avoiding racial profiling. The Federal government will pay the salaries and travel expenses for the ICE instructors, and the state will pay the salaries and travel expenses of the troopers chosen for the program.

"The agreement is finalized from our point of view and is with the Secretary of Public Safety's Office in Massachusetts," ICE spokesman Michael Gilhooly said Sunday.

But the Glob would not be denied its shot at embarassing the Governor. Shortly before any announcement could be made, they reported (
HERE) that - gasp! - Romney had hired a lawn service, Community Lawn Service with a Heart, owned by one Ricardo Saenz. One of the crew, Rene Rosales told the Glob in an interview in Suchitepequez, Guatemala (!), that he worked on and off for about eight years landscaping Romney's two-and-a-half acre property in Belmont. He characterized Anne Romney as polite and pleasant. The Governor cheeerily hailed them with 'Buenos dias!', and relied upon the representation of the lawn company, who told State Police that all his subcontractors were legal Guatemelan workers. It fascinates Porcupine that when the cries on Morrissey Boulevard are at their height, and reporters are being laid off right and left, that the Glob should send reporters to South America to do follow-up interviews, hoping against hope that perhaps Romney had been rude or discriminatory, instead of voluntarily hiring a firm of minority workers and paying the company well and treating them courteously.

Porcupine eargerly awaits the Glob expose of every subcontractor currently building and roofing Deval Patrick's new palatial digs in Richmond, as well as who maintains his lawns at his tony home in Milton (click
HERE for photos).

"It is safe to say that the Governor-elect will be reviewing the details of the agreement quite closely," atrick spokesman Richard Chacon said. "This appears to be another out-the-door action by Gov. Romney with an eye toward his presidential ambitions rather than toward sound public policy for the people of Massachusetts." Since negotiations began last June, shortly after the Federal government created this program, the 'last minute' allegation is either a disingenuous appeal to public ignorance, or a demonstration of Patrick's own ignorance.

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrstrom responded, "I hope we haven't reached the point where enforcing the law is considered a political ploy." And there is Patrick's problem. He touted his experience as a Clinton Dept. of Justice appointee, and even went so far as to claim during debates that he had been a prosecutor (well, perhaps not in an actual courtroom, but support staff are important too!). Given his legal credentials, it will be difficult for him to refuse to enforce the law, and his base won't allow him to do so.

Perhaps he hopes that this will just slip away, too.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Thank You, Mr. Gore

Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616), The Tragedy of Macbeth

The conservative party won the official count in the disputed presidential race, a come-from-behind victory for the controversial candidate. But his left wing rival refused to concede and said he’d fight the results in court. But the court upheld the original results, and the conservative was declared the winner.

Then, at the swearing in, the newly elected candidate was sworn in with a chaotic ceremony preceded by a brawl between lawmakers of the rival parties….

Ah. That did not happen here. That was Mexico, this past Friday.

Felipe Calderon, a conservative who preached free-market values and financial stability during the campaign, had 35.88% of the votes, and his opponent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who blamed fraud for his narrow loss in the vote count and called on his supporters to fill Mexico City’s main square Saturday in a show of force, had 35.31%. The margin of victory was about 220,000 out of 41 million.

Earlier, the conservative Calderon took control of the presidential residence in an unusual midnight ceremony with President Vincente Fox, swearing in part of his Cabinet. In that private ceremony, broadcast live from Los Pinos, Fox handed the presidential sash to a military cadet as his term ended at midnight.

That left experts on Mexico's constitution, which requires presidents to be sworn in "before congress," puzzled over whether Mexico had a president or not earlier Friday morning.

Saturday, entering the congressional chamber thorough a small door directly behind the lectern, Calderon quickly swore to uphold the Mexican Constitution. As the Mexican anthem was played, stilling the shouting and brawling for a moment, Calderon quickly exited as the Congress adjourned. "He did it! He did it!" chanted ruling party lawmakers.

Makes prying the letter ‘W’ off of keyboards look pretty tame, doesn’t it?

Thank you, Mr. Gore, for accepting your defeat the way you did, and providing an example of why the American Republic is the strong and vibrant democracy that it is.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Advent is Here Again!

This is a Christmas tree.
It is not a Hanukkah bush, it is not Allah plant, it is not a Holiday hedge.
It is a Christmas tree.
Say it...Christmas, Christmas, Christmas

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