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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been....

They have been a safe asylum to secure these laws, in all the revolutions of humour and opinion
Edmund Burke (1729–1797)

Judge Samuel was confirmed as the 110th Associate Justice of the Court today a little after 12:30 p.m., without any fanfare, so that he could take his seat with Justices at the State of the Speech this evening. The days of a serene and considered confirmation like that afforded to Justice Ginsburg are over, and the Senate vote was a partisan 58 – 42. The vote marks the end of the courtesy usually extended by the Senate to the Chief Executive in respecting their choice. It is a vote that will come back to haunt liberals when there is once again a Democrat in the White House who wants to appoint a Justice in line with their beliefs.

“The vote on this nomination is the vote of a generation and a test of conscience.” said Sen. . He is absolutely correct. Alito is 55 and Chief Justice Roberts is 51 years old, younger then the President who nominated them, and much younger than the Senator who led his lonely, impassioned charge against them. While Porcupine find his ideas dreadful, he respects Kennedy’s passion and commitment, especially as contrasted with the junior Senator. “The critical question here is why are we so compelled to accept, in such a rush, a nominee who has so clearly been chosen for political and ideological reasons," said . Perhaps losing the 2004 presidential election to Bush was a factor? "This was the first time ever that a senator has called for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland," said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. "I think even for a senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps."

“This nation has experienced a march of progress during the time that I have been in the Senate”, said Kennedy. It is important for leaders like Sen. Kennedy to look over their shoulder from time to time, to see if anybody is still following them. Kennedy’s March towards Progress began about 40 years ago and Porcupine remembers the ‘Impeach Earl Warren!’ bumper stickers at the time. The liberal March bears a certain resemblance to runner Rosie Ruiz, the discredited Boston Marathon winner, who hopped in a car and rode out the route, to pop out and cross the finish line. This March has not been accomplished through votes, legislation, or any of the usual measures of law in a democracy. Rather, Kennedy’s March hopped into the waiting car of the liberal Judiciary, and has not deigned to try to change pubic opinion when it can be successfully adjudicated instead. Consensus isn’t important when you have five Justices. Porcupine expects we will hear a great deal more about it soon.

What is more at issue is the direction of the progress that the March has been taking us. Like many a piper before him, the Senator from Massachusetts has been playing the same tune for decades, but the followers are no longer there. With Alito joining Roberts, Thomas and Scalia on the bench, we will have a Court which will decide legal issues, and perhaps a Legislature that will make laws, going on the record in order to do so.

Liberals will have to build consensus and win elections in order to advance their agenda, instead of filing a docket. After forty years, it’s time.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Let's Go Live!


From the site of my friend Mr. Ogre, the funniest piece of film I've seen in a while

As always, be sure to have on the sound.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Issues Slam!

The editorial board of the Cape Cod Times has challanged us all to answer their questions about the hot issues of the upcoming year (story HERE). Here's a rundown of last year with a Porcupine update:

"Each year in January, the Cape Cod Times editorial board identifies key issues facing the Cape in the New Year. Last year, affordable housing (no real progress), environmental protection (status quo), smart growth (good progress in two or three towns, resistance in others), ocean zoning (an enormous waste of energy with zero resuts), wastewater management (the County has created its Wastewater Monster, and it trying to figure out how to bully the towns into it), Canal Power Plant emissions (still one of the filthy five with no relief in sight), and Cape homeowner insurance costs (situation worsened with the loss of three additional companies) topped the agenda". Not a distinguished litany of progress.

"This year, the board has identified five priorities: school funding, affordable housing, good jobs, environmental protection, including wastewater management and ocean planning, and open government. The board intends to track progress of these issues throughout the year.

None of these priorities, however, can advance without leadership and an involved citizenry. As a result, the board invites Cape citizens to propose solutions to these recurring issues".

Since Mr. Mills wants a letter, here is mine. He won't run it of course, as the Times is extraordinarily bigoted against the dead, but I submit it herewith:

Dear Mr. Mills:

As you listed them, here is my response to your call for comments on issues.

School Funding: We are outnumbered. We have been and will continue to be. Our only salvation lies in a Department of Education revamping of the expired 1993 Moskowitz/Birmingham formula to reflect income levels over property values, which is what Romney did and you immediately slammed. Legislation to cap state reimbursement to any municipality or system at less than 100% should have been filed years ago; now that the Lottery is being uncapped, and certain select cities may go over 100% again, it will not get passed.

Affordable Housing: We need to allow more than one unit to an acre. What is the difference between a four bedroom home with two bathrooms on one acre, and a duplex with two bedrooms and one bath on each side on one acre? Zoning needs to be modified to allow the rental of ‘mother-in-law’ apartments to non-family members (actually, that will just legalize existing situations, but it will provide a better picture of actual available housing units by decriminalizing them). Also, if a person is willing to put an affordable restriction on a rental unit, they need to get abatement on property taxes to encourage this.

Good Jobs: Government cannot create good jobs. It can only get out of the way of the private sector which does create them. The Cape Cod Commission has been the single biggest inhibitor of job growth, while allowing 9,999 sq. ft. sprawls of strip malls, so perhaps eliminating is as something that has run its course would stop frightening employers away. The two entities with the biggest potential for good jobs at good wages are at the MMR and the wind farm – both of which have been demonized by the Times at various stages. Once train lines are extended to Cape Cod, we can become the quaint looking bedroom community that activists seem to want, with the jobs somewhere else.

Environmental Protection: This is quite a laundry list you have included in this category. I have blogged before on red tide (HERE), wastewater management (HERE) and the tyranny of the Assembly of Delegates (HERE). The short answer to your question is that towns want to retain their sovereignty, and smaller towns east of the Bass River don’t want to be put into a perpetual economic sublimation of the mismanagement of some others (HERE). We have some of the strictest economic laws in the nation, and creating new bureaucracies won’t make them any stricter – just more expensive.

Open Government: Government is actually more open here than it is in big cities; it just takes unfamiliar forms. Much of the push towards city councils and mayoralties is because newer residents don’t understand how important town meeting is, and don't want to be bothered to take an interest in how their town is run. They just want an expert authority where they can register complaints. The solution to open government is the ballot box – if you don’t like a selectman, run against him. Again, we have laws against closed meetings – creating a Star Chamber is just more expensive, not more efficient.

Biggest Missed Issue: The effect of the new property tax law. The law allows higher credits for those over 65, allows property values to be frozen for those over 65, and allows the exclusion of some of a house’s value for seniors. This all passed because it is ‘local option’ – yet in some Cape communities, the number of homeowners over age 65 is over 50% (Sen. Creem, who wrote the bill, has a percentage of 15% in her home town of Newton). The bill originally allowed those over 65 to vote on Prop. 2 1/2 overrides, and then not have to pay them! All of this is with no asset test of any kind – just earned income levels of $44,000 for a couple. Annuities, etc., all are not taken into account. Also, towns cannot track who is in a 'principal residence', so there is nothing to prevent a husband from declaring Dedham as a principal residence, wile the missus declares Dennis. The elementary step of requiring Social Security numbers on these declarations would at least allow the Department of Revenue to find mis-matches between towns and income tax filings. If every town meeting on Cape votes this in, then the burden falls entirely upon younger families who do not have the equity or assets to pay. Will this be the last brick in the road to our destination as an elderly, gentrified Disneyland?

Perhaps we will think about THAT in 2007.

Yr. Obedient Servant,
Peter Porcupine

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Right Man for the Job

Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
Luke 12:1.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to send the nomination of Judge Samuel to the United States Supreme to the full for a confirmation vote. The vote was 10 – 8, and along party lines. None of this has been unexpected. Porcupine was pleased with the nomination (see HERE), after the Miers fiasco, but had secretly hoped for Judge Janice Brown (perhaps when Stevens performs the ultimate recusal?).

Some things emerged during the confirmation hearing that deserve comment.

First, the modern practice of stating your case to the media, sometimes with PowerPoint presentations, has made the Senate’s role of ‘advise and consent’ a superfluous one. Other than the possibility of a filibuster, is there anything germane that will be debated on the Senate Floor instead of 'Meet the Press'? Porcupine is old enough to remember when these hearings were muted, and no Senator would betray to a mere reporter how he planned to vote, as the mystique of the Senate as an advisory body was involved. Now, the Senate has gone Madison Avenue, and the sloganeering – on both sides - has been fast and furious. No pretense is made that the deliberations will be valuable in reaching a consensus, and the rules are not as polite as those of an Oxford debating club.

Next, the point of view of some of the Senators is, shall we say, interesting. Sen. has expressed great concern that Alito’s views are not those of the ‘mainstream’. Has he looked around? Does he honestly think that his own very liberal views are mainstream when the electorate of the country has chosen a conservative majority in both Houses of Congress and the Executive? Nobody can steal that many votes, in fifty different states, to justify a claim that there is a vast sea of unheard liberal voices. That point of view is heard loudly and frequently, and has been soundly rejected by most of the nation. As a Republican in Massachusetts, Porcupine feels some empathy for the Senator’s pain, but realism demands otherwise. Also, for a privileged scion of illicit wealth (bootlegging, stock manipulation) like Ted to worry that the son of hard working, humble Italian immigrants is overly biased against the ‘little guy’ is laughable. Alito actually is a little guy, and what he has he earned. We will pass over some of Sen. Kennedy’s more ludicrous claims and expositions, like the matter of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton versus the Harvard Owl Club; they have already received wide comment.

Lastly, Porcupine has heard frequent reference made to the concept that the Republicans would be just as moonbatty if there were a liberal nominee from a Democrat President. To test out this theory, Porcupine revisited the Judiciary Committee debates of Breyer and Ginsburg. was such stealth nominee that Porcupine wonders if Clinton knew what his opinions were, but had well established liberal credentials available through her writings. Frankly, the demagoguery of the extreme right was not in evidence during her confirmations, and she was confirmed with a vote of 96 – 3 by the full Senate. Only the eponymous Robert and Clarence were treated to this kind of media circus and general disparagement, which makes it appear that it is the intolerant liberal left who had and will continue to demean the High Court by smearing its nominees unless they can conform to their trades union of lockstep ideas. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, argued that even if Judge Alito is confirmed, the heavy Democratic opposition should send "a message to the president that he should be more careful."

"I think it sends a message to the American people that this guy is not King George, he's President George," Mr. said.

Republican Senator Jon , of Arizona, warned: "So I say to my Democratic friends, think carefully about what is being done today. Its impact will be felt well beyond this particular nominee." But the answer from Democrat Senator Dianne of California was, "It's a very different day and time" than during the Clinton administration's nominations. "There was not the polarization within America that is there today and not the defined move to take this court in a singular direction." It is amazing that the Senator does not recognize that the impeachment of the President was a polarizing event, but since the Court was being dragged in a direction she approved of, Porcupine supposes that the bearing did not seem ‘singular’ to her.

George Bush is a proud conservative (well, somewhat – Porcupine has problems with his social issues as being overly intrusive). Why is he expected to nominate liberal judges? The judicial qualification of his nominee to hold the office is not questioned; in fact, Judge Alito has more experience on the Bench than any other nominee in the last 75 years. Bush will likely have another nominee before the three remaining years of his term are over. The nominee will be a conservative. Please, prepare yourself for this now, before you announce like Claude Rains in ‘Casablanca’ that you are shocked, shocked, to find gambling going on here.

Porcupine has a new weekly tenant, 'A Soverign Speculator'. Porcupine is intrigued by the mix of finance commentary and tech geekiness in this blog, and encourages all to visit it by clicking on the icon on the sidebar for interesting ideas.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Blow, Blow, Thou Bitter Wind....

The Hungry Wind in Moaning Low, The Storm is up—you shall not go!
Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833–1908)

Now do we admit that Cape Cod is an area uniquely vulnerable to wind damage? With the death of a beautiful lade from Dennisport, an active and charming member of Eastern Star and South Yarmouth Methodist Church while driving on Route 6A on Wednesday, we may have to admit that the insurance companies may have a point about wind exposure (see previous post HERE).

In December, the Cape Cod Republican Club held a pubic forum in Dennis which was not as well attended as it should have been, as all of the insurance industry ‘decision makers’ were there to talk about wind damage and the FAIR plan.

Chuck Robinson, arguably the largest agent on Cape with Rogers & Gray, said that the non-renewal issue is a moving target. Yet another company, Hingham Mutual, is leaving Barnstable County, and 7 out of 10 of these non-renewals are going into the FAIR Plan. Ironically, there is a good market for homes worth more than $1 million, so the trophy homes are not as affected as the $500,000 homes, and there is still a so-so market for homes under $400,000. Much of the problem centers around the traditional reliance of Massachusetts on small mutual carriers to write homeowner coverage. Those small companies are least able to shoulder a large risk, and could lose their favorable Moody/S&P ratings if they continue to write in Barnstable County. Robinson said there was little light at the end of the non-renewal tunnel.

Jack Golembeski is head of the Mass. FAIR Plan, and deserves a lot of credit for coming to Cape Cod to answer questions in an open public forum. He stressed that FAIR is the same coverage as a standard carrier, but it is a last resort that was never intended to be competitive, and it will always be more expensive. In response to audience questions, he went on to say that the FAIR Plan was a cooperative venture of Massachusetts carriers. After the FAIR Plan has exceeded its ability to pay claims, based on the premium money it has taken in, the excess is parceled out to all carriers in proportion to the amount of business they write, and they make up the difference (of course, by writing less business, they limit their exposure to excess claims, and also preserve the impact of a loss prone area on their Moody’s ratings.) Jim Trainor asked why the additional bureaucracy of the FAIR Plan was necessary, but Golembeski answered that FAIR was created in 1968 in response to inner city race riots, and difficulty of urban areas to get insurance there, and said in his opinion, without FAIR, there would be no insurance in some areas available at all - including Cape Cod. In response to another question, he stated categorically that the FAIR Plan was NOT a for-profit entity.

Frank Mancini is a spokesman for the Independent Insurance Agents of Massachusetts, and is very expert in the overall market. He said that the Gulf Coast is causing some problems by siphoning away the ability of carriers to get mandatory reinsurance. Florida created a catastrophe fund in 992 after Hurricane Andrew, and was able to respond in 2005. Mass. Division of Insurance is exploring the possibility of a regional catastrophe fund, but in his opinion, it would best be run as a Federal program, like National Flood Insurance.

Bill Doherty questioned the availability of coverage so close to the water, and why properties 3 – 4 miles away were still penalized. Robinson explained that rate requests are filed on a countywide basis, so there is no distinction in basic rates between a beachfront house and one on top of hill miles away. Golembeski said that there was a recent SJC decision made in Chatham, which said that property owners did not have an absolute right to build in a flood plain, even with insurance, and that this common sense decision was encouraging.

Dick Neitz asked if auto deregulation would help bring more companies into Mass. and help increase the market. Frank Mancini answered that in his opinion, it would do very little. The companies most likely to come, like Geico and Progressive, don’t write homeowners now, and the State Farms and Nationwides would view us as too unprofitable to move in. In fact, Allstate has left Florida over the losses there. There was law which stated that if a company offered auto insurance anywhere, and wanted to do business by writing homeowners in Massachusetts, then it must also offer auto here in our bizarre no-fault system. That law was repealed, but homeowner insurers who also wrote auto stayed away anyways.

Mike Lee asked where the hurricane computer models come from. Jack Golembeski explained that 5 companies model damage, and no matter how extreme they may seem, the models for the Gulf Coast even before this year were 20% to 30% ‘light’ in the estimate of damage.

When asked what could be done, Golembeski said he would like to see building codes updated and enforced. For instance, hurricane clips, wich are supports inside of attics for roof lines, are easy to install on existing houses, and would be a siple addition to the building code. They can prevent wind damage to roofs.

Two other questioners stand out. Doug Bennet, from Nantucket, made a statement that the reaction of insurance companies was excessive, because colder Atlantic waters would prevent a hurricane from reaching Cape Cod. This week proved that winds far below hurricane speeds can have devastating consequences.

The other questioner that stood out was a man who said that he didn't see any potential for wind damage - he lived in Brewster, on the north side away from the water, and his house was surrounded by trees - old pines and firs - which protected it. HE didn't have a wind exposure, and resented being shoved into the FAIR Plan. After the December wind storm, Porcupine saw a house in his neighborhood whcih is similarly situated. It is a small ranch, and it had a 40 foot Douglas fir in the front year. the tree had been uprooted by the wind, and had cracked the roof line of the cottage.

I wonder how the gentleman from Brewster fared in these last two storms.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No More Education Presidents!

Because of the things that have been done, we can make college as universal in the 21st century as high school is today. And my friends, that will change the face and future of America.
President Bill 's State Of The Union Address, Jan. 27, 1998

Read the quote from President Clinton carefully – because it highlights the apogee of what is possibly the most dangerous trend in in America.

The Federalization of curriculum and policy in elementary education was bad enough. By creating a Department of Education, President Carter rammed through the greatest Federal power grab since they heyday of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. The paltry, and diminishing, efforts of conservatives to eliminate these mandarins are catalogued by the Institute HERE, but what is more disturbing is the acceptance of the premise that every child can and should have post-secondary education.

Ask professionals in juvenile justice, and they will tell you that the most common profile for young offenders is an above average manual or performance ability, and a below average verbal ability. They would be better served by vocational education, certificate programs, or training vouchers. Instead, they are forced to endure a standard college admission educational curriculum that is unimaginably boring to them, based as it is on verbal and intellectual presentation. Intellect and intelligence are not synonyms. We may now recognize that there are verbal, visual, and manual learners, but the education establishment is still skewed towards words over actions, and post-secondary education is even worse. Yet not attending college is being presented as a shameful thing. High schools measure their success by how many students go on to college, and they are even rewarded financially for this statistic with government aid.

A college degree, once a mark of distinction, has descended into mediocrity. College was once a place for the few, who needed a specialized intellectual training for their discipline. Now, it is just a place to get your ticket punched, and perhaps acquire the requisite liberal mindset. In order to accommodate the rising number of run-of-the-mill students, less demanding classes and curriculum have been developed which will allow four years of Rocks for Jocks and other basket-weaving courses, allowing these young people to have the stream of education play over them without getting any wetter than they can help. Naturally, the genuinely intellectual and specialized now need Masters and Doctorate degrees; once the education mafia can invent more post-Doctorate distinctions, we can begin to trivialize Master’s degrees, too.

The Cape Cod Times reported, “According to the results, 42 percent of the more than 72,000 open positions across the state [of Massachusetts] in the second quarter of 2005 required at least an associate's degree, an increase of 2 percent over the previous year. (See full story HERE). We are misleading young people by telling them that education is the cornerstone of wealth and success, when it is actually hard work and determination. Why does a convenience store manager need an Associate’s degree or a government clerk need a BA? Read the classifieds, and you will see these inane requirements. At the same time, we are not adequately teaching the science and math skills needed for our information economy to be continue to be successful.

Of course, to a certain extent, this is a issue. By requiring ever more education, the employment of more and more teachers is a necessary corollary. Politicians, even conservatives who have zero chance of a teacher union endorsement, are wary of being termed ‘anti-education’. So we have Education Presidents, Education Governors, and soon Education Planning Boards. Secondary education has become a powerful sacred cow, and no elected official wants to be gored by that ox. Conservatives must work together to eliminate Federal interference in education, and return decision making authority to where it belongs – locally elected school boards and committees.

The late David Brudnoy, the libertarian WBZ radio host summed it up very well. He often said, “We have no problem with the idea that a Michael Jordan can jump higher than anybody else, or that a Jim Thorpe can run faster. But suggest that there are differences in intellect and intelligence, and it is immediately called elitist, often racist and sexist, and certainly not to be considered. Why can’t we admit what common sense tells us all is true – that some people have more powerful brains, just like Jordan has more powerful legs?”

We need to teach our children that hard work – be it manual or intellectual – is the key to accomplishment. We are only teaching young people the skills they need to survive in a white collar world – and it was a blue collar society that made America great. We are ignoring the educational needs of anyone who does not need to wear a tie or high heels to work. Diplomas may decorate the walls, but they cannot make you a success.


Recently, Porcupine was voted into a cadre of 50 bloggers, The Wide Awakes. The Wide Awakes are made up of 25 writers, and 25 Defenders who make coments to back up posts. This is my first post as a Wide Awake, and whenever I make one, I will put the Wide Awake logo at the top as an indicator. Please visit the blogroll for a link to the The Wide Awake Blog, and while you are there, please check out my new tenant, Journey Across the Pond, the blog of a soldier currently serving in Iraq, who is about halfway throguh his rotation.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pride or Predjudice?

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King - Entire Speech HERE

"This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."

Embattled Mayor Ray Nagin, that tower of strength and efficiency in "chocolate" New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, has discovered that "God" is mad at New Orleans and black communities for political infighting. This discovery would dovetail nicely with his realization that his reelection bid is faltering. God must be a Democrat, too.

Read the whole story
HERE, and imagine your own 'imaginary conversation' with Dr. King about it.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Hard Lessons

Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)

One fact didn’t get reported in the coverage of the defeat of the bill to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state schools, rather than the out-of-state rates they are charged now.

The legislation was illegal.

A good explanation of the legal issues involved can be found HERE at FinAid, a public service web site explaining college tuition issues. A quote from the site,
Specifically, Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Title 8, Chapter 14, Sec. 1623) states: "an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State ... for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident."

In effect, that disallows charging a different rate for in-state and out-of-state students entirely, which would mean an enormous hit in terms of funding. The loss of the out-of-state could cost the system millions, rather than the paltry benefit of additional tuition as reported by the Mass. Taxpayers Foundation (Mr. Widmer's foundation is aptly named, as it believes that Mass. residents should pay as much taxes as possible all of the times). Despite that fact, laws have been passed in 8 states, and are pending in a dozen others. A Supreme Court case is pending, which will decide the status of all of these laws, but what is interesting now is the political fight.

This legislation had the support of Speaker Sal DiMasi, and was supposed to be a slam dunk – just like the gutted version of Melanie’s Bill. Say what you will about Tom Finneran, there would never have been six hours of debate and a defeat for a leadership initiative by a vote of 57 to 97 on his watch.

Dozens of exploited illegal students watched the debate from the gallery and comforted each other after the House adjourned for the day. While these children, brought here by their parents without any personal responsibility for their presence here, are the poster children for showing compassion it is important to remember that the legal break afforded now only to bona fide residents and legal immigrants has no age limits attached to it.

"I'm no longer surprised by the power of fear, and that's what won today … This administration has propagated the politics of fear in a remarkably relentless and ruthless way," said Ali Noorani, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrants and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (yes, it's all Romney's fault that the Democrat Legislature voted her bill down - everything always is!). A spokeswoman for Speaker DiMasi said, "He was aware it was an uphill battle. But he also thought the substance of the bill was not understood by the public." In reality, they understood it only too well. Helped by the efforts of the tiny Republican caucus, especially Rep. Jeff Perry and Rep. Don Humason, who took the argument to the airwaves, both legislators and their constituents took a second look.

Support had been eroding for over a week, when advocates had thought they would have a veto-proof majority of 100 votes. DiMasi sent a letter to the legislators indicating that amendments to "clarify and strengthen" the bill would be allowed. The Democrat leadership requested support for three amendments: requiring federal tax identification numbers, proof of a Massachusetts-issued equivalency degree as an alternative to a high school diploma within the state, and a more specific affidavit attesting to efforts to achieve citizenship. It was too little, too late. An amendment, sponsored by Rep. Christine Canavan (D-Brockton), would have required non-citizen students, as a condition of eligibility, to provide proof of a taxpayer identification number and a signed affidavit that they have applied for . That was defeated 75-77, as was another amendment by Rep. Loscocco that would have required an actual application for citizenship be made, not just an unenforceable letter stating intent like Rep. Canavan’s called for. In fact, Canavan voted against the final bill even though she had championed it in the debate. Much of DiMasi’s leadership team abandoned him, including Ways & Means Chair Robert DeLeo, Assistant Majority Leader Lida Harkins and Speaker Pro-Tem Tom Petrolati. Again, unthinkable under Tom Finneran, and the second major defeat to be handed to DiMasi in just a few weeks.

One Democrat who proved she is still a force to be contended with was Rep. Marie Parente (D-Milford). Too conservative (and sensible) to retain her Chairmanship under DiMasi, she had plenty to say in the debate. Squaring her broad shoulders and tossing her mane, she demonstrated her still formidable presence. Porcupine’s favorite riposte was this, “Let me get this straight. We let them come here because they are taking the jobs that we Americans don’t want. Now we want to educate them so they can take the jobs we DO want?”

Outside the chamber after the vote, Rep. Byron Rushing told a crowd of students, "Just remember, we get a Democratic governor next year, and you only need 81 votes."

Perhaps he was referring to Attorney General Tom Reilly’s support for the bill? As the chief law enforcement official of the Commonwealth, for him to suborn the bestowal of benefits upon people whose status is criminal is an implicit abandonment of his duty. After these young people are educated, no Massachusetts employer can legally hire them - or does gubanatorial candidate Reilly plan to look the other way at that, too?

Of course, the ultimate blame for this fiasco lies at the feet of our current immigration law, written in 1974 by…Senator Ted . At that time, he included a provision for extra immigrants to be allowed from Ireland due to economic hardship. Of course, the Irish economy rebounded over a decade ago, and that dispensation could be bestowed more productively upon Eastern Europeans who come here on H2-B visas, but, well, Kennedy has bigger fish to fry now. Professional fulminating has overtaken him.

Once again, Congress has ignored its responsibility to pass effective statutes, preferring instead to be governed by court edict. Then it isn’t their fault, and everybody can love them. Perhaps that is why the Alito hearings are consuming so much Congressional attention – after all, it isn’t like they make the laws or anything.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Rapscallion Sighting!

Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.
John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834–1902)

Just because those feeling friendly towards me on this web site call me ‘Porc’ should in no way be construed as approval of the antics being exposed by the bribery indictment.

Although this has been portrayed as a ‘Republican Scandal’, there is evidence that it is really bi-partisan, and reached deep into a culture of, shall we say, relaxed ethics by members of both parties. (While the Republican names have received wide media attention, the Democrat names have not, so I am happy to provide you a list of names and dollar amounts through the link to Blue State Conservatives -

Now, however, another is looming which may well fit Porcupine’s description of a Christmas gift for his fellow Cape Cod Today Blogger JC of Rapp City – “a nasty Republican scandal to be named later” (Note to JC – the Globe appears to be working on delivering you the other half of my gift, the Duval Patrick gubernatorial candidacy).

It was reported today that former Rep. Randy “Duke” , a California Republican forced to resign after being convicted of bribery, attended meetings with fellow legislators, including meetings of the Armed Services Committee of which he was a member, wearing a wire for the FBI.

The reaction of one top Congressional aide was telling – “Holy ‘bleep’, knew everybody and cut deals all the time!” Holy bleep, indeed.

Of course, Federal probes of Capitol Hill activities are not new. It was 15 years ago that a joint Postal Inspection Service and FBI probe was launched on Capitol Hill to investigate allegations of corruption involving employees of the House Post Office. That probe, which Capitol Police had initially conducted but then felt was stymied by congressional leaders and turned over to the FBI, ultimately resulted in the conviction of nearly two dozen Congressional staff and notably the then Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski. Back then the Democrats were the party in the majority, and it was primarily Democrats who were affected.

In all, the House Post Office scandal led to the resignation and defeat of nearly 100 members of Congress and helped propel the Republican takeover of the House in 1994. At the time, the Post Office scandal was paralleled by the House Bank check-kiting scandal.

So, it would appear that turn about is fair play, and the party that is now in the majority is about to learn that crime does not pay.

The tagline of my blog is and has always been, “I stand Firm for True Conservative Philosophy and Against Rapscallions of ALL Political Stripes”. While Porcupine is a Republican, he is not a blind and deaf partisan. It is his sincere hope that any and all guilty of abusing their trust and the responsibility of their office will be swept away, even as they were 15 years ago. Porcupine imagines this will damage the GOP more than the Democrats for the simple reason that there are more of them, and that bribes are for influence, which resides with the majority in any institution.

Congress has become the province of multimillionaires, not at all the group of citizen-legislators envisioned by the Founders. The pressure to be reelected which comes from the decision to make Congress a career instead of a brief service will be blamed, no doubt.

But that pressure was self-applied, and those who sport that excuse are indeed rapscallions, and deserve to be swept away with the other detritus of history

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Persistence of Memory

The man-god must be killed as soon as he shows symptoms that his powers are beginning to fail, and his soul must be transferred to a vigorous successor before it has been seriously impaired by the threatened decay.
Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941). The Golden Bough. 1922

I usually do not reprint posts from other bloggers, but this one from Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit is too funny to pass up. And, after all, he IS my Senator.

Pundit posts - "Ted remembers "The Goldwater Preidency" and links to this:

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank notes some of the wisdom flowing from Sen. Ted Kennedy regarding Supreme Court nominee Samuel , when he writes in this piece:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), hosting a morning roundtable with reporters, had nothing nice to say about Alito. "We here in the United States are not going to stand for monarchial tyranny," he said, protesting Alito's support for "unfettered, unlimited power of the executive." He faulted Alito for belonging to a group that was "anti-black and also anti-women." Kennedy wondered if "the average person is going to be able to get a fair shake" under Alito.
Briefly, Kennedy rewrote the outcome of the 1964 election. "This nominee was influenced by the Goldwater presidency," he said. "The Goldwater battles of those times were the battles against the civil rights laws." Only then did Kennedy acknowledge that "Judge Alito at that time was 14 years old."

Would you like an olive a twist with that, Senator? (Posted by Tom Elia on The New Editor with the title, Sharp - Sharp like a Bowling Ball)

Reynolds remarks, "Funny, I don't (remember that), but I was pretty young then.

Kevin Scott! Your campaign for the Senate just got another boost! Mr. was in Yarmouth yesterday, and spoke about health care, Iraq and his Senate - yet another non-event in the land of the Cape Cod Times!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hatfield and McCloy

It isn’t often that you get to watch a breaking news story change right before your eyes, even in these days of the much vaunted 24 hour news cycle.

Very late last night, Porcupine was chatting on line with Ted, a paramedic in Minnesota, his friend Dr. Lonnie Hodges, a professor in China, and Balla, in South Africa about nothing in particular. Porcupine was idly waiting for the announced press conference to occur about the rescued coal , which had been announced around 12:30. It didn’t happen, and the Fox/CNN/MSNBC troika just kept reporting the good news, that 12 men had been found alive, and there had been one fatality. Later a woman named Kiki, who had been interviewed as a resident by earlier in the evening, ran over to of CNN, weeping, and told the bad news. Here is what I posted (spelling corrected) at around 4:00 on the aptly named thread on Wind Farmer’s AlmanacThe human cost and brutal inefficiency of generating electricity from coal” –

“At 2:45, a woman came running over to Anderson Cooper of CNN. The miners are all dead but one, a Mr. McCloy.

A team, 1300 ft. underground, called the command center, where there was an open squawk box, and said they were alive. The command center all cheered, and everyone began to call family, spreading 'news' like wildfire. About half an hour later, they learned it was false. Mr. Hatfield of the mining company determined that they would make a formal statement to ALL the families at the same time, because they weren't sure until the bodies were brought to the surface if there WAS more than one alive. The mining co. went to the church and told the families. This turned very ugly very fast. CNN admitted that their source was a family member, not the mine company. Reporters are angry that they reported the men were alive for over 2 hours. CNN said that the EMT's were grim and would not make a statement and they thought that was odd but they didn't change or backpedal their story.

So there was no miracle, and the families are devastated. Please continue to pray for them.”

Here is what didn’t fit in the comments – according to CNN et al very late last night.

The first body found WAS alive, and that’s why the phone call was made. As they began to bring the others to the surface, it was apparent that the good news wasn’t there, and it took them about an hour and a half to bring up all the bodies and place them in the fleet of ambulances. The Governor had already been to the church where the community was gathered, and blurted out the good news; he was dragged away by staff when he learned that it was NOT confirmed by the mining company, but was just something ‘everybody’ knew. Mr. Hatfield of the mine company then determined that he would not make any statement until he had all the data, and decided to find a grief counselor to accompany him when he went to the church (WHERE did they find a psychologist to pack up his pentagrams and hit the road at 1:00 am in West Virginia?).

Anderson Cooper did a very good job of talking gently and intelligently with Kiki about what was said in the church. There were cries of ‘hypocrites!’ and her young son offered that one miner had tried to punch the company executive. Kiki pointed out that many families had awakened their children to bring them to the church to share in the good news, only to be slapped in the face in front of them. Anderson Cooper demanded angrily why, if they knew it was false about a half an hour after the first report, didn’t they tell the media to back off from the story. Porcupine wonders how they could have done that before making the official statement, but there is no question that the gauche handling of the matter by both the officials and the reporters made the pain all the worse.

Mr. Hatfield was pummeled at a press conference by angry reporters who demanded to know how they had been allowed to report good news. Towards the end, Mr. Hatfield began to cry a little, after one reporter demanded to know how firm the financial foundation of his company was, and if they had let miners die for profits. All evening, to fill time until the press conference since the ‘rescue’ had been announced, various reporters had talked about how it was ‘in the blood’ of these brave hill folk to go down into the mines, and how hard-working and stoic they all were. There was more than a little ‘gee whiz’ about this, and a shamed realization that these people that they scorned as irrelevant fly-over folk actually made their Blackberries and I-Pods possible. There was a dawning realization and respect in their voices, for people who considered $60,000 to be a top notch annual wage and who were willing to do dangerous work to get it.

Porcupine was lucky to be chatting with the people he was. Ted asked good questions about what was being said about the command center, because he has worked in them (amazingly, he doesn’t have a TV, so couldn’t watch the story, which I was transcribing into the chat as it unfolded). I mentioned the open mike in the command center, and that Mr. Hatfield said that when they all began to cheer, those nearby began to call anxious family, but that the center, per se, made no statement until the church meeting. Ted said he saw how that could happen, and faulted the reporters for pumping up people’s hopes. Dr. Lonnie commented that there had been 6,000 coal mine fatalities in China LAST YEAR, and the year before that, and that, and so on. Dr. Lonnie is using bottled water right now to avoid the cadmium and benzene in the water in China – the coal mine deaths are a minor tragedy in the Chinese chemical soup.

The front page of today’s Cape Cod Times bears the banner headline, “They’re Alive!” culled from the Associated Press.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Second Face of Janus

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Cape Cod will be hit by a Category 2 hurricane.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

And now, on to 2006!

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