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Friday, March 31, 2006

The Shock of Recognition

A nation that seemingly dies may be born again; and even though in the physical sense it die utterly, it may yet hand down a history of heroic achievement, and for all time to come may profoundly influence the nations that arise in its place by the impress of what it has done.
Theodore Roosevelt, June 7, 1910

Porcupine would like to be the first to congratulate the Mashpee for their preliminary Federal recognition as a tribe. A final decision must be made by March of 2007.

The seven criteria that must be met for final recognition seem well within their purview - a cohesive history, active and able leaders, a distinct identity separate from other Federal tribes, and proof that they have never been terminated by legislation. While the Mashpee Wampanoags may have been formally banned from Boston until recently, thank goodness nobody ever sought to eliminate them - even during the contentious New Seabury land battles of the 70's and 80's.

There are about 1,458 members of the tribe. All are descendants of 451 tribal members who lived in Mashpee in 1861. Ten of the original thirteen petitioners have dies since they first asked the Federal government for recognition 30 long years ago. Porcupine is acquainted with some tribe members, and has always been impressed with the dedication that they show as they hold their annual PowWow and celebration of their heritage. No matter what the eventual disposition of their petition may be, they can be secure in the knowledge that they are respected for thier historic achievements, and know that they did indeed affect the genesis of this nation.

Now, the Town of Mashpee must find a way to cope with the formation of a sovereign entity within its town borders. But after all, the Wampanoag had to find a way to accommodate those pale people in the strange boats 400 years ago. Surely this time, we can all work this out, and live together in peace and contentment.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Loose Ends

Spring-clean·ing - NOUN: A thorough cleaning, especially of a residence when winter is over.

Many issues which Porcupine has blogged on have reached resolution recently, and now Porcupine wishes to offer the various 'rest of the stories' as Paul Harvey would say.

First, the FEC has decided to grant to bloggers what is known as the 'editorial exemption' - see original story HERE. Porcupine had been quite afraid to attack the Democrat Gubernatorial candidates, as he couldn't figure out who benefited from his screed as a 'donation'. For the rest of this election cycle, we are freed from fear, and recognized as the Army of Davids, the citizen ournalists that we are.

With the Brothers , we have more of a split decision - Billy gets his enhanced pension, but James still loses his due to his perjury conviction - see original story
HERE. The havoc wreaked upon varied city and town systems has yet to be calculated, but the Solon of Southie has a lot to answer for.

On a happier note, Jack was sentenced today to over 5 years in prison and restitution of $21 million. Porcupine offered his opinion of that person
HERE, but he is overjoyed to hear that jail time and financial hardship are in his future. Since he will be allowed to stay out of prison as long as he cooperates with Federal authorities, and since Duke Cunningham is cooperating as well, there will be many interesting stories from this in the future.

And, best of , bdul Rahman arrived in Italy today and escaped execution or incarceration for his faith as Porcupine wrote
HERE. The prayers of many were answered, and Porcupine has new hope as we get closer to Easter and Holy Week.

Next - a fresh topic in a newly tidied blog!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Et Pourquois Pas?

You would oppose law to socialism. But it is the law which socialism invokes. It aspires to legal, not extra-legal, plunder.
Frédéric Bastiat (1801–50)

Porcupine has to admit, he didn’t think it was possible that he would ever feel bad for French President Jacques Chirac. But he’s getting there.

It appears that Pres. Chirac is going to be the person without a chair when the music stops, as many chickens come home to roost in French society.

First, there were the Muslim student riots of last year. Porcupine wrote at the time that a concerted indifference to the ghettos that ring Paris had finally caught up with the French authorities, (see HERE) and that France ignored this volatile situation at its peril.

But when trouble came again, it was from a different source. Today, more than 1 million people took to the streets across France in protest of a new, highly contested labor law. Riot police armed with batons and shields moved in on more than 200,000 demonstrators gathered at the Place de la Republic in Paris, and according to police estimates, 31,000 marched Tuesday in the southwestern city of Bordeaux, 28,000 in the southern port city of Marseille, 26,000 in the Alpine city of Grenoble, 17,000 in Lyon and hundreds of thousands in nearly a dozen other cities and towns.

Protesters in Paris said they wanted to defend the status quo. "We are here for our children. We are very worried about what will happen to them," said Philippe Decrulle, an Air France flight attendant. "My son is 23, and he has no job. That is normal in France." In fact, France has an unemployment rate of about 23 percent.

What is also normal in France is a 35 hour week, five weeks of paid vacation, and a virtual lifetime job once hired. This is not entirely due to unions, but to French socialist employment laws, which make it almost impossible to fire an employee once hired. The new law would allow employers to fire those under age 26 during a two year trial period. By targeting the youngest workers, who presumably have greater flexibility in seeking employment and fewer responsibilities, Prime Minister (and Presidential Candidate) Dominique de Villepin was hoping to end the tailspin of unemployment, and bring France out of the worst economic situation in western Europe by encouraging employers to hire additional people, with the promise that they could be fired without the usual court challenge if they didn’t work out. Villepin also faces pressure from the rival UMP Political party led by Interior Minister (and Presidential Candidate) Nicolas Sarkozy, who helpfully suggested that all the troublemakers be locked up. This is the ‘Sarko’ of the Muslim riots, a sort of Pat Buchanan figure in France.

Chirac is backing his Prime Minister for now, but it is difficult in the face of smoke drifting across the Eiffel Tower once again, and water cannon (shades of Birmingham!) trained upon rioting youth. Porcupine would like to hear once again from the Chattering Classes, who have extolled opulent European labor laws for so long, and ask them what they think of this logical conclusion.

And President Chirac must try to reconcile the two opposites of socialist featherbedding and global competition, even as he hears the music draw to a close while he scrambles for his chair.

Friday, March 24, 2006


This painting by Jean-Leon Gerome shows Capuchin monk Father Joseph walking down a staircase at Versailles, deeply absorbed in his missal and oblivious to the groveling courtiers trying to curry favor with him. Father Joseph, the 'Eminence Grise' is an archetype of a type of Cardinal. His friend Cardinal Richelieu is another - silken, cynical, worldly, political. And yet it was to the Capuchin Father Joseph that Richelieu and the King deferred and a word from the simple Friar could change the course of French policy, and thus the simple monk in all his humility was feared by the French Court.

We have our own Richelieu and Joseph in the Boston Archdiocese in the form of Cardinal Law - the urbane Richelieu - and the simple yet powerful Capuchin, now-Cardinal Sean O'Malley. Yet Porcupine is troubled by a thorn upon the blossom of Cardinal O'Malley's universal acclaim.

In 1992, when he was only Bishop of Fall River, he summoned the devout Catholic and newly elected legislator Shirley Gomes to his offices and demanded that she change her vote on an bill about abortion. She declined, and he stripped her of her Eucharistic ministry as a consequence. In 2004, while Archbishop of Boston, he demanded that Catholic Rep. Barbara L'Italien change her vote on allowing contraceptives to be covered as medication. Rep L'Italien also declined, and was also punished. Rep. Gomes is a Republican and Rep. L'Italien is a Democrat, so this is not a partisan matter - no matter what he said about Cheney at his elevation press conference.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this stance. He is a Prince of the Roman Church, and as such should demand that Catholic members follow its teachings. Yet - he has never publicly rebuked such prominent pro-choice Catholic legislators as John Rogers, Frank Hynes, Doug Peterson or John Kerry - no, the public humiliations are only for the females.

Theology teaches that the Deadly Sins are not characterized so much the act as they are by obsession. For instance, a person feverishly weighing every ounce of food consumed is as guilty of Gluttony as a jaded gourmand consuming a seventeen course meal. It is the obsession with what ought to be a routine concern that distracts from God, not the form that obsession takes. So, a person who rejects appropriate recognition with extraordinary modesty and protestations of unwothiness is as guilty of Pride as the more easily recognized arrogant and snobbish. It's always harder to see the Uriah Heeps clearly.

Now that he is Cardinal, will O'Malley begin to call the men to task also, or will he continue to reserve his condemnation for the more usual and easily disregarded targets of the Roman church, the women?

Perhaps that is how we will be able to tell if our own Father Joseph is indeed a haughty prelate.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

He Must Be Mad!

Once to every man and nation, Comes the moment to decide, In the strife of truth with falsehood, For the good or evil side.
James Russell Lowell, in the Bos­ton Cour­i­er, De­cem­ber 11, 1845

, 41, faces a possible death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago while working as a relief worker in a Christian camp in Pakistan. He has been charged with rejecting Islam, a crime under 's Islamic laws. "We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge said. "It is an attack on Islam. The prosecutor is asking for the death penalty." Appeals have been made to Afghan President Hamid Kharzai for clemency, but Rahman was caught red-handed in possession of a Bible.

Porcupine loves church. While a member of a rather plain-vanilla denomination, Porcupine has been a member of the same congregation for decades, and knows the comfort not only of spiritual guidance, but of a genuine church family. There are the songs, the after-sermon coffee with the dry cleaner from the next village, the gasp and sadness when a crisis is announced for the Prayer Chain, but most importantly, the sense of community, the way that the congregation reaches out to the lonely and mobilizes to help the poor and disaffected in their midst, and elsewhere. As the Old Creed says, Porcupine basks in the Communion of Saints, and derives hope from the Forgiveness of Sins and the Life Everlasting.

But face execution for the well-loved white clapboard building, and the fellowship and inspiration within? To find that kind of courage?

The Chattering Classes, those champions of Situational Ethics, probably wonder why anyone would be willing to die for such an arcane principle. Perhaps to jump start their sense of righteous anger, they can contemplate a society where you must condone the clubbing of baby harp seals or face execution (surely, there is something they care about, for after all, what’s another dead Christian, some ideal that they cannot rationalize – they cannot be entirely dead to outrage). Perhaps now, they will understand that Sharia law does not recognize the concept of us ‘all just getting along’, and that cravenly tossing Israel into their hungry maw will be nothing more than an hors d’ouvre to these zealots.

Afghanistan has offered a way out, according to this news story
HERE . In almost Soviet fashion, Rahman must simply admit that converting to Christianity was the act of a madman. So far, he has refused admit insanity, or convert to Islam, so he remains slated for execution.

By the light of burning martyrs”, says the old hymn. It’s been a long time since we in the West were so tested or tried. Porcupine prays for Abdul Rahman, and prays for the courage of his own convictions as well.

(Link to the entire text of the Hymn at the beginning may be found HERE)

Monday, March 20, 2006

From the Cradle to the Grave...

Give me a child for the first seven years, and you may do what you like with him afterwards.
Jesuit Maxim

The Democrats have discovered why they have been losing voter for the last ten years or so.

It's that long lag between birth and the beginning of kindergarten, when proper Teacher indoctrination can begin. Until then, little ones are susceptible to the ideas and values of their retrograde parents. Now, the Democrats can begin to change all that with the new preschool picture book, Why Mommy is a (web site

Porcupine has been reading the web site, and is considering writing his own book. Below are the lines from the sample pages on the web site:

Democrats see to it that all toys are shared, just like Mommy does.

Porcupine's Version: Republican Mommy teaches you not to be concerned about the toys that other people have, but do you best, work hard and save up to buy your own toys, that you can be proud of because they are your own. Until a Democrat Mommy
comes and takes some away from you to give to her own lazy children.

Democrats make sure we are always safe, just like Mommy does.

Porcupine's Version: Republican
Mommy teaches you the best way to take care of yourself, so you will not have to rely on others to protect you - not even Mommy.

Democrats make sure children can go to school, just like Mommy does.

Porcupine's Version
Republican Mommy makes sure that when you get to school, you can speak your own mind and not have to say back to Teachers what they want to hear if you don't want to, and get a grade based on your work and not your ideas.

Porcupine is dismayed that such very young children are being indoctrinated with a Big Government mindset. "A marvelous and child-friendly introduction to the values of Democrats", gushes Air America's Thom Hartmann. Mr. Hartmann left out the part where the liberal radio network steals $875,000 from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club in Brooklyn in order to keep their failing ideas on the air. Now that's child-friendly journalism!

This takes a 28 page book full of "non-judgmental" language, designed to take "subtle and not so subtle humorous swipes at the Bush Administration and the Republican Party"? Can they not even explain to children what their principles are without denigrating the ideas and beliefs of others (using non-judgmental language, of course)?

Porcupine offers the comic strip below as his own 'humourous swipe' and hopes that in twenty years, we don't have whining squirrels running our government.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy Evacuation Day!

Yes, today is the anniversary of the day when Gen. George Washington drove the British troops from Boston by firing on them from Dorchester Heights with cannon dragged through the snow from Ft. Ticonderoga in upstate New York. The brains behind this military coup, which was desperately needed by Washington, was Boston book seller Henry Knox, made a General for his bright idea. Porcupine wrote about this on Gen. Knox's birthday last summer (HERE ) and I am sure we are all properly mindful of the significance of this day in RevolutionaryWar history.

You mean there's another holiday today?

For years, Porcupine has joked that it was considerate of Washinton to choose St. Patrick's Day to drive the British from Boston as St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, giving generations of Boston Irish politicians a day off from hackery and a chance to drink green beer. However, it has come to light that perhaps Washington DID know what he was setting into motion.

A story, long assumed to be apochryphal, was that the password for the Revolutionary troops for that day was 'St. Patrick'. Now, a historian has found Washington's own handwritten code word for the day, and it turns out that story is true!

So, here's to a day off from labour under the Golden Dome of Bacon Hill, and a chance to squeeze into Hibernian Hall on Sunday and mumble songs that nobody remembers the words to anymore. It remains to be seen if Romney and Traviglini can top the cross-talk vaudeville act done by Bill Weld and Bill Bulger, but every political eye will be watching keenly.

Let thanks be given for good timing to Gen. Henry Knox, and may your only evacuations be Irish ones.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Trust Me!

Quid custodit ipsos custodes? - Juventus, Roman Senator

Does anyone else sense the irony of the Cape Cod Times doing their weeklong series on the subject of government secrecy for 'Sunshine Week' at the same time that Atty. General Tom Reilly reveals that he has signed a confidentiality agreement surrounding his 'investigation' into the and -Parsons-Brinkerhoff's potential financial malfeasance? (Story HERE)

To Porcupine, that seems a lot more important than the Eastham police dispatcher overcharging a petitioner before releasing a police log request! (Make no mistake - Porcupine very much approves of this small scale exposure of the flouting of open government laws; it is a truly useful service by the Times, and this series is head and shoulders over Cliff Schectman's self-serving 'expose' of Sheriff Jim Cummings last year to mark the event -

Reilly has already proven himself to be a less-than-trustworthy arbitrator with his NStar deal that ignored the Cape Light compace and residential electricity users. The Governor's Office has decried the agreement, promted Relly to tell WBZ's Carl Stevens in a sneering way, 'It must be nice to be in the peanut gallery instead of doing the real work'. Whoa up there, Mr. Attorney General! There are a LOT of us in that peanut gallery who are uncomforable with this cozy arrangement with your political donors. Reilly's explaination that, 'At the end of the day, we are the ones who will be releasing the data' is a cold reassurance, as we mere mortals have no idea what data there is in the first place, and how or who chose to edit it.

Of course, if I were Tom Reilly and were trying to make a big deal out of 'recovering' Big Dig money, it would grate to hear Christy Mihos piping up every five minutes, "Hey, you schmuck! If you had listened to me in the first place, you wouldn't have to recover money, because we wouldn't have spent it in the first place!" Kind of takes the edge off the accomplishment.

So while I commend the Times for its committment to small-town sunshine, Porcupine feels that the big leagues need to have a little shone on them, too - even at the Bottom of a Dig.

Monday, March 13, 2006

ComMITTed to Romney

On the contrary, nobody has ever expected me to be President.
Speech of Hon. Abraham Lincoln, Saturday, July 17, 1858. (Mr. Douglas Was Not Present.)

Governor Mitt Romney passed an important hurdle in his quest to become President. I know this because I read it in the New York Times (story HERE) and the Boston Globe which reported what he said without quoting him directly, lest we make up our own minds about what he said without proper editorial screening of what he meant. Nothing yet from the Cape Cod Times.

At least the NYT story gave Mitt a few quotes. A Breitbart story reported the same news,and gave all the quotes to Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who finished 9th! Bill Frist won, but this was expected, as the poll and conference was held in his home state of Tennessee, and over half the participants came from there. Rudy really needs a better publicist, as the 'buttons' used for voting said 'Gulliani for President' (Porcupine treasures a little gold pin that says 'I Love Celucci' - are Italian names THAT hard?). McCain antagonized all the participants by asking that anyone that supported him should vote for President Bush as a gesture of support at a difficult time. Some of the 2,000 participants thought that he might have made this show of support earlier, say by voting for any one of Bush's tax cuts, but Bush still finished 4th, in a tie with George Allen, the Governor of Virgina who should have trounced Romney in a southern setting. McCain finished 5th.

The Southern Republican Leadership Conference is an important bellwether for Romney because it is a poll of the heavily GOP southern base. Conventional wisdom said that he could not do well in the Baptist and evangelical south - that a Mormon wasn't regarded as a Christian by some denominations there. Further, he is known as a pro-choice Governor from Massachusetts (Porcupine frequents right-wing blogs, and assures you that this kind of talk is commonplace).

Instead, Romney's personal charisma and speech on pork busting carried the day with the Southern Republican Leadership Conference - and these are hard-core primary voters and workers. This is a still very early poll - Porcupine still has a 'button' from six years ago for - Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Oh, nothing is official yet, but this victory - second place though it may be - will probably be seen as a turning point when we look back on the Romney for President campaign in 2009.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Another Point Of View

Porcupine has rarely (well, actually, never) blogged on another Cape Cod Today blogger's post, preferring to confine himself to the comments. Porcupine serves as one of a stable of about 35 bloggers on this excellent regional virtual newspaper. However, a post by Opinionator is on a subject he has thought about for some time, and Porcupine would not be able to confine himself to the Comments without a 'Continued' comment, overlong to be read in the Comments section. So, with apologies to Opinionator, Porcupine is writing a companion piece to his thoughts.

First, Opinionator's piece calling for a radical overhaul of the school year called 'The Year Round Teacher' can be found
HERE. Porcupine agrees with all of his statistics and facts about the current school year. He merely differs with the solution.

Our current school is founded upon an agrarian model. School was held during the autumn and winter months when farm labor was at a low ebb, and children were sent home in July and August to help with the all-important harvest. The time when this was necessary (at least in ) has long passed. We do not need to expand to a twelve-month school year; rather, we are simply shutting down for the wrong period of time.

If we were to close the schools from Christmas to March 1, we would eliminate several problems simultaneously. We would automatically cut down on the need for snow days, and the dangerousness of transport on slippery roads when snow days are not declared. We would eliminate three of the paid holidays that Opinionator mentions (Christmas, New Years and President's Day) and the attendant lack of production surrounding these holidays in schools. We would entirely eliminate the absences of students who are going to off-Cape destinations to celebrate these holidays, and the whole, 'Hey, what's a few missed days' mentality on the part of parents. We would tremendously cut down on our heating bills for the schools, and be able to lower the temperature to accommodate the maintenance staff as is done now with February school vacation.

Also, consider what we harvest now - off Cape dollars. is still a summer tourist mecca. By having children in school during the prime July and August peak of season, many working women, single mothers and married, would be able to work more profitably by not having to pay for child care during the sumer months. We now have after school programs during the winter months, and there is no reason that they could not be continued for the summer months as well, allowing these caregivers (Porcupine does not want to dismiss single fathers who may be construction workers or home re-modelers from his calculus) to work during the day during the most productive time of the year.

We can move the February vacation to coincide with Independence Day, or perhaps create a one-week hiatus during August, to allow Cape Cod students some time at the ocean with their parents.

Best of all, Porcupine's plan could be implemented without changing current teacher contracts. These are written to stipulate 180 days - they do not say which 180 days.

Porcupine anticipates the howls of fury from teachers who moonlight as waitstaff, and from parents who will evoke piteous images of children with their noses pressed against the window gazing wistfully at green grass and bright skies. He would answer that children are equally piteous waiting in the dark for school buses on the side of slushy roads in a steep cold wind, and that teachers should decide which vocation they find more profitable and rewarding, and chose one rather than expecting society to enable their extra-curricular jobs.

Will we someday have year-round schools years? Perhaps. But in the interim, let us try Porcupine's plan as a segue, and see if we cannot make a different school year more effective. Full compliments to Opinionator for raising this issue, which Porcupine hopes will produce much discussion.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dubya's Dubai Delinquency

No political party can long pursue advantage at the expense of public honor or by rude and indecent methods without protest and fatal disaffection in its own body.
Inaugural Address of Presidents Benjamin Harrison, March 4, 1889

Porcupine had predicted that the ports deal would be another 'Miers Moment' for the Administration (see HERE) and that conservative and Republican reaction would scuttle this deal. Once again, the Blogosphere proved that it can change policy and ideas in vast numbers of people, some of them elected officials with the power to effect change.

Despite the fact that Speaker Hastert and Sen. Frist both stood up to Bush's threat to veto any change in the deal, a congressional Republican leadership aide said that among congressional Republicans "there was a certain level of outrage about how the whole matter was handled by the administration." (Historical note - quick - can you think of a time that Tip O'Neill told Jimmy Carter he would override his veto the last time the Democrats held all three branches of the Executive and Legislative?) And yet why would it have been handled any differently? The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, headed by Snow, had approved the deal in a routine, quiet manner, and both Bush nor Snow had learned about it only after it was approved. This was a routine business decision being made to sell assets, only some of which were in America. The real scandal happened in 1999, while the press was asleep at the switch.

The Peninsular & Oriental Company (fascinating web site (HERE) purchased the rights to operate six east coast ports towards the end of the Administration. Our west coast port operations were sold to the Chinese at around the same time. This was an effort at globalization and pleasing our major trading partners. What problem could there be with Britain running our port operations, and poking the recalcitrant Teamsters in the eye, and as for the Chinese, hey, they were over that Mao thing - and good donors, too. It was never contemplated that one day - the operation could be sold by this private company to a state owned one that may or may not be our friend.

That is the delinquency. From September 12, 2001, or at least since the creation of the Homeland Security Department, we should have placed the operation of these ports into United States hands. Yes, we still own the real estate underneath the ports, but the personnel, operations and policies have all been set by P&O, and would be by their successors. Like our borders, we need to be able to verify who is entering our country - be it by land, air or sea. Merely because airplanes were the method of attack in the 9/11 events does not mean that they will remain so, despite the obsession wiht airport security. Porcupine worries more about the border between and Maine - utterly unpoliced and somewhat untrackable.

The President is exasperated. "In order to win the war on terror, we have got to strengthen our relationships and friendships with moderate Arab countries in the Middle East," said Bush. This is perfectly true. However, the port deal is not the right way to do it. Indeed, are Americans even aware that the sale of operations from P&O to Dubai involved seventeen ports - some of them in nations that are clearly unfriendly like Malaysia and Pakistan - and that the other eleven transactions have already gone ahead? Who will be examining the cargos being shipped from there to San Francisco or Tampa?


Thursday, March 09, 2006

One of the Good Guys

The man of principle is known as such, and even in the fury of faction is respected.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

So, it won't be Barbie and Ken after all. It will be Barbie and G.I. Joe.

For months, speculation had been that Lt. Gov. Kerry would select Sen. Scott Brown, R-Wrentham, as her choice to run with her a Lt. Governor. Indeed, Sen. Brown has made appearances on Cape, including speaking at a Lower Cape Women's Republican luncheon as recently as last Friday. Sen. Brown is a young and handsome JAG officer, and the jokes about the 'Barbie and Ken' ticket had been circulating for a while. However, Porcupine remembers the same jokes were made about Romney and Healey, too, and that seemed to have panned out pretty well for them.

But today, Kerry Healey upset the conventional wisdom by choosing two-term former State Representative Reed to run with her. Politicaly and personally, he is a top-notch choice.

Elected to the House in special election in 1999, Hillman represented the First Hampden District and served on the Criminal Justice, Homeland Security, Ways & Means, and Public Service committees. He was the Ranking Minority Member on each committee, except Ways & Means. Hillman advocated for the .08 per se drunken driving legislation, was a supporter of the Amber Alert plan and worked to expand the Sex Offender Registry and DNA database.

Per se makes it illegal for a motorist to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. Amber Alert created a network using media outlets to warn the public of child abductions. This was a result of the Molly Bish abduction and murder; Hillman gave one of the readings at her funeral mass.

Hillman was instrumental in creating the DNA database when he was Colonel of the State Police. Then, it only included 30 crimes. As a Representative, he expanded it to include 800 crimes, broadening the range of felonies that would make registration mandatory. The DNA is made available to other criminal justice agencies in the state as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Several dozen cold cases were solved because of the expanded reach.

He was not a particularly partisan Representative; for instance, he was the House co-sponsor of a bill filed by Sen. Cheryl Jacques for warrant reform.

He served as a Representative for five years, until he chose not to run for reelection in 2004. His aide, Todd Smola, now holds that seat.

Sturbridge resident Reed Hillman is well known in Worcester County, where it was rumored that he might run for District Attorney John Conte’s open seat. Instead, he will increase the range of Healey’s campaign to central Massachusetts, and will have a strong appeal to unenrolled and conservative Democrat voters across the state.

The fact that he is an honest man of tremendous principle and character is just gravy.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

WHAT Were They Thinking?

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.
Carl Jung (1875–1961), Swiss psychiatrist

It is hard to imagine what they thought would happen. A West Yarmouth man, Obed Story, went to the -based Aids Support Group Exchange, and gave them 1,300 used and contaminated needles. They sent him away with 1,300 clean ones, after thirty-five minutes of counseling. Since Obed Story then had enough needles to inject himself twice a day for the next year and nine months, it must have been some conversation.

The Cape Cod Times reported the story (HERE) as did Cape Wide News, and the reaction from law enforcement was generally thunderstruck. Yet while it is considered unusual to have so many at one time, the Times reports that it has happened before, and in the words of Rick Shaw, needle exchange coordinator at the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod in Provincetown, ''If somebody brings in that amount, then they are entitled''. (Entitled?)

Have they never heard of vouchers? I.O.U.'s? What earthy legitimate use could any addict have for 1,300 needles? Indeed, how often has the Aids Support Group given away more than 1,000 needles to a single person after a half-hour of counsel - in a single block?

Of course, the Needle Exchange must have realized that Obed Story was collecting the needles from others, and was probably giving back clean ones - possibly as an extra bonus with a purchase, based on the amounts of heroin also seized at the time. When the police arrested him, 600 of the needles were already used. Porcupine wonders why the police chose to take the clean needles as evidence, while leaving the contaminated ones - surely, they should have been taken and disposed of as hazardous waste.

Porcupine is exasperated by this event. In his own way, Obed Story was performing a public service, functioning as a one-man needle exchange program, and deserves perverse credit for keeping over 1,000 biohazardous needles out of the way of the pubic. But that is not how the four programs (yes, there are only four state-wide, since being created in 1993) are supposed to work. The idea is that addicts would come in, exchange needles, and get counseling and other services. I doubt that Mr. Story was providing much in the way of counseling - which makes me wonder exactly what we are paying the Provinctown counselors to do. Last year, the Aids Support Group received $900,000 of their $1.5 million budget from the Dept. of Public Health, much of it for the counseling services that they ostensibly provide to addicts.

Perhaps we would be better off installing machines at doctor's offices and the hospital, similar to those for empty bottles and cans, that would dispense pharmacy vouchers to those who feed in needles. It's better than relying on Obed Story, who probable won't be around for a while, and a far sight better than paying a group of self-involved counselors who give 1.6 seconds of counseling with every needle dispensed.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Double Feature

It's all over but the shouting, or in this case, whispering. The 2006 Academy were fraught with cultural significance this year, as the article from the Washington Posts says

In a most honest assessment of the 'impact' movies have on popular culture, Robert Redford said, "Did 'All the President's Men' really change journalism? Did the film impact anybody but maybe a bunch of young journalists who got into journalism for the wrong reasons because they thought there was glamour there? I don't know."

These are difficult words for Participant Productions, which produced several Oscar nominated films, such as North Country, Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana. Likewise, the film Brokeback Mountain was going to teach us - unrelentingly, teach us. Entertaining us had gone rather by the board. Oh, we had a montage shown to us of 'issue' movies of long ago, like Gentlemen's Agreement - but Porcupine has seen Grapes of Wrath. Porcupine knows Grapes of Wrath. Brokeback Mountain, you're no Grapes of Wrath. You're not even High Noon. Also, while a movie like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was a box office flop, it is interresting to remember that the artist from that era whose movies were consistent hits was - Shirley Temple. Nothing to sneeze at when you consider her films are still selling briskly some 70 years after they were made. How many people do you suppose rushed out and bought copies of M*A*S*H or Midnight Cowboy last year? The sledgehammer is rarely an effective teacher.

Host Jon was amusing, but the entire broadcast had a rather funeral air about it, at one point mentioning the unspeakable - that box office receipts were down. Even the winners didn't seem particularly happy. At the end of the evening, Jack Nicholson was the one man in Hollywood with the answer to the $64,000 question for a brief moment - Crash had surpassed as Best Film of the year. But it was a better film. The intricate storytelling, the compelling characters - for all the reasons we go to see a film, Crash was the better performer. There is angry talk of how Hollywood has sold out. If that were true, none of the pious sermons would have been nominated in the first place. Porcupine has seen almost all of the nominated films, and Crash truly deserved to win, with Capote as a close second - out of the five nominated. It is interesting to note that the Best Picture category is one where the Academy as a whole gets to vote.

As a contrast, another interesting award ceremony are the so-called 'Christian Oscars' - read the article
HERE. What is most intereting is the respective performance of the two sets of Best Picture nominees.

From the Academy - Good Night and Good Luck, gross $43,093,000; Brokeback Mountain, gross $127,799,295; Munich, gross $117,079,435; Crash, gross $84,796,250; and Capote, gross $26, 349,585 - for a grand total of $399,117,565.

From the Epiphany Awards - Chronicles of Narnia, gross $594,115,568; Pride and Predjudice, gross $84,290,279; Madagascar, gross $214,600,000; March of the Penguins, gross $114,413,017; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, gross $472,456,431 - for a grand total of $1,479,875,295.

"I'm proud to be out of touch", said George Clooney as he accepted his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 'Syriana'.

It remains to be seen if the financial powers that be in Hollywood share that sentiment

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Tale of Two Kickoffs

There's a name that's never spoken, There's a mother's heart half broken; Just another face that's missing from the old home, that is all. There's a memory still living; There's a father, unforgiving, There's a picture that is turned toward the wall.
Song by Charles Graham, 1929

He went to bed John MCain. He woke up Ross Perot.

Christy stood in front of the State House today, and announced his candidacy for Governor as an Independent. Well, really, he had already confided his secret to the Boston Globe, WBZ, the Mass. Biotechnology Conference, Howie Carr and a few close friends - but nobody that would ruin the surprise. He stood in the dark and cold, alone except for his wife, Andrea, and a few boisterous supporters. Mihos, although active in government and politics for decades, has never actually run for political office before - and his campaign staff quit in the wake of the controversial Holly Robichaud's departure, saying that his naivete about the logistics of a campaign was too great for him to be successful.

Across town, Lt. Gov. Kerry stood with four other Governors - , , and - and described how she would go about becoming the fifth. The posh mezzanine of the Park Plaza held about two hundred guests, all of them enthusiastic about Healy's candidacy. Each Governor stepped up to the poduim, and stated their support for Healey, to the applause of the assembled group. Then, after a brief description of current legislative issues, Healey turned to them, and described the quality she would most like to take away from each of them - Cellucci, his fierce loyalty; Swift, her courage under fire; Weld, his sense of humor (at which point, Big Red wiped his brow and stage-whisperd, 'Phew! Could have been a LOT worse!"), and from Romney, his strength of character. She has evolved into a compelling public speaker in the last four years. Healey had at least run for office before she was elected Lt. Governor, in an unsuccessful Congressional campign, giving her a polish and learning experince that both Mihos and Duval Patrick lack.

Even as the Grabauskas vs. Herzfelter 2002 primary was a waste of talent, so is this split in the Party. Mihos had the capacity to intrigue and engage unenrolled and disenchanted Democrat voters in the same way that John McCain had in 2000. Now, Mihos' immediate problem is to get 10,000 signatures to appear on the ballot. When the nomination papers are returned, Porcupine wagers that most of the signatures will have come from gleeful Democrats, happy to enroll him as a spoiler, with no intention of voting for him next November. The naivete is telling.

As far as hot-button issues go, Healey and Mihos are just about the same. Both are pro-choice. Both favor a return to the death penalty. Both are strong supporters of the income tax rollback. Both are rather Rockefeller Republicans, socially moderate and fiscally conservative - which is where most voters fall as well. The difference between them is style and focus. Healey is trained in criminal justice, and the legal system and education are her strongest priorities, with the relationship between the state and the various towns a close second. Mihos is a contrarian, an accord-breaker, always on the lookout for the shady deal or the wasted penny. The contrast between their priorities is interesting, as both have a strong vision of what government should, and should not, be involved with. Now, we will not have them oppose one another directly, but as part of a triangle with a player to be named later who has the enviable position of having two well heeled opponents bent on destroying one another while he sits back and lets them go at it.

How did a lifelong Republican morph into Ross Perot? Did he feel slighted by Mitt Romney, the man he personally recruited for the Mass. Governor's race? Did he decide that he was tired of being told it wasn't his turn yet? Perhaps he can have a quiet talk with Sec. of State Bill Galvin on that score. Better still, he could run for the office he was born for, that of State Auditor. By temperment and by inclination, he would be an outstanding public servant to safeguard our money.

The contrast between the two events says it all - the Mass. GOP faithful will work hard for Kerry Healey, and will help her become the first woman to be elected Governor of the Commonwealth in her own right. Mihos will run a scrappy, witty and ultimately doomed campaign, trying to get his ideas heard above a cold wind, and wondering why the voters aren't more excited about his candidacy.

Christy Mihos, as a longtime Republican party member, knows better than anyone that GOP elephants have long and unforgiving memories. He has taken a step off a steep cliff, and there is no happy ending to this story. As a third party candidate, he may well deliver the Corner Office into the hands of the Democrat Party, taking away even a nominal foot off the brake of the careening Legislative jalopy. The very best thing that could happen is that Gov. Healey could appoint him to another state board and make use of his intelligence and drive.

But I wouldn't count on it.

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