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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Guard Changes Once Again

Porcupine adores the parry and thrust of talk radio. The entire purpose is to argue, with as much invective as the FCC will allow, while pushing forward your points and sharpening your ideas as they are challenged.

But Porcupine never entirely took to Paul Sullivan – he thought.

In a way, poor Paul Sullivan was like the person you date right after you are widowed. Porcupine misses the erudite libertarian
David Brudnoy to this day and often can hear some of David’s sardonic remarks echoing as political and cultural issues unfold.

So, after a long and abiding connection - Porcupine is often driving long distances at night - with the abstruse Mr. Brudnoy, Paul Sullivan seemed a little ...well...unintellectual. In reality, Sullivan was intelligent without being cerebral, which was a Brudnoy specialty. After a few calls, Porcupine was content to listen, still wondering what David would have asked the continuing parade of top shelf guests that Paul still brought to WBZ. It would never be the same.
And indeed, it wasn't. Paul was funny, deft, and sympathetic - even if he did accuse listeners of being drunk as often as Howie plays his Mexican horn. Still, his obvious good nature and reporter's mind - perhaps not Brudnoy calibre, but sturdy and resilient nonetheless - kept Porcupine listening.

Now, Paul Sullivan has decided to retire after a bout with cancer and will be replaced with yet another. For WBZ to lose two fine hosts to cancer is depressing. Porcupine will grouse that the new guy is no Paul Sullivan, but will still be out there, one of the listeners in the dark.

Be well, Paul, and enjoy your family. Too few are as smart as you proved to be in making choices.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Let Us Save You From Yourselves!

What our senior Senator is rambling about is talk radio. With the banruptcy of Air America, as so ably reported on by Porcupine's friend the Radio Equalizer, the liberal and progressive movement have realized there is only one way to make people listen to what is good for them - pass a law making them do so. Porcupine will not comment upon the alleged conversation between Senators Boxer and Clinton, since these ladies deny it took place; Sen. Kerry can mumble for them instead.

Air America was able to eke out only three years on the air; Al Franken has left for politicing and only Randi Rhodes is still nailing her flag to the mast. Yet Rush, and Laura, Howie and Ann flourish like green bay trees. Clearly, govenment action is called for. Yes, yes, they still have NPR and Noah, but clearly, it's not enough.

Porcupine is interested that this fairness is to extend only to the radio waves. Where is the call for equality on the Olberman show? Or WBZ-TV news, if it comes to that?

You see, at the same time these clarion calls for enforced liberal thought on the radio were being made, a newspaper story emerged about the donation habits of journalists in all media. Guess where the money went.

Bill Dedman, an MSNBC reporter, combed through Federal Election Commission reportings of campaign donations since 2004 looking for anyone who identified themselves as 'Journalist' as a profession, or who identified a news organization as an employer. of the 143 journalists who gave donations, 19 gave to Republicans or Republican causes. A link to the article is

It is important to note that this tally may not include those who gave less than the $200 in a single calendar year which requires candidates to ask for employment, and doesn't include those who gave at the state and local level and before 2004 (Porcupine sorely wishes that 2003 had been included as well). This was not some hit job, but a well researched piece giving each of the reporters in queston a chance to respond.

The Ethics Reporter of the New York Times was dismissed for being unable to recognize an ethical breach when he saw one. Randy Cohen provided Porcupine's favorite rationalization, saying he thought of MoveOn.org as nonpartisan and thought the donation would be allowed even under the strict rule at the Times.
"We admire those colleagues who participate in their communities — help out at the local school, work with Little League, donate to charity," Cohen said in an e-mail. "But no such activity is or can be non-ideological. Few papers would object to a journalist donating to the Boy Scouts or joining the Catholic Church. But the former has an official policy of discriminating against gay children; the latter has views on reproductive rights far more restrictive than those of most Americans. Should reporters be forbidden to support those groups? I’d say not. Unless a group’s activities impinge on a reporter’s beat, the reporter should be free to donate to a wide range of nonprofits. Make a journalist’s charitable giving transparent, and let the readers weigh it as they will." He went on to warn, "To conceal one’s political opinions is not to be without them."

How is this germane to the objectivity of talk radio? Consider that ABC, CBS, CNN and NPR - broadcasters all - strictly forbid political donations which might be as big a tip-off to ideological bias as those of print media and other broadcast outlets are. Where are the cries to revive the Fairness Doctrine on television, or in newspapers?

If progressive radio is a failure, and conservative radio is a success, it is because people are listening. The comparative decline of newspaper reading is an instructive corollary. Like pornography, people know bias when they see it. Please, progressives, let a thousand flowers bloom. If you can't attract people to listen to you, the flaw may be in the message, not the medium.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Let the People Vote - NOT!

The opinion of the Legislature of the people who placed them in a position of authority has been demonstrated - 45 to 151. The Citizen Petition for a vote to define marriage has failed. Senate President Murray deserves a great deal of credit for allowing the vote to happen, as she had promised, demonstrating yet again that women in politics are often more trustworthy than men, regardless of party or conviction.

Let the gay marriage advocates and detractors do what they will. Porcupine will involve himself in a different issue.

It's time to reintroduce the petition on Term Limits. Who is with me?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Did He Fall, OR.....

Do you not see that your conspiracy is already arrested and rendered powerless by the knowledge which every one here possesses of it?
Cicero (106 B.C.–43 B.C.)

....Was He PUSHED?

Porcupine has just heard that Rep. Anthony Verga has taken a bad spill, and was taken to the hospital. The Representative was rushing to a roll call vote, and slipped on the trecherous marble stairs in the State House.

BUT it can't be that simple! HE'S one of the fifty votes - at least in the past - for advancing the Marriage Amendment! Did he take a dive instead of a vote? Or was he prevented from voting his conscience by sinister forces? Ohhh, and he had wanted an unelected state job! It's all tooooo coincidental....

Porcupine first and foremost sincerely hopes that Rep. Verga will be fine, and able to vote tomorrow. However, he presents this bit of political theatre for the various Grassy Knoll types and Entrail Readers who will be dissecting the vote tomorrow - on both sides of the issue.

'Unprecedented' is the word du jour, in relation to the lobbying by both sides around this Constitutional Convention tomorrow. Every argument has been made by hoarse advocates of every stripe, every inducement offered and spurned. There will be no more changing of minds. No Rep. wants to be the next John Slattery (who killed the death penalty with a single vote).

The record will show what the Legislature really thinks - for once. So get well, Rep. Verga, because sometimes...well...as the saying goes, sometimes - a cigar is just a cigar.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sometimes, You Almost Wish You WERE Making This Stuff Up....

Porcupine thought his quills were being pulled when he read this post by Anne Schroeder on The Politico:

Everyone's talking about tonight's book party at Left Bank in Adams Morgan for the must-read tome: "What 's Your Poo Telling You?" Author Josh Richman has quite a host list to boot. "Supporting Poobahs" include Nicole Boxer, Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Rep. Linda Sanchez.

Richman is a former DCCC staffer under Kennedy, who we're told will be there. Maybe his appearance on "Larry King Live" will be on TVs in the background, proving that you can be two places at once.

First, Porcupine ascertained that it WAS a real book, and discovered its link on Amazon HERE.

Ineveitable snarky remarks about Rep. Kennedy recognizing family members, or former filed legislation, ineluctably 'swirled' in Porcupine's mind, along with disbelief that the Representative would would lend his countenance to this event, loyalty to a staffer or no, as it does seem tasteless at best.

So, Porcupine will leave you to your own thoughts regarding the proper study of mankind - or at least Senators and Representatives.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Banqueting in the Alternative Universe

Attention Must Be Paid!
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

Well, I'm sure you are all awaiting Porcupine's scathing comments about the GOP debate in New Hampshire. Which will be a little awkward, as Porcupine didn't watch the debate. (And has been well punished for it, in missing what may be the most amazing unscripted remark in decades - a lightning strike during Rudy's response on abortion).

Instead, he was gathered here with some 200 of his closest friends, to honor an extraordinary woman - Lt. Governor Kerry Healey. The size of the crowd was remarkable, when you consider that half of the 'usual suspects' were in New Hampshire working for their candidates in the debate.
As Porcupine joked when he first greeted Kerry, she was the only one who didn't get a walk. Weld, Cellucci, Swift, Romney - all got a ceremonial Long Walk away from public life, and a recognition by those who supported them for their achievements. That was the genesis of this dinner hosted by the Concord Republican Town Committee. The local officials, the town chairs, the campaign workers - all wanted to have a ceremony to show Kerry how much she was respected and admired for her public service.

As often happens, Reed Hillman was funniest. "Hey! We didn't do so bad! We took the silver! We beat that guy from the Cape who sells gasoline and Slim Jims, and we beat that other Worcester lady too! We coulda done a LOT worse!" Sen. Bruce Tarr was the second biggest hit as emcee and referee, doing an admirable job of keeping the program flowing, to the point where Porcupine began to wonder if he was available for weddings and bar mitzvahs as well. Chairman Peter Torkildson spoke of his days as a Congressman when she was Party Chair; Asst. Minority Leader Mary Rogeness gave a graceful speech about shared service; Rep. Brad Hill recalled the floor fight on Melanie's Law with passion and sincerity. In fact (Porcupine kept count) there were TWENTY-THREE speakers, all talking about how Kerry had heped, inspired or worked for them. There were letters, too - from Ron Bersani, who was Melanie Powell's grandfather before she was killed by a drunk driver, and to turned to Kerry for help when Rep. Gene O'Flaherety gutted the bill that bore her name and jetted off to Portugal, so sure was he that nobody would bother; from former Gov. Paul Cellucci, who apologized for missing the event, but who was working the spin room for Mitt in New Hampshire; from National Committee Man Ron Kaufman, another debate attendee, and of course, from Mitt Romney himself - a letter about how she had been a true partner, and the greatest asset his administration had.

Kerry thanked the crowd, and remrked that the best thing about the evening was that there were some faces that she didn't immediately recognize. "I have no idea why you'd want to meet me now - but it's an indication that the Party is growing and changing, and that's the greatest thanks I could have."

The evening ended with Kerry introducing her mother, Sheila Murphy, to the crowd and thanking her for her support and her love. Porcupine was able to chat with Mrs. Murphy for a while after the dinner ended, and complimented her on what a fine daughter she had raised. "She didn't come to my late husband and me until late in our life - and from the first moment we had her, we just knew that she would do great things. We were both so proud of her, all our lives." There really is no finer tribute a person could have as an adult than to so gratify a parent - but there is a great political tribute to be mentioned as well.

When saying goodby, Porcupine remarked to Kerry that it had always been a maxim that when you were out, you were nobody - and she had certainly disproved that truism. Kerry laughed and said, "You aren't the only one to mention that. You know, I got the nicest notes from people who didn't have to bother - from Ray Flynn and from Tom Finneran, for example -warning me that being dropped and somewhat forgotten was just the way of the world, and I shouldn't take it personally or as a reflection on what I accomplished. But you know - that really hasn't been my experience at all. I've been lucky."

No, Lt. Gov. people make their own luck in politics, and drawing in a paying crowd like this when you are 'yesterday's news' if proof of genuine esteem - and proof that the last chapter in this political biography is far from written.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tiiiiii-yaaaah-iiii-mmmmmee Is On My Side

Of all the analysis of the debate by the Democratic Candidates at St. Anselm's College in New Hampshire, the most telling came from the campaign of Sen. Christopher Dodd (put forth in nice, non-discriminatory alphabetical order). It was an alanysis of exactly how long each candidate got to 'Face the Nation'..

Joe Biden: 7:58 - 10 questions
Hillary Clinton: 14:26 - 15 questions
Chris Dodd: 8:28 - 9 questions
John Edwards: 11:42 - 13 questions
Mike Gravel: 5:37 - 10 questions
Dennis Kucinich: 9:02 - 9 questions
Barack Obama: 16:00 - 16 questions
Bill Richardson: 10:48 - 11 questions
Obama, Clinton, Edwards and Richardson were the lucky winners, while the rest couldn't break into double-digits for the number of minutes allowed. Porcupine remembers the controversy in the commentary on the GOP Hardball debate, in which fairness was questioned when Mitt snagged the far right post in the draw, and got to answer first on each question. But as crappy a moderator as Chris Matthews was, he at least gave all ten candidates equal time.
Attention, members of the Democrat Lower Tier! Are you STILL sure you want to spurn Fox News, with its superior format, mixing up the order of responders, and giving everybody a chance to speak an individual thought?
There's still time - maybe a debate WITHOUT Hillabama Edwardson (Opponent of Frudy McRomney) will give you a real shot at being heard. Try emailing Brit Hume now....
And of course, the REAL question - what will St. Anselm's be like tonight?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Like Father, Like Son

When I have a little money, I buy books. If any is left over, I buy food and clothes.
Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536

Porcupine has literally hundreds of books, and dozens of them are political books. He keeps some favorites in his bay window, where he reads the paper each morning, and is often surprised when he re-reads them. For instance, in his book of essays 'Reflections of a Radical Moderate', Elliott Richardson wrote in 1996 that in addition to opinion polls, "In this information age, it would not be hard to stride towards a more faithful compliance with public opinion". He advocated 'beaming' into people's homes various issue questions, with an 800-number to respond to, or, "Those who wish to do so could also communicate their individual views via the Internet to a center where they could be electronically processed and tabulated" - anticipating Internet straw polls and political blogging by about, oh, ten years.

A brand new political book is by West Coast media maven Hugh Hewitt on the candidacy of Mitt , and Romney's views and ideas. What he may not know is that the book is a reprise of another book exactly forty years earlier, and written for similar reasons -to convince Americans that Mormons could be responsible office holders.

Clark Mollenhoff's book was published in 1967, to tell the country about George Romney, his life, and his relationship to his faith. When reading the book, there are many eerie coincidences. Seventeen year old George Romney met his wife Lenore when she was fifteen, the same ages as Ann and Mitt when they met, and immediately decided to marry her. He went to England and Scotland for his two year missionary stint for the Mormon church, like Mitt went to France, trying to convince Glaswegians to convert, and then followed Lenore to Washington, D.C. when her family moved there. Mass. Senator David Walsh gave him a job on the Tariffs Committee, and he was able to continue his pursuit. When Lenore went to California, he followed her there as well, and convinced her to drop a $50,000 contract with MGM and an acting career to marry a marginally employed college dropout. She consented, and they never looked back. It explains somewhat why the Romneys were so understanding when Mitt announced he would marry the teenaged girl he met.

The biggest knock on George Romney from his opponents? "Efforts were made to label him as a man who 'shoots from the hip', who is 'superficial', who 'goes as the wind blows' and as a plodding business executive with no intellectual depth." Most of the criticism came because he changed his stance on the VietNam War, and criticized Robert McNamara. Flip flops hadn't been invented yet.

Then, there is the Perfection Factor. "Critics have called Romney 'corny' because he expresses himself in terms of strait-laced middle-class morality. He says he believes in hard work,integrity and high purpose in public office and often has been chided as just being too sincere". Mitt was long ago christened the Holy Cow Candidate, for his simiarly upbeat and non-profane speech.

Of course, speech has been a problem for father and son. A throwaway remark that 'the Generals really brainwashed us to make us think VietNam was going well', and an assertion that 'I've been a hunter pretty much all my life', show that the Romney style of speech is peculiarly vulnerable to gotcha politics. In both cases, everybody knew what they meant, knew they were guilty of hyperbole at the worst, and ignored everything else they said in favor of the one remark. Mitt may be more cautious than George, but he has good reason to be.

The most depressing thing about reading the two books is that the second one is necessary. "It really kills me, that this guy is claiming to have some kind of personal pipeline to God, just to get himself elected." The words were spoken 40 years ago by Gus Scholle, a UAW functionary. They coud have been - probably have been - spoken about Mitt Romney last week. The only remaining acceptable form of hate speech is anti-religion. Perhaps Americans have learned some tolerance in the last forty years, and will give Mitt Romney the chance his father never had.

Friday, June 01, 2007

If You Are Reading This, This Applies To You

You know who you are. The fact that you read blogs to begin (most people don't, you know, despite having heard tell of them) with indicates that you fall into part of the Great Triumvirate - Nerd, Geek or Dork?

Take the test HERE. (Porcupine scored exceptionally high for his Age Range, but that is perhaps less an accomplishment when one is over 200 years old.)

Your Score: Pure Nerd

86 % Nerd, 47% Geek, 39% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


I am nerdier than 82% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out! 

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