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Friday, November 30, 2007

SnowHoax Litmus Test

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As we all know, litmus paper turns RED when exposed to acid conditions, and BLUE when exposed to alkaline conditions. As an acidic personality, Porcupine was always vaguely pleased with the Redness of his litmus. But in the wake of the CNN Snowman Hoax debate (hereafter referred to as the ‘SnowHoax’), another Red-Blue divide is emerging – those deeply involved in bare knuckles politics are turning red, and those with more moderate interests are turning blue.

For example – Porcupine rarely disagrees with his Beloved, as Beloved is generally smarter about most things. But in discussing the SnowHoax, the dialogue went like this.

Porcupine: I love the Internet! Before, this kind of stuff would stay buried forever! I bet the Globe NEVER acknowledges it! (Porcupine was right about that). The cheating Dems were caught almost immediately! In fact, Anderson Cooper can’t claim not to know, because he CITED a Politico story to gouge Rudy during the debate, and Politico had a story up exposing the General as a plant at 9:53 – BEFORE the debate was even OVER. They didn’t have the Clinton connection, but had his involvement with ‘Veterans for Kerry’ while he was still asking the question!

Beloved: That’s what turns me off about this stuff. The Democrats trying to cheat…

Porcupine: But no – I mean, it’s sort of their JOB to cheat – it’s CNN’s job to act as gatekeeper and they totally blew it - they’re either complicit or idiots…

Beloved: NO! It is NOBODY’S job to cheat! THAT is what is wrong with this state! You have become so much a part of the political culture here that you think cheating or misrepresenting could EVER be acceptable! No matter who the head of the Massachusetts Democratic Party is, the true head will always be James Michael Curley – a corrupt mayor and governor but a brilliant and lying politician. THAT is what lies at the heart of political culture here.

Porcupine: Wow…y’know, you should read Jon Keller’s book, ‘the Bluest State’…

Beloved: I don’t have to. I live here. I could have written it.

Porcupine pondered this, and realized there was a litmus test here – one that tested degree of political involvement. Not liberal or conservative, but in making the appeal, or outside being appealed to.

Here are three responses Porcupine received from journalist acquaintances in response to an indignant email about SnowHoax –

“I did know that a Hillary campaign worker was allowed to ask a question, which is bizarre. I've said before how the YouTube debates ought to be run. Pick six or eight issues. Let people submit videos in whatever category they like. CNN's role should be to make sure they are aimed at all the candidates rather than singling someone out. They could eliminate stuff that's just too offensive or weird, too, I suppose. Then let the community vote on which videos get used. The way CNN's doing it is not citizen media, it's just cheap entertainment.” Test result – Pink, but on the Blue side

“I don't get too worked up about these things, though CNN can and should have done a better job. I can recall the old call-in radio days, when they'd have a political guest on the show and a plant would call. Sometimes it would be pretty funny if the guest or host knew who the caller was, nailing him on air. Made for fun entertainment. ... Please don't vote for Mitt. The country can do better. The only problem: Who else on either side? They're all nuts and/or mediocre.” Test result – Alkaline Blue.

“Wanted: A Pure Questioner, with no interests, no agenda and no point of view, to administer the Sacrament to these Most Pure of Candidates. Good grief. It’s an American political campaign!!!! It’s a made-for-TV event!!!!. It’s publicity!!!! It’s theater!!!! Good thing they don’t have to sweat in the hot sun and take questions in the public square anymore.” Test results – Bright Red.

The interesting thing is that all three of these respondents are politically liberal – their red/blue gradation has more to do with direct involvement in politics and campaigns.

Porcupine is going to try to recapture his commitment to Governance over Gladiatorial Politics – and hopes others will as well. (Unless Porcupine is just trying to lull you into a false sense of complacency…)

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Fluffernutter Brigade Marches On!

You thought you were safe when Sen. Jarrett 'Fluffy' Barrios left, didn't you?

Then you thought you'd be safe while the Legislature was debating if they should make spanking your own child in your own home illegal, didn't you?

Ah, but the Nanny State has so many frontiers to fight on! From a State House colleague -

SENATE APPROVES BAND INSTRUMENT HYGIENE BILL: The hygiene of school band instruments would get a close look under a bill amended and approved in the Senate today. The bill, H 413, filed by Rep. Paul Donato (D-Medford), would establish a task force to study the policies to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis, via band instruments. Under the original text of the bill, the task force would be composed of members of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association, patient and consumer organizations and band instrument manufacturers. The House passed a local bill affecting North Andover and okayed resolutions congratulating Eagle Scouts before also adjourning to meet next on Monday at 11 am. Session Summaries Developing.
Proving he is not truly one of the FlufferNuts, he went on to comment, "As I said to my colleague here in the office, we could save a lot of time, effort and taxpayer money by having the Department of Public Health send out a memo to all schools recommending they have the kids wipe down instruments with alcohol pads after each use. I mean, really -- can we use some common sense, people?"

And this, from the Belly of the Beast. Yes, the Fluffy Ban is alive and well in the CommonNanny of Massachusetts.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

YouTube Republic

Well, the snowman was there and said Hi! to Mitt Romney in his helium voice. The Florida Republican YouTube debate was tonight. A CNN transcript is HERE, and YouTube's video recap is HERE.

Porcupine thought the questions were decent enough on the whole, if a little predictable. Why there were no questions of the enviornment, health care or education is a travesty. It was nice to see all the candidates get some time, and Duncan Hunter was a particular beneficiary of the work of Anderson Cooper to give all eight a chance to participate. UPDATE - the mom with toys from China was a union manager; the girl asking about abortion works for the Edwards campaign; and the Log Cabin Questioner is a declared Obama supporter, in ADDITION to the Clinton campaign plant - Porcupine's opinion of the questions and the editing process has just taken an elevator ride to the basement.

Each candidate got their own 30 second YouTube spot as well. Guiliani’s 30 second spot was the very best, using his quirky humor to take credit for 'Decreased Snowfall in New York!'. But the humor blew up in his face when he accused Romney of not merely having a sanctuary city, but a sanctuary mansion by having illegals work on his law. “Wait a minute – if you hire a company to paint your house or put on a roof, do you go out and demand to see the papers of anybody who is a different color or has a different accent than you? THAT is Un-American!”. Later, Fred Thompson chipped in that he was surprised Guiliani would bring up employees, as 'I guess we've ALL hired some people who didn't work out exactly the way we thought they would...', a reference to Bernard Kerik.

McCain was the straight talk guy again. On amnesty to Ron Paul - 'That kind of isolationism brought on WW II'; on torture to Romney - 'I am shocked that you think that kind of tretment could ever be used by Americans' and suggesting that we need to either abide by the Geneva Convention or leave it. Romney said he didn’t think it was wise for a candidate to be too specific, which Porcupine happens to think is a prudent position but a poor debating point.

Mike Huckabee had the best spontaneous jokes of the night, and his appeal is obvious. He personifies compassionate conservatism, and comes across as warm and engaged.

The only real ringer of the night was a YouTube question selected from retired Army general, Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr. After listing his military credentials, he said at the end of his video that he is an openly gay man and wanted to know why gays can't serve in the professional military. It produced discomfort from all the candidates as Anderson Cooper needled them to respond. Later, Politico reported that Kerr was on the Steering Committee of "Veterans for Kerry", and now Nightline reports that he serves on the advisory committee for the Clinton campaign.

Anderson Cooper opened the debate by saying that "All the questions come from you", and that there were 5,000 questions, about 2,000 more than the Democrat debate attracted. CNN represents this as 'The People's Debate'. Based on Cooper's choice to have the Clinton campaign not only be selected to ask the questions, but to be seated in the audience for follow up, Porcupine is curious as to what 'people'they refer to, as Porcupine awaits the use of Karl Rove as a questioner in the next Democrat debate.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Varieties of Thankfulness

Porcupine is very thankful for Thanksgiving, as he is very fond of turkey and stuffing. Porcupine is thankful that his children are now large enough to demonstrate hunter-gatherer prowess, and present the Clan with turkeys from grateful bosses. Porcupine is especially grateful that he is able to leave said Clan immediately after the celebration, and take off to Maine for a few days.

Here is the view Porcupine was able to bask in for Thanksgiving weekend - safely behing glass, though, as the wind was about 25 degrees off Rockland Harbor.

Porcupine arrived just in time for Rockland's annual Festival of Lights. About 300 hardy souls gathered along the sidewalks of Main Street for the annual Parade of Lights - fire trucks, manure spreaders, earth moving equipment - all bedecked with lights and people, which proceed down Main Street to the parking lot in the photo. There, you ‘vote’ for the best float by placing a non-perishable item on the float, with the proceeds going to the food pantry. Porcupine's favorite was a local landscaping company, which created a ski slope, with Grandmother sitting at the top waving skis and poles - so high in the air that her bouffant hair was grazed by the overhead traffic lights!

Then, it’s down to the waterfront for a 20 ft tall bonfire made of old wooden pallets, with the local fire inspector carefully feeding in soaked kindling to make the flames jump higher (since he’s a professional, and has that neat fireproof suit and mask). It’s a different world up here sometimes...

Another feature is a Community Tree made of 1,400 lobster traps - which you can buy a ticket to win! Porcupine considered buying a ticket, but couldn't figure out a way to utilize the trapswhen he doesn't even have a boat...

The nicest thing about staying in a fine hostelry is little luxuries, like premium television channels that you are too cheap to spring for at home. Porcupine was watching TCM last Saturday night; they ran 'The Best Years of Our Lives' which Porcupine hadn't seen in years.

The film tells of the readjustment of three WW II vets, and is one of the best films ever made about this difficult reentry. It was an unusual film in 1946 that showed veterans having nightmares, crying, and drinking too much.

Towards the end of the film, Dana Andrews - on the right in the photo (a former Air Force Captain, now poor again and a soda jerk) - is behind a fountain counter waiting on Harold Russell (a young sailor who lost both hands fighting) when a man sitting next to him tells him he's sorry he lost his hands for no reason (the man was reading a paper prediecting another war in Korea). Russell says he lost his hands fighting for his country, and he's proud. Man sneers that he's a dupe, that it was all a plot by the Reds to eliminate the Nazis, and if he would just READ and EDUCATE himself, he'd see that Washington poiticians are corrupt and have fooled him, and his loss is a lie. A fight breaks out, and the paraplegic vet uses his hooks to pluck and American flag lapel pin out of man's suit, and Dana Andrews jumps over counter, slugs him, and walks out of store with his wounded friend. Russell shakes his head - "You HEAR about people like that, that call you a fool and say you did nothing, but you never expect to actually SEE one of them..."

Porcupine was amazed at how timely this was, and was thankful for how brave Sam Goldwyn was to make such a film right after the war. Now, of course, we have George Clooney and Brian DePalma and Michael Mann to make films 'supporting' the troops - like 'Redacted', and 'The Kingdom', and 'Lions for Lambs', and... Porcupine is rather less thankful for their efforts.

Porcupine is especially thankful for all the young men and women who have fought to defend their country. And that the country that they died for and were maimed for is still the greatest country on earth.


Monday, November 19, 2007

WHAT 'Macaca'?

Well, Porcupine waitied a while, to give the Globe and Herald their chance to fulminate and breathe fire - but it hasn't happened.

So, an Associated Press story from SIX DAYS AGO appears HERE.

A Louisiana Democrat referred to the parent of the local NAACP leader as 'Buckwheat'. Had a Republican done this, lightning and imprecations would have rained from the skies; as it is, luckily, the Democrat controlled media are there to put this minor story in place for us all. Move along, nothing to see here. Oh, and Congressman 'Cold Cash' Jefferson's daughter also lost a releection bid.

But that Jindal guy, that was just a fluke....

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Connecting the Dots - Local Edition

If then His providence Out of our evil seek to bring forth good, Our labour must be to pervert that end, And out of good still to find means of evil.
John Milton (1608–1674), Paradise Lost - The First Book

From Roger Simon's weekly column from Politico.com -

N.Y. Daily News, "Welcome to AIR RUDY:

Rudy Giuliani jets to campaign stops using casino kingpin's plane," By David Saltonstall:

"The Republican presidential hopeful anted up more than $122,000 last summer alone for jets traceable to casino kingpin Sheldon Adelson, whose Las Vegas Sands empire has made him the third-richest American, a Daily News review of campaign records shows. Last quarter, The Sands' innocuously named Interface Operations LLC was the top provider of corporate jets to the frequently flying Giuliani, who was whisked around the country on the casino's plush Gulfstream G-IV in late August and early September, records show. 'You have to follow the money and ask, 'Why is Sheldon Adelson partnering with Rudy Giuliani?'' asked Stacey Cargill, an anti-gambling and Republican Party activist in Iowa, where the nation's first presidential caucus is set for Jan. 3. Cargill, who views even legal gambling as a magnet for crime and vice, said, 'If Rudy Giuliani wants to be the crimefighting candidate, why is he partnering with a large and growing gambling empire?' "

Above and beyond the appropriateness of a Presidential candidate accepting favors from a player in an industry not noted for its Puritan pedigree (it isn't an accident that the "legitimate" Michael Corleone wound up in Las Vegas...), this story has local dimensions as well.

For who was hanging about the State House importuning legislators in the Senate Reading Room on behalf of Deval Patrick's Cerebrus Gamble-Port plan? Why, it was one Sheldon Adelson!

It would appear that in his race to the bottom, Gov. Patrick doesn't even know who he has gotten into bed with anymore.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori - 2007

War is Hell
Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman (Observation in a letter, 1864)

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month.

Once, every schoolchild knew this story, and all society stood for a minute of silence to observe Armistice Day.

Soldiers have died to defend us all since ancient times, but most can never speak of the emotions, the horror and the rewards of their service. Poets have done that eloquently for them. The words of poets on the honour and the horror of service in a war have been excised from the curriculum of our children. Support the Troops; If You Can Read This, Thank a Veteran; Be All That You Can Be; Remember Pearl Harbor! (and the Maine, and the Holocaust, and 9-11, and on and on..) - poetry has given way to sloganeering. Our emotions are stunted by the lack of noble words.

In 'The Soldier', Rupert Brooke writes of the emotion, the noble elevation felt as a man (then) enlists in a great cause for his nation (Brooke) Yet even though he was killed in World War I, you can feel that he didn't think it would happen to him. He died of blood poisoning after a wound at the age of 28.

In the 'Charge of the Light Brigade', Tennyson tries to put a good face on a disaster in command, but still, he captures the ethic of the fighting man - "Theirs was not to question why".

In 'The Man He Killed', Thomas Hardy wrote of the senseless slaughter of war, the respect that one fighting man owed to another - 'Had he and I but met at Some old ancient inn...'.

'Woodbine Willy', actually a chaplain, Revd. Geoffrey Kenedy MC, CF, wrote in 'The Spirit' about the only thing a soldier can do when he has faced that situation - 'Carry On..'

John McCrae wrote the most famous of war poems, 'In Flanders Fields', warning 'If ye break faith with us who die, We shall not sleep'. He died of pneumonia in the field, at the age of 46.

Wilfred Owen, in his poem that the title of this post was taken from, speaks of the 'old Lie' - that the Death of a soldier, an 'ardent child', can be 'Good and Sweet to Die for your Country'. He died of machine gun fire at the age of 25.

But the poet of the survivors is Rudyard Kipling. Any VietNam vet can identify with his words about 'Tommy Atkins' (the British G.I. Joe) and the way he is treated by society, "For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Chuck him out, the brute!'...But it's 'Saviour of 'is country' when the guns begin to shoot!"

It amazes Porcupine that these poems are thought to 'glorify' war. They catch it at its worst, and describe it how it is. But in all of them is an understanding of country, of service, and of sacrifice. Today, let us read the words, and honour the contibution of all our service men and women, and give them the thoughts and thanks that they deserve.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Rudy - In His Own Words

I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends...They're the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!
Warren Gamaliel Harding, (Nov. 2, 1865 – August 2, 1923) 29th President of the United States

Since Bernard Kerik has been indicted and is facing trial, there is a strong odor of criticism wafting around Mayor Rudy Giuliani for giving him the post of Police Commissioner in New York City, and for pushing him as head of the soon-to-be-created Homeland Security ageny, an opportunity President Bush passed on, after a week of support.

Since Porcupine is a notorious Romney supporter, he will allow the Mayor to answer these charges in his own words, via Politico.

On the campaign trail in Iowa, Giuliani conceded that he "made a mistake" in not sufficiently vetting Kerik, but defended the crime-fighting record he and his onetime protege accumulated.

"I mean when you're mayor of New York you make 100,000 decisions," Giuliani said at a press conference in Dubuque. "Some of them you make wrong. Then the question is what happened to the city as a result of those decisions."

Mr. Mayor - do you think that the President of the United States has fewer decisions to make?

"Crime went down by historic proportions. Shootings by 74%, homicide by 67%. New York, I think people here in Iowa even know that, New York went from being the crime capital of America to being the safest large city in America. Has to be that I mostly made the right decisions in order to get that result."

Didn't that Bill Bratton guy, that you ran out of the office to give the job to Kerik, have something to do with that result?

Later, in an interview with ABC tonight, Giuliani said he was not downplaying Kerik's alleged crimes by touting the results.

"How about it's realistic?" Giuliani retorted to Jake Tapper. "It's the complexity of human life. and the reality of human life." Richard Nixon, Giuliani noted, also had great accomplishments despite his troubles.

Ah. Invoking the ghost of Richard Nixon in a primary fight. Rudy - you sure can pick 'em. So maybe, we need to limit those picking opportunities.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Remaining Three Hundred

A friend of mine in the State House sent this to me - it went out via email to all state workers -

Dear Colleague,
The last few weeks have been some very exciting times for Massachusetts. Today I want to remind you about another exciting event that’s just around the corner.
Local elections are next Tuesday, November 6th. I encourage you to cast your ballot. Local officials make critical decisions about your roads, your schools and your police officers and fire fighters. Showing up and participating on Tuesday the 6th is just as important as showing up for any election for president, congress or governor. Get your neighbors to participate as well.
Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. If you don’t know your polling location or need any other information on voting or your local officials, please visit
Thank you ,

Of course, the 'important' areas - at least to Deval - held municipal election on Nov. 6 (on Cape, only dysfunctional Barnstable). But it's worth noting that FOUR-FIFTHS of the communities in the state did NOT hold municipal elections.

What is going on in the 'remaindered' areas?

Well, down on Cape, a man who had his wind deductible raised by the FAIR Plan from $500 to $5,000 had his roof hit by a tree - and effectively has no coverage.

In Sturbridge, they learned that the cost of the new wastewater treatment plant has shot from $10 million to $18 million in just two years' time, and will have to find the money for it at town meeting next April.

In Hanover, they learned that the average property tax bill will be going up about $50 next year to about $1,500.

Perhaps it's time for Gov. Patrick to take another field trip to the hinterlands - the quaint places where they don't hold municipal elections on Boston's election day. It's only most of the state, after all.


Monday, November 05, 2007

We Will Soon Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Political Programming....

...but for right now, this says it all for me.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cape Cod Coffee Table

And a fitting prelude to winter it was, too. Hurricane Noel hit Cape Cod, leaving over 50,000 without power.

It's remarkable how many things depend on electricity. I had made a big pot of coffee early on, but its bitter warmed up in a saucepan instead of a microwave. Porcupine has a variety of candles and candelabras, and putting them together reminds one where 'candlepower' gets its name. Indeed, as the power went out rather suddenly, Porcupine was reduced to hoisting his trusty laptop onto his shoulder, its eerie blue light serving well as a beacon to gather the safety matches and candles.

But, other than sitting alone in quite dim light for a few hours (the batteries in the radio had been cannibalized for other devices by...well, no accusations, but Porcupine has no MP3 players or handheld games...I say no more...) playing solitaire in the chilly room, there were no real repercussions. Porcupine's younger relations drove out to look at the truly impressive surf and avoided getting hit by wayward trees.

Grateful that NStar did a stellar job of restoring power, Porcupine can concentrate on the really important event of today - watching Tom Brady beat Peyton Manning.


One Year from Today

Time for daydreaming to stop, and action to begin. We will elect the 44th President of the United States of America on Nov. 4, 2008.

I have long advocated the position that I would rather win with somebody I agree with 90% of the time than lose with somebody that I agree with 98% of the time.

This is an important election. Not that all Presidential elections aren't important, but our Nation and Republic are under unique and imminent threats and we need a smart, decisive, honest person in the Presidency for the next four years. I've made my choice, and have begun work.

Please - make yours, and use this last 365 days to effect.

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