December 2004
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Month December 2004

You Can Make a Difference

Help survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunamis and their families by making monetary donations to these organizations: American Red Cross International Response Fund AmeriCares South Asia Earthquake Relief Fund Direct Relief International International Assistance Fund Médecins Sans Frontières International Tsunami Emergency Appeal Oxfam Asian Earthquake & Tsunami Fund Sarvodaya Relief Fund for Tsunami Tragedy Save the Children Asia Earthquake/Tsunami Relief Fund UNICEF South Asia Tsunami Relief Efforts

The perfect death penalty

His Excellency the Governor has said that he plans to file a bill to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts.  And this time it’s going to be perfect: "it will guarantee only the guilty are executed." We expect Romney’s bill to hew pretty closely to the report of the Commission that he appointed a few months ago whose charge was to design the perfect death penalty system.  We have a lot of questions about the proposals in that report, but we’ll hold off on specifics until the Governor actually files his bill.  For now, we have just one big question: is Romney committed to funding the enormous expense that his death penalty plan will entail?  His Excellency, of course, is opposed to new taxes in any form for any reason – he even thinks he can create universal health insurance in Massachusetts without raising taxes.  Yet Romney’s own death penalty commission – which advocates for extensive DNA testing and highly qualified counsel in every death penalty case to prevent the execution of innocent people – says the following (at page 5 of the report): [E]ach capital trial will be expensive. Moreover, additional costs inevitably will be incurred due to the […]

Do-over?? Come on.

Having lost Washington State’s Governor’s race by 129 votes, Republican Dino Rossi now wants to throw out November’s election and hold a new one.  Obviously, Democrat Christine Gregoire has rejected Rossi’s call, and it will be interesting to see if Rossi follows through on his veiled threat to file an election contest, with the possibility of dragging the election well into next year. You’ve got to hand it to the Republicans – they’ve got chutzpah.  Let’s bear in mind that this is the same state Republican party that, after their candidate was initially thought to be the winner, criticized the Democrats for pursuing legal remedies (namely the hand recount) that state law expressly afforded them.  Now, having lost, the Republicans are seeking to have a new law passed that would wipe out weeks of work and millions of dollars spent on figuring out who actually won, in favor of spending millions more on another election. HypocRossi indeed.

Reilly’s competition?

NEWS FLASH: Rep. Mike Capuano has announced publicly that he’s … well … thinking about it.  The Boston Sunday Globe has a long article about the possibility that Capuano will run for Governor in 2006.  In it, Capuano is quoted as asking himself: "Can I win?  Can I raise the money?  Do I want the job?" All excellent questions, although Capuano asks them in a curious order.  It seems to us that he should answer the last question first and take it from there – after all, a safe seat in the US Congress is a pretty nice job, and we’d be hard pressed to criticize him for not wanting to give it up.  However, we’ve already noted our worries about whether AG Tom Reilly is the best choice to oust His Excellency the Governor in 06, and Capuano has a lot of strengths (as well as some weaknesses, including the fact that he’s largely unknown outside of his Boston-Somerville base).  Is there someone else who should be getting a hard look (other than Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who is the ultimate State House insider and seems unlikely to spark a lot of excitement)?  What do you think?

The CJ derby continues

Conservative guru Bill Kristol has predicted that 10th Circuit Judge Michael McConnell will be the next Chief Justice.  (Hat tip: Volokh.)  McConnell would be a savvy pick in many ways.  He’s very conservative, very religious, and very very smart.  He’s highly respected in legal circles, and you would see academics from all ideological perspectives coming out in favor of his nomination, although some liberal interest groups opposed him for the 10th Circuit and would likely do so again for the Supremes (note, however, this point-by-point response to the interest groups’ attacks, written by a non-conservative law professor).  His big drawback: he’s a white guy, so Bush would get no credit for naming the "first [black/Hispanic/female/whatever] Chief Justice" to the Court, something that Bush probably wants to do.  It will be interesting to see if that’s enough to take McConnell out of the running. In other news, Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner has definitively taken himself out of the running for a Supreme Court appointment by publicly acknowledging that he’s an atheist (he may have done this before, but I hadn’t seen it).  Posner was never likely to get the nod anyway – he’s too much of a maverick, and he […]

Peace on earth, good will towards humans…

… without exception! Look, there are certain folks that are using the season as a political football. For us blue-headed folks, let’s not play that game. Hug your kids … but hug your cantankerous Republican uncle even tighter today. We’ll never out-mean the Right, so let’s out-love them. Merry Christmas.

I wouldn’t have believed it …

if I hadn’t read it with my own eyes.  Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby routinely turns my stomach with his paleoconservative rants.  But this one is nothing short of breathtaking: California has 641 murderers on death row, yet it has executed only 10 people since 1992. That is a travesty — no less so than if hundreds of killers sentenced to life were routinely released after only a few months behind bars. Think about that for a sec: Jacoby is saying that there is no difference between murderers rotting in prison waiting to be executed and murderers out on the streets after serving a few months of a life sentence.  Did it occur to him that at least the guys sitting on death row don’t pose much of a threat to the public?  And did it occur to him that a big part of what the criminal justice system is supposed to do is to protect the public from dangerous people by locking them up?  Christ! To the eye-for-an-eye fanatics like Jacoby, justice and vengeance are essentially interchangeable.  And the big danger of that position is that it completely loses sight of the possibility that criminal justice might actually do […]

Romney to run in 2006

Channel 5 reports that His Excellency the Governor has unequivocally stated that he intends to run for re-election in 2006.  As far as I know, this is the first time Romney has publicly committed to running again. UPDATE: Daily Kos has picked up on this story – read through the comments for lots of interesting thoughts on MA politics. 

An amazing recount and a courageous Republican

A truly astounding process is underway in Washington State, where the margin in the Governor’s race now appears to be EIGHT VOTES, out of 2.9 million cast.  And it further appears that the Democratic candidate is the one with the 8-vote lead, after earlier being behind first by 261 votes, and then by 42.  Wow. The outstanding issue in the race is the fate of 573 (or possibly more) ballots in the Democratic stronghold of King County.  These ballots were very likely valid, but they were not considered because of a screw-up by county elections officials.  The question, argued today in the Washington Supreme Court (you can listen here), is whether the county canvassing board may consider those ballots for inclusion in the total.  (If they are included, it seems likely that they will favor the Democrat and will substantially widen the current 8-vote lead.) This story is obviously incredibly important for lots of reasons.  My point here, though, is to give kudos to the Republican Secretary of State, Sam Reed, who has taken the position in this case that those 573+ ballots SHOULD be considered, contrary to the view of the state Republican party, which says that they SHOULD […]

Brookings gettin’ rowdy!

AP reports the smackdown: "Social Security is like a car with aflat tire," said Peter Orszag, an economist at the liberal BrookingsInstitution and adviser in the Clinton White House. "There is aproblem. We need to fix the flat tire. But we don’t need to replace thecar." … Bush regularly claims Social Securityfaces a shortfall of nearly $11 trillion, which, Orszag said, is amisleading figure because it makes the system appear to be in worseshape than it is. The figure ? $10.4 trillion to be precise? is the shortfall over the "infinite horizon," as measured by SocialSecurity’s Board of Trustees. The calculation was included for thefirst time in the trustees’ 2003 report, along with the required75-year measure. The American Academy of Actuaries criticized the useof the $10.4 trillion figure in the report, saying it was likely tomislead the public. [emphasis mine] Mislead the public? These guys? No way. The Enron administration continues. But if Dubya didn’t know how to deal with real capital in his business career, he sure isn’t going to know what to do with his mythical political capital. I smell a winner’s curse… Wouldn’t it be great if this plan was completely derailed before W. was re-inaugurated? Good […]