June 2005
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Month June 2005

So, why did we elect him Governor… ?

Ah yes, to "clean up the mess on Beacon Hill", riiight. Although it would seem that MA voters are doing pretty well at that on their own (with a big assist from Tom Finneran’s mouth.) Sco at .08 Acres points to this bullet-pointed litany of failure (have I mentioned how I love bullet points?) and accompanying report card in the Herald. It takes Mitt to the woodshed for his lack of accomplishment on a number of issues: a still-shrinking labor force, people leaving the state (especially from the city of Boston: 19,000 over the last four years, a 3.4% exodus). But the fascinating thing was to read the supposedly conservative Herald criticizing Mitt on underfunding education, home health care, and affordable housing. Gosh, isn’t that why you elect a conservative Republican: slash spending, cut taxes, and otherwise tough luck, you’re on your own? You know, encourage the "ownership society"? I think there’s a dirty little secret about politics: People actually really like big government, especially entitlements. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t like paying taxes — especially not for outrages like the Big Dig and Iraq. But Social Security is still showing considerable amperage as the third rail, and people […]

Novak-Plame-gate update: “The time has come, the Walrus said.”

The federal judge in charge of Novak-Plame-gate, Thomas Hogan, spoke the quoted words in the title of this post in a hearing today in which he essentially told Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper, the reporters whose testimony special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wants, that they will be in jail within a week unless they agree to testify before the grand jury.  (As you’ll recall, on Monday the Supreme Court refused to hear the reporters’ appeals from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision rejecting their claims of a privilege not to reveal confidential sources, which brought them to the end of the legal road.) The reporters have pretty much said all along that they’ll go to jail before they reveal their sources (although Cooper has lately been somewhat more circumspect).  The really interesting wrinkle, though, is that Cooper’s employer, Time Inc., is also on the hook because it has control of Cooper’s notes which probably would reveal his sources.  And Judge Hogan has indicated that he intends to impose gargantuan fines on Time if it refuses to comply with his order.  Now, Cooper and Miller are individuals and can stand on principle ’til the cows come home.  But Time Inc. is […]

Breaking: Time Inc. to hand over documents in Novak-Plame-gate

Time Inc. has issued a press release indicating that it has decided to comply with the order of federal judge Thomas Hogan requiring it to turn over documents, presumably including reporter Matthew Cooper’s notes, sought by Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in Novak-Plame-gate.  I thought that might happen – interesting that it happened so quickly.  The next move, of course, is the really big one.  Assuming that the documents are promptly handed over to Fitzgerald, the judge might give Fitzgerald a chance to review them to see whether they give him what he needs instead of requiring the parties to file papers tomorrow (which is the current schedule).  And expect the lawyers for Judith Miller and (especially) Matthew Cooper to argue that the reporters’ testimony is no longer needed in light of Time’s decision to hand over the documents. Here is the key passage of the press release: Time Inc. shall deliver the subpoenaed records to the Special Counsel in accordance with its duties under the law. The same Constitution that protects the freedom of the press requires obedience to final decisions of the courts and respect for their rulings and judgments. That Time Inc. strongly disagrees with the courts […]

Blogroll maintenance

Last Friday was Dan Kennedy’s last post over at Media Log, which has long been one of the more interesting reads around these parts.  We will miss him. And now for some housekeeping.  The point of a blogroll is to provide links to sites that we, in our sole discretion, think offer interesting and up-to-date commentary on issues that we care about.  Since Media Log and Romney Is A Fraud have officially signed off from blogging, I am removing them from the blogroll.  Also, as I noted here, the MassDems blog seems to have become defunct – it’s been over a month since the folks at the state party posted anything new over there.  In the same category, alas, must be placed Noho-missives, who has gone strangely silent [UPDATE: see the comments]. Any and all of these worthy bloggers will immediately be restored to the blogroll upon their return to the blogosphere.  But the clutter must be cleared.  Long lists of links are like shelves at the video store: too many options makes it impossible to choose from among them.

The lobbyists are coming! The lobbyists are coming!

[update: I'm an idiot. I've linked the Globe story now.]

… and it seems it was an inside job. Halliburton and Exelon annexed Faneuil Hall for a day:

Faneuil Hall, a national landmark for American democracy and one of thecity’s most popular destinations, was sealed off yesterday, to thedisappointment of tourists and wanderers from the Freedom Trail. Butthe doors were flung open to the Republican Party’s corporate donors,including representatives of Halliburton and Exelon, who held a secret huddle inside with Governor Mitt Romney and other GOP governors.

It seems that Mitt was taking special interest bucks and trading health care advice with Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri — he of the 57% disapproval rating. Now, Gov. Blunt has dug that hole for himself in part by chucking poor people off Medicaid because he doesn’t want to raise taxes. So… maybe there is a political limit to the "no new taxes", "ownership society" idolatry. We’ll see when it comes to our health care discussion over the next year.

Speaking of which, on the front page of the City/Region section was a peculiar article by Scott Greenberger with two accounts of women who don’t have health coverage, juxtaposed with the number of uninsured in MA (460,000) in red, and supposed facts and figures of Mitt’s supposed plan — supposed because we don’t actually have any details forthcoming from the Gov. Will these two women actually be helped by the Governor’s plan? Substantially? Not at all? What about the Health Access and Affordability Act? Would that be a better deal for them? TravCare?

Look, it’s good to put a human face on the policy, but come on, Globe, let’s start asking some tough questions.

So, I will take a stab at one of the two situations as regards HA3 — I’m certainly open to other folks with expertise chiming in here as well:

Ten Commandments update

As I predicted, the Supreme Court upheld the Texas display of the Ten Commandments, but struck down the display in Kentucky.  I didn’t quite get the votes right, though – both cases were 5-4, with Justice Breyer the only one in both majorities.  Here is a lineup of how the Justices voted: Voting that both displays should be STRUCK DOWN:Stevens, O’Connor, Souter, Ginsburg Voting that both displays should be UPHELD:Rehnquist, Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas Voting that the Texas display was OK but the Kentucky display was not:Breyer Based on some of Justice Kennedy’s opinions in this area, especially Lee v. Weisman (a school prayer case), I had guessed that he would find at least the Kentucky display unconstitutional.  I also guessed that Justice O’Connor would vote with Justice Breyer to split the difference.  It’s an interesting lineup: O’Connor voted with the "liberals" in both cases; Kennedy with the "conservatives," and Breyer – rather than Kennedy or O’Connor, the usual "swing" Justices – decided both cases.  Does this represent a sea change in the Court’s Establishment Clause lineup?  We may know sooner rather than later – tomorrow the Court should tell us whether it will take up one or more of three […]

Why Romney’s lousy proposal may be a good sign, continued

LeftCenterLeft holds forth on Romney’s health care proposal: And he does have a knack for co-opting progressive initiatives, muchlike he did in taking Robert Reich’s proposal to combine the Turnpikeand the DOT. It almost doesn’t matter for him that the initiatives failin the Legislature ? he gets to look like the one with bold, reformideas, and the left branch of the Democrats no longer can get tractionon their goals. With health care, for instance, the road toemployer-based mandatory health insurance may be harder. Well… I’m not so sure. Perhaps he’s admitted that there is space in the public arena for big ideas. That’s not an easy admission for a "conservative" to make, and I think that the ACT! Coalition (which includes Health Care for All, GBIO and others), Sal DiMasi, Travaglini and others can take some credit for forcing this discussion upon him. As HCFA blogs (hey, what happened to the permalinks?), give the Governor credit for coming up with a big, fat, ambitious, comprehensive, and as it turns out, lousy and detail-free idea. Yes, it’s sucked up a lot of the oxygen in the last week regarding health care. But HCFA has highlighted some of the reaction: "Iresent the […]

Rick Santorum: Because he can

Well, this article written by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) three years ago is making the rounds in the blogosphere today. Of local interest, it includes this hilariously vile howler: It is startling that those in the media and academia appear mostdisturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promotedmoral relativism by sanctioning "private" moral matters such asalternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected byculture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomesinfected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprisethat Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism inAmerica, lies at the center of the storm. Wow … I didn’t know whether to be angry, or laugh, or throw up. That’s worthy of the pathetic rambling of some drunk AM radio talk-show caller — or maybe Jack D. Ripper from Dr. Strangelove. But instead it’s the considered, published thoughts of a U.S. Senator — someone who is referred to as "The Honorable". Of course, we know about Santorum’s weird tendency towards rhetorical free-association: "man-on-dog", anyone? This comment reveals a constellation of so many ideological neuroses that it’s really hard to pick apart. So let’s start with this: it’s cognitive dissonance, […]

Reporters lose in Novak-Plame-gate

The Supreme Court denied review of the D.C. Circuit’s determination that reporters Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper must either testify in the Novak-Plame-gate affair or be held in contempt of court.  This is the end of the road for these reporters – they are out of legal options and will either have to testify or go to jail.  More on this later – I have to catch a train now!

A big day at the Supreme Court

Today is the last day of the Supreme Court’s 2004-2005 term, and as always, several really big cases will be announced.  The ones that will probably get the most attention, and yet will have only minimal impact on the everyday lives of most Americans, are the two Ten Commandments cases.  I’ve posted before on these cases, along with a prediction that I will now repeat: in the Texas case (Van Orden), the public display of the Ten Commandments will be upheld, by a vote of 6-3 or 7-2 (Stevens, Ginsburg, and maybe Souter dissenting), and in the Kentucky case (McCreary County), the public display of the Ten Commandments will be struck down by a vote of 6-3 (Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas dissenting). The other really big case is called (amusingly enough) "Grokster."  It’s about internet file-sharing, specifically, whether the manufacturer of technology that is widely used to pirate music and movies online can be sued for copyright violations (the manufacturer does not participate in the theft, but is aware that its product is mostly used for illegal purposes).  I am not an intellectual property lawyer, but a lot of people in that world are very excited about this case.  The […]