Thursday roundup: Romney and pink ties; Gee whiz; People’s Pledge; scary viruses in the South End

Submitted for your approval.

  • Does Mitt Romney think pink ties are gay?  Check out this video clip, shot while Romney and Sean Hannity were yakking prior to taping a show.  (The video – you can see the whole thing at this link – was made public by the now-unmasked Fox News mole who published at Gawker.)

    Here’s a transcript – sorry the audio isn’t better:

    ROMNEY: You get to change ties.
    HANNITY: I don’t think so.
    ROMNEY: Ha ha ha.
    HANNITY: Why do I gotta change ties?
    OFF-CAMERA VOICE: Finley wants you to ’cause this is for tomorrow night’s show.
    ROMNEY: This is for tomorrow night … oh, I’ll take the pink one. [makes funny face] Ha ha ha.
    HANNITY: Oh, you’re changing one too?
    ROMNEY: No. I’ll just look like a shlep who wears the same tie two days in a row. That’s all right.
    HANNITY: I think this is silly, but….

    Now, this isn’t a huge deal. But what’s with the “oh, I’ll take the pink one,” and then sticking his tongue out through pursed lips? Is that a little “pink ties are gay” jokey-joke between two strapping hetero dudes?

    Also of note is Romney’s use of the Yiddish term “shlep” (which in this context means “beggar, bum, tramp”) to refer to a person who wears the same tie two days in a row. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Romney use a Yiddish term in public; query whether the term should apply to someone whose only faux pas is wearing the same tie two days running.

  • Today’s Globe has a front-page story about a tiny college on the Cape that you’ve never heard of: the National Graduate School of Quality Management. Why is it on the front page? Because this tiny school pays its president, Robert Gee, over $700,000 a year (comparable to what the president of Tufts makes), houses him in a $3 million home overlooking the water and Martha’s Vineyard, bought him and his wife a couple of Mercedes automobiles, and – most bizarrely – owns a vacation retreat in the Virgin Islands for his use.The whole story is shocking, and the Attorney General’s office is investigating, as it should be. One of the worst items in the story, though, is this:

    In 2009, [Gee] persuaded the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency to authorize $2.64 million in low-interest bonds. That made possible his school’s purchase of a $3.25 million waterfront compound on Oyster Pond with spectacular views of Martha’s Vineyard, especially from the six-bedroom house earmarked to be Gee’s presidential residence…. After reviewing the school’s financial reports and the employment agreement, [Elizabeth] Keating, the nonprofit finance expert, expressed disbelief that the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency would fund the project in light of the spending practices that are evident in the school’s financial reports…. “The lending criteria and the lack of due diligence by MassDevelopment is pretty shocking,” Keating said.

    MassDevelopment, a quasi-state agency that helps not-for-profits find affordable financing for capital projects, made all of its records about the loan available to the Globe.

    Laura Canter, the agency’s executive vice president for finance programs, said the agency’s review is intended “to ensure that the borrower and the project are eligible for tax-exempt financing.”

    As for the school, Canter said, both faculty housing and housing for presidents are eligible for financing under the tax code.

    “We do not make arbitrary judgments about who is or is not worthy,” Canter said. “If projects are eligible, they are eligible.”

    I’m afraid that’s not good enough. It seems pretty obvious from what’s in the story that Gee, along with the school’s board and maybe the school itself, are in big trouble, and they should be. But if Mass Development’s bonding criteria were such that this school’s application was approved without any inquiry, then those criteria need to be overhauled pronto. There’s no way that bond issue ever should have been approved.

  • How awesome is the People’s Pledge (the agreement between the Brown and Warren campaigns designed to keep third-party money out of the Senate race)? Check out the fundraising email I just got from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

    Karl Rove is at it again. This time, he’s going after the Senate with a new $1.2 million ad blitz against our Democratic candidates in five battleground states…. This is Rove’s sixth multi-state attack on Democrats since last year, but it won’t be the last.

    But for the People’s Pledge, you can be sure that those ad buys would be targeted at Massachusetts – this race, after all, is the best chance the Democrats have to pick off an incumbent Republican. But because of the Pledge, we won’t see any ads from Karl Rove or the Koch brothers painting Elizabeth Warren as a baby-eating America hater – or, for that matter, from the League of Conservation Voters painting Scott Brown as a baby-eating bunny killer. What a great thing.

  • One of the very first issues I wrote about on this blog was Boston University’s peculiar desire to put a research facility to study the world’s most dangerous pathogens in the densely-populated South End of Boston. As I wrote in 2007,

    I’ve long thought that locating a research facility designed to study the world’s most dangerous pathogens (Ebola, anthrax, dengue fever, etc.) in the densely-populated South End was a lousy idea.  I always thought it smacked of hackery trumping sensible policy (jobs! prestige! politically-connected players! and hey, what could possibly go wrong?), with an uncomfortable overlay of once again screwing a relatively poor neighborhood because it’s possible to do so.  (No one ever talked up locating this thing in Cambridge, despite the proximity to Harvard’s and MIT’s researchers.)  Previous posts on this, some of which date back to BMG’s infancy, are hereherehere, and here.

    No, no, no, the doubters have repeatedly been told — it’s completely safe.  The federal government said so.  But now it turns out that the federal government’s study was a catastrophe, to the point that it didn’t meet “basic standards applied to scientific research.”

    The issue is back in the news yet again, since the feds have now completed yet another round of review and are holding public hearings which one hopes are not just window dressing for a preordained go-ahead. Many residents of the affected community are still opposed, including state Rep. Gloria Fox. And this blogger has weighed in against the project on public safety grounds.

    Links to the full report (1,750 pages – good luck) and other information are available here. You can offer your comments until May 1. Send them by email to this address, or by snail mail to:
    National Institutes of Health
    Attn: NEIDL Risk Assessment
    6705 Rockledge drive, Suite 750
    Bethesda, MD 20892-7985

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5 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. schlep

    I don’t know why he doesn’t use Yiddish-origin words elsewhere, but I can say that my older Gentile relatives from the Detroit area also had a sprinkling of Yiddish words in their vocabularies. I suppose this is a result of the solid Jewish presence in and around Detroit. So, this could actually just be an artifact of Romney’s early life in southern Michigan.

    My family used “schlep” as a verb, as in “You mean I have to schlep this heavy suitcase all the way to the bus stop?” This usage may not reflect the original Yiddish meaning, but as you know, language evolves.

  2. Wrong word

    Disclaimer: Goyim but native New Yorker, where many Yiddish words have long since passed into general usage.

    I believe that “schlep” means something like “travel, unpleasantly” or “carry, unpleasantly”

    As in: “I had to schelp all the way uptown for a meeting.” Or “I had to schlep that ugly lamp all the way back to the store to return it.”

    I think he meant “shlub” which i don’t think is Yiddish.

    • Shlub is also of Yiddish origin

      I agree that it’s much more likely that’s what Romney meant rather than using an obscure sense of a Yiddish word that has been adopted in English with it’s more common meaning.

  3. What could possibly go wrong?

    If you have driven in Boston lately, you may have noticed the evacuation signs, which were installed throughout the city when the Level 4 lab was build. As far as city hall is concerned, their work is done. Rather than actual “reasonable” decision making on this front, in case of an exposure of anthrax or ebola, your route out of town is clearly marked for when all hell breaks loose.

    • good thing Boston traffic

      …moves so smoothly and rapidly. Otherwise people may be in more danger sitting in their cars/busses in gridlock for hours and hours and hours.

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