August 2013
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Month August 2013

Well done, Mr. President

Sometimes the right thing politically is also the right thing on the merits.  In asking Congress for authorization to act against Syria, President Obama got it right all around. President Obama stunned the world and paused his march to war on Saturday by asking Congress to give him authorization before he launches a limited military strike against the Syrian government in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack. In an afternoon appearance in the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama said he had decided that the United States should use force but would wait for a vote from lawmakers, who are not due to return to town until Sept. 9. Mr. Obama said he believed he had the authority to act on his own, but he did not say whether he would if Congress rejects his plan. “I’m prepared to give that order,” Mr. Obama said. “But having made my decision as commander in chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interest, I’m also mindful that I’m president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.” Going to war with the support of the people’s representatives, he added, “I know the country will be stronger.” The president’s announcement effectively dared Congress […]

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Pant to close, 630 good jobs go with it

The old standby, Vermont Yankee, will be closed by the end of 2014.  Due to low natural gas prices resulting from fracking and harassment from the VT legislature, Entergy, the same owner of Pilgrim I, has decided to close this 600+ megawatt plant. Vermont Yankee has been a fixture along the CT River since 1972, producing 70% of Vermont’s total electrical power.  This old workhorse received a 20 operating license a few years ago, but VT politicians tried to step in and overrule the NRC.  VT has never been the same since New Yorkers began moving there back in the 80′s. VT Yankee employes 630 workers.  Let’s hope by 2014, most can find something better than a part-time Obama job (waiters, bartenders, paper or plastic).

Will Tim Tebow make the final cut and be a N.E. Patriot?

After passing for 2 TD’s in the final pre-season game, and his NFL career on the line, Tebow told the media he is at peace no matter what happens, because he has his faith.  Like Mr. Kraft, I am pulling for Tebow and hope he makes the team.  Tebow’s spirituality is to be admired, and clearly has talent to play in the NFL, just ask the Steelers who Tim shredded for 316 passing yards in a playoff game. So what does everyone think, will #5 be on the roster by the end of tomorrow?     

Shouldn’t Obama Get Congressional Authorization for Syria Strike?

Issues of presidential authority for taking military action are complicated and somewhat dependent on the nature of the threat at hand.  Syria is not an imminent threat to American security despite their use of chemical weapons on their own people (a horrible action no doubt).  Bombing Syria for their breach of international law in using chemical weapons therefore should require the President to ask Congress for authorization before he orders it. About 140 Representatives in the House (from both parties) have asked the President to seek that authority.  It is not clear he will do so.  It is also telling which Massachusetts Reps have signed the letter.  Capuano signed a bipartisan letter.  Lynch, McGovern and Tsongas have signed a Democratic letter authored by California Rep Barbara Lee.  I would like my Rep Joe Kennedy to call for the President to seek authorization too.  Will he? I will just have to ask him.  Shouldn’t all our delegation be pushing for that? Former Senator Obama had this to say about the merits of president’s receiving the approval of Congress for military action in 2007 – has he changed his tune now?  Libya suggests yes.  Syria too?  This from a TIME article citing […]

Where is the “clean elections law” (revamped, of course) when we need it most?

Seriously.  In many countries one cannot make these contributions.  One cannot become a lobbyist after holding office! Bring back a revamped “Clean Elections law” and outlaw every kind of money contribution – allow only volunteer labor like canvassing, GOTV, phone banks, envelope stuffing, etc. End the class of self perpetuating political dynasties.  Yes, I am 100% serious and have stopped 95% of the contributions I once made, not only because I am a widow with fewer resources but because I no longer find the “dialing for dollars” type of politics acceptable.

Not One But Two Oil Spills Foul New Bedford Harbor

I’ve covered oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and in Arkansas, but today the oil came to me. Thursday morning a local journalist alerted me to reports of an oil spill right down the street from me in New Bedford Harbor. I headed down and found hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel (dyed red for tax purposes) coating the water off Pier 3. Some television crews were filming the spill, so I talked to WJAR and WLNE generally about the potential impacts of oil spills – concern for the people who make their living off the water, the fish who swim in it, and the seabirds who land in it. As soon as I finished, a Coast Guard staffer angrily told me, “You shouldn’t be talking to the press. We should be presenting a united front.” “I work for the National Wildlife Federation, not a federal agency,” I said. “I’d be happy to work together on this – just tell me what’s going on.” She stared at me and said nothing. “OK, well so much for a united front,” I shrugged.

Harvard Univ. study proves strict gun control laws DON’T reduce murder rates

I know, I know, how can this be?  First we learn from Bob Neer that Harvard Univ. invented Napalm on a soccer field back in the 40′s. Now they issue a comprehensive and exhaustive study of various European nations, with and without strict gun laws, and Harvard Univ. concludes that nations that have a higher percentage of their citizens with firearms, actually live in a less violent society, as does the sections of the U.S. with less strict gun laws.  Even with this study, there will continue to be Second Amendment Deniers, who refuse to listen to academia, and just continue the myth that more gun control laws reduce murder rates.  Below are some of the wonderful nuggets in Harvard’s study. “where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are highest.” “per capita murder overall is only half as frequent in the United States as in several other nations where gun murder is rarer, but murder by strangling, stabbing, or beating is much more frequent” studies across 36 and 21 nations already discussed (see link) show no correlation of high gun ownership nations and greater murder per capita or lower gun ownership nations and less […]

Exciting Numbers In Education Testing

School’s almost beginning, and as a math teacher, I want to show you some exciting numbers! First, many parents will have to sign their children up for the SAT, at $51 for one test, and perhaps their children will take it two or three times.  The SAT is brought to you by non-profits such as the College Board and Educational Testing Service (ETS).  Many parents will also sign their children up for one or more AP exams at $89 per exam. Gaston Caperton, the President of the College Board, has greater compensation than the President of Harvard, or the Red Cross, as reported by Bloomberg News in 2011. The value of Gaston Caperton’s compensation was $1.3 million including deferred compensation in 2009, according to tax filings, also surpassing that of the president of Harvard University. Richard Ferguson, the now-retired chief executive officer of rival testing company ACT Inc., got compensation valued at $1.1 million. Nineteen executives at the New York- based College Board got more than $300,000. 19 times $300,000 equals $5,700,000. When Caperton, a former two-term governor of West Virginia, started at the College Board, he had total compensation of about $404,000. Under his tenure, the company has more […]

Ethics Commission’s ridiculous ruling in Dan Wolf’s case could force more legislators out of office

Surely you didn’t think that Dan Wolf was the only one that would be affected by the Ethics Commission’s nutty ruling regarding Cape Air?  Check out this great piece from Commonwealth Magazine, in which intrepid reporter Jack Sullivan dug into legislators’ financial disclosure forms and found something entirely unsurprising: At least four other lawmakers have potential conflicts of interest similar to what the commission determined exists with Wolf and his company, Cape Air, according to a CommonWealth review of the annual Statements of Financial Interest (SFI) filed by state and county officials…. Rep. Josh Cutler of Pembroke could run afoul of the ethics law because a newspaper his family owns collects several hundred dollars a year for running legal advertisements purchased by the state. Cutler is listed as president, secretary, and treasurer of Clipper Concepts, which publishes the Duxbury Clipper newspaper. His 2012 ethics statement lists a 75 percent ownership of Clipper Concepts, which he says he has since transferred to his wife…. State Rep. Steven Howitt, a Seekonk Republican, owns 100 percent of Modern Tractor and Truck Service, a 55-year-old family business that, among other things, performs snow and ice removal for the state Department of Transportation. Contractors for […]

Coakley Investigation Ends. Murray Responds.

Posted on Facebook by Timothy P.Murray: Regarding today’s agreement with the Attorney General’s Office: I am glad that this civil settlement brings to a close a process that I initiated in January of 2012 when I asked for an investigation by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance based upon reports that Michael McLaughlin was improperly soliciting funds for my committee. I asked for the investigation because I have always sought to play by the rules and run my political committee within the letter and the spirit of the law. This review has been comprehensive and we have fully cooperated with the authorities every step of the way. As I have said from the start, I never asked Michael McLaughlin to solicit funds for my committee, because I know that would have been wrong. The finding that Michael McLaughin violated the law by asking people to donate to my committee is not shocking today given what we now know about his character and his criminal actions. As a result of his criminal activity, many people have been hurt, most importantly many good people in Chelsea who simply sought dignified and affordable housing for themselves and their families. If I knew […]