Friday, January 28, 2005


I love ideas. They don't have to be big or grand schemes. Even the small ideas can be interesting. And I admire people who try to think about things differently - or come up with unique ways of fixing problems.

Self-proclaimed right wing extremist and former talk show host Chuck Morse has a new blog called "Morse's Code" and has posted this referring to a column by Jeff Jacoby, the Boston Globe's token conservative: ["A bigger Congress would be more democratic"]. Jacoby wrote a similar column about five or six years ago. I recall saving the text of it but when I went to look for it I couldn't find it. Both Jacoby and Morse are also correct in their assertions that Congress should be expanded to a larger body. They also are right to question whether our nation is as democratic as it possibly could be. It should also be noted that Morse ran for Congress in 2004 against Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., as an independent - after getting caught in a registration snafu, unable to run as a Republican - and received 22 percent of the vote, just more than 62,000 votes - or about what other Republicans have received against Frank in the past. Other, more liberal columnists have made similar points - that if Bush wanted to promote "democracy," he should start right here, in the United States: ["A Fantasy of Freedom"].

The Globe has an Ideas section and other Special Reports it occasionally publishes in its Sunday edition. It tends to take one subject and expand it into a more thorough presentation of concepts. Here is a recent one about a report commissioned by the Boston Foundation: ["A Better Boston"]. What is so interesting about this piece is that most of the folks who give money to foundations like the Boston Foundation are some of the same folks who are wrecking the city. Of course, the editors who put these sections together never think outside of the box about who they allow to participate in the concept-sharing. But, they aren't bad sections. I would love to see a New Hampshire paper undertake a similar idea. Sure, these special sections cost money to produce, but it can be a very influential public policy tool.

While most Americans are not thinking about the 2008 presidential campaign, some out there in the political junkie world are. Here is one guy who is on to something: ["Draft Russ Feingold"]. Sen. Feingold is a fair trader, he voted against the invasion, he voted against the PATRIOT Act, he's a populist ... do I need to go on? Sure, he is too liberal on the social issues for much of America. And yeah, McCain/Feingold isn't working out as well as some had hoped. But it is better than what we had before. With the likes of Hilary, Long Jawn, and Big Al being floated for 2008, please, bring on Russ! Also, while Kerry was barely beating back Bush - by a mere 11,800 votes - Feingold beat his GOP opponent by 12 percent or 331,000 votes! If Kerry ran that strong there, the resources for Wisconsin could have been spent in other states, like Iowa, New Mexico, or Ohio. Just more proof that if you stand for something, you can get the votes. The guy who created the site also has a blog of Russisms: ["DraftRuss2008 blog"]. Another blogger has set up one for Sen. Barbara Boxer: ["President Boxer blog"].

One of the last great classic columnists died this week.
David Nyhan, formerly of the Globe and later of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune newspaper chain, died while shoveling snow in Brookline. He was a great one, as noted in this column by bow-tied cocktail crowder Thomas Oliphant here: ["Remembering a gentle giant"] and here, in his obit: ["Retired Globe columnist David Nyhan, 64, collapses and dies"]. Nyhan wasn't held back by anything and didn't judge a book by its cover. He wrote about all kinds of people and never seemed to let the status quo guide his principles or his writing. In that, he was sort of a dying breed, like other columnists such as Jack Germond, Mike Royko, Peter Lucas, who wrote for the Herald, or author Thomas H. O'Connor, the definitive Boston scholar. Nyhan's books, while not bestsellers, clued readers in to the mechanizations of Massachusetts politics. In particular, I enjoyed his book about Michael Dukakis, called "The Duke," which I found in used paperback form a bunch of years ago.
While I didn't always agree with his take on things, I gained a fondness in my heart for him after he highlighted my appearance at a Brighton housing forum on May 29, 1998 during my independent run for Congress in the storied 8th Congressional District. In "Gang of 12 take a bow," Nyhan stated:
The candidates' night began hitting on all 11 cylinders when Anthony Schinella, the independent, announced: "Both parties are corrupt and have abandoned their core constituencies." He made the first pitch for the renter vote by lamenting his trouble finding an apartment while paid $8.40 an hour. His solution? "A 100 percent renters' tax deduction."
I was shocked after seeing the column since it was one of the first times the campaign received any press from the two Boston dailies. In fact, it was one of the only nice things ever published about me in the Globe, which later went on to take numerous cheap shots and publish inaccuracies which never were corrected, a serious flaw in any media organization. As everyone knows, when someone makes a mistake, a correction is published ... unless its the Boston Globe. Interestingly, it was one of the only columns he wrote about the 8th race. I've always wondered why he didn't write more. After all, he was their top political reporter. He could have written a whole book about that race.
Nyhan also wrote positive things about one of my favorite politicians, former California governor Jerry Brown, including a great column when he ran for president in 1992 that the campaign used as a lit drop, "The perfect non-politician," which was syndicated nationally.
Earlier tonight, "Greater Boston" had a segment on Nyhan's death, including film from his funeral ceremony where his kids gave passionate speeches about their dad. They were extremely impressive. Sen. Ted Kennedy also gave the eulogy. Thank you David and may you rest in peace.

Lastly, I spent a good chunk of this last week covering hearings in the NH Legislature for WKXL News. Most of the hearings have been out of the Elections Committee. Some of the bills included eliminating straight ticket voting and making it easier for independents to vote in primaries, among other bills. There was also an interesting bill from the State and Federal Relations Committee about urging the Congress to get the United States out of the United Nations. Another bill, from the same committee, promoted the creation of an international trade committee to watchdog over the negative effects of NAFTA and the WTO. I only caught the tailend of the hearing but I am hoping to interview the sponsor at a later date.
The hearings have been extremely interesting, with both sides of the political aisle promoting interesting ideas and holding respectful question and answer sessions. It is amazing that these folks are participating for the sheer love of participating or trying to make their state a better place. Sure, not all of the ideas are good - or passable. But at least people seem to be trying. Even the grandstanders and long-winded really have their hearts in the right place.
It is so much different than the Massachusetts Legislature - a bastion of do-nothing know-it-alls, who always seem to be on the take and accomplish little that benefits the average person. Part of this could be the fact that New Hampshire legislators earn $200 a year - compared to the $68,000 a year earned by reps in Massachusetts. However, I have noticed one thing about the state Legislature here that is a bit disconcerting: Most of the representatives are very old. I think three of the 60 reps I have seen so far in hearings were under the age of thirty; with maybe a handful of others under the age of forty. This tilts the makeup of the Legislature. Again, it comes back to the money issue. If you have to work a real job, in the real world, you can't play legislator for $200 a year. Some folks who own their own businesses or might have loose school schedules can attend hearings and votes. But how many people is that?
Thankfully, I have a job where I can cover these meetings and then relay what happens via a newscast that people can choose to listen to. And I am grateful for that. :-) But the fact is that this "citizen" Legislature is only attainable - and represented - by certain citizens. That doesn't mean that they aren't doing a good job. But it does mean that if you have to work 9-to-5 to survive - and that is most of us - you are going to have very little influence over what the state does. The Legislature doesn't hold its hearings at 7 p.m. like a Town Meeting or a City Council public hearing. But since the working class is the bulk of the people, it should have the ability to participate as much as possible, shouldn't it? Otherwise, the small minority of people who can attend the hearings - or spend hours and hours as a representative, basically for free - have the greatest access to power. And that is a shame and a major flaw no matter how great and honorable.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The missing headlines:
Here are some of the headlines that I have missed over the past couple of weeks.

Micheal Moore's "controversial" film won the People's Choice award for favorite movie: ["Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" Voted US Viewers' Favorite Movie of 2004 "], a bit of a surprise considering the hammering he received during the late stages of last year's presidential campaign. "The Passion" also won for Best Drama. There were rumors that the organizers gave Moore a heads up that he would win in order to make sure he showed up but the rumors haven't been proven yet.

Probably one of the most frightening things that happened in recent weeks was that Mass. Sen. John Kerry announced that he was contemplating another run for the presidency in 2008: ["I'm going to learn"]. Eh, isn't it a bit late for that now? Of course, I'm not surprised by all of this because many of us wrote about Kerry's problems early on in the primary process. I am still a bit surprised that he won the nomination. But I am not surprised that Kerry lost. In my gut, I knew he was going to lose.
Here's some reaction from the Dean folks about Kerry's future intentions: ["Bite Me John"]. And here is a story about Ohio's SOS asking for illegal contributions for a potential 2006 gubernatorial run: ["Ohio letter seeks illegal contributions"]. This, was also a surprise: ["Holdout Dems Seek Gore Restoration"]. If Nixon could do it, why can't Gore?

Some interesting headlines from the Boston political scene. First, Capuano chokes on a possible gubernatorial run: ["Capuano won't run for governor, raising questions on party unity"]. This is interesting, especially after the puff piece the Globe's clueless Brian Mooney wrote a few weeks back. Also, Frank Phillips' take on this is pretty amusing:
Capuano's departure from the race is likely to mean that the party will not have the chance to consider a candidate who would pull together the party's two strongest bases: urban voters and liberal political activists.
This is a good thing for the Democrats, Frank. Democratic nominees have historically had a lock on the urban and liberal voters in Massachusetts. Their problem is that this base has whithered away. So, in order to beat Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, they have to be able to attract new voters - which are more conservative, centrist, and suburban. Since Capuano is centrist on some issues, albeit not social ones, he could have been able to get some of these voters. More than likely, a candidate like nice guy Christopher Gabrieli will have a better chance at getting these voters. With unlimited resources - he was reportedly worth $80 million before the dot-con crash - Gabrieli could have potential in the nomination fight against AG Tom Reilly. It would be similar to what happened here in New Hampshire in 2004: The CEO vs. the CEO. Although, Romney is much less scandal-riddled than ex-Gov. Craig Benson was perceived to be.
In the end, Capuano made the safe - and yeah, smart - decision. He's relatively safe in the 8th seat but admittedly going nowhere. And for some, that is okay. The key for Capuano is to do what I suggested he do when he first got elected: Float the big ideas - and fight for regular folks.
In the puff piece by Mooney, Capuano said he was happy doing the small stuff. Well, that may not be good enough, long-term, for the people of the district who are historically used to the broader agendas of JFK and Tip. They may get a bit impatient. Although, they dealt with Joseph P. Kennedy II - an inept politician if you ever saw one, who turned against working folks by backing NAFTA and GATT/WTO - so maybe Capuano can ride this one for awhile.
Capuano also got a mention in this piece by former Boston Phoenix political writer Michael Crowley, who is now a senior editor at The New Republic, about taking on the GOP: ["Learning from Newt"]. Crowley is a good guy and this is a nice piece.
Speaking of Joe Kennedy, is this like a standing head or something?: ["Joseph Kennedy, once again, won't run for governor"]. The Globe quotes Kennedy:

"I have no intention of running for governor. I am not looking to get back into elective office."
I have to wonder if the writers didn't transcribe this quote wrong. Shouldn't it have been this:

I, uh, uh, have no intention of uh, running for uh, governor. I am, uh, not looking to get back in to uh, elective office.

Also, is it getting to look like Frank Phillips is fishing for a Democratic candidate?
I would also be remiss if I didn't post this excellent blog entry by my brother-in-law, Tom McCuin, a former MassGOP staffer who is stationed in Afghanistan, about the Republicans getting hammered in the 2004 mid-term Mass. elections: ["Seeing the elephant"].
Lastly, speaking of the Globe, did anyone see the bit in the Herald about married city editor Bryan Marquard allegedly getting arrested for "open and gross lewdness" after allegedly getting caught at the front door of two young women "naked and masterbating"? Nice.

Take a look at this piece by David Wedge: ["Cabral campaign manager preps for at-large City Council race"]. Note to amatuer political journalists: Always take a look at the year-end campaign finance filings to see if there is anything going on. Not only is Matt O'Malley, who came out of nowhere in 2003, prepping for another run, but there is also a new-comer no one has ever heard of, Sam Yoon, who raised more than $29k, quite a feat for a nobody.
But is he a nobody? A google of Mr. Yoon yielded some interesting finds including this discussion on ["When will the Globe let us in on the secret?"]. Whoever posted this is being pretty astute. The Globe has a way of doing this: Elevating a candidate, often under the banner of "diversity," yet the person turns out to be an insider for someone in power. I'm not saying that Yoon is this type of person. But when you read "public/private partnership" - a mantra of a certain long-term Boston Mayor - you can pretty much guess where the candidate is coming from. As well, when you see some guy come out of nowhere to raise $29k, you can almost guarantee that candidate has some powerful connections. I would love to see the guy's financial statements.
As always, Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix, has a pretty good overview of the 2005 council race here: ["Breaths of fresh air"].

Those who have been saying Iraq is starting to look like 'Nam may have hit it right on the head: ["US deserters flee to Canada to avoid service in Iraq"]. Where again are the American media? I haven't seen this anywhere.

This is too funny: ["Rathergate vs. Saddam's WMD"]. The key here is "Number of firings resulting from investigation" ... Zero. Zilch. Nada. None.

This is not: Here's Howard Fineman, probably one of the worst of the Washington blathermouths, giving his opinion once again: ["The 'Media Party' is over"]. This is the same guy who went off on Howard Dean for being a little enthusiastic. Sorry Howard. If we have our way, you're next! In a perfect world, not only would the news departments turn over at places like CBS more frequently, but so would the pundits on the talking head shows. Here is another take on the issue from Howard Kurtz: ["Hollow Accountability"].

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I've been super busy:
As many people read here on Politizine, I left my job at The Winchester Star in December and started a new job at a news/talk radio station, WKXL 1450, in Concord, NH. I hold down the 3 to 6 p.m. time slot at the station. At 3 p.m., I host "Arts & Entertainment around the Capitol Region," an interview program featuring authors, poets, musicians, literally anyone and everyone doing anything creative in the area. From 4 to 6 p.m., "PM New Hampshire" airs. During those hours, I read the news headlines, conduct interviews and attend local meetings for news segments. When New Hampshire's new governor, Democrat John Lynch, was inaugurated on Jan. 6, I was broadcasting live from the State House - during a blizzard! So, it is a pretty cool gig. So far, it has been a lot of fun working at WKXL. I've met some very interesting people. Everyone at the station is very professional and friendly, with all kinds of diverse backgrounds. There is some very interesting and exciting stuff airing at the station. Anyone who wants to listen can tune in on the Web at
Putting together news for radio is much different than working in print. Instead of writing a 600 to 800 word story about something, a quick three or four sentences are written and then some audio of the person talking is recorded and spliced into the story. Sometimes you are reading the text and airing the audio; other times you are putting together a package to be broadcast during someone else's news. It is pretty cool how it all comes together in the end.
The new job and family stuff, however, has kept me from updating the blog. As promised, I do hope to soon have a couple more contributors in place to make it a bit more interactive. I did put a poll up about a comment section [only three readers voted ... thank you, though]. The "ayes" have it, so I will be implementing the comment section sometime this week. Tomorrow I will update the blog with some news and links I have not had a chance to post.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who responded to the blog entry and email letter about my family and put them in your prayers and made donations to them in their time of need. I don't have any new news to share with anyone yet. I know they still haven't found a new place to live and are split between a bunch of places. This weekend, there was supposed to be a big a fund-raiser/benefit, but I haven't heard yet how it went. When I do, I will pass the news on. Thanks again everyone.