Monday, May 22, 2006

Is there a crash coming?

How is this for a heavy headline: ["Markets ‘are like 1987 crash’"]. Granted, this is a Brit paper. But, the financial markets are all pretty well connected these days and it all feels a bit unstable, doesn't it? Gas prices really high; tons of folks out of work; tax cuts not geared towards regular folks who really need the tax relief; trade deficits booming; illegals flooding the border depressing the wages of the unskilled citizenry; etc. It all seems pretty bad out there right now.

This guy Ned Lamont
I haven't really been following the Lieberman/Lamont Senate race in Conn. but I am intrigued by it, since I met Lieberman a couple of times when he ran for president. Plus, his unwavering support for the occupation of Iraq makes you wish you had a real Republican in the seat.

This weekend, Lamont got 33 percent of the CT Dem Convention - a shocking feat - and is the talk of the entire political world right now. It seemed worth remarking about. Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie says it best in this piece: ["Lieberman's in Trouble"]. Lamont has some pretty good TV spots posted on his blog which are worth a watch: ["Lamont blog"]. Lieberman's insane support of the occupation and coddling the hard line is dumbfounding especially in light of Rep. Murtha's - a true hero, BTW - recent comments: ["Lawmaker: Marines killed Iraqis ‘in cold blood’"]. What is so sad about all of this is that most of the folks in the armed forces are just ordinary people trying to do what they think is right and they are getting caught up in all of this mess. This action is turning them into war criminals. Why would anyone want to turn another human being into a murderer?

A couple of new blogs
Citizen journalists are sprouting up all over and some of them are more than just ranting opinion places. Here are a couple I've found over the past week or so.

First, there is this one from a guy named Jesse in Cambridge: ["View from 'The Bridge'"]. Since I once lived in both Cambridge and Somerville, I still keep in touch with a lot of the things going on there and sites like this one help me quickly find out what is going on. I love the look of his site too - with the Boston skyline dragged along the page no matter where you are on it. Very cool.

Here is another site called The Alewife
["The Alewife"]. Today's link is about Rep. Michael Capuano voting against some GOP bill. Not a huge thing. However, if you scroll down, you'll find a picture of a rainbow over Porter Square [I used to live a few blocks from there], lots of local news that would otherwise be gathered by a newspaper, and even a notice about meeting Belmont Selectman Will Brownsberger, who is now running for state rep.
I used to cover Brownsberger when I was the reporter for the Citizen-Herald. I got to know him pretty well. For the most part, he wasn't a bad guy [his wife is super nice] with the exception of this one time when he grabbed me in a threatening manner at the 2002 Democratic convention.
I was attending the convention, hanging out with the Belmont delegation for a story I was writing. During a lull - and there were a lot of them - I asked Brownsberger if there was any truth to the compounding rumors I was hearing about sexual issues at the Chenery Middle School, specifically 12 to 14 year-old girls performing sex acts on boys in the boy's bathrooms. I had at least two parents complain to me about the issue privately, although they wouldn't go on-the-record for the story. I thought I would catch him in a relatively good mood and he might slip me some information. But that isn't what he did.
Brownsberger swiftly grabbed my arm and pulled it behind my back, whispering in my ear about how he was sick of hearing that the middle school girls in Belmont were sluts, something I wasn't insinuating at all. I turned to him and told him that he better let go of me right away if he knew what was good for him. He quickly did let go of me and apologized after realizing what he was doing. I was pretty shocked by his actions but I guess I struck a nerve. He said there was nothing to the rumors and walked off, I assume, to cool off. I later learned that Brownsberger had a daughter at the Chenery which is probably why he was so upset by the question. And, despite being a public figure, I never said anything about the outburst until now.
Since I am a parent now, I can understand why Brownsberger was so pissed. But, as a public official clearly concerned about his town, Brownsberger had an obligation to act like a professional. He should have dealt with the question like this from a reporter in a straight-forward manner instead of reacting in a violent manner.
In the end, I was never able to get the story but I did believe the rumors. In an accelerated sexual society, it isn't surprising when kids start doing things they are exposed to. A year later, I started to hear about similar problems at the McCall Middle School when I was the editor of The Winchester Star but I couldn't get that story either [although we did get a story about the early release day when a slew of young teens got busted for smoking pot]. But the stories are out there about very young children and sexual activities. The key now is to admit that they are happening and try to stop them from happening. But for pols, covering it up seems to be the most important task at hand - not fixing the problem.

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