Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dishonorable Graves on the Plaza

Who was missing when Boston City Councilors Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon announced their joint campaign to open the trap door on November 3rd under Mayor Tom Menino? (beat...beat...beat) Why all the other councilors, natch.

It's not like pols who criticize Da Mare disappear or even have their families shunned. Yet, folk downtown do seem wary of endorsing any opponents. Even the higher profile, attention-seeking sorts like the Johns Tobin and Connolly were not in the scrum surrounding the candidates.

I did see a council contender though, the affable Doug Bennett. The scooter campaigner was right there with the media and machers. He'd greet all comers or those who might have thought they'd pass by with, "Will you vote for me on November 3rd?," and hand out his LITE, vague campaign tract. I don't see any path on it to his four simple goals (clean streets, lower crime, lower property taxes, and better paying jobs). Yet he's the Opie Taylor here, with the wide eyes and wider grin. He's hard to dislike.

The total absence of fellow councilors at the announcement seems obvious in this highly political place and time. Likewise, they have not and will not endorse the Flaherty/Yoon ticket-like object. They are just not looking for trouble, or some would whisper, retribution.

No doubt the renegades would have a better shot in the general if some of their buddies would pipe up and join in. No one here but us mice, as they used to say in the cartoons.

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.

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Sudden Prom Date

Sudden prom date Sam Yoon wore the Flaherty Yoon '09 Courage to Change button at yesterday's announcement of a joint campaign to elect Michael Flaherty mayor of Boston. He seemed a true believer too, feeling his buddy in the City Council might win, that then Yoon would become a top advisor called and paid as deputy mayor, and that the pair could co-exist while making the big things happen and disagreeing on some substance.

Probably everyone other than Mayor Tom Menino and his strongest supporters welcome this catalyst into the political soup. Until two days ago, the heat was off, the aroma gone and (complete the metaphors yourself).

Menino is still the alpha dog here, with the accumulated funds, humming hive of worker bees, and voters who either really, really like him or hesitate to change...same effect.

Yet, bless his election-seasoned heart, Menino stopped his campaign's whining about unfair and illegal gimmick allegations. Instead, as the Herald quotes him, "“It’s two against one now...First of all, there’s only going to be two names on the ballot, Mayor Menino and Councilor Flaherty. You still need 50 percent of the vote to win." Likewise, the Globe picked up similar gems, such as Da Mare saying the combo was just "an advertising campaign and asking, "What do you mean ticket?"

It's true enough that voters will smear an oval for Michael Flaherty if so inclined and will find Sam Yoon only in their active imaginations. So, is that enough?

One thing is plain with only five weeks to go. Pundits and barstool experts should stop with the 46% to 51% chat, referring to Flaherty/Yoon and Menino's shares of the preliminary vote. More than twice the voters will surely turn out on November 3rd, including pol-specific loyalists, change-starved neighborhood chauvinists, befuddled always-voters, and the curious. Neither side should take their figures from 9/22 to bed at night.

At yesterday afternoon's blather fest on Left Ahead!, Ryan and I worked over the announcement and some of its implications. We agreed that the new combo is still on track to place behind Da Mare's win, but that it's now a new and very short race. They could nose him out.

Ryan also figures that this won't be won on the airwaves, discounting Menino's biggest weapon of cash for media.

To the point that it's two to one, both sides concur and have stated as much as well. Menino has already squeezed every adult hand in Boston it seems. Flaherty and Yoon have been catching up, but aren't there. They promised yesterday to go everywhere, down to every church basement for example. They'll have to to activate the the inert voters and divert enough others to win.

To be frank, none of the three is a heart-stopping orator. Short of this new combo campaign, they have already displayed and rattled their weapons. Any voter paying attention knows what stuff they have. The only thing new is the joint effort.

Menino is generally smart and particularly politically savvy. He knows enough to publicly express contempt of the quasi-ticket he faces. He also is surely revising his own talking points to undercut this very real threat.

Linky: Chris Lovett has a super piece on prospects at Civic Boston.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From Dirge to Jig in Boston

I promise to lay off the obvious puns, like Yoon-ify, following the announcement that Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon will campaign together as a quasi-official team against incumbent Mayor Tom Menino. Floon is a tempting team name though.

At the official announcement (on an extreme corner of the City Hall Plaza) this morning, preliminary winner of the right to run in the Nov. 3rd general Flaherty and a loser of the same Yoon were jolly. I've seen and spent time with each and found a marked improvement. Flaherty showed great confidence and Yoon has not been as relaxed since the challenge began in the spring.

Looking like so many supersized ice-cream trucks in a row, the white boxy truckss of all major area broadcast media showed for the announcement. They were a shot-put throw away from the spot where in November City Councilor Chuck Turner angrily declared innocence what he said was a conspiracy to frame him for corruption. That's of note only because the crowds at each event were similar sizes, maybe 150.

This time though the minions were hopeful and happy.

The formal announcement is available numerous places, like here (Boston Channel, 12 minutes) It pretty much stuck to the script on Flaherty's campaign site.

The gist is that:
  • Flaherty and Yoon's staffs talked the two days after the September 22nd preliminary.
  • Both sides like the idea of a combined drive to unseat Menino.
  • The two former rivals spent time over the weekend (hence why I didn't see Flaherty on Columbus Ave.).
  • Yoon will campaign with Flaherty.
  • The clear understanding is that if Flaherty wins, Yoon becomes a cabinet-level official with the retrograde title deputy mayor.
This should thoroughly energize the whole election and not just the Flaherty/Yoon side. All of us were ready to bury Flaherty, ceding the election to Menino's popularity, political organization, and hoggy bank of funds. Now, he'll have to hustle to keep his job and while Flaherty is the underdog, he might be able to pull it off.

For Menino's sake, I hope that his staff drops any GOP-style whining about the utter unfairness of the union for the campaign. Any talk of the deputy-mayor thing being "illegal" is sissy and won't stand.

In that vein, it was amusing at today's announcement to hear Flaherty recall when Mayor Kevin White had deputy and vice mayors a couple of decades ago, something no other mayor has used since. Immediately following that comparison, Flaherty said the voters wanted something new. Huh?

By the bye, a big unknown is whether the combo campaign can use Yoon's political checkbook for this last five weeks. TBD.

Regardless, I did hang around long enough to eavesdrop on both Flaherty and Yoon chatting up the press. I ended up asking Yoon something I didn't hear anyone else hit him with. In my own wee interview-ette, he said that being an unelected staff person, hired help as it were, would not be an issue. Not only was he confident that he and Flaherty could work together with their differences, but that the title announced up front implies what his role would be. They would have a joint campaign and if they win, he'd be his real deputy. Yoon said that their joint goals far outweigh any differences and "we'll reflect that after the election."

Earlier he did joke during the press announcement that sure, they'd go on debates together and he'd whisper answers in Flaherty's ear. Much laughter ensued.

Talking Version: Ryan and I kicked this can up and down at Left Ahead! today.

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Double Lightning Bolt in Boston

Since pre-dawn email from the Flaherty and Yoon folk, I've mused over this morning's pending announcement of their instant co-campaign. Over Scottish oats and banana, I saw the similar treat from the bland there.

I don't have to reprint mayoral run-off contender Michael Flaherty's announcement, which is here. Plus, Adam at UH ran the letter we all got here. First takes are numerous places, including the Globe, the Herald, and the Phoenix. As of 10:45 a.m., outside a certain city hall, the game is afoot.

The basic idea is that the pair of erstwhile rivals will run an artificial ticket (no legal status or ballot listing for that), with Sam Yoon as deputy mayor. The reality is that nearly half the voters smudged the ovals for candidates other than incumbent Mayor Tom Menino. The yoked team would hope to grab them all and not let disillusioned Yoon or Kevin McCrea voters sit out the election. (You want change; we got your change right here.)

If deputy mayor does not find a place in your brain pan, you may not have been alive or here for Mayor Kevin White's time (four terms, 1968-84). He had such deputy mayors Edward T. Sullivan and Robert Kiley and made up a vice mayor spot, which following Mayor Ray Flynn promptly spiked.

This time around, the first reaction from Menino's camp was very poor. From the Globe article:

Nick Martin, a spokesman for the Menino campaign, blasted the nascent ticket as an illegal gimmick. He said the position of deputy mayor does not exist in the city charter, so Yoon’s name could not appear on the ballot in the final election Nov. 3.

“This is a blatant attempt to confuse the voters of Boston, because implying that he’s going to run for deputy mayor is something that exists outside of the bounds of the law,’’ Martin said yesterday. “These are desperate tactics by a desperate individual. This seems to be both councilors saying if they can’t win their way, they’ll try to reinvent the rules.’’

What, you may well ask, did they expect from the challengers who have said from the beginning that they wanted to shake up City Hall? Menino should have been gracious and chisel chinned instead. "Put up your dukes. I'll flatten you!" would have been a far better response.

The facts include:
  • The team is still a long shot for the office, with Menino's popularity and cash.
  • The team has a much better chance than Flaherty did solo, nevertheless.
  • Flaherty seemed to many a mini-Menino, so this gives the change mongers and buyers a home.
  • The race is suddenly exciting again. Tom must have thought he'd coast downhill through November 3rd and suddenly will have to pedal.

This second race should both clarify the issues and give Menino the pressure to bring out his best arguments — and he has a ton of them. For us politics addicts, this is great stuff. It may be rough on Da Mare, but I love it.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beantown's Favorite Fruit

Our indefatigable, ubiquitous mayor was...of the Beantown Jazz Festival on Columbus Avenue today. Mayoral challenger for Nov. 3rd, Councilor Michael Flaherty was not. In fact, his next scheduled event is for Oct. 1st in Charlestown — the campaign kick-off.

I was there for the music and did expect candidates for council or mayor. Wandering the length of the festival several times, I didn't see any of the former in four hours and only one for mayor. There were thousands of jolly locals, almost certainly saturated with registered voters.

Regardless, I finished a great show by Joe Louis Walker, the only blues on the sked. I rolled over to catch the first couple of numbers of Jane Bunnett (flute and soprano sax) with Elio Villafranca on piano; she was sort of wispy and comparatively LITE Latin jazz.

I just had to catch Berklee's P0Funk Ensemble, whom Prof. Lenny Stallworth funnels into reprising Parliament Funkadelic's strong music and weird 70s drag. I may post at Harrumph! on this because my high school (Plainfield, NJ) classmates were the original Parliaments. That was George Clinton's first band, who dropped the s at the end and then added Fundadelic as he invented funk music.

To my surprise, before the heavily made-up young honkies playing music originated by black guys in conks and fros started, a clump of big shots took the mic. Beantown Jazz Festival founder Darryl Settles was joined by the likes of Berklee President Roger Brown, who in turn introduced Da Mare.

Brown was none too subtle. In an apparent ad lib performance, he recounted years of solid support for the festival by Menino. He also stirred the crowd by introducing him as the next mayor. The huge audience in front of the stage was largely middle aged white folk, probably from the South End and probably Menino voters. They acted like he was the reason they had come and cheered mightily.

For his part, the mayor was as comfortable and casual as ever. He charmed with his folksiness as usual and bragged on the city and not himself — citing the simultaneous JP open studios and the international cycling races at City Hall. Where else, he asked rhetorically. Of course, it might be a lot of medium to large cities, but today it was Beantown.

Tom though was the fashion victim today, more than the youth from P-Funk. They dressed up for attention on purpose.

Our longest-serving mayor wore an apricot-colored pullover. The effect was somewhere between someone with a failed paint-on tan and a Shmoo®. (Click thumbnail for a larger view.)

There's no way a man of his age and somatotype should dress like a piece of fruit. Yet, it was only amusing and not terrible on him. His relentless sincerity and avuncular patter made apricot OK today.

For the others, who knows? Flaherty may well be in a bunker strategizing. Ayanna Pressley needs to sew up the fourth council spot but her sites don't indicate any action today. Andrew Kenneally wants that seat too and was with Da Mare before the jazz festival in an Uphams Corner ribbon cutting, but not tagging along to Columbus Avenue.

Tom Menino doesn't seem to have to campaign to be campaigning.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

GOP Fussbudgets Blow It Again

Let us sing a song, a silly song, to the Massachusetts Republican Party. Like a small animal caught by a larger one, it has figuratively rolled on its back in a defensive posture, ready to scratch and hoping to inflict a little discouraging damage.

The current expression of impotence and triviality has been fighting the interim appointment of a U.S. Senator to cast any necessary ballots between now and when a special election replaces Ted Kennedy on January 19th. While clothed in defending the commonwealth constitution, the effort really is another because-we-can one. In fact, it clearly in an admission that we are so weak, this is the only thing we can do, and so we shall.

This week has seen:
  • Slowing passage of a new version of the appointment law to permit the governor to name an interim, using a single-state-senator can stop debate for one day procedure.
  • Delayed debate a second day before backing off to prevent Senate President Therese Murray from forcing a public airing (again by rules).
  • Appealed by letter to our secretary of state to call the interim appointment unconstitutional on the moot point of whether this fits in the governor's power to claim a legislative emergency.
  • Requested an injunction hearing today at 8:00 a.m. today to spin its tiny little web and just maybe halt the appointment.

Friday p.m. update: Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly ruled as BMG's David supposed Gov. Patrick was within his powers to appoint the interim U.S. Senator after the legislature altered the law to allow it. He dismissed the GOP niggle.

Lawyerly David at Blue Mass Group lays out the nits and grits of the fragility of the GOP argument. Moreover, at Red Mass Group, Peter Porcupine splashes some reality in the comments. She and I generally disagree, but she's spot on here, recognizing both that this is a loser by the GOP and how utterly silly it makes the party officials look.

In reality. the local elephants have queered democracy several ways. Most obviously, the maneuvers in the senate delayed debate, which is what the process is really about.

Meanwhile, Gov. Deval Patrick appointed Paul Kirk to fill the interim spot. The latter hopped in and fired up his little ship of state to conduct business. Our local GOP is calling down the track for the train to come back. His official swearing in is on tap for 3:30 this afternoon, assuming the injunction try misses.

The Dems surely are guilty of expedience and corner cutting. They have been doing the situation-ethics thing and justifying the end of having full representation in the U.S. Senate by the means of re-changing this law to suit themselves.

Unfortunately for the local Republicans, the high dudgeon they think they are showing is low-brow and will surely not play well, even in the conservative hustings. They are happy to think they can screw the Dems and seem to forget the whole commonwealth and all its voters are actually the victims if we are underrepresented for four crucial months of key votes.

Playing the constitution card again and again and again will never turn it into a trump card.

For the many of us who would like a more robust two-party or multi-party system here, this speaks to the poverty of intellect and judgment as well as power in the GOP here. It seems most of their ilk are disguised as DINOs and are not likely to reveal themselves as crypo-Republicans and lose their General Court seats.

The state GOP is decidedly in a fix. Pulling tricks and picking nits though is certainly not the way to more members or influence. Alas, the current parliamentary maneuvering and injunction ploy end up in Emerson's classification of foolish consistency. Like a Randist who halts a public debate to niggle what he shouts is a false premise that ruins the whole argument, the local elephants here are missing the abstracts and reality in the name of precision. Put another way, they just end up looking stupid.

The proper course of action or discourse is not as clear as the failed tack they have sailed. Leading this party or even being an active member must be tough.

We should hope that as they heal from this latest battle that they examine the ideas and drop the niggling. There will be other chances to gain political advantage and there must be effective ways to benefit.

As it is, yes, the Dems can be made to wear the hypocrite hat. They changed the interim rule a few years ago to keep a Republican governor from having a chance to replace a U.S. Senator and now they re-changed it to let a Dem counterpart do it. Yet, that's not a huge boon and it's not shocking to voters that a majority party would seek political advantage by altering the rules or procedures.

Surely the Republicans can do better. Coming off as the nit pickers, they end up looking like gleaners trying to make a meal out of the field leavings. Can't they grow their own crops and convince people their meal would be better?

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Voter Triggers

If not stunning, a few anomalies in Tuesday's returns in Boston seem odd, amusing or both. One theme did resonate though — I know him.

  • Doug Bennett. The scooter guy surprised many, certainly me, by making the preliminary cut from 15 to 8 city council candidates. He's a crypto Republican, maybe born in Boston but really from Cape Cod, who has well-duh issues (clean streets, low crime, low property taxes, better jobs) with no plan to achieve anything. There's no way for him to get 5% of the vote, 10, 519, to come in seventh. But wait, there was a way and it was his unique way. He putted around street by street, greeting, knocking, ringing, chatting and putting in face and handshake time for months. That's retail campaigning at its most basic, the Fuller Brush/Avon retrograde method. It worked for him.
  • Chuck Turner. The often paranoid, grammatically challenged Harvard grad is nothing if not theatrical and hyperbolic. Everything's a plot, including his federal corruption indictment, and if it's a plot against him, it's also against all American-American Bostonians and all voters in his district. He proclaimed that his over 50% preliminary results are a mandate (his word). He campaigns that he is bald, bold and bright. The bread in that sandwich are doubtful claims, but the bold is very accurate. He somehow has managed to translate his extreme left rhetoric and weird allegations into one-of-us for the voters. The much more stable and really bright Tony Henriquez is likely to be overwhelmed by voters who inexplicably stick with Chuck.
  • Tom Menino. As odd as it seems to type it, Da Mare shares a benefit with Bennett. People know him. They know his face and hand and voice and works. He's huge on constituent services and bigger still on presence. Previous Mayor Ray Flynn chased cop cars and fire trucks. Menino seems ubiquitous in chasing each of us. Seemingly to our voters having touched the hem of his garments is more powerful than any campaign promise or platform plank. He loves direct interaction with voters.

Writing of the mayoral contest, voters have one more chance for change. They fairly rejected it in a reverse spectrum on Tuesday, but Michael Flaherty has his final sprint to the November 3rd general. He carries the tremendous weight of Meninos affable popularity, despite a seeming majority of voters vaguely to solidly unhappy with commonweal of the city.

That spectrum ran from Kevin McCrea to Sam Yoon to Flaherty to Menino, from revolution to extreme system evolution to tweaking to stasis. The intellectually intriguing and wonderfully wonky Yoon came close to the final (21% of the vote to Flaherty's 24%), but voters went down the spectrum, avoiding the change they claim to desire.

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Viper of Augusta Slithers

Apparently rolling the rock over the hole in the ground, the head of the Christian Civic League is gone. Mike I'm-not-a-minister-but-play-one-on-the-Internet Heath resigned as executive director of the, if you pardon, re-Christened now Family Policy Council of Maine.

After a month short of 20 years vilifying homosexuals and predicting widespread horrors following any gay rights, civil unions or same-sex marriages, Heath did the classic unemployed trick. His business cards now read CONSULTANT.

The Bangor Daily News reports that he'll peddle solar cookers in Africa.

From here, I find it safe to say he presided over the decline and collapse of the anti-gay forces in Maine. Under his steeled and incredibly dishonest command, the former CCL built its fund-raising machine on keeping gays down. They caused the repeal the lightest and most humane and most benign gay-rights wording added to housing laws a couple of times.

I guess that's something of note, like being the kid who kicked the most kittens.

Recently, the dwindling party seemed to give up, becoming a shriveled arm of the national Family Policy Council. It's an umbrella organization with barely enough cover to keep a single fashion model dry. It was not about to throw big bucks into overturning Maine's SSM law. The desperate National Organization for Marriage has been doing that from the mid-Atlantic instead. They are the present incarnation of a group that earns its cash from churning up homophobia and other hates and fears.

No-longer-CCL's statement on Heath's vaporization does not include comments from him and his last online column was nearly two weeks ago. His resignation came on Tuesday at a board meeting.

I'm betting the remaining crew has been really bummed that their revenues have plunged, likely along with membership. They have also been a non-factor in trying to prevent or repeal the SSM law. Heath likely too has gotten no response when he hollered, "Follow me!"

Looking over his outrageous, deceitful columns and articles on the used-to-be-CCL site, I can't say I'm sorry to see him go. It's good though that he held on long enough, well past his freshness date, to thoroughly cripple his former group with his irrationality, dishonest and negativity.

The state is not without individual fundy ministers who openly slander LGBT Mainers, particularly same-sex couples. What's lacking is a focal point for the hate. It seems our northern neighbors have advanced beyond the need for one.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Poll Position in a Folding Chair

Yesterday in Boston's municipal preliminary, I was clerk at a polling location in Hyde Park. All but one of us (four inspectors, an interpreter and the warden included) had worked the past gubernatorial and presidential elections. We were disappointed.

The local rags and other media buy the line that because the 23% of registered voters appearing exceeded the city's predictions, turnout was great (see the Herald's piece for one example). We in the folding chairs kept asking where the voters were.

We had a few flurries between 8 and 9 a.m. and 5:30 and 6 p.m. Only once in the 13 open hours did we have all eight of our ballot stations in two stands occupied at one time. Lackaday.

Perhaps odder to this politically minded sort, a startling number of voters commented that they knew nothing of the 15 city-council candidates. Roughly one fifth of our voters left that part of the ballot blank, voting only for mayor.

How in James Michael Curley's name can you have avoided:
  • Learning about the council candidates, where were ubiquitous and cacophonous?
  • Seeing and hearing the mayoral candidates debating, advertising and being covered by all media?
  • Getting excited about the sweeping changes mayoral challengers demanded?
  • Having a once-in-a-decade chance to elect multiple new councilors?
Voters managed.

Poll workers aren't supposed to talk politics at all during the election days. That was tough. Several candidates, including Steve Murphy and Tomas Gonzalez were out front for hours. Steve said his 80-ish parents were working the polls at the precinct up the hill. Plus some of the campaign workers (including a candidate's wife) were trash talking various contenders. It was real tempting to join in. Yet, I had my tacky marker-written ID badge with stars and stripes. I was an identifiable official with a modulated mouth.

I was a bit disappointed that Council John Connolly didn't show, but sent a surrogate. I was not aware that his wife apparently intentionally coordinated her latest birth with an election. John and I spent 90 minutes or so talking education a week and change ago and are planning to do a podcast on it. He mentioned that she was eight and one-half months pregnant and how much he was looking forward to the new one. Conga-rats to John and Meg for Edward Ronan.

An oddment yesterday was over a dozen spoiled ballots. Those tend to be rare from my previous experience. It was young, middle-aged and elderly, men and women, and even the afternoon cop on duty at the check-out table was goofed up the ballots. A few were in attentive, like using an X instead of filling in the oval as shows repeatedly on the ballot and posted instructions. Most though were in council races, typically overvoting beyond the four maximum.

The huge list of 15 candidates seemed a bit much for many voters. Quite a few asked for clarification on how and how many to vote for or complained that it was hard to find their candidates in the pile.

In the end, we had 428 ballots in our precinct — okay, but not great.

We had none of those pesky provisional ballots that require a call to elections for a database check, filling in multiple forms, and sending off your vote with the hope that downtown will clear you and count your choices. Yet, we had a lot of people who had not returned the annual city voter census form, requiring ID checks and maybe a phone call, plus a single form.

In the many dead moments, we got to socialize among the crew. For me, an extra benefit was culinary conversation with the afternoon cop. This part of Hyde Park is rife with resident police, including both guys yesterday. The afternoon one had already tried most of the local restaurants, including the several new ones. He gave good tips and mini-reviews. Plus, he spends most of most days in a patrol car, so he thinks fat control that tilts his comments toward adult concerns.

Unfortunately, I worked one precinct away from my voting location up the hill. They needed a clerk down the hill. So, I didn't get to meet any close neighbors. In my previous work in a JP location, I knew and chatted with a lot of folk on my block and nearby. Likewise, the cop on duty worked the whole day, lived on my street and generally could check out the voters on the way to the machine by sight. It was a jolly room.

We're likely to have the same crew come November 3rd. We can build on some of our personal tale. Then again, we may be too busy. We're hoping for twice, but not three times, the number of voters for the general. There's a pride of participation on our side of the check-in table too.

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Beantown a Mean Town for Some

Boston looks to tweak, not surprise here. In yesterday's preliminary municipal election, virtually all of us can claim prescience. Most figured it would be incumbent Mayor Tom Menino against City Councilor Michael Flaherty in the mayoral final. Likewise, we had a pretty good set of guesses for the final eight of the 15 running for the four council seats.


Then again, not yawn. The final six weeks to the November 3rd general starts from a new gate. Befuddled and overwhelmed voters get less information overload and will largely go to the polls with a sense of the final candidates.
Left Ahead! plug: Catch us at our streaming site here at 2:30 Eastern on Thursday for commentary on Boston and the few other elections around. If you can listen live and want to call in with local news or opinions, use (718) 664-6966. Push 1 on your phone keypad to let us know you want to talk. We'll try to get to you quickly.
I grieved in advance over mayoral candidate City Councilor Sam Yoon's third place finish.

The Globe ran figures online and in print. The online when I saw it a few minutes ago kept the inexplicable error on Tito Jackson's returns (listing 45,880 instead of his 12, 520) that would have had him topping the ticket insted of coming in sixth. Perhaps that was because they endorsed him; seriously, some fat fingers blew that.

Writing of, the council endorsements are the proverbial reminder of how poorly our biggest daily directs voters. The Globe had the first four easy ones, incumbents John Connolly and Steve Murphy with Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley. Three of their picks fell far sort — Ego Ezedi, Hiep Nguyen and Robert Fortes. They called for Tito Jackson, who'll need some serious oomph to climb to the final four. On raw endorsement to vote results, that's 62.5%, fine for baseball, but not punditry. The season's too short, with only two games.

Over at Civic Boston, Chris Lovett loves the absolute numbers. He breaks down the differences among various prelims here.

I had a few thoughts and feelings Monday and hold to them. For one, Flaherty is going to have to start giving voters compelling reasons to leave the comfort zone of Menino's avuncular hug. Despite a generation span, he's too much like him.

Likewise, over at Talking Politics, David Bernstein, ran his quick hits on the vote. I particularly liked and second his judgment that Yoon flew high in coming from relative obscurity to a solid third. Also, Bernstein's view that "He is now unshackled from the city council, and can spend the next few years doing something of actual use to the city. Then, if Menino calls it quits after winning one more term, Yoon is in perfect position to lead the scrum to succeed him."

Of moment in the council race is the likely flying elbows for the fourth seat. Felix Arroyo probably has three in the bag. There's a vague possibility that Tito Jackson or Tomas Gonzalez can come on strong, but I doubt it.

I also figure that it's between Pressley and Kenneally. She did better in the preliminary, but not knock-out better (9% to 7% of the vote). That was with her many endorsements that seemed to ride on her plank-like-pitches — I'm a woman and a woman of color; the council needs some of me, and I'm chummy at the Congressional level with former bosses Rep. Joe Kennedy and Sen. John Kerry.

We-like-Ayanna time is over. As with Flaherty, she'll have to get out of her own comfort zone and put up positions and details that she'll have to debate and defend. She's both bright and sweet and that will be tough for her.

Having interviewed both, I do prefer Kenneally. Now that everyone has gotten over that he had a benign brain tumor cut out, he needs to focus us on justifying yet another Irish-American councilor. He has lots of reasons, vast experience in and out of our city council, and very specific plans and policies. He needs to make a big deal out of the distinctions.

I'm going to enjoy both of these races.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Boston Political Reaper Tomorrow

Not endorsing and not predicting the Boston preliminary races has been really tough. I've had my choices for quite a bit, but this odd off-the-neck and over-the-ears trimming for the Nov. 3rd general does not lend itself to picks.

You can see how badly the Boston Globe blew it with its at-large council endorsements. In particular, they bypassed Andrew Kenneally. I spoke with him in June and went through his material and listened to his stumps as well. The Globe's board went with the two incumbent Irish-American councilors, but picked several several unproven candidates with far less expertise and experience than Kenneally. Numerous cynical observers have commented to me that it's obvious we could use some more racial, gender and cultural diversity on the Council, so the Globe was afraid to pick three white guys. Maybe it is that simple.

I hope he makes the eight candidates for November. For both the mayor and council spots, that six weeks to the general means a whole new campaign and the chance to distinguish platform and personality. It's exhausting to consider even as a spectator.

The mayoral race is odder still, with four major candidates. Perhaps the oddest aspect of all is how the three challengers have appeared so many times in the past two weeks together to accuse Mayor Menino of this or that. I am positive that will make it harder for voters to differentiate one from another when the three are in the get-Tom gang. That is likely to be an advantage for the presumptive leader of trio, who is of course, Irish-American Michael Flaherty.

In many ways, he is more like Menino than Sam Yoon or Kevin McCrea is. If it's Mike and Tom in the last month and a half, it's going to be real hard for Flaherty to provide compelling reasons to dump the devil we know. While he does have different and better ways to do somethings, he'll have a short time to present a preponderance of these to win.

If it were to be Yoon, he'd have a clearer path, but one just as tough. He has steadily pitched systematic change, and in great detail. He's damned smart but he has pulled out a real big pill for voters to swallow. Yoon makes a lot of sense, but are there enough voters who are serious about taking a chance on new ways of governing?

The winnowing tomorrow will set the tone for Boston for years to come. Coupled with the finals in November, this is one of those political cliché moments. We are headed for the government we deserve.

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Prelim Podcast to Thursday

Lynne, Ryan and I (a.k.a. Left Ahead) have bumped our podcast this week two days to Thursday, for this week only. The live stream is at the same time though, 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

Later, you can catch it at the same URL or at Left Ahead in a post or archives.

We figured we'd let the vote counts settle. We'll be ready Thursday to talk results. Several cities and towns, such as Worcester and Lowell, dropped their preliminaries to save money or for want of competition. That puts even more attention on Boston's mayoral and council races.

If you can listen live and want to call in with local news or opinions, use (718) 664-6966. Push 1 on your phone keypad to let us know you want to talk. We'll try to get to you quickly.
Note: The call-in is a New York number and not the nearby 781 area code.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It Not Be Too Late, Matey

Aaar. bilge rats and wenches. This be Talk Like a Pirate Day, but Hyde Park be missing the salt and salty talk. Let's go back two years:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avast Ye Lubbers and Sea Dogs!

This be Talk Like a Pirate Day. Step lively and load your canon with pirate phrases!

Scurvy curs under the Golden Dome (arrr, gold) and merchant varmints purloin your purse all year...without raising the Jolly Roger in fair warning. Curses be on them!

Put in your largest earring and let there be swagger as you walk the decks at work.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Da Mare's in Clover

Attrition in the Boston mayoral race has dulled the edge of outrage. Sixteen-year, longest-serving ever Mayor Tom Menino was supposed to be in biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig trouble for avoiding public debates, as has been his wont. He seems to have yielded just barely enough to stay in pasture and eat his political fill.

Even this blog joined in early on the demands for hard talk on hard issues, like here. While he admits and seems to embrace in a folksy way that he's not a fancy talker, Da Mare got a huge load of duck again, as he's ducking debates, like four years ago.

Also like four years ago, he seems to have hummed and muttered his way through. I conclude that so long as voters aren't shut off from all debate, a snack of opinion and information is all they need. The banquet to satiation is of little interest.

Today as one indicator, even the two mayor dailies are in line with his program. He skipped the final public forum last night at English High. The Globe runs a story on that — in its section two (Metro) on page five and not at the top. Even the head is passive for him, not that the mayor ducked the show, but "Mayoral candidates take aim at Menino", almost like he's a victim here. Likewise, the Herald tucked its Where's Mayor Menino this time? well inside. Neither paper teased the piece on its front. In the Herald instead, its first page had:
  • Fall Real Estate Extravaganza
  • Jets trash talking the Pats
  • Fall TV shows
  • Boston Home Show preview
  • A big lead with two pix of murdered youth Jeffrey Curley's dad furious at efforts to furlough the killer
I guess this is what we call editorial judgment, eh?

Menino, likely with staff advice, has racked up enough public points to stay in pasture. He was on a couple debates and forums. So there.

Perhaps this is like how we say we want lots of choices. Then at the grocery store when we can't find the damned cornflakes in the cavalcade of cereal boxes, we're annoyed. We want what we want, but not too much, please.

If I had the time and lacked family obligations, I could willingly career from one debate and speech to another. That's sick, but it's my bent. Understandably though, most voters have a pretty low hunger for frequency and depth in discourse.

Thinking back to the Ray Flynn/Mel King mayoral fight (that would be 26 years ago), those were grand times for public airing. The pair mirrored Flynn's chasing of fire trucks and patrol cars to emergencies. They ran together like harnessed sled dogs, stopping to bark it up in every neighborhood, answering all questions from all comers. We haven't seen the like since.

Maybe we're tired, worn by money fears and terrorist thoughts, as well as myriad local issues. Maybe things here just aren't bad enough to demand non-stop debating. Maybe we are more unified behind citywide issues and less focused on sub-neighborhood ones.

Whatever the causes, voters are not screaming for Menino to stand up to his three challengers at every call and dare. To me, that's still a pity, but let's invoke the ghost of comic Lenny Bruce, who often said, "Reality is what is. What should be is a dirty lie."

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

From the Jawbones of Asses

As sure as it's still OK to ridicule Spandex wearers and fat people, Massachusetts Republicans have their pathetic shticks:
  1. Elect us because we're the only way to hold down those tax-and-spend Dems
  2. We'll never steal your, again your, money by raising taxes
A current expression is convenience-store princeling and would-be governor Christy Mihos' absurd bluster on a possible interim appointment for U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy's vacant seat. Assuming Gov. Deval Patrick gets the right to appoint a temp between now and the Jan. 19th special election and assuming he picks ex-Gov. Michael Dukakis, the pop-and-soda guy says it would be a huge boost to the GOP here, reminding voters of the Taxachusetts era. "Go ahead - make my day, Politically I hope they do this. It will give us another arrow in our quiver to show them for what they are."

Not raising taxes when required to fix the commonwealth's infrastructure has been the worst blunder of modern times in the Bay State. Joined and often led by cowardly and self-interested Dems, they refused to generate the revenue necessary for road and bridge repairs, other transit improvements (including track and high-speed rail preparations), and other low-visibility essentials.

The result has been an accumulating bill like those for the people who don't exercise or eat right and who refuse to visit the doctor or dentist until they are in big trouble. The costs for those delayed infrastructure essentials have soared and have gone from millions to billions.

Meanwhile, donkeys and elephants alike here have largely rolled through re-elections on that promise of I'll never raise your taxes. Thanks a bunch, you short-sighted and dishonest pols.

To their discredit, the Democratic Party has not made it plain that fiscal responsibility definitely does not include deferring the necessary until it is critical. With a heavy sigh, I admit that is likely in recognition of how many Dems play the never-raise-taxes game to get re-elected too.

In fairness, along with his high intellect and far-reaching political vision, Mike Dukakis will forever represent two negatives to many voters — Taxachusetts and that damned tank picture.

Back in the real world, we should ask whether he would be a good stand-in for Kennedy with crucial health-care and other votes coming up before the middle of January. That answer is clearly yes, which must annoy and terrify our local GOP types.

In contrast, they have set themselves apart as the the anti-Kennedys. After decades of slamming and slandering Ted's goals, they don't have anyone who stands for his values. Dukakis, with his two burdens, does. I don't know that Gov. Patrick would have the courage to appoint the Duke and come down like Samson with the donkey's jawbone on the sillies.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not-My-Job Coakley

Alas, I want to like Martha Coakley as potential replacement for U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy. He's dead and she's lifeless though.

In our last couple of Left Ahead! podcast sessions, we commented on the various candidates, including her. As in yesterday's show, I can't shake that she has never really done her job as AG. So, we're supposed to think that because she's running an aggressive campaign for Senate that she's primed and ready?

This morning's Herald report is yet more evidence that she is not. It's yet another AG job that she has not done and has no intention of doing. So there.

Her comments include:
“Particularly understanding this is the middle of a campaign, we get lots of complaints from folks who are adversaries who have a particular agenda,” Coakley said, referring to the request by Menino’s challengers for a criminal probe of potentially hundreds of public e-mails deleted by Menino policy chief Michael Kineavy.
She behaved similarly with the scandals and charges around state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and House Speaker Sal DiMasi. In those cases, it was the feds who took over and did her job.

Coakley fairly leaped over the starting gate in the race for the Senate spot. She has long been angling for a bigger, better, more prominent job and seems to figure this is it. She snatched up Emily's list and numerous union endorsements. Apparently those groups don't care for performance, just promises.

Numerous critics and certain Senate-race rival U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano have noted that she has no public platform or positions, and no related experience. Coupled with her unwillingness to do her current job, I need a lot more than she wants Kennedy's seat real badly to consider her. Being a lethargic AG is no credential.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kicking a Support from DOMA

U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Dem, undermined the Defense of Marriage Act with his Respect for Marriage bill today. He figures progressives and civil-rights types can't dump DOMA immediately, but they can remove its pillars one at a time.

His bill
would give federal recognition to legal same-sex marriages. It would not do the same for domestic partnerships or civil unions. It would replace the one-man/one-woman definition of marriage with:
§ 7. Marriage
(a) For the purposes of any Federal law in which
marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered
married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State
where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of
a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage
is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage
could have been entered into in a State.
(b) In this section, the term ‘State’ means a State,
the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto
Rico, or any other territory or possession of the United
Among the wee surprises at Nadler's announcement were that President Obama did not attend and that openly gay Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank is not among the 90 co-sponsors. The Blade reports:

Frank said in an interview Friday with the Blade that he’s not a co-sponsor of the legislation because he has a “strategic difference” with those supporting the repeal legislation.

“It’s not anything that’s achievable in the near term,” he said. “I think getting [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act], a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and full domestic partner benefits for federal employees will take up all of what we can do and maybe more in this Congress.”

Frank also said that advocacy for the “certainty provision,” as described by Nadler, would create “political problems” in Congress.

From first glance, it appears more like a case of NIH, not invented here by Frank. To me, this is a further shame to DOMA that Congress would have to pass a law reminding states that comity is the norm in our nation. Bay Windows has more analysis on Frank's objections here.

Nadler said he expects scare tactics by those opposed to DOMA's repeal, including claims that this will force SSM on states with their own mini-DOMA laws or amendments or both.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

The Actual Mayor's Race

I'm not quite sure how many drinks the Globe and Herald reporters had before or during last night's debate. The former' take was In debate, foes blast Menino’s tight grip and the latter's Foes pummel Mayor Menino in debate. Such hyperbole belongs on the sports page, where an 11 to 10 Sox victory would be a thrashing.

The big takeaway is that none of the three challengers knocked out Da Mare. We are looking at two questions now:
  1. Will Michael Flaherty or Sam Yoon come in second, getting the other slot on the November 3rd ballot?
  2. Will the surviving challenger unsheathe the worthy weapons for the real race in the last month and a half?
The second looks more iffy right now. Last evening, all three challengers sang their one song. Each seemed to have benefited from practice, but the lyrics were the same. Flaherty looked much less frightened than he did in the first TV debate. McCrea was not as loose with accusations. Yoon did not wave like an eager school kid with the right answer. Their content was pretty much as expected.

The only real failure of the evening was McCrea's puerile taunt. He set up the strawman of attempting to prove he would do a better job improving schools by spending a day each week visiting individual ones. That turned into a revisited and re-revisited challenge for each of the three others to do the same. That kind of playground trick almost always backfires. Wave the pledge you wrote and dare the other kids to sign it. When nobody bought, he should have dropped it. He seemed to be the only one who thought that was real clever.

It would have been great to sense real vision by the challengers. After all, each of them points to what they define as major shortcomings in the city. In some cases, they suggest specific ways to improve this or that. However, the only big-picture painted was by Yoon on transportation. He had the guts to suggest we need to do everything we can to accommodate non-motorized vehicular traffic.

Oddly, it as McCrea and not Menino who picked up on and piggybacked on that. The mayor, after all, has lead on cycling efforts. He should have drawn a future of quieter, cleaner, less congested Boston streets filled with ped and cycle traffic instead of cars. It was McCrea during the parking question who said, "Boston shouldn't be about suburban commuters. It should be about the people who live in the city."

He won't make the cut. Whether it ends up being Yoon or Flaherty on September 22nd, he needs to have better tools than he's brought to the workbench so far for the real race. Give us a vision and a path...or inertia wins.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Boston Song Out of Yoon

Boston mayoral candidate Sam Yoon was his intelligent, intense and sincere self yesterday evening. At a small gathering of bloggers, he hosted, held forth, and made strong statements.

His key proposal was for a way to fix the strong-mayor/weak-council government he regularly blames for what ails us. Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub covered both the abstract and particulars of that well here.

At every stump speech, forum and debate, Yoon decries that everything must pass through Menino's hands to happen. The contradiction in his call is not lost on him though. He quickly points out that changing this will initially take a strong mayor to drive the legal and statutory changes necessary to define and structure a weaker mayor.

His vision here is more than the linchpin to his campaigning. He wants more than simply sharing more power with City Council. For one example, he shares the conclusion that the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) program for colleges and other non-profits cheats the city of revenue. The two other mayoral challengers to Tom Menino, Michael Flaherty and Kevin McCrea, agree.

However, Yoon ties this to the strong-mayor issue. Speaking of PILOT, he said, "These hings happen in a black box. That has to change." He figures if the public is in on the negotiations with, say Northeastern, the city will get a better agreement and more cash annually.

I had to cut out for family obligations, so I was the first to leave Flash's yesterday. Others of the five bloggers there may have more goodies.

So, today when I had some time, I did check the followup to comments Yoon's press secretary, Jordan Newman, made before the candidate arrived. He was really upbeat, noting that August was Yoon's best fund-raising month ever. He said the campaign beat those of the other candidates. He attributed that to "people are seeing this as really obtainable."

That drove me, the old newspaper drone, to the numbers. Sure enough, the August filings show healthy receipts and balances heading into the September 22nd primary.
Ice Water Splash: Examining the figures should always note that Mayor Menino has at least an order of magnitude greater cash in his campaign account, with more on the side to drop in if necessary. None of the guys can imagine they will outspend him in the primary or general. They have to capture the voters' aspirations and fears with more than advertising or paid campaigners. We think of Cassius' epithet for Caesar — Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus.

Everybody can play

However, the receipts and cash make this race look competitive enough. Apparently, Menino was aware enough of this that on the last day of August, he dropped $300,000 from his other account into his campaign fund.

I toted the figures from those reported to the state. For August, I had:

August in 60,810.79
August out 99,260.93
End balance 39,133.81

August in 0.00
August out 3,525.00
End balance 33,467.34

August in 381,756.36
August out 103,836.05
End balance 807,527.22

August in 86,100.50
August out 75,373.78
End balance 58,167.54

We can't draw definitive conclusions from those figures. We can see that everyone has cash to spend and that everyone but McCrea is hard at work raising contributions. We can also see why Newman was heartened by the cash flow.

I believe we can assume with confidence that our longest-serving and popular mayor will be one of the two challengers headed to the November general election. We can be nearly as sure that McCrea has made his criticism and gotten his points aired, but not to the extent that he'll advance.

Who's convinced?

Between Yoon and Flaherty, it is now a real question which will live politically to advance. The stereotype would have the Irish-American with the long list of big unions endorsing him thrash the wonky Korean-American. Yet, this doesn't seem an election of clichés in the flesh.

Yoon has a shot. It remains to be seen how many voters he's convinced that he's that change they want, the way to bump up Boston's commonweal.

In terms of contenders, all three claim they are the pilot to steer to a newer, better Boston. They want to trash the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), putting development decisions in the hands of the Council and citizens. Yet this becomes a question of whom would you trust.

Unfortunately for the contenders, Boston is not in terrible shape. Schools could surely be better, crime certainly lower and housing more affordable. Yet, none of the big areas is terrible enough to make the voters scream for Menino's head. The three challengers say, "We can do better," and present their ways of doing that.

On the face of it, McCrea is the revolutionary candidate. Yet his sometimes abrasive presentation couple with some loose fact-like-claims in the big debate and his lack of government experience. In contrast, Flaherty may be a little too vague on the details and a little too unsure on the procedure. Then Yoon's positions require voter focus.

During the televised debate, my wife cringed and commented several times when Yoon made his arguments. She pointed out that he spoke naturally and was obviously bright. However, he used many terms such as i.e. and antithesis. She figures that would stop some voters' brains and turn off others.

Yoon has good positions and offers clear paths to the ends he proposes. His cash flow suggests that more voters are listening enough to be convinced. The question remains whether there will be enough to lift him to number two in the primary tally.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Health Care, How Care: Part 3

Of course men and women are sensitive and even paranoid about problems with their primary and secondary sex characteristics. For example, cancers of the breast, prostate, ovary or testicle have strong emotional and identity components.

Text Notice: This post is not sexual but does contain mentions of nether region body parts.

Series Links: Part 1 on hip replacement is here and Part 2 on shoulder surgery is here. Also, this is cross-posted at Harrumph!.

Thus, you can likely imagine my distress at severe pain in my right testicle during my first year of marriage. The agony was frequent and daily. It often immobilized me and doubled me over as well. I imported my new wife to my tiny bachelor apartment and moved to a larger one also in the West Village. This was not a good omen for our new lives.

In my 20s, I knew I was at prime age for testicular cancer. That has a much higher morality rate than breast cancer and most others. Such a diagnosis would have been particularly grim three decades ago.

Yet, being a typical member of my family, I did not hide, but staggered to the doctor to face the diagnosis of whatever it was. Instead of physical and emotional relief, I experienced months of continuing pain and uncertainty. Also, the process further diminished my dwindling respect for doctors in general.

I went from what we used to call a GP to an internist to a urologist to a proctologist. There were numerous x-rays, scans and other diagnostic tools, hard and soft-tissue. In particular, I remember two sessions of tears-to-the-eyes prostate milking for testable fluids.

The weeks passed in slow and too vivid spasms, literally and figuratively. Multiple doctors had no cures and no causes. My wife and I remained nervous. Plus the time and money costs mounted.

This ended up not being one of the chronicles of dogged diagnosis the Sunday New York Times Magazine or the TV series House feature though. In contrast, there was a specific problem and remedy, one that illustrates another reason to be skeptical about medical treatment.

Coincidental to the agony of the right testicle was a follow-up on my shoulder dislocations that had been under control since the introduction of the chest expander. The neurologist who was checking for internal damage up top found the problem below.

pudendal nerve diagram

My tests for him were fine and he was a trifle bored after the quick session. Then he asked whether there was anything thing else. Suspecting he could do nothing the gang of other generalists and specialists had failed at, I said something about my painful right nut.

He seemed to light up and asked for some of the information the other doctors had gotten. He was particularly interested to hear that we had recently moved. He asked if I carried heavy furniture and I noted that there was a huge oak and Masonite desktop that I protected my much smaller wife from handling because of its weight. I had discussed the marriage and move with the other docs, who dismissed such personal detail as meaningless.

He then asked me to turn around and lower my trousers. My testicle was in moderate to high pain at that moment, but he changed that. He placed his thumb firmly on a spot in the lower back and gave me instant relief.

He had properly and precisely figured that I had severely strained major nerves from the spine leading directly into the scrotum. What would now be called acupressure proved his hypothesis.

Moreover, he pulled down a chart and out an anatomy book. Those nerves run like two huge hands with very long fingers from sacral vertebrae 2, 3 and 4 directly into the external genitalia. The major pudendal nerve structure was the cause of the pain.

My immediate question to him was why didn't the large set of other doctors think of that. He allowed as that was a very good question, as the nerve plexus and geography are very basic anatomy they all had taken.

My solution was treating the damaged nerves with rest, massage, heat and cold. All the years later, I can still cause a flareup with macho behavior, but I know what to do for relief.

This instance at least did not lead to recommendations for unnecessary surgery and I did get relief. However, the months of fretting and pain were avoidable through what seems to be reasonable competence by the previous medical guys.

I am not a litigious sort and have never sued a doctor. However, given my experiences with bumbling diagnoses, I am not too sympathetic with plaints of the medical types over what they say are unfair suits and resulting high malpractice premiums.

No doubt, some people try to make big bucks off others for the smallest reason, or no reason. On the other hand, shunting patients into unneeded surgeries and other treatments because of incompetent or lazy diagnoses may be all too common.

Medical doctors in the main enjoy, expect and demand high status and income in this society. As G Love has sung, "You got to earn it to own it."

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Healey: No Guts, No Loyalty

In a state rife with DINOs, high-profile RINOs can be a welcome counterbalance. Unfortunately, our vacuous ex-lieutenant governor Kerry Healey has neither courage nor party loyalty in her decision to announce and un-announce her decision to run for Ted Kennedy's vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Speaking only to the Associated Press
and not the Massachusetts media, she used the spongiest of excuses. "After careful consideration, however, I have decided that a campaign would not be in the best interest of my family at this time.’"

That's amusing in a silly political way too. It is the cloth that disgraced politicians hold up when they are caught. She is not hiding from scandal though. Rather, she really can't be bothered. Also from the outside, it appears as though she figures accurately she'd get her coif handed to her by any of a number of Dems who'll give it a real shot.

As much as I join in the easy ridicule of the local GOP party-ette, this is a grand chance to put it out there for party and principle...if only she had either. Healey, you might notice, is a woman as well as nominal Republican. She was not the first of her gender to be looey here, following the bumbling and equally arrogant Jane Swift in the office. However, she was elected, not appointed, although her only real experience was as head of the state GOP and that for only a short time.

Pretending that the Dems here are all progressives and lefties, our Republicans often hide in the other party. That is practical for election purposes of hypocritical and cowardly pols. I question the strategy, which seem based on individual offices. If those pols who really believe in the national and state GOP platforms shed their donkey skins, wouldn't they give the less-left-leaning voters a real choice, rather than making them decode when it comes time to vote? Wouldn't that provide a real two-party (with lots of fractional minors) instead of Dems and DINOs?

So, Healey has her chance to lead her party's battle here. Even if it meant defeat on January 19th for the special election, it would have been for the good of the commonwealth as well as her nominal party.

Instead, we have lesser known possibles with less money and fewer connections to fight. They may have more guts and party loyalty, but they have weaker chances. In fact, DINO U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (who wears the badge of conservative Dem) will likely run and stands more of a chance of winning and representing the GOP views than any of them.

Healey has never been a leader or heroine and is not about to start. She is a wealthy woman married to a wealthy man. She seems to have more emotionally pulling if more trivial things to do. Her privileged status may be the stuff of GOP ideal, all except for the courage of convictions and advancing the party.

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