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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Franklin, Blogger

April 30th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the Boston Globe

I hear that a group of school children are trying to persuade the state legislature to appoint Ben Franklin as the official State Inventor.

I think that this is inappropriate. His inventive period began after he left Boston for Philadelphia. However his career as a writer began at his brother's printing press in Boston. I suggest he be officially declared the State's First Blogger.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Republicans and Oil Proces

April 28th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the New York Times

Really these Republican Senators are flip-floppers of the first water (GOP Senators Hurry to Quell Furor over Gas, New York Times, April 28, 2006, page: A1).  For years they have been preaching the virtues of the discipline of the free market.

Now that the free market in energy has reared up and bitten them, they are singing a different tune: roll back or suspend gasoline taxes, government checks to consumers, and drilling in the miniscule oil reserves in the Arctic Refuge.

Unfortunately they do not propose repeal of the market distorting subsidies to oil companies, nor do they support better market distorting subsidies like those for the development of sustainable energy or improvements in mass transportation.

If we are to have market distortion, let us at least have the right kind of market distortion!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Futility of Illegal Rendition

April 27th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the New York Times

Some aspects of the US War on Terror really are counterproductive.
The use of illegal rendition ( European Inquiry Says C.I.A. Flew 1,000 Flights in Secret, New York Times, April 27, 2006) is one of the most costly and ineffective weapons in our arsenal against terrorists. It has had three major costs that, as far as we can tell, outweigh the benefits.
First America has lost the moral high ground that it once had. Friend and foe alike are now unmoved by our appeals to the preservation of human rights around the globe. Furthermore, America has turned its staunchest friends and allies into countries that are at best neutral. A large number of our allies are embarrassed by what we have done on their soil and are taking steps to ensure that such activities are prevented in the future. Finally, over the last eight months since the revelations of illegal rendition, most European countries have undertaken investigations as to how, when, and where illegal renditions took place within their borders. This has diverted skilled investigators from the important task of investigating, infiltrating, and breaking terrorist networks. We can never recover those lost person-hours.
As many commentators have argued, the way to beat terrorism is to win the hearts and minds of the populations in which terrorist cells subsist. The outrage across the world caused by American use of illegal rendition means that those cells may thrive in the future.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cambridge Call for Redistricting

April 26th. 2006
Published in the Cambridge Chronicle

In early May, the State Senate and House of Representatives will sit together as a Constitutional Convention.  Several contentious issues will come before that session. It is to be hoped that the rancor caused by the disputed issues does not mean that important but less controversial issues do not get considered.
Common Cause, Massachusetts, of which I am a Board Member, is proposing a Bill (Senate Bill 12) to adopt a program of fair redistricting. Essentially this means having a independent commission (with representation from the political parties) draw the boundary maps rather than the State Legislature doing so. This would avoid powerful legislators using the process to reward friends and punish enemies and would prevent mid-term redistricting as happened in Texas. It would require the map drawers to create compact districts that respected the boundaries of towns and cities and met the constraints of equal size and adherence to the Federal Voting Rights Act.
The present districting situation in Cambridge means that our town is represented by no less that three State Senators and by six State Representatives. On average, our Senators represent 3.7 towns in addition to Cambridge. Each State Representative represents on average one other town. Their attention is scattered between our town and Boston, Somerville, Arlington, Belmont and Watertown.
Last Fall, Common Cause and its allies gathered 60,000 signatures from across the state in support of Bill 12.  In addition it has strong bi-partisan support from Legislative leaders and Gubernatorial candidates.But the job is not yet done, the proposal is coming before the legislature in the Constitutional Convention on May 10th. We need 101 votes to keep it moving (a second legislative vote next year and a ballot item in 2008).
To find out more go to the Common Cause web site for additional information:
or read my op-ed of last August in this newspaper:
If you agree with the need for redistricting reform please contact your State Senator and State Representative at the State House and ask them to vote for this important measure. You can find out who they are here:
With the help of us all, this important reform can be accomplished. Contact the Legislature now!

Friday, April 21, 2006

MAD won't work o n US

April 21th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the New York Times

I was almost ready to endorse Leonard Greene's suggestion (Letters, New York Times, April 21 2006, page A22) of a "Mutually Assured Destruction" Pact to deter a nuclear first strike until its major flaw struck me.
As far as I know, the only nation considering a pre-emptive nuclear strike at present is the United States. I really cannot see countries like Britain, France, India, and Pakistan or Israel (if it has them) or Russia and China unleashing nuclear missiles on Boston, Los Angeles, New York and Washington.
It is just not plausible. So MAD may work for deterring small states but not for deterring the US.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tpp Late, the Generals

April 14th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the New York Times

Secretary Rumsfeld didn't practice groupthink; he didn't even want to hear what his General Officers wanted to say. It is time for him to go.

But, what can we say about these retired Generals who are now coming out of the shadows to say that the war in Iraq was and is being mishandled? Where were they before the war when General Shinseki told his superiors that it would take several hundred thousand troops to pacify Iraq once the war was over? That courageous stand resulted in Shinseki's career being over.

Where were they just two years ago when retired General Zinni told as that "everyone knew" that General Shinseki was correct in his assessment? Zinni waited until he retired before criticizing the Secretary, these new General-critics have also waited until their retirement.

These men put their careers ahead of their responsibility for the troops who served them and trusted them. A concerted "No!" early on to Rumsfeld's inept tactics might have changed the course of the war -- many lives might have been saved, and many of those with terrible injuries might be hale and hearty today.

How terrible.

Romney's Health Care Veto

April 14th. 2006
Published in the Boston Globe

Governor Romney has vetoed key provisions of the health care bill (Boston Globe, April 13th, 2006: A1). Why would anyone trust or believe him again? A carefully crafted compromise was created between the Governor, the House, and the Senate. What is there about making a deal that that the Governor does not understand?
On the merits of the case: why veto the Employer mandate. What is it that the Governor does not understand about "free riders?"  If we are to have employer mandates, then all employers should make a contribution, personally I would prefer to see health care funded through the general revenues, but employment based health insurance is the way it is done here, so all should contribute to the pool of funds.
The Governor's veto has signalled his untrustworthiness, as did his flip flop on abortion. Why should Republican voters trust him in the future?

Friday, April 7, 2006

Belive Scooter Libby

April 7th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the Boston Globe

I find it difficult to believe Scooter Libby's claim that President Bush declassified the previously classified information that he passed on to various journalists.
Can you imagine that George Bush, a president of unimpeachable integrity who has been absolutely forthright in all his dealings with the public; can you imagine that George Bush would stand before the public and say that he wanted to get to the bottom of the question and that anyone involved in the leaks of classified information would be fired if he had already declassified that information?
Can you imagine that George Bush, a pillar of fiscal responsibility would stand before the public and allow an expensive investigation unfold if he knew, having declassified the information that no classified information had been passed on.
Can you imagine that George Bush, a man who is loyal to a fault to the people who work for him, would have put his subordinates through the wringer of a criminal investigation?
Actually I can imagine all of these. Bush lacks integrity, he lacks fiscal responsibility, and his loyalty is the kind that keeps people on because he cannot stand face to face conflict.
So, I guess I can believe Scooter Libby after all.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

The Governor and the Phone Company

April 5th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the Boston Globe

Steve Bailey (Globe, April 5th., C1) is naive if he thinks Governor Romney will put pressure on AT&T to keep jobs in Massachusetts.
The governor needs cheap telephone connections for his presidential campaign so he is unlikely to do anything that would upset the phone company.