Saturday, May 22, 2010

Idle Chatter: Arlen Specter, Scott Brown ... and more

Idle chatter while waiting for tonight's tip-off between the Celtics and the Orlando Magic (why do I always want to call them the Orlando Cepedas?) ...

I can't say I'm too upset over the demise of Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter. I know that perhaps I should be. He switched parties from Republican to Democrat. And he's always been more of a moderate than the type of ultra-right conservative that I really don't like.

But I'm still happy he's gone.

First, I don' care if you're a Republican or a Democrat. Be what you are. He switched parties because he thought he had an easier road to re-election as a Democrats. Guess he was wrong there.

But the thing is: The idea of the "moderate Republican," which is to say someone who doesn't constantly play to the cheap seats and pander to one political base to the exclusion of all others, is vanishing. For that matter, moderate Democrats are scarce too. That's the whole problem here. We're full of uncompromising people down there who won't do anything -- even if it's the silliest, most innocuous thing imaginable -- that might alienate one base or the other.

Specter, in his day, at least had an open mind about some things ... and was, often, a voice of reason on the senate floor. So -- before he got presidential ambitions -- was John McCain.

And then -- of course -- Specter clumsily inserted himself into the whole Patriots cheating issue because, three years after the fact, he decided that because Bill Belichick got caught filming the Jets during a game, they must have resorted to the same skulduggery when the beat his Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Like a U.S. Senator has nothing better to worry about than pro football. And even worse, he decided to make noise about it not when the cheating scandal broke in September of 2007. No. He waited until the weekend the Patriots were to play in the Super Bowl of 2008 before crying about it.

Some would call that striking while the iron's hot. I call it shameless pandering on an issue that is so far down the line of national urgency that it's laughable.

Again, if he thought being such a fool would earn him re-election, the only thing you can say is that he's wrong.

See ya, Arlen.


Scott Brown is in hot water -- again -- with the people who claim to have carried him to the U.S. Senate in January's special election. This time, it's because he relented and allowed debate to commence on financial overhaul bill.

The Republicans had better watch out here. It's one thing to oppose while, at the same time, move forward. There's nothing wrong with stating your objections to a part of a bill, or the whole bill itself, if the objective is to move the process along. That's the very definition of "loyal opposition."

Brown -- I think -- understands that. When he does this type of thing, and he's done it twice, now -- it means something to me, because I don't want an obstructionist down there ... and wouldn't want one of the situations were reversed. Sure, I want someone down there fighting for what I think is right. I'd have to have 100 Democrats in the Senate.

But Republicans and tea party people who would rather do nothing except wait until the mid-terms, when they can gloat about how their inertia has "saved" the country ... sorry. I don't buy that.

Look, whatever the Republicans are selling is no better than what the Democrats are pushing on us. It's just different. It caters to a different bunch of special interests, and that is all. The political process in the U.S., at the moment, comes down to which special interests can scream the loudest and intimidate the most people.

The Democratic process was designed to be messy and unpleasant at times. Even though I trust it implicitly, I also realize there are times when we're taken down the wrong road. And there are times when you do need to stand up and scream to be heard.

But not every time. And not on every issue. There shouldn't be a debate if everyone comes into the House chamber dripping wet, and someone gets up and says "it's raining." Sometimes, doing the right thing isn't particularly difficult, especially when it's obvious what the right thing is.

I didn't vote for Scott Brown. But I have to say, if Scott Brown allows his own judgment to steer him through the choppy waters down there -- instead of relying on what people tell him he's supposed to do -- then I might have to reassess. I might not agree with everything he (or any of them) do down there.

But I'm happy if he's doing it for his reasons, based on what he thinks and feels, and not just because he wants to be part of some bloc whose only purpose is to gum up the works as a campaign tactic.


Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics says his Twitter account was hacked, and he didn't post "anybody got a broom?" after the C's went up, 2-0, on the Magic.

Maybe it was. And maybe it wasn't. It wouldn't be the first time in history that someone got over exuberant and posted something on the internet ... and then had to live with it forever.

The internet is forever. That was the name of an episode the other night on "Criminal Minds."

Joe Montagna's character had it about right: The internet is the first technological creation by man that man cannot control. For everything good about it, there's something not-so-good. If you crave privacy, don't even bother to engage in the internet. You won't get any. The world is full of miscreants who make it their lives' mission to hack into accounts (I had my email hacked, and for about a week, ads for Viagra and other male-enhancement pharmaceutical products were being emailed to everyone in my address book).

So maybe someone did hack Pierce's Twitter account. Still, it makes for good theater, and, thank God, it's sports and not something that really matters in the big picture.

But it matters in the small picture ... and in the picture of my life. And after the Bruins' fiasco, and with the Red Sox poised to have a season of mediocrity after so many years of excellence, we here could use a good Celtics run.

And waving the red flag in front of Dwight Howard and the Orlando Cepedas isn't helping here!!


The First Parish Congregational Church on the Wakefield Common (ironically enough, it's on Church Street) has a sign out in front that says "all are welcome."

And they mean that in every sense of the word.

One of the more popular walking and running spots north of Boston is Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield. On a nice day (such as yesterday), if you walk the circumference of the lake (3.1 miles) you'll find enough people to have your own convention ... and maybe even fill Fenway Park. On the backstretch yesterday there was so many people filing down North Street I thought I was in a procession).

You'll find a lot of people. What you won't find is a rest room. Nowhere in that 3.1 mile loop around the lake is there even a port-a-potty. Nothing. I found this out when I went down to where the kayaks and canoes are kept and asked the attendant, and she broke the bad news to me.

I could go up to Town Hall, she said. I was about to do that, too, until I saw the door in the back of this beautiful, gothic-looking church open. I went in, looked around, found a men's room, and thanked God (and the Congregationalists) that I didn't have to walk to Town Hall.

Talk about doing your part for the comfort of your fellow man ...


What are we to make of Rand Paul? First, the Kentucky Republican (OK, Libertarian) practically says businesses should be able to discriminate based on race. Now, he says criticizing British Petroleum over its handling of the Gulf oil spill is "un-American."


No, Rand. What's un-American is having faulty equipment and piping that frickin BLEW UP on the floor of the ocean, spewing enough oil into the water to create one of the worst ecological disasters in the history of the United States.

God, I hope he loses.

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