Friday, January 22, 2010

Surprise, surprise, surprise

Happy Friday.

I don't have much time today, but a couple of things need saying. So I'm saying.

That Martha Coakley got her clock cleaned in Massachusetts should be a surprise to nobody who was paying attention. So, the tale of the Democrats snatching defeat from the very jaws of victory goes on and on. And I can't even blame Dr. Howard Dean, the former DNC chairman, for this one.

Coakley was so certain she would win over this upstart state senator that she phoned it in. She expressed surprise that somebody actually wanted her to go out and campaign. What, shake hands in the cold outside Fenway Park? Unthinkable.

Back to that old saw gotta ask. You all know the story told by the late Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, who got killed in his first race for Boston city council and went to his landlady for a hug. He said to her, "At least you voted for me." She said she hadn't and when he asked why, she said, "You never asked me."

I guess that was lost on Ms. Coakley. Also lost on the Democratic brain trust, or brain rust, in the Bay State was how stupid it was to run on the health plan. People vote for their own self-interest. Massachusetts already has a great health plan, so this argument went thud.

So now, thanks to the GOP's marching in lockstep to the tune played by Mitch McConnell but written by the radical-right crazies on Fox News, the rest of us won't get a great health plan, or any plan at all.

Don't show your tefillin

It gets stranger and weirder in the air.

An observant Jewish kid got bored on an airplane going between New York and Lexington, Ky., so he decided to pray. So, he stood up, put on his tefillin, and started praying.

The flight attendant on the plane freaked, didn't know what that was all about, thought the kid was strapping explosives to his arm and head, and the plane landed in Philly. The cops and feds swarmed on to the plane and, not being the cultural wasteland that the stewardess obviously was, figured the thing out.

Thank heaven, nobody panicked and starting shooting .

First of all, this was from New York. People in New York are pretty culturally savvy, so I have to figure the flight attendant was from Bugtussle. And the kid's rabbi in White Plains was weasel-wording the whole thing, telling Jews it's OK to pray but don't put your tefillin on in public. Can you imagine what would happen if somebody told Catholics they shouldn't make the sign of the cross. Unimaginable.

Rich guys prevail

The latest poll shows that the two rich guys from Greenwich, one for each party, are leading the governor's race. Ned Lamont and Tom Foley, both guys with nearly unlimited budgets, are in the lead for the governor's race. In addition, some guy from Wallingford whose name escapes me is running for secretary of the state. But he doesn't know the name of his office. He kept saying secretary of state. If you don't know the name of the office you are seeking, don't seek it.

So, in other words, politics as usual in Connecticut.

And can you imagine what effect the Supreme Court decision letting loose the corporate coffers on the election system will have on all of this?

But in all of this, the weekend comes. It should be great weather wise. So, everyone have a great weekend and for all in the Tribe, a good Shabbos.

Until next time...

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Ides of January hath come

Good MLK Day. Today is the iconic leader's real birthday, but we'll be celebrating it on Monday so the bonus babies on Wall Street and city, state and federal workers have a long weekend.

For the financial bonus babies, that means another day without them screwing up the financial system.

MLK, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had the shoulders the rest of us are standing on in the fight for equality for all. He worked when it was still dangerous to be for equality for all and against such things as separate bathrooms, restaurants and the rest. King, with the inspiration of President Kennedy inspired and President Johnson, got the work passed and we are all better off for it, even if we are Tea Party types or Sarah-ites.

That's one thing we don't have today. We have a president to inspire us, but we don't have anyone to get the stuff through the Congress, like LBJ did. We could have had Tom Daschle, the former senator, who could have strong armed the health insurance reform through, but we lost him to some chickencrap about taxes.

A friend who has been a bastion of liberal causes is starting to say that perhaps liberals have helped screw up the world. Perhaps.

AT&T: Shut up already

It would be hard for me to put into words my upset, actually anger, at AT&T's claims against Verizon.

AT&T claims that only AT&T phones allow you to talk and surf the Web at the same time. That's because their system supports the iPhone. Hopefully, that will come to an end this summer when, one hopes, the wonderful Apple phone will be available to Verizon customers.

But anyway, it's not such a big deal. Since you are probably going to be driving a car at the same time, maybe just being able to do one function at a time is safer.

But AT&T's 3G, third generation, coverage area is so anemic that the only thing many of these iPhone customers are able to do is redial their phones and wait for a Web signal. So, AT&T, shut up already. Nobody's buying. And, friends at Apple, I love your products (this blog is written on one), but hate that you put your own profit ahead of your customers' good.

Please fix that by offering the iPhone on Verizon as soon as you can.

All that baby type

Since I am ranting against things on television, let me get going on the baby type at the bottom of almost any ad. You know, the little paragraph with words much too small to read and displayed for such a short time that you didn't have time to read, even if you could see it, which you can't.

The ads go by on television, and a claim is made. Then comes those paragraphs of legal weasel-wording that the claim is only good (this is an exaggeration, but not by much) on alternate Tuesdays between 3 and 4 in the morning when the wind is from the west at more than four by less than six miles per hour.

How is this allowed?

A claim is made from a lawyer that you pay no money unless you win. The tiny type saying you are responsible for all expenses, costs, copying costs, phone charges and staff time no matter what, lasts a nanosecond on the screen.

The claim that the car has all this great stuff is countered by the wonderful word "available" in tiny type. The car starts at $23,000 -- the tiny type that appears for three seconds says "as shown, $39,990."

How is this allowed?

Think, then change

Let's change gears. It is possible that Susan Bysiewicz is not ready for prime time?

She is the secretary of the state (pronounced BUYsowitz everyplace but New Britain, where it is pronounced BySEVitch) who was running for governor and is now running for attorney general, who was for the state's public funding scheme when she was running for governor but won't use it running for attorney general where, one would suspect, she would be spending less.

Now she is asking the present attorney general whether she has been a practicing lawyer in Connecticut long enough to run for attorney general.

Maybe the time to worry about that was before she announced.

Hey, even Hamlet, in the guise of longtime Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, (you know, to run or not to run, that is the question) has settled on an office to seek -- Chris Dodd's Senate seat. Maybe she should sit down and think about what she wants to do, make up her mind, and than announce.

It's not as if the election were next week.

Made it though another week.

This is a long weekend for some of us...all government and quasi-governments (like the post office) are closed. Have a great week.

But think about two things -- Dr. King and his work, and those poor, poor people in Haiti.

We should all pitch in and help. Give through your church or synagogue or someplace you trust. Stay away from charities with large administrative ratios. You don't need to fund some bureaucrat's $300 grand a year salary or Jimmy Carter's anti-Semitic rantings. And, believe it or not, there are scammers out there, so watch out.

And thank God or fate or whoever or whatever you believe runs the world...there but for the grace....go we.

Have a great weekend and for those in the Tribe, a great Shabbos.

Until next time...

Friday, January 8, 2010

New directions for a new year

Happy New Year

So, it's twenty-ten, as it is being called instead of two thousand and ten. I'm surprised it took that long for the shorthand to kick in.

First of all, it's not the new decade. When the Christian calendar was started, there was no year zero. Zero as the start of a numbering process only started with computers, I think. Boy, is this subject is boring or what? Enough.

Training wheels on mass transit

There are some new things kicking in, and at least one of them is a really positive development.

The state Bond Commission, which is controlled by the governor and does what she wants, today (Jan. 8, 2010) approved $26 million for double tracking work and other improvements on the rail line that goes from New Haven to Springfield, Mass., by way of Hartford.

That means plans for real rail service north of New Haven are on the front burner. They are talking service as often as every half hour during certain weekday hours. This is huge. For decades, my wife worked in Hartford and had to commute each workday from New Haven.

She had two choices. (Don't say bus...nobody has that much time.)

She could drive or subscribe to a van pool. She tried to van pool for a while. It didn't work out because her job didn't allow her to be on the van the same time each day.

So, for most of the two-plus decades, she drove. Now, her successors might have a choice.

Everyone who has been to Europe, not on a bus tour, has experienced the transit system. You can get from anywhere to anywhere else by public transit. That's not the case in Connecticut.

But it might be better soon.

The release talking about the rail improvements said, in part:

"Current plans for NHHS (New Haven, Hartford, Springfield) line call for bidirectional service between New Haven and Springfield running Monday through Friday on a 30-minute peak period schedule.

"The proposal would add several new stations and enhance the Windsor Locks station with a bus connection to Bradley International Airport. Local bus service elsewhere would be reconfigured to connect with passenger stations."

In other words, you can get on a train in New Haven and ride to Bradley without having to worry about traffic, weather, tractor-trailer crashes closing I-91 for hours. Until the folks in New Haven wake up and allow Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport to be something more than a private-plane field with a few commercial flights to Philadelphia, this is great news.


CBS has announced that Morgan Freeman will introduce the CBS Evening News with Katie now that Uncle Walter has a desk in that great newsroom in the sky. That means all three major network news shows are being introduced by actors. Apropos, isn't it?

Talk about irony. The Atlantic Monthly, which features articles so long that one's eyes glaze over and you lose interest long before you reach the end, is running an article in the January/February issue saying that one of the reasons for a lack of interest in newspapers is that the stories are too long. Arggggh.

The Journal-Register Corp., publisher of newspapers including the New Haven Register, has a new boss. He's John Paton, who comes from ImpreMedia, which bills itself as the largest publisher of Hispanic papers in the nation. He also has a reputation for knowing how to use multi-media in newspapering. That's important for an industry where some papers think that if something appears on their Web sites before getting in the paper, then the paper has scooped itself. The JRC went through a prepackaged bankruptcy proceeding last year and sold itself to a number of banks who turned from lenders to owners. Robert Conway, the former CEO who guided JRC through its bankruptcy, told me during one of the final hearings that he didn't foresee any more layoffs in New Haven. Here's hoping the new guy has the same feeling.

So, have a great weekend and, for those in the Tribe, a great Shabbos.

Until next time...