The week in politics

May 7th, 2008

HEY KIDS! Enjoy this week’s on-line bonuses (bonii?), a series of mini-profiles of the Presidential candidates, courtesy of The Onion and its “War For The White House” site (for the unfamiliar: The Onion’s brand of humor is akin to mine, but with more hard profanity…don’t say you weren’t warned).

First, I open with a big “duh” on me and a “my bad” to Jacob Ferreira, whose name I inadvertently left off of last week’s My official Big Honkin’ List of Everyone Who Is Running For Public Office (Assuming They Return Their Completed Nomination Papers)…unless you read this version of my column, in which case this is old news.
He’s an unenrolled candidate running for state representative of the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket district, along with apparently half of Falmouth and the Islands.

A second mea culpa to Carey M. Murphy, though I can blame this one on the state’s Elections Division, which lists Mr. Murphy as an unenrolled candidate, when in fact he is a member of the Independent Party (even though Massachusetts only recognizes the Independent Party as a political designation rather than as a formal party).
Mr. Murphy informed me that he is listed as “unenrolled” on Falmouth voter records, hence the mix-up.

Hillary Clinton profile

Final reminder, debate fans! The Democratic slate of candidates for the Barnstable County Board of County Commissioners meets in Harwich next week to duke it out (but not literally, which would be a lot more interesting).
On the card that night: incumbent Lance W. Lambros of Sandwich, Thomas P. Bernardo of Chatham, Mary (Pat) Flynn of Falmouth, Sheila V. Lyons of Wellfleet, and J. Gregory Milne of Barnstable. The debate runs from 7 PM to 8:30 PM and will be held at the Harwich Community Center, 100 Oak Street in Harwich Center.

By the way, Ms. Lyons is holding her formal campaign kickoff celebration next Saturday, May 17 at The Irish Village in West Yarmouth. That runs from 4 PM to 7 PM. Contact the candidate at slyons03@comcast.net, or at 508-349-7872 or 508-349-0194f for more details.

Speaking of debates, can you help me solve the Mystery Of The Missing Blog Entry?
On Monday I cruised by the official campaign website for Jeffrey K. Beatty, Republican candidate for US Senate, and saw that he had launched a new feature through his blog: a series of “virtual debates” between himself and his primary challenger, Jim Ogonowski.
Based on the introductory post, these “debates” would be more of a compare-and-contrast analysis of their respective positions on key issues.
However, the entry vanished on Tuesday, and as I write this on Wednesday morning it is still gone. What’s weirder, my browser history shows no record of me ever going there! Cue the “Twilight Zone” theme…
My theory is that someone caught the very badly misplaced apostrophe in a banner graphic (it read “Jeff Beatt’y Virtual Debate”) and yanked that sucker before some wisenheimer like me could make fun of it.
Whoever you are, I call spoilsport on you.

John McCain profile

Even though she has no opponent this fall, State Representative Susan D. Williams Gifford (R – Wareham) is holding a re-election campaign kick-off event next Thursday, May 15. Join Ms. Gifford at Lindsey’s restaurant on Cranberry Highway in Wareham from 5 PM to 7 PM.
The evening’s special guests include Tim Cruz, Plymouth County District Attorney, and Joe McDonald, Plymouth County Sheriff.
There is a $25 per person donation at the door. For more information or to RSVP by Monday, call 508-295-7546 or e-mail info@susangifford.com

North Carolina and Indiana held their primaries on Tuesday, and guess what? They solved nothing.
US Senator Barack Obama took a huge early lead in the North Carolina primaries, but over time that lead shrunk considerably. Obama still won the state, but with only 56 percent of the vote.
US Senator Hillary Clinton won Indiana by an even narrower margin of 51 percent to 49 percent, resulting in a near-equal split of the state’s 70 delegates.
Obama still hold the lead in the overall delegate count, 1,836 to Clinton’s 1,681. Obama is within 200 delegates of securing the nomination.
West Virginia holds its primaries next Tuesday, Kentucky and Oregon hold theirs the following week.

I close with this unexpected blast from the past: while researching my article about the lack of Republican candidates this year (it’s brilliant, go read it), I stumbled across the inexplicably still-active website for Dr. Gail Lese, the woman who ran against State Senator Robert A. O’Leary (D – Barnstable) in 2004 then – according to my sources – beat feet for Points South when she lost.
Go to her website now and see how sweet and innocuous it looks. Not at all reflective of some of those scathing campaign mailers she put out…remember the postcard featuring the beachfront garden of discarded hypodermics?
Where’s that kind of hot-button-pushing candidate when I really need one? It’s tough to razz people when they’re acting, you know, all reasonable and stuff.

Political news, events, and announcements may be e-mailed to Michael Bailey, senior political reporter, at bailey@capenews.net

Today’s reality check

May 5th, 2008

(This is the latest entry in a semi-regular feature at Snark-Infested Waters, where I point out things that should be really obvious but, somehow, are not.)

Tired of high gas prices? Here are a few tips that you should have already thought of yourself:

* Buying premium gas? Well, knock it off, dummy. I’ve never bought anything above regular in my life and I’ve not suffered for it. Save 20 cents a gallon and stop being so stuck-up about your petrol. 93 octane my pasty pink posterior…

* Angry that Exxon/Mobil is making crazy profits off of you? Then don’t buy gas there! Sacrifice your pointless brand loyalty and just buy the cheapest gas you can find (which won’t be at an Exxon or Mobil station, that’s for damn sure).

* Do you own a vehicle that’s too ridiculously huge for your actual needs? Then get rid of it and buy a normal car…you know, something with a gas tank smaller than your average above-ground swimming pool and a gas mileage rating that isn’t measured in single digits. That way you save gas, and you’ll probably knock your car payment down a few bills as well.

The week in politics

April 30th, 2008

All right, people, here it is! My official Big Honkin’ List of Everyone Who Is Running For Public Office (Assuming They Return Their Completed Nomination Papers)! The deadline for filing their papers was Tuesday, so the list of survivors will likely be much smaller in some races, but here’s the rough cut.
(This list comes courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth – Elections Division, for whom I would like to thank publicly for their quick response to my inquiry.)
Now, bear in mind that this is by no means a complete list. I’ll explain why in a few paragraphs.

US Senate
Boy, this list is longer than I expected! US Senator John F. Kerry is running for re-election, and he’s got two potential opponents in the primaries: Edward J. O’Reilly of Gloucester, and Ralph Perez (all together now: who?). On the Republican side we have two familiar names: Jeffrey K. Beatty and Jim Ogonowski.
Filling in the ranks among the Independent Party: Christopher J. Barros, Paul Giza, Mary J. Charbonneau, and Keith Jones. Running as a Libertarian: Robert Underwood, he of the shoddy campaign website. Running as unenrolled candidates: Brian Muello and Evan M. Stachowski.

US House of Representatives – 10th Congressional District
Sorry, incumbent Democratic Congressman William D. Delahunt, you may not get a free ride. A Republican by the name of Robert King has taken out papers, but there’s been absolutely no buzz about this guy so Mr. Delahunt may yet have an easy year.

Governor’s Council – First District
Carole A. Fiola is running for re-election as a Democrat. Looking to challenge her in the primaries: Oliver P. Cipollini, Jr. and Robert A. Fewer. Waiting in the wings: Republican Matthew Roias and unenrolled candidate Scott Vecchi.

State Senate
It’s official, Senate President Therese Murray and State Senator Robert A. O’Leary (D – Barnstable) don’t have to run around renting country clubs for fundraisers as no one has taken out nomination papers to run against either incumbent.

State Representatives
In the third Barnstable district, incumbent Matthew C. Patrick (D – Falmouth) will take on unenrolled candidate Carey M. Murphy (who has a little thing coming up this weekend…see the end of the column for more).
In the fifth Barnstable district it’s Jeffrey D. Perry (R – Sandwich), yet his announced opponent, Glenn S. Paré, is not listed on the Division of Elections’ Master List.
Why not? Well, according to what the Elections Division told me, some candidates make copies of nomination papers through other sources and so their names are not on record with the state. Nothing inappropriate here, it just makes for slightly spotty recordkeeping. Seems to me you may want to fix that, guys.
Anyway…
In the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket district, it’s the Royal Rumble! Interestingly, no Republicans have pulled papers; what we have are four Democrats and three unenrolled candidates. The Democratic field includes Nancy Archer Martin, Catherine O’Brien Bumpus, Daniel Larkosh, and Roger W. Wey. The unenrolled candidates are Timothy R. Madden, Melissa Freitag, and Timothy W. Lasker.
SPECIAL ON-LINE MEA CULPA! I realized I’d inadvertently omitted Jacob Ferreira from the list of names in the print edition of this column. My bad. I’ll make the correction in next week’s print edition, but you blog readers get a special sneak-preview.
(Mental note: drink more coffee.)
One name not on the list is David Moriarty of Falmouth, who announced he is running for that seat as a Democrat. I contacted Mr. Moriarty and he said he had pulled (and returned) his nomination papers, so count him in!
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Susan D. Williams Gifford (D – Wareham), who has no opponent. Just as well; her last two challengers were not terribly impressive, so why bother wheeling out mediocrity a third time?

Barnstable County Board of County Commissioners
Another hectic race, spurred on by Mary J. LeClair’s decision not to run for re-election. This is another Democrat-heavy affair: incumbent Lance W. Lambros, Thomas P. Bernardo of Chatham, Mary (Pat) Flynn of Falmouth, J. Gregory Milne of Barnstable, and Sheila V. Lyons of Wellfleet. For the GOP it’s Ricardo M. Barros and that’s it.

Barnstable County Register of Probate
Who knew this would be one of the hot races? Frederic B. Claussen is retiring, and right off the bat two assistant registers (and fellow Republicans) Anastasia Welsh Perrino and Priscilla J. Young threw their names into the ring.
Things got really interesting when State Representative Eric T. Turkington (D – Falmouth) announced he was not running for re-election and would instead seek the register’s post, but it turns out he may have to work a bit for the Democratic nomination as Kevin K. Lydon, who ran for governor’s council in 2006, has taken out papers for the gig.
Your mind officially boggled yet? I know mine is.

A note on behalf of the aforementioned Mr. Murphy: his campaign kick-off event is this Sunday at Bobby Byrne’s Pub at Mashpee Commons. Stop by between 3 PM and 5 PM to meet the candidate.
He’s working on his campaign website now, but in the meantime you can call him at 508-540- VOTE for more information about Sunday’s wingding or to volunteer for the campaign.

This week’s web bonus! If you’re bored at work, go play a few rounds of Pander-Monium at Comedy Central’s Indecision 2008 site!

Political news, events, and announcements may be e-mailed to Michael Bailey, senior political reporter, at bailey@capenews.net

Too little, too late, too bad

April 28th, 2008

Barnstable County has a fairly new spring tradition, a sad one. It’s when human service providers from across the Cape gather before the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates and sing in dirge-line harmony, Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
This is purely a symbolic dime; they’re really asking the county to spare several thousand dollars. The reply: no Oliver, you can’t have more. There is no more. The human services folks then shuffle away no richer for their efforts and wonder why the county is turning its back on the region’s needy.
The Assembly set the stage for this unpleasant no-win scenario during the Fat Times in the late nineties/early aughts, when people were still flocking to the Cape en masse to purchase oceanside lots upon which to build their mighty vacation fortresses/future retirement homes for themselves, maybe their pets – they need all that space, they claimed, for when their kids and grandkids when they come to visit (as long as it isn’t during the winter – that’s when they’re in Florida, mocking us poor freezing and occasionally snowbound sods from afar while their Cape Cod Starter Mansions sit empty).
During these years, the county’s Registry of Deeds was raking in considerable cashola. I think they may have even had a Scrooge McDuck-style money vault to hold it all.
And it was during these years that the Assembly expressed their largesse by doling out considerable sums to human service providers as grants (an important point). In 2002 the county was running a $1.85 million surplus thanks to Registry revenue, and tossed out more than $700,000 to various local and regional projects, including homelessness prevention programs.

Even at the height of this giddy spending spree, there were numerous Cassandras on the Assembly who warned that these good times would not roll on forever. The market will stabilize or, worse, stall out, and those precious Registry revenues would dry up. There were some rather pointed arguments about the need to define the county’s role in the Big Picture of human services on the Cape and whether the county would continue its somewhat aimless spending habits.
The county took a step in the right direction by forming in 2003 the Human Services Advisory Council, which was charged with examining the region’s needs and filing its recommendations for programs to receive county funding.
However, the county did not take the next necessary step and establish protocols for human services grant distribution, and thus the stage was set for the tense 2004 budget debate between the Assembly and the Barnstable County Board of County Commissioners.
In brief: the county commissioners nixed an Assembly proposal to return $300,000 to the towns, a refund of sorts on their annual assessment (again made possible by the Registry) and directed the cash toward human service programs.
In the end, after considerable conflict between the two county bodies (and within the Assembly), the money went back out to several human services agencies that dealt with homelessness issues.
And yet, the county did nothing afterwards to create a comprehensive grant distribution plan. We really should, they said, so we don’t go through this again, but it was not to be.

This led to another, nastier brouhaha in 2005. This time, county commissioners furiously butted heads over an Assembly plan to strip funding from the Cape Cod Commission and Cape Cod Economic Development Council and redirect the money toward human services. The commissioners vetoed that move.
(Interestingly, that blowup galvanized the Assembly to examine the county budget process and determine exactly which branch of government ultimately held all the cards. By June 2006, the questions were answered and a revised budget process was in place. Funny how quickly the Assembly moved to resolve that issue, isn’t it?)

In 2006, all those valuable lessons still not wholly learned, the Assembly skimmed $65,000 out of the commissioners’ recommended human services spending initiatives – totally denying one organization even the thinnest slice of the pie – and distributed the funding to its own selections.

In 2007, the Assembly dipped into county reserve accounts to provide $155,000 in human services grants, despite the fact every county department took a 15 percent budget cut. This happened over the county commissioners’ objections, though those objections were not as vigorous as in 2006 – this was perhaps due to the fact that the amount funded was a fraction of what had been requested: $520,000, so $155,000 was a tolerable concessionary bone.

Now we’re getting into the thick of the budget process for FY09, and boy is the déjà vu getting thick in here. On April 16, the Assembly’s standing committee on finance held its annual public hearing on the budget, and every member of the public who spoke had one thing on their minds: how much would the Assembly give them for human services?
The short answer: if they weren’t Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands, bupkiss; Elder Services is the only agency listed as a grant recipient in the proposed FY09 budget.
The people who spoke the other week threw out the usual arguments, which consist of:

A) But you gave us money last year
B) We need it, real bad
C) I’m sure there’s money somewhere in the budget, you’re just not looking hard enough

The usual responses are, in order:

A) That was last year
B) We understand
C) No, there’s not. Really

Point A: Grant programs expire, sometimes when things are good, frequently when things aren’t. Anyone who deals with grants knows they could vanish into the ether at a moment’s notice, a victim of a bad economy or political maneuvering. It happens. The argument “You gave us money last year” is toothless.
Point B: There is no disputing the need, especially nowadays. Between the generally cruddy economy and the domino effect skyrocketing gas prices are having on every aspect of life – have you noticed grocery prices are starting to creep upwards? – people are getting pinched if they’re lucky, crushed if they’re not. Whether they plummet to an unpleasant fate could depend on whether there is but one organization standing there beneath them with a safety net.
Point C: Okay, here’s where it gets ugly…

I’ll be among the first to agree that most, if not all government bodies are bloated with waste and inefficiency. Any given agency could scrape up a respectable sum of spare cash if they get creative and changed the way they did business. It just takes some imagination and a willingness to slough off pointless old habits. Random example: The local school district could save $200 a year right away if they stopped sending me paper school committee packages and e-mailed it to me as a big PDF instead (but that’s a rant for another time).
Nevertheless, as with any budget, there ultimately does come a point when you simply cannot cut back any further. Sure I could eat nothing but Ramen noodles for every meal and put the money toward other uses, but I’ve grown rather fond of real food; I’ll buy cheaper, generic brands instead of the pricier name brand groceries, but I have to draw the line somewhere, and for me noodles that taste like plastic shavings and have all the nutritional value of Styrofoam packing peanuts are on the other side of that line.
The county has drawn its line. By their estimation, they’ve pulled back as far as they can. Maybe they could indeed pull that belt one notch tighter, but who knows? Hell, chances are even they don’t know if every last penny is being put to its best use, but they believe they’re at that point where the next decision would have to be a drastic one: cutting back on their own services, firing staff, or raising revenue the only way they can, by increasing the burden on individual towns.
That would spark a trickle-down effect that, in all probability, ultimately results in someone somewhere taking one for the team (involuntarily, I’d add). Maybe it’s someone at the town or county level losing their job, so their salary can become a grant. Maybe it’s a homeowner socked with a property tax hike, the result of their town passing on the cost of an assessment increase or to compensate for the loss of a service previously provided by the county at a lower cost.
In economics as in physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; increase spending in one area, cut it in another. Spend money here, forcibly take it from there. I would ask of human service providers: is that what you want? To fund your own activities at the risk of increasing the very needs you are trying to address? To force suffering on one man that another might be relieved of his?
Like it or not, everyone has to make sacrifices sometimes, even the human services sector. Nobility of cause should not make one exempt from a sacrifice or two.
But I certainly do not blame anyone for trying their damnedest. And it’s not their fault they’ve had such a horrible no-win scenario foisted upon them; that weight rests firmly across the shoulders of a county government that talked the talk so long that, somewhere along the line, they forgot to walk the walk.

The week in politics

April 23rd, 2008

State Senator Robert A. O’Leary (D – Barnstable) is officially kicking off his re-election campaign next week.
Join the four-term senator at the Roadhouse Café in Hyannis (let the Patrick Swayze jokes flow!) on Sunday, April 27 from 5 PM to 7 PM. Go and support Mr. O’Leary as he prepares to run against…well, apparently nobody! Unless something happens pretty durn soon, Mr. O’Leary has a free ride this year.

Patrick will gladly accept your campaign donations.
For more information, contact Nancy Melia at ncmelia@verizon.net

Sheila V. Lyons of Wellfleet, currently that town’s representative to the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates, has filed her paperwork with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, so she is ready to take her run for the Barnstable County Board of County Commissioners to the next level.
(I think that may have been my best run-on sentence of the year. But I digress.)
Ms. Lyons is running as a Democrat, which is a rather crowded field; she’s up against incumbent Lance W. Lambros; Thomas P. Bernardo, who ran for the post in 2006; Mary (Pat) Flynn of Falmouth; and J. Gregory Milne of Barnstable…and those are just the people I know of!
Things seem to be leaner on the Republican side. The only name I’ve heard so far for the GOP is Ricardo M. Barros, who ran against Mr. O’Leary two years ago.

Speaking of the county commissioners! Remember, next month the Harwich Democratic Town Committee hosts a debate between the above-mentioned candidates at the Harwich Community Center, 100 Oak Street in Harwich Center.
That debate is scheduled for Wednesday, May 14 from 7 PM to 8:30 PM.

I’ve not heard anything firm, but nomination papers for the assembly of delegates may be available as I type. Assuming they are available, they’re at the assembly office in the First District Courthouse on Route 6A in Barnstable and at the Barnstable County Clerk’s office in the Barnstable County Superior Courthouse, also on Route 6A in Barnstable.
Candidates need to collect 30 signatures from registered voters in their town. You’d think which such relatively easy requirements more people would run for this office, but no; the assembly typically generates the least interest of any local or county race.

Anastasia Welsh Perrino, candidate for Barnstable County Register of Probate, has joined the Blogosphere and launched the unimaginatively but functionally titled “Anastasia’s Blog.”
The first entry is a simply overview of the register gig and a pitch to voters for their support. I do hope Ms. Perrino puts the blog to more interesting use…too many politicians use their blogs only to recycle campaign material and thus blow a great opportunity to really connect with voters on a personal level. I guess we shall see, shan’t we?

Ed O’Reilly of Gloucester, Democratic candidate for US Senate, will be on the Cape next month, visiting with the Dennis Democratic Town Committee on Monday, May 19. Contact Pat Bresnahan at scargobarb@aol.com for more information.
I know it’s a bit out of the way, but until Ed decides to make a pit stop on the Upper Cape, this is the best I can offer.

Final reminder! If you’re running for public office at the county or state level, Tuesday is your last day to get your completed nomination papers in to your town clerk! Do or die, baby!

The Pennsylvania primaries, the last major primary of the season, are done and gone!
Since US Senator John McCain has a free ride, we’ll skip his results and go right to the ongoing and seemingly never-ending race between US Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Obama himself expected to lose Pennsylvania and he did, but not by a huge margin; Clinton received 55 percent of the vote, Obama 45 percent.
However, the win was not enough to really boost Clinton’s delegate count. She claimed 52 delegates to Obama’s 46, so Obama still has a hearty lead in total delegates: 1,694 to Clinton’s 1,556.
The next primaries are on May 6 in Indiana and North Carolina.

Do you have a buttload of time and strong opinions on homemade political ads? Then MoveOn.org’s “Obama in 30 Seconds” contest is for you! More than 1,100 people submitted their own 30-second pro-Obama videos, and the best are available for viewing and voting by the public.
Voting is open until Sunday, and after the finalists are announced, judging is turned over to a panel including such show biz big shots as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Steve Buscemi, The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Oliver Stone, Russell Simmons (ask your kids), Moby (ask your kids), and Eddie Vedder (ask sports reporter Rich Maclone).
Go there now to hold your own mini filmfest. The winner will get $20,000 in video equipment and his or her ad will air nationally.

One more quick Obama-related note. What was up with that god-awful debate on ABC? Did they really have to squander the first hour on ludicrous non-issues? And do American voters really give a toss whether Obama wears a flippin’ flag pin on his lapel? Perspective, people!

On the topic of Presidential videos: did you catch the Presidential candidates making their stiff and unfunny pitches to wrestling fans during Monday’s “King of the Ring” broadcast? Yeah, me neither, but I tracked down the videos and…oh, boy. Watching these guys pander to WWE fans is painful. Folding chair to the back of the skull painful.

Want the whole things (you masochist)? Then go to the official website of the WWE.

I end this week with some literal political fluff: Presidential candidate teddy bears.
No, seriously. Look!

They’re courtesy of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, and you can buy a pink Hillary Clinton bear, a cocoa-brown Barack Obama bear, or a blindingly white John McCain bear, each clad in the appropriate attire, for $99.95.
Cripes…it’s cheaper to support the actual candidate.
WEB BONUS! I present unto thee this mock movie poster, courtesy of Cracked.com

Political news, events, and announcements may be e-mailed to Michael Bailey, senior political reporter, at bailey@capenews.net

“I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery.” - Joan Rivers

April 21st, 2008

Every so often, our society finds a dynamic new way to cheapen ourselves.
I stumbled across this recently and I swear I felt my soul curdle just a little:

Looks innocent enough, yes? A story of a child who thinks her mother is the prettiest lady in the world, you might think.
Well, you’re close. The girl thinks Mommy is just fine the way she is. The problem is that Mommy is a black hole from which no self-esteem can escape without the miracle of plastic surgery.

Not different, just prettier.

Is it any surprise that this book, slated for publication next month through Big Tent Books, is the work of a plastic surgeon? Dr. Michael Salzhauer, to be precise. According to the official blurb for this book, “Dr. Michael Salzhauer, a renowned plastic surgeon, wrote My Beautiful Mommy to help patients explain their transformation to their children. The story guides children through Mommy’s surgery and healing process in a friendly, nonthreatening way.”
In an April 15 Newsweek article, Salzhauer explained he got the idea for his book “after noticing that women were coming into his office with their kids in tow” and witnessing the young ‘un’s reactions to mom coming out of the office looking like Darkman.
“Parents generally tend to go into this denial thing. They just try to ignore the kids’ questions completely,” Salzhauer told Newsweek, adding that this just gives the tykes leave to “fill in the blanks in their imagination.”
So instead of encouraging his patients to actually TALK to their children – because what has that ever accomplished? – the good doc wrote a book that goes beyond simply explaining what happens at a plastic surgeon’s office.
In the book the physically-spectacular-in-his-own-right “Dr. Michael” – think what might have happened had young Kal-El crash-landed in Hollywood rather than Smallville – performs some all-too-standard procedures on Mommy: a nose job, a tummy tuck, and yes, a boob job (the book does not explicitly address that last one, but Mom’s rack is definitely showing its contempt for gravity post-surgery).
“You see,” Vaguely Dissatisfied Mom says to her Impressionable Young Daughter, “as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn’t fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better.”
Not different, just prettier.

Yes, Dr. Michael will magically reverse the inevitable aging process on Mommy, who could have avoided at least her latter two problems through, respectively, diet and exercise, and a well-fitted bra.
Salzhauer acknowledged that a lot of people won’t warm to his excursion into the world of children’s literature. “There’s a good percentage of your readers who are dead set against plastic surgery, who see it as a sign of the decadence of Western civilization…But when done by a properly trained board-certified plastic surgeon, it really does help make lives better.”
Not better, doc, just prettier.

And it’s not simply a matter of “Western decadence.” Pre-surgery counseling be damned, plastic surgery does nothing to address all the underlying issues that led Mommy to believe she’s no longer Got It Going On and needed fixing. Mommy’s not unhappy because she’s deferred, perhaps even fully sacrificed her own dreams and goals to become a parent. Mommy isn’t dragging around any emotional baggage from her own childhood, spent enduring the cruel barbs of her superficial bimbo classmates. Mommy just wants to do something nice for herself, something to make her feel pretty, and a kicky new spring ensemble from Old Navy isn’t going to cut it this time.
Not different, just prettier.
And therein lies the problem; nothing has truly changed.
It doesn’t take a psychologist to know that people frequently externalize their insecurities and blame their discontent on outside forces, which is so much easier than taking that good, long, hard look in the mirror and admitting fault or weakness with one’s self. The new nose, the new abs, the new breasts — those will give Mommy a short-term boost of confidence, but then what? When the magic wears off (and it will) and she finds something else “wrong” with herself, is Dr. Michael once again going to leap to her temporary and imagined rescue?
And what happens when unforgiving time once again sinks its fingers into Mommy’s flesh and pull sharply downward? Is it back to the shop for a tune-up? You can only rotate the tires so many times, you know.
Maybe that’ll be addressed in Salzhauer’s follow-up book: My Strangely Artificial Looking Mommy.
By that point, her little girl will be a woman herself, and may well be looking in the mirror, studying with almost scholarly fascination at the nose she inherited from Mommy and wondering if her HMO would pay to have that little bump sanded down. That would make her feel much better about herself…just like Mommy.
Not different, just prettier.

The week in politics

April 16th, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to state for the record: I am a genius.
I must be…I mean, why else would local politicians be swiping my idea?
As you may recall, I some time ago launched a new feature called “Political SoundBytes,” in which local candidates for office delivered via the magic of digital video a quick campaign speech. My gracious test subject was State Representative Jeffrey D. Perry (R – Sandwich)…

who recently produced a new version of the video:

Before that, Jacob Ferreira, independent candidate for state representative of the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket district, said he was producing his own campaign mini-video….after I asked him to do a SoundByte!
That’s it. I’m quitting this reporter gig and becoming a campaign strategist.
(I’m kidding…I couldn’t poke fun at politicians if I worked for them.)
If you’re running for public office this fall and want your own Political SoundByte, give me a shout and I’ll set you up! But hurry, because…

It is officially crunch time for anyone considering a run for public office!
The deadline for filing completed nomination papers with local registrars of voters is Tuesday, April 29…that means prospective candidates have 11 days to collect 1,000 signatures if you’re running for a county-level position, 300 for the state Senate, and 150 for the House.
Unless you’re running for a Congressional seat, that is, in which case you have until May 6, and you’ll need the extra time: you need at least 2,000 signatures to qualify as a candidate for the US House of Representatives, and 10,000 as a US Senate candidate.
Papers are available locally at the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth’s southeastern district office in Fall River. Go to The Elections Division website for more information about the process through the downloadable “Don’t Just Stand There…Run! – A Candidate’s Guide to the 2008 State Election” guidebook.

Speaking of official candidates, Carey M. Murphy has filed his paperwork with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, so it’s time to start giving the dude money (if you’re so inclined).
Mr. Murphy, a Waquoitian (Waquoid?), is an independent candidate for state representative of the third Barnstable district, and he’ll take on incumbent Rep. Matthew C. Patrick (D – Falmouth).

Jumping back to Mr. Perry for a moment: he’s having an open house at his district office in Sandwich tomorrow, from 10 AM until noon. If you’re interested in chatting with Mr. Perry about issues of concern, stop on in. The office is at 449 Route 6A in East Sandwich, by which I mean Practically West Barnstable.

The race for State Representative Eric T. Turkington’s (D – Falmouth) seat just got even more crowded as Melissa B. Freitag of West Falmouth jumped into the fray last week as an unenrolled candidate. Ms. Frietag, a member of the Falmouth Historical Commission, began collecting signatures last week at Falmouth’s spring Town Meeting.
At last count, eight people have expressed an interest in Mr. Turkington’s post (he’s leaving the Legislature to run for Barnstable County Register of Probate).

Speaking of Mr. Turkington, mea culpa! Despite what I said in last week’s column, Mr. Turkington is in fact a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in August, and he’s an Obama booster.

And you thought the Presidential candidates were getting an early start!
Governor Deval L. Patrick, not even halfway through his first term, is already talking about his plans to run for re-election in 2010. Might I humbly suggest he knuckle down, make some of his grand ideas a reality, and thus dispel our reservations about electing him in the first place?
(Sorry, people, but I voted for him and I’ll be among the first to say he’s not lived up to the hype.)
Mr. Patrick isn’t the only one thinking ahead. Apparently Timothy P. Cahill, our state treasurer, is also eyeing the prized Corner Office, but only if Mr. Patrick – a fellow Democrat – ultimately decides one term is plenty.

One quick note of the Presidential race I think absolutely none of you will care about: Alan Keyes, who’s been flying so low under the media’s radar his campaign headquarters is staffed by Morlocks and CHUDs announced Tuesday he was splitting from the Republican Party and running as a member of the Constitution Party.
Keyes Staff
Alan Keyes’ campaign staffers
Y’know, because that’ll give his campaign such a boost.

Ed O’Reilly, Democratic candidate for US Senate, got his time with Jon Keller on WBZ-TV last Sunday. If you’re interested, the video of the interview is here.

Another of US Senator John F. Kerry’s challengers, Republican Jim Ogonowski, just posted a pointed Flash cartoon on his website taking a shot at Mr. Kerry’s track record. The animated featurette, set to a jaunty Caribbean steel drum tune, tracks Mr. Kerry’s success (or lack thereof) in passing bills he has filed over the past decade.
Mr. Ogonowski has also changed his campaign donation link to read “Contribute to Retire John Kerry.”
Seems someone’s had themselves a heaping helping of sassy lately.

A note to all candidates with campaign websites, but especially to Anastasia Wash Perrino, Republican candidate for Barnstable County Register of Probate: your “events” pages don’t work unless you post something on them.
Ms. Perrino held her campaign kickoff fundraiser yesterday in Hyannis. As of Wednesday morning, her official campaign website’s events page was blank, save for some filler images and the words “TO BE ANNOUNCED.”

Finally, an idea that makes me absolutely giddy. John Cleese, best know for his time with “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” has offered his speechwriting services to Barack Obama.

The New Dream Team
I think someone’s bucking for a gig in the Obama Administration as the Secretary of Silly Walks…

Political news, events, and announcements may be e-mailed to Michael Bailey, senior political reporter, at bailey@capenews.net

Today’s reality check

April 14th, 2008

(This is the latest entry in a semi-regular feature at Snark-Infested Waters, where I point out things that should be really obvious but, somehow, are not.)

RE: “JerseyGate,” referring to the brouhaha that has erupted over a construction worker’s prank at the construction site of the new Yankee Stadium.

  1. There is no “Curse of the Bambino.” Never was. The team just stank for eighty-plus years.
  2. There would have been no “revenge curse” brought about by entombing a Red Sox jersey in the stadium’s foundation. What are you, ten?
  3. Calling the prank a “dastardly act”(Randy Levine, Yankees president) is either gross hyperbole or proof Levine has led an exceptionally charmed life and should get out of the house more often, or at least turn on the evening news once in a while.
  4. Whoever decided to waste five hours of construction time and who knows how much money to jackhammer through nearly three feet of concrete just to exhume the jersey is a screaming idiot.
  5. Criminal charges against the guy who put the jersey there? Are you [expletive deleted] kidding me?!
  6. This was WHDH-TV’s top news story today? I repeat: Are you [expletive deleted] kidding me?!

The week in politics

April 9th, 2008

We’ve got not one, not two, but three new campaign websites!
One belongs to Jacob Ferreira of Martha’s Vineyard, who is running as an Independent candidate for state representative of the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket district. It’s still a bit of a work in progress and has more than a few blank pages, but it has a nice, clean, user-friendly layout that makes reading and navigation pleasantly straightforward.
When you’re done giving that site a look-see, head on over to scope out Oliver P. Cipollini Jr.’s campaign webpage. Mr. Cipollini is running for governor’s council of the first district, and his frills-free site lays out in detail his position on various issues.
On an anti-climactic note, I present Robert Underwood’s underwhelming site. It’s a slapdash affair with nothing more exciting on it than links to PDFs so you can print out campaign flyers and paper “campaign buttons.”
Mr. Underwood is the Libertarian Party candidate for US Senator.

While some candidates, like Mr. Ferreira and Mr. Cipollini, are taking a more hi-tech approach to their campaigns, some are traveling a more lo-tech route. Take Lance W. Lambros, incumbent candidate for Barnstable County Board of County Commissioners, whose supporters were passing out T-shirts at Monday’s Falmouth Town Meeting.
T-shirt
Thanks to the local anonymous doofus ruggedly handsome chap for modeling the shirt.
(PS: The above image should not be construed as the author’s explicit or tacit endorsement of Mr. Lambros’s candidacy. It may, however, be construed as a ringing endorsements for free T-shirts. They rule.)

Over the weekend, State Representative Jeffrey D. Perry (R – Sandwich) was selected as one of three delegates to the Republican National Convention, representing the 10th Congressional district. He is one of two delegates representing former Massachusetts governor and (now former) Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney (the third went to US Senator John McCain, and these are based on the results of the state’s primary election).
No local Democrat was named to that party’s national convention, though State Representative Eric T. Turkington (D – Falmouth) and Samantha Dallaire of Sandwich, aide to Senate President Therese Murray, were on the short list.

He’s making a list and checking it twice, and John McCain’s going to find out who’s nice enough to serve as his running mate.
Among the names that have been bandied about by the media: Arkansas governor and former McCain rival Mike Huckabee; US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas; Tom Ridge, former director of the US Department of Homeland Security; our own Mitt Romney (NOOOOOOOO!); and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
You tell me: does an African-American woman as Vice-president trump an African-American or white woman as President?
President Palmer
(Best. Black President. Ever. So far.)
McCain does not plan to make his list public until later this year. The tease.

For you people wondering about our Presidential prospects’ record of fiscal responsibility, I would refer you to the Citizens Against Government Waste’s annual “Pig Book,” which details the worst examples of wasteful spending in the federal government (go read the story about the Pig Book elsewhere in this section once you’re done here).
McCain is, according to the Pig Book, Mr. Fiscal Responsibility; he filed no earmarks during fiscal year 2008. US Senator Barack Obama filed 53 earmarks worth $97.4 million, and US Senator Hillary Clinton filed 281 earmarks worth $296.2 million.
The main report highlights “the most egregious and blatant examples of pork,” and Ms. Clinton gets three separate mentions, while Obama gets one.

This week’s on-line bonus! For my readers who are into Stephen Colbert and the “World of Warcraft” collectible card game (all one of you):

Political news, events, and announcements may be e-mailed to Michael Bailey, senior political reporter, at bailey@capenews.net

The week in politics

April 3rd, 2008

Duck and cover! The Romney Reform Team initiative is back!
Well, sort of.
You may recall that during Mitt Romney’s time as governor – assuming you haven’t purged that dark time from your memory – he launched an effort to round up Republicans to run for the Legislature, oust a few Democrats, and become part of his “Romney Reform Team” (their motto: “Yes, man!”).
It seems the Massachusetts GOP is re-branding and re-launching that idea as “Activate ’08.” Truck on over to the party’s website to see the simple (read: cheap and rather amateurish) streaming video urging folks to run for office “and challenge the Democrat establishment on Beacon Hill.”

If you take a good, deep breath, you can almost smell the desperation wafting off your monitor; there are two other prominent links on the home page geared toward recruiting candidates.
Careful, guys, this was the same sort of rampant, indiscriminate recruiting that sank the Romney Reform Team plot; not only did the candidates fail to wrest any seats from the Democrats, the GOP lost two seats.
If you’re interested in taking on one of those mean ol’ Democrats, give the Mass. GOP a buzz at 617-523-5005 or send an e-mail to candidates@MassGOP.com

Feel like taking a jaunt to Harwich to watch some county commissioner candidates duke it out?
Then mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 14 when the Harwich Democratic Town Committee hosts a debate between Barnstable County Board of County Commissioners candidates Thomas P. Bernardo of Chatham, Mary (Pat) Flynn of Falmouth, incumbent Lance W. Lambros of Sandwich, Sheila V. Lyons of Wellfleet, and J. Gregory Milne of Barnstable.
The debate will be held at the Harwich Community Center, 100 Oak Street in Harwich Center from 7 PM to 8:30 PM.

Normally I plug campaign fundraisers in this column, but since I’m the boss of me, I’m going to bend my already quite bendy rules and give some ink to this month’s “Red, White, and Blue Gala” to benefit Alzheimer’s Services of Cape Cod and the Islands.
State Representative Jeffrey D. Perry (R – Sandwich) is hosting this wingding at Willowbend in Mashpee on April 24. Right now what this thing needs is for local businesses to donate some goods and services for the silent and/or live auctions, so if you fall into this category, give Christy Stusse a shout at 508-775-5656 or christy@alzcapecod.org
All of the proceeds from this event will go right to Alzheimer’s Services, so pitch in!

By the way, Mr. Perry’s sole opponent this year, fellow Sandwich resident Glenn S. Paré, is all official-like. He’s filed his paperwork with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, so he is free to begin raising funds for his campaign.

I’ve not mentioned the Presidential candidates lately, so here’s a quick status check.
US Senator Barack Obama has collected a few more so-called “Superdelegates” and his total delegate count stands at 1,625 (211 of the super variety, the rest not so super). His immediate rival, US Senator Hillary Clinton, has 1,486 delegates, 243 of which are super, thanks for asking.
An aside: the people calling for Clinton to step aside and hand over the race to Obama need to shut up and let democracy – you know, that awesome thing we’re so keen to cram down every Third World country’s throat? – take its course.
Meanwhile, US Senator John McCain is taking advantage of his status as presumptive Republican nominee and has unveiled what he is calling the first TV commercial of the general election, cryptically titled “624787”

What, is he on the “Lost” island now?

(Actually, it’s his serial number, but I needed to go for the easy pop culture reference.)
The next big Presidential thingee is on April 22, when Pennsylvania holds its primaries.

This week’s giggle-inducing phrase is “Jeff Beatty Widgets.”
Sounds goofy, yeah, but I have to give Mr. Beatty, Republican candidate for US Senate, credit for showing a little technological savvy (or at least having the sense to pay for someone with it). Jeff Beatty Widgets are snippets of ready-to-cut-and-paste code that allows supporters to instantly plop a supporter sign-up or campaign donation window on their website, blog, MySpace page, etc.
You can find them on Mr. Beatty’s campaign website.

Political news, events, and announcements may be e-mailed to Michael Bailey, senior political reporter, at bailey@capenews.net

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