Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Raise Your Hand

Want to find out where the candidates stand on casinos?


Go here. Sign in as guest. Take the quiz or not. In the upper right corner, click 'Submit a Question' choose 'Economy' as a subject. In 255 words or less, submit your question.

This is mine:

Casinos are proliferating in residential communities. Democratic governors are pushing casinos as revenue generators to pay for pet projects, while Senator McCain wrote the much abused Indian Gaming act. How do the candidates feel about casinos?

This is an excellent opportunity for folks on both sides of the casino debate to ask where the candidates stand on it. The more people who ask, the more likely the question will be raised an upcoming debate.

Questions must be submitted by October 2nd.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Toss the Dice...

Being pretty well occupied at the Stop Predatory Gambling Conference all weekend, I didn't get the chance to see this fascinating read 'till just now.

But I can tell you that the conference offered two terrific speakers discussing the abuses caused by IGRA - which John McCain helped write.

Despite 20 years in which to witness the debacle which is the outcome of the Indian Gaming Act (...which he helped write...) and which has allowed mega gambling casinos to proliferate in residential communites, next to homes, schools and places of worship, and 20 years in which to act - we're all still waiting for Senator McCain to step up and fix it. Or better yet, throw it out and start over.

IGRA was so badly written that it negates states rights and requires arduous amounts of litigation for even the smallest local gains. (And by 'gains' I refer to maintaining current quality of life.) Meanwhile, wealthy casino interests are free to line pockets and influence people through contributions, lobbying and the well-funded rebranding of gambling - to the point where using casinos to fund budget shortfalls has started to sound downright acceptable to many - from John Q. Public to the elected official under mandated pressure to balance a budget.

Oh the wonder of it all.

Meanwhile, Senator Obama, has spoken against gambling and has accepted less gambling contributions than McCain, but apparently... has been adopted by Native Americans.

Obama told those gathered that he intended to acknowledge the "tragic history" of Native Americans over the past three centuries. They "never asked for much, only what was promised by the treaty obligations of their forebears," he said, promising to honor those treaties.

This is enough to make anyone living with the threat (or actuality) of an Indian casino in their community nervous. We are called racists at every turn in efforts to discredit our valid arguments. We still read 'fact filled' articles which claim the Mashpee Wampanoags met the Pilgrims. And we are accutely aware that "what was promised by the treaty obligations of the forebears" has somehow, in the 20th and 21st centuries been translated as unbridled casino development.

Native Americans rightly deserve and have a lot of sympathy across this country for abuses in the past - but turning our country into Gambling Nation is like trying to turn two wrongs into a right.

Meanwhile... in the conservative corner, we have Governor Palin touting her husband's Native Alaskan heritage, while still receiving criticism from constiuents for not doing enough for them. What's that going mean for Native Americans or IGRA reform if she were ever called in to carry on?

And... in the liberal corner, we find that Joe Biden's son Hunter once worked for the On-Line gambling industry - one of the most predatory and unregulated forms of gambling in existence today - though he a.) is not his dad and b.) has since quit. But why? Did Dad ask him to because he knows it's wrong - or a bad political move. I'd love to know.

In the end, I guess we all want to know which candidate will do the most for us personally, our nation as a whole, and the causes we want to see get the attention we feel they deserve.

Forget the earmarks and the pork and the international community for a moment. Which candidate will take a pass on all that gambling money? Who's really going to come out for the little guy?

In real life, things are much more complicated.

The truth also is that not all Native Americans favor Indian gaming or casinos. Just like other Americans. Many Native Americans and even Mashpee Wampaonag tribal members oppose casinos. Many tribal members across this country believe they can do better for their nations than building an econonmy based on gambling. And many Native American tribal members still live in poverty even with a Tribal casino. Where is their voice? Well, I suspect it's right up there on the importance list with mine.

Because those same excessive gambling profits which have the uncanny power to sway elected officials - well they do the same for Tribal leadership.

Indian gaming accounts for a third of the gambling revenue in this country. And that's a lot of influence. In fact, at least one tribe is so wealthy, that they've become the not-necessarily-indian off-reservation casino-investors who once gave them a foot up into the industry.

I have read McCain's testimony at 2006 hearings on off-reservation gamging and witnessed recent changes in regulations which make it more difficult to engage in Indian Casino development.

But not surprisingly, since he is not involved in Indian Gaming regulation or legislation, I haven't heard anything from Obama regarding IGRA.

Though, according to a January 2008 story in the LA Times,

"Barak Obama has warned about the dangers of gambling – that it carries a “moral and social cost” that could “devastate” poor communities. As a state senator in Illinois, he at times opposed plans to expand gambling, worrying that it could be especially harmful to low-income people."

But does this mean he's OK with letting casinos rise out of cornfields, swamps, and forests in and around the neighborhoods that form the not-quite-as-poor-but-definitely-not-affluent communities across America? Sort of more on the lines of our own Governor Patrick, willing to sacrifice the some for the good of the plenty?

We do know that McCain is an active gambler with much involvement in the issue but with a poor history regulating it, while Obama, a pastime poker player with no history with IGRA, and perhaps no interest in understanding it, is an unknown. If elected, will Indian casinos continue to march profligately across this country and into our neighborhoods for another 20 years due to sympathy and neglect?

Which candidate will finally bring an end reservation shopping? And which one of them will stop casino investors from having their way with the place I call home?

One does sound better than the other, but could neglect the issue allowing it to exacerbate. The other isn't my kind of guy, but at least he shows some interest in 'reform'. Heck, as far as I can tell, it's a crap shoot.

Because who really knows who'll do the most to reform IGRA?

I sure don't.

But I'd really like to. A lot of Americans would love to hear the candidates discuss this issue. And I suspect they would also love to witness a declaration of, or better yet, an era of... wait for it... real change.

But (excuse the pun) I won't bet on it any time soon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All Hands

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.
~Jewish Proverb

On Saturday there will be at least four people, maybe more, who really wanted to be at the Stop Predatory Gambling conference in DC this weekend, and would have gone - but who couldn't - because they'd already volunteered to help out with some incredibly important anti-casino jobs on Saturday, one of which is a yard sale.

I know it's going to be raining on Saturday. Ok... more like pouring. All right, sure - downpouring. Just all the more reason I hope you'll all make the effort to get out there and show these hardworking, dedicated folks some support. They've done so much throughout the year to keep a casino out of Middleboro and the South Shore. And they're still going.

Thanks, guys. You know you always have my support. Let's save all those weekend buckets of water for the Wicked Witch.

The Secret Life of Monkeys

A 2005 Duke University study found that macaque monkeys preferred to follow a "risker" target, which gave them varying amounts of juice, over a "safe" one, which always gave the same - they just like gambling. Intriguingly, the monkeys preferred the riskier target even when it gave them consistently less juice than the same one, and continued to choose the riskier target in the face of diminishing returns when a single large one was still in memory.

- From Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling by David G. Schwartz

This explains much.

Not the least of which is why some primates, most notably the Middleboro Board of Selectmen and Friends continue to support, embrace, champion and believe in the continuing long shot of a casino in their midst.

Keep on reachin' for that rainbow Middleboro Board and Friends.

...I mean macaques.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Avert Thine Eyes

In the course of my research on another subject, I stumbled across an interesting Boston Magazine blog post from last year which attempted to explain why casino investors didn't do background checks on Tribal leaders before partnering with them. It also features this classic quote from Mashpee Wampanoag spokesman and cheery Kool-Aid cocktail waitress, Scott Ferson.

“Trading Cove did extensive background checks on the investor group. And that’s appropriate,” Ferson said. “But not the tribe, which I think would be wholly inappropriate.” The reason, says Ferson, is that the tribe is no average business partner: It’s a sovereign government, with its own elected head of state."

Yeah, because one sovereign country would have no vested interest in knowing whether another sovereign country is oh say, stockpiling nuclear or biologicial weapons, or assembling troops on the border, or participating in genocide.

That never happens.

And it's nobody's business if a small tribe with a penchant for pointy weapons and whose previous chairman and the guy who signed the Intergovernmental Agreement with Middleboro is a lying rapist who wants to operate an industry reknowned for it's ability to corrupt on an essentially gated community potentially servicing upwards of 50,000 people a day on the borders of Bridgewater, Halifax and Carver.

Yes, please avert your eyes.

And as far greater scruitiny concerned... Scott learned that the hard way on a trip to Mashpee,

“A tribe council member had what I think would be the reaction of the tribe,” he says. “If an investor came to them and said ‘We’d like to do a background check on you,’ one said, ‘I’d tell them to go to hell.”

Well, I feel completely reassured, how about you?

Besides, this is all just dust under the carpet, er... yesterday's news anyway.

Instead of continuing to put investors or tribe and town officials under the microscope, people should focus on the truly despicable and dangerous players in all this - anti-casino bloggers who can't stop digging up dirt, er... leave poor innocent casino supporters alone.

Group hug everyone!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Realty Check

It's one of the first questions you ask when you hear someone wants to build a casino somewhere near you.

What's it going to do to my property value?

Sure, some people can pretend a casino is a desirable thing, but the fact remains, few people really want to live near one. Especially if they moved somewhere for the trees and the quiet and the fresh air.

In North Stonington, CT, the town next door to Ledyard, home to the Foxwoods ever-expanding mega casino...

Residential homes on main road or alternate roads leading to casinos tend to decrease in value 10 percent. Making it harder to sell and reducing the tax basis for the area.

- Source: Casino Impacts on North Stonington; Prepared by North Stonington Board of Selectmen; Nicholas H. Mullane, II; William N. Peterson; John M. Turner. Amended December 24, 2001

In Preston, another abutting town...

The impact traffic increase has had on home values in Preston is dramatic. A recent revaluation of properties in Preston as shown home values for properties within a quarter mile of a state road are as much as (20 %) twenty percent lower than a similar home that is not close t the traffic of the casino. The financial impact for Preston homeowners is approximately $6,000,000.00.

- Source:Casino Related Impacts on Preston, CT; prepared by: Preston Board of Selectman; Robert Congdon, First Selectman; Gerald Grabarek, Selectman; Thomas Maurer, Selectman: December 18, 2001.

And those are the towns next door to a casino town. The Bridgwaters, the Halifaxs, the Carvers and the Lakevilles.

After a friend in Lakeville recently had his No Casino sign stolen for the second time, an unexpected explanation was offered. It seems that in Middleboro realtors are reqired to disclose to prospective buyers the fact that a casino may be coming to town. Ah, but not so in surrounding towns.

Could those glaring red No Casino signs have been disappearing due to their tendency to break the unpleasant news to uninformed house hunters? I do recall at the BIA hearing a realtor from Lakeville assuring us that property values would be fine. Just fine.

I've heard Middleboro realtors explain that, initially, property values will sink as a result of a casino, but then casino managers will cause a demand for the larger homes and values will rebound.

Gosh, considering the population around Middleboro is about 9 times that of Ledyard, I suspect that would take a lot of casino managers.

Of course, as far as I'm concerned (and to paraphrase Charlton Heston) a casino manager can buy my house when he pries it out of my cold, dead hands.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gladys goes to Washington!

Some of you might remember when Mrs. Kravitz went to Washington last year. Well, she's going back and this time she wants you to join her.

That's because this year will be something special. This year is the kickoff of a new grassroots organization:

Stop Predatory Gambling.org

One of the four cornerstones of StopPredatoryGambling.org is the reform of IGRA.

Over the last year and a half many of us have personally witnessed how abuses of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act can effect our homes and quality of life, and influenced our elected officials.

The conference, which starts at 1:30 Friday afternoon, will take place at Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, MD just outside of Washington, DC. Special room rates are available for those who register early.

"The event is the start of a national effort to awaken America’s conscience about what is predatory gambling, what it means for our democracy and the impact it has on the families and businesses in our communities."

For lots more information, please click here.

Please join me at the conference. Let's show our support!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Revision Revised

The removal of this blog seemed to be fairly innocuous from my point of view, but if others are bothered by its removal, I am not bothered by republishing it. A simple phone call to me would have accomplished the same purpose. Enjoy the apparently slow news day. By the way, if anyone has a copy of the blog to Shawn, please e-mail a copy and I also will restore that blog post.

-- Adam Bond, Coffee Talk Blog, Sept. 15, 2008

The missing posts (at least one of them) have returned...

The Company apparently gave Adam the green light to put the Hendricks posts back up.

Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

Funny, though. I wonder why he just doesn't take down all his blog posts several days after posting them?

As far as picking up the phone... yeah sure... and end up as the subject of an 800 post topix thread? Or find a rabbit simmering in a soup pot on the stove? No thanks, darling... I'll pass.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This Day in Revisionist History

If you delete something... a blog entry, a comment, etc. - does that mean it never happened?

I bring this up because some posts have disappeared from Middleboro Selectman Adam Bond's blog, Coffee Talk. One referred to his recent public outrage about the Mashpee Wamapanoag's letter to the Governor requesting they commence casino compact negotiations while leaving Middleboro out in the cold, and another was a weird sort of personal (aka public) "everything's ok now, but don't let it happen again or I'll scratch your eyes out" letter to Tribal chief Sean Hendricks.

Both posts seem to have vanished.

Fortunately, Media Nation blogged about the first, and I blogged the second for posterity.

Belicose Bumpkin, Carl's Quotes and Carverchick blogged about it, too.

So why take down the posts on his own blog?

Is Bond trying to rewrite history - or just his own history?

This all comes on the heels of hearing that Bond's latest radio program has been offering a kinder gentler form of Bondage.

I respect the fact that blogs are an individual form of expression, and you can do whatever you want with them, including removing your own posts when it suits you.

That being said, I personally think it's a cop out. If someone says it, it's been said. You can't erase it in real life. So deal with it. Stand by it.

The blogosphere ain't for sissies.

To me, the removal of those posts on Adam's blogs is an admission that they were as goofy and as weird as most of us thought they were. Like many of them have been.

Now it's being suggested that Bond is attempting to change his image. If so, this is in keeping with his modus operandi: Condemn the people who criticize your actions. Intimidate them if necessary. Erase any words that might come back to haunt you. And proclaim it's all in the name of "unity".

But, no matter how much Bond, or anyone else, tries to rewrite the history of these casino chronicles, no matter how many memories fade, or feelings mellow, or spin is spun, and regardless of how many folks will eventually swallow his call for 'unity' - anyone in search of the actual truth can always visit good old Gladys Kravitz and see for themselves what really happened, and decide for themselves if this "image change" is for real, or just more lipstick on a Yorkie.

But hey, you know that's why I'm here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Middleboro Buys New Fire Truck with Casino Money!

KoolAid Mobile 2

KoolAid Mobile 1

KoolAid Mobile Closeup

Actually, this vehicle belongs to Patriots running back Laurence "Kool-Aid" Maroney.

Thanks to Frank "The Kasino Killa" Dunphy for the photos!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shrunken Heads

By far, my children's favorite attraction on our recent trip to New York City was the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorim in Times Square.

Robert Ripley, in case you didn't know, was an aficionado of shrunken heads. He'd amassed a huge collection of them during the course of his life - an interesting subset of which were here on display in Times Square. In fact, inside the glass case in front of me hung the tiny shrunken heads of three children - two toddlers and an infant.

While my own kids were off enjoying the 6 legged cow and grooving on the Titanic artifacts, I studied the informational placards next to the heads. And that's how I learned that collecting shrunken heads began as a religious activity on the part some Tribes in the Amazon basin. By taking the head of an enemy and shrinking it in a special process with magical herbs, one could, in essence, possess their soul.

Amazonian warriors began to realize that the more heads they collected, the more powerful and cooler they could be around the Amazonian Basin.

And then the rest of the world found out.

In came the collectors - like Ripley - who couldn't get enough of the oddities (especially in the era before Youtube and reality shows.)

Now there was even more reason for the Amazon Tribes to harvest their neighbor's noggins. Wealth. Good old supply and demand.

And so, as things have a way of doing when power and money and coolness are involved, matters got out of hand. So many heads began to roll, in fact, that a sort of arms race began. Eventually, even children's heads had a price on them. The rationale? A preemptive strike.

It was an industry.

And it was all completely, culturally acceptable...

...Until the modern world, horrified by this self-perpetuating gruesome war without end, eventually enacted severe laws outlawing the trade.

And so there I was, in the bowels of the Odditorium, reading up on shrunken heads, when it occurred to me that this peculiar phenomenon of the past wasn't entirely unlike the casino craze sweeping our country today.

A phenomenon of "Sin City" outposts, in search of population centers and highway access, cropping up amidst our homes and businesses, our schools and places of worship under the guise of harmless entertainment and vital revenue streams.

And it's all become so... acceptable, even desirable, to some. It's become cool. It's the Rat Pack. It's the televised World Poker Championship. It's the Wonder of It All, it's Wonderland, it's wonderful.

In other words, it's marketing.

And the gambling industry's enormous wealth buys power.

Which is why a lot of people believe it's only a matter of time before the onward march of predatory gambling will make the entire world part of it's empire.

But it won't. Because gambling, like the practice of collecting shrunken heads, has a shelf life. Eventually the pendulum swings the other way. It's starting to swing now.

Gambling, has always been around and always will be. Over the course of history it's more predatory forms have been pushed into the shadows, or the fringe or the desert. Invariably it makes the effort to go mainstream. And just as invariably, there is a backlash.

Like countless generations throughout history, people all over this country are realizing the costs, both human and monetary. Evidence is mounting. Tax rates aren't going down while families are getting hurt. And investors, not voters, appear to hold the cards. And no one likes that.

It's just not worth it.

I peered into a glass display case where a shrunken head, it's eyes and mouth sewn shut, was mounted on a small pole. He was a real person once.

All these heads belonged to real people, real human beings, caught up in a tragic fad, their lives reduced to an acceptable economic commodity - now merely leftover cultural "oddities" from a unrecognizable generation gathering dust in an overpriced tourist trap.

Collateral damage from a bygone era and another quest for wealth and power and coolness.

No one today would put the heads of recently dead people in display cases for the world to gawk at. So, what makes some human tragedy so... acceptable. And is anything acceptable as long as we brand it appropriately? Do our homes and our way of life matter less if the world percieves our corner of the world only as a 'destination'?

I've heard it said more than once, and I really believe it's true, that the more people understand about predatory gambling, the more they become opposed to it. And in the continuing battle to expand gambling in our country, I do believe that eventually wiser heads, and not shrunken ones will prevail.

But only if we Americans remember to keep our eyes and mouths open - well before someone tries to sew them shut.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Between the Lines

When I read Adam Bond's second public letter in a single week to Mashpee Wampanonag tribal leader Sean Hendricks, I couldn't help but be reminded of the Jerry Springer Show - you know - the show where people air their personal differences in front of a live audience and sometimes end up throwing chairs.

Submitted for your approval, I present my deconstructed Jerry Springer interpretation of Adam's carefully constructed "Dear Sean" letter:

Oh no you ditn't, Sean.

Oh no you ditn't. I ain't just nobody, yo. I'm the mother of your casino. I'm the keeper of your crib, that's who I am. It's all about the respect, baby. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And that ain't no one-way street.

That's why I got the pre-nup, yo - I knew your sorry ass would take off the second things got bad. After all I done for you, I knew you'd still swing the door in my face and head uptown, takin' care of your business somewhere else ...gettin' all over the TV, making me look like a chump.

You think you're something? You ain't all that. I even got anti-casino crying my tears over this. That's right. Who you think you with, anyway? I'm all over AM radio, yo. That's right. I got the Enterprise on speed dial. That's who I am. You need me more than I need you, baby. And don't you never forget it.

So when you get it in your mind to go steppin' out on me again, Sean, you know you best pick up that phone - this time, next time and everytime else - if you ever wanna get anywhere near that casino again. You feel me?

Still Your Boo,
The A-Bomb

I'm happy to report that no chairs were thrown during the course of this episode.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stand and Deliver

Stand up for each other. We're beautiful, blessed, bountiful America. Stand up. Stand up. Stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We're Americans. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

- John McCain, senator and former Vietnam War pilot and prisoner of war in his closing address, Republican National Convention, September 4, 2008


Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
You been out ridin' fences for so long now
Oh, you're a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin' you
Can hurt you somehow

The first thing that came to my mind, upon hearing that Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe came up with the brilliant idea of drafting and hand delivering a letter to the Governor, what that this was an act of desperation.

I mean, I really saw it as more than just the same old, "keepin' the dream alive in the press" sort of thing we're all used to.

Think about it - what with the new regs, and other Tribes giving them the angry eyes, and the downturn in the economy, and Carceiri v. Kempthorne coming up at the Supreme Court, the sensitive wetlands they're trying to build on, the organized grassroots forces opposing them, and shooting themselves in the foot with their obvious lack of historical ties to the land - well, the Tribe has got to see the writing on the wall. Right?

And they probably figured, "what the heck - the Governor likes casinos. He fights for casinos. He's our friend. He meets with us whenever we ask, which is more than he does for the Regional Task Force, so we've got an in - may as well use it. And what with the walls falling down all around this casino of ours, why not."

And in their haste they even forgot to include their BFF, Adam Bond (er... I mean Middleboro.)

Now let's say the Governor did negotiate a compact with the Tribe - it would be like getting a gold star on their application - a stamp of approval - demonstrating for the BIA and DOI that the State is okey dokey with the whole casino gambling concept.

You know, sort of like how the Middleboro Board of Selectman decided it was irrelevant to tell the DOI about article 3 - that Middleboro didn't want a casino.

Fortunately for the State, it seems our little Governor is growing up.

I respect the Tribe and I respect their interests, but until the land in trust is sorted out, there's not a whole lot that's meaningful about that conversation. - Deval Patrick to WBZTV

So was this a desperation move? I think it was. Either that, or a clueless one. Or maybe, they're just in denial.

Maybe, the Tribe really just completely believes that they're actually getting a casino.

Is it possible that they've managed to swallowed their own propaganda? Could Glenn and Sol and Scott and who knows who else have sold them a bill of goods they can't let go of?

Could there even be a sense of entitlement due to decades of IGRA abuse?

And it's not like the media hasn't helped spread the mantra of inevitability. You hear it everywhere you go. Just look how long it took the Governor to get the memo.

So Maybe the Tribe wasn't actually forgetting Adam Bond (er... I mean the town of Middleboro) after all. Maybe they just don't think they need anybody else - you know - until they need them.

Like Middleboro... like Mashpee... like the Governor... Just notches on a belt stretching all the way to casinoland. Don't take it the wrong way, Adam. It's nothing personal. They're just not that into you.

So maybe the Tribe hasn't gotten their own memo, and are in need of a reality check.

But heck, that's why I'm here.

Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She'll beat you if she's able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet
Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can't get

- The Eagles

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

School Daze

The Irony:

“It’s about connecting more students to opportunities that are well within their reach.”

- Dana Mohler-Faria, President, Bridgewater State College,
referring to Deval Patrick's vision for universal public education as quoted in Commonwealth Magazine

Ah... the bells are ringing once again. Frantic freshman, schedules in hand, comb the campus for their classrooms. The quad is crowded. Shuttle busses are running. Traffic is jammed.

School's back in session at Bridgewater State College.

And so, I thought this might be an excellent time to remind my readers, once again, of the potential effects a mega casino could have on the students at Bridgewater State.

One might assume, with gambling only legal at 21 years of age, that a casino in close proximity to BSC would be a non-issue.

However, a study by Platz, Knapp and Crossman titled Gambling by Underage College Students demonstrated that for students residing in an environment affording opportunities to gamble, age is no impediment.

The study revealed that...

59.8% of 18 year olds,
72.8% of 19 year olds, and
86.1% of 20 year olds

...admitted to gambling in a casino because a casino was readily available.

BSC has a total enrollment of approximately 8,000 undergraduate students, most of whom are under 21 years of age.

If a casino is built in Middleboro, it will be less than 10 minutes away, and a straight shot to the front door of Boyden Hall (the building in the photo).

Do we really need to give college students another distraction? Do they really need another opportunity to develop a bad habit, or worse - an addiction? Do they really need another tempting piece of forbidden fruit within easy reach? And do any of our communites need another place where young people can get tanked up on free drinks, get into their cars, and hit the roads while text messaging their friends?

Because, as you can see, underage patrons will get into casinos.

So, why haven't we heard from Bridgewater State College president Dana Mohler-Faria about this? Don't expect to. He is Governor Patrick's 'Special Advisor for Education'.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Change of Pace

I saw a bumpersticker the other day which read, "Somebody else for president."

Yeah. That's where I am.

Perhaps because I still sport the battle scars - courtesty of a "together we can" pie-in-the-sky politician who, with a straight face, once "lead" the Mass Teacher's Association into endorsing a trio of Bay State casinos - I'm just a little bit jaded on 'change'.

So I found myself hoping the Veepstakes would show me something new, though the formula was clear at the get-go: McCain needed a youthful counterpart while Obama had to shore up a shallow levy of experience.

Still, I was convinced Obama would pull a surprise candidate out of his hat. And so when he went ahead and chose Biden, my first thought was, what? - he couldn't find a woman, in the entire Democratic party - with experience?

I mean, this year an awful lot of people demonstrated, with their votes, that they felt it was time for a woman in the White House. So, even if he didn't want to lock hands with Hilary for the long haul, why couldn't Obama have looked beyond the usual suspects? Where was the 'change'?

Had he chosen an experienced, qualified woman for VP, I'll admit, I'd be a lot less ambivalent about my vote. Obama gets a lot of points for 'inspiring' people. But I'm not one of them.

Together we can disappoint.
Together we can underwhelm.

As for McCain, who did make a surprising choice, that choice was puzzling. Palin wasn't going to sway too many Hilary Democrats over to his side. But for a party not known for 'change', he did something my own party failed to do - he paid attention to the message - and chose a woman as a running mate.

And not just some hairdo in a pantsuit. A gun-toting no-nonsense multi-tasking caribou-stalking uber mom. Who, with babe in arms, prepares to send a son off to war while planning a shotgun wedding for a daughter. Youth, strength and change - wrapped in a hard-right, money-where-your-mouth-is package - should appeal to McCain's core constituency - and perhaps a cadre of younger conservative voters. And, unless her America hating past or something weirder comes back to haunt her, I think it was a smart choice.

And so now I'm just confused. The party of 'change' did the expected, while the party of the 'same-old' shook things up. That's not supposed to happen, right?

I don't want to vote Republican. It's not my party. And my values lean left, not right. But I don't want anymore pie in the sky from my party, either. I want pie on my plate.

Change, hope, experience, unity, whatever...

How 'bout - end the war, pay the bills, keep the focus, stop dependence, reform IGRA, go green, get along, do better, help the poor, the sick and the weak, aim higher. Those are some of the things I want whatever the winning ticket is to accomplish.

But of all the things I want, I really want America to stop being the Augusta National of the world when it comes to electing a woman to it's highest office.

Give 50.7% of the country change we can believe in.