Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The Boston Globe endorses Alan Khazei for Senate:
The 48-year-old Khazei offers a strong vision for success in the Senate, channeling the energy of activist groups and private-sector policy incubators while dedicating himself to the laborious task of building legislative coalitions.

He offers a time-tested and relevant example of this approach: his two decades of work bringing together politicians of both parties and citizen-activists to develop a national service plan. The recent service bill named for Kennedy and providing for 250,000 volunteers in a domestic Peace Corps is largely the fruit of his labors.
This is the first time in my memory since the Howard
Dean Presidential bid that a major paper went for the expressly liberal Democrat over the "mainstream" Democrats.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
  Clarification - Floyd Brown is a [REALLY BIG] D**chebag
Per the comment section of the post below, Mr. Floyd Brown has asked for a retraction:
You tread on thin ice. Unless you have proof for this blog posting you may be sued for defamation and slander. Your posting is factually wrong and highly inflammatory, Retract and apologize or I may take action against you. -Floyd Brown
OK, the fact was that I saw Mr. Brown's name in my small town's newspaper and pulled some 15 - 20 year old info from my head rather than research it carefully.

Here are the facts - Mr. Brown did not finance the Willie Horton campaign against former Governor Dukakis. He produced it, a fact that he is still obviously very proud of.From one of his own web sites:
Media campaigns organized by Brown have been studied for their effectiveness. These campaigns include the 1988 campaign of Americans for Bush during which he produced the “Willie Horton ad” and the TV campaign in support of the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Also, my comments about "Clinton murder fairytales" should have been much more precise in that Mr. Brown has suggestively implied that one of Clinton's former law students, Susann Coleman, committed suicide while allegedly carrying Clinton's baby. Brown and his associates reportedly harassed the family of the dead woman to the point where the woman's sister started taping the conversations and then provided them to Clinton Campaign and the media.

Brown is also a key figure in suggesting that the tragic suicide of White House Counsel, Vince Foster, was tied to the Whitewater psuedo-scandal, and left open the possibility that it was not a suicide at all.

So the clarification is that Floyd Brown only suggested in a very high profile way that people connected to fake Bill Clinton scandals mysteriously killed themselves. Personally, I think that is lower than simply accusing Clinton of murder. At least Jerry Falwell had the balls to do that, but I digress.....

Brown's hatchet work is also tied to such lies about Bill Clinton as the Mena, AR drug scandal as well as lobbying for Clinton's impeachment over fake scandals long before the world had ever heard of Monica Lewinsky.

Brown was instrumental in the campaign to replace Robert Fiske as Independent Counsel with the notorious Ken Starr because Fiske did not find any wrong doing on Clinton's part during his investigation. It should be pointed out that Starr never found anything about Whitewater or Foster, either, after several years and approximately $80 million. (Although Starr did turn into a heck of a Porn writer with the Starr Report. I bet he could make more money doing that than being the Dean of Pepperdine's Law School.)

There is plenty more scuminess and douchebaggery in Brown's past. Drop me a note if you want a few good books on the subject.

Now that a Democrat is back in the White House, Brown appears to be in classic form. He is a principal in the web site where he is calling for Obama's impeachment. The web site is part of the National Campaign Fund, a PAC that raised and spent around $1.5 million to influence last year's Presidential Election.

According to NPR, last year Brown teamed up with the equally noxious Jerome Corsi to try and help spread Corsi's fantastical stories about Obama's place of birth and reported Muslim upbringing.

Sadly for Mr. Brown's ego, and perhaps his checkbook, he has yet to regain the traction and notoriety that he achieved with Willie Horton and "Slick Willie." It has been suggested that even today's far right GOP thinks Brown is radioactive.

(And in another on of my Forrest Gump moments, I used to live only a couple miles from Floyd and I am pretty sure that I used to feed Mr. Brown on a regular basis when he would hold Young America events at The Tacoma Country and Golf Club where I was sous chef before moving east. Odd coincidences never end.)

In closing, let me ask the question - Does a guy like Floyd Brown deserve shot at media redemption when he obviously has no regrets (unlike the late Lee Atwater) regarding his disgraceful past?*

*[edited to clarify my point about whether respectable newspapers should run columns by people like Brown.]
Friday, November 27, 2009
  Missing Thanksgiving
Oops. I was so wound up with friends and family yesterday that I forgot to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.

But never being one to pass up a little media criticism, what I want to know is how Floyd Brown, one of the slimiest right wing smear mongers of our generation, has gotten a national syndication deal and ends up with a column published in the Transcript. I would have thought that his financing of the Willie Horton ads and all the Clinton murder fairy tales he claimed to reveal would have made this man anathema to mainstream publishing forever.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
  Bigger = Yawn
Wal-Mart Super Store a-comin'.

Basically what this means is that the existing building will go vacant for the forseeable future and at least one of the chain grocery stores will pull up stakes. My guess is that the Adams Big Y and North Adams' Price Chopper are the most vulnerable.

I don't see it being that much different than the status quo.

John Barrett's quote:
"There's just not that many small businesses here for them to destroy."
is sadly true, but that is a whole other discussion.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
  It Figures

In a classic jumping the shark moment, the far right is claiming that the thugs from ACORN stole the election a couple of districts over in NY-23:
“As evidence surfaces, we find out that reported results from election night were far from accurate. ACORN and the unions did their best to try and sway the results to Obamacare supporter Bill Owens," Hoffman wrote on his campaign site. "Rest assured, they will not succeed, and I am therefore revoking my statement of concession.”
This guy is officially on my Loon List.

UPDATE: It seems that 52% of all Republicans think that ACORN stole the Presidential election. Oy. That means over half of GOPers are now on my Loon List.

I am beginning to theorize that the right wing lunacy that spawned against Bill Clinton only went slightly dormant during the Bush years and is back 3 or 4 times stronger. I really see the ACORN crap and Teabagger conspiracies no differently than the claims 15 years ago that Hillary killed Vince Foster. Insanity.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
  That Time of Year Again

The current leader in the "Caption the Photo Contest" -

How to spot a Minnesota guy with a DUI conviction

What's yours?
Friday, November 13, 2009
  Egg Meet Face
Williams has suspended the guy:
An assistant professor at Williams College and visiting researcher at Yale University admitted in the District's federal court this week that he defrauded banks, the federal government and credit card companies out of $800,000 in the past decade.
The big question is whether his entire early career is fabricated. No one seems to know yet.

I've long said that the academy is a little full of itself and let's hacks who are good at internal politics excel.

This guy, from Princeton, understands it better than most.

It is no coincidence that his book - On Bullshit - was a best seller while the companion follow-up, On Truth, was not.

Bullshit is mysterious and our culture likes it.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
  Truer Words....
Monday, November 09, 2009
  Summer of '89
In one of my Forrest Gump moments, I spent much of the summer of 1989 travelling around the German Democratic Republic (a.k.a. East Germany) as part of a Bach festival that performed in all the churches that J.S. Bach had worked in during his lifetime.

It was a very strange time, indeed. The wall was still up and we were among the first Americans that had been officially allowed to spend much time in some of the small towns. To a certain extent we were cultural oddities and celebrities in these places that had not seen much change since the end of WWII. People came to our concerts not just to hear us sing but to gawk, practice their English, ask silly questions, hit us up for dates (seriously), and try to barter with us for American or West German currency.

We had an official state "tour guide" courtesy of the government who was very careful about monitoring who we came into contact with and how we spent our money. There were no overt restrictions placed on us, but it was clear that the locals knew where the lines in the sand were drawn. One evening, a couple of us started tossing a football around in the very empty town square only to have about two dozen teenagers come out of the woodwork to check us out. While we were teaching them the finer points of throwing a spiral, one of them noticed a police car coming and all of them instantly disappeared into the alleys and side streets.

My 21st Birthday celebration took place on the roof of a tiny hotel in Arnstadt knocking back smuggled Russian vodka with the son of the local church organist and a couple of fellow American performers. Strange days.

We also toured both east and west Berlin. The back side of the Riechstag still was pocked marked from the bullets of WWII. We were told that while the building may have been on the west side of the wall, the east side, facing the wall, was intentionally left scarred to symbolize that one quarter of Germany was still in distress.

One side of the wall was an incredibly cosmopolitan city with phenomenal culture and a vibrancy that is a unique as it was German. The other side of the wall was gray and restrained. The areas that were meant for foreign (my) eyes were sterile and deserted. The Unter den Linden was pristine but only a in a postcard kind of way. The concrete wall and guard towers did far more than divide people. It was the difference between a color television and an old black and white set.

That summer, Hungary had opened its border to West Germany and the buzz on both sides of the wall was how many East Germans were "vacationing" in Budapest and then heading into West Germany, which had a policy of allowing all refugees from the east to enter. Nobody thought it was anything more than a headache that would soon be rectified by not-so-subtle negotiations.

Exactly 20 years ago tonight I was walking by a television in my house at the University of Michigan. Out of the corner of my eye I saw people dancing on the very wall, the same exact spot in fact, that I had just visited 90 days before. I spent the rest of the night glued to the TV watching special reports of people sledging the wall with hammers and passing bottles from West to East.

I can honestly say that I am one of the last Westerners to see the cold war version of East Germany. It took several years to understand my witness to a sliver of a much bigger history. As I said, Forrest Gump.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
  Hard Times
From Tammy at iBerkshires:
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Crane & Co. is consolidating its stationary division closer to its Dalton headquarters and moving 200 jobs out of the city.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
  2009 North Adams Municipal Election Post Mortem
Alcombright versus Barrett

It was very clear to me from the beginning of this campaign season that the race for Mayor of North Adams was Dick Alcombright's to lose. It was a very simple calculation on my part that came to that conclusion and I stand by it.

Since the last truly contested mayoral election, there has been a swing of approximately 1600 registered voters. To come to that number I took the number of voters who have left the North Adams rolls, either by moving, passing away or simply falling off the face of the planet, and added in the number of new voters who have either come of legal voting age or moved to the city.

I took into consideration what appeared to be John Barrett's perceived antipathy towards this block of voters and guess that Alcombright would win their votes by about 3:1, or about +1200 Alcombright voters.

Take the last really close election where Barrett's margin of victory was around 350, subtract that from 1200, and you get what almost exactly what I had predicted privately several months ago.

I told a few friends over the past week what I thought would happen and only one other person agreed with me. (he is also an electoral math geek) The rest thought I was nuts. I should have taken bets. I was off by about 1%.

In a couple of interviews The Mayor has said that he noticed younger voters at the polls and that he knew he was in trouble. I think he defines "younger voters" as anyone who did not vote in 2001. The population trends in this city have been evident for a very long time. These voters are not "new." Most of them lived here 12 years ago. They simply did not vote back then.

If John Barrett had wanted to ensure political success, he would have made more of an effort to reach out to these voters over the past decade. I am sure that he would argue that he did plenty for this demographic, but it appears that most of this age group disagrees.

What was also apparent by the consistent numbers from ward to ward was that Dick's victory was not built on the back of any one group. A majority of just about every slice of the population, some more than others, appear to have filled in the oval next to Dick's name. This election was not swung "the kids" or "the artists." Even the over 50 voters seemed to fall slightly in Dick's favor.

If you believe that this was a "change" election for the sake of change, you did not look at the city council races.

City Council

For guessing purposes, I broke the candidates into three tiers - two groups of 6 and one of 3. I was close but had a few big surprises, including the fact that there was no "anti-incumbent" movement in the electorate. Contrary to what some have said regarding the mayor's race, this was not a "throw the bums out" election.

Personally, I though that three or four incumbents would fall off council with those votes being given to challengers. It simply did not happen.

Privately I predicted five of the top six vote-getters in no particular order. One that I got spectacularly wrong was Marie Harpin, who I figured would fall from near the top down into the vulnerable numbers after her incredibly strange and publicized allegation that Mike Supranowicz had given Dick Alcombright the debate questions ahead of time. In my book, I thought that a large percentage of Alcombright voters would leave her off their ballots. Just like her accusations of cheating, this electoral phenomenon did not happen.

I also thought that Dave LaMarre would be in the top 6. AS it stands right now, he has an unofficial 3 point lead for the last spot over Keith Bona. Who knows what is going to happen with that after provisional and military ballots are counted.

Which leads me to Bob Moulton, the only incumbent who fell out of the top 9. Since he and fellow overt Alcombright supporter Bona are separated by only a few dozen votes, I would guess that Moulton lost all of his Barrett supporters and ended up with the nearly the same exact voters as Bona. That's not anti-incumbency. It's the risk you take for for picking sides.

That leads to the final tier, which I had 3 candidates in. It turns out there were four of us who fell well below the threshold of the final slot. No big surprises except for the fact that the challenger's slate did not do better. Again, no anti-incumbent movement.

So...... that's about as objective as I can be.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
  Mayor Dick!
In case you have been under a rock tonight, or do not live in North Adams, Dick Alcombright is the Mayor Elect of North Adams by about 20% of the vote.

He defeated 26 year incumbent John Barrett III.

I will have analysis of this and the council races when I have had a day or two to digest the numbers. (Although I will say that I predicted the Mayor's race within a point, when most observers thought it would be very close.)
  Vote Roach 2011!
I went into this year's city council election with the knowledge that it would probably take two or three attempts to have a clear shot at winning a seat. It looks like I was right. I got thumped pretty soundly today, but I accomplished what I originally set out to do - Build the base that will be needed to gain credibility in a town that does not easily elect those who were not born and raised within the city limits.

So thank you to those who supported me this time around. I cannot tell you how much your encouragement sustained me when I looked at the daunting opposition I faced.

See you in two years!
A blog of random thoughts and reactions emanating from the bank of a mountain stream in the farthest reaches of the bluest of blue states.

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greg at gregoryroach dot com

"Livability, not just affordability." - Dick Alcombright

My ongoing campaign for North Adams City Council

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Because a Chart is Worth 1000 Words

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