The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Late Election Roundup


It's been a year since the stunning presidential election of 2016 and I clearly recall where I was when the biggest electoral upset in American occurred. For reasons I won't get into here, I spent that Election Night in circumstances that meant I had no access to a television set or computer. Instead, all I had was a radio, and not a very good one. It had difficulty getting stations, and the only one that was coming in at all clear was WHMP in Northampton. For their presidential election coverage, they had the analytical team of Greenfield reporter Chris Collins and leftist Attorney Bill Newman.

I recall that the first time I realized something unusual was up was when I heard that exit polls were showing that about 25% of Hispanics voted for Trump, only a few percentage points less than Mitt Romney got in 2012, meaning that despite Trump's controversial statements about immigrants, Republican Hispanics were sticking with the party. Later it became apparent that Virginia, the home state of Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate, was not the landslide win that was expected, meaning Hillary was underperforming even where she should be winning handily. Then one by one, each of the major states Trump needed to win fell into his column.

It was really something to listen to how the radio hosts Collins and Newman responded as the electoral momentum accelerated in Trump's favor. Chris Collins appeared surprised, but somewhat amused to see all the assumptions of the political experts getting thrown out the window. As for Atty. Newman, he grew openly despondent, speaking in increasingly apocalyptic terms, and at one point it sounded almost as if he had fallen out of his chair.

A year later, the 2017 elections were much less dramatic, as there was little to knock anyone out of their chair. Still, there were some things worth noting, so here's a recap of what went down:

New Jersey - Despite being the state with the largest population in play, this race was basically a snoozer, with little doubt of the outcome at any point in the campaign. In this heavily Democratic state, to no one's surprise the Democrat won handily to succeed the very unpopular retiring Republican incumbent Chris Christie, who squandered his popularity trying to appease Democrats and Republicans equally, thereby succeeding in alienating both. Christie's terrible fall is a sobering warning to all GOPers who think they can play it both ways and win.

Virginia - This race was more interesting, but not on the gubernatorial level. Here, once again, the Democratic candidate had always been considered the front runner by a comfortable margin of about 15 points. Late polls indicated the race was tightening in the home stretch, but the final nine point win by the Democrat shows that there was only a modest rightward shift, far too little to make the race competitive. The governorship was already in Democratic hands, so no net gain for the Dems, but there were interesting developments further down the ticket, with Democrats winning a bunch of seats in the state legislature, although not enough to end Republican control.

In both New Jersey and Virginia, polling data showed that Republicans vote totals were as high as they were in those states in 2015. The difference was that in 2017 the turnout by Democrats was significantly higher. That is good news and bad for the Democrats. The good news is that the Democrats were energized to head to the polls to an unprecedented extent. The bad news is that there is little evidence that the victories were because of Republicans switching their loyalty. Unless Democrats can find a message that can do more than energize the faithful and can actually flip GOP voters, it's hard to see how their modest, widely expected wins in 2017 translate into any longterm threat to Republican dominance nationally, despite wishful thinking by a number of media partisans.


Locally, there were some races of interest:

Springfield held its first municipal election with no mayoral race at the top, resulting in an abysmal turnout, although the political culture in Springfield is so dead at this point that turnout rarely tops even ten percent under any circumstances. One bright spot was the return to the City Council of Tim Ryan, who in a previous stint of service in the 90's had been a welcome voice of reason during the dark Albano days. It was also good to see commonsense Councilors Kateri Walsh and Michael Fenton returned by voters. Alas, the open seat went to leftist activist Jesse Lederman, who while council business rarely has an ideological bent, the position gives Lederman a platform from which to aspire to a future post where he can do more mischief. Voters would have been far wiser to have chosen Kelly Moriarty-Finn or even Victor Davilla instead. Unfortunately, Henry Twiggs, former aide to sleazy ex-State Rep. Ray Jordan, narrowly survived a strong challenge from reformer Robert Kelly. Political has-been James Ferrara and perennial wannabe Bob Collamore were also not successful. The School Committee races were all yawners, without a single new idea in sight.

Holyoke progressives frowned last year when Mayor Alex Morse rejected lefty darling Bernie Sanders in order to throw his support big time behind Hillary Clinton. The move led to speculation that Morse may have had aspirations of heading to Washington as part of a Clinton administration, and it didn't hurt that Hillary seemed personally taken by the young mayor. Of course, such speculations were dashed by Clinton's defeat, but with Morse's re-election to a first ever four year term, he now has a safe perch from which to wait out Trump's term. He also gained a few allies on the City Council, so Morse may have less political resistance from the council than in the past, especially with the unfortunate voluntary retirement of Holyoke's star GOPer Kevin Jordain. Despite a wave of bad publicity over a drunk driving incident earlier this year, David Bartley won re-election with 58% of the vote. And why not? If heavy drinkers were banned from politics, half the seats would be empty.

There were a smattering of interesting races in other locales. In Agawam, Republican City Councilor Robert Magovern made a political comeback, but retiring Mayor Richard Cohen's ambitions to serve on the Council got slapped down by the voters with surprising force. Guess everybody's sick of him. Northampton's Mayor David Narkiewicz romped to victory over one issue candidate John Riley, who ran primarily in protest of rising water fees. Meanwhile, an open mayoral position in Easthampton was won by Nicole LaChapelle, an example of one clueless lefty beating another in a town being torn asunder by attempts to make the town a haven for foreigners who sneak into the country, and whose high school has been taken over by political correctness enforcers due to carefully orchestrated overreactions to minor so-called "racial incidents." Too bad, Easthampton used to be known for its level headedness, especially compared to it's neighbor Northampton, but alas, no more. Greenfield continued down the path of folly it has pursued in recent years by putting incompetent liberals in control of their City Council, ensuring more of the same bad policies that have been dragging that city down.

Pine Point 1987.


Pine Point 2017.




Monday, November 13, 2017

Warring


Last week I went to a meeting of the Philosophy and Free Thought Club in the UMass Campus Center. Here is a view of the campus out the window of the room where the meeting took place.


The guest speaker was Terry Franklin, best known as one of the Valley's foremost marijuana legalization activists.


However, it was not weed that was the topic of Terry's talk, but instead a room-wide discussion that attempted to answer the questions: Why is there war? How do we prevent it? Don't assume that Franklin is tackling fresh topics because there's nothing left for Franklin to do on the cannabis front since marijuana was legalized by the voters last year. The roll-out of legal pot has been a tawdry, anti-democratic and crony capitalist nightmare, requiring committed activists like Franklin to keep constantly vigilant.

It just happens that Franklin is a serious thinker about a number of issues, including foreign policy. The exchange with Franklin and the philosophically inclined, free thinking students was lively at times, but in the end, the question of why we have wars and how to stop them is one that many have pondered throughout history without finding a successful solution. By the end of the discussion, the challenges of war and peace remained unresolved. Yet, these are questions that are always worth raising.


Every so often, maybe two or three times a year, I like to cut myself off from computers. That means no going online for any reason and leaving my cell phone at home without checking it for 24 hours. Of course, the next day I'm swamped with unanswered e-mails and my voicemail is full, but it's generally worth it. I like to remind myself that the first half of my life I never so much as touched a computer. It may amaze some younger folks, but I was fine with it and had no sense that anything was missing in my life. It helps me to keep my head right to go back to that earlier, non cyber mindspace sometimes.

So what did I do on my phoneless and computer free day? I headed down to my old stomping grounds in Springfield, where I was invited to win and win until I won in ol' Pine Point.


I passed by the Hiram L. Dorman Elementary School, where my Dad and his sister attended.


I also paused at the abandoned gallery of Doyle the Twig Painter, where some sun-faded lithographs still stand in the window.


A nice little walk around the neighborhood, and a worthwhile use of computerless time.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Books, Campus and a Cup

The rising sun pouring through the windows of the Haymarket Cafe.


2017 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of President John F. Kennedy. In other words, had he lived he would've been a hundred years old, not something that very likely would have happened but not completely impossible. Of course, we all know about the tragedy that ended his life before he was even 50 years old. Just weeks before that fateful visit to Dallas, President Kennedy paid a visit to Amherst for the groundbreaking of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College. In observance of the Kennedy centenary, the Robert Frost Library has a special display of Kennedy memorabilia.


There are also large blown up photos of the audience, showing no doubt many residents now deceased, such as attendee Larry Kelley. Here are some protesters that were at that event, notice how nicely dressed they are.


Stop by the library soon and check it out before it's too late.

Seen parked in front of Amherst Town Hall.


I actually somewhat sympathize with this sentiment.


The lobby of Bartlett Hall at UMass.


A video about books, the UMass campus and a coffee cup.





Monday, October 30, 2017

Haters


The absurd "Hate Has No Home" propaganda campaign at UMass has been countered by a literally Orwellian critic:


It reads:
"Some ideas are so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them."
- George Orwell.


The whole "Hate Has No Home" crusade is an intellectual, free speech and civil rights abomination. What kind of hate are they even talking about? Who will decide what is defined as hate? Are they talking about Nazi's and KKK members? If so, then the suggestion is an insult to the UMass community, which has never had Nazis or KKK activity on its campus in the memory of anyone now living.

So who are these mysterious haters we are being so repeatedly warned against? It's hard not to conclude that what is really being targeted by all this heavy handed preaching is Republican party activity or non-leftist speech. In fact, those exact accusations were made more openly at Amherst College.

The bombastic, Soviet style poster campaign at UMass appears to be a frankly partisan attempt to smear any members of the campus community who are not Democrats or who decline to snarl with hatred at the sight of President Trump, as somehow purveyors of hate. Such thinly veiled partisanship and attempted censorship does not belong on a taxpayer funded university, whose budget includes taxes paid by the over one million Massachusetts voters who cast their ballot for Trump. Perhaps a more accurate, fair minded and less Orwellian poster campaign might have as its slogan:

LEFTIST INTOLERANCE HAS NO HOME AT UMASS.

This morning upon the woodland way into downtown Northampton.


Some people go crazy over big pumpkin displays this time of year. One of my neighbors believes that less is more.


The question of the moment.


Did aliens make these circles?


Every week the students at UMass have a farmer's market.


The campus is so beautiful this time of year.


Big man on campus.


In the lobby of the UMass Student Union.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Lost Images

Big pumpkin sale going on at the Northampton Stop&Shop.


In fact, pumpkins are popping up all over the place. This pumpkin population explosion will culminate in an orgiastic frenzy of pumpkins around Halloween, with prices for the orange orbs relentlessly rising right up until the holiday. The day after Halloween, however, the pumpkin merchants will be all but giving them away.

This pumpkin in front of First Church looks like it has some kind of disease.


The other day I stumbled upon an old memory card in the bottom of a drawer. What could possibly be on it?


It turns out the card wasn't that old, as the oldest pictures were only about three years ago. Still, there were some interesting pics on it that I don't think have ever been released. For example, I believe these are the last pictures ever taken of Doyle the Twig Painter. He is shown here pretending to read, because the picture was intended to go with a book version of the documentary The Twig and I but you can tell by looking at his eyes that he is blind and not really reading. The book version was incomplete at the time of Doyle's death in September, 2015 so the pics ended up never being used except for Doyle's obituary.


A selfie in the Dr. Seuss chair across from my house. Notice the old fashioned phone in the background, available for use by all passerby for the price of free.


Pedal People.


At first I liked this statue on the courthouse lawn. I admired it less when I learned it was entitled "Day's End." That sorta spoiled it for me, since it implies something tired and sad. I had thought of the statue as a giant steel monster descending upon the metropolis, which is far more cool. In any case, it has since been removed.


Here are some pictures of the bus stop at Pulaski Park in Northampton, taken before the park was extensively renovated.


In the end, America was not "with her."


Among the lost pics were these shots of the late Amherst blogmaster Larry Kelley, on the occasion of our last meeting. I never used the pictures in my coverage of that event because they were blurry and the lighting was bad. Time and tragedy, however, has since made them precious.


Taken at Amherst Town Hall, these pictures show how Larry typically entered a room, with his camera waving, openly shooting pics and video of everyone without asking, acting under the journalist's creed, "It's easier to say you're sorry than to ask permission." Too bad we no longer have Kelley, who died in a car crash earlier this year, still scanning the local scene, because the news blackout in Amherst has been terrible in his absence.

Finally, here's some early Halloween music.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Roasted

Hey, have you checked out the latest downtown Hamp coffee shop? It's so new, they haven't even put up their sign yet, which presently rests on a chair.


Of course Shelbourne Falls Coffee Roasters is not new to the Valley, there are others such as this one on Rt. 9 where I once attended a meeting of The Freethinkers.


Prior to it's current occupants, the space was a Dunkin Donuts.


Prior to that it was a legendary music store called B-side Records. In the 1990's it was a prime destination for music lovers throughout the Valley.


As a Dunkin Donuts, it was always busy but with a slightly sketchy clientele. Word on the street was that narcs sometimes sat in there dressed as homeless guys, when they were actually there to try and monitor drug activity. Hey, our Valley is truly "The Crossroads of New England" at least as far as the drug trade is concerned.


Whatever was going on, the kids who worked there often appeared to be having fun.


People were surprised when the Dunkin Donuts suddenly went out of business without warning or explanation. Rumors of all sorts circulated, but one person who used to work there told me they got driven out by high rents. According to this person's unverified account, when the Dunkin's opened a dozen or so years ago after the record store died, the rent was around $2,800 per month. By the time they closed, the rent had crept up to $8,000 per month! That's an awful lot of coffee and donuts to sell each month just to make the rent, let alone labor and overhead costs. If that was the case, I can't blame them for giving their landlord the finger and moving out.

The Dunkin's had a garishly bright decor, but Shelburne Roasters has completely remodeled the site to create a nice, cozy atmosphere.


The coffee is pretty good too, with lots of varieties to choose from.


You should stop by when you get a chance and check out this latest contender in the highly competitive Northampton coffeehouse scene.


Dave Ratner (above in downtown Springfield's Theodore's) is the owner of Dave's Soda and Pet City. He was invited to the White House this week to attend the signing ceremony for an executive order by President Trump that will expand the range of health insurance options available to the employees of small businesses. Here is Ratner, second from left, as he appeared in the Boston Globe:


Unfortunately, Ratner got blocked out of appearing in the New York Times by somebody's big head.


When he got back to Western Mass, Ratner was shocked and dismayed by the firestorm of angry phone calls, mean tweets and insulting Facebook posts he received, many of them calling for a boycott of his business just because he dared to appear with President Trump without spitting or snarling with hatred. It would have been a plus for Ratner in the long run had he defended his White House visit, but instead he caved and released a statement appearing to apologize for simply being in the presence of a President our local Democrats disapprove of.

Dumb move Dave. The leftists will never forgive you no matter what you say, while the goodwill earned with average Americans through the visit was subsequently squandered by the apology. With his hesitancy to tell the hate-filled lefties to go to hell and instead trying to please everyone, Ratner ended up pleasing no one, managing to turn what should have been a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience into a big loser.


Someone we hope won't be a big loser in next month's elections is Springfield's Tim Ryan, son of Charlie, who is running for City Council.


Finally here's a lesson in downtown Hamp about a fool and his money above a falcon's eye-view of Springfield's Hungry Hill.