July 31, 2009

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“Charlie Baker has filed to run for governor. That’s no big surprise; in fact, he’ll be a welcome entrant into the political scene.

“At Harvard Pilgrim, Baker laments that there’s little he can do to influence provider behavior. Basically the hospitals and physicians just pay attention to Medicare - their biggest customer.

“Maybe as governor he’d have a bit more sway. Looking ahead, if he is elected, does well, and then moves on to seek higher office, I don’t think he’ll follow Romney’s path of disavowing his work in Massachusetts healthcare reform.’’

“Charlie Baker could well be the Steve Pierce of 1990, then the House minority leader who was the ‘chosen one’ of the GOP establishment and the winner of the party convention that pivotal election year.

“For my money Baker’s got problems. Questions regarding his Big Dig financing decision are legitimate . . . Further, the GOP primary will be flooded with independents, given the fact that the Democratic Primary will be a yawner . . .

“Simply put, it’s the clash of the establishment candidate, Charles Baker, versus the populist candidate, Christy Mihos. In an era when independent voters are telling pollsters they see Beacon Hill insiders as poison fruit, who will they support?’’


“Officer Barrett got online and sent out a mass e-mail in which he referred to Professor Gates as (brace yourself) a ‘jungle monkey.’

“Officer Barrett has apologized. And, of course, his lawyer says that the comments were taken out of context (I’m not sure which context would allow the proper use of ‘banana-eating jungle monkey’). But I wonder -- I just wonder -- how many right-wing talkers will pick up on this.’’

“I have no idea how widespread such a mindset might be amongst American police forces and can only hope that such racism is in the minority. However, the fact that a serving officer felt that he could use such incendiary language in an e-mail makes me think that, unlike Gates, I have no idea at all of what it must be like to be a black person in the US possibly facing that kind of mindset every time I have any contact with the police.

“The assumption he made, which I disagreed with at the time, suddenly becomes much more understandable.’’

“Barrett has apologized, and may well lose his job. Assuming he actually wrote the e-mail, he probably should. (Can you imagine being a black citizen of Boston and trusting Barrett to treat you fairly at this point?) His attorney reportedly argued that Barrett did not call Gates by the offensive term or ‘malign him racially.’ Rather, the attorney contended, Barrett ‘said [Gates’s] behavior was like that of one.’ If there’s a meaningful distinction there, it escapes me. I can’t imagine how anyone could refer to another person by that disgusting epithet then credibly claim to have had no racist intent.’’

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