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High-Fives and Dope Slaps: The week’s good and bad of Massachusetts politics

Posted by Alex Pearlman  November 15, 2011 05:35 PM

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high five.jpgBy Jeff Fish

When I was a senior in high school, I took a World Politics class. Every day, my teacher wrote a list of current events on the board, categorized as either “high-fives” or “dope slaps.” It was a great way to start off the class, and it’s a great standard to apply to the Bay State’s weekly political stories. Often, many of Massachusetts’ goings-on deserve dope slaps; but the state is also the epicenter of education, medicine, and new ideas that influence the rest of the country, so it deserves some props -- in this case, high-fives -- as well.

In the interest of full disclosure, and so you know where I’m coming from: I’m a political moderate, leaning more liberal on social issues and more conservative on economic ones. I was a registered Republican until after the 2008 election, when I realized that my values don’t fit with one particular party. In fact, I become more aware every day just how dysfunctional both parties are.

So without further ado, let’s dole out this week’s accolades.

Dope Slap: Mitt Romney. This dope slap applies pretty much any week, but I want to start this inaugural column with my take on the former Massachusetts governor, since he’s running for president and all. I’ve never really taken to the slick head of hair that is Romney. It was apparent to me that he never really cared about the state when he was governor and that he just used the position as a stepping stone, which is why he didn’t run for a second term in 2006 and set his sights on the White House in ‘08.

He’s also a flip-flopper of John Kerry proportions. Romney became significantly more conservative, particularly on social issues like gay rights and abortion, when running for president in 2008, to cater to the more conservative electorate of a national campaign. He was one kind of candidate for governor and a completely different one for president, which tells me that he’s willing to sway to the winds, as long as it’s good for his career.

High-Five: Casinos. It looks like Massachusetts might actually get a gambling bill passed...finally. This bill -- or rather, the numerous incarnations of this bill -- has garnered opposition from both the far left and right for enabling those with gambling addictions, an argument that seems moot to me given the resort-style casinos like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in bordering states. Not allowing casinos in Massachusetts will not prevent gambling addicts from gambling; it’ll just force them to throw their money away in another state.

Sure, there are some negatives to allowing casinos in the state, like the effects they might have on small businesses in the area, but the pros outweigh the cons. Simply building the casinos will provide much-needed jobs in construction -- and think of the jobs that will be created when the casinos actually open, not to mention the revenue the state will make off the proceeds. The legislature is in session for one more week before calling it quits for the holidays, so hopefully they actually get to this bill.

Dope Slap: Mass. has the highest acquittal rate for drunken drivers. A three-part series by the Globe spotlight team revealed that our fair state has the country's highest acquittal rate for drunken drivers. The series cites careless judges, experienced OUI lawyers, and convoluted police paperwork, which leads to mistakes that those lawyers pounce on.

Kudos to the spotlight team for highlighting these disturbing facts. Needless to say, something needs to be done. Allowing people to drive drunk and get away with it puts everyone else on the road in danger.

High-Five: Redistricting could lead to new Congressional blood. Obviously the fact that Massachusetts lost a congressional district is a dope slap, but that’s old news. The redistricting process looks pretty good for Republicans, a group that seldom has victories in this blue, blue state (Scott Brown is an exception). Like I said before, I’m not a fan of either party, but this state is dominated by one-party rule, and that’s never good, no matter who’s ruling.

GOP strategists say there are two districts where Republicans can make some leeway: One is in the North Shore, represented by eight-term incumbent John F. Tierney, and the other is an open seat created for southern Massachusetts and Cape Cod. Having more Republicans in our state’s government can, at the very least, provide us with watchdogs for the heavily incumbent Democratic legislature.

Dope Slap: Occupy Boston coverage. Now we’re in the third month of Occupy Boston, and most people still can’t tell you what it’s all about, partially because there’s no centralized message; the movement is meant to appeal to people of all different causes, which makes it seem disorganized. But another problem with the public perception of the Occupy movement has been its lackluster media coverage.

Every time I read an article (like one about Occupy fashion in the Boston Herald) or see a TV segment on the Occupy movement, the interviewees are random people that the reporter just pulled aside. These people often don’t know what they’re talking about, which reflects poorly on the movement as a whole. In reality, there are some really intelligent, hard-working people behind the scenes. The city's media outlets should make it a point to find these people instead of just talking to the first occupiers they come across.

‘High-Fives and Dope Slaps’ is TNGG Boston’s weekly Tuesday politics column, written by Jeff Fish.

Photo by Daily High Five

About Jeff -- I'm a senior at Suffolk University, majoring in journalism and political science. I'm the editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, The Suffolk Journal, and I did a six-month co-op at The Boston Globe. I love politics, reading, movies, TV, and anything pop culture. My mind is a font of useless knowledge.

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