and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
September #1

Fall preview:
Books, TV shows, and a Governor's Councilor I like
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, September 6, 2007

Let's begin the fall political season with some positive commentary and book reviews.

First, I want to thank the American labor movement for creating a holiday for all us working people, even those who wouldn't dream of joining a union. Sure was a beautiful Monday for late-summer activities. I was in the hammock, reading Michael Crichton's new novel, "Next," in which he does to the biotech industry what he did previously to the global warming thing.

Chip didn't go sailing -- too much wind and too many weekend powerboaters. Besides, he was having trouble putting down "Charlie Wilson's War: The extraordinary story of how the wildest man in Congress and a rogue CIA agent changed the history of our times," by George Crile.

I read it first, and my limited understanding of foreign affairs was turned upside down, in the midst of wild laughter. Though it came out in 2003, it will probably be in bookstores again with the movie due out later this year. As UPI said on the cover, the book "weaves together the actions of belly dancers, beauty queens, rogue CIA agents, and rugged mujahideen warriors to show that truth is, in fact, stranger than fiction". Hilarious and terrifying, I promise you.

We did take time out to grill steaks with a friend, but didn't take enough time to meditate on the fact that Labor Day began as a holiday as the result of riots, anarchists, a bomb that killed seven policemen in Chicago followed by executions of possibly innocent men, and, over the years, many workers killed in the unionization battle.

Back before organized labor, the bad guy was Big Business, especially when combined with the growing size and corruption of government. Later, many of the unions became Big Labor, with its own corruption and greed; and when combined with now Very Big Government and Big Business, became a triple threat to Little Citizens. So here we are; but no reason not to celebrate the eight-hour work day and paid holidays which were created at the beginning of the movement.

Speaking of government, I heard Jim Braude on WTKK recommending the abolition of the Governor's Council. I remember when that entity was on everyone's list of "where to cut," but I have to note that the only current politician I get to vote for that I like is my Governor's Councilor, Mary Ellen Manning of Peabody. Kennedy; Kerry; Congressman Tierney; my state senator, Tom McGee; and state representative, Doug Petersen -- none of them represent Little Citizen me; but she does, most recently with her vote against the latest candidate for the Supreme Judicial Court, Margot Botsford.

According to the State House News Service, Manning was one of three councilors to vote no, "charging that Botsford was 'soft on crime' as a judge and citing her husband's campaign contributions." Nothing wrong with supporting Deval Patrick, but donating three times the allowable amount -- well, a former Dukakis legal adviser should know better. Of course, it worked, and Botsford is the newest liberal on the SJC to see the Constitution as a "living document.

But at least my governor's councilor gave me a voice, saying "What?!"

Now that we've moved on to state issues, here's another must-read book: local WBZ political analyst Jon Keller's "The Bluest State," where "addiction to tax revenues and a raging edifice complex couched in disrespect to wage earners; phony identity politics without real results for women and minorities; reflexive anti-Americanism in foreign affairs; vain indulgence in obnoxious political correctness; self-serving featherbedding; NIMBYism; authoritarian distortion of the balance of governmental power, all simmered in a broth of hypocritical paternalism".

Naturally, I can't wait to read this. Wonder if Jon will tell us what he really thinks about Massachusetts' political culture?

As long as I'm ordering from Amazon, I will go for the Super Saver Shipping by also ordering Robert Whitcomb and Wendy Williams' recent book, "Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics and the Battle for American's Energy Future on Nantucket Sound," which sounds like a lot of fun for those of us who long to learn more about liberal hypocrisy.

And I might as well pre-order "The National Debt of the United States, 1941-2006" by my fellow Eagle-Tribune/Salem News columnist, Robert Kelly, due out this fall with a forward by our mutual editor, Nelson Benton.

I wrote a review of Bob's first book on the national debt: "A fascinating read, with everything you really need to know about the federal government in one compact place," or so I thought at the time. Now that I've read "Charlie Wilson's War" I know a lot more; in combination, I know how covert foreign policy helped spend us into the national debt, while starting World War III with Islamic extremists, once known as "freedom fighters."

I'm looking at the fall TV schedule, and figure I'll have lots of time to read, with just "House," "Boston Legal" and "Friday Night Lights" returning now for my must-see viewing. And I'll try the new vampire show, "Moonlight," too.

No reality TV, thanks. The reality I get from the above books, and my political activism is all I can deal with this year.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.