and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
October #2

How I spent my Columbus Day weekend
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, October 11, 2007

Columbus Day came and went, and I didn't buy a new car to commemorate Christopher's drive across the ocean. I didn't buy one in February to honor George Washington on his horse, either.
I do remember once asking my boss if I could have Columbus Day off, and he said, "Only if you plan to entertain an Italian sailor." I also got Patriots Day off if I planned to run 26 miles.

Vacation policy changed when I became my own boss. Normally I'd be honoring Chris by eating my way around the Topsfield Fair, but this year I went early. Which reminds me, did you notice in the 2007 Salem News Fair Guide the recommendation from Steve Dion, Salem State health education coordinator, to "avoid being tempted by the smell of fried dough before you even get in the gate, (so) eat a small meal before you go?

Steve doesn't get it. I drive all the way to Topsfield, pay $7 to park and $10 to get in, primarily to have fried dough for breakfast -- not to mention German french fries for lunch, etc. Fair Day is the one day, along with my birthday, that I give myself permission to eat whatever I want without hesitation or guilt. If I ever eat a small meal before I go, to avoid temptation, call Homeland Security: An alien has invaded me and I'm not the Barbara you know.

Chip Ford decided that if he was going to shop on Columbus Day, he should shop for a sailboat in Mystic, Conn. I went along for the leaf-peeping ride and lunch on the water.

Considering that I live in Marblehead, it shouldn't have been such a treat; but it was cold and damp here, hot and sunny there. I waited on the quiet dock, enjoying the warm breeze and listening to the carillon chiming over the charming little town.

It reminded me of other pleasant touring days, listening to the carillon while taking the ferry between San Diego and Coronado Island, and the glockenspiel at New Town Hall in Munich, whose clockwork figures put the little monk to bed each night.

One of the best things about growing old is that the pleasant things you do often remind you of other pleasant things you've done over several decades. You now own several layers of enjoyment.

Saturday was perhaps the last hammock day, so I spent it reading "Cape Wind: Money, celebrity, class, politics, and the battle for our energy future on Nantucket Sound" by Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb. It's informative -- I knew little about this and had no opinion except a vague concern about migrating birds -- and riveting. I was sitting on the edge of my, well, swinging in my hammock, eager to learn if Ted Kennedy would kill the wind farm with a really sleazy amendment to a Coast Guard bill. Most delicious was how the NIMBY environmentalist liberals were exposed in their hypocrisy.

NIMBY conservatives are easier to take, as they aren't simultaneously lecturing about global warming or pretending anything but self-interest -- though I was surprised that they were resisting innovation on the energy front instead of investing in it! Reading the book was like old home week for me; I found tax-issue friends and enemies on many pages, on both sides of the issue, behaving badly or heroically. I was also reassured by checking with the Mass. Audubon Society, which, after requiring rigorous monitoring, will support "the largest, clean, renewable-energy project in the Northeast."

Trust me: "Cape Wind" is a revelation, and great fun. Maybe I'll have a chance to write a sequel if someone tries to site a wind farm off Marblehead Neck!

Having been dragged back into political mode, I was eager to meet Jim Ogonowski, who is running against Niki Tsongas in the 5th Congressional District; so Chip and I joined old friends at a Sunday cookout sponsored by the Billerica Republican Town Committee.

Ogonowski is a retired Air Force/National Guard lieutenant colonel who has taken over the farm that belonged to his brother, John, the pilot who died on American Airlines Flight 11 on 9/11. New at politics, so somewhat awkward in formal debates, Jim speaks confidently to small groups and is charming when he meets individual voters.

I can't vote for him on Tuesday, but I personally contributed to his campaign. If he does well, it will give a major boost to other prospective congressional candidates, including Manchester's Rick Barton in the Sixth, who also believes in fiscal and personal responsibility, and is opposed to illegal immigration. That hot-button issue could get Ogonowski elected, because his opponent supports President Bush's unpopular amnesty bill.

Columbus Day weekend is behind us, it's time to focus hard on politics again, until we take our next break at Thanksgiving. I must remember to be thankful for the books, forums, debates and newspaper coverage that gives us all a chance to be informed voters in what is still a wonderful country -- for as long as we pay attention and fight for it.

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.