Let's insist that it's not
the middle of summer: We shouldn't count from Memorial Day to Labor
Day. The summer solstice was just four weeks ago and the fall
equinox won't happen for two months! I saw a back-to-school ad in a
newspaper circular but it has nothing to do with me; I'm really glad
I don't have to go back to school, ever again. I'll never have that
college degree, but somehow I've had a fine life without ever going
into education debt.
My job of state taxpayer
activist is going well at the moment, as we learn that the final
state budget will not contain the income tax increase for which
Sens. Lovely and McGee voted. The Senate-House conference committee
decided to reject the Senate plan to kill the voters' income tax
rollback, so Gov. Baker won't have to veto that provision. He and
the House can also be proud of talking the Senate into beginning
serious reform of the MBTA.
It's a major step for the
Legislature to take on the unions and make some privatization easier
by freezing the Pacheco Law, which Sen. Mark Pacheco calls the
“Taxpayer Protection Act”– a name which Greg Sullivan of the Pioneer
Institute calls Orwellian. Along with noting sales tax revenue that
the T gets each year from us all, most T riders are taxpayers who
were not protected from being stranded in the snow last winter.
I was so glad that my
commuter days were over before the transit system started to
collapse. I like working from home, where I write my columns.
Which brings me to some
corrections I must make. Last month, I quoted the lyrics to
“Summertime”, citing George Gershwin. Two alert readers were quick
to inform me that George Gershwin wrote melodies, not lyrics:
“Summertime, and the living was easy….” was written by his brother
Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward.
The fact about summertime
remains: I'm ready for some easy living, despite the news from the
world that I can't do anything about it right now. Congress has 60
days to review President Obama's Iran nuclear deal before voting to
support it, or not. It's too early to know if there will be a fair
resolution to the Greek crisis. Our good old USA just reached a
national debt that is 103 percent of our Gross National Product. I
am waiting for the presidential candidates to start talking about
Mostly everyone is talking
about Donald Trump, which brings me to my second column correction.
When I proposed my own debate plan for Republicans, I disqualified
him because I don't want someone with a hairpiece as president (on
the grounds that vanity interferes with focusing on serious issues).
Avi Nelson told me that he didn't think Trump's hair is fake because
with his money he could afford a better piece. I responded that with
Trump's money he can afford a better hairdresser. But as it turns
out, Avi is right. I saw a Fox reporter given permission to tug on
Donald's hair and it didn't budge!
Then Trump started
speaking the truth about illegal immigration, and I found myself
glad he is running, not because I want to vote for him, but because
maybe one of the other more mature candidates will emulate his
truth-telling, his fearlessness in the face of political
correctness, his willingness to take on the media. People who aren't
even Republican are getting on his bandwagon, outraged by the murder
of Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant in “sanctuary city” San
Francisco. As I write this, a new Suffolk University poll shows
Trump ahead with 18 percent.
establishment Republicans are lining up with establishment talking
points to bring The Donald down. After listening to this character
assassination on Sunday morning television for a while, I turned
from politics to tennis at Wimbledon.
As part of my aging
process, I tend to support older athletes against the young
whippersnappers; Roger Federer plays my favorite sport well for his
age. I myself gave it up decades ago, along with hiking in the Alps.
Novak Djokavich is amazing
though. I had to laugh when, accepting the trophy, he generously
noted that his generation always looked up to Federer. Roger is 34;
Novak is 28. Glad my specialty is politics, where my generation is
still running for president or hanging on in Congress and no one
seems to find this odd.
Allow me to point out that
although my own family background is Croatian, I do not hold
Djokovic’s Serbian ethnicity against him. You didn’t hear me
demanding that Wimbledon officials remove the Serbian flag from its
venue because it might remind some Croats about a long-ago war. Wish
some Americans could get over the past and start to worry about the
future; maybe we need some Greek flags to hang near our capitols.
This week’s news is the
just-released Harper Lee novel, which was written before “To
Kill a Mockingbird” was published. It seems that Atticus Finch was
actually a racist, as were probably most men in Alabama in the ’50s.
The amazing thing to me, and the point of the “Mockingbird” plot, is
that he was able to rise above this to defend an innocent black man.
Atticus remains forever
one of my favorite literary characters – along with those of J.D
Salinger, who is featured in a new PBS biography. I don’t care about
his private life, I just care about Holden Caulfield, and the entire
Glass family. “Franny and Zooey” remains one of my favorite books
and I identify more than ever with Franny’s dislike of phonies.
Which brings me back,
somehow, to Donald Trump, who is speaking the truth now, but
criticized Republican plans about immigration reform in 2012 as
“mean-spirited”. I think I need to drop out of politics for a few
days, and pay attention to NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reaching
Pluto, extraordinary human achievement to balance human folly.
As I retain Atticus Finch
and the Glass family as my favorite fictional people, I continue to
count Pluto as a planet, one of the nine I learned in grade-school.
At some point one must take a stand: on politics, on literature, on
science. But it’s OK to take a break, to celebrate our remaining
freedoms by enjoying some lazy days of still-early summer.
Barbara Anderson of
Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem