NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

February 18, 2013

Troubles on a usually serene birthday week

Barbara Anderson
Newburyport Daily News

---- — This is usually my favorite week of the year: Valentine’s Day, my birthday; chocolate candy, chocolate cake. Preferably both of those events happen before Ash Wednesday, which, because of childhood Catholic habit, remains a good time to give up sweets and lose weight. Last year, even Presidents Day with its cherry pie came before Lent.

But, as with so many other things, this year isn’t going well. Only Lincoln’s birthday slipped in before Ash Wednesday on Feb. 13, and it has no goodies connected to it unless one attends a Republican Lincoln Day dinner, which I’ve done in the past as a guest speaker and won’t be doing this year.

Now that Earth has traveled around the sun 70 times since my birth, I’ve retired from public speaking, though not from political activism. I continue to work with Citizens for Limited Taxation to make sure nothing happens to Proposition 21/2, making my someday-retirement cottage unaffordable.

My mentor Howard Jarvis led the ballot battle for California’s property tax limit, Prop. 13, in 1978 when he was 76; his bust sits on my bookcase, reminding me that one is never too old to cause trouble for government, or at least enjoy the attempt.

This year’s Lincoln’s birthday may have featured Massachusetts Republicans assassinating their party’s chances in the coming U.S. Senate race. They should be getting behind the one candidate who has actually made up his mind to run, as of the writing of this column. Dan Winslow needs 10,000 signatures of Republicans and independents by the Feb. 27 deadline. Instead of helping with this difficult task, some Republican activists are trying to talk former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan into running, too.

The special election, caused by Sen. John Kerry’s move to secretary of state, could leave time for a divisive primary for Democrats; Congressmen Lynch and Markey are already battling. But with Scott Brown waiting until he saw his February shadow to announce that he wouldn’t run for the seat, Republicans have no room for their traditionally unpleasant primary games.

Both Winslow and Sullivan have been among my favorite Republicans; I could happily support whichever one announced first, in this case, Winslow. I understand that others, including locals Bruce Tarr and Keith Ablow, were willing to run if no one else stepped forward; I can relate to that, having offered to run for Congress in my youth when it looked as if Michael Harrington would be unopposed. Fortunately, someone else volunteered then, as Dan Winslow has now — in this case preventing an easy win for one of the Democrats, who have 15 percent (Markey) and 12 percent (Lynch) ratings with the National Taxpayers Union.

Scott Brown had a 60 percent rating, which was fine, considering, but not so fine that I’d want him for governor when I could have Charlie Baker. The rumor that Brown might run for governor is another Republicide thing that is interfering with my usually carefree birthday week.

I’m with Charlie, Scott. Hope Massachusetts voters are looking for executive experience in their next governor. Reminds me, I have to correct my last column, in which I said that 19,000 people who don’t have a mailing address are getting Massachusetts EBT cards; the updated count is 47,000 welfare recipients who exist only at the bank account where taxpayer money appears for them. The management “leakage” has become a substantial flow, Gov. Patrick.

The governor’s blizzard leadership was interesting. First, we’re all ordered by the state to stay off the highways or face a year in jail, then some residents were ordered by their local government to evacuate. People were asking, on talk shows, Facebook and Twitter, which order should prevail. I never heard this clarified, but our governor was highly praised for being calm during the storm, as if panic would have been a possible alternative.

This reminded me of Bill Weld telling Chris Matthews in 2008 that he supported Barack Obama for president because he is calm. Matthews responded, “Chauncey Gardiner in ‘Being There’ was calm.” Would have been funnier if Matthews hadn’t later admitted to that Obama-inspired tingle up his leg.

Wait, as I write this, another Republican has requested papers for the U.S. Senate race: a Cohasset businessman, former Navy SEAL, political newcomer named Gabriel Gomez. Thank you for your service, and, beware Washington-based consultants who see you as a money-magnet; it’s a tough race for a newbie.

Another thing interfering with my perfect week: Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Valentine chocolate two days early helped get me through it. Hope that asteroid doesn’t swerve and hit Earth on Friday, before my birthday.

Life at any age is good when I have two books going: one fiction, one nonfiction. Presently reading “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness and an autographed copy of “The Political Bible of Little Known Facts in American Politics” by local writer Rich Rubino. Since Marblehead didn’t lose power during the blizzard, I read about witches, vampires and past politicians far into the night, then returned to my television and computer to collect new political facts during the day.

Retirement for the pope this month, but not for me!

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Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation.