Friday, June 8, 2018

He walks! He talks! He's invincible!

By A. Larry Lowell
State House Bureau Chief

What do you call a white man who presides over a state government where the highways are crumbling, the mass transit is inadequate and derelict, the schools in poorer communities are appalling, the police are riddled with corruption, the housing is crushingly expensive, and the National Guard is sent 2000 miles away to fool around on the Rio Grande?

If the state is Massachusetts, you call him unbeatable.

The case of Charlie Baker '79, a sluggish supposedly moderate Republican running for re-election in an overwhelmingly Democratic state grows ever more curious.  He's regarded as a prohibitive favorite for re-election although he can't point to anything he accomplished during his first term that would appear to justify voting for him.

The MBTA?  After trying and failing to kill off a court-ordered Green Line extension, and providing exactly zero dollars for desperately needed transit lines (Blue Lynn to Lynn, Red-Blue Connector, turning the Fairmount Line into real mass transit), Baker has managed to deflect blame for each new colossal meltdown of the aging, underfunded system by claiming each time that he is shocked, shocked to discover that the commuter rail is unreliable and inadequate, the Red Line a disaster, the aged Orange Line fleet is good for toasting marshmallows and not much else, the sketchy bus system is bogged down in traffic, and all available money goes to giving T workers lifetime pensions beginning at age 50, a modest recompense for years of hard labor pushing the button that opens the doors.

His care and feeding of the highway system isn't any better.  Why it took many lifetimes to shore up a 2,000 foot bridge across the Charles has never been answered.  Whether any of us now living will see the end of projects like the widening of 128 in Needham is another mystery.  Fortunately, due to the failure by the Registry to prepare properly for the Real ID calamity, soon none of us will be able to drive at all.

At Harvard, everyone could see that Charlie Baker
was headed for the bar [Surely, great things? – Ed.].
Massachusetts voters are partial to voting for Republican Governors on the theory that they serve as a check on the crooked heavily-Democratic Legislature, which if left unsupervised would sell the gold leaf off the State House Dome for beer.  But what always happens is that the Republican achieves a cozy relationship with the Democratic poobahs, trading no new taxes for business as usual.

And so it is with this shaygetz.  The State Police, under Charlie Baker, have been shown to be a cesspool of corruption.  Charlie's response?  To abolish the letter E.  Meanwhile the Staties still run around the Seaport with impunity and just today we learn that various Highway Department hacks still enjoy evading tolls.  Charlie will be shocked, shocked to find out about that just as soon as a reporter asks him for comment.

What doesn't get the ink, though, is the continued underfunding and mismanagement of the state's human services programs.  Find us three people who think Charlie's doing a good job providing care to children and families in need of services.  We're waiting.

And in one of the richest states in the country, Charlie still underfunds public schools and colleges, having devoted himself to pushing leech-like charter schools which siphon money and students away from public systems.  He's cut higher education funding, further burdening needy students with crushing debt, and he's refused to modify or augment aid formulas that leave chronically cash-poor school systems like Brockton unable to properly educate their students.

To distract from this impressive record of not doing jack sh*t, he attends to Republican mouth-breathers here and Washington by dispatching a Mass. National Guard helicopter and crew to the Mexican boarder to feed the Bigot-in-Chief's Emperor Palpatine fantasies and promotes increased cooperation between local police and ICE body-snatchers.  This of course is a great way to ensure that anyone with a questionable immigration status is entirely outside the protection of state law, including laws related to domestic abuse, exploitation of labor, or for that matter murder.

So why is a mediocre man with a terrible record unbeatable?  You'd have to note that the local economy is booming, and voters always wrongly blame or credit the incumbent Governor for something that's entirely out of his control.

But probably Charlie's greatest strength is the Tangerine-Faced Grifter, who makes Charlie look good every day by comparison.  Equally important, Massachusetts Democrats, faced with a choice between devoting their time and money toward (1) saving the Republic from the U Bum Sh*t Show or (2) unseating a lumpish Governor with a blah record, seem to have chosen door #1.

It's hard to blame them.  But it's even harder to explain why voters packed into burning Orange Line cars, unable to afford homes, burdened by college debt, and confronted by failing underfunded public schools turn to Charlie Baker and say “Whatta guy!”

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