a fat suit

^ Melissa Gorga can unzip herself out of this fat suit. For me, starting an “unzip” recently at 60 pounds overweight, it’s not so easy. the fat suit is inside me.

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Sixteen days ago I began a diet, a regimen, by which to take control of my body. Being sixty (60) pounds overweight focuses the mind. There is hardly anything in life as personal as being grossly overweight. You carry that sack of fat around with you in all that you do, sleeping included. There’s never a moment’s peace from its clinging to the insides of your skin like tics in a neck. You can’t pretend it isn’t there, can’t will it away because once the willing is over, the overweight is still there, mocking you, daring you.

It knows how much you love food. BBQ, ice cream, pastries, a generous day meal of pork and onions or a feast of Portuguese delights at Antonio’s or The Roasted Pig. Your personal fat suit knows this, and it smiles knowing that your food lust is its ticket to ride.

Why does fabulous food exact such a price ?

The question hangs in the air, I have no answer. What i do have is a solution : eat no food — be a body neat freak. Not forever, of course, but for six to seven months, maybe more. People warn me to stay healthy : but they get it wrong. I am trying to BECOME healthy. Lugging a 60 pound fat suit inside me is not healthy. It also looks like crap. It looks crappy to me even more so than to others. they can stand apart and smirk; I have to live with it. i have to neat freak my body, clean every nook of it and dust my shelves, floors, table tops, bedsheets of my corpus.

So there I was, inundated with food, until sixteen days ago I decided : “enough.” that day I took in only two glasses of cider, a bowl of soup and a mocha latte at Starbucks (my one distraction). And so have I continued to do every day since, adding some glasses of white wine ona couple of occasions.

It’s quite stunning what can happen to a fat suit when it gets only 900 calories a day to sustain. Quite rapidly the fat suit sheds layers. Sixteen days of NOT feeding the beast has shrunk him good.

Yes, he’s still there, the fat suit imp, but he is definitely leaving. When I began this diet I could barely button my size 38 jeans. Now they’re quite too big, next week I set them aside for a pair of 36’s I haven’t worn in three years.

The goal is to lose a full sixty pounds. that will evict every square inch of my fat suit, and not only will my 38 jeans be well gone (“could I have really needed those ?” will be the puzzle), so will my 36 jeans and even my 34s, which have lain in my dresser so long they’ve probably given me up for hopeless.

Hello, size 32 jeans, the size that I wore in college, when I weighed 160, and it seemed quite normal rather than a goal so ultimate that reaching it now taxes all of my will power and time.

All of this effort I live with day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and seen at that petty a level, the seven months it will take to lose sixty pounds seems almost unbearably long to go without food feeding. It is unbearably long, but I bear it because I must. every day of my diet I become that much more invested in its success, that much more determined not to give up.

The hardest is that there’s no escape. This is my body, even as i write this i am doing so with my body, it exists in real time and there are no shortcuts, none at all. None at all.

Onward, then.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere




^ answering questions, as here at a recent Mayor Walsh town hall, will be something that Superintendent John McDonough will have to do a lot of, with a big food scandal on the menu

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That the Boston School department’s food operation was seriously flawed, we already knew, well before the Boston Globe’s recent front page story. John Connolly, in last year’s Mayor campaign, made an issue of finding spoiled food in the Department’s food works. The issue didn’t commandeer the campaign because much larger forces rolled into the arena; yet it forecast something we now are paying large attention to, an issue that Mayor Walsh has to deal with whether he likes it or not.

Thanks to a full review of the School Department’s food operation commissioned by interim Superintendent John McDonough, what seemed the entire story was fully bruited. Yet it proved not to be the entire story. Only a few days ago we learned that the Boston school department has eliminated its salad bar, healthy food program from those schools that had it, citing costs. In its place, snacks — the very snacks we don’t want to see kids eating in school (or at all).

Costs matter a lot to John McDonough, who was the Department’s chief financial officer for 20 years, before he became interim superintendent. They do matter. Still, diet seems to me a poor place to economize. Parents already pay for school lunches, if they can. Surely the department can give them value for their money.

McDonough notes that next year’s school budget includes lots of layoffs from the Department’s central administration. These we approve. reports abound of mismanagement, duplication, even no management at all. Problems are reported, then not dealt with. Sometimes it seems as though the managers working under McDonough have but two job goals : first, keep the “super” unaware of the problem and (2) make sure they don’t become news. Surely that mindset will not survive the layoffs, or the story now on every Boston school parent’s reading table. I doubt that the Boston Globe is going to back off at this point, simply because the story is so ripe.

Meanwhile, as my own State Representative tells me he thinks school nutrition is a local, District-level matter, I ask the thirteen good folks on the Boston City Council : can we not pass an ordinance requiring healthy foods at school lunches and banning sugar snacks entirely ? And funding the ordinance, if need be ?

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


1 memorial day

^ Memorial day, 1868 : freed former slaves honor the dead who sacrificed to make them free citizens

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What does Memorial Day mean to us ? Surely you already know what this holiday means to the nation’s politicians. they honor the nation’s war dead. So do we; but in doing so, we only skim the surface of a profound social deep. To us, memorial day means…memory. The past. That which cannot be undone because it is done.

Every society must decide what use it will make of its past : because it has happened, and we are ell aware that it happened, and much of it we do not like. Our society does not pike war, we do not favor seeing our sons and daughters die in battle far away or in the streets of downtown. Much that has happened we are glad of; but none of that can trump that which we wish had not happened at all, and in remembering, we resolve to overcome its happening again.

That, i think, is how our society uses the past today. America is a nation founded on doing better than it has done. Continuous improvement is what we are about; thus we use the past as a kind pf marker : this is how we scored yesterday, tomorrow we must score higher.

The politicians will say that we honor our war dead and thank them for their sacrifice. That is the easy part, the obvious. Less obvious, an d certainly more difficult, is to resolve that never again will we deliver our young heroes and heroines headlong into combat. Never again will we readily place our nation in the line of fire that besets so much of the world that our ancestors -=- so runs the mythology and, yes, the fact — left behind for a better land where civil peace accompanies and guides the opportunity to accomplish your dreams.

And if our nation today seems impeded by economic dislocation, chaffed by social prejudices, intimidated by unregulated guns, set adrift by division by class, what do these portend for Dream nation ? Do we continue to move forward, singly and together, or have we turned upon ourselves to find blame instead of friendship and alienation rather than welcome diversity ? And if this ?

that is what Memorial Day ultimately means to me. Not just the heroics of yesterday which we gave thanks to, but whether or not we step up, exchange that kind of heroics for the greater heroism of building a society that prospers together and diversely, and in the process become better people than we have been.

And while we are at it : let us never forget that the honoring of Memorial day began after our Civil war and was the brainchild of freed slaves celebrating those died so that they could be free and full citizens of the nation they did so much to build.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ sparking the change that threatens the GOP South : Michelle Nunn of Georgia

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Recent polls of US Senate races in Georgia and Kentucky show that the Democrats stand a fair chance of picking up both seats. In Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell polls a mere 1 point ahead of his challenger, Alson Lundergan Grimes. In Georgia, Michelle Nunn no polls ahead — by 3 to 6 points — of each of her two possible Republican rivals for the open seat left by retiring Saxby Chambliss.

This is significant change. Granted that it’s only two Southern states and that in two others — Louisiana and North Carolina — Democratic incumbents poll behind or barely ahead of Republican challengers; yet another Southern Democratic incumbent, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, thought to be in trouble, now looks comfortably ahead of his Republican opponent.

Six, ten, twelve years ago, these races would not have been close. Each of the 5 states mentioned were then trending strongly to the GOP, and as recently as the 2012 Presidential election, three of them (LA, KY, AR) continued to be so. But not now. Anecdotal evidence suggests, too, that throughout the South the GOP message is wearing out its welcome.

So what is going on, as I see it ? Many factors :

1.the old Southern voters of 1968 – 2012 are aging, and the South’s younger voters — growing in number — have a very different view of things. In the South, absolutes have tended to rule. Good versus bad has been the region’s norm for a long long time, be it racism, religious fundamentalism, or absolutism on gun rights. This is the picture we from outside the South have of the region : and this picture has carried the day in Southern politics ever since the Civil rights revolution of the early 1960s.

But that was then. Today’s Southern voters have grown up in the internet era, friends to technology, confronted with all kinds of activities and styles utterly subversive of the steely absolutes that have riled Southern politics. as always, the people are ahead of the politicians. Southern people have made their peace with gay family members, neighbors, friends. Transgender kids are accommodated in the South’s schools. Race is barely a factor at all. And religion, strong as ever in this region, has begun to change its message from damnation to inclusion.

So far this is happening at street level. No Southern politician — certainly no Southern Republican — would dare to be the public voice of the South’s growing diversity. But the voters know the difference. For 40 years, the Democratic party in the South was the party of Blacks (and a few fighting progressives, always present in the South even in the worst of seasons). No longer. This year Democratic candidates are gaining White voters in numbers not often seen in our lifetime. Women voters especially are moving.

This trend can only grow. If the South’s GOP doesn’t change its tune, and fast, it will find itself losing races more often than not. And if Hillary Clinton runs for President in 2016, watch out.

2.the South is no longer uniformly Black or Caucasian and of multi-generation American birth.

Hispanic people are moving up from Florida into Georgia, Alabama, even South Carolina — a trend first noted as long ago as 2004. They’re a presence in Mississippi and Louisiana. They’re at least 40 % of Texas population. Their numbers can only increase. And they are, on balance, heavily Democratic in their voting choice.

3.City voters almost everywhere in America are democratic, usually by overwhelming margins. it’s true of the South, too. In the technology innovation era that we now inhabit, the young techies live in center city. they live there, shop there, socialize there, work there. Southern cities can no more opt out of this social dynamic than they can rewind the clock. And these voters, too, overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

In Georgia, the votes of greater Atlanta, Athens University of Georgia), Savannah, and Augusta, added to Hispanic votes in south Georgia and black votes in the Cotton belt look ready to claim a majority, and not only in the senate race.

In North Carolina, serious overreach by a radical Republican legislature may well spell doom for the state’s GOP candidate for US Senate and almost certainly portends a Democratic victory in the state in 2016.

In Mississippi, in 2012, Barack Obama lost the state by only 10 points — much less than he lost all surrounding states by. Yes, Mississippi voters are 37% Black. But Obama got 45%. He won 15% of the White vote in the South’s most racially polarized state. White Democrats are running for US Senate and for Congress, in numbers not seen in Mississippi in two decades. Will they win ? probably not. But no longer can the GOP take Mississippi for granted.

In Arkansas, the Clintons remain hugely popular, and their popularity, plus the prospect of Hillary Clinton as President, seems to have yanked the state back, from assured 20 to 30 point GOP victories, toward 50-50 status. Tom Cotton, the GOP Congressman running against senator Pryor, must wonder what’s happening. Only four years ago, Arkansas voters defeated a Democratic Senate incumbent by 20 points. Now Cotton finds Pryor polling ahead by 6 to 10 points.

What’s happening is that the South is changing — rapidly, decisively. And as the current GOP has wedded itself and its prospects lock stock and barrel to the South, the change portends disaster, even irrelevance for the GOP, or, at least, for what it has been.

Frankly, I couldn’t be gladder. The GOP has spent 40 years prolonging the life of long discredited, socially destructive, economically corrupt ways — the boot-heel patriotism, the guns in your face, the clinging to lost wars, the taste for dining and shunning, the glorification of rural hardscrabble — ways which we in the 1960s had every right to think we had put to rest. And which would have been put aside had not the GOP given the old ways a new home and a temporary legitimacy they never deserved.

Now it looks ready to be over, this time for real, because the change is coming from Southerners themselves rather than by outside imposition.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ barred from commencement speaking : the IMF’s Christine Lagarde

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Recently the media has reported two cases of college commencement speakers pressured to not speak. First, Condoleeza Rice was forced out of Rutgers University’s commencement; now Christine Lagarde, IMF’s first female CEO, has been forced to withdraw from Smith College’s graduation day.

This is not good at all. The young often think that they know it all and that their personal view of things should tell everybody else what to do and where to go. It’s the prerogative of youth to be ignorantly sure of oneself. Adults, however, have no such excuse. For adults to cave to know it all youth is a huge mistake. It validates conceit, flatters inexperience. That the young censorers also haven’t the slightest idea of what the IMF actually does is, i suppose, par for the course. the less one knows of a topic, the easier to believe somebody else’s opinion of it.

It also undermines the basic premise of civilized polity : that views of all kinds must be accorded opportunity, respect, a fair hearing.

For the Rutgers and Smith situations i do not blame the students. Young people can only learn what life is really like by putting their foot into mud and finding out that it isn’t duck soup. I blame the college administrators. They have much to answer for.

Perhaps the administrators have forgotten that, not too long ago, the “political correctness” movement commanded all on most campuses. One was not allowe to say certain things. there was a code for it. Free speech did not apply — that was the lesson.

We all learned from that lesson, and campuses, over time, became freer again and thus more constitutional and real.

At the same time, however, the political world was roiled by a resurgent right-wing populism, which, as we all know, took shape as the Tea party, perhaps America’s most virulent political insurgency since the radical anti-war surge of 45 years ago. As with that surge, the Tea Party’s bilious views — ever more outrageous, shamelessly derogatory of almost everyone else — has generated, finally, a huge backlash.

This backlash has now itself gone viral and finds the judicious incrementalism of President Obama too cool, too patient, too minuscule in its moves. The backlash wants grand gestures, vast waves of change as torrential as the Tea Party’s waves of utter reaction. Politically this means aggressive activism on all the issues — economic fairness, immigration justice, gun control, climate change — that President Obama has seemed to finesse or even to ignore.
That part of the backlash i applaud.

But i cannot applaud the intolerance on campuses.

Last year I noted, as elements of the Democratic party began to turn on the Obama establishment, that “you can’t radicalize an electorate in one direction only.” I can do nothing to prevent the Democratic left from splitting their political party. it’;s their business. The left’;s assault on free and open speech, however,m i can object to. I do object to it. It will find no friend in me, and I will oppose its ugliness wherever and whenever I see it. Let Condoleeza Rice speak to 50 graduations ! Let Christine Lagarde address one hundred campuses ! Heck, let Dick Cheney speak if he chooses — he is a very interesting fellow, not at all the single-minded Darth Vader the youthful left may imagine.

Let all people of importance declare themselves to every young audience they can get to. The young need to dive into an olympic-sized pool of diversity, not cringe on the single lane of a diving board.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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^ triumph day in the House for State Representative Russell Holmes

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Debate on the charter cap lift legislation began at 2 PM yesterday and, according to my best source, who received the news by e-mail, the bill was adopted by a vote of 116 to 35. According to my source, the bill — styled “an act to further narrow the achievement gap,” and first filed by Dorchester State Representative Russell Holmes, was adopted with no amendments. And there were plenty on offer.

Earlier this year I opined at length on the goods and bads of this legislation. In particular I disliked that the bill lifts the cap on charter sc hools only for “underperforming’ districts,’ as state education laws define the term. To me, this was an invitation to shaky, but not disastrous, school distticts, to slack their efforts, so as to be designated “underperforming” ; because parents a with children enrolled in such districts would now have an alternative very much desired and currently not availoable to them. This was what happened when our state adopted Special education’s school plan for children so designated. Parents fought to win “special needs” designation for their children so that they could get the one-on-one curriculum offered by the program.

That said, it is most significant that this legislation was offered by Russell Holmes, who represents one of the economically poorest districts in the state. charter schools are intensely wanted by parents in such neighborhoods, which have had to bear with some of the worst performing schools in the State. It’s hard not to conclude that the money and talent goes to school districts with higher income, more influential parents. Those without money lack power; that;s a fact. One doesn’t like to see low-income districts lose confidence in public schools, but that’s how it is; and who are we to tell such parents that no, you can’t have a chance at something better ?

It was argued to me, by my own state Representative, that the teachers and staff in marginal districts would fight NOT to be designated as “underperforming” because it might mean layoffs and the imposition of principals’ autin hiring new staff. This is a powerful argument; I think that my State Rep has it right.

If so, then the House’s 116-35 enactment vote yesterday will be on balance a good thing. Reimubursement, for pupils lost to charter schools, to the school districts so affected remains an issue both ways. The formula seems arbitrary. But it’s also a way to get more State funds into the budgets of affected school districts. As State education funds aid to local school systems has all but diusapperared, the reimbursement money will surely be very welciome at the district level.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ square toed shoes, no less ; Mayor Walsh met citizens of Roxbury four-square last night.

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Last night Mayor Walsh held a “Monday with Marty” at Roxburty’s Timilty School. Maybe 200 residents attended, most of them already well connected or with an axe to grind. It must have looked impressive to the residents, as well, to see at least 30 City honchos in the room — including Police Commisioner William Evans and School Superintendent John McDonough — and to have Mayor Walsh call upon them to answer key audience questions. It’s part of the new, aggressive interface that Walsh has established as his personal governing style, one that fits his welcoming personality, not to mention his articulate command of most of the standard issues.

Questions were asked of him about the condition of Boston’s schools; about charter school legislation; about licensing; about business development and entrepreneurship; about public safety; about housing — housing and more housing.


^ School Superintendent John McDonough answering a school question posed to Mayor Walsh

All of these questions Walsh knows well; they’re the bread and butter of his office as they were in last year’s mayoral campaign Forums. It wasn’t surprising to hear him give detailed responses to the questions, candid ones : if Walsh felt that something reaqursted — such as more middle class bhousing — he said so. He is a man comfortable of self and with his views : he spoke of wnating to renovate every Boston school building, a feature of his Mayoral campaign now writ large as the building trades guy gets set to do a lot of building.

No one had any doubty, i think, that candidate Walsh meant it when he voiced his opposition to the availability of guns in Boston neighborhoods. as mayor it continued. He announced that in just five months, this administration has taken 572 guns — his specific number — off the streets, via buyback (“for which i was criticized,” he noted) and the rest by police work. “that’s 572 guns that won’t claim a life,” Walsh said, with much passion.


^ Eric Strother asked the mayor his plans for people re-entering after prison

Walsh returned often to his “five months into a new administration” theme. He’s right, of course. No one expects him to have changed the City in this short time. The good will is there. Community conversations like this one sustain it. Mayor Walsh will bring City government to the people. On the net and in person. It’s a good style for him to make a signature of.

Still, at some point the people are going to want something more substantiual than conbersation with city honchos. One wonders — i wonder — whrther or not the rising epectations aroused by Walsh’s Mondays will turn to disillusionment. The pressure Walsh is putting is all on him. It won’t be as easy to make institutional changes to the schools, licensing, public works, housing, and economic opportunity as it has been to do a gun buyback.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



Serious actors in movies that feature monsters, cute kids, or animals tend to fare poorly, ever upstaged by the titled incarnation and further addled by a blockbuster-minded script that’s driven more by targeted marketing campaign goals than heart of character. Steven Spielberg as director might be the one great exception, but when you throw in mankind-crushing mayhem and imminent world destruction, as he did with the “War of the Worlds” remake, even in his good hands, some of the the edge of his heartwarming fastball comes off.

Why a ‘name thespian’ checks into such a project has to be two-fold; a leading role paycheck for cameo work and exposure–“You’ll become a household name,” you can almost hear an agent say. Think of Marlon Brando in “Superman,” a record payday for a few minutes of labor, though by that time he couldn’t much care about exposure because it invariably became fodder about his increasing corpulence. One too might think of Raymond Burr (“Perry Mason” and old “Ironside”) appearing in the 1956 American recut of the 1954 Japanese “Godzilla” (nee “Gojira”). To garner a US market, Burr was edited in as an American in Tokyo as the infamous dino-beast rose up from the ocean depths and merrily stomped the port of Japan.

Which brings us up to today. Here in the 2014 update, which thumbs its nose at Roland Emmerich’s poorly received big-budget go back in 1998, we get Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn and Ken Watanabe. That’s one Academy Award, a few Emmys and a fistful of nominations. Pretty serious stuff to be playing around in Gojiru land. Last summer “Pacific Rim” tried to spin the mega beast stomping humanity into a mano-e-mano cage fight. It nearly succeeded, but the equilibrium between the human drama and the super spectacular smack-down in the denouement poses a tough balancing act not meant for amateurs.–even proven helmsmen have fallen, and there’s no net.

Enter Gareth Edwards, whose end-of-the-world, alien-invasion debut, “Monsters” (2010) was a lot sharper than its uninspired title. He adds flesh and blood to the human element with Cranston playing Joe, an American engineer in Japan overseeing a nuclear power plant. He’s on the edge over some recent seismic activity that makes no logical sense, and as you can probably guess, boom happens and the plant (a nod to the recent earthquake-reactor disaster at Fukishima?) implodes.

Flash forward fifteen years. Joe’s son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson of “Nowhere Man” and “Kick-Ass” notoriety) is a US military bomb disposal grunt, but the kinder, more balanced version of Jeremy Renner’s mercurial jar-head. He’s married (to Elisabeth Olsen) with his own progeny In San Fran, but dad’s gone all Walter White on him, lurking around the cordoned-off reactor site trying to prove a conspiracy. Sure enough he’s right and gets into hot water over it, and Ford’s got to hop the Pacific (ah that rim) to bail dad out, and just in time to see the hatching of a winged kaiju looking something like a fusion of Rodan and the incarnation from “Cloverfield.”

Where is Godzilla or Ms. Binoche, you might ask? I won’t tell you the latter as it would be a spoiler, but good old ‘Zilla comes on up from the depths to have a go at it with the winged beast known as a MUTO (an inane acronym, that would appear more silly with explanation so I’ll save the surprise of the groan for the theater). Part of Japan gets trampled in the first round, as does Hawaii and Las Vegas at the midway point, with Ford’s home base serving the setting for the Thrilla in Manilla.

It’s here too that the long-brewing human drama is neatly jettisoned as the CGI behemoths topple buildings like ankle high lego blocks–and there’s not that much joy in it. It was truly more fun when the guy in the rubber suit kicked around train sets like a rock star having a bad day. There you could take the silliness seriously and you didn’t need ‘actors’ or Hollywood to make it so.

The poetic political zing to Gozilla was always that he was a Cold War boomer, born of Japanese imagination steeped in the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and attributed to US nuclear experiments in the South Pacific. In the age of dirty bombs we have Hawkins and Watanabe onboard as scientists who show up from time to time like a Greek chorus to give us spoonfuls of ‘Zilla history and make sense of the confounding nonsense. In his solemn proclamations Watanabe talks about Godzilla as an ancient apex predator who by default is on Earth to help maintain the balance of nature. If the world was built by intelligent design, this would seem about as good an idea as nuclear arsenals. The balance in such a universe would be skewed by the hand that holds its finger on the button, be it the higher calling of the dino-from-down-under, the governing body of a nuclear state or the powers that be in Tinseltown.

— Tom Meek / Meek at the Movies

True Life “Know your circle” Lesson learned : February


Sometimes we hurt the ones we “love”??I call BS. It’s more like we know certain people are far more forgiving, choose to see good where you allow evil to reside, and will love you unconditionally. .BECAUSE that’s who THEY ARE!! The real challenge isn’t for a “fake friend, phoney family , or fictitious fraudulent fkrs to see how much you will tolerate, or test your breaking point. The true test is weather or not you allow their negative, selfishness, and arrogance in the face of humble honest love jade, daunt, or disable the you that is beautifully rare. Rise to meet their judgement and complete faithlessness in you with

A) Your head held high, and eyes

B) Vow to YOURSELF to be more cautious and careful who has access to your heart especially if they have held and hurt it before.

C) Prove to yourself that you KNOW humans will almost always let you down, if you do not share the same common bond of humanity, love, and respect. Put your trust in God and the abilities he gave you to spot a sly, and self serving serpent even amidst a pit of snakes. Allow their viper and spewn venom, to only act as anti-venom if you so happen to fall pray to deceit, slander, or purposeful puppetry of your emotions. Let the hurt become your motivation to greet deceit with honor, forgiveness, and a wiser take on such vial creatures. They will allow you the clarity to grow, move forward and prevail with grace, and a sweet spirit in tact despite their intentions, actions, or malice

D) Do NOT break, even if you’ve bent. True strength and good, will ALWAYS prevail as long as you trust that you’ve done all you can, compassion and empathy given, and mistreated – you still stay focused on your purpose.Success is ALWAYS a product of your purposefully planned, and we’ll lived life.

— Heather Cornell / Here and Sphere




^ from the top : John Tierney (D-incumbent) and Rich Tisei (R-challenger); Seth Moulton (D-challenger)

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What to make of the puzzling battle hotting up in our State’s 6th Congressional District ? It’s not a simple matter. I live in the District, have been involved with its Congressional elections since 2010, know and like both the Republican nominee, Rich Tisei, and the Democratic incumbent, John Tierney; I haven’t yet met Tierney’s Democratic Primary challenger, Seth Moulton of Marblehead, but am impressed by what i have seen of him on social media and in the press. Still, impressed doesn’t mean convinced. Not convinced by Moulton and also not by Tierney or Tisei.

Let me tell you why. I speak here as a voter in the District as well as a journo :

First, Rich Tisei, the Republican challenger. A few days ago I received an e-mail from his campaign in which he spoke of economic growth. Now, let’s be clear ; Tisei is a hero of civil rights; I was hopeful to find from him some equally bold proposals for economic advance. If not bold, then at least common sense. But what did I read ? That economic growth requires tax breaks for corporations. Why ? Because, said civil rights hero Tisei, they need these incentives in order to start hiring again and to spur their own growth.

Really ?

Didn’t I read the same thing from Mit6t Romney all during the 2012 election ? It made no sense then and doesn’t now.

Word : businesses don’t hire people because they get tax breaks. They hire because consumer demand for their products or services increases. Put more money in consumers’ wallets, they will spend more, and businesses ill hire more people.

This isn’t rocket science, but Tisei doesn’t seem to get it. At a Salem Republican city Committee meeting in 2012, at which tisei — then a Congress candidate for the first run — spoke, he talked about a mortgage broker friend of his being out of work.

I challenged him. said i : “I’m sorry about your mortgage broker friend, but how about 1,000 people with mortgages they can’t pay and which the banks won’t modify ? Rich,” said I,” this is math. Your mortgage broker has one vote. Mortgage borrowers out there have 1,000 votes. what are you going to do about the 1,000 ?”

He had no answer. He still has no answer.

2.Tisei’s big fail on economic issues puts the spotlight on his opponent, incumbemt ten term Congressman john Tierney. It should be an easy decision for me — for you — to vote Tierney, who does get it on economic issues and who almost always promotes the economic reforms — including a much higher living wage — that ordinary people need and which therefore grow the economy. So why not Tierney ?

Why not, is because of the kinds of campaigns that Tierney has run since the worm started turning on him. we all know what that worm was ; he married into a family with a criminal history. His wife Pat is a great gal; I like her a lot. (I also like John.) but John clearly knew more of the Aramian brothers’ affairs than he has admitted, and if only to be a good husband to Pat, he clearly allowed her to accept large sums of money from the trust set up under Federal Court order to oversee the Aramians’ funds. I think that John also did promote legislation that aided his brothers-in-law, and he found himself ensnared and then turned on by his in-laws.

None of the above is in any way criminal. John Tierney is an upstanding citizen. but when you find yourself married into a family with criminals in it, and you are a powerful Congressman, you get trapped. Our district needs a Congressman whose time and energy are not commandeered by criminal in-laws wanting favors and threatening consequences if they don’t get them.

Criminals suck the soul out of those close to them; they are users, users of everything that has social calories. It will take John Tierney much energy to get his criminal in-laws out of his life, much less out of his wife’s. Better he do that as a private citizen and not as our Congressman.

3.So that brings us to Tierney’s most significant Primary challenger, Seth Moulton. (There are two others.) Moulton has raised tons of money — outraised Tierrney each of the last three quarters — and has a fine local resume : US marine, grew up in Salem, raised in Marblehead, graduated from Phillips Andover (disclosure : my alma mater too) and Harvard College.

As for issues, on gun control alone — such a crucial matter — Moulton speaks eloquently for broad-based reform of a situation long since out of control and epidemic. says his website :

“The reality is each year thousands of people are killed in gun-related crimes. We need common sense gun reform, starting with the implementation of universal background checks. It’s too easy for powerful guns to get in the hands of the wrong people. We need to put a stop to that by requiring all gun sellers – whether federally licensed or at a gun show – to run a background check before completing a sale. In addition, we must crack down on gun traffickers with tougher penalties for straw purchasers, ban high-capacity magazines, and keep guns away from domestic abusers and out of schools, churches, bars and restaurants.

I applaud the efforts of Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) for coming together in a bipartisan effort to put forth stronger background checks. While the measure ultimately failed, Senator Manchin plans to revive the amendment in the Senate, and I will advocate for and propose similar legislation in the House.”

This is language you won’t hear from Tierney, for whom bi-partisanship doesn’t exist (and who has called Rich Tisei a Tea Party candidate — a charge so ridiculous it calls in question Tierney’s political sanity. You also won’t likely hear the gun part of it from Tisei, who would like to not mention gun issues at all, given that the national GOP is fully in thrall to this organization of threateners.

But Tisei does talk bipartisanship and has a proven record of it from 22 years serving as Malden-Melrose’s State Senator, as eat that he commanded so strongly that usually he ran unopposed. Tisei’s forward stand on civil rights assures that he will stand well outside the circle of oppose-everything anals who comprise the House GOP. Tisei will, in fact, have no choice bit to work with the House’s Democratic members — though that will require him to lose his “job creator” horse effluent.

Moulton has no such record. If it’s bipartisanship that our District wants, Tisei is the surer choice by far. Also troubling is that Moulton has called Tisei “too extreme” for the District. that sounds a whole lot like John Tierney calling Rich Tisei a tea party candidate. It is demagoguery and unworthy of my vote.

So there you have it. None of the three major candidates seeking the support of our 6th District’s 200,000-plus voters fits the bill very well. Yet one must choose. Right now, my choice, despite serious reservations on economic policy, is Rich Tisei.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere