The Gang that Can't Shoot Straight

The Gang that Can't Shoot Straight

© David Burton 2010

The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight

     Massachusetts, where I live, is arguably the most Democratic and most liberal state in America. Currently (July 2010), its state legislature is lopsidedly Democratic – the state Senate has 35 Democrats to only 5 Republican members, and the state House of Representatives has 140 Democrats but only 19 Republicans. In both chambers of the state legislature, Democrats have an 88% to 12% supermajority. The Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and all other top elected state officials are Democrats. In a stunning upset, the state elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate following the death of long-time Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy. The other U.S. senator is a Democrat as are all 10 Massachusetts members of the House of Representatives. Scott Brown’s election to serve out the term of the late Senator Kennedy should probably be viewed as an aberration produced by the inept campaign of his Democratic rival, coupled with the strong adverse reaction to the high-handed tactics of the Obama administration in foisting its highly unpopular health care reform plan upon the American people.

     While there have been Republican governors elected in Massachusetts in recent years - William Weld, Paul Cellucci (William Weld’s Lieutenant Governor who took over the governorship when Weld resigned and then went on to win his own term as governor, and Mitt Romney - they have all had to deal with the overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature. Until Scott Brown was elected in a special election in 2009, the Massachusetts Senate seats were a Democratic lock. The last previous Republican Senator from Massachusetts was Edward Brooke, who was elected nearly 40 years ago in 1972.

     With the exception of John Kennedy in 1960, Massachusetts has been noteworthy for producing a string of unsuccessful real and potential liberal Democratic presidential candidates over the past 5 decades. These include: Robert Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas, and John Kerry.

State Democratic Leaders Have Been Charged with Corruption

     Three former Democratic House Speakers have resigned under moral and legal clouds. Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, was indicted by a federal grand jury for scheming with associates to steer lucrative state contracts to a company that in turn paid him tens of thousands of dollars. The federal indictment accused DiMasi of seven counts of mail and wire fraud and conspiracy. The two House speakers that preceded DiMasi also resigned under suspicion or indictment. Thomas M. Finneran of Boston resigned in 2004 and later pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, after he testified falsely in a redistricting civil trial. Finneran's predecessor, Charles F. Flaherty of Cambridge, quit as speaker in 1996 after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion and accepting free vacations and other gifts from lobbyists. All of these former Speakers of the Massachusetts House of Representatives are Democrats.

     In addition, former Democratic State Senator Diane Wilkerson recently pleaded guilty to accepting more than $20,000 in bribes.

Attempting to Control Health Care Costs

     In April of 2010, the administration of Deval Patrick, the Democratic Governor of Massachusetts, took “the next step toward the establishment of single-payer health insurance in Massachusetts.” Without even reviewing the filings submitted by Massachusetts health care providers, “the state rejected 235 of 274 proposed health insurance rate filings.” If successful, the Governor’s policies could well have resulted in the replacement of private insurance with a government-run single-payer system for health insurance. In the socialistic state of Massachusetts, “single-payer is popular with {the Governor's} Democratic base. It is in the platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.” What will the Governor’s policy lead to? “Once private insurers can no longer recover costs, they’ll stop writing policies. Since Massachusetts residents {and now all U.S. citizens} are required to purchase health insurance, the state will have to step in as the provider of last resort.” Should Governor Patrick succeed in imposing arbitrary price controls on health care insurance, “the end result is . . . {to} stop the advance of medical technology cold. Patients will not have access to new treatment options. That’s the cost of Governor Patrick’s health insurance price controls.” (Ref. 1) One of the reasons that the cost of U.S. health care is so high compared to that of other counties is that most of the medical innovations in the world come from the free-market U.S. health care system. Impose price controls which removes the profit motive and the rate of introduction of these health care advances would slow dramatically.

     In response to the arbitrary rejection of their rate increases and the attempted imposition of a rate-cap, Massachusetts health care providers immediately filed a lawsuit against the state and submitted their rate increase requests to the Massachusetts insurance commission’s appeals board, which by law, is required to review health care rate requests. As a result of one of the many rate review requests, “Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the state insurance division settled a months-long dispute . . . over premium increases.” The settlement meant that Harvard Pilgrim could raise its base rates for small businesses and individual health plans by 7 to 11 percent. Harvard Pilgrim had originally requested “rate increases ranging from 8 percent to 12 percent.” The state’s insurance commission’s appeals board sided with Harvard Pilgrim, calling the rate increase ‘actuarially sound.’ “(Ref. 2) The Patrick Administration’s public grandstanding on the important issue of health care has been rightly rejected.

First it’s Biofuels for the Future and Then It Isn’t

     On July 28, 2008, with a great deal of hoopla, Governor Deval Patrick “signed the Clean Energy Biofuels Act,” to “encourage the growth of an advanced biofuels industry as part of the growing clean energy technology sector in Massachusetts.” According to the Governor, "The world is waiting for the next generation of clean, renewable alternatives to petroleum fuels, and Massachusetts is poised to deliver,” In addition, the Governor’s “Task Force estimated that a mature advanced biofuels industry could contribute $280 million to $1 billion per year to the Massachusetts economy by 2025, generating 1,000 to 4,000 permanent jobs and 150 to 760 temporary construction jobs, while reducing the Bay State’s reliance on petroleum imports.” (Ref. 3)

     BUT, just prior to the July 1, 2010 start of the mandate, the Patrick administration had to throw in the towel and rescind the mandate. The executive director of the Massachusetts Petroleum Council noted that the Governor’s plan “was an ill conceived pipe dream” and that “the program finally caught up with the realities of the market-place.” (Ref. 4) In truth, the governor’s clean-energy program was a tree-hugger knee-jerk reaction to a perceived social problem without the prerequisite analysis and study to determine its feasibility.

     The Patrick administration has invested $1 million to jump-start four proposed wood-burning plants in Russell, Greenfield, Springfield and Pittsfield Massachusetts in order to reach its mandated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. BUT, a study commissioned by the state found that biomass-fired electricity would result in a 3 percent increase in carbon emissions. {The Patrick administration had to} make a quick retreat and, instead, impose new limits making it harder for "biomass" energy wood-burning power plants to be built in the state. (Ref. 5)

We Don’t Need No Stinking Casinos – But on Second Thought ….

     In 2008, with the state reeling economically from the 2008 recession and unemployment hovering around 10%, “Massachusetts soundly rejected casino gambling . . . in a House vote that had more to do with politics than with gambling itself.”
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     “Governor ‘Patrick is the big loser here, in the sense that politically he really needed a victory,’ says Thomas Whalen, professor of social science at Boston University. ‘He comes across here as being a real amateur. This was his first big test as a governor and, frankly, he failed it.’

     “By a 108-to-46 vote, the {overwhelmingly Democratic} House rejected his proposal to allow three resort casinos and ban Internet gambling in the state.” (Ref. 6)

     However, in just 2 short years, the Democratic gang in Massachusetts has suddenly gotten religion. Today, July 2010, Massachusetts is poised to license resort type gambling casinos. The state still suffers from the ongoing effects of the recession and unemployment continues to plague the state and the nation. It is estimated that “Massachusetts residents spent close to $1 billion on gambling in Connecticut and Rhode Island in 2009” (Ref. 7) – money that clearly would have benefitted the Massachusetts economy and would have, at the same time, created thousands of sorely needed jobs. “Some experts estimate Massachusetts casinos could generate $1.8 billion in annual gross gaming revenues, with half the revenue coming by keeping gamblers close to home.” (Ref. 7.) Too bad, the Democratic powers couldn’t have come to this conclusion 2 years earlier – the estimated cost of this 2-year delay and about-face is some $3.6 billion.

Taking Federal Stimulus Money to Create Jobs and Using it to Plant Roadside Signs

     Federal stimulus money was supposedly made available to reduce the high unemployment rates created by the 2008-2010 recession. The Democratic administration of Governor Deval Patrick has been right there with outstretched hands to gather in its share of money that is now fueling an unprecedented federal deficit. But, in October of 2009, Governor Deval Patrick “was sharply rebuked for not spending nearly a half-billion dollars in federal highway stimulus funds quickly enough to create jobs for struggling families.” (Ref. 8) In other words, he was taking the money but not spending it fast enough to satisfy the liberal tax-and-spend establishment in Washington.

     Let it never be said that a liberal Democrat like Governor Patrick and the Democratic machine that controls Massachusetts couldn’t find ways to spend the taxpayer’s money fast enough. So, what has the Patrick administration done more recently with some of this money? Drive along state highways and see where this money has gone. Along many of the Massachusetts state highways, you can now find mile markers every 1/10 of a mile (at last report, some 7,725 of them, bought with $1.72 million from Uncle Sam) and you can also find aboutt 280 road signs telling you that the money for them and the actual or planned road work was provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA. We here in Massachusetts have been able to spend nearly a half-million dollars on these signs, which amounts to fully 10 percent of the money that all 50 states have spent on these useless signs promomoting President Obama's stimulus projects. Why couldn't the money have been given back to the taxpayers or used to encourage the growth of permanent job-producing small businesses?

     As the midterm election season approaches, these road signs are popping up everywhere – millions of dollars worth of signs touting ‘The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act’ and reminding passers-by that the program is ‘Putting America Back to Work.’ Some of these signs cost tens of thousands of dollars to make and install.

     What long-term private sector jobs have been created by the planting of these roadside signs? The useless signs are yet another example of Democratic and liberal wasted spending – a not-uncommon occurrence in the Democratic and liberal state of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Can’t Figure Out How to Implement High Speed Toll Collection

     On June 17, 2010, “Governor John Lynch {of New Hampshire} . . . officially opened the new high speed Open Road Tolling Lanes on Interstate 95 in Hampton. The Governor joined Department of Transportation Commissioner George Campbell and other officials to mark the official opening of the high speed lanes, which will eliminate major back ups at the tolls.” New Hampshire is the only New England state to utilize high speed Open Road Tolling for E-ZPass users. During a test period conducted over the recent Memorial Day weekend, it was found the Open Road Tolling Lanes processed about 3,000 cars an hour, while the traditional manned booths processed just 400 per hour. Governor Lynch stated that, “Through technology, and with determination and clear vision, traffic jams at the Hampton tolls are now a thing of the past." (Ref. 9) For an early and interesting take on the issues of toll collection at high speeds, the reader is referred to Reference 10.

     When high speed toll collection was previously suggested to Massachusetts transportation authorities, they rejected the concept as too costly, too difficult and too dangerous. Why is it that the Massachusetts Governor and his transportation gurus can’t figure out how to provide toll collection on the state’s toll roads without slowing vehicles down to a snail’s pace as they transit the toll booths? But, our neighboring state of New Hampshire is able to figure out how to accomplish this fete and they have implemented it. Israel has only one toll road – it is both high speed and completely free of toll booths. High speed toll collection has been implemented in several other states in this country. Why are we so backward here in Massachusetts? Why can’t the Governor’s transportation geniuses figure out how to do what others have already done? Maybe it’s time to shake up the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and get rid of unimaginative political appointees that try to avoid making waves and are simply awaiting the day when they can retire with their very generous state pensions. Innovative thinking is not part of their job description.

     Here in Massachusetts, we have a gang of liberal Democratic politicians that are nominally in total control of the state and also of our Senate and House of Representative seats in the U.S. Congress. Based upon their performance these past few years, they can justly be called The Gang that Can't Shoot Straight.


  1. Patrick’s Price controls Next Step to Government-Run Health Care, James Bolin, The Valley Patriot, Page 5, May 2010.
  2. Harvard Pilgrim, state settle on health-premium rate caps, Christine McConville, Boston Herald, Page 13, 3 July 2010.
  3. Governor Patrick Signs Bill Promoting Advanced Biofuels, The official website of the Governor of Massachusetts; &sid=Agov3&b=pressrelease&f=080728_Clean_Energy_Biofuels_Act&csid=Agov3, 28 July 2008.
  4. GOV’S FUEL PLAN LOSES STREAM, Boston Herald, Page 19, 2 July 2010.
  5. Proposed Massachusetts biomass plants will face stricter greenhouse gas emission standards, STEVE LeBLANC,;, 8 July 2010 (Accessed 26 July 2010).
  6. Political clash sinks Massachusetts casino-gambling plan, Tom A. Peter, The Christian Science Monitor;, 21 March 2008 (Accessed 22 July 2010).
  7. No sure bet that gamblers will flock to Mass., Lyle Moran,;, 3 July 2010 (Accessed 22 July 2010).
  8. Patrick defends pace of stimulus spending , Michael Levenson,;, 3 October 2009 (Accessed 22 July 2010).
  9. Governor Lynch Officially Opens High Speed Toll Lanes in Hampton, Press Release – State of New Hampshire Official Website;, 17 June 2010 (Accessed 6 July 2010)
  10. Life in the Slow Lane, Robert Poole Jr., Wall Street Journal, Page A18, 5 November 2007.

  30 July 2010 {Article 88; State_04}    
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