October 31, 2010 § Leave a Comment
A thought-provoking succinctly stated published letter to the editor of the Gloucester Daily Times, in support of Governor Duval Patrick, written by my husband Tom Hauck:
In their attempts to sway Massachusetts voters, Republican candidates, including Charlie Baker and Bill Hudak, offer the seductive elixir of tax cuts as the cure for our economic woes and the way to revitalize our economy. We have heard this merry tune before, and we should know that it hasn’t worked in the past and won’t work again.
“Supply-side economics” states that by lowering economic barriers for people to produce or supply goods and services, the result is economic growth. These barriers to supply are lowered not by investing, but by reducing income tax and capital gains tax rates, and by reducing government regulation. In theory, the result is an expanded economy that leads to an increase in tax revenue.
The Reagan administration was the first to implement supply-side policies. President Reagan promised that the government could maintain expenditures, cut tax rates, and balance the budget. It didn’t happen. Government revenues fell sharply from levels that would have been realized without the Reagan tax cuts. Reagan entered office in 1980 with a $79.0 billion budget deficit. By September 1988, the deficit had ballooned to $2.6 trillion – over thirty times as large. Meanwhile, a reduction in the top marginal individual income tax rate from 70% to 28% helped to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. The theory was that by helping the rich get richer, wealth would “trickle down” to the middle class. This was nonsense. The rising tide did not lift all boats, only the yachts of the wealthy.
Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush, was forced to raise taxes to offset the massive federal deficit caused by a recession and low tax revenues. For his courage he was (and still is) vilified by the far-right wing of the Republican Party.
Members of Reagan’s own staff have repudiated supply-side economics. Most recently, in a New York Times op-ed piece of July 31, 2010, David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, says, “If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. . . It is unseemly for the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, to insist that the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase.”
Republicans have a recurring habit of wanting to play Santa Claus to the voters. They hand out irresponsible tax cuts like candy at a holiday party. Then the economy sours and the Republicans stand back while Democrats come in and do the dirty work of restoring tax rates to former levels. Once the economy is healthy again, the Republicans howl about the terrible Democrats increasing taxes. It is a tiresome routine that voters should reject on November 2 in favor of realistic, progressive solutions to the challenges facing our state. We don’t need Santa Claus promising unsustainable tax cuts. To elect leaders willing to make tough decisions, vote for Deval Patrick and John Tierney.
October 29, 2010 § Leave a Comment
October 29, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Our friend Wanda Visnick, the school nurse for Rockport Public Schools, sent the following from the Massachusetts School Nurse Organziation, MSNO:
Tuesday – November 2nd is Election Day
Now is the Time – Spread the Word to VOTE NO to Ballot Questions #1 and #3!
Help us Spread the Word This Week
To your colleagues, family, and friends
MSNO asks that you consider the reasons to oppose the repeal of the
Alcohol Tax – Question #1
BUDGET FY 11 funds ESHS from Alcohol Tax money!!
4590-0250 for school health services is budgeted in FY 11 under the
Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Fund which is funded from the
revenue generated by the Alcohol Tax.
· Alcohol Tax is dedicated to funding public health services and
programs for behavioral health prevention and treatment
· Alcohol Tax is dedicated to fund the DPH’s Essential School
Health Services Program
· Alcohol is not a necessity therefore does not deserve a special
· Alcohol Tax is an effective way to deter underage drinking.
Alcohol is not a necessity and does not deserve a special tax exemption.
The only goods in exempt from the sales tax are necessities like food,
clothing, and prescriptions.
Revenues from the alcohol tax – over $100 million per year – provide
dedicated funding for healthcare services for more than 100,000 residents
with behavioral health needs. Massachusetts has some of the highest rates
of alcohol and drug abuse in the country. The alcohol tax saves lives by
reducing teen drinking and funding treatment services to help people beat
addictions and getting their lives back on track.
MSNO asks that you consider the reasons to oppose the Slashing the Sales
Tax - Question #3
The Sales Tax Initiative would slash revenues by $2.5 billion a year on
top of the billions in cuts already made during this recession. How much
is $2.5billion? It equals one-half of all state spending on our 1,900
public schools. Or, looking at it another way, it is equal to two and a
half times as much as the state spends each year on all our community
colleges and state universities.
· Health Care – More cuts will hurt already struggling community
hospitals, school nursing services, public health initiatives and
community health centers.
· Public Education – Our public schools and colleges would have to
absorb a huge share of the cuts. There would be massive layoffs, bigger
class sizes, disruption of programs and a decline in the quality of
education in our schools and colleges.
· Quality of Life – Local aid to cities and towns would be
slashed, affecting public safety, parks and recreation, senior services,
libraries, road repair and so much more.
· Economy – By causing the sudden layoff of so many teachers,
firefighters, plice officers, social workers and others while we are still
coping with a recession, a cut of this size could halt – or even reverse -
the state’s economic recovery.
· Property Taxes – Cities and towns would be forced to raise
property taxes and seek overrides simply to maintain basic services.
Rolling back the state sales tax from 6.25% to 3% would cost the Commonwealth more than $2.5 billion every year, decimating funding for
public health and human services. We all want good public health, schools, police and fire protection, safe roads and bridges, clean water, and quality health care. Cutting the sales
tax, by more than half, would deprive our communities of the revenue to pay for them.
THANK YOU for supporting MSNO-
the leaders for School Nursing!
Voice, Vision, and Visibility – Advancing School Health Services in Massachusetts
October 27, 2010 § 1 Comment
Monday Morning we all awoke to the horrifying news footage from the final debate for Kentucky’s U.S. Senator between Democratic candidate Jack Conway and Republican Rand Paul. Moveon.org member Lauren Valle’s head and shoulders were shown to be repeatedly stomped on by Tea Party organizer Tim Profitt.
Not only were these images extraordinarily disturbing, but perhaps even more shocking, when looking back at the footage on YouTube, the film has been dramatically edited by Fox News to eliminate the part where Profitt was stomping on her head. What you are seeing on YouTube is a very toned-down version of the footage that aired early Monday morning.
Whether or not one believes that the Tea Party arm of the Republican Party was developed in conservative fiscal policy, by casting a vote for a Republican and or a Repbulican Tea Party candidate one is fully embracing a fascist agenda on social policy, including utter intolerance of gays, control over a woman’s right to reproductive freedom, pro-war stance, blind hatred towards Muslims, advocation of torture, and assault on paperless immigrants.
Historian Robert O. Paxton is considered the pre-eminent scholar on how countries become fascist. A link to Paxton’s The Five Stages of Fascism (pdf) is provided. Many believe that the United States of America is in the second stage toward becoming a fascist regime. Paxton states that “Everybody is somebody else’s fascist.” With that in mind the following is Paxton’s essential definition of the word.
“Fascism is a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy, and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline.” And, ”…a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”
October 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
“…There is a secret charm which binds us to these haunts of the water spirits. The spot is filled with the music of the falling water. Its echoes pervade the air, and beget a kind of dreamy revery…” —Andrew Jackson Downing
Book Review: Romantic Gardens: Nature, Art, and Landscape Design
I was more than delighted to receive a copy of the exquisite book Romantic Gardens: Nature, Art, and Landscape Design from Sue Ramin, the publicist at my publisher, David R. Godine. Richly illuminated with drawings, watercolors, and engravings, Godine has joined with the Morgan Library and Museum and the Foundation for Landscape Studies to produce this sweeping and superbly researched survey of the development of the Romantic movement in landscape design in Europe and America. This beautiful and beautifully written scholarly, yet accessible, book will become a highly valued resource for landscape designers, architects, landscape architects, historians and students of the Romantic movement. And, as do all Godine books, Romantic Gardens makes for a treasured and thoughtful gift. The book was written to accompany the exhibition Romantic Gardens: Nature, Art, and Landscape Design held at the Morgan Library and Museum during the summer of 2010. The authors Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, Elizabeth Eustis, and John Bidwell co-curated the exhibit.
Drawn from the Morgan’s holdings of manuscripts, drawings, and rare books, from the collections of the authors Rogers and Eustis, and from collections across the nation, Romantic Gardens: Nature, Art, and Landscape Design features approximately one hundred and fifty texts, outstanding works of art, plan drawings, and photographs providing an overview of ideas championed by the Romantics and also actualized by them in private estates and public parks in Europe and the United States. Notable are the plan drawing and early photographs of Olmstead and Vaux’s winning Entry No. 33 of Central Park, a J.W. Winder photograph of Adolphe Strauch’s Spring Grove Cemetery, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and several Frederic Edwin Church landscape vistas in oil, including a view of Olana, Church’s estate overlooking the Hudson River. Elizabeth Eustis writes about Church’s Eden, “…Olana was truly envisioned by Church. Three decades of his devotion resulted in an environmental version of the Romantic Gesamtkunstwerk, integrating architecture, decoration, and landscape to fully engage the senses, emotion, and spirit. Church opened the view, set the house in an expansive lawn, and laid out more than five miles of drives curving through the estate.” By 1860 Church had become the most famous painter in America and with his Olana he could …“make more and better landscapes in this way than by tampering with canvas and paint in the studio.” Eustis writes, “He resisted the gaudy flower beds and subtropical foliage plantings that by this time had come to rival the divinized nature garden aesthetic and instead planted thousands of trees.”
So that you may share a bit more in the experience of the exquisite writing found in Romantic Gardens, the following is a brief excerpt from the conclusion of Roger’s erudite introductory essay “The Genius of the Place” The Romantic Landscape, 1700-1900.
“The fact that space and time are unbounded and infinite is still difficult for the human mind to comprehend. Romanticism can therefore be seen as the search for the divine in the boundlessness of the firmament and belief in nature as eternal and God-ordained, a bulwark against despair over the darkness-bracketed transience of life.
“…. In Romantic painting the landscape itself became the subject, not merely the background or the setting. The works of Turner, Friedrich, and Church bespeak the sublimity of sky and distant horizon. By such means Romantic art elevates the mind and heart to something approaching joy, peace, and an intuitive appreciation of the divine in the face of the unfathomable immensity and mystery of the universe.
“Nature as both place and space is the medium and the compass in Romantic landscape design. Revealing the “genius of the place” accords nature particularity and personality. The eighteenth-century Romantic designers did not treat space as a tabula rasa, a neutral ground plane on which to plant vegetation in geometric shapes and alignments, as was the case in the seventeenth century. Because of its more practical objectives and domestic sphere of activity, landscape design, unlike painting and poetry, cannot incorporate rugged peaks, vertiginous deeps, or crashing waterfalls—hallmarks of the Sublime. Nevertheless, landscape design is Romantic in its mood-evoking treatment of space, allying itself with nature, obscuring boundaries, and reaching for what lies beyond. We can therefore appreciate Central Park’s seemingly unbounded acres of green spaciousness not only as playing fields, but also as Olmstead intended, an illusion of unrestricted nature fostering a relaxed dreaminess and democratic sociability.”
Elizabeth Barlow Rogers is a scholar, educator, author, and was the founding president of the Central Park Conservatory. She is currently the president of the Foundation for Landscape Studies, which publishes the journal Site/Lines. Elizabeth Eustis is an author, adjunct curator at the New York Botanical Garden library, and teaches at the Landscape Institute at the Boston Architectural College. John Bidwell is Astor Curator and department head of Printed Books and Bindings at the Morgan Library.
A note about Andrew Jackson Downing (see above): Considered the first Romantic hero of American horticulture, Downing was a nurseryman and horticulturist from Newburgh, New York. As editor of The Horticulturist, he became the leading advocate for home gardening, village improvement societies, agricultural education, public parks (including a central park in New York City and a national park in Washington, D.C.). In the above quote from Romantic Gardens (page 157), Downing is describing the Ravine Walk at Blithewood in the The Horticulturist (1847), with illustrations by Alexander Jackson Davis.
Romantic Gardens, Nature, Art, and Landscape Design
Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, Elizabeth Eustis, John Bidwell
David R. Godine, Publisher
ISBN: 978 1 56792 404 6
Available through your local bookseller, David R. Godine, and Amazon.
October 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Definition of Gesamtkunstwerk from wiki: (translated as total work of art, ideal work of art, universal artwork, synthesis of the arts, comprehensive artwork, all-embracing art form, or total artwork) is a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so. The term is a German word, which has come to be accepted in English.The term was first used by the writer and philosopher K.F.E. Trahndorff in an essay in 1827. The German opera compose Richard Wagnerr used the term in an 1849 essay. It is unclear whether Wagner knew of Trahndorff’s essay. The word has become particularly associated with Wagner’s aesthetic ideals.
Definition of Gesamtkunstwerk from Artnet: [Ger.: complete, unified or total work of art].Term first used by Richard Wagner in Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (1849) to describe his concept of a work of art for the stage, based on the ideal of ancient Greek tragedy, to which all the individual arts would contribute under the direction of a single creative mind in order to express one overriding idea. However, the term is applied retrospectively to projects in which several art forms are combined to achieve a unified effect, for example Roman fora, Gothic cathedrals and some Baroque churches and palazzi.
October 13, 2010 § Leave a Comment
October 6, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Mighty, Mighty Vikings – 9 Wins, 0 Losses!!!
The guys were beyond fantastic last night. Despite the constant rain and drizzle, and all the trash talk coming from Lynnfield, the Mighty Vikings remain undefeated. Last night was an important win, assuring the Vikings a place in the state finals. Lynnfield scored a goal in the first half, but the Vikings owned the second half. The Vikings first goal was called offsides, in error. Nerves were raw. Lynnfield’s #7 slugged Rockport’s #14. Alex kept his cool and his teammates helped quell a potential brawl–#7 Lynnfield got a red card, Alex a yellow card–a fair call by the ref. The game really heated up after that; our guys were determined to win. From our goal line to their net, Goalie Keady kicked the ball hard and straight, a clean shot directly into their net and sweet, sweet revenge, especially after all the trash talk directed towards Keady because he is the league’s #1 player. The Vikings were on a roll; Cam assisted CJ on the next goal, or vice versa, I’m not really sure. The postman always rings twice.
October 4, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Update: Monarch Butterfly Migration Late Summer 2010
Dear Gardening Friends,
So many have telephoned or emailed inquiring about the status of the annual Monarch butterfly migration through our region. This past summer I have observed umpteen Monarch butterflies and caterpillars in cultivated gardens, wildflower meadows, and along the shoreline; however, I did not see the great numbers in great heaps roosting in any one particular place that I have in some years past. Rather I would find a small passel here and a small passel there—perhaps several dozen at a time—roosting in the wild black cherry trees (Prunus serotina) at Eastern Point, awakening in the early morning and nectaring at the Seaside Goldenrod in the meadow below.
Although the Monarchs are guided genetically, using their internal sun-compass navigation and circadian clock, each year the annual southward migration takes a different form that depends on many variables, primarily the weather conditions in their overwintering site in Michoacán, Mexico as well as weather patterns in their US and Canadian breeding grounds. Because Cape Ann is located at approximately 43 degrees latitude north, our peak migration pattern is estimated at around September 11, but I modify this pattern because of the strong winds and storms we often experience in the late summer living along the coastline.
I have read reports of fantastic migrations that are taking place this year, from Long Island, south to Cape May, and west to Virginia—some saying it is the best they have seen in decades! I continue to remain on the look out because the air temperatures were atypically warmer this summer, creating a longer breeding season than usual, which would indicate that there may be newly emerging Monarchs on the scene. While photographing during this year’s migration, I encountered a pair of Monarchs mating, a very unusual occurrence at this time of year. The “Methuselah” Monarchs that we see in late summer and early autumn are generally speaking sexually immature and do not mate until next year, after they journey south and after they overwinter and awaken in Mexico.
Monarchs observed in late summer and early autumn are intent on nectaring and not easily distracted. This later generation of Methuselah Monarchs is feeding aggressively to increase and store their lipid reserves for the long journey south. We provide plenty of nectar-rich blossoms to help the Monarchs in their exhaustive migration, taking cues from marsh and meadow. Blooming freely at this time of year are copious members of the Composite family—goldenrods, asters, pearly everlasting, zinnias, ironweed, Mexican sunflowers, and Korean daisies. If one diligently deadheads the butterfly bushes and Verbena bonariences, they too will be available for the migrating Monarchs.
My favorite goldenrod is Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), which blooms from August to November. Seaside Goldenrod is the gorgeous brilliant golden wildflower we see growing and glowing along the edge of the sea. It is easily differentiated from other New England goldenrods in that the flowerheads are comparatively larger and the leaves are thicker and fleshier, with a waxy feel, an adaptation to the drying effect of salty sea spray. Seaside Goldenrod grows prolifically in rich, moisture retentive soil, less so in drier conditions.
Although I strongly discourage digging plants from local marsh and meadow, perfectly acceptable is the practice of collecting ripened seed stalks and shaking them about. That is just how we obtained our Smooth Asters (Aster laevis). With cheery one-inch button-shaped flowers borne along the lengths of the stalks, the pale-hued lavender-blue ray flowers and yellow disk florets of Smooth Asters are attractive to bees and butterflies. We have observed Common Sulphers, Pink-fringed Sulphurs, Monarchs, American Ladies, Red Admirals, and Cabbage Whites nectaring simultaneously on a clump growing in the sheltered border along our fragrant path. Pinch back the developing growth tips during the early part of the growing season (until roughly July fourth) to encourage a bushier and more compact plant. Asters provides nourishing sustenance for transitory butterflies when many nectar-rich plants have finished blooming for the season. Not particularly fussy in regard to soil conditions, Smooth Aster grows and flowers profusely in full sun to light shade. Smooth Aster and Purple-stemmed Aster (Aster puniceus) are the asters we see blooming along the backshore at this time of year. With golden yellow florets at the center of their ray flowers, asters and goldenrods create a convenient landing pad for nectaring Lepidoptera. Flowering alongside ripening red berries and surrounded by changing autumnal leaf color, goldenrods and asters transform the seasonal tapestry.
October 1, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Another great letter to the editor from my husband Tom to the Gloucester Daily Times, September 29th, regarding the upcoming Massachusetts gubernatorial election.
To the editor:
As the November elections draw near, the topic that is dominating our national and state discussion is unemployment. There is hardly a candidate for any office, either in Massachusetts or in any other state, who does not agree that the current national unemployment rate of nine percent is unacceptable. However, there is tremendous disagreement on who is to blame and what should be done to reduce it.
The Republicans, including Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, are offering a familiar menu of tax cuts and business deregulation. The theory is that business, once free of the chokehold of government taxation and regulation, will be empowered to grow and to increase hiring. Everyone who wants a job will be able to find one.
It is a deceptively simple tonic that resonates with many voters. And, as is usually the case, it is up to the Democrats to offer the more nuanced and more accurate assessment of the problem and the solution.
The fact is that companies, whether large or small, are not in the business of creating jobs. This may sound shocking to our Republican friends, but the bottom line is that businesses exist to make a profit for their owners. Making a profit and providing jobs are not identical. In fact, they can be mutually exclusive. An unprofitable corporation that needs to become profitable will cut expenses. Often the quickest and most effective way to do this is to cut jobs. Employees cost money, and the fewer of them you have, the lower your costs. If you need more employees to increase revenues, then you hire them. But they are an expense, just like a new truck or a computer. It is not in the mission statement of any corporation, anywhere, that the goal of business is to create jobs. The mission is to create profits. In the current fiscal quarter, American businesses are doing this very well and the stock market is continuing to rise.
This is one reason why we are having a “jobless recovery.” Profitable businesses aren’t hiring because they don’t have to.
Voters should always suspect the candidate who touts a successful record in business as qualification for elected office. Sure, Charlie Baker “saved” Harvard Pilgrim. He did this by jacking up rates by 150 percent. This scheme to generate revenues the easy way may have worked at Harvard Pilgrim, but it has nothing to do with being the chief executive in government. The mission of government is to help people live better lives. This very different from simply posting a quarterly profit. To balance the state budget, Charlie Baker blithely says he will cut 5,000 state jobs. Where will these people end up? On the state unemployment rolls. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Candidates like Governor Deval Patrick who clearly see the forces that shape our economy know better than to bring simplistic corporate solutions to the vastly more complex world of government.