Is Massachusetts turning Purple?

Massachusetts, the proud commonwealth that voted for George McGovern, has voted for the first Tea Party senator.  I’ve been too busy (and depressed) to write about it, but I’m slowly becoming philosophical about it all.  As Brian McGrory wrote in the Boston Globe the day after

I’m going to need some Advil and a cold compress, please. I’m the Massachusetts Electorate, and I have what is bar none the absolute worst hangover of my entire voting life.

Seriously, I was so drunk on power, so caught up in the moment, so free of any of my usual inhibitions, I can’t remember what’s gone on these last two weeks. Think, Electorate, think. What did I do?

McGrory goes on to describe the Massachusetts electorate’s seduction by Scott Brown.

And now I’m vaguely recalling that stranger across the room, the one in the barn jacket who kept smiling at me and seemed to know my name. Martha vanished for a while, and – is it bad that I’m saying this? — I didn’t really care.

Suddenly, that tall, handsome man was standing at my side doing something that Martha rarely did – offering to pay for drinks, chatting me up, curious what was on my mind.

Every time I ever tried telling Martha about my day, my hopes, my dreams, she shushed me up and said she was preparing a legal brief or watching Law & Order. And now there’s a stranger telling me he could change my entire world.

I had been hoping that Coakley might pull out the race – even if it were by a few votes – until she spoke at the Martin Luther King Day breakfast.  Speaking before a friendly audience which loves it’s politicians, Martha did not get a standing ovation or a “you go, girl” shouted from the audience.  Martin Luther King, III was more eloquent on her behalf than she was and he lives in Atlanta.  That was when I began the process of resigning myself to the inevitable.

There were lots of reasons she lost.  She ran a very poor campaign and Martha has always seemed uncomfortable campaigning, pressing the flesh.  She always talks like a prosecutor.  I represented the Somerville Women’s Commission on her Violence Against Women Task Force and I know she believes all the right things.  She would have made a good, hard-working Senator but she never made the case.  Maybe she thought until the polls started to turn that she didn’t have to work hard for the seat.  Democrats appeared to have voted for her.  She lost the swing independents.

Where were her Emily’s List supporters that helped her defeat Mike Capuano in the Democratic Primary?  Why didn’t she have the money to advertise more?  (probably too many people like me who wanted to vote for her, but didn’t feel moved to give her money.) She never, that I recall, ran an ad that defined who she was as a person.  One that showed her with her dogs and husband walking on the Charles River or something.  We all learned about Brown’s truck.  Unions and other supporters didn’t seem do much.  Was it because they thought she was a shoe-in or because she didn’t find a role for them in her campaign?  (there are rumors to that effect)  Instead of reaching out to the independents and Republicans, I’m sure we were like every Democratic household  in the Commonwealth:  We got robocalls from everyone about her.  President Obama, Bill Clinton, and Angela Menino, the Mayor’s wife.   (We have to find a better way to get the word out and get people out to vote than all these endless calls.  I stopped answering the phone.)  But with all the calls, she never fired up her base.  She’s running for re-election for Attorney General now and maybe that will go better.  People may feel more comfortable with her as their lawyer and than with her as senator.

Meanwhile we have to face the reality that Scott Brown is our Senator for the next 3 years.  He once pointed out that it was 3 years, like a test drive, and we could vote him out if we didn’t like what he did.

I like Congressman Capuano’s take during an interview with one of the local public radio stations

Political watchers have already begun talk of Capuano mounting a challenge for Brown’s Senate seat in 2012, but Capuano laughed off that idea.

“I have never in my life had the luxury of planning my political career three years in advance. I think we need to let Mr. Brown have an opportunity to prove himself, to prove whether he is the independent he claims to be or whether he’s a lockstep Republican or something in between. I hope he’s a great senator for Massachusetts.”

I don’t know if Mike would have been able to beat Brown, but he would have gone down with a fight, not a whimper.

Anne Frank and Miep Gies

I began an infatuation with Anne Frank around age 12 or 13.  I was given a copy of Anne’s diary and read and read it.  I never saw the play on Broadway, but did see the movie which never quite measured up to the written word.  I think I read it as much for the discovery that teenaged girls, no matter what their circumstances, have the same dreams and feelings as I did for the story of courage and life under a death sentence. Anne expressed the same sorts of thoughts about her parents and other adults, about boys and sex that other teenage girls had, but never wrote down.  I’m sure she inspired my beginning to keep a journal – one which I’ve kept sporadically ever since. I’m sure millions of women were the same.

The one adult that Anne never seems to lose patience with is Miep Gies who died yesterday at age 100. 

“I am not a hero,” Mrs. Gies wrote in her memoir, “Anne Frank Remembered,” published in 1987. “I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did and more — much more — during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the heart of those of us who bear witness.”

Mrs. Gies sought no accolades for joining with her husband and three others in hiding Anne Frank, her father, mother and older sister and four other Dutch Jews for 25 months in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. But she came to be viewed as a courageous figure when her role in sheltering Anne Frank was revealed with the publication of her memoir. She then traveled the world while in her 80s, speaking against intolerance. The West German government presented her with its highest civilian medal in 1989, and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands knighted her in 1996.

After the Gestapo raided the Annex in August 1944, Ms. Gies found the pages of the diary scattered around and preserved them for Anne’s return.  Anne, who died in Bergan-Belson just weeks before both her 16th birthday and liberation, never returned.  Her father did return and published her diary.

Miep Gies was born Feb. 15, 1909, as Hermine Santrouschitz, a member of a Roman Catholic family in Vienna. When she was 11, she was sent to Leiden to be cared for by a Dutch family, being among the many Austrian children suffering from food shortages in the wake of World War I. She was given the Dutch nickname Miep and later adopted by the family.

When she was 13, the family moved to Amsterdam, and in 1933 she became a secretary to Otto Frank, who was overseeing the Dutch branch of a German company selling an ingredient for manufacturing jam. Mr. Frank had fled Hitler’s Germany, and he was soon joined by his wife and daughters.

Miep became a trusted employee and friend of the Frank family and joined in its alarm over the persecution of German Jews. In May 1940, the Netherlands fell in Germany’s invasion of the Low Countries. In July 1942, when thousands of Dutch Jews were being deported to concentration camps, the Frank family went into hiding in unused rooms above Mr. Frank’s office. He asked Mrs. Gies if she would help shelter them, and she unhesitatingly agreed.

The annex became a hiding place not only for the Franks but for three members of a family named van Pels — the father a business colleague of Mr. Frank’s — and Mrs. Gies’s dentist, Fritz Pfeffer.

Having married a Dutch social worker, Jan Gies, in 1941, Miep Gies joined with him and three other employees of Mr. Frank’s business in sheltering the eight Jews and caring for their daily needs. The protectors risked death if caught by the Nazis.

Mrs. Gies, while continuing to work for Mr. Frank’s business, which remained open under figurehead Christian management, played a central role in caring for the hidden. She found food for them, brought books and news of the outside world and provided emotional support, bringing Anne her first pair of high-heeled shoes and baking a holiday cake. On one occasion, Miep and Jan Gies (he is referred to in the diary as Henk, one of many pseudonyms Anne used) spent a night in the annex to experience the terror there for themselves.

Miep Gies was a remarkable woman in her own right and we should remember her for that as well as thanking her for preserving the legacy of Anne Frank.

Harry Reid, Race, and the GOP

The new book “Game Change” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann about the 2008 Presidential is already upsetting a lot of people.  I’m certain that Sarah Palin will not be happy with Steve Schmidt’s comments about her for one.  But right now that is being overshadowed by a remark that Harry Reid made to them during an interview.

Harry Reid stands in the Capitol.

Reid told them that Barack Obama could be elected president because he is “light skinned” and lacks “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”   According to Politico

Embarrassed by the remarks and already facing a tough climb to reelection in the fall, Reid has reached out to the African American community, apologizing for his comments and highlighting his legislative record of backing civil rights issues important to the black community. He immediately won a showing of support from prominent Democratic black leaders, including the president, who accepted his apology and said he’s seen the “passionate leadership he’s shown on issues of social justice and I know what’s in his heart. As far as I’m concerned, the book is closed.”

Harry Reid might be ignorant and inarticulate but the Republicans are hypocrites. 

I think Ruth Marcus writing in the Washington Post today has it about right.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid acted like an idiot.

Also, he was right.

It’s a measure of the suffocating culture of political correctness that it feels risky to say that. It’s a measure of the insulting how-dumb-do-they-think-we-are culture of incessant partisanship that Republicans leapt on Reid’s remarks as racist.

For anyone in public life to use the word “Negro” in 2008 is beyond stupid. What was once polite has become demeaning. (Although, interestingly enough, the U.S. Census chose to retain the word on the 2010 census form because so many respondents wrote it in 10 years ago.)

The lame explanation offered by an aide — that the remarks were not intended for use in the book — is about as convincing as Jesse Jackson’s assertion that he did not consider his “Hymietown” comments to the Washington Post’s Milton Coleman on the record. (“Let’s talk black talk,” Jackson had said to Coleman.)

But there’s a big difference between Reid 2008 and Jackson 1984 — or, more to the point, Lott 2002. When the then-soon-to-be-former Majority Leader Trent Lott said that the United States could have avoided “all these problems” if Strom Thurmond’s 1948 segregationist campaign for president had succeeded, there was an unmistakable — if unintended — whiff of racism. As much as Republican critics would like to use the incident for partisan purposes, Reid’s blundering comments were made in the context of supporting an African American candidate, not praising a segregationist one.

Walter Russell Mead posted this on Politico’s Arena

Majority Leader Reid’s cretinous private remarks are creepy and disturbing. The GOP outrage is as phony as a three dollar bill and the ‘double standard’ charges don’t hold up. The difference is that Lott was praising the political wisdom and importance of Thurmond’s Dixiecrat campaign and that Lott gave a strong appearance of wishing that the segregationists had somehow won. Reid’s remarks reveal a man who is embarassingly and pathetically awkward and out of touch, but there’s nothing there that would give aid and comfort to organized racism in American life. The remarks give credence to the view that the time has come when Senator Reid should think about spending more time with his family; the voters of Nevada look like they are planning to help him achieve this next fall. Until then, the rest of us might do well by thinking about Senator Reid as little as humanly possible.

And Michael Steele of the Republican National Committee who called on Reid to resign said this is if he didn’t it showed a double standard from what happened to Trent Lott.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele called Sunday for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to resign because of racial remarks, but Steele took the opposite view when a Republican Senate leader was facing similar calls.

 The Washington Post reported on Dec. 14, 2002: “Lt. Gov.-elect Michael S. Steele said last night that he was personally upset by U.S. Sen. Trent Lott’s praise for Sen. Strom Thurmond and his segregationist past, but said Lott should not be forced to relinquish his leadership position in the Senate. ‘Trent Lott apologized, but he needs to keep apologizing because this is a very sensitive issue to the black community,’ Steele (R) said at an event celebrating his election as Maryland’s first black lieutenant governor. ‘I know Trent Lott personally, and I know that this is not his intent. But it’s still unfortunate. And I think he needs to apologize a little bit more.’”

Steele was joined in his call for Reid to resign and in saying there was a “double standard” because Lott lost his leadership post by Senators Kyl and McConnell.  But isn’t an apology enough, Mr. Steele?

On the Democratic side, Doug Wilder (former Governor of Virginia) thinks Reid ought to apologize to the country while Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jim Clyburn and Al Sharpton are defending Reid.  I have no idea if Nevada has another Democrat who could run for Reid’s Senate seat this fall and win, but I think maybe they should look for someone quickly.

The Massachusetts Senate Election

On the 19th, we get to vote for a new Senator.  And although the Rasmussen poll has Scott Brown, the Republican, within 10 points, I am willing to guess the margin will be more like 12 to 15 for Martha Coakley, the Democrat .  Believe it or not, I wrote that on Saturday before the Boston Globe poll was published today showing Coakley with a 15 point lead.  (There is also a Libertarian, Joseph Kennedy – not one of the Kennedys.  They have endorsed Martha.)

I favored Congressman Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary, but it will be good to elect a woman Senator for the first time.  Besides the fact that Mike was once my boss when he was Mayor of Somerville, I have only partially forgiven Coakley for her intransigence on the Fells Acre child care case she prosecuted as Middlesex County Assistant DA.  As far as federal issues go, there was not a lot of difference between them 

But I became solidly in Martha’s court after Scott Brown said that while he didn’t favor torture, it being against the Geneva Convention and all, he was in favor of waterboarding which, according to him, is not torture.  Coakley disagrees, agreeing with the Obama Administration policy.  Brown’s endorsement of waterboarding became the subject of a great Wasserman cartoon

 Brown has been running ads comparing himself with John F. Kennedy which don’t seem to have helped him much.

According to the poll released today

Half of voters surveyed said they would pick Coakley, the attorney general, if the election were held today, compared with 35 percent who would pick Brown. Nine percent were undecided, and a third candidate in the race, independent Joseph L. Kennedy, received 5 percent.

Coakley’s lead grows to 17 points – 53 percent to 36 percent – when undecideds leaning toward a candidate are included in the tally. The results indicate that Brown has a steep hill to climb to pull off an upset in the Jan. 19 election. Indeed, the poll indicated that nearly two-thirds of Brown’s supporters believe Coakley will win.

“She’s simply better known and better liked than Brown,’’ said Andrew E. Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducted the poll for the Globe.

Coakley is seen as strongest on health care, the issue that 31 percent of respondents said was the most important. Fifty-one percent said they trusted Coakley to best handle the issue, with only 29 percent saying Brown.

Brown has trumpeted the prospect that he would be the 41st vote to block the health care proposals before Congress, while Coakley has said she would proudly cast the 60th vote to prevent a filibuster and grant final approval for the legislation.

The war in Afghanistan was the best issue for Brown, with 34 percent saying they trust him, compared with 35 percent for Coakley. Brown, a National Guardsman, supports President Obama’s plan to increase troop levels in Afghanistan; Coakley opposes it.

The turn out will be very light and with the Democrats holding the edge in party registration all Martha has to do is to get more voters out.  The ten day weather projection calls for temps around freezing and partly sunny in Boston. 

Tsutomu Yamaguchi

Tsutomu Yamaguchi who died on Monday was the only officially recognized survivor of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  He was 93.  There were an estimated 165 nijyuu hibakusha twice bombed persons but none of the others were recognized.

According to his obituary in the New York Times,

Mr. Yamaguchi, as a 29-year-old engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was on a business trip in Hiroshima when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. He was getting off a streetcar when the “Little Boy” device detonated above Hiroshima.

Mr. Yamaguchi said he was less than 2 miles away from ground zero. His eardrums were ruptured and his upper torso was burned by the blast, which destroyed most of the city’s buildings and killed 80,000 people.

Mr. Yamaguchi spent the night in a Hiroshima bomb shelter and returned to his hometown of Nagasaki the following day, according to interviews he gave over the years. The second bomb, known as “Fat Man,” was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, killing 70,000 people there.

Mr. Yamaguchi was in his Nagasaki office, telling his boss about the Hiroshima blast, when “suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he said in an interview last March with The Independent newspaper.

“I could have died on either of those days,” Mr. Yamaguchi said in an August interview with the Mainichi Daily News. “Everything that follows is a bonus.”

This picture is from NPR.


In his later years, Mr. Yamaguchi began to speak out about the scourge of atomic weapons. He rarely gave interviews, but he wrote a memoir and was part of a 2006 documentary film about the double-bombing victims. He called for the abolition of nuclear weapons at a showing of the film at the United Nations that year.

At a lecture he gave in Nagasaki last June, Mr. Yamaguchi said he had written to President Obama about banning nuclear arms.

If Mr. Yamaguchi view his life after the bombings as a bonus, he spent his bonus well.

Looking at November in January

The Republicans are hopeful that they will take over the House and the Senate.  When it is the 5th of January, anything is possible, but there are some signs that it might not be easy – especially in the House.

Writing in today’s Washington Post, Chris Cillizza writes about Republican House retirements.

While the recent political chatter in Washington has focused on Democrats retiring from Congress, Republicans are leaving the House in greater numbers, a trend that could blunt the party’s momentum heading into the November midterm elections.

Rep. Henry E. Brown Jr. (S.C.) on Monday became the 14th Republican to announce that he will not run for reelection this year. Ten Democrats have said the same, including an attention-grabbing four in the past two months from swing and Republican-leaning districts.

A broad look at those seats suggests more parity, in terms of the two parties’ opportunities and vulnerabilities, than conventional wisdom would suggest.

There are also potential money problems for Republicans.  Politico reported the other day

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the key cog in helping to finance GOP campaigns, has banked less than a third as much money as its Democratic counterpart and is ending the year with barely enough money to fully finance a single House race — no less the dozens that will be in play come 2010.

 A big part of the problem, according to Republican strategists, is that GOP members themselves — the ones who stand the most to gain from large-scale House gains — haven’t chipped in accordingly, despite evidence of solid opportunities in at least 40 districts next year and with as many as 80 seats in play, according to the Cook Political Report’s estimates.

The fundraising disparity between the two committees is striking: The DCCC outraised the NRCC this year by more than $18 million, according to FEC figures at the end of November. The NRCC has only $4.3 million left in its campaign account — with more than $2 million in debt — leaving it with just a pittance to fund the dozens of races it hopes to aggressively contest.

The DCCC, meanwhile, is sitting on a $15.3 million nest egg (with $2.6 million owed), steadily expanding its cash-on-hand advantage over Republicans throughout the year.

It is always possible that more Democrats will retire (Senator Dorgan – D  N.D. just announced he was not going to seek reelection for example) and change the equation again, right now it does not look as if the Republicans can retake the House.  Lose some seats, yes, but not enough to lose the majority.  It is also possible that the Republicans will start coughing up more money.  January is very early.

But there is a Senatorial election here is Massachusetts in two weeks.  While one poll shows Republican Scott Brown within single digits, it is curious that he is getting no financial support from national Republicans.  Is this a concession to Martha Coakely?  If you think about it the Rasmussen Poll could help Martha by making her supporter nervous enough to work hard to get out the vote. 

I think Massachusetts is safe for the Democrats, but the rest of the Senate is unclear.

Justice and War

The question of how people should be punished for acts committed during war is a thorny one.  We have the example of Nurenburg which extablished the principles of crimes against humanity and that following orders is an insufficient defense.  More recently, there have been reconciliation commissions instead of prosecutions and the establishment of the world court.

Two recent events have brought all this to mind.  First, there was the dismissal of the case against the Blackwater employees who murdered Iraqi civilians.  Then, there is the uproar in some circles over the criminal charges brought against Omar AbdulMutallab, the would-be Christmas Eve bomber.

In the Blackwater case, Justice Department lawyers screwed up the case.  It is that simple.  Makes me wonder if everyone at the Bush Justice Department was incompetent.  According to the story in the New York Times

The issue was that the guards, as government contractors, were obligated to give an immediate report of what they had done, but the Constitution prevents the government from requiring a defendant to testify against himself, so those statements could not be used in a prosecution.

Less than two weeks after the shootings in Nisour Square in Baghdad in September 2007, lawyers at the State Department, which employed the guards, expressed concern that prosecutors might be improperly using the compulsory reports in preparing a criminal case against them, according to the decision.

The prosecutors were also concerned, even using what they called a “taint team” to try to prevent information in the guards’ compulsory statements from influencing the investigation, according to the 90-page ruling by Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court in Washington. The judge said the prosecutors had failed to take “common sense precautions” to avoid the problem.

The ruling led to disappointment in the United States as well as in Iraq.

Judge Urbina’s ruling states in his introduction

From this extensive presentation of evidence [during a 3 week hearing beginning in October 2009] and argument, the following conclusions ineluctably emerge.  In their zeal to bring charges against the defendants in this case, prosecutors and investigators aggressively sought out statements the defendants had been compelled to make to government investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the subsequent investigation. …. The Government used the defendant’s compelled statements to guide its charging statements, to formulate its theory of the case, to develop investigatory leads, and, ultimately, to obtain the indictment in this case.

I guess the argument that Jack McCoy always uses on “Law and Order” that the discovery of the evidence was inevitable, didn’t work.

According to the Times story

But the judge’s decision alludes to at least two routes through which the government could reinstate a prosecution.

Although the specifics of the guards’ statements cannot be used against them, the guards could be prosecuted for willfully providing false information in those statements.

In statements, the guards gave detailed information about what kinds of weapons they had used, including a sniper rifle and a grenade, and said they had believed that they were under attack and that they were taking small-arms fire. Investigators did not find physical evidence of an attack by Iraqis, the judge’s decision said.

The decision also points out that at one point, the government considered bringing obstruction of justice charges against Blackwater managers. It is not clear whether such charges are still being considered.

The rules limiting the use of the statements, the judge noted, are not intended to protect defendants from conviction, but to guarantee the integrity of the judicial system.

There is also going to be a civil suit on behalf of the families.  But the sloppy prosecution in this case reminds me of the way the Bush administration did a lot of things:  Action without much thought for the consequences or without much evidence to support the action.  It is another example of impulsiveness.

Then posted on Politico yesterday was this

The ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, said Sunday the Obama administration made a mistake by putting terror suspect Omar AbdulMutallab into the criminal justice system, where he has an attorney and the right to remain silent.

“As soon as they got a lawyer, he lawyered up,” Bond said.

Did Senator Bond ever stop to consider that maybe we will have a more successful prosecution if AbdulMutallab has a lawyer from the beginning?  And isn’t this really a criminal matter? 

I’m beginning to think that the Republicans don’t have a lot of faith in either their ability to prosecute cases or in the criminal justice system generally.

Palindromes and Palin-dromes

Yesterday was a palindrome date: 01/02/2010. 

According to the Boston Globe

Jan. 2, 2010, is the second such date out of 36 that occurs this millennium. The first was 10/02/2001.

Aziz Inan, a University of Portland electrical engineering professor, has been studying this phenomenon and speaks with great enthusiasm as he describes the history of palindrome dates.

Before 2001, he excitedly pointed out in an interview yesterday, the most recent was in 1380, since days of the month never exceed 31. The next date comes next year: 11/02/2011.

This reminded me of the contest that Alex Beam (Globe columnist) ran during the 2008 Presidential election.  Beam asked readers to send it Palin-dromes.  And, this being Boston, many did.  Here are some excerpts from various columns.

Serial palindromist George Lovely chips in, “Woe! Dawns Sarah harassn’ Wade. Ow!” where Wade refers to Roe v. Wade, of course. Alison Merrill sent in a serious candidate for world’s longest Palin-drome: ” ‘Ah! I made veep.’ – S.P. Moody? Baby? Doom? P.S. Peeved am I, ha!” In contrast, brevity is the soul of Ira Richler’s wit: “Peeve: Babe veep.”Bob Treitman sent me ” ‘Hey, did I harass?’ Sarah: ‘I did, yeh.’ ” From Hastings, in the United Kingdom, Paul Barlow put down the podger long enough to send in eight, repeat eight, vice-presidential palindromes! On McCain’s vice-presidential announcement, he writes, “Avid dog delivers reviled god-diva.” On Palin’s election as Alaska’a governor, “Hara! She won snow eh? Sarah?”

The Sarah Palin-dromes are still pouring in, so I haven’t chosen a contest winner yet. (A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backward or forward, the classic example being “Madam, I’m Adam.”) Barry Duncan of Somerville, who has the word “palindromist” in his e-dress, sent in 11 Palin-dromes – “a reversible number,” as he points out. I certainly like, “Ha! Rash Sarah!” and “Media harass Sarah? Aid ’em!” Duncan invokes the palindromist’s motto – length isn’t everything – and then submits the astonishing: “Put up SP? Won’t I. Reviled to no. two? Veto VP, I. True! So Palin (a tundra-hard nut, a nil, a poseur) tip vote? Vow to not deliver it now. P.S. Put up!”Professor Stephen Morillo of Wabash College in Indiana co-authored a seemingly endless Palin-drome with Bob Binstock of Cambridge that rivals Duncan’s for length, but I can’t understand it. I get the beginning and the ending (“OK, now I rep U.S. . . . I’m super! I won! K.O.!”), but the middle seems opaque to me. Their shorter submission, which I do understand, has a major wire service passing judgment on McCain’s nominee: “Palin nil! – A.P.” Cindy Kumin sent me “P.S. Do go, ‘NO!’ on (O, God) S.P.” and John Cabot kicked in, “All I saw? Wasilla . . .” and “Party animal, am I? Nay, trap!”

As promised, I have chosen the winner of the Sarah Palin-drome contest. (A palindrome is a phrase that makes sense read forward and backward – e.g., “Madam, I’m Adam.”) Thanks to the music of the blogospheres, I received well over a hundred submissions from around the globe. Yet, much like those phony “nationwide” job searches, I found the winners close to home.

First runner-up: “Party boobytrap,” which is both brief and clever. Second runner-up: “Women veep’s peev’n ’em, ow,” from Northeastern University student Eric Greenberg. The winner of a used copy of “Huckleberry Finn” – a book that many have tried to ban from our nation’s libraries – George Lovely of Milton, for “Yo, sure hot, top spot to her? U.S. Oy!” Congratulations!

We end with an Obama palindrome – the only one that Beam published and probably the only one he got.

In a touching gesture of bipartisanship, Carl Saras, whose last name is a palindrome, offered up a piece of Latin erudition: “Obama amabo,” or “I will love Obama.”

I have a feeling that we will still be having fun with Sarah in 2010.