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Ryan's impact on down-ballot Mass. races will be minor

Posted by Garrett Quinn, Less is More August 14, 2012 12:33 PM

PaulRyanBudget.jpgWith limited public polling data on the presidential race in Massachusetts it's hard to determine how much of an impact, if any, Paul Ryan will have on down-ballot races. The only federal races where he could have a measurable impact are the US Senate and Sixth Congressional District, as those are the only ones that are actually competitive. (Sorry, Fourth!)

Any impact Ryan has down-ballot will probably be minor because he just isn't as polarizing as a Sarah Palin and lacks the local impact of a Mitt Romney. Ryan won't help or hurt Romney that much in Massachusetts because he's going to lose the state by at least 15 percent anyway. The races for US Senate and in the Sixth are close so that's why we're looking at every little thing that happens for a way it could impact them. Ryan's budget and entitlement reform plans are controversial but how many undecided voters are going to make their decision on Scott Brown or Richard Tisei because of them?

Not many.

New Johnson ad: I'm only candidate with you 100%

Posted by Garrett Quinn, Less is More August 8, 2012 12:25 PM

The new ad (see above) from Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is a significant improvement from the earlier spots his campaign has produced.

It's hard to tell at this point where Johnson will "take" most of his votes from but a recent Public Policy Polling survey in Colorado suggests he will "hurt" Obama more than Romney.

Johnson has qualified for federal matching funds for his campaign and has received approximately $300,000 in funding so far.

Why would Boston want to host the Olympics?

Posted by Garrett Quinn, Less is More August 7, 2012 08:00 AM

OlympicRings.pngThere are, I assure you, many people seated on couches across New England watching the Olympics asking themselves, “Could Boston host the Olympics?” The answer to that is, without question, yes. This city is host to a treasure trove of world-class athletic facilities, plenty of hotel rooms, and several surrounding communities that complement the Greater Boston area with additional facilities of their own. We would need to upgrade the infrastructure and build some epic white elephants but the cost overruns would not be that bad. The question people should really be asking is, “Why would Boston want to host the Olympics?”

Hosting the Olympics in Boston would be like combining the headaches from the Big Dig years with the police state from the 2004 Democratic National Convention all in the pursuit of benefits that are nearly impossible to measure. The modern Olympics are as much about nationalist athletic achievement in obscure sports we only care about every four years as they are about urban renewal. Part of the pitch for the London games was the revitalization of a rundown chunk of East London and any Boston pitch for the games would include something similar.

Boston’s bid for the games would be an event all by itself. Construction companies and trade unions would be frothing at the mouth with all the goodies in development projects proposed by elected officials. We’d be subjected to endless pitches for things everybody knows will go over budget before they are actually completed. Public transit projects that the MBTA has put off for decades would suddenly be expedited because, hey, the world is coming and the crummy transit system we plebs put up with just won’t cut it for our global guests. Why we needed the Olympics to improve our extremely inadequate transit system instead of just doing it on our own like normal cities would be a mere afterthought.

Calgary88.pngOther projects, like the Olympic Village, would take up incredibly valuable real estate as part of a government-driven development focused on satisfying the needs of a short-term event instead of the long-term needs of the community, something market-driven development does a better job of addressing. We’ll be reminded constantly by bureaucrats that these projects will be part of the legacy of the games, so no need to worry. We’ll need those dreary looking dorm-like structures for the games because we’ll need top of the line housing facilities for the thousands of athletes and tourists that flock to the city.

It will be said that the games will bring a never-before-seen level of tourism to the city and local businesses will flourish because of the huge surge in visitors. In reality the games will discourage many traditional tourists due to inflated hotel and travel costs associated with a mega-event. It’s hard to measure what kind of tourist bump, if any, comes from the Olympic game because you can never measure the number of people that actually avoid the spectacle but that won’t stop politicians drunk on the idea of legacy and globalization from saying it.

Another ludicrous part of the pitch from our local officials would be that the city will benefit from a bigger global brand. “Boston will be the focus of the world for almost a month and you just can’t get that kind of exposure without something like the Olympics!” There are two major problems with that line of thinking: it’s only a good thing if the world is focused on your city when everything is going smoothly and Boston is already pretty well known around the world. It would also be impossible to tell how an Olympic games helped raise the global profile of the Hub. The Globalization and World Cities Research Network places Boston in the top tier of global cities. It could help lesser known cities like it did Atlanta or Calgary, but Boston?

Atlanta96.gifWhile all host cities like Atlanta and Calgary had unique security concerns it seems as if those concerns grow significantly with each Olympics. Boston would have to spend millions, possibly billions, creating an elaborate security plan for the games. Burdensome restrictions, similar to the ones enacted during the DNC, would make movement in the city unbearable. The city would exist solely to host the games and provide entertainment for those visiting while residents would be a mere afterthought.

Those residents, though, will get stuck paying most of the bill for everything that will eventually cost four times its original price before interest. The original price tag for the London games has ballooned from £2.4 billion to £9.3 billion and according to some estimates the final costs could be upwards of £20 billion.

Boston may be perfectly capable of hosting the Olympics but we are not ready to put up with another decade of expensive projects, security headaches, and empty promises.

American declinism, its purveyors, and the Olympics

Posted by Garrett Quinn, Less is More August 3, 2012 02:55 PM

TeamUSA.png

Whenever there is some international sporting event, whether it's the Olympics or the World Cup, some hand wringing Debbie Downer has to pen a column about how we shouldn't wave the flag and get all U-S-A! U-S-A! during the competition. Here is David Sirota in Salon complaining about how the athletic nationalism surrounding the Olympics covers our shortcomings as nation:

the shrieks of "USA!" for our athletes take on a "doth protest too much" quality. Our shiny medallions and our patriotic braying reassure us that, despite our slipping world standing, we at least still kick international ass in the competition that gets the highest Nielsen ratings. Meanwhile, the downward standard of living trends persist at home and anti-Americanism festers abroad among a community of nations that often perceives us to be more trash-talking aggressor than humble friend. As if deliberately perpetuating the cycle, our Olympic victories ? and celebrations of those wins ? then (wrongly) convince us of our ongoing superiority, while robbing those weaker nations of any wins that might give them a fleeting feeling of self-empowerment or sovereignty against us. In other words, we are further distracted, and they further emasculated by us militarily, economically, geopolitically and, every four years, athletically. And so the cycle continues

The smug American declinism just oozes off the screen, doesn't it?

In Sirota's world there is an unemployed lady that has had her faith in American totally restored because Michael Phelps can swim really fast and we won gold in ladies team gymnastics. The machinist that has been out of work and, somehow wasn't saved by the stimulus, is screaming "U-S-A!" at his television when we're blowing out every country in basketball. We're all just a nation of athletic nationalist zombies, completely ignorant of the somewhat dire straits our country is in because Team USA is playing water polo.

Ug. At some point condescending declinist commentary will be our largest export.

If you've spent any time watching NBC's dreadful coverage of the Olympics you've probably seen a political ad. They're endless and they smash the notion that the summer games are a distraction from the problems facing the country. You just can't get away from them. Some of the ads are even about the Olympics.

The idea that we are "robbing...weaker nations of any wins" doesn't really pass the smell test when you look at the countries that are usually top the medal count: China, Russia, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, South Korea. Not exactly a collection of "weaker nations." If we were not participating the medals would go to these other equally strong nations.

If, like Sirota, you're ashamed or troubled by the nationalism surrounding the Olympics or the celebration of success at the games, well, you clearly don't understand the point of international sporting events.

About the author

Garrett Quinn began writing for newspapers at age 17 with CNC in his native South Shore. He has been published in BlueMassGroup, RedMassGroup, Pioneer Investigates, and Wonkette. He is a More »

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