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Mud season comes early


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Do they make mudflaps for flat screen television sets?

Although the presidential election is a full year away, the contenders have taken to the airwaves and the ratio of mud to anything resembling meaty substance is high and only likely to grow. The Globe’s Michael Levenson took stock yesterday of what we’ve seen so far and offered a sort of preview of coming attractions.

The ad causing most of the early stir comes from Mitt Romney.  It uses a brief clip of a Barack Obama campaign speech from 2008, with the candidate saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”  The ad does nothing to clue viewers in to the fact that Obama was quoting an aide to his 2008 opponent, John McCain.  “The fact that you could completely undercut somebody’s meaning in order to serve your own ends is, frankly, in my mind, borderline criminality,” Glenn Totten, a Democratic media strategist, tells Levenson.

Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom seems practically giddy about the reaction to the campaign’s ad. “They should probably order some more defibrillators for the Obama reelection committee, because their reaction was quite hysterical,” he told the Globe.  

Rick Perry has an ad that takes similar tack, taking a snippet of an Obama speech entirely out of context and saying the president is calling Americans lazy.

The liberal blog ThinkProgress decided the best approach was to fight fire with fire. The site spliced together snippets of Romney speeches that, taken together, have the former Massachusetts governor vowing to raise taxes, praising the idea of government control over the economy, decrying fiscal responsibility, and dismissing the idea of American exceptionalism.

Meanwhile, a Web ad produced by a political action committee created by two former Obama White House aides, rips Romney as a greedy Wall Street type, and distorts his position on privatizing Social Security.  

Almost everyone seems to think we are in for a very nasty 12 months.  Sounding a dissenting view is Republican media strategist Rick Reed, who thinks the economic distress people are feeling will force the campaigns onto a higher road. “People are tired of the gratuitous hits. With all this anxiety, people want solutions and not all the talk,” he told the Globe.  “It can’t be all negative.”   

It would be great if he were right. But don’t bet on it.

                                                                                                                                                    --MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

State officials say they expect a flood of applications from municipalities to take advantage of the health care reform law, with savings to municipal coffers to exceed the forecasted $100 million, the Lowell Sun reports.

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas says Gov. Deval Patrick should resign as he pursues a book deal and campaigns for President Obama.

Rep. Dan Winslow wants to tear up the House’s rule book.  

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Globe editorial decries a proposal by Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan to lop part of Chinatown from his district on the heels of the Southie pol’s narrow victory earlier this month over a Chinese-American challenger, Suzanne Lee.

Lakeville officials can save some money after Freetown gave them four voting machines at no cost that became surplus after Freetown purchased new ones.

The Berkshire Eagle supports new rules for skateboarders, cyclists, and rollerbladers who have been causing problems in downtown Pittsfield.

Bob Slate returns to Cambridge.

In a Boston Herald op-ed, Colman Herman says Boston deserves a cut of the city clerk’s wedding windfall.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, who has carved out a niche as a leading liberal voice in Congress, plans to announce later today that he won’t seek reelection next year, a decision that state lawmakers might have liked to be privy to over the last year as they struggled to redraw the state’s congressional district boundaries to reduce the number of seats from 10 to nine.

The Globe’s Jenna Russell pulls back the curtain on the sordid family affairs of Patrice Tierney, wife of North Shore congressman John Tierney.

A Ball State University research group estimates that online shoppers in Indiana would pay between $40 million and $114 million in sales taxes if Internet sales were taxed, Governing magazine reports.

The American Spectator says the “Religious Left” distorts the true meaning of the first -- and subsequent -- Thanksgiving.

The “leaderless,” hyper-democratic Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park had leaders even if none of them would admit to being leaders, which was part of the problem, writes Alex Klein in The New Republic. Los Angeles moves to roust its tent city. New York magazine wonders whether Occupy Wall Street will damage Democrats in 2012 the way upheavals in 1968 did.

Salem News columnist Brian Watson praises the Occupy movement for shining a light on realities that have been ignored for too long.

A battle over whether Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan should recuse themselves from deliberating on the health care case is unfolding at the Supreme Court.

ELECTION 2012

WBUR reports on what the New Hampshire Union Leader’s endorsement means for Newt Gingrich. The Christian Science Monitor’s analysis is here, and Slate’s is here. The New York Times says the next item on Gingrich’s to-do list is prove he’s not just another Not-Mitt of the Week.

A survey by the Pew Research Center finds that party affiliation will trump religion concerns for Mitt Romney. The Washington Post looks at the relationship between Mitt Romney and his father George, who served as governor of Michigan.

John Walsh, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, discussed Sen. Scott Brown, President Obama, and US Rep. John Tierney on Keller@Large.

Will demographics triumph over economics in 2012? The Center for American Progress looks for answers.

Rick Perry tries restarting his moribund New Hampshire campaign by cruising around with tough-talking Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Ron Paul continues his uphill climb in Iowa. Peter Gelzinis says Jon Huntsman is far too sane to be a serious GOP presidential contender.

Wealth redistribution gets a new life. Related: Here’s a list of things Paul Krugman wants to tax.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The MetroWest Daily News argues that Thanksgiving is on the verge of disappearing after Black Friday seeps into Thursday.

MassINC’s Middle Class Index should give policymakers a better idea of where resources should be concentrated, says The MetroWest Daily News.

Bloomberg News, after winning a public records battle that went all the way to the US Supreme court, reports that big banks reaped $13 billion in income thanks to emergency loans in 2008 from the Federal Reserve Bank.

A China-US solar trade war is heating up, Time reports.

EDUCATION

State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester indicates he will call for a state takeover of the Lawrence Public Schools, the Eagle-Tribune reports. Most of the schools facing state takeover in Lawrence and other cities across the state are filled with students who are poor and don’t speak English well, the Salem News reports.

After an increase two years ago, bullying decreases among Hopkinton middle school students, though officials aren’t sure why. Meanwhile, MetroWest parents are equipping their kids with ways to fight back against bullies, including martial arts and team sports.

The North Adams Transcript says public schools need to look at enforcing dress codes.

HEALTH CARE

The Globe offers a not-so-rosy picture of tiered health network plans, which require patients to pay more for care at higher-cost hospitals.

The Cape Cod Times blasts a Tufts Medical Center-Blue Cross Blue Shield dispute which may force nearly 2,500 Cape residents to look for new primary care doctors, a task that isn’t easy in a region where primary care docs are in short supply.

Sex addiction has become an epidemic, Newsweek reports.

TRANSPORTATION

Hubway, the popular bike-share program that landed in Boston this year, will expand in the spring to Cambridge and Somerville after shutting down this week for the winter.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The state has issued 850 more deer hunting licenses this year than last year in an effort to thin out the growing deer herds in some regions that threaten the state’s forest and cause more car accidents. Howie Carr thinks hunting season can be Darwinian.

The Department of Environmental Protection is pushing cities and towns to turn nearly 500 former landfills into energy-producing solar and wind farms.

ISO New England prepares for the electric car.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The state’s district attorneys are fighting a bill that would allow post-conviction DNA testing and require prosecutors to preserve evidence for the length of a convict’s prison term.

Former House speaker Sal DiMasi is heading to Kentucky.

MEDIA

In the wake of Facebook incidents involving young people in Belchertown and Leeds, the Springfield Republican urges adults to teach teens how to use social media without running afoul of free speech laws.

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