EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 5, 2012

Column: End of legislative rush means it's time to enjoy August

Barbara Anderson
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — The Legislature has adjourned for five

months after passing or failing, in a last-minute chaotic rush, the bills that it didn’t have the discipline to get to during an easy-going 19-month session.

There were anxious moments for proponents as Gov. Deval Patrick considered a veto of Melissa’s Bill, which had been passed by a determined, if tardy, Legislature. Melissa Gosule was a 27-year-old woman who was raped and murdered by a career criminal — 27 convictions — out on parole. Her father’s “three strikes” bill prevents parole for any offender who’s been found guilty, three times, of violent crimes like murder and rape.

What is it with some liberals like our governor, who care more about murderers and rapists than their victims, both past and future? Do these “progressives” relate to the killers somehow?

I know that some politicians and judges coddle drunk drivers, thinking that “there but for the grace of God go I”, but do they also imagine they might someday be jailed for three violent crimes and will themselves need the mercy of the court?

Gov. Patrick had added a provision, quickly rejected by legislators, allowing three-time violent repeat offenders to apply for parole “after serving either two-thirds of their sentence or, in the case of a life sentence, 25 years.” He finally signed the popular bill, pledging to try for more “judicial discretion” next year.

I know this is a silly question, yet I must ask: What does “life sentence” mean, exactly?

It could be one of those usually meaningless phrases, like “illegal immigrant.” Gov. Patrick vetoed the Legislature’s bill requiring all drivers to prove legal Massachusetts residency in order to register their car here; however, at the last minute the Legislature overrode his veto.

On the last day of the legislative session: bad news for doctors, good news for grocers. A compromise health-care bill solves the problem of rising health costs by simply telling the private Massachusetts medical system what it can charge. Health spending will be allowed to grow no faster than the overall state economy. Who knew it was that easy? Let’s hope we don’t get sick at a higher rate than the state economy grows.

The expanded bottle bill provision was removed from the “jobs bill.” I’m hoping more consumers will curbside-recycle their water and juice bottles so that it doesn’t return next year. Good news: there will be a sales-tax holiday, mid-August.

Life went on outside Beacon Hill. There’s an interesting Associated Press story about the Obama administration stepping up efforts to fight Medicare and Medicaid fraud. You’d think they’d have addressed this before they added ObamaCare to the entitlement mix, allowing people to scam the entire health care system instead of just part of it.

Where there is government money, there are criminals lookin

g for illegitimate ways to get it, and since the government didn’t have to work for it, digging out fraud isn’t its major priority. Interesting that opposition to ObamaCare has encouraged some token activity here; once the debate is over no one will care about fraud anymore.

Speaking of health, you know those curlicue compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that we’re all being forced by the federal government to buy as a “green” alternative to standard incandescent bulbs? Researchers at Stony Brook University have found that, along with the already known hazards from mercury, the ultraviolet radiation from CFLs may cause skin cancer.

Well, that was inevitable. The mystery here is: shouldn’t the government have researched potential damage from these bulbs before passing a law encouraging their use? Fortunately I bought a supply of “lifetime” incandescent bulbs in preparation for the green change-over.

There are bigger problems in the world than light bulbs. Here’s something that’s been bothering me since July 22, when Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on Sunday morning talking-head shows to inform the American public that Israel is preparing to go to war with Iran. But I didn’t see seen any major news stories about this; the big issue of last week was some big-city mayors like Tom Menino wanting to ban fast-food chicken companies whose owners oppose gay marriage.

It took Mitt Romney visiting Israel to call attention to the possibility of another war coming soon.

Nothing I can do about that, so I’m enjoying the summer Olympics from London. Wasn’t that a fabulous Opening Ceremony? Loved the history of England thing, though it seemed a tad grim about the industrial revolution. According to the book I am currently reading, “The Road to Freedom” by Arthur Brooks, industrialization dragged those countries that participated out of desperate poverty into a higher income, “standard of living, health, literacy – every measurable aspect of well-being.”

London did a happier job of celebrating the British cultural revolution. What fun to see the queen jumping out of the helicopter with James Bond! However, it bothered me that the ending felt like overkill. Lighting the torch was enough lighting drama. Did they need fireworks too? Almost seemed a gran

d finale, never to be topped at any future Olympics.

Well, it’s August, time to enjoy the extraordinary Olympic athletic achievements, while enjoying more reading and ice cream from Coffey’s in downtown Marblehead myself.

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Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a regular contributor to the opinion pages.