Barack Obama the pragmatist

It did not unfold the way many of us would have liked, but President Obama and Congress succeeded this week in pushing through two critically important bills: The first repeals the disgraceful practice of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in our military; the second, which faced a formal final vote of approval yesterday, ratifies a nuclear arms treaty that the president negotiated with Russia. Both acts will make America safer. And one will make ours a more just and equal society.

It was just two weeks ago that the shrillest voices on the left were calling for Obama to be challenged within his own party for compromising with the GOP over the so-called Bush tax cuts. The president, it was said, gave away the store to the Republicans and came away empty-handed.

But governing these often fractious United States— even in 2010— still hinges on the art of the compromise. One of the qualities that first drew us to this president was that promise of someone who would — when appropriate— engage in a productive give-and-take with his foes on the other side of the aisle. Obama, who had already punched through the most sweeping health care reform since the 1930s earlier in his term without bipartisan support, is now taking a different tack in the wake of the November mid-term elections. Why anyone would expect him to do otherwise defies logic.

It should not go without notice that the Bay State’s own Scott Brown voted the right way on these two key issues. Brown has been bashed in these quarters when he has been wrong— as in the case of his misguided opposition to the DREAM act. But, Brown deserves credit for joining with other moderates to stand up to the radical elements in the Republican party who would have scuttled the new START treaty, an unprecedented step that would have marked a new low in the red-blue divide. And, too, Brown ignored the obstructionists who wanted to persist in denying our fellow Americans the right to serve in our armed forces because of their sexual orientation.

John Kerry — who recently celebrated his 25th year in the Senate while chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee— displayed strong leadership in shepherding the START treaty through Congress.
These wins — while tempered by the failure of the DREAM Act — offer hope of a different kind: That Democrats and Republicans actually can come to consensus and take action when it matters. People of all political stripes should be thankful for that.

– Bill Forry

Coyotes in Savin Hill

No, those aren’t reindeer prancing through the woods of Savin Hill this week; they are coyotes – and they’ve set the neighborhood e-mail chains ablaze with chatter about whom to call and what to do.
The simple answer is: Get used to them. And take common sense steps to curb their proliferation and avoid confrontation.

As we’ve reported before, the state’s Environmental Police are the only law enforcement agents authorized to handle coyote calls. Unless the animals are acting aggressively, police will not take action to remove coyotes and it is against the law to harm or relocate them on your own.

The best advice, experts say, is to make loud noises to move them along. And, critically, do not leave food unsecured outside— including feed for the birds. If a coyote is acting aggressively, call the Massachusetts Environmental Police at 617-626-1650.
– B.F.