Archive for MA-05

LeftAhead Live From…

Today marks a special occasion for LeftAhead! Not only do we have one live report coming from Mike at Larry Cirignano’s trial, but we have Lynne ready and willing to cover Niki Tsongas’s victory lap the Fifth Congressional District election. Double-whammy!

Mike hopes to be on as early as 2:30, but 3pm is probably more likely. Lynne should be on from the get go to tell us how the race is turning.

And the game was afoot…Mike did call in from the 524 train to Boston. The opening of the civil-rights/assault trial of Larry Cirignano started in Worcester. We’ll have to depend on Bay Windows to provide detailed coverage, because Mike is only able to attend the first day, motions and jury selection. The trial should go into Friday.

There’s more detailed coverage of the defense strategy here and self-indulgent, artiste color here.

5th Update

5th Update
The unsurprisingly tight fight in the 5th Congressional District had the expected result. Nike Tsongas defeated all comers (really the main player, Jim Ogonowski) 51% to 45%. That’s close enough that the Og might consider running again next year in the regular election. It also proves again that Democratic registration is not all it takes to forecast in our more conservative areas. That’s a pastel blue.

icon for podpress  5th CD Results and ENDA [63:40m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


5th CD and More Podcast

In today’s podcast, the 5th CD, Romney’s breakfast and casinos dominated our dicussion. Casino polls show that a tiny majority of Massachusetts would support a resort casino, just not in their backyards (there’s a NIMBY I can understand). The Governor supports it, so where does that Massachusetts? House Speaker Sal DiMasi says nothing will happen on it this year. Ryan figures that longer discussion will work against approval. Mike notes that Gov. Patrick is playing it cleverly by saying gambling is just another industry and not his main economic priority. Both agree that any such revenue flow will be too slow to make a fast difference, as well as not bringing enough dough Massachusetts needs after nearly two decades of pushing off necessary expenditures. We don’t like casinos. We do like that Patrick has faced the realities of our fiscal problems.

The Governor does have three years to get thing moving and he’ll have to scramble to show we can head in the right direction. We continue to think that he needs to present this honestly. He has offered closing business tax loopholes, community funding, gas taxes, and other revenue proposals — all rejected by a legislature that overrode his pork vetoes of their budget addenda.

We have a lot to do, can’t do it without new cash, and shouldn’t count on a couple of future casinos to bail us out.

For the 5th CD, we see Niki Tsongas beating Jim Ogonowski, but by 10% to 15%, not a landslide. This would be similar to Marty Meehan’s first victory in the job, but is shockingly close for the assumptions for her candidacy.

The Daily Show was all over the Republican Presidential candidate quasi-debate, in which the four leaders did not show. It was at the historically Black Morgan State University in Baltimore. Our ex-local candidate Willard Romney thought it was more important to visit an iHOP instead. We suspect that he’ll be eating that regret instead of the breakfast special. See the recap of the event here.

Posts of the Week

Thinking about UAW — the mini-strike and the union being a quarter of its previous size — Mike found the state of the art of union busting telling and anachronistically shocking. Art Levine snuck into a lawyers-for-CEOs seminar on how to do it. He reports on it a little in his own blog. See more at the AFL-CIO Weblog. He details the current techniques for skirting and breaking the law to keep unions out. Fuller coverage appears in his In These Times piece.

Ryan’s Blog of the Week was on the game of Bay State Hold ‘Em. Written by Outraged Liberal, at the blog Massachusetts Liberal, with the URL BayStateLiberal.blogspot, it’s needless to say that this writer has passion. Luckily, he’s right on the money, too: the fact that Speaker DiMasi and Governor Patrick are having a gigantically long stairing contest isn’t going to solve any of our problems in this state. Something’s gotta give. It’s just that casinos won’t be the “something” that will deliver real, long-lasting solutions.

icon for podpress  5th CD, Casinos and Taxes [35:57m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


This and That Podcast

This was a sundries edition and short. We analyzed the 5th CD victory of Niki Tsongas, while briefly lamenting that an even more progressive candidate won’t be in the final, here or elsewhere. We also wondered where the report on casino gambling in the commonwealth is and why the governor has not released it or made his position clear. On the six anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, we regretted that we did not seem to be any more secure as a nation or individuals.

Posts of the Week

The co-author of the California health-care bill posted on the California Progress Report. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata is peeved.

As he has done with the same-sex-marriage bill that passed (for the second time), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he’ll veto the health-care bill. For health-care, he’ll demand a special legislative session to tailor the bill to his desires. In particular, the bill mandates that employers pay up to 7.5% of payroll for health care, while Arnie wants a limit of 4%. As Perata put it:

The Governor never put his health care proposal, which he introduced in January, into print as a bill. He left the heavy lifting of developing and refining the legislation to Democrats and legislative leaders. And, we delivered a practical, workable plan.If the Governor rejects our plan and is serious about getting comprehensive health care reform, it’s time for him to step up, show leadership and put forward a plan in writing. That should be the starting point of any special session on the matter.

icon for podpress  The Election Season [36:28m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Revenge of the Congressional SFifth?

Today’s podcast features Dick Howe, blogger extrordinaire and our first former guest-host to repeat their starring role. His blog was among the best for MA-05 news, videos and general information and we were happy to have him on again. Unlike us, he’s kept out of the endorsement racket (we’ve all enthusiastically supported Jamie) and helped keep the kool-aid drinking to a minimum.

We discussed the prevailing issues of the campaign, from health care to gender equality, as well as media coverage (or a lack thereof) and how the candidates did during the debates. We talked about some of the good and bad each candidate did in the race, as well as a little bit about what each plans to do in order to win. Finally, we questioned whether or not the presumed Republican nominee (Oganowski) will be a credible challenge in this more-conservative-than-average district.

Blogs of the Week

Ryan’s Blog of the Week is on the Pandara’s Box waiting to rear its ugly head in Massachusetts in the form of casinos. David Eisenthal reports that Mohegan Sun – the popular Connecticut casino – just bought 150 acres of land within 15 miles of Springfield on the off chance that the Middleboro deal goes through. So, we have a casino in Middleboro, one potentially in Martha’s Vineyard, the Worcester area, East Boston and who knows where esle? Monson, the town immediately south of where the proposed Mohegan North would be built (Palmer, Ma), has sent an urgent plea to the Governor “that the casino approval process be halted until local and regional officials can be guaranteed a seat at the decisionmaking table.” Sounds only reasonable.

icon for podpress  U.S. Rep Juggernaut? [63:24m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Dick Howe Joins Pod People on 5th CD

We’re two weeks from the 5th CD primaries to replace U.S. 5th Congressional District Rep. Marty Meehan. Next week, Dick Howe joins us our podcast.

One-time sked change: The weekly podcast will be on Thursday, August 28th, not our regular Tuesday, at 2:30 p.m.

After months of major campaigning by droves of candidates (well, up to 8 at a time), the MSM finally noticed there was a race. The Globe, Sun and others like the polls that pick Niki Tsongas on the D side and Jim Ogonowski on the R one. That may happen, but will it and what are the implications if it does?

Dick is a long-term Dem official from an established political family. You can brush up on his insights and commentary at his first podcast with us here, and directly on his political site here.

We won’t ignore that this blog collectively, as well as the three of us individually on our own blogs, endorsed Jamie Eldridge. He is, as his site describes him, the progressive Democrat in this race. He far and away has the positions that we support and think would be best for our commonwealth and nation. We had figured to be in the minority on this, but we hoped that there would be time for people to notice the huge differences in positions. Lackaday.

Dick is closer to the race and more dispassionate than we. His views on the race, the primary and what happens after should be well worth a listen. You can hear the live stream on Thursday at 2:30 or check back to download or stream the podcast.


Whose Ox? Podcast

Ryan and Mike duet covered the 5th CD primary coming up in two weeks. Then, they hit whether our legislature can control its lust for pork to please constituents, particularly after Gov. Patrick said he tackle long-standing deferred needs.

There was some schadenfreude over the wingers who are charged with assaulting lefty demonstrators in Worcester and at the State House. One, Larry Cirignano, exhausted legal tricks and faces a trial on multiple charges in Worcester in two months.

They also mused on national politics, including the efficacy of the electoral college and national elections.

Posts of the Week

Over at FireDogLake, Scarecrow has the key concepts of the José Padilla verdict. Essential is that we can never know how guilty he was or if he had any guilt at all. Proclaimed widely as a Bush victory on the right and quite a bit in the MSM, his terrorist conspiracy finding should gnaw on us all. In anticipation of the result, the wingnuts also yelled and wrote to beware of anyone protesting the verdict in any way.

Yet, as NPR reported today, experts on all sides say we are losing the war on terror and are less safe than when Bush staged the first scenes of his drama. So, most of us would like to think that Padilla verdict drilled a hole in the bad guys’ armor. Unfortunately, we kept him in extreme isolation for three years and so abused his mind that any result is highly questionable. Plus, the administration kept downgrading its allegations and settled on a pretty low level from where they started. Three years of sensory deprivation and other tortures, and this is the best they can do? Neither Scarecrow nor I have faith in the result and no one should feel any relief.

Add-on: The next day, Garrison Keillor’s Salon column covered this ground from a snarky perspective.

Where there is smoke, there is fire. This, however, is rough on smokers, if the fire department is called out whenever someone exhales. And that’s what happened to Mr. Padilla. He lit up a stogie and was nailed for contemplating arson. God forgive us our zealous cruelty.

Read it and weep.

icon for podpress  Whose Ox? [40:24m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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You Betcha, Voters

Today’s show was on the casino deal in Middleboro. Among the several votes at the town meeting, Middleboro voted both against casinos and for them. On the non-binding, ‘do we want casinos in Middleboro’ vote, the town gave a resounding no. On the question of whether or not Middleboro would support the Womponoag casino, the town voted yes by a margin of 2-1.

Odd that, despite the facts that point to the contrary, many in the town thought the casino was all but a done deal – and voted for it out of a fear they’d get nothing if it didn’t pass. Yet, Middleboro’s ‘vote that counted,’ is – in reality – just as symbolic as the vote they took on whether or not they’d support the ethereal casino. Why? It isn’t up to Middleboro whether or not a casino will be built there; it’s up to Deval Patrick and the State Legislature. Let’s hope Beacon Hill won’t rush to judgement as did the town of Middleboro; if one casino is built in Massachusetts, because of the way federal law works, more will follow. This is a decision that needs to be properly vetted and decided carefully, once the casino cork is out of the bottle, it will never fit back in.

Posts of the Week

Ryan’s Blog of the Week comes from Emptywheel at FireDogLake. It’s a post on the NSA wiretapping program, covering a letter sent by Senator Rockefeller to Dick Cheney.

But when Bush signed the Appropriations Act, he signed a mumbo-jumbo filled signing statement specifically addressing that section of the Act. Effectively, the signing statement claimed that since the Annex to the Act that referred to other data-mining programs was classified, any reference to such programs wasn’t really part of the duly-signed law. It was just “advisory.”

Oh, those pesky signing statements. Well, Rockefeller is having none of it. Senators knew what they were doing when they defunded any wiretapping program that would spy on Americans or use data mining to find new Americans to spy on. Yet, Bush gave the program a new name and thought everything was hunky doroy. Of course, this is the same President who tried to bully a hospital-stricken John Ashcroft into providing cover for the wiretapping program in the first place. Any person who can make Ashcroft look like a nice, tame old man has a special seat reserved for them where the weather is always warm – spying on the Americans he’s supposed to be protecting will only help him get a chair with a view.

David was first to start the analysis of the new report on the Community Preservation Act, as Mike’s post of the week. Over at The Eisenthal Report, the post notes that this is not working as it’s supposed to work. The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston concludes:

  1. Rich communities have taken advantage of this and poor ones have not.
  2. The aim of more affordable happening isn’t working with CPA.

Pages 21 and 22 of the report detail exactly hot to fix the problems with fund-revenue distribution rules, use guidelines, and reporting requirements. The current implementation seems sadly in the spirit of the institute’s namesake, Jerry Rappaport. We can do better.

icon for podpress  You Betcha, Voters [32:11m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


New Fifth Poll From Team Tsongas

The results are certainly different than Donoghue’s numbers, that’s for sure.

Tsongas 36%
Donoghue 13%
Eldridge 12%
Finegold 10%
Meceli 4%

25% of the population was undecided. I’d imagine a lot of other people aren’t exactly stubbornly supporting their particular candidates – and who knows who’s really going to come out and vote the day after labor day during the primary of a special election. Obviously, even more than the usual caveats apply.

In any event, I’m sure this will be discussed during tonight’s podcast. Tune in.



My Secret Healthcare Plot

A lot of conservonuts, like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, like to talk about all these great liberal conspiracies and what not. Well, I’m not proud to admit this, but sadly it’s true. I’m involved in a very serious plot… one I hope will brainwash, twist and subvert my very own (conservative) brother. Telling him it was a Super Hero movie, I have officially tricked him into seeing SiCKO tomorrow – this after getting my very own mother to see it on opening day. Trying to keep my little white lie secure, my face immediately turned pink when he inquired further… so I went so far as to include my very own father in this plot to turn my brother into one of those healthcare-loving commies. He gladly accepted the invitation – not even knowing what the movie is about.

The great thing about SiCKO is that it offers an accessible, entertaining way to convince friends and family of the necessity to change course on health care. Obviously, there’s something wrong here. No one needs to see the movie to know that. However, sometimes problems are so big that we become blind to their actual scale – it takes something like a book or documentary to piece everything together and present one organized theme that people can easily digest. In that effort, SiCKO, like an Inconvienant Truth, is a resounding success.

Obviously, as we’ve seen in the MA-05 race, Health Care has become a huge concern to America. Hopefully people have listened to LeftAhead’s interview with candidate Jamie Eldridge, who strongly supports a single-payer system. He’s got some great ideas that expand beyond the movie and we talked in detail about a great many of them. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to learn a thing or two about our healthcare system as well – and how to improve it. I’ll give a hint to readers: as Moore points out in SiCKO, the interests of the health care industry and society in general don’t always intertwine. Let’s hope the dialogue in MA-05 and the country continues, because it’s well past time that healthcare in America become a right.



Progressives in the 5th CD…and Beyond

Progressive Democratic candidate for the 5th U.S. Congressional District seat Jamie Eldridge joined us, about 39 minutes into the podcast. The three of us endorse him for the race, but we had a free-ranging discussion.

He responds to questions about how he expects to overcome Niki Tsongas’ presumed advantages, whether women’s right to choose or health care will be crucial issues, and what we can expect from him on the Iraq war, mass transit and other key Massachusetts concerns.

Mike’s post of the week is more blogging-centric than usual. Over at Blue Mass Group, Bob muses on whether blogs can set the tone for the Democrats as right-wing radio and TV has for Republicans. He cites a Timothy Egan NYT column saying that talk radio hosts have wagged the elephant. “[P]ragmatism is being drowned out by the bullies with electronic bullhorns, who’ve got their party leaders running scared.” While Bob doesn’t suggest bullying the Dems, he does point to the increasing readership of blogs and suggests the potential risks for the leftist.

This dovetails with the cover article of this week’s The Nation. There, Rick Perlstein wonders Will the Progressive Majority Emerge? He makes a strong argument that Democrats are already mainstream, because the vast majority of voters have come to recognize that corporations and conservative politicians are sacrificing the nation’s needy and middle classes to their greed. The voters are progressive, just waiting to be asked to support our issues.

Ryan’s Blog of the Week concerns the looming state crisis on property taxes and education funding. JCSinclair, over at BMG, writes about the situation in Stoneham and how tough choices are being made when towns don’t pass necessary overrides. Of course, we can’t keep passing these overrides because they fail to address the underlying issues (health care expenses, mainly). For another look at just how damaging these cuts are – especially to our youngest children – read about the situation in Dartmouth.

Lynne’s post of the week was from Tony on, regarding the Eldridge/Finegold/Tsongas/EMILY’s List tangle. She was especially grateful that Tony pointed out this story, because she felt it important enough to write about, as did BMG’s David.

Speaking of which, here’s the video of the question that started it all:

Click To Play


icon for podpress  Hunger for Congress [86:02m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download