Archive for This Week’s Best

Races Narrow and Broad

We opened with the brief that Sen. Ted Kennedy found today that he had a malignant brain tumor, which caused his weekend seizure. Typically such cancers kill in one to five years, but some people fare better.

We hit on national and Massachusetts contests. As an erstwhile West Virginian, Mike mused on Obama’s drubbing there and what it might mean for his strategy to attract rural, swing-state support.

Locally, two Republicans are gunning for U.S. Sen. John Kerry. Also in Boston, voters will face a choice between a sloppy or cooked State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson against newcomer Sonia Chang-Diaz. Wilkerson has delivered for her district, but some there are tired of her personal and financial problems and missteps. Do they go with similar platforms from the reformer or stick with the devil they know?

Posts of the Week

Over at Huffington Post, Dylan Loewe is counting his chickens before the hatch and Mike likes the sound. In Realizing the Revolution, that post draws parallels to FDR’s huge legislative win that brought him to power. The Republicans have not only vastly increased Presidential power, but they seem headed for solid defeats in Congress. As Loewe put it:

It was with that governing majority and that dramatic mandate for change that FDR built his new kind of politics. His was a lasting legacy for the Democratic Party and the country. If the 2008 Congressional elections continue with the trend they’ve begun, an Obama presidency might well leave a similar mark.

Over at Marry in Massachusetts, Mike posted on the analysis of what Obama has to do to win rural hearts and votes. Step one is to show up there, and not just in a couple of cities.

Music Note: The snippets from today’s and last week’s  intro and ending are from Mike’s friend Joel Blumert.

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Beyond Pennsylvania

We dove into the results of this weekend’s BlogLeft gathering in Lowell. Ryan and Lynne took the initiative to present a proposal for ramping up a netroots drive. We agreed to work together as bloggers for some progressive goals. Definitely to be continued.

Ryan and Mike both expressed impatience with getting a nominee is place to start the  general Presidential campaign. Obama has it and it’s past time to get it on. Unless Clinton won Pennsylvania by a huge margin of 30% to 40%, she’s done. He needs to get to the business of bringing in a Democratic and Progressive administration.

Posts of the Week

Larry Womack calls tomorrow D-Day for superdelegates. Over at Huffington Post, he concludes they’ll know enough after the Pennsylvania vote to clear up this mess.

So which is the more plausible path to the White House? Clinton’s better chance in the king maker states, or Obama’s shot at putting new ones into play? Or will the turnout advantage hold, making the party virtually unstoppable regardless of the nominee? If it all seems a bit much for you to sort out, imagine how hard it must be for Democratic Party officials, whose inability to identify a winner must be chromosomal.

The decision they come to — or their choice to dodge it — should become apparent between Pennsylvania and Indiana. If they believe that Clinton’s elector-rich wins outweigh Obama’s delegate-rich wins, this will be the time to speak up. If they do, Obama is officially in trouble. If they don’t, Clinton is almost certainly fighting a losing battle.

icon for podpress  Lefties Off the Dime [47:42m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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New England Marriage Equality Culture

We started by indulging Mike, who attended a same-sex marriage symposium on Friday at Roger Williams University. It had a speaker and two expert panels on the culture of SSM in New England. That gave us a chance to wander about GLBT and more general civil rights.

We plugged the April 19th BlogLeft netroots gathering in Lowell. We are anticipating spurring our governor and lieutenant governor to return to grassroots/netroots.

Posts of the Week

Over at the Pennsylvania flavor of Daily Kos, creweeny reports that voters, particularly Dems are registering like ants on sugar there. Reports are of 200,000 new Dem registrants in the past 10 weeks and 75,000 since March 24th alone. Raw numbers appear in this spreadsheet. creweeny also notes, “45,977 changed to Democrats while 1,808 changed to Republicans, and 33,000 new Democrats registered.” Dem registrants are up in areas leaning for each Obama and Clinton.

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Questionable Casinos Podcast

Sad it was, a solo mumble and moan by the old, sick Mike. Ryan was off with his candidate and Lynne in business meeting. I went on about casinos and how Gov. Deval Patrick is using some pretty questionable statistics and one scare tactic to promote his gambling proposal.

His desperation is understandable, as the incompetent legislature won’t raise taxes on business to fair levels and has no proposals of its own for infusing badly needed revenue into a hurting state.

I alluded to the Jarrett Barrios mini-interview on Blog La Plaza. That’s here. The former state senator justifies his support for Hilliary Clinton over Barack Obama on GLBT and other civil rights issues by cues. Neither makes strong civil-rights statements, but he figures her previous statements as a Senator cover her. I find them both centrists and wishy-washy on rights.

Posts of the Week

Hillary, ready for leadership and crisis? Michael Seitzman over at Huffington Post calendar pagessays the evidence proves otherwise. The root of his argument is that she pushes her experience, but the only real one she has is running her campaign, a foundering one. He holds that counter to her claim she’d be prez and ready on day one of her term she has failed to deal with the variables of the Obama campaign. The crisis came, and stayed, and she has been unable to manage it. Seitzman concludes, “So what does the crystal ball tell us? Does it tell us she’d be ready on Day One? Maybe. But it tells us something else, too. It tells us that she’s not remotely equipped for Day Two.”

—Mike

icon for podpress  Questionable Casinos [28:34m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Bumbling Toward Casinos Podcast

Casinos are not going to solve Massachusetts long-standing economic problems. Despite a questionable study underway to claim huge benefits, other cities and states have not gotten the promised revenues.

Instead, we’d like to see:

  • An honest appraisal of the drawbacks and potentials.
  • A comparison to other tacks, like funding new high-tech industries and companies.
  • Fair taxation of existing businesses at the same level as other states.
  • Stop the fixation on casinos and present the viable alternatives.

Posts of the Week

Hail, Massachusetts Liberal! Mike points to a two-shot analysis of the John McCain lobbyist scandal. Right-tards like Rush Limbaugh have fumed about stories in the New York Times and Washington Post, concentrating on passing mentions that some of McCain’s staff feared he and a female lobbyist had a sexual relationship. The much more important angle is the detailed figurative sleeping-with-lobbyists one. McCain has a history questionable practices with influence peddlers. Check the straight talk in Sleeping Around and I did not have financial relations with that woman…

icon for podpress  Bumbling Toward Casinos [63:51m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Hillary/Barack Less Filling/More Taste

Ryan and Mike kicked around the virtues, flaws and Presidential potential of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Neither candidate is left enough or progressive enough for Mike. Barack’s partisan talk makes Ryan nervous or worse. He sees that attitude as a real weakness, one portending ineffectiveness if elected. Mike feels this could well the one of those rare times when a candidate of high ideals can get elected and ride a short wave of progressivism and populism in implementing big changes. Ryan remains skeptical and sees Hillary as the candidate of incremental improvements.

Post of the Week

A Southern woman writing on Southern women (and men) intrigued Mike. Ann-Marie Slaughter over at Huffington Post states that The South Has Not Yet Been Won. Be sure to read the passionate comments, from many angles. She contends that “many white men in the South may be voting against Hillary more than they are voting for Obama. That’s not good news for the Clinton campaign.” Yet, even this doesn’t mean they’d choose him over John McCain. She does hold out a little hope — “Obama may be able to convince some of those voters to cross racial lines…”

icon for podpress  Eying Hillary v. Barack [43:24m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Term Limits for Boston Pols

Bright, ambitious and innovative Boston City Councilor John Tobin joined us today. In a far-ranging discussion, we touched on Twinkies, Mayor Menino, term limits, and free wireless.

John is Mike’s District (6) Councilor. He has an impressive agenda for the city.

He is not shy or dissembling. At the end, we asked whether he’d run for mayor. It was a definite yes. He said he was ready, particularly if Menino did not run again in two years.

He covered his thought on the benefits of term limits for Council and Mayor. He has already introduced this in Council. If this does not come up for discussion and vote, he’ll bring it back in January.

If listeners want to skip to particular thoughts, here’s a rough, imperfect outline of when we talked about what:

-3 minutes in: Tobin comes on, we quickly hit up WiFi and other issues.
-17 minutes in: It’s time to chat about Term Limits and why it could benefit the city of Boston in ways we’d all expect, as well as not expect.
-25 minutes in: It’s time to talk about pressing issues in Boston, especially how it can be a better city for its kids.
-47 minutes in: How what happens in Boston can be a blueprint for progress in other cities and towns across the state.
-52 minutes in: Mayor John Tobin? Tobin finishes off his conversation by talking about whether he’d run for the executive office, or not.

Posts of the Week

Mike thinks the most significant blog post this week was a short and sarcastic gem by Charley on Blue Mass Group. As we have lamented here and on our individual blogs, the legislature has sat on the clear solutions to our budget shortfalls. Now that we face cutbacks in essential services as a result, Charley enumerates what the lawmakers haven’t done. Let’s get with the program, folks.

Ryan’s Blog ‘o the Week is on mandating health care. Ryan and Mike must be channeling the same thoughts, because both link to different Charley on the MTA posts. While Charley would prefer a single-payer health care system, he correctly notes that for a health system to work, care must be mandated – the only question that exists is who is mandated to pay for it (consumers, employers or the government).

Health care is and must be a social good. It simply doesn’t function if folks are free to opt out. This isn’t some technical issue; it’s as fundamental as balls and strikes in baseball….

One of the main problems with our health care is that very freedom of opting out — or of insurers to boot you out. If you’re free to opt in or out, you buy insurance if you’re a bad risk and you stay free and easy if you’re a good risk. That means insurance is more expensive for people who have it; and they end up subsidizing the people who were uninsured to happen to end up in the hospital. It’s called adverse selection.

So for the system to work at all, you’ve got to get everyone in the system. Someone’s got to be mandated to buy coverage. You can do one or more of these three things:

Mandate employers to insure their workers. (Including the self-employed!)
Mandate individuals to buy insurance.
Mandate the government to insure everyone: Just sign ’em up!

Of course, Charley prefers the latter, but for the new Massachusetts system to work, people can’t be allowed to opt out. That will only mean more of the same, where healthy people are quite willing to opt out, leaving the rest to pay the burden (both from more expensive rates and from covering the uninsured who end up needing emergency care). As always, Charley proves he has a great grasp of the health care issue. Hopefully, Beacon Hill politicians are listening.

icon for podpress  Term Limits for Boston Pols [64:37m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Future of Boston City Government?

Our guest on today’s 2:30 p.m. podcast differs in many ways from his fellow Boston City Councilors. John Tobin:

  • Has been a political animal from his degree (political science from UMASS/Boston) to legislative aide and director jobs into Council.
  • Makes outstanding and unique use of new media, as in having the only video blog around and hiring new-media god Steve Garfield as his web designer and webmaster.
  • Puts his neck out for such innovations as citywide wireless and returning phys. ed. to public schools.
  • Otherwise stretching behind the safe tactics of constituent services into such broad areas as distribution of state meals taxes, outlawing mini-motobikes and such from streets, and GPSes on school buses.

We’ll start with him talking about his ideas for term limits for Councilors and (gasp) the Mayor.

If you can’t catch the podcast live, you can click the same link up top later for a listen or go to the Left Ahead! archive to listen or download the MP3.

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Casinos, Not, Podcast

CasinoFreeMass spokeswoman Laura Everett joined us. Her group has seven detailed reasons for why it opposes casinos here.

All three of us at Left Ahead! have previously come out agreeing that casinos are no solution to the commonwealth’s economic problems.

She is not a bluenose. Listen in to hear a cogent set of arguments.

Posts of the Week

Over at Political Cortex, Bill Hare is ranting righteously and got Mike’s attention with his post Is Treason an Impeachable Offense? Hare has lost all patience with Democratic Congressional titular leaders who won’t confront the Executive Branch. As his post puts it:

Okay, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, you have spent all this time demeaning the idea of impeaching George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as a form of absurd distraction…Should you now consider the relevance of impeachment in view of Scott McClellan’s latest comments and what they, along with other available evidence, portend for the future of this nation?

He catalogs many deaths and violations of U.S. and International law, and asks, “So what do we do now, Reid and Pelosi? Do we let treason pass as well or do we finally take action as should have been done long ago against the Cheney-Bush neoconservative reign of terror that has disrupted America while the Constitution was replaced with the “I am the state” dictate delivered by Napoleon Bonaparte?”

Ryan’s Blog ‘o the Week questions just why 2nd-in-shadow-command Senator Trent Lott resigned. Was it because he wanted to get out now, so he can become a lobbyist before new rules kick in that would add years to his wait, or is it because of his alleged Teg-Haggard-type problem? Of course, take everything with a grain of salt, but about them emails.

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Sorting Sundries Podcast

Mike and Ryan hit up several key topics this week from a speaking gig Ryan had with the folks at Casino Free Massachusetts in New Bedford earlier in the week, to the whole situation with the crime syndicate – I mean police force – in Boston. Is it possible to have a city that can trust its police to keep the streets safe, when there’s problems with the police protecting the cocaine ring? The city’s police force has to keep its legitimacy intact if it wants to keep the streets safe, otherwise it becomes much harder to do the kinds of community outreach that lead to safer cities in the past. Also discussed on the show: are Speaker DiMasi and Governor Patrick finally starting to get along? And what was with MassResistance and especially Amy Contrada?

Posts of the Week

Ryan’s Blog ‘o the Week comes from blogger Scarecrow, a Massachusetts native, over at FireDogLake. The President recently chastized Democrats for being like, and I paraphrase here, ‘teenagers who got their hands on a credit card.’ The Democrats just passed a major $606 billion-dollar health care, education and job training bill, but it was actually a good and efficient bill – Bush only actually complained about 10 billion of the spending, versus the other 596, yet he still vetoed. Scarecrow thinks Bush calling Democrats spend thrifts is absurd, especially given this President’s continually loose wallet surrounding the war in Iraq. Here’s a brief snippet:

To date, Bush has asked Congress to approve over $800 billion for US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but never once suggested raising taxes to pay for those authorizations. And there is no end in sight. The White House has yet to provide a credible rebuttal to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office report that predicted the likely costs of America’s two wars, including the interest to borrow the money instead of raising taxes to pay for them, would approach $2.4 trillion by 2017 (h/t TPM). Even that estimate probably fails to account for long-run health care costs for returning soldiers, costs we are only beginning to understand.

Mike figuratively traveled to Maine for a post from White Noise Insanity on limiting protests around the elder Bush’s compound in Kennebunkport. Voters there approved a requirement that protesters have to pay for a large surety bond to exercise there allegedly free speech. The ACLU will look at the legality. As kayinmaine put it:

I wonder if Bush Sr. cried after the last protest near his home and this is why the town of Kennebunkport has voted to START CHARGING a fee? He is a crybaby you know! It’s very possible, Babs said to him, “Oh for Christ’s sake George! I’ll contact the town government and tell them to stop the madness! Stop crying!”. Hey, it wouldn’t surprise me! No fascist warmonger likes the idea of opposition and they certainly will tell you that freedoms are not free. Freedom is only for those who have the money to use them and if you cry enough, you can stop any right from being used if you want! See?

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