Archive for Prisons

Liberties Lost Podcast

It was a short, weird show today. Mike held forth on his Baby Boomer upbringing, in relation to expectations of American liberties. He contrasted that with what we are seeing at the airports, from Congress, in Gitmo and more.

Unfortunately, BlogTalkRadio misbehaved. Ryan could not connect to talk.

It was short and only suited to those who like 15-minute rants.

icon for podpress  That Freedom Thing [18:10m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Democracy for People of Color Podcast

Comparing MA and Boston governance to monarchies, Horace Small is no mumbler or sycophant. As executive director of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods for its 11 years, he is a man of many missions. He focuses on what advances and frees Boston and MA’s people of color.

Click on the player below to hear the half-hour podcast. We got into what the UMN has been up to and will be doing, what he thinks needs to happen to set Boston right, and how blacks and Latinos can look out for their self-interest.

Small’s UMN has successfully attacked some of the most daunting issues for communities of color here. That includes high unemployment,CORI reform, prisons, and education in poor communities. Listen in as he talks about successes…and frustrations.

Highest on Small’s list of stumbling blocks is surprisingly not the underrepresentation of blacks and Latinos in government. Instead, it is the lack of citizen power and input.

“Ther is more democracy in the state prison than the State House,” he told us. Likewise, he said a typical high-school student government is more responsive to voters than Boston’s City Council, he has it.

His group is circulating acts to seven MA cities to bolster collective bargaining support. In Boston, he drives for a re-evaluation and repair of the city charter. He has strong words for the strong-mayor form of government the long static charter provides in the capital city.

For the next generation, he also pushes the burden clearly back to his — to mentor and show progressive aims and goals by examples. For the youth he states, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” He says he, at 58, grew up with leaders showing him the way. Listen in as he discusses what the UMN can use and what it will be doing.

icon for podpress  Horace Small [30:06m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Horace Small Joins Us

Exec. Dir. Horace Small of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods comes on our show next week, Tuesday, April 5th at 2:30 PM Eastern. His group attacks the big problems of people of color in Boston and Massachusetts.

If you can join us for the live stream, go here 4/5 at 2:30 PM. Afterward, you can go to that URL, return to Left Ahead or go to iTunes to hear or download the show.

The UMN goes right to the crucial issues for black and Latino residents:

  • High incarceration rates
  • Low representation in the MA House and Senate — none in Congress from here
  • Low HS graduation rates
  • High unemployment, particularly for black men

Listen in as Small describes training and other organizing, coalition building, and going at these issues from many angles.


Pot LITE Comes to Mass.

nickel.jpgNext week’s podcast kicks around marijuana enforcement under the week’s new standards. It’s not so simple as November’s ballot question seems.

On (not in) paper, possession of under an ounce of pot is a civil offense. If you’re caught, it’s supposed to be a $100 fine and no CORI record of a crime.

Back in the real world, the heat from Attorney General Martha Coakley to various mayors to district attorneys are pissed. They want various combinations of stronger local ordinances and regulations. On the face of it, they seem petulant that 65% of voters went against their long list of reasons to defeat the question.

They’d have it that criminal prosecution of small amounts of grass for personal use protects us from drug addiction, related crimes, auto fatalities and more. Libertarians and many progressives say police power should go to real crime and that prohibition didn’t work here any more than it did with booze.

Join us live Tuesday, January 6th at 2:30, or check back here anytime afterward.  The three usual suspects will try to separate the hysteria from the reality as Massachusetts becomes one of 11 states with some marijuana decriminalization.


Why We Ignore Toture Podcast

Eric FairMike ended up as solo babbler today. The subject was torture.

He had a choice Saturday between the Boston civic summit, which was certain to be lots of idealized talk and the seminar/panel Torture and the American Psyche: Blurring the Boundaries Between Healers and Interrogators.

The panel was at the First Parish (UU) Church in Brookline. However, the roughly dozen co-sponsors were largely mental health and physicians associations. The 150 or so attendants seemed to be mostly psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists.

Disclaimer: Mike attends that church and knows the social-action committee folk, as well as goes to coffee hour and church meetings in the hall where the seminar occurred.

The panel included Stephen Soldz Ph.D., a local psychoanalyst, social activist and professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, Leonard Rubenstein J.D., president of Physicians for Human Rights, David Sloan-Rossiter Ph.D., co-chair of the Curriculum Committee at Boston Institute for Psychotherapy and the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis, and Eric Fair a former interrogator in Iraq who has been telling his story and calling for reform. The photo is of Fair.

The short of the seminar included:

  • This is not the first time, we as a nation have tortured and have overridden our Constitution and its amendments (think WWII interment camps, Cold War and Red Scare periods). When a lot is perceived to be at stake humanity and our values lose.
  • Despite the evidence that coerced information is worthless, too many in the chain of command have convinced themselves it is a regrettable necessity. It is not.
  • Psychologists have been key in devising and training on the worst, most effective ways of torturing captives.
  • The American Psychological Association is the only professional organization in any of the health fields that does not absolutely forbid its members from participating in torture.
  • Left without clear directives and discipline, our soldiers who otherwise act heroically, Fair said, “will wield that same violence in the most irresponsible of ways, to the shameof the very cause they swore to defend.”
  • The current Administration may need to go away before a new President stops the anti-American, anti-liberty acts against us and others.

Related Links:

Mike will post more on the panel in the next few days at Marry in Massachusetts.

icon for podpress  Torture panel [27:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Prisons and More Podcast

We’ll be covering crime and punishment in several podcasts, future ones with guests. Today, we started with our views on how to deal with convicted criminals, on why America has such a huge proportion of its populace in jails, and what the alternatives are. Then we jumped to the casino debate again, this time with some added context – such as the fact that when there’s a casino within 50 miles of a home, addiction to gambling literally doubles, according to a report commissioned by the US Congress. Also, all three hosts were annoyed that Speaker DiMasi hasn’t offered any enticing alternatives to casino revenue to help diffuse whatever arguments pro-casino people have at their disposal. Finally, we touched on the United Auto Worker’s strike at GM autoplants and what it all means for the grand scheme of things.

Posts of the Week

Mike thought he was through with Larry Craig, before stumbling on a great analytical series. Over at Ridenbaugh Press, Randy Stapilus is running a four part series — one here, two here, three here and four in the works. He details the implications for Craig and other politicians of situations where they have misdemeanor convictions. He also explains how the ACLU blew its amicus brief. This series is solid journalism.

Lynne’s Blog of the Week is on a new favorite kid on the block she found, Feministe. It focuses on all sorts of women’s issues and features top-notch writing and analysis. There are all sorts of great articles on Feministe, ranging from racial issues to media critiques. Give it a whirl.

Ryan’s Blog of the Week can be found at FireDogLake. It focuses on Dan Rather’s lawsuit against CBS and how, contrary to popular conception, not all of Rather’s points regarding Bush’s service regard during Vietnam were ever answered. The questions are still relevant, not because Bush may or may not have abused the system in the 1970s, but because he’s still lying about them today.

icon for podpress  Lock 'em up [59:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download