Archive for May, 2007

State House Follies & 5th CD Again

Listen in on this week’s podcast to hear Mike and Ryan go at it on crazy homophobic “witnesses,” casinos in Massachusetts and a whole host of issues. Midway through the segment – at exactly the half hour mark – Sco joins us to talk the fifth congressional race. He’s got a great understanding of the race. We go over the essential issues, what kind of chances each of the candidates have and how they plan on winning. Some planning on winning by winning big in certain regions. Some on money and name recognition. Some on endorsements and machine power. Heck, even being the lone conservative democrat in the race is one person’s strategy for victory.

Who will win? Who knows. However, Sco certainly is as in tune in this race as anyone else is. sco (Steve) joined us about 31 minutes in for the 5th CD update. He sees the peculiar timing of the election as strongly in favor of Niki Tsongas. While she doesn’t have the experience of several other candidates, her family name recognition is very high. The primary campaign will go over the summer with a low-turn-out election just after labor day. The best hopes for other candidates are 1) collect a pile of contributions and go to broadcast ads (no one can visit the whole spread out district), and 2) hit a differentiating notes that sets him or her apart of the other candidates.

He has a lot more on this race on his blog, .08 Acres (and a Donkey).

Blogs of the Week

Mike’s post of the week was from Massachusetts Liberal. In Fish or cut bait, the call is to House Speaker Sal DiMasi to stop playing the traditionally Republican ploy of spending without funds. DiMasi is so intent on showing Gov. Deval Patrick that ole Sal controls the budget that he is trying to spend the state rainy-day fund for current items.

The post asks, “…if you aren’t for closing corporate tax loopholes or legalizing casino gambling, what is your plan for bringing Massachusetts the dollars it needs to protect and educate its residents?” It cites DiMasi’s illogical approach and then asks moreover, “So if tax law changes and new revenue sources are not an option, what is? Dipping into our savings until they are gone? We’re waiting Mr. Speaker.”

Ryan’s Blog of the Week is a diary front-paged at Blue Mass Group, written by Representative Dan Bosley. Entitled “Why I Have Opposed Casinos in the Commonwealth,” the representative goes over a whole host of reasons on why they just plain old don’t make sense. They won’t benefit our economy – and could make it far worse. They won’t give us lots of revenue. Don’t only read it, but look for his many comments in the thread as well – there’s lots of important nuggets of information everyone should read so they can be informed citizens on the casino issue.

Update: In cased anyone is having trouble listening in below or downloading, here’s a link that definitely works. We’ll get the tech stuff fixed soon.

Update update: The podcast gods are back in heaven and the malformed link is behaving. Click away, eager listeners.

icon for podpress  The Great Divide [73:16m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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MA-05 Required Reading

Seeing as how we have Sco on board for this week’s podcast, I figure some required reading is in order. Richard Howe picked up on some of the candidates positions on immigration – there’s also some neat videos on his site as well, from the latest forum. Also, check out www.point08.blogspot.com for Sco’s interviews with the candidates – by plugging in “MA-05” in his search bar.

Most importantly of all, don’t forget that this Saturday – June 2nd – is the MA-05 Candidate Health Care Forum. Health Care has pretty much been the biggest issue in the race thus far, at least in terms of the blogosphere. It’s at 10am to noon at the Hudson Portugese Club, 13 Port Street, Hudson Mass. There’s plenty of room and wireless access, so feel free to come and bring your laptops to live blog it if you want. If you do, I’m sure you’ll be linked to LeftAhead for your take – I’ll be sure to give mine.

~Ryan

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5th CD Great Divide

There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. The bonhomie that has characterized the race to replace U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan seems to be subject to time, exposure and the gravity of it all.

From .08 Acres, Steve (sco) joins our podcast Tuesday, May 29th, at 7:30 p.m. We’ll touch on several topics, but a concentration will be on how this is shaping up. He has been interviewing and otherwise covering the candidates and their race.

Click on our link to the right if you want to hear it live or head over to BlogTalkRadio for details. Meanwhile, Lynne has her own coverage of this week’s candidates’ forum centered on the Iraq war. It appears as though there are strong positions and some candidates afraid to poke their heads up.
—Mike

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Healthy Concerns

We hit a lot of hot buttons in today’s podcast — the pending 5th CD forums on Iraq and on health care, the local races, the ConCon fight over the anti-marriage-equality amendment, and even taxes.

Lynne saw and strongly urges that we all hit Bill Moyers’ piece on alleged fair trade. His main guest was John R. MacArthur , journalist and author, most recently of The Selling of Free Trade: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy. The segment rips into the MSM and politicians selling free trade as great for everyone, when there are strong arguments to the opposite.

There’s a transcript and a video.

Mike picked Mike as his blog poster of the week. Over at his eponymous site, Michael Forbes Wilcox has a timely analysis and mild rant about corporations that shift their tax burdens to small companies and mostly to individuals. Because AT&T, Boeing, Eli Lilly, Merrill Lynch, Toys R Us and others pay no state taxes, we pay more.

He provides a link to the study of this issue, with enough details to enrage each of us.

Massachusetts is in the process of expanding its tax reporting to call out such corporations as part of its new commission on corporate taxes. To date, 20 states require such reporting and six others in addition to us are considering it. A form of that reporting requirement has been kicking around here since January. See Senate Bill 1718.

Such obvious reporting, particularly at a time of fiscal crisis, may be quite a spur to action for even those legislators who like to snuggle with big, rich corporations at taxpayer expense. Turn on the light.

Ryan’s Blog of the Week is Sco’s roundup of the State Democratic Convention. He points everyone to the best coverage – the blogs. Why? The main stream media, by large, didn’t think the once-per-year convention warranted coverage. Oops.

icon for podpress  Health Mass '05 [52:03m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Today’s Podcast!

Just a reminder – LeftAhead is live at 7:30pm. We’re talking health care, MA-05, health care and MA-05, ConCon and who knows what else?

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Ranting Deferred

We are back on the road or air or tubes with our podcast. We shall move our topics — healthcare, the fight for U.S. 5th CD Rep seat, and maybe ConCon updates.

We go live at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 22 here. You can check back to this main page for a listen-or-download link from archives anytime after that.

—Mike

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Due To Technical Difficulties…

Because of some very rare technical problems, we (Ryan and I) were not able to hook into the podcast tonight. However, we will reschedule, likely for Thursday, and let everyone know the new time for those who like to listen live. It will go back to the regular schedule next week.

Thanks for listening!

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Some Things Get Better

Yesterday’s podcast with Susan Ryan-Vollmar found me babbling briefly about the old days — the mid-1960s in Greenwich Village. Maybe nothing’s more boring than hearing about how it used to be, but maybe that can be a useful perspective.

As a married lesbian mother, Susan certainly has her own investment in the pending drive to put an amendment in our commonwealth constitution stopping same-sex marriage. Among her concerns is that her kids not get subjected to a year and a half of screaming about how they are inferior because of their home life, their two moms.

In his early 20s and openly gay, Ryan is impatient with social progress. He also expects his generation and the next to drive the anti-gay old farts out of the state house, as well as crushing any anti-equality legislation that lawmakers or citizens might promote. As a long-term Democratic and progressive activist in her early 30s, Lynne is neither as pessimistic as Susan, who considers that the amendment might advance and might even pass nor as optimistic as Ryan about Massachusetts’ gay friendliness of the near future.

Feeling Hoary

In the midst of all this, as an early boomer, I recalled my own experiences as well as those of my gay friends from the sand box onward. One was my summer and vacation buddy from pre-school. He lived in a small town in farming country in West Virginia. He was quite literally a boy in the band. He was bright and funny and nice. Most people figured he was a homosexual early on, but nobody beat him up. Many boys avoided him. He didn’t speak about his sexual identity and any feelings of isolation, even with me, until our early 20s. That’s a little sad. We did share everything else. He was likely 99.44% sure it would not be a problem, but in the spirit of the times, he kept quiet.

Back to the 1960s, the old stereotype of the mincing, lisping queen lived in Greenwich Village. I had grown up in Virginia and elsewhere knowing women in Boston marriages. They did not affect identifying mannerisms. Again, in the spirit of the times, the behaviors that produced such films as Boys in the Band had some basis. In that period at home in New Jersey, I was aware that homosexuals or suspected ones, male or female, might get assaulted. There was certainly no overt gay-rights movement to provide protection and equality.

As Ryan and Susan note, things are better here and in many urban areas, but in many parts of the country, it’s still not safe to be out. I lament our social retardation, as the rest of the First World seems to pass us in equality and egalitarianism.

Another friend from college grew up as the oldest of 12 children in South Carolina. He and a brother are gay. They are Black. It wasn’t always easy for them growing up and they were cautious. Both moved far from Columbia to be adults. My chum lives in Somerville, where it seems OK to be out. He makes a great and active godfather to one of my boys. I solemnized his marriage. That is all life as it should be.

Not There Yet

Last night, we podcasters kicked around the dueling ideas of how far we have come in gay rights and how far we have to go for real equality. I confess that I held the idea in college and shortly after that my generation would continue its progressive behavior. A funny thing happened on the way to equality. Not only have the boomers aged predictably toward conservative political leanings, but many were never involved in the early struggles. They never marched for civil rights or to end war or for women’s rights or for gay rights. They were bystanders, voyeurs who had many of their parents’ ideals.

Perhaps I’m foolish again with Ryan’s generation. Yet, poll after poll of those in their teens and 20s are promising. Not only are those groups not anti-gay, they are indifferent. They don’t feel any threat from two homosexuals marrying and getting the benefits thereof. They may be impossible to manipulate with fear or hate.

Now, if we can quash this amendment thing one way or another, we can get onto real issues that need addressing.

—Mike

P.S. I should cross-post this at Marry in Massachusetts. I’ve walked back onto my own turf.

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Showtime at the Beacon Hill Corral

Well, we rambled a bit, but Susan Ryan-Vollmar hung with us. The editor-in-chief of Bay Windows was as guest.

None of us could nail whether the anti-marriage-equality amendment coming before this year’s ConCon will come to a vote and if it does, if it will pass onto the ballot in 2008. Susan feared she might be too pessimistic, but she did not see how the pro-equality side could have flipped eight or nine legislators to keep from getting that 50-member 25% vote to advance the amendment. Yet, she said that MassEquality and other lobbying groups were not saying what successes that had so far.

Blogs of the Week

Mike’s blog post of the week came from an unusual place for him — Huffington Post. Sara Whitman’s A Separate Fountain does a great job without torturing the analogy of comparing civil unions to racial segregation.

She’s from Massachusetts and married to her wife for three years. She had spoken recently to a man who “told me that civil unions were an equal institution but that marriage is about religion…gay marriage was wrong. It was an argument of separate but equal, made by an African-American man. I wondered if the colored-only water fountains ever felt equal. Still a water fountain, after all. Just a separate one, so the purity of the white fountain would not be sullied…He was asking me to drink from another fountain. If marriage had no legal relevance and was only a religious symbol, I could go with it. But it doesn’t. It is woven into the legal system, government benefits, and tax codes. It is a civil right. The laws and understanding of it comes about from years and years of legal precedents. It can’t be replicated in a meaningful way…Civil unions, in other words, are still a separate fountain. ”

She hits it spot on in her call to defeat the anti-marriage-equality amendment here. Her personal blog is Suburban Lesbian Housewife.

Ryan’s Blog of the Week is a post on Mitt Romney’s, err, vision. Anna Marie Cox, former Ms. Wonkette, caught Mitt Romney making shit up. According to someone, somewhere (over the rainbow?), people in France marry in seven-year-terms. Because France is bad, he must have expected no one would question his facts absurd notions. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney actually spent years in France on a Mormon mission. Perhaps that’s when he read Orson Scott Card’s book that made up that whole 7-year thing to begin with – just not on this planet and it was about the Book of Mormon. Honorary mention to Massachusetts Liberal, who wrote an excellent piece on the traps of polling and Mitt Romney – and gave me the link to Cox’s piece to begin with.

icon for podpress  Battles Back on Beacon Hill [64:10m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Marryment Tonight and Tomorrow

Tonight’s podcast with special-guest Susan Ryan-Vollmar is obviously going to be one of our most important podcasts yet – all the more so for the insight Ryan-Vollmar can provide on tomorrow’s ConCon. Tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace as the days tick by and a vote on marriage draws nearer and nearer. Yes, it’s coming folks – and sooner than we’d expect. That’s why we’ve got to be ready.

We need to make phone calls and more phone calls – to state legislators, to everyone. Call our friends and family to tell them to call their state legislators. And, hopefully, they’ll call people and have them call. The phone shouldn’t be off the hook of any state legislator over the next 20 hours. And then, right before the next Constitution Convention, we’ll have to rinse and repeat – and make sure to use Tide, because that could just be the ConCon where 25% of the legislature will decide whether or not marriage rights will appear on the ballot.

For an alternative view on tomorrow’s ConCon and the movement as a whole, I interviewed Tom Lang, head of KnowThyNeighbor.org. He has his own advice for people who want to make a difference. Also, Mike’s got a new piece out called “Seperate but Sucky,” for everyone’s enjoyment.

I’ll update this post as more blogs and news stories come out tonight on tomorrow’s ConCon.

~Ryan

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