Archive for July, 2007

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


Bad Laws, Stupid Laws

Today’s Podcast hit on many of the no-good, terrible and particularly old laws in Massachusetts that never really belonged. Some of them, fortunately, are more of a laugh than a particularly bad thing. However, others – like the 1913 law that prevents many people from getting married in this state merely because they’re gay. We also hit on last night’s YouTube/CNN debate, their stances on the equality issue and an update to casinos in Massachusetts. Shockingly, we forgot to talk about the new poll for MA-05, but we did get to our…

Blogs of the Week

Out in Washington near the steamroller that is Microsoft, Mike’s blog post of the week finds a wonderful parallel to recent Massachusetts politics. On that other coast, the Gay Curmudgeon cites the anti-gay, anti-same-sex-marriage failures of the, if you pardon the expression, Reverend Kenneth Hutcherson.

This ex-pro football player has some serious emotional issues with homosexuals. Yet, as the post notes, he has failed as frequently and badly as our VoteOnMarriage/Mass Family Institute bozos. For example, he was clearly not going to get enough signatures for initiative 963, to strip gay rights from existing civil-rights laws. He suddenly calimed that he stopped that effort, because it was more important to fight domestic partnerships.

The post continues with “Let’s recap Hutcherson’s involvement in the Anderson Murray Civil Rights Bill (HB2661):

1. Hutcherson lobbied hard to kill it — he failed.
2. Hutcherson signed onto referendum 65 to overturn it — it failed.
3. Hutcherson lodged initiative 963 to overturn it — it failed.”

He also got nowhere with repeated boycotts and attempts to extract concessions from gay-friendly Microsoft. Then to cap it, that domestic partnership bill he switched his efforts to passed. The post concludes, “Anyone want to take odds on new initiatives from Hutcherson seeking to repeal the anti-discrimination or domestic partnership bills?”

Ryan’s Blog of the Week was from Towleroad. They had a great wrap-up of last night’s debate on marriage equality, including the facts, some commentary, you tube videos of the event itself and links to further reading. It was a great debate and a great blog recap of the event.

icon for podpress  Bad Laws, Stupid Laws [44:01m]: 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.



Just How Progressive? Podcast

Mike’s blog post of the week comes from one of his favorites, Kiss My Big Blue Butt. (The alleged Susan DuQuesnay Bankston from Tom DeLay’s old Texas district would have a conniption if she read that; she doesn’t like anyone to call her blog a blog.)

Her July 16th post on Shrub describes and links to a Bush White House manual on how to squeal or avoid protests. Hmm, First Amendment, anyone?

The manual includes how to form rally squads to cancel demonstrators’ messages. “The rally squad’s task is to use their signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform. If the demonstrators are yelling, rally squads can begin and lead supportive chants to drown out the protestors (USA!, USA!, USA!).” It suggests getting these shills from “college/young republican organizations, local athletic teams, and fraternities/ sororities.”

The blog-like-object comments:

So, it comes as no surprise that the Bush administration wrote on book on silencing protests….

Bush is a fraidy cat, pure and simple. If you gotta have a 103 page book just to keep free speech silent, then you’re as yellow as mustard without the bite.

Ryan’s Blog of the Week is a follow-up to last week’s LeftAhead on the possibility of the Bush impeachment. While it isn’t necessarily a blog, per say, Bill Moyer had an excellent program on PBS about whether or not President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be impeached. Follow the link for transcripts, summaries and videos of the program.

Moyer had two special guests on – Bruce Fein, a conservative columnist, and John Nichols, a writer for The Nation. Fein, who wrote the Clinton impeachment document, made the point that what George Bush has done is far worse than Clinton and – if he supported Clinton’s impeachment, he’d be a partisan hag to not support Bush’s. Furthermore, Bush’s crimes have been far worse to America than anything Clinton ever did and have made a mockery of the system.

Nichols had two important points. The first being, of course, that if we don’t impeach Bush we’re setting up the dangerous precedent of a King George Presidency and a Congress and Judiciary Branch too weak to do anything about it. He notes that none of the major Presidential candidates are discussing how they’re going to roll back these new, illegal and expansive powers. Secondly, he makes the poignant point that impeachments aren’t a Constituional Crisis – they’re the cure. Finally, if PBS can talk Bush impeachment – it’s long since time for elected members of our country to do so. To do anything less is to laugh with the President in his mockery of the base of our society, the US Constitution.

icon for podpress  Just How Progressive? [59:06m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Podcast Ranges From Here to Impeachment

Ryan and Mike covered the poll Eileen Donoghue’s team took and released on the candidates’ standing in the 5th CD race. It was short on methodology (likely voters?) but showed modest bumps by the second, third and fourth candidates at the expense of leader Niki Tsongas.

We didn’t put too much stock in it and hope that issues make voters go for their best interests. Ryan will attend and report back on the pending environmental debate by the candidates.

We still see a budget impasse hindering Gov. Deval Patrick’s progressive goals. TBD.

We spent a lot of time kicking around the possibilities for impeachment of the President, Vice President and Attorney General for lying under oath, obstructing justice and contempt of Congress. Mike remembers the Nixon years and has his hopes. So far, Ryan doesn’t see the slim Democratic majority swaying enough Republicans to do the right thing.

scooter cartoonMike’s blog post of the week was about executive privilege and impeachment by Christy Hardin Smith on firedoglake. It’s a privilege… dissects the Cheney-now-Bush claims of executive privilege. Scooter Libby’s commutation may have been legal (assuming no Executive Branch conspiracy to obstruct justice), but with yesterday’s refusal to let aides testify before Congress and previous refusal to turn over email and other documents, there’s a huge crisis. All signs now point to both crimes and cover-up.

The post’s rallying cry includes:

It is time for members of Congress — on both sides of the aisle – to step up to the accountability plate. And the showdown this week with the White House over executive privilege is the first big step in a long-overdue bill of lading for their malfeasance and misadministration of justice.

Short-term, this week’s scheduled aide testimony is a direct challenge to Congress as a branch of government. As the post puts it:

What the case law boils down to is this: if the executive aide in question was part of a deliberative process inside the White House, but this process did not involve discussions directly with the President, the assertion of executive privilege is far, far weaker for that aide. Which means that a Congressional challenge to that privilege ought to be made, and strongly, because the Congress is on more solid ground in pressing said aide for testimony, especially where there is a question of possible executive malfeasance involved.

Among its conclusions is “It is their bluff of assertion of privilege that is the current bet on the table. Congress ought to call the bet — and raise with a threat of contempt if testimony is not immediately forthcoming and if documents are not immediately delivered.” Then, another post on the same blog notes, can come the impeachment inquiry and beyond.

icon for podpress  The Possible and the Ideal [52:39m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


And Then What?

It was just Ryan and Mike tonight. Ryan’s initial connection was bad — he called in a few minutes later for a clear connection.

We hit on the commonwealth budget. Can Gov. Deval Patrick affect a progressive platform without a fair share from protected corporations for revenue? House Speaker Sal DiMasi continues to shield big money interests while hoping that tax projections are low. That’s a sucker’s bet and no way to set up an infrastructure.

We spent most of the hour on the Lewis Scooter Libby commutation by President G.W. Bush. We were appalled and say it is far past time for Congress to show at least as much courage as the White House exhibits arrogance. Think impeachment.

We riffed on single-payer health care and lamented that no Democratic front runner and far too few Congress folk in either house are progressive enough to advance the concept. We call for a marriage-equality-style people’s movement to get the politicians out of their cowardly covers, and to elect more progressives.

In that vein, the quote Ryan felt captures the moment was:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

Ryan told why casinos won’t solve our problems.

Mike’s blog post of the week was by regular_guy writing at Drinking Liberally in Oakland. His Open Letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls for impeachment of the President and Vice President.

He draws comparisons with the Reagan era Iran-Contra affair. He concludes:

Many members of that Reagan Administration, including Dick Cheney, are or were members of this Bush Administration. And I contend that these people were emboldened into carrying out the current abuses of power by the fact that they were not held accountable for the abuses of Iran/Contra. Imagine if you will, that this Administration is also not held accountable, that the current abuses become accepted and are condoned as were the abuses of Iran/Contra. Imagine that this Congress is complicit as was that earlier body. What abuses might future Administrations be tempted to carry out?

No impeachment then, no impeachment now. But, we did have impeachment proceedings during the intervening years – simply for lying about a “private” matter. Please do not continue that mockery by abdicating your responsibility now. Impeachment is not a waste of time, it is absolutely necessary, and it is your duty. Do not worry – the people will be behind you, we will march in the streets of Washington to support you.

Ryan’s Blog of the Week was David’s post on the Scooter Libby situation. David, a lawyer who used to serve as a clark for the Supreme Court, didn’t really mince words. Lots of great discussion and general disappointment.

icon for podpress  And Then What? [64:51m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


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.