Archive for August, 2007

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.

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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.

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Marc Solomon on Next Podcast

UPDATED SKED: We have rescheduled Marc Solomon to Tuesday, September 4th at 2:30 p.m.

We eagerly look forward to having Marc Solomon on next week’s podcast. As Campaign Director for MassEquality, he was key in framing the issues and leading the fight against the amendment to stop same-sex marriages here.

We discuss the recent victory a bit, but more on the struggles underway. We want to know what he sees for himself and his organization, but also where he sees other activists needed.

You can listen live Tuesday from 2:30 p.m. or check back here for a link to listen or download the podcast any time after that.


Tom Lang and Dem Candidates

Co-founder of Know Thy Neighbor, Tom Lang, joined us to discuss the Presidential campaign and marriage equality and related GLBT issues. He called for equality-minded folk to demand that the candidates take plain positions on equal rights. Of particular annoyance is Hillary’s positions and her current front-runner status. None of the Big 3 should be able to be percieved as those who fully support civil rights when, in fact, they don’t. With the extremely high voter turnout of glbt voters, hopefully at least one of the Big 3 will shift positions sooner rather than later – because if they do, and glbt voters rally behind that candidate, there’s a very good chance that kind of support would push a candidate through Iowa and New Hampshire, for starters.

Posts of the Week

Mike was amused by Jim David’s The Gay Squirm Factor. He relishes Sweden and such places that transcend sexual orientation.

In America the spectacle of uncomfortable straights tiptoeing around gays is in full squirm. The HRC/LOGO Democratic forum showed the candidates gamely trying to not run screaming into the night. Hillary was at her prerecorded best trying to justify her hubby’s crippling Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, two laws passed only to appease said uncomfortable straights. Obama danced around the reasons why black churches are so antigay (if he had just said “The brothers just don’t like the ‘mos,” it would have been honest).

Ryan’s Blog of the Week comes from Sco at .08 Acres and a Donkey. He continues on the old-law meme that LeftAhead has been harping on for several episodes by discussing Massachusetts’s corporate man-slaughter law. He finds the rare good Herald article – which means he had the stomach to read many and deserves a cookie, at least – and found this interesting tidbit.

1819. That’s the year state lawmakers last updated penalties for corporations convicted of involuntary manslaughter, the charge now facing a Big Dig epoxy supplier. Consequently, the maximum penalty is $1,000. Lawmakers want to stiffen the law, but it won’t matter in this case, because the attorney general is bound to the law on the books at the time of the tunnel collapse.

Ouch. Perhaps it’s time to update all the laws on our books in Massachusetts. Maybe the answer to bad, old laws is to make every law a sunset law that has to be passed every decade or so? In any event, it was a good catch on Sco’s part, earning him Ryan’s Blog of the Week.

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Know Thy Guest — Tom Lang

Join us tomorrow afternoon for our podcast. Tom Lang, co-founder of Know Thy Neighbor is the guest on this week’s Left Ahead! podcast. Unlike the majority let’s-not-rile-the-Orcs liberals, Tom’s group took it to the petition folk at VoteOnMarriage.

Know Thy Neighbor published the names and addresses of anti-marriage-equality voters who allegedly signed the petition to put an amendment to stop same-sex marriage on the 2008 ballot. That, of course, served to primary purposes. It announced who appeared to be on the anti-gay/anti-SSM camp. It also let people see if they were part of the massive fraud in paid signature gathering, showing up on the petitions when they had not signed.

We’ll talk to Tom Tuesday — the cast starts at 2:30 p.m. and you can listen live or check Left Ahead! to listen or download the session. We’ll ask what’s undone from his earlier work, how the Florida effort goes, and what he sees as the issues locally and beyond.

We expect to discuss the LOGO/HRC forum of Dem Presidential candidates, plus our personal rants.


DINOs and Wiretaps

We hit heavily on wiretapping. We agreed that it was the wrong course, particular for the 41 Dem Reps who supported warrantless spying on anyone. Lynne hopes for meaningful revision at the six-month review period. Mike is less sanguine (and previously expressed his views at Marry in Massachusetts).

Bush also signed an executive order on July 17th that bypasses the Fifth Amendment and allows unilateral seizure of property without press. Congress need not approve this to have effect of law. They must act to overrule this.

See Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.

A caller, T.A. Barrett, introduced a libertarian dialog. We saw an overlap in view of freedoms with our progressive stances, and clear differences in the role of government and taxes.

Posts of the Week

Mike did not have to stretch the Minnesota Monitor post on the I-35 bridge collapse to see the parallels and lessons for Massachusetts and other states. In Blaming and Gaming the Blame Game, Eric Black looks at infrastructure neglect. A no-new-taxes, second-term governor Tim Pawlenty actively quashed transportation maintenance and improvement, as our governors here have. In addition, the legislature accomplished so little that quite a few who share his GOP affiliation lost their seats in 2004. Sure, no new taxes, but the business of the state did not get done.Slat bridge

Through previous Gov. Jesse Ventura’s and Arne Carlson administrations, no-new-taxes pledges have won elections and failed the public. Ventura’s transportation commissioner, Elwyn Tinklenburg noted that “Pawlenty and (his looey) Molnau held legislative leadership positions long before they changed to the executive branch. Their basic approach of no-new-taxes small-government, both in St. Paul and among their allies in Washington, was a key reason that the infrastructure continued to deteriorate.”

As here, those who didn’t have a solid majority in both houses of their legislatures claimed they would have done it, if only… The governors and legislative leaders who campaigned on low taxes somehow try to decouple that from its effects.

Ryan’s Blog of the Week is FireDogLake’s of coverage of the Yearly Kos blogger convention. Jane Hamsher had a great post contradicting a WaPo story about how bloggers were a bunch of old, white men. Um… no. Jane Hamsher, for starters, certainly isn’t a male. Neither is her blogger companion, Christy. The next largest contributor to FDL that I know of may be a male, but he certainly isn’t a part of the majority: Pach is not only latino, but also gay (as is John Avarosis of AmericaBlog). The most-widely read blogger in the entire blogosphere is Arriana Huffington and while Kos may be #2, he’s latino as well. Rounding out the high-profile national bloggers, Digby is a woman, not a man. Clearly, the lefty blogosphere is quite a bit more diverse than the main stream media will give it credit for.

I have to link another FDL blog, this one written by TeddySanFran. He writes about how disappointing the event was for him.

But here’s what I liked the very least: the overarching theme seemed to be, much like the song from Oklahoma about farmers and ranchers, “Why Can’t the Bloggers and the Media be Friends?” I came away from lectures by Mike Allen (of George Bush’s and Karl Rove’s favorite new website and Jay Carney (Glenn Greenwald’s nemesis at Time) and Ezra Klein (of the American Prospect and Tapped) feeling just icky. Why icky? Because I believe American traditional media to be complicit in an illegal and immoral war and occupation of Iraq. They are unable and unwilling to expose the shredding of our Constitutional rights but quite concerned about Paris Hilton’s incarceration. They are entirely unbothered about their own absurd appearances at Correspondents Dinners rapping with Karl Rove, to my mind the architect of an American Presidency chock full of the worst American war criminals ever.

So don’t expect me to fly all the way to Chicago and make nice with representatives of Traditional Media when they say that the Washington Post and New York Times didn’t lie about murders in New Orleans and Governor Blanco’s complicity in the disaster. They were printing White House talking points and anybody who takes a moment to read coverage from the Houston Chronicle knows it.

And don’t get me to pay $175 a night for a room in a Hyatt with surly customer service and then pretend that Matt Bai-toy is a great “get” as a debate moderator, especially when he made Chris Matthews look professional. What’s the point of having a New York Times reporter moderate a YKos debate, anyway?

Of course, it’s important to reach out to the traditional media, but right now they just aren’t listening. I can’t say just how hard we have to kick them in the behind to be good reporters and, you know, report the truth… but the message hasn’t come across yet. So why we’d reward the NY Times for their complicity in getting America to go to war, I don’t know. At the very least we could have gotten a Bill Moyer or the like to moderate the event from us, if the Presidential candidates wanted a non-blogger, media guy as co-moderator.

Some people have criticized the blogosphere of joining the ranks of conventional democratic powers-that-be. Of course, I don’t think we are quite there yet. However, some members of the blogosphere are moving in that direction – and that should be a scary, scary thing. Yes, it’s important to elect democrats over republicans – because we need the committee chairs. However, when considering just how weak our congressional leadership has shown themselves to be, we need to figure out ways to stay sharp and just as in focus as ever in making sure we replace the party DINOs just as quickly as the Republicans that enable them.

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