Archive for May, 2008

California Screaming Podcast

Ryan and Mike slapped around the California-style ballot initiative process as well as the recent state Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Unlike the elaborate and intentionally difficult initiative process in Massachusetts, California’s is enough votes to get on the ballot and a 50% plebiscite for laws or amendments. That tends to emotional decisions without any brake or refinement from the savvy, as well as unfunded mandates that can slow or cripple the government.

We can’t know yet what will happen if a vote to define marriage as one-man/one-woman gets on the November ballot and if it passes. Meanwhile, many worlds are atwitter — progressives, anti-marriage equality and anti-gay forces, other states struggling with SSM or civil unions, as well as the larger GLBT communities.

Ryan noted too that this is suddenly competition for tourism dollars if the California SSM ruling holds. We’d suddenly be an also-ran instead of the marriage Mecca.

Back here, we still have work to do. This includes dumping the 1913 laws that forbid marriages here that wouldn’t be legal in another state. It means pushing our federal legislators to gut or overturn the federal DOMA. It means safeguarding SSM here against the inevitable new assault.

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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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Looking for a Big Obama Win

Ryan and Mike finally looked beyond the contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for President. Bring on John McCain!

Barack ObamaWe see an Obama/Dem win but are unsure how tight it will be. Most obviously, we figure McCain’s volatile personality will be on display often, to his detriment.

The differences among their various positions are wide and deep. Americans should be pretty sick of the tacks McCain has sailed. Yet, we know how loath many voters are for real change. That makes us wonder how big the Dem victory will be, how many Congress members it will bring with it and whether together that will provide the mandate and legislative support for the big policy shifts.

We also reflected on the tumoil and malodor surrounds Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi. Ryan predicts he won’t get tossed for allegations of helping his buddies’ interests, rather get a censure at worst.

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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.

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