Archive for January, 2009

Blood in the Water Podcast

sharks.jpgWe ran around three bushes today — the Speaker of the House, Boston’s Mayor and Lowell government.

Exiting Speaker Sal DiMasi leaves in a cloud redolent of corruption. Likely successor Robert Deleo (more than likely; John Rogers bowed to him moments ago) is likely a bit less progressive than DiMasi. Yet, we can’t know that until he takes office.

For Boston, the Mayor is unannounced but almost certain to run. The first announced candidate is Kevin McCrae, South End gadfly and open-meetings crusader. The second City Councilor Michael Flaherty. The other likely candidate is City Councilor Sam Yoon.

Yoon has the beefiest platform, but we figure he’ll wait four years. He’d have a higher profile. Menino likely will be bruised and tired by the 2009 race. Also, the state is probable to have enough cash to help the new mayor accomplish things.

Both spots are major player. We kick about the players and possibilities.

icon for podpress  Pol Blood in the Water [58:55m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Obama Words Podcast

obama.jpgWords! Action?

We looked into what President (ahem, amen) Obama said, underlying meaning, and likelihood of some or all of it happening.

We’re figuring on:

  • Congressional support for and passage of one or two stimulus packages, a.k.a. a two-year honeymoon out of fear
  • Enough progressive activists coupled with voters inspired by Obama’s plans and rhetoric to keep the pressure on Congress
  • Political fights and the possibility of forcing filibusters to keep on track
  • Parallel and integral infrastructure work, both providing jobs and directing the nation to a stronger economy mid-term and beyond

We were impressed with the Lincoln Memorial and Capital steps speeches. We figure the lasting phrases and concepts will continue to leach from the content. He did the major tasks at hand — in an inaugural speech that was not overly rhetorical but still powerful. His recurrent responsibility themes were a welcome change from the past eight years and his stem-winding conclusion will resonate.

As usual, each of us had things we predicted and favored. TBD

icon for podpress  He Words Us [58:32m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Obama’s Words and Meaning

We skipped our usual Tuesday podcast for a special this week. Wednesday, January 21st, we’ll maintain our record of progressive blather and jabber. You can listen live to our analysis of the speeches and prayers of the past few days at 2:30 p.m. here.

Check back here anytime afterward to download or listen to the podcast on demand.

We’ll analyze the new President’s words. We’ll discuss the implications and weight of preachers Rick Warren, Gene Robinson and Joseph Lowery. We may even get into Roger Wilkins’ remarks on Monday at the JFK Forum.


Ethics Reform Podcast

How much ethical reform how quickly becomes the complex question in Massachusetts. Both at local and state levels, we’ve had more than our share of scandals — corruption, bribery, influence purchasing, even sex charges.

Plus, at all levels, we have not been a big sunshine and governmental transparency state.

At the high level, Gov. Deval Patrick created a task force to figure out what’s missing and wrong in Massachusetts’ laws and regulations on these matters. Within six weeks, they produced a long list of laws and other changes.  So, we discussed:

  1. How effective would these changes be in cleaning up and setting the course, and
  2. Will these changes be passed and implemented?

None of us figured that everything would emerge from the legislature, certainly not quickly. We had our own key items that did not appear in the task force’s report.

icon for podpress  Ethics 1.1 [41:27m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Ethics Target Practice

Tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., the three usual suspects here try to move the Massachusetts ethics debate from the comical. You can listen live then or check back here to hear or download the podcast.

Like everyone else, we find it very tempting to fixate on the absurdities and clumsiness of various legislators and other politicians. What with indictments for corruption, unresolved scandals and resignations left and right, our commonwealth may not be the ideal to teach in civics classes.

We have to wonder why so many close together? Is there sudden enforcement? Do people think they can get by with illegal behavior? Are they in a culture of corruption? Are there more to fall? Does the answer lie in some combination of policing, stricter laws with greater consequences, or term limits? Is this just part of the nature of politics in general and Massachuetts’ version in particular?


Pot Podcast

We had some fun with the new decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana today. That took effect this week, accompanied with a, if you pardon, smokescreen of foolishness.

The ballot initiative passed in November, changing simple possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from a crime to a civil penalty. The fine is up to $100. For those under 18, there is also a requirement that they take a drug-education course.

Despite the embarrassing Chicken Little predictions from the AG and district attorneys, enforcement of civil penalties for pot possession is pretty simple. The chief justice of the trial courts even released a detailed eight-pager telling prosecutors and police how to do it.  In addition, the governor’s public safety folk offer a sample citation for those few police HQs that haven’t bought pads of civil citation books for other non-criminal offenses.

Lynne noted that the newspapers, from the Globe through some suburban ones picked up on the sensationalized tale of the chaos of enforcing the new penalties. Even though cops and DAs had months of warning that this ballot initiative might pass — and two months after it did — some claim to be confused and unprepared. That’s a shame-on-you for sure.

Moreover, the procedures for civil citations have been well documented since 1991, when William Weld was governor. His 35-page Guide for Non-Criminal Disposition of By-Law Enforcement doesn’t leave much to be dramatic about. In this century, the governor’s safety office also produced a FAQ for enforcers, making it all seem pretty simple with the new law.

Amusingly enough, the real iffy issue may be about an ounce, the break point for enforcement. More than an ounce remains a criminal offense. Cops can justifiably ask whether they are supposed to carry drug-dealers’ scales (and how often would those need recalibration?). However, even here, as with much of police work, common sense would have to rule. Questionable amounts could mean bringing the suspect for questioning and measuring to decide civil or criminal. No biggy, as they say.

Unfortunately for AG Martha Coakley, she has linked to the pre-election drama about the horrors to befall us if the initiative passed.  She’s continued with dubious cries of alarm since. Those claims undercut her credibility at a time when she clearly is collection contributions in a run for higher office. It’s likely to bite her later.

Mike suspects that Coakley and some DAs are being childish about losing the ballot question. Lying to the public and press should not have been their response. Many people interviewed in the run-up to the election said they’d rather police and prosecutors went after violent criminals. A large percentage of voters seemed to be in that legal camp.

Meanwhile, prohibition didn’t work for either alcohol or pot. The alleged War on Drugs was expensive theater that didn’t reduce drug abuse either. Education seems to have modest positive effects though. Potheads do cause problems like car wrecks, though not at nearly the rate as alcohol does.

Grass doesn’t get an immediate stamp of approval as Massachusetts joins 12 other states that have decriminalized. Yet we have crossed a threshold from the room of what hasn’t worked and won’t. Let’s get real about pot. After all, that’s the law now.

icon for podpress  Pot Play [36:32m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download