Archive for October, 2011

Khazei Still Focused on Big Goals

Alan Khazei joins us next week to talk futures, his and the nation’s. He may have announced his withdrawal from the 2012 U.S. Senate race, but he’s still talking “dramatic expansion of national service, and we need fundamental political reform.”

Pic note:ak.png This screen cap is from a short video of him on the JFK Presidential Library and museum site.

In his Senate run, he presented a huge, detailed list of issues, seemingly a lifetime of goals. As he stepped back, he said that holding pubic office is only one way to accomplish what you know is right. We’ll ask him what he wants to concentrate on and how he expects to achieve it.

If you can listen live, tune in here Tuesday, November 1st, at 2:30 PM Eastern. Afterward, this show will be available here at Left Ahead, at the show URL, and on iTunes.


Pressley Home Stretch Podcast

Ayanna PressleyIt’s near impossible to mention Boston At-Large Councilor Ayanna Pressley without the epithet, first woman of color in the body’s 101 years. That’s true enough and important in that she leads on underplayed issues like domestic violence, advancement of women and girls, and protection of children.

As she made plain in today’s podcast, she wants voters to make her gender one factor, her race one factor, but to concentrate on her record and future aims. She also thinks making voters aware of how many micro and macro issues affecting their lives that the Council has a hand in will get people involved.

She admitted that many still see municipal government as the bottom rung of power. Instead, “it the form of government closest to the community,” she said. “The issues we’re working on are things they pray about in math, curse about watching the evening news, and shake their heads about when reading the newspaper.” (By the bye, she advocates a return to civics classes in the BPS to aid awareness.)

After getting about 42,000 votes to win her first term in a large turnout election, including a mayoral race, she expects and is working for getting her supporters out on Nov. 8th. She figures to stay in office if her base — progressives, women, voters of color and her home community — turns out. As Mayor Tom Menino said in her support at a recent Hyde Park visit, she’s only been in office one term and has not built up a machine. She said she is working hard to make sure her people hit the polls.

She had the grace to be our guest despite laryngitis scratching up her voice.

We talked about her joint campaigning with at-large Councilor John Connolly (long-term friend with shared interests, whose greatest benefits are providing an entry by appearing together, not by sharing funds, which have to be matched dollar for dollar). She spoke of her adjustment to the reality that Councilors on two-year terms had to raise money and campaign every day. We got into the issue of identity politics, such as erstwhile and hopeful at-large Councilor Michael Flaherty, trying to mine South Boston’s votes. Pressley noted that Districts 2, 3 and 7 all have contested races, which she expects to bump up the predictions of dismal turnout this time.

She described her sense of accomplishment in getting right to work from the beginning on big areas and granular ones. She is wont to say she doesn’t want to be an historical footnote (as in first woman of color on the Council), rather she wants her record to shine.

On the way, she has found out that unlike when she worked for U.S. Congressmen, “the expectation for a City Councilor is that you are at everything.” She hits as many events and public appearances as she can while still doing her job at City Hall, but there’s “always one place you are not.” She called this expectation “the blessing and the beauty and power of it, but it’s also the burden of it.”

icon for podpress  Ayanna Pressley [30:57m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Eldridge for Disclosure Podcast

Sen. EldridgeOne of our MA legislators who decidedly has our backs is Sen. James (Jamie) Eldridge. He is now fighting at state and national levels to overcome the awful effects of the Citizens United SCOTUS decision.

He joined us to explain why it’s not OK for corporations to be treated like flesh-and-blood human citizens with Constitutional rights. It’s not OK for unlimited money to be used for political advertising with no public disclosure of who’s funding it.

Rather than whine, he is working at both levels to overturn the effects of the ruling. In the commonwealth, he created and is working to pass two bills, detailed here. Among other things, these require that MA chartered corporations reveal such political expenditures in their quarterly reports and that they give two-third shareholder approval for such expenditures above $5,000.

On the national level, he is asking for Congress to pass and send to the states a Constitutional amendment “to correct the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. This resolution would clarify that Freedom of Speech is a right of citizens, not corporations. That bill is currently before the Judiciary committee.” He has begun working with MA’s Congressional delegation to advance this.

Listen in as describes what he’s done so far, where the bills, what the prospects are for both the bills and the amendment, and even what the conflicts are for legislators who would limit contributions that might come their way.

icon for podpress  Sen. Eldridge [32:17m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Pressley Aiming to Stay Rooted

Boston’s City Councilor championing women, girls and families means to get re-elected on November 8th. Ayanna Pressley is more than the first woman of color to sit on the body, she had brought up issues and problems/solutions previously ignored or poorly addressed, such as teen pregnancy and violence against women.

She’ll join us at an unusual day and time for us, Thursday, 10/27, at 9:30 AM. If you can listen live, go here then. Afterward, her show will be available on demand there, back here at Left Ahead or on iTunes.

The first-term Councilor though is in a crowded field. Seven candidates each want one of the four at-large seats…and all four incumbents are running. We spoke with the acknowledged greatest threat to their re-election, Michael Flaherty, most recently last week. Many news stories and columns and one of my blogs, muse on whether he can return after a couple years out of office and whether zip-code voting in a low-turnout poll will favor him.

Even in this off-year election with no state-wide, Boston mayoral, Congressional or Presidential races on ballot, this at-large contest has some interest. Because at-large is for the whole city, the candidates have to cover a lot of geography, many meetings and seemingly all-day/all-evening forums and other public appearances. For one example, I did an up-close one with Pressley when she was in my Hyde Park neighborhood, with the likes of District Counselor Rob Consalvo, Council President Steve Murphy, and Mayor Tom Menino. We’ll be asking her whether that kind of support and her joining campaigns with top fund-raiser at-large incumbent John Connolly will make the difference this time. Listen in at 9:30 on Thursday.



Eldridge Against Citizens United

MA Sen. James (Jamie) Eldridge is not sitting in a corner whining about the dreadful Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. He has re-filed his bills to undo the damage.

He joins us Tuesday, 10/25, at an unusual time for us, 10 AM. He’ll talk about his local and Congressional efforts. He has filed MA bills to require disclosure of political contributions and limit foreign influence in MA elections, and to disclose expenses for political advertising in quarterly reports. Nationally, he is asking Congress to send an amendment to the states to declare that free speech is for flesh-and-blood people and not corporations.

If you can listen live, do that here at 10 AM Eastern on 10/25. Afterward, you can hear or download the show there, back here at Left Ahead or on iTunes.


GOP Who Couldn’t Spit Straight

flames.jpgThe clichéd 15 minutes of fame seemed to have been 1,500 pages of infamy instead. A huge number of right-wing media, including blogs, jumped on Elizabeth Warren, Left Ahead and me following last Friday’s show and podcast. A search for “elizabeth warren” “hick” will turn up tens of thousands of fresh (in every sense) hits.

For anyone who hasn’t yet heard the very widely disseminated clips of her and me, it starts near the beginning of the 40-minute show. Click the player below to start it.

She and I share a few traits unusual and remarkable in these parts. We were both born in Oklahoma (I also spent much of my youth in West Virginia where my mother’s family was) and since moving to the Boston area (32 years ago for me and 17 for her), we’ve heard repeatedly that we were hicks for our backgrounds. I have also heard assertions that everyone in WV is a hick, hillbilly, toothless, dumb and likely the product of incest. Way to stay classy, Boston. On her part, I have been reading and hearing the no-win vise — she’s “not one of us” because she’s not a lifelong resident as well as from a hick state, and on the other hand, she and her husband have taught at Harvard for 17 years, so they are elitist snobs.

I opened the conversation with that dichotomy. She responded jovially, noting that she was aware of that Catch-22 game. She said that she must be a new category, “an elite hick.” Shortly after, she said to one of my comments about my background, “I’m going for the hick vote here. I just want you to know. Maybe we could start wearing stickers that say ‘HICKS FOR ELIZABETH’. Could we do that?”

After the absurd MA GOP and conservative responses, I might order up some of those shirt and bumper stickers. Feel free to beat me to doing that.

Surely no one is surprised that FOXnews and the like tried to hurt Warren with this. They are, after all, the same sources that excused Sen. Scott Brown’s denigration of her and even his daughters publicly as just humor. They don’t understand the fundamental difference between mild self-depreciation and knocking someone else down to appear clever.

Some of us were surprised though by the MA GOP’s effort to blow this into a big deal. Chair Jennifer Nassour is leaving. The release on it came from Communications Manager Tim Buckley, who had the unenviable task of playing the jerk in the release they emailed (not on the site yet). His paragraph before a link to a Politico piece on the podcast quotes himself as:

“Professor Warren’s insulting use of the word ‘hick’ offers a revealing prism into her elitist and arrogant worldview. Massachusetts voters deserve an explanation about just who Professor Warren was referring to when she spoke of winning the ‘hick vote.'”

Disclaimer: I have invited MA GOP head Jennifer Nassour on our show by email, voice mail, and twice face to face. Both times we chatted in person over the past year and one half, she pressed her card on me, took mine, said she’d love to do the show and to contact her office to arrange it. She or a handler seemed to have decided that was not a good idea, even knowing we’d had John Walsh, her Dem counterpart, on a couple of times. Now she’s announced she’s stepping down. I tried.

Elizabeth WarrenSensible folk are ridiculing the winger/MassGOP efforts, as in Mediaite calling them humor-challenged and NECN’s Jim Braude saying their bluster was pathetic.

Lynne, Ryan and I have been kicking around the spasm of coverage. We each figure the craziness only helps her. I see a lot of traffic going to the show both on BlogTalkRadio and here. Anyone who listens knows quickly that she was cool about the hick talk, reflecting on her and me only. Moreover with the many, many extra listens, people who otherwise were not aware of the show or her strong set of problem ID/solutions are now. As Lynne said, it looks like the MA GOP wants to help Warren as much a possible.

Being an anal-retentive, research-oriented type, I also went through even the right-wing news-like sites and blogs for comments. There, many said they’d never vote for her, but nothing lost. They typically indicated they hated Dems, progressives and liberals, and some even had harsh comments relating to women, lesbians and some coarse lingo for female body parts. Plus, quite a few made the point they were not from Massachusetts (with the thank God implied).

This appears to be a bungled effort from the right to smear Warren and likely do balancing damage control for Brown’s numerous public errors. Net, I figure they failed. A couple thousand extra MA voters and possible contributors here and elsewhere know Warren’s priorities. They can contrast an incumbent who says he doesn’t know the solutions to joblessness and such, with one providing solid proposals.

I still expect her presence in the Dem primary process and, should she advance the 2012 Senate race, will put ideas and solutions on the table and elevate the dialog. People here will get a choice.


icon for podpress  Elizabeth Warren [40:17m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Flaherty At-Large Race Podcast

Michael Flaherty doesn’t lack enthusiasm, even in an off-year election with no preliminary to whet voter’s interest. In what figures to be an extremely low turnout on Nov. 8th, he’s determined to become at at-large Boston City Councilor yet again. As former body president who quite two years ago to run against the mayor, he’s one of seven in the hunt for an at-large seat, with all four incumbents running for reelection.

Listen in as Flaherty deals with all three co-hosts on many topics. He hits his stump speech points on construction and government jobs going to Boston residents, on city schools being good enough to let residents get into the local great universities, and both citywide and neighborhood crime plans instead of just reacting to violence. He expands on some areas like jobs — wrap-around services for student and year-round job opportunities them, as well as squeezing the many colleges and other non-profits to hire residents for their important positions.

He addressed corruption among local pols. He also went head-on to discuss his relationship with Mayor Tom Menino as well as the Council. He bills himself as not a go along to get along guy, but says there’s nothing personal when he disagrees with Menino or a councilor. It isn’t personal, but about policy he says, adding, “I can work with anyone.” He does believe that competition in good and drives government and politicians to be their best.

Click the player below to hear how he thinks his running for mayor last time brought improvement. He also addresses whether councilors should have four-year instead of two-year terms.

icon for podpress  Michael Flaherty [34:20m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Flaherty Pitches Again

Once and maybe future Boston City Council President Michael Flaherty is a month away from his re-do. Long-time Councilor and body President, Flaherty Michael Flaherty wants back in after a two-year hiatus.

He quit to run against Mayor Tom Menino and lost. He joins us to talk about why he is staging a comeback and more. You can hear his campaign entry comments here from our May conversation.

There are four at-large seats on the Council and four incumbents. Flaherty needs to bump off one to regain a seat. Two of those are viewed as vulnerable because they are first-termers. We’ll ask him what he brings that will trump incumbency.

He’s doing well on fund-raising. It remains to be seen who has the power to bring out the voters in an election without a governor, mayor or president on the ballot.


Warren: Elite Hick Podcast

With a charming blend of confidence and self-effacement, U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren handled all the three of us could throw her way in a half hour. Listen with the player below or download and play for the whole show.

We tried to cover some areas we had not seen her run through in her many recent appearances on news shows and debate-like events. We did concentrate on economic issues and her seven priorities for rebuilding the American middle class.

She can be colorful and trotted out a few metaphors she uses in stump speeches. “The house is on fire,” she said of the U.S. economy and its effect on the lower and middle classes. She presented a variety of solutions. That is a clear distinction between her and other Dem and GOP candidates for next year’s election. She defines herself as “a straight-up-the-middle gal,” and makes strong proposals.

Listen in as she answers in the affirmative when asked whether we needed an NRA/WPA-style effort to restart the economy. She explained how setting unemployed American, both in construction and the education and municipal sectors, to work immediately can create cash flow to inspire business rebulding and expansion, as well as repairing our crumbling infrastructure.

Asked bluntly whether she saw herself as a new version of the lion of the Senate as the driven Edward Kennedy was, she almost repliled yes. She spoke of meeting Ted meaningfully for the first time and getting a commitment from him to propel major legislation, on top of his already massive commitments. She said that was an inspiration for her and she tries to live it.

She was never short of humor either. For one example, asked about being derided by opponents for being from Oklahoma and on the other hand spending the past 17 years teaching at Harvard, she said, “I’m a new category, an elite hick.”

Warren sees possibities for important legislation passing, even with the existing filibuster potential and GOP blocking. Listen in as she defines how she got her consumer finance legislation enacted over dire predictions of failure. She describes being clear on the message, describing the issues, and getting a lot of people to go with it. “When people get engaged, yes, the Senate can move,” she told us.

Short-term, she also sees tough challenges as well as such potential. For one, she describes he current effort to roll back health-care gains passed recently. That would include overturning prohibitions on pre-existing conditions and coverage for students under 26 on parents’ plan and annual wellness checks (physicals) for seniors.

Warren was plain that her deciding to run was not for the glory or power of being in the Senate. “I’m running because there are things I want to change.”

icon for podpress  Elizabeth Warren [40:17m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Elizabeth Warren in the Queue for 10/14

Elizabeth WarrenU.S. Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren talks populism, economy, Congress, politics, and well, Elizabeth Warren, with us tomorrow Friday, October 14th at 1 PM Eastern. If you can catch the show live go here.

Her conversation will be available afterward on demand to hear or download at that URL, here at Left Ahead, or on iTunes.

We’ll talk her campaign, her platform, and whether she can pitch problem/solution candidacy in this era of sound bites and generalizations. She’s shooting like a meteor across a dark nation, state and time. Many in both major parties want her to burn out. We’ll ask about the pressures and promises.