Archive for November, 2011

Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz Podcast

The ever-intense MA Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz joined us today, centering on redistricting, transgender rights, and education. Not only is she a progressive leader in LGBT issues, she chairs the Joint Committee on education and is vice-chair of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting.

With yesterday’s announcement that U.S. Rep. Barney Frank will not run for reelection next year, of course, we immediately jumped to the just completed redistricting effort. MA had to go from 10 US House seats to 9, and Frank cited the resulting map as a catalyst for his decision. His new district loses several liberal strongholds, such as New Bedford.

She said “there are things that are not difficult to know when you look at the map.” Yet, the redistricting body, she added, neither protected nor punished anyone and “did not put politics first and did not put incumbents first.” Listen in as she describes the committee’s mandate and very high bar for balancing districts down to identical numbers of voters, while keeping “communities of interest” together. Those were such as areas with residents of color that share concerns, or coast areas with interest in fishing, or agricultural communities. She noted that the resulting map successfully increased majority minority communities by 50% in the House and 100% (from 10 to 20) in the Senate.

For the transgender-rights bill, she described its passage as one of the things she was “truly, truly thankful for” last week. She noted that advocates had worked for up to eight years to gain the anti-discrimination protections for employment, credit and housing among other areas. The bill finally passed without a public-accommodations provision, which would include hotels, restaurants, locker rooms and even restroom access by gender identification. Listen in as she describes how the effort to include those areas will continue, but she can’t project a schedule.

Personally too, including as a former public-school teacher, she is very strong on her dropout bill (S.185). She wants to prevent the 8,000 MA students a year who “walk out the front door of their school and don’t come back.” They often end up in the penal system or on public assistance instead of contributing to the economy and larger life. Listen in as she speaks of one-on-one coaching for students identified as at risk, about aiding parental involvement, about early warning indicators, and the role of discipline.

icon for podpress  Sonia Chang-Diaz [32:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Chang-Diaz and Dolan Lined Up

We have two intriguing guests lined up for the next couple of weeks — MA Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz next week and lawyer/Dem activist/cable host Mara Dolan the following week.

scd1.jpgClick in half an hour earlier than our regular time Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, at 2 PM to hear Chang-Diaz. She was a key player in the recent MA redistricting from 10 Congressional seats to 9. Beyond that, we’ll discuss the transgender-rights law and maybe get to education.

Next week at the usual time, Dolan joins us Tuesday, Dec. 6th, at 2:30 PM. She is a high-energy sort who has her own law practice as well as hosting Right Here, Right Now, and holding leadership positions on the Democratic State Committee.

We sometimes interview the same folk and shall certainly discuss her show. However, she’s let us know that she wants to talk about what she calls a Policypalooza, a new effort she and MA Sen. Jamie Eldridge developed for the state Dems. We hope we can also speak about EmergeMassachusetts, the organization that prepares women to run for office. She supports them and has also gone through their training.

Listen to these shows live if you can. They’ll be available afterward on demand at those URLs, here at Left Ahead, and on iTunes.


Political Thanks Podcast

If snide lefties bother you, this is not your podcast. Ryan and Mike chatted up almost entirely political folk, events and trends they are thankful for this season and year.

We didn’t like casinos and slots passing into law. On the other hand or hands, we’re still delighted with the GOP Presidential band of buffoons. We talked up the good competition on the Dem side for U.S. Senate, the Occupy movement and much more. We had a good time.

icon for podpress  Political Thanks Due [29:49m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Many v. One Podcast

In MA for Senate and for POTUS, 2012 is seeing many candidates on one side wrestling to take on an incumbent — US Sen. Scott Brown or Pres. Barack Obama. The parties differ, but much of the dynamics are similar.

We chatted, chuckled and ranted about the races, mostly about the GOP fight to find someone who is not a total fool to take on Obama. Ryan came in a bit late, while Mike droned on about the candidates in both races. However, once connected, Ryan had facts and opinions up and down the circus that is the GOP race.

Last evening, Mike went to a forum that included two of the remain candidates for Senate, Tom Conroy and Herb Robinson. Several have dropped out, including Bob Massie and Alan Khazei, and one who stayed in, Marisa DeFranco, all of whom have been guests here. James Coyne King is also an recently announced contender.

Mike found the intimate two-candidate evening very revealing about them. We didn’t speak much of them today, but a recap of the forum is here.

icon for podpress  Many v. One [35:02m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Elections 2011 Far and Close Podcast

Our jabbering at its best or at least most expected…

We wrapped up or touched on elections here and there and beyond. From Mississippi’s sensible, compassionate rejection of a “personhood” abortion ban ballot initiative to Ohio’s overturning of the anti-union law, most of yesterdays elections had happy and sometimes profound results.

We hit on the numerous MA votes, from Holyoke’s election of a 22-year-old mayor to the strong reelection of Boston’s sole Latino and sole black woman city councilors, it was a pretty good Tuesday.

icon for podpress  Elections 2011 [30:39m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Khazei Calling for People to Rise Up

Alan Khazei somehow manages to be simultaneously smart, politically experienced and optimistic. Speaking with us today of the dreadful economic and employment problems as well as awful political forces, he still is confident we’ll get through it as a nation and thrive.

Doing so will require both strong governmental action and popular uprising to correct the problems. Click the player below to hear him describe the problems and solutions.

The highly accomplished social entrepreneur is not about to relax after withdrawing from the race for the Democratic U.S. Senate seat nomination. He proposed the widest ranging and most specific platform of issues with sub-issues in the race. Many of these are progressive goals he has worked for over the past several decades. He intends to find ways to accomplish them.

In case there is any doubt, he does not see the incumbent Sen. Scott Brown as a possible champion of what’s necessary for the nation. Toward the end of our half hour, he notes that Brown came in with a perfect opportunity to form a bipartisan caucus. “He could have done anything,” Khazei said. Instead, Brown has not been the game-changing leader people need and expected.

He spoke to us of the travesties of the Citizens United decision and the codification of corporations as people and money as free speech. Instead of these and such regressive moves as states requiring voter ID and otherwise limiting election participation, he wants same-day registration and other moves to open the process to more Americans. The greater the number of voters with access determines who’s elected and the quality of government, he said. To fix the dysfunctional political system requires people to rise up and demand it.

For the economic and employment side, he sees the need for state and national government to do all possible to get more Americans back to work. In the process, that can mean modern equivalents of the NRA, WPA and CCC. With that could come repairing the nation’s infrastructure and modern benefits like retrofitting green building features. The larger process would put more of us to work and more money and growth in the economy. Listen in as he describes the role national service and similar efforts can play.

Again and again, he returned to the point that “ultimately, it’s going to take a citizen movement” to implement these actions. In that vein, he said early on that far too many politicians and bureaucrats in Washington are “stuck in the Beltway.” Many are not aware that “there are a lot of great answers” beyond.

By the bye, he did not endorse anyone for the Senate race, but did say that he would campaign for the eventual nominee if asked.

icon for podpress  Alan Khazei [34:14m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download