A Few Big Themes

This week’s podcast, Bubbling Cauldron, dealt with some local elections and several big issues. Unfortunately, Lynne couldn’t join us, but that didn’t stop Ryan and me from holding forth on the 5th Congressional District race to replace the almost-resigned Marty Meehan. He should formally announce on May 9th. We expect to have Lynne, from his district, in next week and may bring in a guest commentator.

While the massacre in Virginia dominated our attention, several local and broader progressive issues emerged. In Massachusetts, the continuing power struggle between the legislature and governor combined with Gov. Deval Patrick’s rejection of abstinence-only sex education funding were the topics de jour. These deal with who is going to set the policy agenda and how progressive will it be.

Head to Head

In the case of the legislature, House Speaker Sal DiMasi sits where much power resided in the past two decades of Republican governors. He can’t seem to cooperate and share at a time when great progressive advances seem possible. DiMasi is often on the good side of social issues, but can’t seem to break with big-business on funding. It’s sleazy, old-style politics.

His approach has been to bleed the commonwealth’s case reserves instead of reversing decades of tax cuts and special treatment for corporations. They pay among the nation’s lowest rates here, while our property taxes have climbed. Citizen taxes are still inadequate to keep the state perking.

We’re looking for Patrick to get his way, either by letting DiMasi claim credit for compromise or forcing it otherwise. Too much depends on it for any other outcome.

Time for Culture Shift

We couldn’t stay off of gun control either, but not as a punitive-legal issue. Instead, we need a cultural change and believe it is possible. (Isn’t that always like progressives, going for the underlying issue and not a symptom? That’s the hard approach.)

With nearly 20,000 Americans dying annually from handguns, it’s well past time to change the nation’s gun culture. We can shift down to hunters and those who want to protect their livestock. While the majority of us want strict handgun licensing, registration and enforcement, only an Australian-style sea change will work. There, 11 years ago following a massacre very similar to last week’s in Virginia, they did tighten up laws and enforcement, and instituted a vigorous buy-back. They have had zero mass murders every since, while the rates for handgun crimes of passion, including suicide, have plunged. When it comes to hand guns in America, it’s time to say enough is enough.

Blog of the Week

This week’s pick by Ryan for Blog of the Week was Dan Berstein’s post last Friday on the new anti-crime council. Bernstein was disappointed in many of the choices, and did a little further digging. It’s one of the few instances where I haven’t been ecstatic by Governor Patrick’s committee choices. There was too much stick and not enough carrot – and too many people involved in the status quo, not enough people who are creating innovative change.

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