Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Lively Deadly at Mic


Many other nations have their own public loonies. As in the U.S., those have voice as politicians or actors or business owners. Our most local, current version certainly includes Scott Lively.

He is one of five who will appear on the MA ballot for governor on Nov. 4th. I'd write "God help us," but that is largely a figure of speech. Lively seems to think he has that market cornered,

Pix note: Above are two screen caps (fair use claimed) from WGBY's recent broadcast of a gubernatorial debate with the five candidates. The wide-eyed one at left was his finest, funniest moment when he answered a question about medical marijuana by shouting that he "inhaled...A LOT!" While ID'ing himself as a pastor, he admits to 16 years of alcohol and other drug abuse. The image on the right is of his more usual, studied expression.

Lively is plain about his ideas. They are on his campaign site, as well as his personal one. The latter includes PDF files of chapters of his widely debunked co-authored The Pink Swastika. The book postulates that the Holocaust in particular and Nazism more generally were direct products of a group of German homosexuals.

A hallmark of ingrained, intense bigotry is that its being like a tarp that can cover everything. You can take Lively's words to verify that. If you did not catch the debate, check the video on the link above in the Pix note. Scroll to the bottom of the article to play it.

In the spirit of religiosity, I confess. I have not contacted Lively to ask him to do a Left Ahead show. The Dems and independents have all been on (see archives). The Republican won't even return my calls or emails, likely terrified of "Left" in the show title. For Lively, I'm not at all confident I could be civil enough to let him express himself. I could end up doing a show in the style of Bill O'Reilly or Chis Matthews for him.

Square One, Square One

Lively is a good entertainer, as befits a self-described pastor. For example, near the end of the debate, he had the best shtick of the hour, riffing on what he said was his 16 years of drug abuse. Unfortunately, he plays the dour scold nearly always.

You can read his positions on his campaign site. They are extreme and very much out of sync with MA voters' views. While his team managed to get 10,000-plus registered voters to sign his ballot petitions, they'd be hard pressed to find 10,000 people here that really agree with his positions, which include:

  • Abortion is the intentional killing of a living human being and should be criminalized...Since abortion is a form of homicide, it should bear similar punishment, depending on the severity of the particular crime.
  • (W)e should abolish public-employee unions and return to the earlier model in which public service was a civic duty and privilege shared by the citizens.
  • Since they (LGBT people) cannot prove that homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender is innate and unchangeable, we must assume for the sake of the children that these behavior-based lifestyles are acquired, and can be overcome. 
  • Rather than rewarding those who gained (or gamed) their entry to the United States by cheating (I'm speaking now of the adults who have been here for a long time), it is time to ask the illegal immigrants to take all that they have learned about living in an orderly democratic society back to their homelands so they can recreate there what they have enjoyed here.
  • We should dismantle the destructive feminist system of emasculating boys with pharmaceuticals and gender-blending social engineering tactics in public schools and the popular culture, and restore key elements of what feminists derisively call the “patriarchal society,” but which in reality is just respect for authentic male leadership.

Those are just samples from his positions. In the full context, those and such planks as the death penalty are more extreme.

During the debate, nearly every comment returned to what he termed his Biblical world view. That, of course, meant his particular take on carefully chosen verses to support his starting positions.

For example, he disdained LGBT rights and any mention of homosexuality during classes. Nothing else illustrated this so clearly as his off-the-road detour from the question about MA infrastructure. Consider:
I think there's a corrupt system we have right now and frankly I thank when we're talking corruption, we really need to be looking at the moral infrastructure of Massachusetts as well. We're killing unborn babies every single day in this state. We are promoting sexual perversion to the children in the public schools. Those kinds of things are corrupting us from the inside much worse than what's happening with our road system and our bridges.
He had started out touching on a bit of the infrastructure problem, suggesting that state contractors pay for bonds to cover cost overruns on bids. Yet he did not really address the infrastructure question the other four did. He brought in all manner of unrelated subjects, thoroughly muddying the waters and likely confusing listeners. He again also brought in his personal bugbear, homosexuals.

To his credit, Baker answered the next question and ended by taking Lively to task for his anti-gay allusion. Baker noted that his gay and married brother informed his views and feelings here, that he found the remarks somewhat offensive. Lively tossed out afterward, "I believe in the Bible, Charlie. I'm sorry that you don't."

Other oddments

I suggest listening to the debate, even if you just fast forward to Lively's answers. You'll hear that what was an idyllic agrarian MA has deviated from our Judeo-Christian to a Marxist perspective. Lively would aim to severely limit state government. "I would reverse that process. I would go back to localism," he said.

He would not increase funding for education, and in fact opposes universal pre-K. He believes that public schools, even before first grade are turning children over to government. He'd set up a voucher system that would include paying home-schooling parents.

He called climate change and global warming concerns "a scam." "The nonsense called global warming is a scheme of transnational elitists to institute a global taxation system," he said. He figures climate change can largely be blamed on the sun.

Those are glimpses of Lively's shadow world. Do listen to the whole debate and ponder his sites if you need more.

Back in the U.S.A.

Despite frequent victimization claims of repression by wingers and religious extremists, the U.S. is damned (that word again) loose in free speech. We let citizens and visitors make all manner of wild, unsupported, unsupportable claims. We don't have hate-speech laws like many European nations and Canada.

As states began enabling marriage equality, anti-gay sorts often claimed that it would mean preachers would be pulled from their pulpits and sent to prison for homophobic rhetoric. It hasn't, can't and won't happen here, but that does not stop the canard.

Instead haters like Lively can and do get on ballots. They almost always lose, but they can run, speak, and attract the votes and donations of like-minded loons. I think this is where we're supposed to agree it's a great country.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Mail-order rights to rites


Till now, I avoided the Universal Life Church, a.k.a. The Monastery. Any hippie or hipster leanings I've had stopped short of what some deride as mail-order ordination.

Instead I hiked uphill with my respect and affection for marriage. The five I have performed — solemnized in nuptial lingo — started with petitioning the governor here. That is the state law and one of the inspirations for this blog, along with promoting marriage equality. Yet the process sounds a bit grander than its reality.

One of my early posts here over a decade ago was on what was then the physical process of earning the wax seal on the one-day certificate of solemnization. Alas, over the years and the five marriages, the official process of getting the right to sign a couple's license has lost much of its theater.

Even the stodgy secretary of the commonwealth's office uses technology to simplify, streamline, and in the process demystify getting the paper. You can apply online and be pretty set in a week.

I confess that I enjoyed the formality of petitioning the governor. In reality, that surely fell and falls to some petty functionary in the secretary of the commonwealth's office. Now that would lack drama in the telling.

On the other hand, three years ago, a chum from my professional association asked if I would solemnize his daughter's wedding when she and her beau were on a prolonged visit during their break from their French college. Of course I would, although that would run afoul of our general law Chapter 207 §39. That law limits one-day solemnizations to one per calendar year.

I filled out the application to the governor's office and in my cover letter noted that this would be second marriage that year. Much to my surprise I got a call from Gov. Deval Patrick's top aide, saying that would be fine.

Note that California has done this right. For the longest time, Massachusetts was alone in this splendid method of letting family and friends conduct marriages for loved ones. When California was looking at pending passage of marriage equality, it passed but better legislation. There, you can get the privilege much as you would a marriage license, no high ranking officials involved at all. Plus, you can perform as many as you'd like.We need to catch up with the leapfroggers.

Recently when the sister of a family friend asked via that friend if I'd perform her wedding, I agreed. Then I considered the logistics. There wasn't much time. More important, they knew place but were unsure of the date. The one-day law requires exact details of the couple, the city of marriage ceremony and the date. If anything changes, you need to re-apply.

That sent me to the Monastery. I wanted the flexibility that comes with just being able to sign the license after the ceremony. Lackaday, the residual theater goes away here.

I did apply and got my credentials of ministry quickly. However, while in many states, that's all you need, Massachusetts adds a layer.  While it is free to do you, to perform marriages here, you must get on an approved list. That includes:

  • Being a Massachusetts resident
  • Providing a copy of ordination papers
  • Sending an original letter of good standing in the church that ordained you

That took a few extra days to assemble the paperwork. It also highlighted one of The Monastery's clever funding wrinkles. The packets of documents with ordination do no include a letter of good standing. In states that require one to have on file, it requires another order ($18 more, plus $18.50 shipping, in a #10 envelope).

There is an Emergency Minister's Package ($64.99, plus shipping) that includes the letter. You would suppose that more expensive and grander sounding packages would have it all, but they do not. To their credit, The Monastery does have some packages for states with convoluted laws, like California, NYC, NY state same-sex, and Nevada extras.

The key point is that you should work several angles if you go with the Monastery. Find out from the secretary of state where you might perform marriages before getting ordained this way. Then you can safe effort, time and money returning to order the surprise essentials.

Note too that after submitting everything to get on the marriage list here, I found they don't notify you. You need to call them and make sure they got the paperwork and certified you an officiant.

On the other hand, if you are in Massachusetts and expect to perform a single marriage, go with petitioning the governor. It's only $25 pus a stamp, and comes with the cachet of explaining how you, a non-minister/not-JP got to do that.

I would note to anyone deriding ULC/Monastery ordination, it's a several steps down from a divinity school degree, plus the fellowship process many churches require. However, it is a solid step up from the self-ordaining crowd. I know people who call themselves ministers, saying they got a personal call from God, and others who give themselves ecclesiastical titles (Bishop is big in one father/son mega-church around here). It's made-up stuff and America is just one country with a long history of ministry-because-I-say-so.

For the pending wedding, I met with the couple. As with each of the previous weddings, I planned, customized and produced the ceremony and vows. Unlike the many weddings I've attended, mine are what suits and what will be memorable to the couple and attendants.

I suspect ministers, justices of the peace and others who conduct weddings get as tired of the cant as the guests do. When my eldest son married, I dickered with him and my future daughter-in-law considerably on wording. They really only knew what they didn't wants (like nothing from the Bible). In the end, I drafted my own concept, figuring that was the next round of negotiation. Mirabile dictu! They were pleased and we went with it.

At their reception, a minister and a JP asked for copies of the ceremony. They were tired of delivering the same repeatedly. As with so much of life, creativity trumps cliché.

I'm likely to report here on how this wedding goes next weekend. While I'll miss turning in the designation of solemnization with the signed license, they'll be just as married.



Wednesday, September 03, 2014

MA Dems in Gov. Ruts


Having just watched and listened to the BIG DEBATE (numerous media outlets) 6 days before the MA primary, I was disheartened. As a pol wonk, I fretted at how few voters might have tuned in or stayed in; as a poll warden, I feared how few would bother to come to the polls 9/9.

The short of it is that the two moderators — Andy Hiller and Janet Wu — are pretty simple-minded and do not fit the Socratic ideal of maieutic questioning. Hiller had some bozo mindset of drilling whether it differed that funds came from the feds or commonwealth. Wu was her usual dull self, unable ask anything insightful.

I did not get the sense in the hour that far-front leader Martha Coakley avoided controversy or hard positions to play it safe, Her style is simply non-confrontational and even noncommittal.

Granted I favor the bold, progressive positions of Don Berwick.  It's no surprise that I thought he trounced Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman. His powerful performance should make little difference. All the polls have Coakley winning by 20 or more points over Grossman and Berwick getting the bronze.

Berwick is clearly also the avuncular figure in the race. He is a pediatrician by training and career, with all the compassion and wit that comes with it.  (In a disclaimer, I have known his casually for nearly 35 years, as he was the backup for our firstborn when we moved to Boston and he still was in the stethoscope end of the biz.)

He repeatedly used that to good effect this evening as he waved at AG Coakley and Treasurer Grossman  to paint them as career pols. "I haven't clapped anybody's back," he said. "I don't know any lobbyists."

One amusing, if ultimately trivial, question for the trio was as they are all over 60 and boomers, how do they relate to young voters. Here again, Berwick was best. He's an outdoorsman, including hiker, and immediately responded, "I'll met them on the cross-country trail first."

And thus the hour went. Coakley was largely washed over by responses from the guys. She was not so much passive (and certainly not negative in the passive-aggressive sense) as she answered under duress.

Pressed by opponents and moderators alike, Coakley could not come up with a single reason to trust her. Come her approval of the terrible Partners merger or casinos implementation or suit to recover sneaky financing of a hospital's money, she went with the rules-are-rules, laws-are-laws, and I'll-stand-by-my-work non-answers.

Maybe the most telling inter-candidate questioning in the second half was when Berwick asked Coakley if she didn't have any position beyond boilerplate ones. He called for big ideas, strong stances. She could or would not point to any, and on casinos again said that the voters will make the decision and she'll abide.

All in all, Grossman remained the Eagle Scout as always. Fortunately he was less whiny and nasty this time than  in previous debates. Coakley was flat, but may not have had to been better. Berwick circled both, but did it matter?


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bad Cops Push Us Too Far


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

There is still no good answer in America to who will guard the guards themselves. I am a little stunned to see that I asked that as long as eight years ago here.  The beat goes on, the beating down goes on, and the putting down goes on. 

Eight years ago, it was a Boston cop who spent the night into the wee morning hours at a bar with chums. Driving home, he plowed at high speed in the breakdown lane into a young mom who belonged there — disabled car with blinkers on, waiting for a tow. He told the staties on I93 he was sober. They never tested him in any way, as they surely would have anyone without a badge. No charges. She died. In 20 minutes they had cleared the road as though nothing happened.

The same and even worse happens when cops murder with guns, allegedly justifiable homicide while on duty. This pat month, for a dreadful example set, four unarmed young black men were gunned down. Unless we act from top and bottom, all the uniformed perps will be free to continue.

Surely, most assuredly, we have come to points through this nation where we can no long allow cops to murder with impunity. Other cops, prosecutors and judges must be made to realize, even if they lack, compassion and reason, that we cannot as a nature murder by police as the natural order of America.

I have absolutely no doubt that this horror will not abate until the bad cops know that if they harm or kill citizens they face prosecution, and prison. That means that the floppy end of the justice chain (those police, DAs and judges) tightens up and does their jobs. 


Monday, August 11, 2014

HI equality warrior retired by voters


Hawaiian Gov. Neil Abercrombie, 76, was swamped in his primary over the weekend. A state senator, David Ige, 57, will be the Dem against the GOP's Duke Aiona for the general election.

Seriously progressive in a conservative state, Abercromie had already riled the locals as a long-term legislator. He annoyed many of them more in four-year governorship. We noted his relentless push for same-sex marriage (successful in large part due to his efforts).  In a stat chockablock with very loud, very anti-gay religious fundamentals. was wisdom and compassion to offset them.

He stood for numerous lefty positions, most of which he won. I had to wonder if the marriage issue was big in his defeat. 

Not so, according to numerous local accounts, like here. Instead it seems voters  could forgive him the equality thing but not the pension one.
In 2011, he proposed raising revenue by adding retirees' pension income to state tax liability. In a state knee-to-knee with oldsters, that seems to have been his worst idea. The legislature soundly defeated it.

In a real sense, it's good that pushing for marriage equality was not the problem. Plus he's plenty old enough to relax. I bet he doesn't though and while he likely won't run for office again, he can mettle around and find good causes to champion.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gosssman against the wall


Neither has a pol/sales rep/cheerleader personality, Yet it's Steve Grossman v. Martha Coakley for MA Gov. She leads him by perhaps 30% heading to the Sept. 9th primary.

Our irony factor is that the third Dem in the primary has the best platform and policies. Donald Berwick (Dr. Don) is the true visionary and progressive in the race. He's nowhere near as well known as the two cabinet members and few give him even a slim chance.

Cliché time

Yesterday's intro of Grossman's first video ad reeled in the stereotypes and assorted tropes. (Click the ad below and judge for yourself.)

As usual, the silliest was in the Boston Herald. Immediately under the head Steve Grossman goes on the attack in first ad of race was a tightly cropped pic of him looking like a screaming berzerker (definitely not his style or wont). Winger columnist Hillary Chabot wrote it was a decision to go negative and got a pol turned UMASS prof to call it a Hail-Mary approach.

Set aside her perpetual melodrama and disdain for all lefty and Dem ideas and folk. This piece is asinine and wrong. Personally after observing and writing about politics — five years in South Carolina, 10 in Manhattan and 34 in Boston — I think I recognize negative and dirty politics. Grossman's I-know-biz-and-job-creation-from-doing-it doesn't qualify. He didn't even use Coakley's name and just said he could and had done it.

As usual, the LITE version came on TV news/noise. On WCVB, Janet Wu missed repeatedly with loaded content. For example, she denigrated his introduction of a female employee he had helped twice as her boss as "bragging." She has real emotional issues with Grossman. Then over at CBSBoston, Steve Keller was his usual hit-and-miss self. He began reasonably, raising the question of whether jobs would really be what swung this primary, as Grossman holds. Yet he thoroughly muddled this with a made-up alternative about it being centered on women. Lackaday.

Refreshingly enough, over at the Boston Globe, Joshua Miller had a passable take on the ad and related campaign. He describe the ad, noting that it drew a contrast. He avoided the clumsiness of the other commentators. He didn't analyze or speculate what might work for Grossman.

Any chance?

Big questions remain in what looks like a grim eight weeks for Grossman. When the first polls came out showing Coakley skunking him, many asked how one cabinet member had such a much higher profile. Likely her then humiliating 2010 loss to Scott Brown for the U.S. Senate seems to have played out in the predictable stereotype; in the minds of voters, she may have been elevated to Senator/Governor status. Grossman remains "just" a successful business guy who's done really good stuff as Treasurer and Receiver General.

To Keller's unanswered query though, what is this election about and what would enable Grossman to win? Unfortunately for him, timing on the jobs-creation is not good. Voters who get any news know by now that our MA unemployment is about 5.5% and many know folk who are back to work. There are still huge problems, like in gateway cities and lack of preparation in education to prepare young and reentering workers for future needs (which will also attract businesses).

Both Coakley and Grossman when they spoke with Left Ahead said these economic and education issues were huge. Yet at the moment, people here seem less morose and panicked about it all.

In TV dramas, such elections would pivot on a sudden surprise scandal revelation. Forget it. Coakley has been known to misspeak and misjudge her audiences, but she's no crook. Grossman is literally and figuratively an Eagle Scout. He's clean.

I suspect he'll not find the traction he needs in his job creation ad(s). Here's betting he has several more approaches ready to go. He might even be able to sweeten some of his issues area, say promising affordable daycare for working moms. No time to waste for him.

Vaguely related: My rant on his weird hangout for the ad last night is here.




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Grossman not chat ready


MA Gov-would-be Steve Grossman has lots of smarts and skills, but this social-media stuff doesn't appear to be on his forte list. I sat stunned listening to him lecture about his new ad this evening.

That doesn't seem terrible...except his lackeys promoted it as a Google hangout. Well, I know hangouts and this didn't qualify.

For the non-G+ folk, be aware that a hangout is not push technology. Those logged in expect to have the chance, even obligation, to participate with their webcams and mics.

It was supposed to be a discussion. Instead, he showed on-screen like an extra from a vampire movie (Pro tip: Shell out $25 for minimal lighting). He was the only person and only visual element, until he showed the 30-second ad...twice.

He then iterated and explained the obvious that we'd just seen. Yes, the whole point of the ad was that people are concerned about having jobs and he has a record of creating them. He figures a business sort is better qualified to do that than a prosecutor sort.

Fair enough, but we got it the first two times.

Time for a second pro tip — a hangout or similar chat requires interaction. Grossman didn't even take advantage of the built-in text chat functions.

It was lo those seven years ago that a certain Deval Patrick used social media well to get voter interest and commitment. Then his buddy a certain Barack Obama followed suit. Really, pols can do this.

This was definitely a stumble. Turning an interactive social medium into a one-way lecture sucks.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cry Havoc...and Blather On


Some benign looking and sounding phrases are the most laden. Consider, if you will, parental rights...

The phrase in newsy yet again, today, this month and season and year because of Justina Pelletier. This young girl has become an amazing media critter and perpetual sideshow. Some docs, hospital departments and child-protective departments decided her parents were harming her, maybe causing severe mental and physical problems. They took her from her parents with the approval of a judge.

The mess only seemed to have stopped in the past few days. The judge reversed his edict. She got to return back to her family (Father's Day!).

Meanwhile, from a safe distance, we can be astonished at the motley crew of unified outraged supporters. The illogical and puerile (Jeff Beck, MassReesistance and Liberty Counsel) find common cause with pinkos in screaming about government overreach.

True enough that most of us adults know that physicians as well as bureaucrats are blowhards and arrogant pseudo-experts. That a judge joined a protective agency in pretty much stealing a child for a year and one half on the flimsiest of reasons should come as no surprise.

Yet I find it unfortunate that the core of the outrage in this case is the parents' rights wackos. For every lefty who is offended that Justina Pelletier became a game piece for these ego-driven government and medical types, there are several wingers who believe that children are property.

I've dealt with them before like here nearly seven years ago. These are the loonies who shout that they have absolute rights to determine public-school curricula and to beat their children with hands, belts or sticks. Children are subhuman to them.

So, yes, good that this teen got free from a crazy subsystem of medical, bureaucratic and judicial fools. We can expect the parents' rights crowd to scream that this just proves everything they've been saying is totally true.

No it isn't. That the governmental types, including institutionalized medicine, sometimes goof up proves nothing beyond their all to human failing. Children still should not be considered by society to be slaves of their parents, subject to any mental, emotional or physical caprice. Let's keep our focus on the well-being of the children, not the emotional needs of the demented alleged adults at home.


Friday, June 06, 2014

The Glib, Glob, Globe Really Tries


For the longest time, the Boston Globe didn't really try.  Truth be told, for MA politics, the NYT bureau chief, Fox Butterfield, was the source. It got worse when the Globe was sold and shuffled and stifled. Like all badly managed media, the top team fired reporters, cut back on local coverage even more and sucked with an even mightier wind. Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Here we alternated calling it The Glob or The Glib.

My retribution was the recent resurgence of political reportage in the new, John Henry-owned, paper. They honestly do more.

Too much of it is Murdoch quality. The wee competitor, the Boston Herald, remains in size and spirit, the true tabloid in the market. Yet the Glib/Glob/Globe tries in its own way to be as salacious and scandal mongering.

Just yesterday, I couldn't help bemoaning early in the chat with Dem candidate for AG, Maura Healey, on Left Ahead just how how low-brow coverage has been. You can click this link to go to the half-hour show, but know that the gist of the media mini-rant is that she was just the latest drive-by reporting false scoops by The Globe.

The empire is more like a shire, bragging about being the 24th largest circulation (total print and digital) in the country. That's pretty much on par with Boston not ever being the nation's capital or busiest port or largest anything except maybe just maybe money-market center. (Wait, we did have the first working subway by a couple of years; does that count?)

Back to Healey, I went on about how the local larger rag has a new emphasis to go with its insatiable Pulitzer hunting. It's pretty good about siccing staff on potentially prize-winning features, almost as though they work for the Washington Post. You can see when they get a good subject and how they worry it like a puppy with a balled-up sock. To their credit, they end up with more than their share. Meanwhile, local coverage is weak. Thanks to the media gods and Adam Gaffin for Universal Hub, which constantly beats the Glob/Glib/Globe in depth and range of coverage of Boston-areas news.

On the political side, the Henry version has spot scoops of scandal. Given a commonwealth-wide or high-profile MA regional candidate, Glob/Glib/Globe reporters apparently have the task normally assigned to opposition research by competitors.

Every candidate is in for a mud painting. Like Gov. would-be Martha Coakley didn't reimburse MA in a timely fashion for gas and mileage when she was campaigning while being AG. In the replace-the AG race, we see Healey and her partner inferred to be ethics violators (partner being Appeals-Court judge when Healey used their home as the campaign HQ for four months), and Warren Tolman, also running for AG, hit for owning part of an online-gambling software firm.

These and other other stories in this election cycle are OK and have modest factual value. However, they are not of real substance and seem far more intended to inflate the Glob/Glib/Globe rather than inform the electorate. They aren't, lackaday, John Henry, Pulitzer catalysts.

Now,  we suddenly got a new section, Capital, in the paper. This sports-section thin add-in that first appeared today does not atone to those of who lave long lived here for so many years of tepid local and political coverage. However, I'm willing to give it a few months to see if they can teach it to sing and dance politics.

It could end up being just another Sunday Globe Ideas Section, that's more unneeded, formulaic mush mouth. That'd be a few lefty pieces, one or two kinda right-wing ones, and some this-but-that yawners. TBD.

The first insert was not inspiring. The lead was a highly boosterism Clout or Drought. It chewed and re-chewed the meaningless factoid that for the first time in four Prez elections no MA candidate was likely to be running. Again, yawn. Again, how parochial can you get? Is this a The Onion parody of newspapers?

However, a lesser front-pager was a poll and analysis of what the public thought of gubernatorial hopefuls for the 2014 election. That was useful and well done.

I'll reserve judgment for a bit (not too long though). The recently reawakened Glob/Glib/Globe has paid long overdue attention to political coverage. Yeah for that. Much of it has been sad, strange, desperate barely-stories in the gotcha range, smearing one candidate or office holder after another. This unfortunately falls in the cliché of throwing enough sh*t against the wall to see what sticks.

So here's to the paper:

  • Stopping the puerile regionalism in coverage
  • Telling reporters who find a mini-scandal to go deeper and do analysis
  • Going after abstracts and ideas instead of left-brain obvious stories
  • Pressing pols to drop the PR and make real promises they can be held to

Let's drum our fingers while we wait and watch.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Liberty Belles and Beaux


Well, there you have it. Pennsylvania finally straggles in behind the rest of the U.S. Northeast in marriage equality. A federal judge today joined the great wind of marriage equality today.

Among the several intriguing aspects is the per-state decisions as well as the court-driven conversion.

It was only a couple of years ago that equality advocates feared the state-by-state process. They figured it too risky, too likely to see differing results, and too likely arouse negative reaction by locals. Instead, it has become the accepted norm. The MSNBC article linked above notes that "Just three states – North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana – currently have no marriage equality lawsuits pending in either state or federal court. "

In the childish and paranoid preemptive panic following VT's civil unions, then MA's same-sex marriage, that U.S. map was foreboding and very anti-gay. Old times.

Now we face the whining and duplicity. Wingers and anti-LGBT folk are in high activist-judges mode. That is, when the co-equal third of democracy, the courts, rules in ways they don't like, they are evil and immoral. In contrast, when they go for Citizens United approving unlimited money-as-speech or OK guns in schools and bars, they are stewards of America.

We lefties have much to carp about in the court system, particularly the Supremes. Yet, in marriage equality, life is good.


Mark Fisher Gets Shout Down Instead of Shout-Out


Like the old man in Moonstruck, "I'm confused." Not only did I get sucked into a winger radio show embedded in a RedMassGroup diary, but here I pass it along.

You can go to The Kuhner Report page for the audio show. You can catch it on Red Mass Group, replete with sniping comments from its readers. It is over 40 minutes of fast-paced accusations, counter-accusations, bluster, innuendo, and calumny.

H/T to RMG's Rob Eno. I had never heard Kuhner's show and would have been unaware of this high theater had Eno not featured it.

Guest for Jeff Kuhner's show yesterday was Mark Fisher, the Tea Party GOP candidate for MA governor. As he was when he joined Left Ahead, he started and remained calm and rational throughout the show. In stark contrast, a couple of caller- in said he was a liar, that he misrepresented him involvement in the GOP, and worse.

The gist of Fisher's contentions includes that a couple GOP Poobahs and moneyed types asked him to drop out of the gubernatorial race, giving nearly certain nominee Charlie Baker a clear field with no primary. In return, Fisher said, he would get a shot at a more winnable office, plus funding toward such a race.  He named the Grand Poobahs in the show.

There have been he-says/he-says disagreements on who offered whom what when. To us with clean hands, those seem like quibbles. Some Baker folk may imply Fisher tried to extort up to $1 million from the party bigs to get out. Fisher's competing implication is that they wanted to bribe him.

Regardless, the consensus among GOP functionaries seems to be avoiding the primary is essential for Baker's November victory. As an aside, I'm with various righties and lefties thinking a primary can only strengthen Baker's hand, particularly with unenrolled voters.

The lowest ring of his Kuhner-show hell featured Boston Herald columnist and GOP consultant Holly Robichaud. She is the show.

Robichaud plays the drama queen and is even worse than Chris Matthews and at least as bad as Bill O'Reilly in screaming, in shouting down other speakers, in raw, abrasive emotion in lieu of logic. She is unbelievable in multiple senses of that term.

Her basic refutation of Fisher relies entirely on ad hominem ploys. Again and again, she screams that she knows this or that person Fisher says was involved in proposing the deal. She knows, she just knows (without evidence) that what he said is impossible. She was as far as possible from demonstrating anything in her QED. She just knows, like a parent who just knows her son would never steal a car.

The show fascinates me. There's the circled-wagons aspect. There's the crazed shouting lady, bordering on sociopathy.  Mostly there's the raised curtain revealing the motley GOP crew backstage.






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