Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Murray Endorsement by a Smile

We endorse Tim Murray for Massachusetts lieutenant governor. We believe that he has the best raw material to help put a Democrat in the office. We also think that he is city and town enough oriented to attack and solve the most pressing problems in the state.

He has by far the broadest support among his mayoral peers, in the General Court, and at all levels of government. This bodes well for both him and the next governor in getting legislation and widespread support for policy changes.

Among the three -- including Andrea Silbert and Deb Goldberg, he distinguishes himself in granularity. That is, he seems to have a clear understanding of issues from the broadest level down to small towns. He alone speaks of how such issues as improved mass transit can improve life for the vast majority of residents.

Goldberg doesn't have the experience to show that she can deliver on her noble aims. Silbert speaks grandly, but seemingly of such broad issues that are likely beyond the reach of the lieutenant governor.

That written, we win with any these folk. Any of the three candidates towers above the chair warmers who have been in the office for so long. All three are eager to expand the role of the office and be more a complement to the governor than someone waiting to sign a bill or two if no boss is in sight.

We think Murray has the personal power to attract the most voters. He has the respect to get things done when he's in office as well.

Silly Personal Note: Years ago, my wife and I both worked at Cahner's Publishing in the South End (Cahner's Place is still there off Columbus). Stately and gracious Norman Cahners married the daughter of Stop & Shop's founder. We shopped there and many of us had the company-store feeling. Norman helped perpetuate that by having frozen turkeys for each employee for Thanksgiving. How rustic and delightful. Deb's candidacy reminded me of the idealized old times.

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Begrudgingly Galvin

We tepidly endorse Bill Galvin for re-election as the commonwealth's secretary of state. He has been positive in total for us.

We would like to be stronger about this. However:
  • On an issue close to our minds and hearts -- same-sex marriage, he did the minimum to investigate amendment-petition fraud. He basically pulled a Tom Reilly, saying he was only doing his job.
  • Personally, we have found the information gathering and dissemination from his office to be slow, incomplete and not to the recommended standard of record retention, in the matter of solemnization records, for example.
  • He has handled criticism of his performance poorly. As a relatively uninspired incrementalist, he should recognize that reformers are understandably impatient with him.
His opposition, John Bonifaz, is considerably brighter and a much greater advocate for voters. Unfortunately, John's in the wrong race. He is too voter-rights oriented and we question whether he could manage the breadth of this varied office.

We hope that he remains a force in Massachusetts politics and runs where he can make a large impact. At the least, he should be a state senator, perhaps one who gets the many inert DINOs in the General Court to commit to principles of equality and the laws to make them happen.

Meanwhile, leave the secretary of state's office to the best caretaker it's had in decades.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Gov.-2B: Paid Up, Fess Up, But Not Shut Up

Deval Patrick's full-disclosure financial filing brought a pathetic whine from contender Tom Reilly. Rather than welcome the openness, Reilly tried to turn it around by calling Patrick a liar.

All but one of the other candidates are going to have to say at least what they made last year. Between this afternoon and June 6th, we'll see who has the grace that Reilly clearly lacks.

Disclosure: I endorse Patrick.

The Globe finally put out a Web story on the filing here. The Herald's less detailed version has the full Patrick release here. We worked off that for our initial coverage.

So far, Reilly is hedging even on what he is required to reveal. He says he made between $127, 500 and $132,500.

Healey is supposedly going to file today, but as of the moment, she hasn't said squat.

Likewise, Mihos says he's rich, he's independent, and he doesn't have to and won't tell you or me anything.

Gabrieli is being the coy rich guy too. He so far just says that he made more than $540,000. He'll have to file.

Reilly apparently didn't get any tips from chums with manners and must not have been handled on this one. His sad little twist on this was:
The truth and Deval Patrick are clearly strangers when it comes to Ameriquest. He claims to have been the point person who set Ameriquest on a ‘better course,’ but that is empty rhetoric to the hundreds of Massachusetts families who had their homes threatened by this predatory company. Sadly, the problems continue to this day. It seems to me that he reaped a big payout on the backs of the very people who were scammed by his company.
This is exactly the time that he could have taken a high road and spoken of the need for transparency on the part of candidates. He should have bragged again about his early (minimal) disclosure and welcomed Patrick's. He could have put his pathetic bitterness aside and looked like a good guy. Hmm, maybe next election, Tom.

Follow-Up Citations: The local press did provide additional info on the other candidates, although the others have not been very forthcoming.

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The Valuation of Deval

Bwah ha ha. It shouldn't be funny, but it is.

Deval Patrick released his income and we'll have to wait ...at least minutes...to see how his detractors spin this. The short of it is that he admits to $3.8 million in 2005 income. He gave over $300K to charity and paid over $1.5 million in taxes.

The ha-ha part is that the Globe reporter who tried to blindside him on his over $20,000 a month mortgages is probably picking at his cuticles right about now. Perhaps the other papers and blogs who alluded to his irresponsibility are doing likewise, or humming and looking away.

It looks like Mr. Patrick paid about the same to charity as he did in mortgages -- 8% to 9%. We should all be so fortunate and so generous.

It is to laugh a progressive laugh.

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The Valuation of Deval

Bwah ha ha. It shouldn't be funny, but it is.

Deval Patrick released his income and we'll have to wait ...at least minutes...to see how his detractors spin this. The short of it is that he admits to $3.8 million in 2005 income. He gave over $300K to charity and paid over $1.5 million in taxes.

The ha-ha part is that the Globe reporter who tried to blindside him on his over $20,000 a month mortgages is probably picking at his cuticles right about now. Perhaps the other papers and blogs who alluded to his irresponsibility are doing likewise, or humming and looking away.

It looks like Mr. Patrick paid about the same to charity as he did in mortgages -- 8% to 9%. We should all be so fortunate and so generous.

It is to laugh a progressive laugh.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Hot Time for Same-Sex Marriage

Okay kiddies, it's nearly game time. The amendment to ban further same-sex marriages in the only state that allows them is looking down the track at a July 12th hurdle.

The many options to, if you pardon the expression, queer it are in a beautifully crafted Ethan Jacobs piece in Bay Windows.

It's memories of Lyndon Johnson and of the old-style Mass pols. This time the question is whether to allow a spiteful abuse of a plebiscite to drag on and on, or kill it now with a legislative nit?

If the amendment gets its pathetically low 25% of the General Court to proceed, it would have to pass at another ConCon next year in the identical form. Then it would head to the 2008 ballot. While it would certainly lose on vote in a state where people have seem the present and future of SSM -- and a just fine with it, but it means two years of wasted time, money and emotion all around. (What twits!)

Do check the article to see the ways the amendment could die this year. We have mixed feelings here. Certainly the cleanest resolution would be for 151 or more legislators to show some sense and courage by voting it down. Putting the commonwealth through two years of waste to keep on the good side of a dwindling number of anti-gay forces is just dumb.

Back in the real world, this puts Senate President Robert Don't-Call-Me-Bobby-Anymore Travaglini exactly where he hates to be. Even though he presides over a low-key, low-performance house, he continues to hate strife. He could have led passage of an SSM or civil-union law years ago and avoided it. Noooo.

Now, he'd like this to just disappear.

Unfortunately, he's in the position of chairing the ConCon. Everybody is watching what he'll allow. The procedures that could kill or advance this travesty fall to Trav.

Like it or not, he'll get his second footnote in the history of U.S. SSM.

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Save the Net Before the Holidays

After all the urban myths about charges per email and such crap, something much worse is possible. I'll be contacting my elected folk -- repeatedly -- until the very real attempt by the largest broadband and phone companies to take our Net from us.

There are links below. The gist of it is that there are things we can and must do now to prevent:
  • Fast delivery of provider-selected sites.
  • Slow delivery or even blocking of those who don't pay the providers.
Picture doing a search or typing a URL and waiting like your were on a 24KBPS modem for your connection. Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and TimeWarner are fine with that and they want the legal right to control the pipes.
What's in it for them is charging a toll to any business or even non-profit site that wants prompt delivery. The technical term is overturning Net Neutrality. Those quasi-monopolies, really an oligopoly, want to take away your Internet and mine as we know it.

There's lots we have to do. Fortunately, it's all pretty simple. Click on the links here or the Save the Internet box to the left to read about the issues and solutions.

The greed monsters' view is a bummer. As the Save the Internet folk put it:
They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking their competitors.

These companies have a new vision for the Internet. Instead of an even playing field, they want to reserve express lanes for their own content and services — or those from big corporations that can afford the steep tolls — and leave the rest of us on a winding dirt road.
In case you'd like some vetting, consider the view of Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web. Check is blog entry on the subject here.

He discusses the issue and concludes:
The Internet is increasingly becoming the dominant medium binding us. The neutral communications medium is essential to our society. It is the basis of a fair competitive market economy. It is the basis of democracy, by which a community should decide what to do. It is the basis of science, by which humankind should decide what is true.

Let us protect the neutrality of the net.

Likewise, on this May 2nd, the New York Times ran an editorial on the issue, which requires a $50 Times Select subscription to see. That's not exactly your scare monger, but it notes:
One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access, and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.

That would be a financial windfall for Internet service providers, but a disaster for users, who could find their Web browsing influenced by whichever sites paid their service provider the most money.
The issue couldn't be clearer. The abusers of capitalism don't care about freedom, only cash and power. There are those in Congress who will help, but we need a groundswell asking for legislation protecting Net Neutrality.

You need to contact each of your U.S. Reps and Senators, at the very least. Talk it up. Blog it. Write letters to the editor.

Other key legislators -- with their contacts -- are here at DailyKos.

Do it. Do it before Memorial Day. Do it again after Memorial Day.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Rep. Rogers Takes on the Bullies

Wowzers, State Rep. John Rogers walked into the fiery furnace is Norwood and emerged whole. He came out looking even more courageous and principled than he entered. Good on him.

He stunned his suburban hick constituents last week by declaring that he no longer favored a ballot-initiative amendment banning further same-sex marriages here. He has said that at the July 12th Con Con, he'll vote against it.

A deep wrinkle is that he has been and remains a one-man/one-woman religious-based personal opponent of SSM. He has seemed to have gotten the distinction between religious rites and civil contracts. Again, good on him.

Last evening, he faced 70 screaming yokels, some of whom said they would never vote for him again. The detailed coverage is in the Daily News Transcript here.

He heard the same old let-us-vote! rhetoric and stood up to it with aplomb for two hours. He returned to the reasoning that the amendment was simply punitive and that its extreme position forbade all rights and privileges to any non-married family, gay or straight, sexualized or not.

When some of the shouters threatened to vote against him in the coming primary and general elections, he replied, "I suspect that every single one of your will do that in September and November and I'm not afraid of that." After the meeting, he answered a reporter's question of whether his position was political suicide with "I don't care."

It is fascinating that the staunch anti-gay forces cannot see the whole cloth, as Rogers has come to see it. It's not likely that many will by November.

Meanwhile, Rogers is showing the kind of courage and insight that we rarely get to witness in our politicians.

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The Banner Calls Reilly on Slurs

At least one Boston weekly calls Tom Reilly on his mudslinging about Deval Patrick's being on the board of disgraced mortgage company Ameriquest. Apparently under pressure, Patrick recently quit the parent-company board, with a mission-accomplished statement.

The timing just before the Democratic convention is bad. As a hired gun and turn-around manager, Patrick can credibly claim that he cleaned house, as they brought him in to do. On the other hand, professional board members do carry an anything-for-a-buck scent. Yet having done the right things at Ameriquest, Patrick shows that he's at the top of this class of directors.

Disclaimer: I endorse Patrick.

Locally, the Bay State Banner didn't care for Reilly's slurs. Its lead editorial in this week's edition links this with two other cases of disinformation. It reads in part, "Following are three blatant attempts to mislead the public."

The Banner puts it:
Attorney General Tom Reilly has essentially claimed that Deval Patrick, his opponent in the race for Governor, is a predatory mortgage lender because he was on the board of ACC Capital, Ameriquest’s parent company. However, the facts suggest another, more reasonable interpretation.

...It is clear from this pattern of professional employment that Deval Patrick is a corporate healer. Judging from news reports of ethics violations in big business, Patrick’s skills are much needed in the nation’s boardrooms. He should not be criticized for his successful interventions. To do so is equivalent to castigating a doctor for treating a convicted murderer.

Reilly is said to have integrity. He certainly damages that reputation by resorting to character assassination.
Maybe Reilly is brave -- or desperate -- enough to gamble that his mud will stick more to Patrick than to himself. That's neither a good way to run a campaign nor how to act as chief of state.

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Reilly Wriggles Again on Gay Marriage

Zombie issues walk again. This time same-sex marriage was staggering around the Channel 56 Democratic gubernatorial debate.

It occurred yesterday and will broadcast today, Thursday, at 10:30 p.m. David from BlueMassGroup live blogged it here. The Globe report is here.

Our not so brave and not so principled Attorney General Tom Reilly did the wrong thing, did not do the right thing, and can't own up to it, as we reported numerous times, including here. His mantra remains, "I was only doing my job." It did not cut it and does not cut it.

Gubernatorial co-candidates Deval Patrick and Chris Gabrieli understandably put out their support for SSM and questioned the Mortician's claim that he too was SSM friendly.

In the ask-another-candidate portion of the debate, Gabrieli ask Patrick whether Reilly was right to let the ballot initiative advance an amendment banning further SSM here. As the Globe put the action:
Patrick noted that two former attorneys general disagreed with Reilly's decision, before adding, "I think that Chris has asked a fair question: You say that you support gay marriage. It's tough, I get that. But then you take a position that was not required in terms of the ballot initiative, and I think it sends a mixed signal."

Reilly, wearing a bemused look as he sat beside the other two, replied, "I've done my job every step of the way." At another point, he added: "You can't pick and choose which laws you're going to enforce and not enforce."

Of course, Reilly's job is to set legal positions and policy for the commonwealth. There's no playbook or cheat sheet covering the complex cases. It requires judgment and morality.

Surprisingly, this issue is another that many thought has been talked through. However, in a second post on his live blogging this debate, David muses:
The gay marriage question was particularly interesting: Gabrieli's question to Patrick, in which he said that he wasn't a lawyer so he was looking for a lawyer's take on whether Reilly did the right thing, couldn't have been a better set-up. Patrick used his one-minute response to explain why Reilly didn't have to do what he did, which then forced Reilly onto the defensive in the three-minute discussion with Patrick playing lawyer and Gabrieli playing the layman "gosh, Tom, I just don't understand your position" card. You'd almost think they planned that one in advance....

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Wind: Blowing or Sucking?

What is that smell?

Well, it smells like NIMBY, but these guys swear there's no NIMBY here.

Cape windmills 1 just got fascinating, with Cape windmills 2. This surprise campaign issue doesn't stand as tall as one of those white monster energy saviors, but it's just as stationary. It's not going anywhere.

I truly did not want to get into this at all. Yet, it pops up like a Wack-a-Mole game, here and there and here again.

The guys at CapeCodLiving.com are anti-windmills 1 central. They seem to vacillate between gross calumnies and other insults in their posts and comments, and pushing fact-like opinions from their favorite experts.

And several times in several places, they have put me in the just-doesn't-get-it class.

Politicians, PR folk, bloggers, newspaper writers are all fair game. You must face up to it, Bugsy and Magical are passionate, if one-trick, bloggers.

The oddest aspect is how they and some other windmills 1 opponents claim this is not a NIMBY issue. This includes Sen. Ted Kennedy. Many are also quick to say that this has nothing to do with class or privilege.

Both claims seem to be absolute drivel.

Windmills 1 are not as crazed and dishonest as the Lexington/Concord area folk who fought the expansion of Hanscom Field and foisted yet another runway on the poor and middle-class of the Boston area instead. The laughable central claim that somehow their neighborhood was historical as a basis is madness. The Boston areas they wanted and got the runway in smother their history many times over.

It will also be amusing to watch Sen. John Kerry's reaction -- now that the backyard is his. This should test his commitment to renewable energy when it is where he boats and within sight of his swank places.

Regardless, the multiphase fight is brewing and should reappear in various forms for months to come. We have:
  • Windmills 1 (Cape Wind/Gordon) opponents and proponents.
  • Governor and Lt. Gov. candidates pro and con.
  • Windmills 2 (Cashman) and whether it is an augmentation to or replacement for Windmills 1.
  • Interested outsiders, like Kennedy and Kerry.
  • Environmentalists and renewable-energy folk, who are by no means agreed on what to do.
Only a short time ago, this looked like a parochial non-issue. Gordon went through a lot of planning and studies. He either got the okay or not. But, nooooooooo!

Among the current candidates, Deval Patrick alone says 1) he studied the issue carefully and 2) decided that windmills 1 was a good choice.

So, now with all the wrinkles, this is a issue ripe for discussion. Who would have thought it?

We'll have to see if it figures into the Party convention. We can be sure that post-convention debates will bring up windmills 1 and 2. The candidates who hoped their mealy-mouth non-responses were adequate had better get some defensible positions.

Sad Little Update: Okay, I take it back. After this post, the CCL folk mired down into the Lexington/Concord ploy -- extreme NIMBYism with craziness of saying stop windmills 1 because the ocean view would no longer be exactly what JFK would have seen. Over the edge. LeftinLowell has a hand-washing post too. I hereby wash my hands also and am unlikely to publish any comments. If I cover this at all, it will be because of what candidates say or for news developments.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Deval Wins Barney Frank

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (Democrat-for-real, Massachusetts) is all in for Deval Patrick for governor. He could have hedged and hemmed until after the Party convention in two weekends, but he did it loud and strong and timely.

We'll paste the release below.

He praises Tom Reilly and Chris Gabrieli in passing, but it's all-Deval, all-the here. Frank will be campaigning with and for him.

We lefties have good reason to listen when Barney speaks. Today he says:
I have decided to support Deval Patrick for Governor of Massachusetts. I believe that the public policies he advocates embody better than any of the other candidates for Governor what is needed to achieve the best possible quality of life for the people of Massachusetts. In addition, I think that by the nature of his high intelligence, his energy, his ability to articulate, and his experiences he is both the best candidate for the Democrats to nominate and the best qualified to serve as Governor.

I do not say this because of any dissatisfaction with the other Democratic candidates. Tom Reilly and Chris Gabrieli are both men whose values I admire and whose abilities I respect. Any of the three Democratic candidates for Governor would be a significant improvement over the current administration, and over the Lieutenant Governor who has been – until very recently – an unquestioning, ardent supporter of the current administration’s policies. I stress this because I think it is important for Democrats to unite after the September primary on behalf of whoever wins. Sixteen consecutive years of Republican sloganeering, masking hostility to the legitimate role of government in a complex urban society, have cost us. I have seen this particularly in Southeastern Massachusetts, which represents a very large part of the Congressional district I represent, and has suffered from malign neglect from the Republicans who have governed for this period. In just the past several years, Governor Romney and Lieutenant Governor Healy have been inattentive to that region on such important issues as protecting Buzzards Bay from oil spills and providing commuter rail from Boston to Fall River and New Bedford. There is one skill possessed by our string of Republican Governors and Lieutenant Governors that I grudgingly acknowledge: their ability to blame others for the consequences of their own actions. Every judge appointed in Massachusetts since January 1991 has been appointed by a Republican. The MBTA has for nearly sixteen years been run entirely by Republicans. The reconstruction of the Central Artery has been wholly under the supervision of Republican officials. The Port Authority, the Turnpike Authority, and all of the agencies of state government have been Republican ruled. Despite this, the Republicans still claim in many cases to be the agents of change. It should be clear by now that any “change” that a Republican Governor could bring would be an example not of reform, but of much needed self-improvement.

Deval Patrick is the Democratic candidate best suited to carry this fight against sixteen years of Republican indifference and incompetence. His thoughtful passion, informed by his own experiences both in life and in work, make him our best choice for articulating the point that Massachusetts needs both a vigorous and prosperous private sector, and an adequately funded and enthusiastically led public sector. Again, I refer to the southeastern part of the state, which is an area that very much needs a higher and better level of public service from both the state and federal governments. A thriving private sector is important but environmental cleanup, transportation, affordable housing, and accessible higher education require an adequately funded government led by someone who understands the importance of common action if our society is to allow everyone in it to reach its full potential. On this issue, Deval Patrick clearly stands out among the candidates. More courageously than any other, he has made the point that we cannot provide the public services that are so important both economically and socially if we were at this point to further reduce the amount of revenue that the state government collects.

In addition to these other factors, Deval Patrick in my view best understands the importance of an ongoing vigorous commitment to fairness on the part of society as a whole, through government among other avenues. In this connection, there is one very relevant factor, which everyone in the state understands but which too many are uncomfortable in discussing: race. The problem of racial discrimination has been and continues to be one of the most serious faced by American society. We have obviously made enormous progress, but three hundred years of slavery and legally enforced segregation, buttressed by a diminishing but still present racism, cannot be entirely overcome in a few decades. Deval Patrick understands the bitterness of unfair discrimination, and to his enormous credit, he has spent much of his life fighting against this discrimination, not just against people of color, but because he understands the pain of prejudice, against other forms of discrimination as well. His strong leadership for fairness for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender population of our state is an example of this.

Race is important also for us as Democrats. African Americans are an indispensable part of the coalition that Democrats need if we are to be able to win elections and carry out the policies to which we are committed. Excluding any of these important groups from the opportunity to win high office is both unfair and unwise from the political standpoint. No Democrat should be happy at the fact that in America today, so far only the Republican Party has nominated African Americans for statewide office at the highest level – for the Governorship in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and for the Senate in Maryland. In each case, I believe that the Democratic opponents of these men better represent the interests of all people, including African Americans, and I would not support any of the three Republicans. But the contrast between the parties does us no good. Were Deval Patrick lacking in ability, or wrong on the issues, this would not count for anything. But given the impressive qualities and insight he brings to this contest, then as Democrats I believe we should take into account the consequence of continuing a policy in which no African American is ever nominated by us for any office higher than State Senate, as a matter of both fairness and enlightened self-interest.

For all of these reasons, I will vote for Deval Patrick for Governor at the Democratic Convention and I will be campaigning with and for him from now on.



Deval Update:
An hour later, Deval issued comments:"I am delighted to have Congressman Frank's support. He has been a strong voice for good government and social justice for a long time, in the House and across the country. He stands up for what he believes and you always know where he stands. That's what I am trying to bring to Massachusetts.

I'm an outsider on Beacon Hill. I have no political chits to cash in for this or any other endorsement. I welcome and I appreciate Congressman Frank's endorsement as an endorsement of my vision for Massachusetts, and the experience I bring to get the job done.


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Lt. Govs-to-Be Need to Separate

Head over to Chimes at Midnight, where our self-identified Humble Elias marks his post-debate tree. He leaves some apt stains.

Our initial recap points to the detailed coverage.

Chimes gets down with :
  • For one, the four candidates do seem to agree disturbingly often. That makes picking one tougher.
  • Each has ideas, but none has the ideal credentials for the job. Elias didn't say, but we think that this is particularly important this time -- several candidates want to make this a real job, not a bench warmer.
  • However, he does handicap the race and narrows it to two likely contenders.
There's more, and a second snippet of pulchritudinous praise. We didn't write it...just linked to it.

None of the four snaps anyone's head back. Worcester Mayor Tim Murray was definitely the most likable. We also confess that being city folk, we are more swayed by his vision that includes urban concerns than many voters would be.

The civility of the four may not break down until after the Democratic Party convention in two weekends. Meanwhile, they seem to be trotting together, no one ready to break away.

For example, they were a bit late arriving for the Lowell debate. They had joined other Party candidates at a brunch in Gloucester before driving over. There, they played kick Mitt and Kerry for awhile, but left each other alone. However, they each got in some highlights of their positions. So the Lowell debate was more, deeper and wider of the same.

This year's convention promises that the looey speeches and floor lobbying will be at least as intense as that for governor. Everybody wants that 15% to get on the primary ballot. Then, and only then, may we see real differentiation.

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Siccing One Anti-SSM Dog on Another

It looks like pro-same-sex-marriage forces are wiling to help the anti folk trip each other up. The rescheduled July 12th Con Con is likely to feature two amendments to ban SSM here.

The newish ballot-initiative one needs to pass by a 25% vote and continue its nasty trip toward a 2008 ballot. The older Goguen/Travis one has been hanging around for several sessions. It is so severe -- banning anything remotely resembling gay unions, that it's a sure failure. Both of those clown are retiring this year. They must have mixed feelings, mostly negative.

Two articles give the possible procedural ways to hose both of these moves. The Globe spoke with legislators and Bay Windows followed up in detail with pro-SSM and anti-SSM forces as well.

A key aspect is that Sen. Jeff Barrios introduced the languishing Goguen/Travis travesty first to the Con Con agenda. The ballot initiative one would come up second (agendum 19 and agendum 20). It is possible that after the legislators trash the first one, they could say, "We'll we voted on same-sex marriage. It's Miller time," and adjourn.

Oh, there would be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Already, even though the Article 8/MassResistance set is against the ballot initiative (after all, it does not nullify the 8,000-plus existing SS marriages), they rail at a procedural defeat for it.

Assuming that none of this happens and the second amendment slithers its way to 2008, it will certainly lose -- after emotional turmoil and much waste of time and money. Meanwhile, the anti forces are pouting and stomping. They have not forgotten losing a previous anti-SSM vote to an adjournment four years ago. They'll never forget or forgive.

This shouldn't be funny, given what's at stake. There's some excellent underlying irony though.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lt. Gov. Debate After the Hail

Coming back from Lowell after the Lt. Gov. debate this afternoon -- Chris of LeftCenterLeft and I took the commuter rail up and down, we got to muse on the hours and events. Then on the way home, the gentle version of a Biblical retribution occurred. Three minutes of hail stung my skin and dampened my laptop carrying case.

That and driving the Boston Globe blogger (Lisa Wangsness) from the room were our only downsides. In the main, we decided that a heavily live blogged debate with questions from moderators, bloggers and the online audience is a good model. We'd do it again.

The hail was not very big and Lisa seemed to leave for some quiet so that she could do her job and not because she hated us. In fact, her post on the Political Intelligence Globe blog promises coverage in Monday's paper.

Chris kept a running commentary. Most of us kept primarily to the BlueMassGroup.

We could easily become too omphaloskeptical -- blogging about the Globe blogger who blogged about us blogging the debate, her and each other. It could be come very recursive.

Instead, we can look to duplicate and build on what worked. Lots of key players combined in this:

Lynne and Susan each gives the other credit for driving the debate under the aegis of our BlogLeft group.
The Greater Lowell Area Democrats and Lowell Democratic City Committee cosponsored and enabled the function. The Lowell Senior Center with its wireless hotspots was to be the site, but somehow no one forecast the floods and the center's use as a shelter. Nevertheless, the Lowell Telecommunications Center unhesitatingly stepped in with facilities and staff to broadcast it live and stream it -- and put up both the audience and a cage full of 10 bloggers.

It worked, just like we'd been doing this for a long time. We and other blogger groups should be able to reproduce this model easily.

We were a bit rowdy. It's good that they put us behind the shelving with the Blogger Area! signs. That was warning enough for most people.

In fact, most of us knew each other casually. We read each others' stuff all the time, comment on blogs, swap email, cross-post, and on rare occasions -- such as last December's BlogLeft Gathering. A few of us were glad to put face to name and legal name with blog title.

Yet a great feature was how the questions formed and flowed. SCO solicited and compiled questions. David from BlueMassGroup was one of two who questioned the candidates. SCO continued to gather questions from online readers who were reading the live blog entries and watching the stream or TV. A stalwart lad eager grabbed an index card or two with questions and shuttled them down to David. It was like the old newspaper days again.

Speaking of, Lisa was clearly to young to know or have experienced those old times. I am not. I remember when bullpens of writers and editors filled rooms and yelled to each other, copyboys and no one in particular. Everybody smoked cigarettes and drank coffee, and there always seemed to be a drawer stocked with Scotch or bourbon.

We were a bit much and Lisa stuck out our chatter and joking a long time. Good on her.

In retrospect, the questions worked very well. These seemed beefier and certainly more specific than the typical broadcast and print reporter/columist ones that dominate such debates.

Now tomorrow or Tuesday, I suspect we'll all go through everyone's comments on the live blog and see if we were as wise or clever as we supposed -- probably not. The real question is whether we added real value beyond those good candidate topics.

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Live: Lt. Gov. Debate

We have begun live blogging the Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor candidates' debate. Head over to BlueMassGroup.com.

If you are in the Lowell area, you can see it live on Channel 10. The Lowell Telecommunications Corp for streaming on demand. Both start at 2:30 p.m. today.

2:37 update: The candidates just arrived. They had been delay in Gloucester. If you checked the live feed, try again.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Reilly's Roxbury Cred

The 1960s comedians used to ridicule liberal attitudes, including the jibe, "Some of our best Negroes are friends." The very White, blue-eyed, Irish-American gubernatorial candidate Tom Reilly gets a pass on the racial issue. Not only is his best friend of 50 years -- and campaign co-chair, Wayne Budd Black, but Budd's father was Reilly's mentor and role model.

Disclaimer: We endorse and support Deval Patrick.

Reilly doesn't try that I'm-really-sort-of-Black thing. However, personally and professionally, he has shown that race is not a problem for him. Also, his campaign site features the elder Budd prominently in the bio.

Whether having a Black buddy/staffer helps him substantially in the urban, largely Black neighborhoods remains to be seen. He's up against Patrick, who doesn't just play a Black man on the dais, and who can out-up-from-poverty Reilly any day.

The Bay State Banner has a profile of Reilly, with one emphasis on his relationship with Budd. It also is heavy on Reilly's shots at Mitt Cap'n Brylcreem Romney and at Patrick.

Unfortunately for both Reilly and Patrick, even Boston's Black voters are not bloc folk. Various polls suggest that they are pretty well split, largely between these two. Also, statewide, only about 5.4% of voters are Black. Sewing up the Black vote won't guarantee anyone the State House.

The Banner article doesn't give Reilly a total free forum. It mentions his dumb calls about the drunk-driving case of a friend's daughters, as well as Lt. Gov. pick Marie St. Fleur. On the other hand, it didn't cite his handling of the various anti-same-sex-marriage drives and his indecisiveness as attorney general. Nonetheless, it states "...given all the political missteps, Reilly has provided Republican gubernatorial nominee Kerry (Healey) plenty of ammunition to use in November."

Yet for self-defined liberals and progressives, Black support is smart politics as well as in line with their platforms. Saying you're for equality and fairness for all is one thing, while getting buy in and support from traditionally disadvantaged communities speaks a lot louder.

Interestingly enough, the Banner article picks up a popular American theme from this race, two weeks before the Democratic primary. It notes:
That very well may be true, but something strange is happening. Reilly, the prohibitive favorite last winter, is now the underdog, fighting against two millionaires in the Democratic primary, and proclaiming to be champion of the “regular people.”

And that is where Reilly is most comfortable—against the odds and underestimated.
What could be more American than beating the odds? That's a good question about the Irish-American insider...as it is for the Black self-made millionaire.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Gov. Debate -- Leftover Pot Luck

We don't have much of substance on last night's sort-of debate by four of the five gubernatorial candidates. (Kerry Healey made yet another of her dismissive boners by not showing at all. Loser.)

The best recap this morning is over at .08 Acres. BMG has some key points too. And the Globe with a reporter/questioner horse in the race has the basic coverage.

We watched and listened. Maybe it was our mood, but we found the whole thing tedious. Nobody scored big and the only real losers were Mihos and Reilly. Christy was a suburban-pandering windbag with no visionary answers to questions that require them; he seemed to figure that if you promise to lower property taxes, voters will love you. Reilly lived up to our nickname, the Mortician, he was bloodless and bland, a pat on the forearm kind of guy. His only refrain was thin -- I have experience in whatever you want to discuss, experience I tell you.

Garbrieli and Patrick were better, but both seemed to be having off nights. Even when Patrick spoke of important ideas and plans, it came over in passing like ordinary ideas.

We attribute much of the yawn factor to the format. It was like a modern-day pot luck at school. Unlike the old style church dinners, we did not see the best each family had to offer, showing off. Instead, the pass the talking stick to one reporter after another dummied down the Q&A factor considerably. It was a table filled by hurried two-career couple warming up the same old stuff.

There were no Barbara Walters popping in with a show stopper. Instead, the reporters brought the predictable dishes. Except for the Mortician's dumb, rambling rant on Cape Cod windmills, no one stood out as a result.

Everyone seemed to have an off night. We certainly did.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

B&S Republicans Just Can't Stop

Everyone's favorite what-me-worry? President has done it again, and you can be sure his gelding Congress will be there with your checkbook open. George the Lesser wants about $2 billion as the first payment in a throw-away plan to police thousands of miles of U.S. border.

The borrow-and-spend Republicans have no concept of the possible or affordable. Here is yet another case of their huge government with endless unsupported expenses and no matching income. The B&S crowd is simply drunk on stupidity and profligacy.

Let us pause a moment and ponder Nixon's War on Drugs. It likewise was another inane waste of money, military and other government workers, and our international good will. It also failed spectacularly after billions piddled and stolen. It also did not address the underlying issues and relied on a meaningless display akin to sweeping back the tide.

So Bush said that this emergency funding of 16% (1,000 of 6,000 new border guards) will help "fix the problem of illegal immigrants." Do not laugh in your President's face, please.

This funding is in addition to over $92 billion in extra emergency funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Among the hundreds of B&S Republicans in Washington, aren't there some who know the meaning of enough?

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MBTA Fare Boycott

A great resource for all-things-T (right now) is here. She's calling for a boycott on Tuesday, June 6th.

That's not a coincidence. It is the last formal hearing in Boston about the proposed 25% fare increase.

If you can't do Boston at the main library, there's Framingham that evening and Lynn the next day. Check the sked.

I think the logic of having the two Boston-proper hearings in the afternoon of a work day is to include as may distant commuters as possible. I bet they'd get a much better and more representative set of attendants at 6 or 7 p.m. when the locals are around. Or maybe, pardon the wee paranoia, that's not accidental.

In case you missed it, I think the issue is phrased wrong. The T should be free, as proposed here. Debating the latest fare increase is like begging the bully to only hit you twice today.

I have blogged on this and written my Senator and Rep proposing full T funding. No fare is fair. For you, this is the time to get involved, speak up regardless of your position.

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Delayed SSM Fireworks

See today's Globe piece on the coming Constitutional Convention tactics. For the July 12th re-scheduled Con Con, Scott Helman talked to everyone he could about the anti-same-sex-marriage amendment vote (or non-vote).

The Dark Side only needs 50 of 200 legislators to advance the amendment to the next round -- a Con Con next year to revote it and get it on the 2008 ballot. Pro-SSM forces are lobbying to prevent that.

The article sketches the procedural options for killing it and not letting it come to a vote.

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Lowell Looey Debate: Same Date, New Venue

Water could move, but not cancel, this Saturday's Lt. Gov. debate in Lowell. All four candidates will now be at the Lowell Telecommunications Corp. , 246 Market Street. It's still 2 p.m.

BlueMassGroup generated the Google map.

The Senior Center is still a shelter for flooded folk.

That shall be live video feeds as well as live blogging. Let the posturing begin!

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Georgia Appeals SSM Amendment Ruling

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue took less than a day to announce that the state would appeal its court loss on its anti-SSM amendment.

Even though that will cost $30,000 or more a day for a special legislative session of a week or more. This is an election year, and the incumbents should benefit from such a display.

State Attorney General Thurbert Baker noted that Georgia law still prohibits SSM. However, the said that the amendment ruling "wrongfully decided." He'll file his appeal "to quickly correct the Superior Court's error and reinstate the language adopted by Georgia voters in 2004."

According to CBS:
The plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda, believe the judge's ruling will be upheld.

"All these guys are running for election. And once again they're going to try to use gays and lesbians as their platform," said Chuck Bowen, director of Georgia Equality, the state's largest gay-advocacy organization. "They're using us to shield the real issues facing the state."


Also, check out the analysis at Georgia Women Vote!. There, Amy writes that Perdue is "doing his best Snoopy dance" — "How could we expect him to resist the rosy prospect of putting a divisive, controversial and completely unnecessary question on the November ballot? After all, it passed the Governor's litmus test of political expediency."

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Gays Get Goodness in Georgia

The evil that is schadenfreude-based ballot initiatives got at least a short-term jolt in Georgia yesterday. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell ruled that the state's 2004 anti-same-sex-marriage amendment is unconstitutional. There is weeping and wailing, cursing and rending of garments on the anti-gay side. Pro-equality folk are very tentatively optimistic.

This might be a harbinger too of similar rulings in other states. Many DOMA-style amendments rushed into their constitutions when they grew fearful that the Massachusetts marriage sensibility of first judges then of the public might (gasp) spread. It isn't the hatefulness of the amendments, rather their sloppy and hurried execution.

Judge Russell ruled that the amendment violated the state's single-subject rule for ballot questions. It stepped over by not defining whether same-sex relationships could have any validity.

Gov. Sonny Perdue spoke the ballot-initiative lingo. "The people of Georgia knew exactly what they were doing when an overwhelming 76% voted in support of this constitutional amendment. It is sad that a single judge has chosen to reverse this decision."

Perhaps if he had taken a civics class somewhere along the line, he'd know that state and federal constitutions permit and require just that. Single judges and superior court justice panels do just that -- protect the public against irrational and unconstitutional laws passed in passion, and often with malice.

Southern Voice has the most detailed coverage here. Its article notes that:
The first sentence of Amendment 1 asked Georgia voters if marriage should be defined as the union between man and woman in the state constitution. The second clause of Amendment 1, which is known as Section B and did not appear on the Nov. 2 ballot, said “no union” between persons of the same sex shall be entitled to “the benefits of marriage.”
Russell was very clear in her ruling, SV reports:
...the test of law is not its popularity.”

“The issues for the people with respect same sex relationships are what status, if any, those relationships will have in the eyes of the law. And if they are afforded legal recognition, how they shall be treated under other laws. Those questions are distinctly different from whether same sex marriages should be allowed or recognized in this state. If the larger questions about same sex relationships are to be considered and answered, they must be presented forthrightly — not as an incidental side note to an entirely different matter,” Russell adds.

Everything is on the table -- appeals, new amendment, blah blah. Georgia Equality is preparing for whatever comes next.

The immediate reaction from the left appears on BlogForDemocracy.

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Le Vélo Est Bon. Grunt.

Sun-return ritual involves squinting in amazement, and then clicking into the bike pedals. Riding to work today was oddly and simple-mindedly fabulous.

I didn't even mind the flat after passing through the broken-beer bottle gauntlet that is Columbus Avenue by the Northeastern student housing. I needed to put the long-valve tube in that tire anyway.

Boston commuting cyclists often seem glum. They don't have any camaraderie to spare, no extra waves. This morning at 7 though, they smiled.

We got our Spring back and don't have to burrow into the T twice a day.

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Another Year of Gay Marriages!

Today finishes the second year of legal same-sex marriages in Massachusetts. Perhaps I'll get a chance to solemnize another one -- both of those are only-in-Massachusetts events.

We locals see many pluses and no minuses. The false prophets who predicted swift and terrible doom have had to fall back on the just-you-wait ploy. Pat them on the head as you see them mumbling to themselves in the corners.

Let us thank the justices and legislators who support civil rights and equality, and wish the SSM couples well.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Christy's Fustigation, Sort of Apology

It'll take some boots to wade through the logorrhea, but for the politically precision minded, the followup from the Christy Mihos kind of campaign site is here on UniversalHub. Our post pointing to the original is here.

There's a lot of obfuscating verbiage, apparently from the wife of the Christy's employee who set up the site that routed to his boss'. At its shortest:
  • She insists several times that the HubPolitics guys slandered and lied.
  • She eventually admits that her hubby handled the mechanics badly.
  • She says that, yup, it certainly would have appeared as HubPolitics originally claimed.
Oddly enough, buried in her apology of the process, she says a couple of times that hubby informed Mihos along the way. This unintentionally, to us, shifts the issue back to him. Was he not paying attention? Shouldn't he have told the guy not to do this or at least put this small amount on his donations list?

The missus missive writer makes prolonged fun at what she sees at HubPolitics' geek failures. Then she finally gets to kind of, sort of saying that hubby caused the problem with:
The only mistake, if it can even be called that, was a human error, and it was not a mistake made by Christy Mihos. When my husband went to purchase the christymihos.net website, he used his already established dotster account, which, as you know, has the company name listed as the owner but it is not in fact the owner, only the company my husband had put together a website for. This is what has led to the confusion, and my husband and I apologize for the unintentional misrepresentation of the website’s ownership, as well as apologize to hub politics for creating a set of circumstances that would lead them to believe a violation had taken place, and we also extend our sincere and heartfelt apologies to Christy Mihos and his campaign staff, as this negative press and whatever time, energy and resources utilized by his staff to deal with it would obviously have been better spent on the positive campaigning and not spent on false allegations of such a severe nature as a campaign violation.
She must be a descendant of Victor Hugo.

That's not to say it isn't good to get some details. However, all the words aren't likely to convince anyone that her side is clean and HubPolitics is dirty.

Mihos could have prevented it all by paying attention to what the site owner told him or by clearing up the mess when it came to light. At the very least, we can hope that he learned to tell his campaign staff to pay attention to donations and their details. We really have far too many important ideas in this campaign to stay mired in this junk.

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The T Playing Wrong Game

The first of many hearings on the MBTA fare increase and reduced service was yesterday. Everyone involved is still in the cave, looking for the best corner to hide.

Honk. Wrong.

We already proposed and shall scream more about the solution, eliminate T fare. Otherwise, the only debate available is how can we make the T profitable. It's the wrong discussion.

Sort of apology: This is off topic. The only marriage here would be of reason and government -- always an uncomfortable and unlikely couple. As a state and nation, we continue to pay many billions annually to subsidize the commutes, goods transfer and other highway costs of car and truck drivers. Let's be fair about fares.

No Surprises Yesterday

The first public hearing produced exactly what we should expect. Commuters and others say that raising the fare will repel riders when the T needs more.

Read accounts in the Metro, in the Herald, and in the Globe. They are very similar.

Ex-Governor Mike Dukakis -- a big mass-transit supporter and regular Green Line rider -- seemed the most sensible. He started by pointing out that $3 gas is a great motivator for riders, and as a result, this is exactly the wrong time to raise fares or reduce services.

He suggested that the commonwealth needs to stop pretending that the T is just some business. He wants legislators to reduce the MBTA's $5 billion-plus debt.

We suggest that the debt helps illustrate one aspect of the problem. If we treat mass transit as a public good, like highways, we gain the perspective. It should not scratch for a share of public money. Its funds should got to providing more and better transit, not to weaseling around the inane forward funding that the General Court imposed seven years ago, prohibiting even asking for fuel-increase adjustments. Dumb and punitive.

Meanwhile, T Deputy General Manager Dennis DiZoglio predicts a 6% drop in riders if the fare goes up. He also is looking at reducing bus and subway frequency to cut costs.

Again, this illustrates that the present funding and business model does not work and cannot work. Don't pretend that we can make money on the T; reap the benefits from a free mass-transit, and then expand it.

There are more hearings over the next month. Check the schedule, attend one, be vocal, free the T.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Anti-SSM Dwindling Party

Are we to suppose that the current -- and almost assuredly last-gasp -- anti-same-sex-marriage amendment try will die on legislative procedure? We have returned to Boston and look at the recent Bay Windows, in which a powerful legislator suggests just that.

Earlier in the week, House Majority Leader John Rogers revealed that he had smartened up and would no longer push to stop future same-sex marriages here. In BW, he lays out several possible ways that the amendment could fail on its first try at a Constitutional Convention (Con Con).

This would be despite the super-low bar of only 25% of the 200 member General Court (50 legislators) voting to let the amendment proceed. The anti forces could then sit in their caves bemoaning how they were tricked again, much as Red Sox fans used to spend their off seasons.

We could brag that we have predicted the defeat of this amendment, either by the legislator or the voters, many times. While we have done that here, it doesn't make us prophetic, just modestly observant.

Rogers notes that this issue has become "emotionally exhausting" for legislators here. We would add that in various versions in sundry ways it has lost multiple times.

At the same time, over 8,000 gay couples have wed here. People see that the hysteria predicting terrible things was jive. They know or are related to same-sexual couples and see that they are at least as well adjusted and good for society as straight ones are. It is difficult to demonize the ordinary unless you are Stephen King.

Similarly, legislators are not blind to the polls that show support for SSM here has gone from way below half to well above. Backing the stripping of existing rights in the face of popular acceptance is political self-mutilation.

Rogers also points out that our system does not compel legislators to attend a Con Con. If fewer than 100 show, there is no quorum. They can talk, but not conduct business. If the amendment does not pass the Con Con this year and also next, it dies.

As several of his colleagues who have switched from favoring such an amendment, Rogers claims to have matured. SSM friendly Rep. Liz Malia says she is willing to take him and others at their word. "Maybe I’m just too impressionable about it but I think a lot of people, when they’ve really thought about it, have made a lot of movement to, if not outright supporting [marriage equality], at least deciding that the tone and tenor and the motivation for the movement against marriage — they’re not comfortable with it."

That's a very gracious way of putting it. You might look at it another way -- they pushed anti-SSM when they figured it helped them and dropped it when it would hurt them.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Bush and A Cheney Warn on DOMA Amendment

Two politically connected women had warnings on the pending one-man/one-woman federal legislation effort. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Laura Bush said the GOP shouldn't use this as a campaign issue and Mary Cheney said such an amendment would be "fundamentally wrong."

Neither the First Lady nor the Vice President's daughter (is lesbian daughter one word for her?) are elected officials. Yet both are likely influential in their family and the party.

Host Chris Wallace noted that the amendment would be coming up and asked whether the GOP should campaign on it. Bush replied:
Well, I don't think it should be used as a campaign tool, obviously. But I do think it's something that people in the United States want to debate. And it requires a lot of sensitivity to talk about the issue, a lot of sensitivity.

People, I have found, over the country don't want the governor of Massachusetts or the mayor of San Francisco to make the choice for them — the courts of Massachusetts, I should say. So I think it deserves debate. I think it's something that people want to talk about.
Obviously, she's unclear and ignorant of how we got where we are in Massachusetts. It is amusing that she would attribute SSM here to Mitt Romney's action (inaction would be more accurate).

Her hubby favors such an amendment. VP Dick Cheney does not.

Mary Cheney has more of an investment in the issue and was plainer. The Washington Post quotes her as sounding pretty American and liberty loving. "But you know, what I can say is look, amending the Constitution with this amendment, this piece of legislation, is a bad piece of legislation. It is writing discrimination into the Constitution, and, as I say, it is fundamentally wrong."

That issue, of course, has played out for the past several years at the state level. Two years ago, a paranoid flurry of 11 DOMA-style amendments went into state constitutions. Some are likely to be overturned in court or by legislation. Yet how sad it is that these states would enable such regression. They have rubbed their fundamental legal document with the dirt of bigotry.

The frequently noted irony on the federal level is that for several centuries, self-identified conservatives, much like today's GOP, have claimed great respect for states rights. Each state is to have control of laws and regulations within its borders -- criminal and civil, including who can marry, who can drive a car, whether the government can execute criminals and on and on. Now there's Senator Bill Frist and others wanting to take away the states' rights to define marriage.

Hmm. Perhaps even Republicans won't be able to swallow that one. Laura appears to be onto something. With a bit of luck for the Democrats, maybe the Republicans up for election will try the DOMA amendment ploy, thus alienating the middle.

It's possible that if you average the Bushes' IQs, George and Laura's, she might bring up their score to normal.

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Howard Duh-ean on Same-Sex Marriage

No matter how often one looks away, Howard Dean's wrong, wrongheaded and wrong-hearted statements about same-sex marriage and about evangelical Christians won't go away. This bozo, with the title of chairman of the Democratic National Committee -- of the United States, not some rural Maine county -- showed his flaming red nose and blubbering lips last week.

Interviewed on Rev. Pat Robertson's 700 Club, Dean spoke for the party in terms probably not one in 10,000 Democrats would. Not only did he orally instantly reverse the party's policy, placing it against same-sex marriage, he pandered to the Christian right, saying Democrats had much in common with them and needed to accommodate them more.

We need a new spokesmodel, one with a brain installed.

You can watch the whole bizzarre interview here. Perhaps even stranger, you can scour the national Dem site and find zip, zilch, nada, rien, nothing about it. Even if there were nothing about his going into detox, there should have been some clarification about how he could be so out there, addled and alone.

Listen to the interview and wonder whether Dean:
  • Can't read (as in the party platform).
  • Is simply a bigot.
  • Figures anything he says goes for the party.
  • Will pander to anyone for a vote.
  • Truly doesn't like homosexuals and truly doesn't believe in equal rights.
The interview site has pretty fair coverage of his inane comments. On the CBN listenership:
I'm not saying we're going to agree with everything, between the more conservative evangelicals and the Democrats, but there's a lot more common ground than most people realize, and we're willing to work with the evangelical community.
Oddly enough, though, it does not cover what the video shows, his totally wrong comments about SSM. Specifically, "The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says."

On Earth, in reality, in this century, as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force noted, "In fact, the DNC 2004 platform says, 'We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a Federal Marriage Amendment. Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart.'"

The Washington Post offered background and details here and here. Its coverage notes that this is not Dean's only blunders on gay issues. "Earlier this month, Dean fired the DNC's gay outreach adviser, Donald Hitchcock, less than a week after his domestic partner, Paul Yandura, had criticized Dean's efforts to protect gay rights. He was immediately replaced by another activist, but over the past year, other concerns have been raised about Dean's bridge-building to gays."

Following the 700 Club interview, Dean caught some hell. The Post quoted him as saying simply, "I misstated the Democratic Party's platform, which does not say marriage should be limited to a man and a woman." He affirmed equal protection for all Americans, for the moment at least.

The Task Force will return a $5,000 check from the DNC, at least until the party gets its stuff together on fundamental issues. According to the Post, their executive director, Matt Foreman, "said Dean should be persuading Democrats to fight against ballot initiatives seeking to ban gay marriage, but instead has misrepresented the party's 'important and affirming plank' several times. 'There has been a disturbing lack of clarity from Governor Dean about where we fit into the party and the country.'"

From here, it looks like Dean would do anything, say anything to get mindless votes. It's a pity that a few million were listening last week.

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Many Number Twos in Lowell

Surely the ground will be dry and the sky blue next Sunday. Just as surely, you'll be in Lowell for the BlogLeft-supported Lieutenant Governor debate.

Click the image below to see the details.

We shall again steal Lynne's intro:
BlogLeft, an unchained association of us Massachusetts liberal bloggers, is cosponsoring a Lt Governor’s forum with the Lowell Democratic City Committee and Greater Lowell Area Democrats on May 21, 2pm, at the Senior Center in Lowell (276 Broadway Street, Lowell, MA). You can see the LDCC page on the forum here, and get directions here.

Download the poster [PDF] and hang it up anywhere you can, and here are some postcards [PDF] to print and hand out.

This is a really good opportunity to come and meet the Lt. Governor candidates, and listen to their ideas. Soon, participating bloggers will be soliciting questions for the candidates from readers, so keep an eye out!

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Christy Fustigates Bloggers

In a world turned upside down, we come to the side of a right-wing blogger. Christy Mihos' people were waaaaay out of bounds in screaming libel when HubPolitics caught them with their donations down.

From the looks of it, the situation is pretty benign and straight-forward. It appears as though a Mihos campaign mirror Website belongs to his Cape Cod c-stores, and that the campaign did not report this as an in-kind contribution.

Yet the HubPolitics posts are pretty squishy and gentle. They reported who owned the site, didn't see a corresponding entry on Mihos' filings, and asked whether this might be a violation. Sounds like a case for First Amendment Man to me.

So instead of saying, "Oops," and making it right, Mihos' minions threatened about libel and tried to have the site host take the post or maybe even the site down. The Boston Herald coverage is here.

Maybe the grocery god really, really dislikes bloggers. Even so, this is a pretty stupid tactic when he's running for office and trying to snag voters' minds.

Check the original here. It's pretty spongy, with the heading Possible Campaign Violation by Mihos. If a newspaper had discovered and run this bit, you can be damned sure it would have been firmer and snarkier.

The follow-up post is here. It explains how the campaign is claiming it is a private site, but that the WHOIS info contradicts that. Cut me a very thin slice -- my 12-year-old knows this registration stuff. Mihos' folks should have.

Link note: After the hoo-ha it caused, the questionable site, www.christymihos.net, is no longer a mirror of the main Mihos site and the WHOIS info no longer is accessible. A public apology to HubPolitics' Aaron and Matt Margolis would likely be more meaningful than trying to hide the problem.

As HubPolitics reports:
At 5:18 PM, Peter Pendergast, Christy Mihos's campaign manager, also responded to this post and accused Hub Politics of publishing falsehoods and libel. It was around this time that Hub Politics was issued a takedown request initiated by a representative of the Mihos Campaign for Governor, claiming that we published information that was "libelous" and violated our hosting company's Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).
If there has ever been a candidate who doesn't get it, it's Kerry Healey, but Mihos is hot on her trail. Not owning up to a problem, screaming "Lies and libel!" without solid cause, pretending that registrar data don't exist, slamming a blogger instead of taking responsibility, and trying to take down this news source through the host add up to some poor thinking.

Is this the kind of guy we would want on Beacon Street?

The best we can hope for here is that Pendergast was operating as a rogue, without Christy's knowledge or okay. From here, it sure looks like a rich guy thinking he can do whatever he wants. I don't believe that's what a public official should be about.

Nit and grit follow-up: The details on the site registration appear on MediaNation, where Dan researched the sign-then-switch. It does look like the Mihos folk were sloppy and then deceptive, as HubPolitics claimed. Dan calls this hypertechnical and thinks the Magolis lads are making too much of it. I disagree with both judgments, but I'm glad he sorted and sifted.

5/16 followup: This is a cockroach that just won't die. Maybe the wife of the guy who registered this site can clear it up. Start here. Warning though, if you click through to her post, grab a cup of coffee or a stronger drink. She admits that she writes looooong.

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Dull Edge of Methodism

What happened to so blunt the former cutting-edge Methodist Church? It should be on the forefront of same-sex marriage and other gay-rights issues.

It used to be a civil-rights leader. Now, it disguises itself in the conservative clothes of the mumbling coward.

As you likely have surmised, I grew up as a Methodist. Having known that church from its tradition of equal rights and respect for all, I am dismayed when I see how far it has walked from its founder's path.

Crows on a Fence

Long ago in a state far away (okay, South Carolina), I walked into a girlfriend's family home to meet the folk. This was in a small, cotton-mill town in the uplands. I knew I was suspect -- from New Jersey, earring and so forth.

However, I was not prepared for the initial sight nor for the accompanying question. She was tall and slender, but her mother and three aunts were not. Stereotypical of the millworker culture, the women were broad, squat, sturdy and severe. This was most apparent as I entered, because they were a seated jury, assembled for the sole purpose of judging my appearance, as well as every word and action. Four matriarchs sat attentively, in four chairs, eight hands on eight knees on their print dresses.

Despite what my sons might say now, I can be quite charming and had spent years in Danville, Virginia, the last capital of the Confederacy, and three miles above North Carolina. I got along well with many Southerners and knew how to show respect for women befitting the culture.

Boom. They got me though.

When the woman with whom I was keeping company, as the local expression goes, introduced me, Mama spoke first. As crisp and sure as a homicide detective, she asked, "What denomination are you?"

Today up in this city in Yankeeland, that may seem both innocent enough and inconsequential. We might think it odd to ask a new acquaintance about religion as well as peculiar to assume Protestant Christianity as the base state.

However, I knew I was covered. My answer would be second or third best, but it would be in the acceptable range. I answered, "Methodist," and foolishly thought I was free. On, no. In under a second, she shot back, "Wesley or Southern?"

Historical note: Long before there was a United Methodist Church, the denomination splintered several times. Notably, the Wesleyan branch was strongly abolitionist. Before the Civil War, the northern and southern branches split over slavery, kind of reunited after the Great Depression and didn't really rejoin until 1968. Many Methodists feel the strong bonds of the Free and Wesley Methodists, the main church, and the former AMEs that went with the United version.

Well, I had attended Southern Methodist churches because they were there, but had been raised as a Wesleyan. With eight squinting eyes on me, I knew the game was over. I don't lie and knew I was already in trouble belonging to a church that did not have immersion baptism and had a bishop governance. I said, "Wesleyan."

Pause.

Lip smack.

"They're nice too," said Mama, but she meant the opposite. She would never approve of me, nor would her sisters and sister-in-law.

What Would Wesley Do?

Today if you notice the news from the United Methodists, you are likely to see them forbidding the ordination of gay ministers, of opposing same-sex marriage, and in general, of having the Roman Catholic hierarchy's view of homosexuals -- if you can't help yourself and are gay, well okay, but you're out on your ear if you practice your sinful sexuality or, God forbid, marry another one like you.

Just recently, the news was that a Methodist minister in Virginia who refused to let a gay man become a member was supported by the UMC Judicial Council. That august body ruled that its ministers can refuse members for being gay. This is despite published and preached UMC principles that include "Equal Rights Regardless of Sexual Orientation: Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for homosexual persons."

Those Social Principles have a paragraph on marriage too:
We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman. We believe that God's blessing rests upon such marriage, whether or not there are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage. We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Interestingly, it does not play the marriage-is-for-procreation game. Yet, it is DOMA friendly and gay hostile.

From outside the UMC, that sort of dichotomy would seem odd enough. However, given the long history of the church in social issues and progressive politics, it is truly sad and strange.

John Wesley was out there, the quintessential, 18th Century walk-it-like-you-talk-it cleric. His resulting church and ministry were leaders in the English and U.S. abolition movements, pioneers in prison and mental-health reform, and true believers in equality for all.

Even during the Vietnam War era, you could see it in the Methodist Student Movement and particularly its motive magazine. Other churches tucked their tails and equivocated over the war. Much of the Methodist church was against it.

Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon all did their versions of what George the Lesser and his minions do now with the if-you-don't-support-us-you-are-for-the-enemy. To us college students, reading motive's pro-civil-rights and anti-war articles and hearing those sentiments from a Methodist pulpit were powerful and empowering.

Well, the church tossed its most liberal ministers and shut down motive. In the past three decades, it has become as conservative as the Baptists and as exclusionary as other mainstream churches.

What a pity...several centuries of social action subsumed under the rule of the timid and distrustful. I have a very good idea what John Wesley would do and it would not include selective equality.

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