Sunday, October 31, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
It's time to whip out some Greek and Latin, like hubris and ipse dixit. Charles A. Turner overplayed both and got caught this afternoon, found guilty on all four corruption accounts — attempted extortion and three of lying to the FBI.
Chuck Turner seems to have lapsed in his folklore here. It's believe half of what you see and none of what you hear, not the other way around.
I can hear him now, saying such criticism is only because he is black. He said that about his entrapment by the FBI in taking money from a businessman for help getting a liquor license. That claim has some credibility when you consider that so far only two local pols have pleaded or been found guilty to corruption, both ex-Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and Turner black. That will likely lose its punch as former House Speaker Salvatore F. (Sal) DiMasi goes to trial on his corruption charges.
Regardless, I call arrogance on Turner.
Background material: The Globe account today has lots of detail, including the 1/25/11 sentencing-hearing date, that he's likely to lose his pension and what options the city has in replacing Turner. UniversalHub reports that Council President Michael Ross is meeting with city lawyers to make sure they proceed correctly. Turner's Council page, which may vaporize soon, is here. The Boston Herald coverage has post-verdict quotes from Turner — he's an organizer, who'll "organize in jail" if sent there and "I’m not the first person who’s innocent to be sent to jail."He has long been great on bluster as well as leveraging his race, age, class and whatever tools he finds lying around. Unfortunately the 70-year-old Harvard grad has often done so without those messy facts or provable details.
That was certainly the case when he insisted on testifying, and being his defense's sole witness. We were to take him at his word and that would be that — ipse dixit.
With hard-to-see but still visible and audible tape of him taking what sure looked like money from an FBI informant, he needed some kind of convincing proof,...anything of substance.
Instead, he claims not to have known the man in his office and certainly not to have taken a bribe. He claims that if he took anything from him, it would not be a bribe to help him get a license. He couldn't remember the person, the meeting, the handshake and transfer...anything.
Lackaday, the jurors saw the transfer of something and heard the informant and FBI agent's testimony. Apparently they believed at least half of what they saw.
It's pathetic in a human and political sense. A Councilor I respect greatly, John Connolly, has often spoken well of Turner. Connolly chairs and Turner has been a member of the education committee. They have worked together for the good of the kids in public schools for a long time.
Turner's other often-repeated claim that 90% of city pols are dirty may be hyperbole but probably has considerable truth to it. He certainly is not the only bribable one. Short of the U.S. Attorney or FBI admitting they picked him in part because of his race, we aren't likely to know whether that played any role here.
I'm betting that even with four counts, if Turner ends up having to serve any jail time, it won't be long. However, we can be sure if he goes, his cellmates will get an earful, an education, and lessons in polemics.
Late afternoon follow-up: Council President Ross promises a hearing in two weeks and continuity for constituents in District 7.
Halloween follow-up: While I mingled with the pleasant people, Turner did what he does second best — define all in his terms. A tip of the toupee here to UniversalHub for the pointer. At his rally yesterday, he laid down the hate on everyone involved in his sting and trial and concluded he'd never resign from the Council, and wouldn't leave, short of a bullet to the head. By the bye, for all the ego and rhetoric, what he does best is look out for his district's constituents.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, Chuck Turner, corruption, verdict
Thursday, October 28, 2010
How about recalling from The Guess Who:
(No time left for you) On my way to better things
(No time left for you) I found myself some wings
(No time left for you) Distant roads are calling me
(No time left for you) Da-n-da-n-da-n-da-n-da
or the Beatles:
I've got no time for you right now. Don't bother me...
Don't come around. Leave me alone. Don't bother me...
Around MA and the nation, many incumbents who feel secure in their spots hide from debates, fora and any public appearances where they might say anything meaningful. This go has seen several particularly arrogant examples in this state where we pride ourselves on our civic traditions.
That Lynch guy in the 9th Congressional sinecure-like spot and our Secretary of the Commonwealth flipped off the public and media repeatedly and seemingly with no retribution. They clearly don't care about the little d democratic process and seem to figure if they don't have to participate they won't.
I grew up taking civics classes, reading several newspapers every day, and discussing government and politics at home, school and with friends. I have long been fond of the concept of voters making informed decisions. I could hardly wait until I was 18 so I could vote.
In 2010, in the past six months of hard campaigning, Steve Lynch and Bill Galvin repeatedly refused to attend many public meetings, fora, debates and editorial-board appearance.
Personal disgruntlement note: Over at Left Ahead!, we give guests the run of the mic for 30 to 60 minutes for our podcasts. We don't spring trick questions or surprise adversaries. Lynch and Galvin have blown us off as well, keeping with their theme of I-don't-have-to-so-I-won't. Lynch's handler, Conor Yuntis, initially said his guy would come on, but only for 10 or 20 minutes, and then totally reneged. Galvin's campaign manager brother promised soon until it is apparently too late.Voters should be irritated or worse at today's long overdue pieces on Wicked Local and the Globe, that cite the State House News Service on Galvin's latest. The Secretary is pulling chief-election-administrator with his comment on why he refused to debate his two opponents a couple of blocks from his Beacon Hill office — I said I could do 60 minutes; I couldn’t possibly do 90 minutes in the middle of a workday a week before the election.
We're just three blogger/podcasters who have a little weekly show. We know we're not prime-time TV or front-page daily fare. Yet, we get hundreds and sometimes many more listeners who commit to or at least start our hour-long shows. Pols like Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Mike Capuano and many others seem to have the time to present themselves to the voters. Perhaps they are less important than Galvin and Lynch.
Well, they would have done an hour at Suffolk Law and, for democracy's sake, he's had more than six months of invites that he has rejected or accepted and then backed out of. The one he ducked recently in Newton combined with yesterday's led indy opponent Jim Henderson to have a quicky press conference on the invisible, mute incumbent.
Galvin has finally roused from his hiding enough to send out minions. His ads just kicked in, avoiding all substance, rather accusing Henderson of not voting in all local elections when he promoted greater turnout and lumping him inexplicably with Green-Rainbow gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein (huh?).
This Secretary job has a four-year term and by hunkering in the political basement for this campaign, Galvin may in fact go for 17th to 20th year of his tenure. The numerous complaints of inefficiency, of preventing public access to public information, of doing nothing to diagnose and cure low turnout, and of leaving the office's technology in the 1980s, remain. Neither the legislature nor the governor has demanded Galvin fix this atavistic operation.
Now the voters will go into Tuesday's final with too little basis for judgment.
Lynch is similar, although he faces re-election every two years. He has made a 9-year career of voting as a rightwinger, in effect a conservative Republican on all the big policy issues from health-reform (no), to the PATRIOT Act (strong, repeated yes), to Iraq and other war (resounding yeses), with the sole Dem/lefty graces being in OK support of LGBT and choice rights.
Both try-to-find-me candidates have been receiving tepid endorsement snippets buried among effusive plaudits for candidates who appear publicly. Consider for one, the silly Phoenix one for Galvin, in its entirety:
Tags: massmarrier, elections, Massachusetts, Henderson, Galvin, Campbell, Secretary, debates
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
|After the incumbent Secretary of the Commonwealth, Bill Galvin, blew off the last chance for a public debate by reneging on the Suffolk Law forum, independent candidate Jim Henderson held a press conference today when the debate should have been happening. Here he is in the well in front of the State House with some of his supporters.|
|Seemingly under the terrible weight of inertia of the office holder who won't debate, Henderson has remained pragmatic and cheerful. He speaks of him and his followers doing what they can.|
|As well has addressing his own aims for the office of Secretary, Henderson had some verbal support. He read an endorsement from software entrepreneur Paul Egerman, who has had his problems getting information from the Secretary's offices. Also, Stephen Buckley (left) appeared and detailed how Galvin's office refused to help him when the Department of Children and Families (formerly DSS) would not respond to repeated requests for a copy of their policies and procedures. He said because the DCF would not put their refusal in writing, Galvin's staff refused to act.|
|In what surely must be happenstance and not malice, Galvin was sort of present. Maybe 100 feet away on Beacon Street at the risibly named (General) Hooker Entrance to the Statehouse, was a sign asking "What's Under The Golden Dome" and reading that Galvin "invites you to find out!"|
Readers here know that I support Henderson, have endorsed him, and think his positions on public access to our data, on finding out why half of us don't vote at all, and most certainly on using computer technology of this century like nearly every other state.
While I have been known to donate to parties and causes, I have a policy of not donating to individual candidates. That is particularly important because of the weekly Left Ahead! podcast I participate in with Ryan Adams and Lynne Lupien. I like to keep it clean with anyone we may have on the show.
At today's conference in the intermittent drizzle, Henderson remained in control of his frustration. While catercorner from the FOX affiliate, they did not get media coverage.
That continues to amaze and Galvin seems to play on the topor of the Globe, Herald, broadcast media, as well as the Phoenix. Four years ago, the last time Galvin was up for re-election, he did the same routine of avoiding debates and limiting public appearances. Back then, the dailies at least were all over him for it.
They seemed to have learned their lessons and are being well-behaved little kids this time. Back then, the press was exercised, but the voters were not. The media seem too gun-shy this cycle to do their job.
The difference this time is that it was over in 2006 with the primary when John Bonifaz, the reform candidate, lost the Democratic slot. Now, Henderson knew that was the wrong approach and will appear in the general election, as will GOP nominee Bill Campbell. Like Bonifaz, Henderson offers promise of big improvement and massive change.
So much as been made of the gubernatorial race, including 19 debates or fora, that some races have become so much litter blown around the darkened streets. The other statewide races though — Treasurer, Auditor and Attorney General — earned their own spots with many fora and much press coverage. The candidates raged and sneered at each other, and made themselves available.
Without Galvin's participation in the democratic and campaign processes, Secretary did not make its own promotion. Combined with lethargy of the media, all that seems left in the air are Campbell's gentle comments, Henderson's strong platform, and Galvin's inertia.
Many including Henderson have noted the twisted humor of Galvin being the chief administrator of elections in Massachusetts...and not participating.
Tags: massmarrier, elections, Massachusetts, Henderson, Galvin, Campbell, Hanson, Secretary
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Perhaps two dozen citizens in Hanson sighted (and heard) the rare Secretary of the Commonwealth, Bill Galvin, on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Meanwhile, his opponents were in that quasi-debate forum thingummy so popular nowadays. At Lasell College, GOP nominee Bill Campbell and independent Jim Henderson went face to face and position to position. As promised in coverage of that, when I got a DVD of Galvin from Whitman-Hanson Community Access TV, I took notes for this post.
I also clipped the Galvin section from WHCA's vid and uploaded it. This is only 9 minutes. Note that WHCA does not approve of this relatively low-rez process and original is spiffier. This bastardization was my work. None of Galvin's content is missing.
One might well wonder why one candidate was solo at a candidates' forum and two of them were on stage at another. According to the other candidates for this office, Galvin knew exactly what he was doing. The League of Women Voters with their Brookline and Newton branches had spoken with the Hanson Democratic and Republican Town Committees about the scheduling conflict, as well as with the candidates for Secretary. Galvin, who is infamous for limiting public appearances and avoiding debates, picked the time when he could appear alone and unchallenged.
Moreover, the moderator plugged Galvin in first, while the order of this longstanding forum is to start from the bottom of the ballot, which may well have gotten to Galvin about the time the other two candidates arrived from Newton. As the agreeable moderator put it, "We are making one exception on the speaking order today and that's Secretary of State Bill Galvin who's running obviously statewide and has probably more commitments than we all do. So as a courtesy to Secretary of State Galvin, I would recognize him at this point for an opening statement."
He didn't appear to kiss him though.
Galvin's stealth campaigning has worked for him since 1994 when he first took the office. Just because he is chief administrator of elections in the commonwealth doesn't mean he advocates open, vigorous campaigns.
Open and shut
The chair slouching crowd chuckled when the (unidentified) moderator Charley called for questions from the audience right after Galvin finished his opening remarks...and immediately told him to make his closing remarks.
The gist of Galvin's remarks were 1) he did not address any of the criticisms of his opponents and 2) he thinks he's been doing an excellent job at real hard tasks.
Specifically, he started with the timely topic of elections. He cited MA having over 4 million registered voters, adding "We have had remarkable turnouts in the elections we've had." He also said,"We've removed all the impediments to registration that made it difficult for people in the past to register." In that vein, he said his office provided the 2,000-plus polling places with the necessary equipment — "remarkable progress" in his terms.
Making it personal, he concluded this part that for elections, "I'm very proud of my record." He went farther into "pleased and proud" that he thinks he has a reputation for fairness and providing the help necessary for candidates and those seeking to put questions on the ballot.
Next, he touched risk management in finance and securities. "Massachusetts has led the way among the states in reining in the excesses in the financial services industry," he said. "I've been able to return hundreds of millions of dollars back to Massachusetts residents who have been defrauded. We not only have a strong body of laws in Massachusetts we we also enforce it."
To personalize this, he said he's had "the difficult time of talking to people who've lost all kinds of money," on Bernie Madoff-style scheme and simply losses of 401K and similar plans. Here too, he graded himself highly — "I believe I've done a good job. I think the responsibilities I've been charged with are handled well."
He'd like some help here, calling for reforms at the federal level. His idea would be to allow those with 401K plans to dip into them in emergencies without paying any fiscal penalty. He noted that 401Ks were originally an afterthought when many people had pensions, but now they tend to be "the primary way people prepare for their retirement, for the later years." As such, federal law should be more flexible in giving people access without penalty.
In his immediate closing, he hit on two topics, redistricting and foreclosures. He portrayed each as an example of his vision and fairness.
Noting that when the U.S. Census data are complete, MA will redraw every precinct and ward line, starting with precincts, then wards, and finally legislative and Congressional districts.
He said he was in charge of starting this and claimed he'd do his best to see it happens fairly. "Now in the past that has been a very political process," he said "And unfortunately it's led to situations in this town where the town is divided between two congressional districts. It's also led to some very unfortunate experiences in the legislature. We've seen areas where districts make no sense."
He noted that the very term gerrymandering arose in Massachusetts. However, he said this time, he'll propose that "it shall at least initially (be done) by a bipartisan commission that makes a recommendation or recommendations with the objective to make certain that communities are protected and preserved and not divided, wherever that's possible. Redistricting should not be political."
He said he takes his part in this "very seriously. That's something I'm eager to work on, but it's also something I see as getting the building blocks for fairer districts in the future."
He put himself into the heart of foreclosures, even though he is not related to mortgage and banking regulation directly. Instead, he said that he has responsibility for registry of deeds in the majority of MA areas that no longer have county government.
As such, he says he has been concerned at the recent revelations of flawed foreclosure documents and procedures. "It's a problem for those who are victim of a flaw foreclosure," he said. "It's a problem to the bigger market that's going to make real estate less likely to be sold because of all the uncertainty in the marketplace."
He added that two years ago he asked the legislature to correct a related problem, that we are one of the few states without formal judicial process for foreclosure. He said our system predates the Civil War and that "as a tenant you probably have more rights than you do as a property owner."
Galvin said the legislature did not act on his proposals two years ago, "(b)ut I think in light of what we've seen, in light of what we're now experiencing, in light of the damage this could well do to the real estate market, not just to those who are in foreclosure but others, it's very important we address that as well in the coming legislative session."
One hand clapping
I am sorry I could not be Hanson for the manifestation. I'm sorrier that Galvin avoided the likely single chance for serious verbal challenges.
Tags: massmarrier, elections, Massachusetts, Henderson, Galvin, Campbell, Hanson, Secretary, WHCA
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Fortunately, most picks in this crucial election are easy. Statewide, Patrick/Murray, Coakley, Grossman and Bump aren't even in question. They are strong and proven, while their opponents are inadequate and lacking in necessary vision.
Among my other endorsements, a key one that rends me is Jim Henderson for Secretary of State. I'm certainly voting for him. I fear though that the vast majority of voters have paid no attention to this race.
A body at rest tends to remain at rest. Inertia in the person of incumbent Bill Galvin could well win this contest.
Other than the huge factor that there is a sitting Secretary, this race parallels that for Treasurer. I am for the candidates who represent much needed change, overhauling these disused offices for the benefit of the citizens.
I have a Henderson sign on my lawn. That stirs conversations with neighbors. I chat him up with friends. I'm sure I've gotten converts. Yet, how many of me are out there doing this in a down-ballot slot? Sigh.
Far, far worse for my big and little D Democratic psyche is the Ninth District race for the U.S. Congress. Both for much of my long-term residence in Jamaica Plain and more recently in Hyde Park, my Congressman was Stephen F. Lynch. I've blanked him before and certainly can't vote for him this time.
He is unquestionably a DINO. He has voted as a right-wing Republican on all the big issues, as a champion of the Iraq war and the PATRIOT Act, and doing his best to stop health-care reform. He has a D after his name, but why and to what effect?
I campaigned for and endorsed Mac D'Alessandro in the primary for the Ninth. In the general, the GOP's Harrison and the unenrolled Dunkelbarger are no better than Lynch, perhaps even clones.
Here is my real windmill tilt. I'll throw away my vote by writing in D'Alessandro.
On paper at least, keeping a nominal Democrat in the seat might be a slight advantage when it opens again. Certainly the voters had a clear choice in the primary and took the winger over the progressive by something like 80 to 20%. Perhaps Lynch will be safe there for another election after this one for reasons I can't fathom. Yet, replacing him with an actual Republican would likely make zero difference to Massachusetts.
In this case, this will be a protest vote, which is not my wont. That makes me sad.
Henderson at least has a sliver of a chance, particularly if the major media come out soon endorsing him. I've wondered throughout this campaign why the major papers and broadcast political types, and even the second-tier ones like David Bernstein of the Phoenix have not been on Galvin for ducking debates and allowing for full democratic process. They have really failed us this time for this race.
In the end though, Henderson belongs in the Secretary's office and I cannot in good conscience vote for Lynch.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, election, endorsements, candidates, Secretary, Congress
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Fret not. Follow my lead through the unusually long November ballot.
Mine-alone note: Left Ahead! as a trio rarely endorses candidates, preferring to retain some impartiality. These are my calls.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, election, endorsements, candidates, ballot questions
Monday, October 18, 2010
The League of Women Voter of Newton truly tried to host a Dagwood sandwich of local and down-ballot statewide candidates yesterday at Lasell College, Secretary Bill Galvin was a no-show, as was AG-would-be Republican James McKenna. However, Secretary candidates the GOP's Bill Campbell and independent Jim Henderson held forth, disagreeing civilly.
With only a few weekends in the last month, the inevitable conflict occurred. The Democratic and Republican Town Committees of Hanson and Whitman scheduled their candidates' afternoon on the same day and time. Hence a half miracle in Hanson.
Galvin apparently decided he could ask to be first up in Hanson at 3, knowing his opponents were at the quasi-debate in Newton. He still won't debate, but he did appear, so I hear.
The kindly folk at Whitman Hanson Community Access TV recorded their version, replete with the Galvin sighting. They don't yet have their online video server (soon, soon), but promised to provide a disk. I'll report.
Meanwhile in the arena, Henderson and Campbell gave and took well. They are pleasant fellows. They share some goals for the office, but they have more differences than similarities, which they clarified yesterday.
As for Galvin, his campaign website reminds me of a hymn of my youth, from the Gloria Patri, with the lines, "As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be..."
It is very out-of-date, contains no platform, list of accomplishments or other reasons to re-elect him for another for four years. More important, it gives nothing to analyze or criticize. It simply states that he is Secretary of the Commonwealth, and that's that, all you need to know.
His strategy of no debating and not giving the public or opponents a visible target might well win again. While candidates for the other major down-ballot races, Treasurer and Auditor, are fierce and frequent in their public encounters and pronouncements, they have the huge incentive lacking in the Secretary context — no incumbent. Their battles are for a yet-unknown someone to be king or queen of the hill, with no one there to defend it.
At Lasell, Galvin appeared only as a ghost. Moderator Risa Nynam of LMV Brookline passed along his line with a straight face. She said he could not appear because of a scheduling conflict. She never mentioned that it was of his own making and intent.
For their part Campbell in his intro and Henderson in passing noted Galvin's absence. The former said he was disappointed and "the voters deserve better."
Here, I must give an abbreviated version of my anti-forum rant. Let us not confuse these tightly time- and content-controlled pieces of theater with debates. This is the pre-chewed food of politics. Candidates are herded down their chutes with a few questions and given short periods to deal with often complex topics. Then each gets an even shorter time for additional comment, jocularly called "rebuttal," as though it was real exposition.
Yesterday, being an LWV event, it was even more tightly controlled than a TV or radio version. The first two office contests were cancelled for lack of an opponent. Moreover, both Campbell and Henderson were well in advance of their 3 p.m. showtime. The League could well have started at 2:30 or so and say, "We have a gift of extra time and will give the candidates additional room to answer and ask each other questions."
Well, no. The League is schoolmarmish in the main and its members often quite literal in what they insist is evenhandedness. It wouldn't do to treat one set of candidates the slightest bit different from the next. Even if the voters would benefit from the extra information and opinions, that wouldn't be fair now, would it?
So, for their parts, the Secretary candidates remained amiable, even as their positions clashed. I am sure that they could have a beer and personal conversation, even without President Obama's facilitation.
He said he said
Same-day-registration. This brought a yeah and a nay. Henderson is a strong believer in election-day voter registration and Campbell firmly opposes it. Henderson says the under-50% MA voter turnout is appalling, that this would encourage more voters, and that fraud is between minuscule and non-existent. Campbell is Woburn town clerk and holds that we need zero tolerance for even the slightest potential of fraud. He did not respond to Henderson's comment that he did not know of a single MA clerk who had uncovered fraud.
Early voting. Henderson would like to see a longer voting period, as many states have, allowing citizens to go to government offices and vote in the week or two before the final day. Campbell sort of agreed, but said he would prefer to try to move elections to a Saturday for greater voter convenience. (Neither mentioned religious sorts who have issues with Saturday travel.)
Military ballots. Both agreed that MA needs to come into compliance with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, requiring that registered voters in the armed services get their ballots at least 45 days before elections. Campbell took the chance to note that Galvin's office did not do this and said it was because the Secretary had not made it plain to the legislature that it was necessary. Both candidates agreed that switching the primary to an August date, perhaps early in the month, would do the trick and cost the public nothing additional.
Public access to public information. Henderson has campaigned strongly on bringing the office into this century in terms of using data bases and computer technologies. He noted that other states let citizens get such online information as whether someone claiming to be a registered security dealer actually is. He pointed out that here one is to call the Secretary's office during normal business hours and get that information orally from an employee. He called for a simple Google-style search of the public information. Campbell was spongier with this topic, agreeing though that the public information laws were vague and confusing, leaving government employees unsure of what data they could share upon request. Henderson said the proper approach would be to put all databases not precluded by law online and let the citizens determine what is useful and necessary, an open-data initiative, as he put it.
ID from everyone. They differed on whether people should have to show ID every time they vote. Campbell returned to his theme of preventing even the slightest possibility of voter fraud and strongly favored everyone showing ID every time. Henderson drew attention to the elderly, homeless and others with out such standard proofs as current driver's license or utility bill. He returned to his theme that fraud is not a real problem and we would be inconveniencing many for no benefit. He also has the position that creating or buying fake ID is common, as we see among thirsty teenagers. He asked would we want to equip each of over 2,000 polling places with equipment to verify ID, at $1,000 or more each?
Securities enforcement. Campbell used this topic to criticize Galvin's office for what he said was an "overemphasis" and a hostile policy. Henderson noted that this policing might be distracting the Secretary's staff from more important tasks, such as safeguarding personal citizen data and not repeating the release of key private information of many thousands of us as happened several times.
Voter turnout. This sounded very much like a progressive v. conservative split. Campbell said voters are responsible for registering to vote on time, another reason why he opposes election-day registration. Henderson said Galvin had not grown turnout and not made any effort to find out why voters do not show. He added that he would make it a priority to visit throughout the state to discover the underlying issues and see what could be done to increase participation. Again, Campbell returned to, "I don't think we should do anything to open the door to fraud." However, he did suggest we shorten the registration period from the current 20 days to 10.
In their sprint of a one-minute closing statements, Campbell said he had the skills and experience and would make the office "more responsive in many ways." Henderson said he offered the overdue "chance to change the very nature of the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office" and to get citizens more fully engaged in democracy.
These LWV's functions do provide a kick, perhaps in my case, puerilely so. Advancing the democratic process, exposing citizens to pols' positions, and trying to increase voter participation are very noble and very American. Must the League's methods be so literal and rigid?
Some little touches yesterday reminded me of junior high. See the light bulb array above. The timer lady who sat below the stage where the moderator and candidates would see the all-important green, yellow and red lights seemed to have an amateurish science project on her little table.
The lights were in fake gold bathroom vanity sockets. a honking thick, rope of wire harness connected the array to a huge switch box with three wall-style light toggles, also color coded.
The timer and moderator were mindlessly efficient. Not only was there scant time for the candidates (1 minute for opening, 90 seconds for each to answer the prepared question, 30 seconds for each to follow up if he chose), but the moderator cut candidates off in mid-sentence and in several cases mid-word. Of course that short changed the audience, but this clearly was a rules-are-rules bunch.
Incidentally, only about 18 showed in the massive auditorium. I had the sense we were all family, friends or reporter types, again like junior high plays. However, Newton cable TV (NewTV) video recorded. At some point, ideally before the election, this session and others from the day should be available. If I find out details, I'll update this post and create an additional one.
That presents another amusing piece of LWV's drama. They and maybe NewTV allowed no photography, voice recording or video recording during this allegedly public session. In addition, Nyman announced sternly, when the recording becomes available, anyone presenting it must show it in its entirety, no editing or shortening.
Sit up straight, don't chew gum, and pass your homework up the row to the front of the class!
Despite the League's anal-retentive bent, I strongly suggest attending their events as you can. Particularly candidate presentations are often one of the few chances you'll get to hear them, even if debating is out of question. I suppose the LWV has joined our broadcast media in assuming we are all creatures of little brains and short attention spans.
Amusingly enough, it was the WWI and WWII generations who pegged the KW folk first with that epithet of the Entitlement Generation. The Tom Brokaw-dubbed Greatest Generation of WWII folk slandered their KW siblings and their own children with that, as the vast majority of the latter did not fight in or around Korea. Many WWII types stayed in and did though. Moreover, the younger KW folk did not struggle through the Great Depression, in that their parents and grandparents watched out for them and fed and housed them.
Give Me Mine
All of this leads to deeply underlying questions about why any person or group should share any resources they can gain. This is that key issue of altruism.
Disclaimer: I am a long-time UU. That may explain much to many. In fairness, I should disclose that in puberty I was a Randist — Virtue of Selfishness, sexual/sexist drama and all. I got better.
Cinder-Heart Background: Wikipedia does a good job with links to altruism-related discussions. A more disturbing and immediately thought-provoking article appears in a recent The Nation on George Price. This genius of genetics caused reappraisal and ongoing discussion of why any person or group would benefit others instead of themselves exclusively.
Tags: massmarrier, altruism, George Price, Randism, The Nation, Greatest Generation, Entitlement Generation, Social Security
Friday, October 15, 2010
While accomplishing far more positive than most believed possible in nearly two years, now he needs to show moral leadership and a commitment to civil rights. He needs to do more to earn the respect of Congress, the military and us voters.
His whimpering echoing of the most regressive in D.C. is at best unappealing. Don't Ask/Don't Tell failed as a policy, driving good, great, and dedicated soldiers away when we need them most. It failed in courts as illogical and indefensible. It failed by resting solely on mid-20th Century stereotypes and scare tactics.
While on paper and as a clerical obligation, the DOJ has to appeal the judicial overturning of federal law, Obama needs to speak out and not squeak out.
Consider his brief, belated commentary on the appeals and end process. Using military lingo, he made a vague promise that "This policy will end, and it will end on my watch." That implies he wants up to another two years to make good on this campaign pledge, one he could have affected immediately with an order as commander-in-chief of all our armed forces.
Instead, now he says he can't do that. He again uses some mealy-mouth drivel about how "...we are moving in the direction of ending this policy."
Yeah, sure, right. He snivels with this, as he did yesterday at a public forum. He said, ""This is not a situation in which, with the stroke of a pen, I can end the policy. I think people are born with a certain makeup and that we're all children of God. We don't make determinations about who we love." He went on to say anyone should be able to serve in the country, regardless of sexual orientation.
Not only can he end this...if he finds the gumption...he must. We know it's coming and letting it happen slowly, by default, only infuriates rights advocates, but it causes stupid and unnecessary hardships to the hundreds of soldiers with pending DADT discharge procedures under this inane law.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has acted, in suspending action on those discharges. He's showing leadership that Obama should imitate.
Instead our President wants a study to see how to implement stopping DADT. A study.
Having been born in Fort Sill Station Hospital and grown up knowing military lingo from folk I knew as well as in papers and history, I can give Obama a little hint about how this works. The military implements orders. They need an order first.
Hey, Barack, mediate on the words of ancient playwright Terence — Fortes fortuna adiuvat. Virgil lifted that, as have many others. It remains in our pop culture in its direct translation of fortune favors the bold.
Tags: massmarrier, leadership, Obama, DADT, Armed Forces, DOJ, courage
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery, and thought is viscous. — Henry Brooks Adams
One might add that calling a hippo a giraffe does not give it a long neck and patchy fur. That is the lesson that the clumsy and hateful refuse to learn. In and beyond the current campaigners, the underlying message repeatedly is, "Don't quote me on what I said. Accept what I tell you right now."
Just yesterday, there was such absurdity from both Carl Palidino and Helen Thomas. As disparate as they are professionally and politically, they share a silly and irrational trait. They don't want to be called out for the obvious. They are non-wizards calling, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."
The would-be governor of New York, Palidino, did a series of stupid, related things in a speech to and prepared by a group of Orthodox Jews. First, he did the trained animal thing, reading someone else's speech. Second, he redacted part of it while leaving in loony and bigoted comments. Third, he wants the world to believe that just because he said those things doesn't mean he means them or that they mean what they obviously say.
He can't even pretend the recorded speech was out of context. You can get a recap and play the whole thing at the Salon post.
As my mother used to say, "For crying out loud in a bucket!" Here's a guy who believes homosexuality is not only a choice, but that it is not "an equally valid and successful option" and that kids who take diversity curricula may be "brainwashed." ...in a bucket.
Instead of just saying afterward that he hates homosexuals and considers them inferior, he tries the oh-sorry-if-anyone-was-offended ploy, as though the fault lies with those he slurred repeatedly. His whole follow-up statement is here. Despite what he said, he's not anti-gay because he now says he is not.
Likewise, the long-term and very prickly ex-reporter Helen Thomas denies any antisemitism because, well, just trust her.
Perhaps we should go easier on a nonagenarian but for crying out loud in a bucket! In her case, she overreached in commentary on the Middle East. She started out OK with an implicit supportable position that the Israeli government has been imperialist in seizing and holding lands and oppressing residents. Then she went off.
Asked by Rabbi David Nesenoff for comments on Israel, Thomas said — in full context:
"Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not Germany, it's not Poland."
In response to where they should go, she said, "They should go home."
Then when asked where that home might be, she concluded, "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else."
Digging in her tennis pumps, she calls antisemitism complaints "baloney." She stands by her words, wants the world to believe there was no allusion to WWII there, and she's cool with Jews.
With both these cases and so much of the current campaign rhetoric, how many ways can you serve the same sandwich that has so few ingredients?
Tags: massmarrier, words, disingenuous, Helen Thomas, Palidino, bigotry
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Tags: massmarrier, special election, Boston, City Council, Hennigan, O'Malley
Friday, October 08, 2010
Disclaimer: I feel compelled to note that whenever I write that center's name, I cringe a bit. Jerome Lyle Rappaport has been washing is name, infamous for bad urban renewal in the pursuit of greed. Some good comes out of his belated donations. For atonement though...that's another matter.
Broken into components, little of that is in the Treasurer's power or even related to the person. For example, the Treasurer can advise the legislature and the rest of the administration on taxes and appropriations but has no power to change them. Likewise, the Treasurer, Attorney General and Auditor each has a role in uncovering waste and fraud, but cannot dictate what's appropriate appropriations.
Getting to Grossman
Tags: massmarrier, elections, Massachusetts, Treasurer, Grossman, Polito, Suffolk
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Francesco and Max live on...at least during the campaign for MA Treasurer. In what moderator of the quasi-debate (a.k.a. forum) compared euphemistically to more exciting than teaching his 16-year-old to drive, the two candidates were fully engaged — like a pair of stranger cats circling.
Prof. Alasdair Roberts of Suffolk Law could have used a referee's whistle. He did an excellent job of keeping Dem Steve Grossman and GOP Karyn Polito focused. He couldn't keep them, particularly Polito, from running overtime per answer, but it was close enough.
This event at the school's Rappaport Center was another good argument for argument. This pair could have used the traditional format where candidates could run with a topic and go back and forth until the subject and perhaps they and the audience were exhausted.
Instead, we got the now common three-minute opening from each, a question each had a short time to answer and maybe a 30-second (30 second?!) rebuttal from each. It's like making out, but only first base, again and again and again.
It's both endearing and a bit staged that each candidate resurrects departed elders. From time to time, like on her campaign site, Polito shows pictures of a grandfather with her. At this forum, she reached back to Columbus Day 1910 (not a federal holiday until 1934, but who wants to quibble?). She said great-grandfather Francesco Polito (above left) arrived at Ellis Island to create his American dream.
Grossman revivified his grandfather, Maxwell Grossman (above right) a short time later. In 1909, he founded the family business, then Massachusetts Envelope Company.
Using the ancestors as props and examples may be a little cynical, but both candidates found these men good proxies for the messages they want to present of themselves.
Coincidentally, it was singularly unconvincing for two very wealthy people to brag that they would not take a public pension for the Treasurer job. Neither needs the money and more important, neither would find a pension as any meaningful incentive to seek and serve. Of course, for many other office holders, taking such a positions means a tremendous loss of income while serving. For them, a decent pension may tip the balance to their lending expertise for four or more years.