Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Touch Turner

Chuck Turner wants to hear from supporters during his expected three-year prison stay. His support site among other places has published the USPS address:
Mr. Chuck Turner
Hazelwood Penitentiary
P.O. Box 2000
Bruceton Mills, WV 2652
I'll correspond with a request that he branch out a bit to draw more attention to the type of sting that catalyzed his fall. I definitely agree with him that the feds had no justification for enticing him into a bribe. Apparently then MA Sen. Dianne Wilkerson suggested he deserved some of the cash she was taking, but there was no history of corruption on his part to justify entrapment.

Understandably, he takes this prosecution as persecution. He's pissed, as he should be.

I do have problems though with his vanity and his stretching for tenuous connections to some unproven and unprovable conspiracy. Honestly, he was a fine constituent-services-oriented Boston City Councilor and a relentless advocate for poor, black Bostonians. He would have us believe that he was such a stirring loudmouth that the feds had to silence him. Yet, back on planet Earth, he was not influential beyond his District 7 and City Hall.

If he really does have to serve those three years, a very productive way to spend part of that time would be to analyze the string, extrapolate it beyond himself, and propose ways to keep that from happening to others, political and non-political types alike. A great gift for the American people would be ways to protect our liberties by stopping such filthy and dishonorable and lazy entrapment.

I think of my favorite social-activist UU minister, Victor Carpenter. Every Sunday at the Arlington Street Church, he gave us homework or rather world-work. As part of his sermons or greetings, he would list very specific acts we could do that week to make life better for other. No pie in the sky or grinning generalities from him...

Mr. Turner is in a fine position to do the same on this issue. Feel free to let him know that.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Creeping Toward Equal

Woe to any of us who parades a single poll or research finding as larger proof. Like the absurd faddishness of primary care physicians, we see this locally in the Globe's Sunday Uncommon Knowledge toilet reading in the Ideas section. A single finding is extrapolated to imply immutable proof of this or that, regardless of the likelihood that others will shortly find very different results.

Yet for marriage-equality, poll after poll, year after year, region beyond region see Americans catching up to the rest of the civilized world. We're agreeing that homosexuality is none of our business and don't need to be about punishing gay men and lesbians for being who they are. We have come to approve of same-sex marriage.

The typical trepid, trend following politicians are following the parade of compassion, like so many sweepers behind the horses and elephants. An impatient sort, I finally admit that we are inexorably leading toward marriage equality...just not fast enough to suit me.

For just one, large set of data, let's look at the recently released ABC News/Washington Post survey of registered voters. It shows the evolution of opinion from the same questions seven years ago — that would be when Massachusetts instituted SSM and after Vermont had started civil unions.

Of just over 1,000 random, nationwide voters, even the most adamantly anti-SSM ones have increased their favorable leanings. That is Republicans went from 25% in 2004 in favor of SSM to 31% this month and year. Likewise, self-identified evangelical Christians went from 14% to 25% favorable.

Those two groups remain out of step with the larger gains by the whole country. They are, of course, also well in the minority of voters. We can be sure pols are aware of all this and many are thinking they had better align with their constituents so they can stay in office.

Most telling is that beyond Dems (64% for legalizing SSM), the nation as a whole is 53% for legalizing and 44% for keeping illegal where it is. That is up from 32% for legal and 62% against seven years ago. Moreover, the struggle for independent voters appear to be over, with 58% in favor of SSM.

As had been the pattern, this also reflects a future of marriage-equality acceptance, as only older boomers and their parents oppose it. While it is theoretically possible that middle-aged and younger Americans will suddenly shift dramatically to anti-SSM, only groups who earn their livings off fomenting anti-gay sentiments seem willing to believe or pretend to believe that.

For example, in reaction to this survey, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown feigned that if only the lead question was different, the poll would show anti-SSM totals. As the WaPo cited him, he "argued that the term 'illegal' could be inferred to mean that violators could be imprisoned, which most Americans would consider harsh." Instead, he likes to point to the highly orchestrated, heavily funded state campaigns that have led to plebiscites against SSM. "We’ve seen these biased polls time and time again — right before votes in which same-sex marriage is rejected. It’s absurd. The people of this country have not changed their opinion about marriage."

A less delusional view came from the other side, the pro-equality Freedom to Marry. In contrast to NOM's jive, President Evan Wolfson said, "This is very consistent with a lot of other polling data we’ve seen and the general momentum we’ve seen over the past year and a half." That's certainly less sensational than pretending things are other than what they are. It does, however, show a much firmer grasp of reality.

Straight talk from a gay activist helps clarify dealing with the Browns and similar liars. Two years ago, John Hosty-Grinnell joined us on Left Ahead to speak on the righteousness and necessity for calling out the misrepresentations and fabrications.

Instead what we have been seeing in poll after poll, at least those not conducted by and for anti-gay groups, is America becoming acclimated to the positive reality and zero downside of SSM. After all, not only have several more states implemented SSM without problems, so have Canada, much of Europe and even various cities and countries in strongly Roman Catholic Latin America including Mexico.

Consider also:
  • The NYT reports on Republicans stepping back from SSM as a campaign and operational issue.
  • The WaPo analyzes the strong and growing Catholic support for SSM and LGBT anti-discrimination laws.
  • The Boston Globe digs into the latest poll, headlining it, Same-sex marriage no longer such a divisive political issue.
  • PollingReport provides numerous SSM and other gay-related surveys.
Those who are still befuddled can head to the internet or library. There are more reports than you can digest, nearly all showing the slow and remarkably steady acceptance of a more open, less fearful and more compassionate America.

I remain impatient, but even I have no doubt that we as a nation will widely allow and even embrace marriage equality. Our coming generations of citizens and voters area already asking what the fuss is about. Those who make vague, confused efforts to justify the unjustifiable dwindle in number by the day and year.

We are still the most socially conservative of the large industrialized countries. That may not change anytime soon. It's also likely that as SSM becomes the law in more and more states, some, such as Texas will neither provide equality nor even recognized legal SSMs from other states. Perhaps those among us who pray for the enlightenment and redemption of the sinful, confused and hateful can ask for grace to come to the antis.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Disappearing Anti-SSM Peaks

Word from geologists is that the Appalachians were the Earth's highest mountains (higher than today's Himalayas) during the Ordovician Era. Erosion and settled brought them down considerably in the past 450 million years or so.

We have seen the vastly faster human version of that in opposition to marriage equality. Put simply, the American public is getting its act (and compassion and intellect) together on the issue. Of course, the typical politically expedient politicians follow...as always.

The next post will cite poll trends flatting the peaks of SSM opposition.

As a disclaimer, anyone who has checked this blog over the past seven plus years knows that I remain impatient. Getting to nationwide same-sex marriage, dropping overtly discriminatory laws and loopholes in states and the federal government, and stopping the use of outrageous, hyperbolic lies against LGBT citizens can't come soon enough.

The anti-equality, anti-gay, anti-SSM organizations love to pick up on and exaggerate any pause or stumble in the road to reason and fairness. Fortunately for the good guys, these find fewer excuses to pretend and manufacture celebrations.

For the antis, for example, have contorted the lack of a vote to finalize SSM in Maryland as some manner of proof that marriage-equality is doomed everywhere. In reality, there it passed through committee, got Senate approval, had a pledge from the governor to sign it, but did not come to a final in the House. The Senate leadership was not sure it had enough votes and basically pushed it out a year.

In Maryland, the pattern we saw elsewhere is likely to replicate. After much debate and testimony, the legislature will pass SSM into law, as in Maine and New Hampshire. Then the antis will get enough signatures for a citizen referendum. In Maine, they passed an override, as they did several times for simple gay-rights legislation. That means that Mainers will pass the law again and probably as with the gay-rights regulations, they won't override it the next time.

The half of the states that allow versions of such referenda do show the antis at their worst. These are the sorts who have no shame and don't hesitate to depict homosexuality as a lifestyle and a choice, despite overwhelming evidence and reason to the contrary. Many identify as fundamentalists and evangelicals, who also claim to understand and speak the mind of God, despite all strictures of scriptures against such arrogance.

From a public policy, legal and process perspective, the oddity here is how they open door one, then two, then three, until they find what they want. The antis hate American government, except when it bows to them. They'd make good characters in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Cut me a thin slice

Many antis also favor the absurd coinage of activist judges. Nearly all antis know that non-criminal courts exist in large part to interpret laws. That's fine with the antis...only so long as the decision goes their way. That's proving the legality of their positions. Otherwise, the evil judges who disagree are legislating from the bench. As my late mother would say when she was exasperated by sillies, "Cut me a thin slice of that baloney!"

Most obviously because everything above small to medium town government is too big and complex for town meeting, we have used representative government here from Colonial days. We elect governors and legislators to lead us, to stand in for our needs and wants, to understand enough about issues big and small to make reasonable decisions, and to help our city, state and nation constantly improve and advance, in a word, to evolve.

When the antis don't get what they want from the legislature or courts, where it's possible, they get really down and really dirty. Then, much like the lifestyle lie, it's let the people decide by plebiscite.

The pathetic and shameful U.S. history of when the majority votes on any minority's rights should certainly inspire all the half of the states that allow referenda or the like to prohibit such petitions. We should have no doubt that we would still allow slavery, still prohibit interracial marriage, and would still limit voting rights to white, property-owning men.

It was other actors and events — legislatures, Presidents, prolonged lobbying and protests by the oppressed groups, courts, even the Civil War — that overcame the inertia and overwhelmed the narrow-mindedness of the times.

Back to the original trope, unlike the dwindling Appalachians, the rights erosion is not all in one direction. There have been setbacks. There will be more. The antis fight on all fronts, spending many millions, playing with and on their supporters' fears and other negative emotions, and not admitting defeat, even in places such as Massachusetts, where they have been repeatedly crushed. Here, the public has seen the only positive effects of SSM for many years and really can no longer be jerked around by the jerks still around.

Next, let's look at the latest snapshots of the U.S. public's evolution toward marriage equality.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Chuck Being Catty

Will he die graceless?

I am not surprised but mildly saddened that Chuck Turner headed off to prison dripping vitriol. He'll have three years to:
  1. Reinforce and practice his shtick, or
  2. Emerge more positive and ready to use his considerable virtues while dropping his substantial flaws.
I really see nothing beyond this single choice...and it will be a real choice. Here's hoping he can take his best and discard his poor tendencies.

While out of town, I could not go to his final public event here, his martyr fest. As reported in today's Herald, he spoke on his (as he would have it) cruel, unfair and impassable suffering at the Framing the Innocent evening at Northeastern. Over at the South End Patch, Christopher Treacy delivers the best brag-and-whine coverage.

Predictably and unfortunately, Turner made his last public oration in Boston into a conspiracy melodrama, dredging up a vote he led in City Council to oppose U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. That was not surprising from a fabulous loudmouth. For four decades, he has spoken or shouted about many wrongs, mostly by government from local to the feds. Often the noise has meant to make life better for his neighborhood, for others of color, for the poor, and for Boston in general.

Therein lies the current problem with Chuck Turner.

He is such a drama queen and so vain that he muddles and befuddles. Turner tends to mix some verifiable history with reasonable analysis with interpretation ranging from clear to crazy to totally untrue. He dual intent always seems to be to protect and advance various underclasses, while promoting (ta da) Chuck Turner.

I agree with his that the US Attorney and FBI unfairly targeted and entrapped him. He has said much, and among his more lucid and reasonable, judgments, that his investigators had little to no reason to set him up for a sting — no history of corruption to justify literally pressing a bribe into his palm. What he has pretty much ignored is the huge issue of why the feds are tricking people into corrupt acts. They should be about doing real police work and catching the long-term, regular corruption officials.

I view the FBI operation as akin to picking a 65MPH highway, planting a 25MPH sign around a curve, and putting troopers there to ticket drivers. There are plenty of speeding reckless drivers to catch without dirty tricks.

Real v. Imagined

Unfortunately, when Turner broadcasts one wild conspiracy theory after another, he blows his chance to catalyze confronting and removing serious problems. Too many of us will toss Turner into the bowl of mixed nuts instead of getting exercised about serious abuse and injustice by the feds. We listen to his self-important bluster of unprovable conspiracies when he should be describing systemic issues that don't all center on his magnificent and brilliant personage.

I suspect Turner will not be deeply introspective and bent on clarifying his mind in his three years in Morgantown. He's likely to return thinner of body but no less thick of head.

The underlying issue of the clumsy entrapment of guilty and beguiled alike needs fixing. Turner is not going to be in a place, physically or emotionally, to lead that effort. That's a pity, as he'll have three years with plenty of spare time to work on this serious problem.

The burden will then fall to other loudmouths, including me and other political bloggers, as well as progressive pols and organizations. This country need not be about the business of ruining hardworking city councilors and others with a lazy and dishonorable entrapment methodology.

The President, DOJ, MA's federal and state pols need to hear what's right. Too many have said nothing. Turner has made the matter messy, but only temporarily.

What happened to him was wrong, but not because the racist feds hated the black man who spoke up. Instead, the tools and procedures the US Attorney's and FBI's offices have used for too long are un-American. Finding ways to lure the innocent into illegal acts should not be acceptable to any of us. We need to speak up about that.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

BPS, Just Eat It

Is incompetence better, worse or the same as corruption...at least for school kids' food? The Councilor Connolly crusade against really old food the BPS has been serving may help us figure out that one.

Yesterday, the person in charge of BPS meals got a reassignment. Helen Mont-Ferguson, director of food and nutrition, stepped aside as the department searches for her replacement. Understandably though, the noise will continue. At-Large Councilor John Connolly will lead the first of two public hearings on the issue today at 11 a.m. in Council chambers. This will be information gathering and fact finding on how the food and inventory are managed. Then this Thursday at 6 p.m. in Dudley Square's Hibernian Hall, public testimony and questions, centered on parents and students, will happen.

Last evening at District 6 Council Councilor Matt O'Malley's WR town meeting, Connolly spoke for a few minutes, mostly on the expired breakfast and lunch foods. He did not note the subtleties of use-by, expiration and other variations on food dates. Not only is he head of the Council's education committee, he has BPS kids himself.

In fact, with the growing number of young Turks on Council, many have or recently had school-age children. This is an emotional issue as well as an intellectual and policy one for them as for other parents.

As he noted there, other related issues also affect a city squeezed by finances. For example, he found that we have been paying high storage rates in commercial freezers. Much of this is for the expired foods he contends we should not be serving, much less storing as it further ages.

I can't be around for his Thursday evening meeting and he was rushing away after the meeting. He did greet a friend and me on the way out, pausing the pat her shoulder for luck at her suggestion, as she is the mother of nine and even though he has a new one, he wouldn't mind another. However, I didn't get a chance to raise another question, one I'll have to send him.

Perhaps I spent too much time in places like New Jersey, South Carolina and New York City. When I hear of such scandals, I think of Cicero's frequent public question, "Cui bono?" — who benefits?

Of course, it's possible that the school-food process has been so sloppy that no one noticed. I see that they are claiming individual packages are often not marked with any dates, that they have to go back to the pallets or records to see when comestibles arrived. Yet, drawing on what I know from a previous professional life on a materials-handling magazine, I find it hard to believe that the industry that pioneered bar codes, computerized inventory tracking, and FIFO product management bypassed the BPS over the past 50 years.

Rather, without a single shred of proof or whisper of allegation to my ears, I wonder who would stand to profit from out-of-date food in the BPS system. Much of the food comes from the federal government I hear, but who handles it, who makes money from the shipping, who controls who gets the freshest foods or the oldest? Is there money to be made by providing food that should be tossed and splitting the profit?

Maybe I'm just cynical, but this just smells, at least figuratively.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

What's On Parade?

In Dublin and Cork, where actual Irish folk live, LGBT groups are welcome to march in the annual St. Patrick's Day parades. Likewise, in much of America, that's the case. That includes the second-largest such event, in Savannah, a parade and week of doings much larger...and jollier...than that in South Boston.

Notably, it in in Manhattan and South Boston were parade organizers have closed their minds into walls, their hearts into cinders, their fingers into fists. Unlike the real Irish, the self-identified guardians of what's Irish in this country seemed to have missed the past 50 years of human and humane development.

In NYC, it is the Ancient Order of Hibernians and in Southie, the Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston that organize the parades and enforce the exclusionary rules. After the later won a unanimous SCOTUS decision 16 years ago letting them discriminate, they relish telling civil-rights supporters that LGBT folk are welcome to march in their parades. Of course, they can't march as a group unlike the 100 or so other groups or identify themselves as anything other than of Irish extraction. The argument mirrors those who say gays can marry in their states, so long as they marry an opposite sex person. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

The hypocrisy and irony are well noted. In Boston's Bay Windows, for example, Rev. Irene Monroe gets into this, including citations of how odd it would be that Irish-Americans as well as African-Americans so eagerly discriminate when they have been discriminated against so long and so often. Also, such hostility is respects neither the legacy of Christianity nor of American freedoms, which those groups allegedly follow and honor. Likewise, a wrap-up piece in last an Edge last year notes the overt and atavistic discrimination in such parades. Moreover, poll after poll of Bostonians, New Yorkers, Catholics and others make it clear that the vast majority of us have transcended anti-LGBT feelings in personal fears as well as discrimination in jobs, housing and more.

In Southie, this year was the first separate-and-unequal parade. The second comprising mostly Veterans for Peace and LGBT Irish-American groups had to follow the main parade and hour later, literally following the street sweepers. (...visions of following the elephants with a shovel...) Of course, most of the crowd came for the bagpipers, step dancers and such, and left sparse spectatorship.

Yet, to get a flavor of the bitter residual counterpoint, head to the Boston Herald. There a story on the two parades got at last count 119 remaining comments in two days. The paper removed the most obscene and inflammatory ones. Yet the pattern in these is clear enough. While the rest of Boston is pretty much let's-leave-each-other-in-peace, the dozens of Herald regular comments show the city at its most hateful, least rational, most puerile, and least Christian. I won't cite example here.

The true oddment is how out of step with the real Irish such folk and such parade organizers are. I'm certainly not the first to note many times how socially backward and slow to advance Americans can be socially. An oddment with the NYC/Boston situation is that the regressive organizers are no longer run by the WWII/Korean era folk, rather by their children. They now have marginalized themselves, while insisting they'll never change.

Well, the world has. Even here, we follow Canada, Europe, and Catholic countries in Latin America as well. Most of America has even followed Ireland in St. Patrick's Day parade traditions. Maybe the old guys in these two throwback cities really will have to die. There's no indication that they are praying for guidance or even paying attention to Irish and Irish-Americans are up to — that would be fun, fellowship, and accepting Irish heritage rather than promoting pseudo-Irish hostility.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bloggy Weeds

While sentimentality is no more the self-description of bloggers any more than it is of engineers, in reality both groups are emotion heavy. Thus, I sighed a few times as I clicked Delete again and again from this site's blog roll. Using Edit was less painful.

Over at the left is a pretty clean and correctly linked list of Blogs I Read. I mention it also by way of apology for those who have found dead links there, the equivalent of a store being out of stock of what you saw in the ad that sent you there.

I've known for some time about a few of the bad links. A very small number belonged to the dead. Many more had run their political course, had gotten doctorates and professorships that led them to think better of putting their pinko leanings on display, some were bored or found regular writing too insistent or otherwise demanding, and another minor group changed service providers or blog platforms.

The latter group was both easiest to deal with and the most rewarding. Updating the URLs was painless.Some I had not read for a year and they were like old friends popping into a mutually favored restaurant by coincidence.

The current blog-garden weeding found catalyst in someone asking for a slot on the list. As I put hers in, I had to accept that I was in for an hour of pruning.

The list is current, with only one I know of that says the blog is to come. He is a good writer who used to churn it out. I'll give him some time for that one.

Feel comfortable clicking to the left. There are treasures.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

South to Safety in Japan

News of quiet exodus appears in coverage of the spreading radioactivity in Northeast Japan. The best I've seen is in the German mag Stern. (This article translates pretty well on sites like translate.google.com. )

As an accompanying map shows, the imperiled reactors spread out over the East coast and their danger regions are wide. As a result, folk are at least temporarily hieing to areas South of Tokyo, where life continues as normal — office perk, trains roll, and no officials or sirens insist on evacuation.

Many years have passed since my family was part of the post-WWII occupation army in Saga and Osaka. Those are safe cities in the South, one the big island and one right below it.

Over those years, my mother would occasionally discuss A-bombs (as the two we used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were known then) as well as our not-too-honest rush to nuclear power. For the latter, she saw straight through the false pride of the glories of breeder reactors we were building pell-mell. Business leaders and politicians crowed about how wonderful it was they made fuel, saving mining and handling costs, neglecting to mention the huge amounts of hot waste, deadly for 50,000 or more years we would have to do something with and pray that it remained contained for at least ten times longer than humans have had written language.

On a more personal concern, she mentioned in passing something that we could do nothing about. In Osaka, we were fairly close to Hiroshima and in Saga, even closer to Nagasaki.

Military families were forbidden from eating local produce. Ostensibly, that was because many farmers gathered night soil, excrement in public ditches, from the infrastructure and culture of the time to fertilize their crops. We also have to believe there was some concern over radioactivity from blown dirt.

Likewise, we were there in the period and location when the bombed cities were still seriously contaminated. Even for tots like my sister and me, that was and can still be part of military life. We went where we were told to go.

Most of our Japanese friends from that period eventually moved to new lives in the United States. Nearly everyone has joined his ancestors.

For us, my mother got breast/lymph cancer. However, I think that almost certainly related to her decades of cigarettes and not radiation exposure in Japan in her 20s. For my sister and me, either of us shows cancer. I assume that whatever exposure we received our young bodies were able to process adequately.

I'm not one to call for immediately shutting down nuclear-energy-generation programs worldwide. I see countries that use far safer reactor types than the U.S. and Japan do, energy generation far cleaner than the coal plants places like China use.

Instead though, I can't believe we can't look to Iceland's tapping geothermal...and beyond. We have tides and winds as well as a hot earth constantly pulsing with energy. Those sources and likely others undeveloped are free of the dangers and poisons of petroleum and nuclear.

Must humans remain subject to perilous expediency?

Cross-post: At Harrumph.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SSM by the Letter, Barack

Freedom to Marry beseeched President Barack Obama to get with the civil-rights program of marriage equality. In an open letter, numerous celebrities and a handful of UUs (disclaimer: I'm a UU) signed the call.

It cites his order for Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage act, as well as his often stated personal journey he supposedly is taking toward marriage equality. It reads in part:

We ask you now for your leadership on ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, an exclusion that harms millions of Americans each day. Whether to end discrimination in marriage is a question America has faced before, and faces again today. With so many Americans talking it through in heartfelt conversations, it is a question that calls for clarity from the President...Mr. President, the time to end exclusion from marriage is now. We ask you to complete your journey and join us and the majority of Americans who support the freedom to marry.

It remains to be seen how influential his strong political and financial supporters from movies and music will be. Their aim is certainly plain, logical and simple enough.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wilkerson Still Down the Rabbit Hole

Truly, I try to keep backed off ex-MA Sen. Dianne Wilkerson. Lord knows I've covered her here.

Yet, she makes it hard by being as vigorous as the ex-AK governor in seeking publicity. Just this week, as she headed off to federal prison for 42 months, she did it twice.
  1. She tried to cast an absentee ballot for her son in the District 7 Boston Council race. As usual, she blew the details — mailing it in to arrive after she was in prison, hence it would not count. That's like the way she didn't file taxes.
  2. More meaningfully, she left town looking bitter and fairly crazy. She advanced claims with zero evidence that three black ministers worked with the FBI to entrap her.
As usual, the best report on the messiest of messes, the FBI assertions, is in the DotNews. There News Editor Gintautas Dumcius has all the details, response of the accused ministers, and everything short of editorializing (my job, eh?).

Among the bizarre aspects of all this is that she stated repeatedly that she will run for office upon her release. As she likes to put it, she wants to continue her public service. So, we incredulous observers are left to wonder just what she thinks apparently unsubstantiated accusations against three leading ministers will do to advance that return. One in particular, Gideon (formerly Gilbert) Thompson of Jubilee Christian Church across of Simco's on Blue Hill Avenue runs a mega-church of about 7,000 members. So how smart is pissing him and his congregants off with questionable charges?

Moreover, she seems to be betting on clannishness. Even though there is no evidence of her collaboration charges, her implication is that the three preachers would somehow be traitors to black Bostonians if they helped the feds in any way (squealing as it were). She seems unaware that many black Bostonians had said how disgusted and embarrassed they were by her pathetic stuffing of a bribe into her lingerie.

Instead, she headed off to prison somehow alleging that she had been wronged...by other African Americans. Not only did she have no proof, even if the trio had either helped the investigation or did nothing to protect her after she took bribes, what remains is that she was the criminal and not them.

Many of us, pinkos and locals of color as well, are uncomfortable with, unhappy with, or angry at FBI entrapment in general. At least in Wilkerson's case, she had a long, well proven history of tax evasion and financial shenanigans. In contrast, ex-City Councilor Chuck Turner was entrapped in the same sweep, but he had no previous violations or reasons to suspect him of corruption.

Setting up such stings seems quicker and more efficient than doing real investigation and police work. It stinks though and leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth. If this is what Wilkerson aimed to show, her unproven and unprovable accusations of others doesn't illustrate that. Rather, this looks and sounds just like more of her pattern of trying to shift the blame for her failings to others.

A few people do emerge from prison wiser, more mature, and more focused. We can hope that for Dianne Wilkerson. She is going in badly, but she'll have 42 months to plan the next phase of her life. If she truly wants to return to what was for a long time a solid political career, she'll need an attitude overhaul.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Maybe Land Maryland

Today's vote in the Maryland House of Delegates was supposed to be close. It also wasn't supposed to fizzle. In the end, there was no vote on marriage equality, but serious fizzling.

Basically, the House punted for a year. Despite the state motto of manly deeds, womanly words (Fatti maschii, parole femine), today it was plain old cowardly mumbling.

The governor was set to sign SSM into law. The Senate committee and whole body had passed it. The House committee had too. The lower chamber was simply stuck on the chamber pot.

I honestly can still see a swatch of true America, with liberty and equality for its citizens — from Maine down through Maryland, from the Atlantic west through Buffalo. We are that close in that many legislatures. Not today, civil-rights lovers!

Equality Maryland must have alternated between steaming and weeping, but put a mask of resolution on for the coming campaign. The statement released by the staff and board included:

Though we are disappointed that we must continue to fight for marriage equality, today's move was a strategic step that will allow us to fight and win in the future.

We celebrate that-for the first time-marriage equality legislation made it through the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, the Senate, the House Judiciary Committee, and was debated in the House of Delegates.

We are extraordinarily grateful to the many leaders who have stood by us throughout this journey... We commend the thousands of supporters who made calls, sent emails, and met with their legislators to tell them why all Maryland couples deserve equal rights...As a result of the tireless efforts, strong hearts, and the determination of gay and lesbian couples and our many allies it is only a matter of time before Marylanders achieve marriage equality.

Equality Maryland is more committed than ever to this fight. Our setback today only strengthens our determination to redouble our efforts to ensure that our voices are heard and our rights are protected. We know our cause is just. We know that a growing majority of Marylanders believe in the same values of fairness and equality.

We must commit to this fight for the long haul. Together we will triumph!

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

10 Month NH Timeout

The lamest political cliché may be there are two sides to every story/argument. As any criminal trial or the current NH same-sex marriage war shows, there tend to be many sides, each with its crucial distinctions.

At their best, these partisans highlight nuances and let us clarify our own thinking. Up in the state that regularly belies its live-free-or-die motto, the opportunity arrives again in the form of SSM campaigns.

Most recently, the oddly timid new GOP bicameral super-majority pushed off a vote rip away existing marriage rights from homosexual couples until next year. (Live Limited and Lie?) Two bills might hit the floor in January; one would redefine marriage there by limiting it to one man/one woman and the other would invent a new, complex mechanism to replace all marriages with domestic unions. (This latter surely is too Byzantine to advance; it confuses and insults all sides.)

The GOP scale is heavy — 74% (297 to 102) in the House and 79% (19 to 5) in the Senate. The wishy-washy Dem Gov. John Lynch seems to be evenhanded enough, but he rides to battle without spear or sword or even war cry. He would be likely to veto repeal of the year-plus old SSM approval, but in theory that could be overridden.

The likely reason for pushing off the vote is not as the committees involved would have it a desire and need to devote every moment to working on the economy and such. Instead, all polls of the citizenry show that a strong majority do not want to repeal SSM. It's not such much that NH voters are gay friendly as they come from a culture of liberty. The idea of giving a group civil rights only to take those back for political reasons doesn't suit them.

The backlash on the new GOP tops might well be crushing.

So for the many players on this stage, nearly a year of delay until at least next January means devoting every moment to plotting, positioning, planning, and persuading. We also get the benefit of analysis from all concerned and all observing.

The winger paper, The Union Leader, already augments its news of the delay with a what-to-expect preview. Not surprisingly in coverage no one else is likely to conceive of, the preview centers on how this may affect GOP presidential hopefuls early next year as they visit, campaigning. This is a wonderful display of boosterism and provincialism, stressing the imagined pivot of the state.

The piece cites how most possible hopefuls are afraid even to discuss gay rights or SSM. The UL leaders posit:
It's a debate that so far has left Republican candidates squirming and could shatter any notion of a GOP "truce" on social issues designed to keep the primary focused on the economy.
Back in the mundanity of the matter, the Concord Monitor rounded up the usual suspects. There's someone from Standing Up for New Hampshire Families (pro-marriage equality) saying he was disappointed the legislature didn't kill the repeal act. There's the head of Cornerstone Action (anti-gay/anti-SSM) saying his group will work with the lawmakers to ensure repeal.

Marriage-equality supporters express uneasy confidence that a second year of SSM will reinforce that it harms no one and helps thousands. Plus there's that personal liberty thing. Moreover, neighboring Massachusetts has already shown nearly seven years of positive results from SSM.

Those committed to denying equal rights to homosexuals don't seem to mind making irrational, unprovable claims in the face of evidence though. There's no reason to suppose they'll get reasonable this year or next or the next. Moreover, as we see now in NH and saw in MA, whether equality arises by representative democracy through the legislature, by plebiscite or by court decision, the anti types will try every alternative to get their way. It brings terrific time, money, mental and emotional drain and distraction.

If somehow the current war against equality brought resolution and let people get on living and loving in liberty, it might all seem worth the agita and agony. Unfortunately, we know from considerable experience that the anti-gay sorts don't, won't, can't give up.

When they return to the earth, their nastiness will go with them. The polls of the rising generations strongly show that they don't share the prejudice and desire to discriminate. Surely they'll develop and exhibit their own irrationalities. Yet there is no evidence of anything so hateful as this.

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Dist. 7, Hie Thee to the Polls

In just under 8 days, the District 7 City Council polls open for the special election to replace Chuck Turner. Hyperbole would make it a new beginning. TBD.

Mr. Bald, Bold and Bright by his self-description was largely an energetic, involved and effective Councilor. Yet, he's shortly off to federal prison for three years after corruption convictions on four counts. On one hand, he set a high standard of constituent service. On another, he was an incredibly self-indulgent rabble-rouser with odd and unrealistic interpretations of history and politics. On one foot, he was well respected among the Council for his public advocacy in committee work. On the other, there is that sticky, stinking matter of that $1,000 bribe.

Four different ways, he can be a tough act to follow. He was awful in both respects of great and terrible. We can assume that with numerous pols at city and state level convicted or under indictment and with the Governor and LG plugging continuing ethics reform, no Councilor would solicit or accept bribes (and the moment). None of those chasing the Dist. 7 seat has echoed Turner's Trotskyite lingo. Yet, his virtues of toiling for constituents directly and in Council and committee meetings are well worth imitation.

Now we're down to two — Tito Jackson and Cornell Mills. I would be astonished if Mills won next week or even if he tries again at the regular re-election in November. Moreover. I have already endorsed Jackson.

We might well wonder what the implications are of a Tito triumph. Immediately, from observing him particularly in his role in Gov. Deval Patrick's campaign and administration, I have no doubt he'll be as tireless as Turner in finding out what the constituents need, generally and specifically. Likewise, he'll also be dogged in getting the services, money and other resources to the district.

In his own campaign, Jackson bills himself as a macher, but not in Yiddish. He does say he has the experience and contacts to draw on city, state and federal folk to help the locals. That, not coincidentally, was a successful pitch from at-large Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who spent years in Sen. John Kerry's office. Neither she nor Jackson is afraid to say they know powerful people.

Otherwise, the District 7 residents will likely understand quickly why Turner endorsed Jackson. Moreover, I am pretty sure they'll appreciate a tireless advocate who does not fall back on questionable rhetoric. Jackson almost certainly has the passion and stamina for this 16 to 18 hours a day, six or seven days a week he has promised.

I don't think there's a thing that Turner did that Jackson can't match or beat. I don't see massive, sudden improvements, but in the long range, I bet Jackson will bring more to the community than they have hoped for.

I'll follow him, but meanwhile, I have a very good feeling about this.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Live Free, For the Moment

The solid, stolid GOP majority in the NH legislature wants to make a loud statement. That would be, "Homos, we'll crush you like roaches!"

Personal friend and, as Stephen Colbert would say, friend of the show, John Hosty-Grinnell joined Left Ahead! again this week. In addition to his righteousness and love of civil rights, he brought stories. He has a house in NH, has a state rep, and is there for political trends and events. Most recently, he testified at the hearing in the effort to strip homosexual couples of marriage equality rights enacted just over a year ago.

One might think that the Live Free or Die state wouldn't consider ripping back rights to any defined group. It has well over three centuries as colony and state in declaring and dying for personal liberties.

Click the player to listen in as John provides analysis, reportage and background.

Listen to internet radio with massmarrier on Blog Talk Radio

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Leaving What's Her Name in My Wake


A month without mentioning the Sarah Palin passed like other withdrawals — with decreasing pain and need. She disappeared from my blogs, podcast and in private conversations. As a news hound who lives online and receives multiple print newspapers and magazines, I found that she'd pop up often but quickly lost all power.

I recommend not playing her self-promotion game.

The originator of the cold-turkey February was WaPo columnist Dana Milbank (obscured here in a transformed shot from his own self-promotion site). He figuratively ran up and down the hall today going on about his own February avoidance.

Of course, we have a graduated scale of media lust and influence. Certainly, she ranks way up there in the pretense that what she says and does are worthy of coverage and comment. Milbank is likely in a middle range, self-important as newspaper columnists tend to be. He thinks his non-coverage of and comment on her is worthy of coverage and comment. Way down at the personal level would be walk-on extras like bloggers, including me.

A smallish difference here is that I think and feel I have truly come to terms with and mastered my addiction. He makes no promises.

During February, I too found it hard to pass up the dumbest and the most provocative of her ploys. Moreover, with friends, family, and even other bloggers, she would come up for discussion...but not with input from me. Even in tweets and on Facebook, I would get teasers to comment or groups or events to join...ha!

I admit the obvious. She is can be as addictive as any cheap drug — easily available, cheap thrills, but also easy to kick. If I mention her again anywhere, it will be with what I think is an insight and not just another easy shot.