Monday, January 30, 2012

The Sport of Chester Darling

Technical writers and middle-school English teachers are not the only anal-retentive nitpickers. Lawyers can worry a detail to shreds.

Come 9 AM, Monday, February 9th, Courtroom One, John Adams Courthouse, Boston, the wrinkled old dog with the sock in his teeth will be Chester Darling...yet again. Out of retirement, apparently for the sheer fun and ego thrill of it, he's making another unbidden curtain call.

In case you got on with your life, snap to. It's only been 13 months since Chuck Turner, (insert disgraced, heroic, or other laden adjective) ex-Boston City Councilor headed off to Hazelwood Penitentiary in West Virginia. He and Darling have been churning out the appeals.

The short of it is that after legal fights for two years, he was convicted of three charges from an FBI sting. It was basically soliciting a bribe and lying about it. You can get your fill by searching this blog for coverage.

Certainly Darling and Turner elicit the mandatory observation that they differ politically. They are also each cantankerous enough to roll around in joy at the dichotomy. Turner as extreme lefty champion of the poor, people of color and LGBT is a stark contrast to Darling's extreme righty supporter of anti-gay causes, notably taking the appeal to the SCOTUS that upheld the power of South Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade to exclude gay marchers. Also, Darling fought race-based school admissions.

At least publicly, Darling liked to portray this strangest snuggling of bedfellows as reasonable. He told the Globe, "Politically, I’m a little right, and he’s a little left...But that doesn’t mean anything when it comes to the value of a person...I didn’t hesitate to agree to represent him, because I know the guy’s character and value."

The values remaining in the legal aspect of this case seem to be that Turner is sure the City Council humiliated him (and cost his salary and benefits for the period) by enforcing its rule 40A. That conduct stipulation forced him from office between his conviction and sentencing.

Darling's contention is that the commonwealth statute that tosses an elected pol upon sentencing is all we need to worry our pretty little heads about. In contrast, 40A holds that "the council president may refer a matter to the council upon his/her determination that any member has engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the Boston City Council or may be unqualified to sit on the body. A member may be unqualified by violating federal or state law, or any conditions imposed by the city’s charter, which includes violating any provisions of the three oaths of office."

This automatically triggers a meeting on the matter. The Council can oust the member by a two-thirds vote. The rule notes that any action "will be in accordance with local, state and federal law."

There's enough nit to pick for Darling.

You can download the PDF files of the appeal, the city's response, and the response to the response on the SJC page for this appeal. (Scroll down to Briefs.)

Not so fast!

He contends for Turner that the commonwealth's tripwire for ouster requires the Council to wait for sentencing. That's moot and may be the gist of the appeal. For its part, the city claims that its actions were legal, that "The Massachusetts Home Rule Amendment further authorized the removal of Turner as municipal action enjoys a presumption of validity in enforcing local rules which are consistent with the laws of the Commonwealth." (p. 49, Appellee's Boston Brief) In other words, he was convicted in federal court and had no place under 40A on Council.

Then Council President Michael Ross was not in a comfortable spot. Turner was hugely popular in his district, but most Bostonians seemed sick of real and perceived corruption from City Hall through the Statehouse. Turner and State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, the first two convicted in strings are both black, and the prosecution was thus smelly.

Here, I often have objected to the Home Rule process. That in effect means municipalities cannot rule at home. With lowered heads and shuffling feet, they approach legislators for the right to make their own rules. Anything big requires an elaborate rechartering as well. Here is another case where a city council gets the disobedient-child treatment. Darling is smart enough to play off this.

I'll trot down to Pemberton Square for this hearing. It may well be a regurgitation of the conclusion sections of the plaintiff and defendants' briefs. Darling presents with a bluster befitting a cartoon character. He looks like one too. Scanning the expressions of the Justices should likewise make for decent theater.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Mayors Make Marriage Merriment

Unlike NOM and other anti-marriage/adoption/gay sorts, 75 U.S. mayors publicly affirmed that they are for marriage and marriage equality. Representing big and small cities and towns, Maine to Oregon and even Alaska, they announced this in D.C. at the U.S. Conference of Mayors last week.

Their joint statement is here.

It's no coincidence that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, even though a large majority of states locked themselves into one-man/one-woman laws or amendments or both. The mayors seem much savvier and much less emotionally driven than legislators.

Some of the mayors spoke also of the advantages of SSM. NYC's Michael Bloomberg said:
In only a season, the freedom to marry has already made New York a stronger state.  This isn't about partisanship or ideology.  It's about extending the freedoms of our country to all people, and ensuring equal protection under the law.  Mayors understand that welcoming committed gay couples to the rights and responsibilities of marriage isn't just the right thing to do.  It's also the smart thing to do for the diverse, dynamic, forward-looking cities we're all working to build.
Boston's Tom Menino said:
Cities that cultivate diversity are places where creativity and innovation thrive," Menino said. "We've now had the freedom to marry in Boston for almost eight years. Since then we've seen more same-sex couples move to the city, and with that economic development, urban revitalization, and a spirit of pride and progress that are hallmarks of Boston.
Cities have long evolved most quickly of all and led the others.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gingrich's Great Gimmicks

Newt Gingrich defined his superpower in moving from self-indulgence to self-forgiveness. His outraged victimhood played at peak yesterday in South (by God) Carolina.

The pale, corpulent roué married most recently to the highly angular former mistress with the Bachmann-style just-been-shocked eyes has his appetites...and his alibis. Sure it's astonishing that such an ugly, amoral beast found, used and discarded multiple women. More so is that he uses those superpowers to sway the Southern voters.

Putatively at least, GOP sandlappers are highly credal Christians, literal fundamentalists who know the commandments in Exodus by number as well as content. Gingrich's flagrant, repeated, seemingly non-stop fornication and adultery should bring him ye olde shunning.

Amusing to someone who lived some years in South (by God) Carolina, I note that many locals have long distrusted Roman Catholics, including converted ones like him. Perhaps having two Mormons, a rarer rara avis, took the edge off of that. More likely though, Gingrich's brash posturing suits the coarseness of the audience. They'd rather elect a whoremaster than reelect an African American as POTUS.

Last night, we heard his superpower in its fullest throat. The debate moderator asked whether he'd comment on his second wife's story that he had been shtupping an employee for six years before asking her to approve theirs as an open marriage. Unbelievably, he got a standing O from the crowd with a double assault in return.

  1. How dare anyone ask about this!?
  2. He's already been forgiven for his sins.

His response started with outrage and played on paranoia and persecution. The lead was, "I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that."

Note there that this is a version of the big lie from corporate boards. They pay outrageous packages to top managers who drastically decrease company value and profits, under the ruse that you have to pay for the best talent.

To many of us without such ego and id-based superpowers, long-term adultery and abandonment of one wife after another when each was seriously ill would be humbling. Instead, he shifted the onus to abuse of him by an elite media. That played fine among those who came to the debate, although whether they can actually vote for someone who makes fidelity pledges and speaks of the sanctity of marriage while rutting extramaritally we'll know tomorrow night.

All the more amusing is his repeated declarations that he'd sinned, but found forgiveness in his church through his priests under Christ. He simultaneously repeatedly refers to the wife who was his long-term adulterous mistress as a devout Catholic. One doubts this expresses the stated values of the typical South (by God) Carolina voter.

Of course, Roman Catholics aren't the only religious sorts who confess and receive group or individual absolution. There are substantial differences among the practices of Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic versions, as well as Anglican/Episcopal and some Protestant churches. Yet the gist is that whether you atone directly in prayer to your God or through a cleric personally, you are supposed get a clean slate and, as the New Testament cliché runs, go and sin no more.

Well, Gingrich is clearly very good at the getting forgiveness part. He does not have a solid history of the sinning no more follow-up though. Yet, pollsters among evangelicals have claimed in numerous results that Gingrich used his atonement superpower to great effect. At least for this campaign, he has done well with the I'm-a-changed-man routine.

As that same New Testament reads, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. He claims now to be an example for the religious instead of an admonition. Those gullible enough and eager to defeat the POTUS seem to respond favorably. (May the good Lord increase their insight immediately.)

Small bands of fierce roving ego-beasts rouse and terrify the populace for a year at a time every four years. Gingrich is a rouser. While hypocrisy in pols is common, the superpower to transform it to primal virtue is a wonder.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bearding the Boston Lion

Maybe the world, or at least Boston's City Hall, is mellowing. Our extremely popular, longest-serving-ever Mayor Tom Menino seems less prickly in recent years, even laughing at criticism...sometimes. City Council President Steve Murphy is lately even more amiable than usual, certainly due to his very recent engagement. (His re-elections to Council and gavel wielder can't hurt.)

Now though, I'll watch for steam and fire down on the Brutalist plaza.

Just Tuesday, the previously unthinkable happened — three Councilors skipped the Mayor's state-of-the-city address. They were taking a wee vacation at Murphy's Ft. Lauderdale condo. They had fair reasons/excuses, including that they had booked and paid for their trip when the speech was on the calendar for the previous week. Menino rejiggered it to avoid conflict with the NH POTUS primary.

Pic Note: That condo adapted from Google Maps with the overhead line brushed out.

The truth is in the old days no one would have dared that. Instead this time, the stage had 10 instead of 13 attendant chairs.

As a king watcher, I can't stop considering what the 2013 mayoral campaign will include. As well as being personally charming, Menino is politically canny, very canny. If he intends to run again, he won't tip his hand early. He'll let others fester and even show their cards.

Already, two long-distance runners have started, one actively racing and one seeming still stretching. TOUCH radio founder/personality Charles Clemons has not responded to my emails or requests to come on Left Ahead. However, after I asked a couple of times, he did change his Facebook page to feature a profile pic of his campaign poster.

It seems that Brother Charles as he likes folk to call him is in, kind of, and folk say that he sometimes hands out flyers reading that he's running. There's no platform or website or such brain-straining, time-consuming details, but we likely will hear from him sometime this year.

More definitively, Will Dorcena is all in and talking about it. I'm so intrigued at this that I did a three-parter on his announcement and platform. It starts here with links to the other posts.

Back to Murphy, he claims to be happy as President. Yet several Councilors have told me repeatedly over years that any of their body who says he or she is not interested in being Mayor is lying. I'll wait until Murphy says he's running to count him in the hunt.

I would love to see a real race. A caveat is that as much as the provincials in places like South Carolina and Boston love to brag about their political campaigns being blood sports and muddy as hell, I can do without the petty and personal we saw when Maura Hennigan ran against Menino in 2005.

However, we have big local issues like schools, transit, crime and more. Dorcena already has a pretty beefy platform with fairly specific planks for most of those. Whether Menino runs for re-election or not, such problem/solution sets could really elevate the dialog. The minority of voters who pay attention could get a real fix on the candidates' positions. Moreover, it would force Menino to sculpt and display his best takes on these issues — upping everyone's game to the benefit of the town.

We may have gotten a flavor of the possible Tuesday. There's an easy-to-digest, 5-page, single-spaced state-of-the-city address link at Dorchester News' LitDrop, Gintautas Dumcius' quick hit/analysis depot.

Understandably, the media focused on Menino's pledge, with timeline, to neighborhood schools. "I'm committing tonight," he said, "that one year from now Boston will have adopted a radically different student assignment plan  — one that puts a priority on children attending schools closer to their homes. I am directing Superintendent Johnson to appoint a citywide group of dedicated individuals. They will help design the plan to get us there and engage the community in this transition."

Moreover, he also announced "a plan to transform Madison Park (Technical Vocational High School) into a top notch center for career development." Right now, only 11 students were in cooperative word programs. "We can then change the schedule and the curriculum so they allow for real work-based experiences. Second, we will create the Madison Park Business Partnership. I challenge Boston’s businesses and institutions to provide advice, jobs, and their own financial resources to help transform this school." He announced two business partners to start.

By the bye, such efforts are among those Dorcena included in his platform. That could be like-minded coincidence or a reaction. Regardless, it's good for the city.

Additionally, he promised to expand neighborhood crime watches. He pledged 100 new ones in 2012.

For health, he had a spongier goal, but it also came with a 2012 target. That would be the residents, apparently including him, to lose 1 million pounds in the year. That would only be about five ounces per, averaged over those chubby and scrawny alike, so make that 10 ounces. No one could measure that, but we're like to get the message in schools and otherwise.

Job creation was a weak point too. He made vague promises of new jobs as part of the casino proposal to East Boston. TBD and there's a needy city on this side of the tunnel.

That casino thingummy brings up Murphy again. Dumcius analyzes his recent appearance on Chris Lovett's show. On the one hand, Murphy seems to support Menino in restricting the vote to that ward on whether to allow a casino in East Boston. On the other, he implied that he can do better than the Mayor in dealing with the problem developer who left the huge Downtown Crossing hole where Filene's use to sit.

He said Menino was "rebuffed" in effort to get development downtown. In contrast, Murphy seems to want to make the developer fix one to get the other, and maybe even to play eager casino hopefuls off each other.

To me, that sounds like a candidate, if cautious and biding his time.

POTUS and our Senate races will surely dominate the rest of this year politically. Yet, a thread of the 2013 Mayoral contest will surely be ever visible. That's great stuff.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Santorum as the Anti-Universalist

Quite reasonably, James Carroll wants his religion back from Rick Santorum. That nasty pol has used Roman Catholicism as a weapon this electoral cycle. Despite the clumsiness and craziness (my terms) of those in the church hierarchy, American Catholics have consistently been forces of progressive and compassionate personal dealings and public beliefs.

Instead, Santorum has been inverting President John Kennedy's defense of his religion while pledging to keep his personal beliefs separate from public policy. As Carroll notes, Santorum's "achievement is in showing that a Roman Catholic can be as narrowly intolerant as the most puritanical of fundamentalists." That may work in appealing to the basest of GOP-inclined voters, particularly as progressive and liberal sorts do turn cheeks to tolerate such divisive hatred.

Santorum does not have the honor or Christian values to play fair. His putative religion is just another prop and another weapon.

One might suppose that a nation whose original white settlers came expecting religious freedom would even now demand that of anyone running to be their top leader. Cynics could note that many of the original colonialists only demanded such liberty for their own narrow flavor of religion. That may be true enough, but by the time we got through fine-tuning our Bill of Rights, we had the basic principals down.

It took a bunch of court decisions and state and national laws to flesh it out. Even today though, we aren't quite there. It took us nearly two centuries from our revolution to elect...and just barely...a Catholic President. That was quite an improvement from outright bans of Catholic settlers in colonies like Massachusetts, but wow, it took a long time to get there.

Even now, many Americans seem suspicious of Jews, Muslims and other non-Christian sorts. Agnostics or atheists might face even harder campaigns to be President.

Most of the current GOP scrum of POTUS candidates have been using religion like cudgels. Even the notorious ethically and fidelity challenged Newt Gingrich claims to know he's been forgiven, and uses his Catholicism as cover. Only Mormon Mitt Romney seems at all defensive and non-pious about his personal religion.

Without even getting into comparative religion, we can likely agree that the fundamental principles of Christianity should produce fine humans well suited for public service, as well as good neighbors. What kind of ambition and hubris and disingenuousness has led these candidates to misuse such good material?

Just in my last post here, I bemoaned that sort-of progressive POTUS Obama has muddled his religion, apparently for political expediency. He pretends his religion is a cover for his inaction on a key civil-rights issue.

We need more of the attitude of the late Peter Tosh. In You're An African, he sang to black folk to stop deriding each other's religion and to look at the commonalities:

No mind denomination That is only segregation You're an African 
'Cause if you go to the Catholic And if you go to the Methodist And if you go to the Church of Gods You're an African 
The Santorum types, basically the whole GOP field seem to forget the are supposed to be Americans. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New-Squeak and Dumb

The pending Newsweek is flogging itself with the cover for Andrew Sullivan's article. My corollary is why does President Obama play so dumb so often?

Art note: This is an edited snippet from the cover, for which I claim fair use. The original title was WHY ARE OBAMA'S CRITICS SO DUMB?

That headline made me return to that similar question so central to this POTUS' administration. Who's he kidding and why?

Barack Obama is clearly smart. He's not Thomas Jefferson or Woodrow Wilson or Jimmy Carter smart, not even Bill Clinton smart, but he's intelligent and knowledgeable. Yet he jerks us around often.

Take same-sex marriage as an example that has run through his 2008 campaign and whole Presidency. With the nasty reality of Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in place, this smart President has played the religion and tradition card at every deal.

He and his wife say again and again that their religion stated that marriage should be between one man and one woman. Sometimes he has said that it's been that way from the beginning of civilization.

Consider first that not only is he President but that he also is an attorney. Combined, those mean he certainly must understand the differences in personal religious belief and law. As an attorney, he also must know that his church's religious rituals are only coincidental to marriage. (He's also enough of an historian to know that marriage has been late to the human condition and that it has had many forms over the millennia, with the DOMA version only a very recently common one.)

The only reason a minister or other cleric can sign a marriage license is as an agent of the state, as it is with a justice of the peace, judge or anyone else empowered to solemnize. Legally, marriage is the contract between the couple and the government. If the couple wants to have a nonbinding nicety of a religious ritual on top of the  legal component of the ceremony, fine, but that's something else entirely.

Cynics have stated firmly that he doesn't believe in DOMA and is almost certainly in favor of marriage equality. That would be in line with other civil rights beliefs he has expressed for decades. They would have it that he disingenuously is willing to let homosexual couples continue as second or third class citizens just to gain and then stay in office.

Early in his tenure, I also heard many self-identified progressives and liberals claim that when he got other big things done with the economy, got rid of don't-ask-don't-tell, and blah blah blah, he'd dump DOMA. Then it became as soon as he gets reelected, he'll claim he's seen the light and will demand DOMA's demise.

That's really not relevant anymore. He's shown he doesn't have the guts to buck Congress on big issues. He's also let his solid majorities there wither away. He didn't use the slight majority in the Senate the way George Bush the Lesser did. He surely won't try if the Republicans control both houses.

Here's a POTUS who let potential greatness drown in indecisiveness and playing dumb. When the situation called for decisiveness, he had none. When it called for intelligence, he kept most of his hidden. When it called for moral leadership, he turned reactionary.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Avarice on Trial

Can we hold that the GOP attacks on Romney will make some media and political types pay attention? At the moment, self-serving POTUS candidates are piling on our own Cap'n Brylcreem, Mitt Romney. They brush off a little of the unction to see how he eviscerated companies and discarded employees.

That's well enough and easy to show. If MSM pay a little attention though, the big issue, that myth of the job creator, is right before them.

Simple-minded and literal wingers do have a good talent in spreading catchphrases like so many dandelion seeds — just blow. There's lifestyle to suggest that homosexuals choose their orientation and therefore deserve unequal laws and treatment. There's unborn children to claim that lumps of cells even before they can be called fetuses are people, hence abortion murder. Now the uber-wealthy who suck money from the system instead of expanding and investing are job creators.

The reality is dishearteningly the opposite. Moreover, there's dozens or more analyses, most of it in no way left-wing, proving just that. If you haven't paid attention or doubt it, do start with a left-leaning special that recaps the loony campaign to suggest otherwise. On top, head over the Natural Bureau of Economic Research and nose around, like the report on how small and medium business are not the big jobs engine the GOP loves to claim. (That one is close to my heart from when I worked at Inc. magazine and heard everyone from Bernie Goldhirsh to business owners to association execs play that card.)

If you have any doubt that wealthy individuals and companies are not expanding or otherwise helping the economy, do research. Try your favorite publications via the net or library. It's only the most partisan and dishonest winger groups that pretend otherwise. The numbers are all there that prove lower tax rates kill jobs and resulting increased profits leave the larger economy.

Instead, we as a nation should be calling the fouls. First of all, in this God-awful recession/stagnation caused by unregulated greed, the long-term lamprey eels attached to the national belly need to contribute.

Pretending that the richest individuals and companies earned their bags of money from hard work and superior brains is madness. They played a rigged game. More important, once they got their money, they did not create jobs, did not expand and certainly did not share in the national pain. As a set, companies big and small whined about tighter credit, even though that was a reasonable response to their abuses and, well, theft.

When it came time to step up and heal the economy, they retreated and sought the safest places to hide their money. That's crap!

Their duty now is to create jobs not simply say they are job creators. Risk capital, as in capitalism, instead of tending their money trees. Expand, hire, put money in circulation, give consumers something to spend, revivifying that cycle that represents how capitalism can actually be both profitable and patriotic.

For the government, get your act together on real tax incentives. Times when we had real growth, company owners and execs had reason to invest, to, as the phrase goes, create jobs. If they'd lose money to taxes when they do not reinvest it, what do you suppose they do? Ding, yes, they expand, a.k.a. create jobs.

As the tax rates and rules are now, the owners get their biggest rewards by investing overseas and hoarding money. Instead, if they grew their domestic businesses in lieu of paying income to taxes, they'd be ableboath to employee Americans and profit right here from consumers with cash in the wallet.

I promise I won't smirk if they then call themselves patriotic as well. Don't talk job creator when you mean parasite.

Let's call for looking deeper than one candidate's greed and lack of compassion. Job creators need to create jobs to earn the honor. Let the lazy media look.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pope Continues Self-Marginalization

 Alas, poor Pope Benedict. We knew him too well.

Benny the Rat, the former Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, known in the religion biz as God's Rottweiler when he headed the Roman Inquisition for 25 years, has a favorite hobby horse. That would be same-sex marriage, his ride of choice.

There he sits, in a tiny country-like-space, surrounded by real, RC-dominated nations that have legalized marriage equality. The doctrinal infallible Pope told assembled diplomatic corps attached to the Vatican that same-sex marriage undermines "the nature of humanity itself."

The full context about marriage was:
This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.
You'd think in 2012, he'd be smarter and more aware and more inclusive. However, blinded and deafened by dogma, one's faculties function badly.

As the world sees how SSM harms none, while being very pro-family and pro-marriage, the befuddled old school pronouncements are increasingly sad. The Pope calls in his darkness for discrimination promoting his views. He stops just short of lobbying for anti-marriage-equality laws with, "The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and states; hence there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue."

He's certainly out of touch with history and reality. Then again, someone in his job should not be chasing trends.  Yet, that position has also been for other Popes one that tried to help people instead of harming and hindering them.

There's been Popes, Popes and Popes. This one  is nothing if not consistent.


Monday, January 09, 2012

Arm's Length LGBT Support

Tucked in an analysis of debate-like-object attacks on Willy Mitt Romney is a good recap of his avoidance of LGBT issues. In fact, in Salon's post, Steven Kornacki plays Romney's game of reducing that to gay.

Since promising in his 1994 run for U.S. Senate to do more for homosexuals than Ted Kennedy, Romney has done, "essentially nothing — at least since gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts and Romney turned his attention to the national GOP stage."

Instead, he has been trying to play Chex Party Mix, with flavors and textures for every taste. He's a one-man/one-woman marriage proponent, he says. He's for civil unions instead of same-sex marriage, he says.

Try not to think of the verb here as I note there's a rub. As Kornacki writes, "But given how close he is to winning the GOP nomination, Romney is now at risk of being positioned too far to the right on gay issues. Public attitudes on the subject are rapidly changing, producing some embarrassing moments for anti-gay Republican candidates."

We certainly can't assume Obama haters will be rational about what Romney says, does, adapts, backtracks, and evades. There is a prize to be had and it's neither honor nor honesty.


Dorcena Door to Door to Door

First, he got in real late and now real early. Will Dorcena was the last one in running for at-large Boston City Council last year but has not announced he's running for Mayor in the 2013 election.

Yet immediately when Dorcena's announcement was previewed, it began. The epithets were amateur, naive, hopeless, quixotic.

Pedestrian punditry, a.k.a. conventional wisdom, about Boston politics are a version of crickets on a summer night. The repetition and volume drown out all else.

For a recent example, nearly all writers and talking heads chirped in unison about the City Council at-large race just past. The newbies, Felix Arroyo and particularly Ayanna Pressley were underfunded and vulnerable. Michael Flaherty would push at least one of them out of the chamber. Of course, Pressley topped the returns and Arroyo was second. Flaherty was an also-ran.

Politically inured Bostonians are already expressing weary doubts. At the least, what I've heard is that there is a sort of hazing process whereby you run for local office two or three times before you have a chance to win it.

That hasn't happened in memory for Mayor, but certainly at the Council level it has. Think immediately of twinkly-eyed Matt O'Malley's comet-like appearance to take the special election for John Tobin's vacant seat. Of course, even though he was a political young'un, he had been aide or campaign worker for numerous elected officials. He got a pass on the two-or-three-times guideline.

Why should anyone care, you might well ask. The local papers largely ignored his announcement yesterday as they only begrudgingly covered him in passing during the at-large contest. They won't care unless he proves himself a real threat with contributions and crowds.

First, Dorcena does have a shot, particularly if the incumbent does not want another year of campaigning and four more of service. While we can all think of several Councilors who'd announce in such circumstances, Dorcena would have a well-established double message by then. He has a real vision with platform and he had the guts to step up while the others hid in their lairs until the big bear was hibernating.

Breaking Ranks

Dorcena also faces that double-sided support issue — money and endorsements. For the latter, it will be a hard sell to get other pols, like Councilors or legislators, to praise him. Not only is Menino a singularly powerful incumbent, but should he choose not to run, a couple of Councilors, each with body buddies, would go for the open office. Likewise, wealthy individual, corporate and organization donors would think one, two or ten times before crossing Menino.

In terms of state-level pols, he doesn't have any champions or mentors in the Administrator or legislature. In fact, neither he nor his sister, Rep. Linda Dorcea Forry, talk about their estrangement. That also counts out his newspaper editor (Boston Haitian Reporter and Dorchester News) brother-in-law, Bill Forry. Stranger events have occurred than a rapprochement between siblings, but in lieu of that, this is another area where Dorcena is at a disadvantage at the moment.

He admits his campaign will not be easy, but has terrific, almost contagious faith, in grassroots persuasion and fund-raising. In this words:
If I get to enough residents in the city and speak to them and tell them what I represent what I stand for and I intend to make decisions every day that's in the best interest of them and their families, I'll win. I just need to put in the work.
He also admits that he'd need to raise several times the money as he did in the short campaign for Council, but said, "This campaign isn't going to be about the contributions." Instead, "We're going to win this race by taking it directly to the people, taking the message to the people, street by street, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood." Well, that worked for now MA Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz.

In his high-minded opening statement this week, Dorcena said, "For the next two years, I'll  walk the streets, avenues and boulevards of our neighborhoods to make the case for new leadership, bold ideas, innovative solutions to our problems and most important to bring residents into the conversation and decision-making process."

Cynics can note the high percentage of residents who don't bother to vote, don't attend public meetings, and won't look at available issue papers. Yet, Dorcena believes he can't get enough interest to succeed. As he put the overall aim, "My campaign in not about Tom Menino. My campaign is about the city of Boston and the direction this city needs to move in."

Moreover when asked if he had two plans, one for if Menino decides not to run, he said, "I have one strategy and that strategy is to take a positive message of truth, of honesty, of speaking directly to the people to address these issues, not sugar coating some of the difficult discussions that need to be had and having it directly with the residents of this city across all the neighborhoods.

On the other hand, he was upfront about his door-to-door plan. "The Mayor has been her for 20 years," he said, "and he doesn't have to knock on many doors for people to know who he is, but someone like me has to."

Framing the Contest

The intriguing question comes about whether sustained candidacy of one or more mayoral aspirants this early will set the tone for the 2013 election. Can Dorcena's door knocking and other campaigning force the topics?

We won't know until it's clear whether the Mayor will run in 2013 who else is will be in for the job. Allegedly Clemons is running, but not only is there no evidence except for his saying so once and occasionally handing out flyers. Moreover, he has not advanced any platform or stated any positions.

With four times as long to campaign as he had for the Council race, Dorcena might get some traction and influence the dialog. He certainly was not for the at-large race. He noted that he and Sean Ryan did not get the coverage that the incumbents and Flaherty did. Call that whining if you like, but that was accurate.

His recent announcement likewise did not have the bodies or column inches or airtime it deserved. In contrast, the Globe and other local media made much of the non-announcement of Joseph P. Kennedy III. The virtually unknown dynast did have minions set up an exploratory committee for Barney Frank's U.S. House seat, but no announcement or promises or platform. It's a honking-in-the-background maybe.

A couple days after the Dorcena event, the Herald did run the one of its blogs. This included the homey posed shot of him and his very pregnant wife Eby flanking the Haitian/U.S. flags colored campaign sign. The post did not get into his platform but at least covered his promise to go street to street relentlessly.

You'd think that the Globe, local TV and the Phoenix at least would have attended the press conference and run the basic. A few, like Dorchester NewsGintautas Dumcius have previously noted the poor political coverage of some candidates, including Dorcena. This time, if nothing else, they could feign pundit sophistication with Council-loser-dreams-of-Mayor sneering. Then again, they are often cowardly pack animals who hold back until others decide a candidate is worth profiling or quoting.

I am interested in following Dorcena's campaign. Specifically:

  • Will his platform frame the issues of the next campaign?
  • Will he maintain the energy for tens of thousands of visits?
  • Will residents agree with his problems/solutions message?
  • Will plain folk contribute enough to keep his campaign viable?
  • What will he have to do to get media attention?
In the next two years, they will see the work. They will see how hard I work.

Series Note: 
This ended up taking on its own life. I attended Dorcena's announcement. The second post was on his platform. I am intrigued about whether this early candidacy raises interest and money, and whether it colors the entire election.

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Friday, January 06, 2012

Dorcena Answers Why Him

Will Dorcena will have to sustain his energy, commitment, focus and voice for nearly two years non-stop. He must perfect a quick, powerful, memorable, convincing front-stoop speech to let him get 20 or more households a day to 1) listen to him, 2) believe his platform is better, and 3) think he has a shot at winning. In addition to running his business while supporting wife and two kids, he'll have to find the time to woo donors who are not afraid to be associated with a would-be usurper.

Dorcena does not attack Menino or the administration by claiming sins and crimes. He makes a much harder pitch of missed opportunities, lazy management, lack of vision, and misplaced priorities. The immediately compelling drama of accusations of graft, nepotism and such are much easier sells than appeals to honest accounting. Moreover, he counts on voters to want to understand were the city's money comes from and where it goes. He also expects them to vote.

He does have a worthy personal tale — Haitian American from a rough part of Boston, who stayed away from street trouble, got a bachelors from BC and masters from Babson, started his successful business, and had loads of volunteer work and civic involvement. He's believable when he says, "We know what the problems are," and "When I was 9, I knew who the bad guys were."

In systemic terms, he says the city administration is not "doing the work."

Direct Challenges

While Dorcena is personally positive, he has an edge that may cut Menino. Foremost is a reflection of another side of Dorcena's personality — from his own experience and observations, he's very much an up-by-the-bootstraps guy. He expects the youth and others he's mentored to follow his hard work and firm morals example. Thus, one of his campaign refrains is "They haven't done the work!"

Short of accusing him of a felony, few statements should rile Menino as much. He knows he is hard working, but of course, Dorcena's point is that the important work is not political per se but that which produces those results of better schools, lower unemployment and less crime.

I've never seen a politician, even Bill Clinton, who enjoys politics as much as Tom Menino. For a couple of small examples outside City Hall. At his annual street parties on July 12th, the anniversary of his taking office when Ray Flynn left, he stands for hours in the middle of Chesterfield Street greeting all comers. There are thousands who come to praise him, as well as get free hot dogs and ice cream cones. He knows and chats up nearly everyone. He answers any questions, political or personal. He is indefatigable. Likewise, at the sub-neighborhood citizens' meetings around May, he grips and quips with all. Typically, he personally hands out pots of marigolds and other window box flowers. In one I attended in Readville, I think he knew every single person in his large neighborhood. He greeted all by name and asked about other family members by name. He clearly loved every second of it. That's a lot of work.

Yet, Dorcena started contrasting himself with City Hall when he ran for Councilor. He made it plain then as now that he thinks he:
  1. Works harder than anyone else
  2. Works on the right goals
  3. Will doggedly do whatever it takes to get it done
He also is huge on open government, particular fiscal transparency. Perhaps befitting his MBA, he stresses money and how it relates to priorities and accomplishments. For example, when asked at his announcement whether the city money was going to the right places, he said, "Before I can even answer the question of whether money is short (in a given area), we need an accounting of where it goes, who's getting it. You can live and die by that and you can make better decisions."

He pledges smarter use of resources, but always starting with measurements, how the money is spent compared with previous years. Then he seemed to channel MA Treasurer Steve Grossman, promising the city's checkbook online, and not just salaries. He acknowledged, "It's going to make a lot of people uncomfortable when you get to see where every penny is going, but be uncomfortable. I'm OK with that."

That may be a good sell, if presented right. Honestly, politicians like the concept of transparency as a campaign issue better than the public. It's well enough to say everything will be open to view. Getting residents to do that viewing and analysis is harder than getting them to the polls. You could hand a voter a printout of say, 300 pages of the Boston schools budget, including the hidden 30%, and a few in 100 might even open the report.

"Only real transparency will wake up the electorate," said Dorcena. "So they can know exactly what your elected officials and what your government is doing with your money." Of course, it may well be enough if more data are available, more public discussion takes place, and an involved subset of residents participates.

Hands-On Pledge

His accounting/management nerdiness aside, he has good stories and clear problem definitions. He puts his messages in understandable terms as well.

He has a plan for dealing with the perennial problem of locals not getting the many construction jobs here, for example. "We have a Boston jobs policy but it's not really followed to the tee," he said. He would work with unions to help them recruit directly from the neighborhoods, as well as with the unemployed to get them to apply for union membership and be ready for the openings.

For education, as many pols, he decries that Boston has so many important universities, schools local high-school grads are not equipped to enter or succeed in. As he put it, "A kid who lives in Mission Hill can walk to Northeastern, but he can't get in and his brother can't get in and his sister can't get in. It's not right and it has to change and if I'm the mayor of Boston, it will."

As far as fixing that, some of the solutions will be seeing where the money comes from, where it goes, and how it can be spent to maximum efficiency. The other part is a veiled slam at the current and past City Hall administrations. Back to his central theme, he said on education, "The reason we're not seeing the results is that the work isn't being done."

His pledge here is similar to what it is in policing and other city functions. While he's a union supporter who in turn had the Boston Teachers Union endorsement in his last race, he believes the Mayor needs to be hands on in key areas.

As he put it for schools, "These are some important fights that need to be had with the Boston Teachers Union on behalf of the kids." He said mayors and councilors typically get in office only to step back to avoid fighting with the unions. He claimed that in contrast, "If the decision is being made on behalf of the kids, I'll fight all day. That will piss a lot of people off, but that' s OK, because it's a fight worth fighting for."

Likewise, at his announcement, he waxed philosophic about the ephemeral nature of life. "While I'm here I've got to do everything I can to make make sure that the right decisions are being made on behalf, for the future of the city. And that if that means leaving the fifth floor to go and meet directly with the president of the Boston Teachers Union, the president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, meeting directly with a City Council member in the district of Jamaica Plain, I will do that."

He contrasted himself with typical pols in his belief that it would be his duty to manifest his vision. More rhetorically, he said, "Enough words. Enough gamesmanship...Speeches are great. Words are nice, but at the end of the day, it's the work."

He also has terrific faith in the public to be interested in both the concepts and details, interested enough to participate. He key idea here is that if people have an understanding of and say in big things, that comes with buy-in.

He used expanded gambling as an example. That was also as close as he has gotten in directly attacking Menino. He said, "I know the Mayor is whole hog, 100MPH pushing for the casino to go into East Boston. That's something I intend to fight every day in this campaign."

His posture returns to the theme of involving the public, revealing the particulars of an issue, and going to widespread discussion and buy-in. While seeming to be the essence of democracy, that is also tricky. It relies on residents being willing to learn about an issue and discuss it. All too often here as elsewhere, the same few whiners, nitpickers, loudmouths and the occasional visionary attend public meetings to listen and speak.

He firmly believes that a casino or slot parlor in any Boston neighborhood would deeply affect the whole city. Thus, all the citizens need to know the particulars of any proposal. Yet, he also admitted that even after a discussion, that the decision might be the same as the Suffolk Downs options favored by the Mayor. That would be OK with Dorcena, who said that if that was supported by the majority after a full discussion, "Then its chances of success will be that much greater."

Another area where he faults the administration is not doing enough to get poor kids off the streets and into colleges or careers. Among his plans were he elected would be to replicate the Summer of Opportunity program he worked with at John Hancock. It would pick 40 to 50 at-risk kids identified from the gang unit, train and mentor them, get them jobs in fields they want and have abilities in, and as he put it, "help them see that the world is bigger than their immediate block."

Here he notes that we have many strong companies in Boston that receive tax breaks and other city benefits. He said that the right leader in the Mayor's office could expand that type of program.

Spending Smart

His key example set for money not spent smartly has been the troubled trio of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan. These neighborhoods always seem to have lowest-achieving schools, the most dangerous streets, and the highest unemployment levels.

Yet as he started his campaign announcement with, "There's a serious push to close community centers, close libraries and close schools. Crime and violence are prominent in our neighborhoods to the point where it's the norm. And many decision continue to be made without public scrutiny or participation. We need a strong leader in Boston who will fight for the people of this city and fight for these decisions that are in the best interest of us as a collective and not just a few."

He cited the" musical-chairs" efforts to shuffle school around. In fact, he said in general the School Committee decisions can harm more than help children and parents.

He would eliminate the appointed School Committee, replacing it with an elected one, or perhaps a hybrid with a few appointed slots to ensure that a few educational experts were on the board.

He would further limit the office of mayor with term limits. From Mayor through Congress he believes, "We'd get better government, we'd get more honest elected officials if we had term limits," he said, adding that if you are in office 15 or 20 years, "you become the seat."

He said, "Two terms is plenty for the office of mayor. Two terms and I'm walking out of there. I don't even need you to swing the foot for the boot."

Series Note: This ended up taking on its own life. I attended Dorcena's announcement. There is this post on his platform and there will be another on how he sees his campaign. I am intrigued about whether this early candidacy raises interest and money, and whether it colors the entire election.

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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Will of 10,000 Doors

The next knock you hear may be Will Dorcena. He's talking of going to tens of thousands of Boston doors in the next 600 plus days. He's announced his run for Boston Mayor in the 2013 election.

In case you've forgotten two months ago, he came in sixth on a ballot of seven for the four at-large Boston City Council slots. It was his first run for public office and he even got in late. His 8,739 votes were about a third to a quarter of those of the four incumbents who were re-elected.

Assuming our longest-serving Mayor ever, Thomas Menino, in his fifth four-year term, runs again, the big question from the outside is what chance could Dorcena have? Let us pause to replay Cassius' words in another Will's Julius Caesar:

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world 
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about 
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.

Not only is this Will not in that mood, but he also said he'd run the same campaign whether Menino is in or not. He said at his announcement this morning at the Reggie Lewis Center that he won't have the money or GOTV machine that the Mayor has, but he intends to win by connecting with voters on doorsteps and in living rooms one-to-one, one at a time.

That certainly has worked in various times and places. Locally though, recent visit-'em-all types Doug Bennett and Sean Ryan fared poorly in Council races. Those with big organizations and healthy bank accounts beat them.

I'll do a future post on Dorcena's positions in detail. He joined us on Left Ahead last year. He covered much of the same ground, many of the same topics. Today, he was consistent in the issues he stressed and his solutions to our problems in that show. These also appear on his Council campaign site. Problem/solution statements that seemed overly ambitious for a Councilor make much more sense in a mayoral context.

His Facebook page is already converted to his new candidacy. His eponymous website surely will soon.

The punchlines include:
  • Will Dorcena is in for Mayor for 2013
  • He intends to win on shoe-leather, retail campaigning
  • He promises 10,000 or more visited in all 22 precincts in a little over 600 days
  • He wants an elected school committee (or a hybrid if that will guarantee ed experts)
  • He pledges two terms and out — he believes in term limits for Mayor
  • He wants all city expenses public, including the quarter billion school budget portion currently hidden
  • He says we can't even know how much money we have or how to deploy it without full, open accounting
  • He wants all major decisions, like casino siting, fully open to public view and comments
He's sure to rile Menino with his evaluation of the state of the city, including:
There's a serious push to close community centers, close libraries and close schools. Crime and violence are prominent in our neighborhoods to the point where it's the norm. And many decisions continue to be made without public scrutiny or participation.
We need a strong leader in Boston, who will fight for the people of this city and fight for these decisions that are in our best interest as a collective and not jut the few.
In a future post, I'll break down his positions a bit more and quote more from his announcement. It'll also be time to ask him back on Left Ahead in his new role.

By the bye, there may or may not be a previously announced 2013 mayoral candidate. In August at his 50th birthday party, entrepreneur and TOUCH radio co-founder Charles Clemons said he'd be in the race. I can't find any evidence of a campaign in print or online material and sites beyond the initial DOTNEWS coverage.

Series Note: This ended up taking on its own life. The second post was on his platform. The third is on his campaign strategy. I am intrigued about whether this early candidacy raises interest and money, and whether it colors the entire election. 

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Sudden POTUS Confidence

That Obama guy, to put it crassly, looked down to find some 'nads. He used recess appointments to empower two essential parts of government. GOPers had long ignored both laws passed by Congress and the clear will of Americans in refusing to appoint enough members of the National Labor Relations board for a quorum or a head to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau so it could function at all.

In a most pleasant surprise, the POTUS fixed both. May this presage more courageous, rational actions!

The vid below is from the Maddow show, replete with Administration guest to detail the actions.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Dorcena and Da Mare

Where's our BULLETIN...BULLETIN... flash?

Will Dorcena will announce his candidacy for Boston mayoralty tomorrow (TH 1/5) at 11 AM at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury Crossing.

He was coy when we chatted over coffee last week, but he did say stay tuned.

He recently ran for an at-large City Council seat, his first political go. I returned his yard sign and added it to the neat stacks on his porch. I'll be intrigued to see how he reworks them to make his happy face work for a mayoral run.

We did talk with him in June about his Council candidacy. That gives a sense of his hopes for Boston and his vitality. Listen to that show here.

He said when he called that he'll work hard for 21 months for the job. That's easy to believe.

I'll be down there tomorrow to see what he promises and to report back. Honestly, competition this early, this enthusiastic, can only increase the dialog and fun.

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Warren Keeps Getting Sharper

For such a thin woman, Elizabeth Warren's handshake is astonishingly strong. It matches her intense gaze, focused attention and full, clear responses to each person — a.k.a. voter — she touches. She couples her sincerity and energy to vast knowledge and analysis.There's no political or economic question you could ask that she hasn't already considered.

Last evening at Florian Hall, I saw and heard her engage about 300 as a group and then one at a time. She owned the room every second.

Disclaimer: At Left Ahead, several candidates for the U.S. Senate seat up in 2012 joined us. That includes two still in the race, Marisa Defranco and Warren. We found the former powerful and with a strong platform, and were even more impressed with the latter.

I've heard and seen Warren personally a few times since last summer, before she officially announced. Of course, she's also been on talk shows as well as in media interviews. I went last night to catch the evolution of her stump speech and how she worked a larger group. Afterward, we chatted just a minute. When I complimented her on the advances in her presentation, she gave that winning little grin and said, "Yup. I've been working on it."

She's gone far beyond the too-often-repeated phrases like growing up "on the ragged edge of the middle class." She's ready to bring values campaigning to a contest and national conscience where values has been a code word for excluding, hindering and harming other Americans.

Click the under-2-minute clip below to hear her wrap-up last evening. The previous hour had detail and background, but here she rouses the crowd with vision of both a past and future America. Her values include opportunity for all and clear steps how to make that happen. As she put it, "What kind of people are we and what kind of future are we going to build?...This is our moment in history!"

Listening to her, I noticed the obvious, that she won't have to lie or generalize. Unfortunately for Sen. Scott Brown, in his two years since winning the special election, he has not advanced laws to help our troubled nation. In a clear record, he voted down all three jobs bills to protect the tax breaks for those making over $1 million a year. Moreover, in interviews and public appearances, he is wont to say he isn't sure about this or that.

Head to head, there'd be no competition. I'd bet that she has 30 IQ points on him, carries a huge bag of knowledge, and is plain about both the problems and the solutions for what ails America.

Yet in this first real test in a post-Citizens United world, we know the mailboxes, email boxes, doorknobs, and most of all airwaves and cable will drip with political venom. It's highly likely she'll be the Dem to run in November. There's certainty that her supporters will do nasty work in revealing Brown's record, and no doubt that the other side will be far worse. I guess that the Brown side will have five to ten times as many millions to attack her. I don't have to guess from what we've seen already that his supporters won't bother with truth or anything verifiable. Theirs will be emotion, particularly fear based, lowest-common-denominator spots.

The best news for her side has two plies. She's tough, can take the attacks, and will call out the lies. Also, she has a clear platform of short-term and long-range goals, with the ways to achieve them. Brown? No, nothing. The cliché is that attack ads work, but it's also true they don't always decide the result.

Refined Roughness

Warren's also been working on presenting her personal story. Brown can stretch and fake his upbringing (absentee executive dad, Tufts's education, and very brief money troubles for his divorced mom). Warren has real experiences that most of America, far less privileged than Brown, can relate to personally.

Her mother answered phones at Sears when her maintenance-crew dad had a disabling heart attack. She worked as a baby sitter at 9, waitress at 13, and earned her way through public university for teaching and law degrees — with a kid, her own divorce, and a remarriage. She and her hubby teach at Harvard Law, but as she put it, she "scratched my way" there.

She also has compelling sibling tales of one brother who had 288 Vietnam combat missions, another who has been a serial entrepreneur (whom Republicans would call a "job creator" except he actually did that).

She has actual struggles overcome. She can even note that she literally hung out her attorney's shingle in front of her house when she passed the bar, nine months pregnant and thus unemployable. She kept the shingle to remind her of what determination can bring.

So, from the listening tours in the living rooms of MA, she's watched and heard what voters care about. As she put it last night when she started out personal, "I think you have the right to know the heart of anyone who's going to represent you."

Past and Future

Warren has the other personal advantage of being a boomer. She grew up when the positive effects of economic reforms and laws made for the commonweal were still strong. She could work her way through public college and earn out her loans by teaching, for example.

She does not gloss over that period either. She says that women, blacks, Latinos and others were not yet welcome in many places and to many jobs. She notes that nation had laid the track with white men that then led to opening up more education and employment opportunity for all...until the terrible lawmaking from the 1980s that nibbled and chomped away at the post-Depression stability.

Refreshingly, she speaks of the related values. She wants us to stop subsidizing "those who have already made it," and instead invest in education, jobs and infrastructure. She provided a list of specific investments that would support those, thus bring back the ideal of an America of opportunity for all that she grew up knowing.

I have no doubt that in debates, or those dreadful debate-like-objects known as forums, she'd skunk Brown. She has specific proposals for clear aims. She accomplished more in her appointed position that led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau than Brown has in his entire MA and U.S. Senatorial career.

Yet debates won't be the only factors in this election. Attack-ad weight will surely go to Brown, but she's smarter, more credible and far more humane than he and will win the personal appearances. Fortunately for her, she had only the commonwealth and not the whole nation to cover for this one. She also has an amazing level of energy.

It's possible that MA voters will go with the incumbent, fearing change and fantasizing that the always failing GOP economics lies really will work this time. I wouldn't bet on it. She's hot stuff.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Warren Working DOT

Have no doubt, Elizabeth Warren is no mousy professor. She owned Florian Hall in Dorchester tonight. Maybe 300 were there for a stump speech and Q&A. One 3-year-old climbing all over her mother made her little coughs. Otherwise the room was quiet...except when they applauded vigorously.

I'll give a full report tomorrow, replete with a sound clip or two after I edit the digital recording. The short of it is that she's getting better by the week.

Afterward, I did hang around, eavesdropping on her answers to the many who had to, as the expression goes, touch the hem of her garment. She did turn to me and I found myself trying to apologize for causing her trouble when she and I bantered about being labeled hicks up here in Yankeeland, after her 17 and my 32 years here.

She'd have none of it and dismissed the lame GOP effort to latch onto that. Oddly though, she'd remembered that I didn't have yellow glasses the last time we met face to face. Moreover, when I told her that her message was fuller and more fleshed out, she grinned and said, "Yup. I've been working on it."

It showed. She had been dynamic in the early version in August on her pre-announcement listening tour. She's even better now.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Yes, Virginia, There Is An Occupy

Mirabile dictu! Shortly before the Grand Procession of Boston’s First Night (for God’s sake, don’t dare use the term loosely; they sue), the Parish Café had a couple of bar stools on the street side open. My wife and I grabbed two and got to see the parade perfectly, above the crowd and with drinks in hand.

My Flickr feed has some so-so snaps of the afternoon.

Of greater interest and a pleasant surprise to us was the Occupy Boston presence. They were well dispersed, as in the Common, Copley and more. They handed out 99% buttons, flyers, and conversation. In the Common, a little wagon symbolized the Occupy tents…and the mobility of the movement.

A good counterpoint to the crazed reactionary response to OWS and localized ones appears in the currentPhoenix. Chris Faraone writes starkly and in detail about the evolution of Occupy and of the many proofs that the fantasy and hope that this is a leaderless, pointless, non-movement that is dead already are loopy. Dream on 1% and media.

As anyone who’s paid any attention or gone downtown in Manhattan, Boston or elsewhere would have predicted, the Occupy folk were cool about it all. They know absolutely that they have altered the political dialog. That’s not a mist about to dissolve.