Friday, March 30, 2012

Ratchet Up Kickoff

MA State Senate candidate Mara Dolan came out of her chrysalis last night. At her campaign kickoff in Concord, she broke lose from her natural reserve.

I try to remain objective about campaigns where our Left Ahead show wants to interview numerous candidates, as is the case here. I'm chasing at least two more running for 3rd Middlesex (Mike Barrett and Alex Buck). My policy is not to donate time or money to those I'll cover on LA or here. Of course, if I endorse a candidate, I thereafter add a disclaimer when mentioning them.

Dolan was on LA recently; her show is here.

I've known Dolan in various contexts over the past several years. She is a good interviewer on her own local public-access program Right Here Right Now. Her evenhanded and intelligent manner makes her an excellent debate moderator, as she was in the last commonwealth auditor's contest. She's been on LA before running for office, speaking of EmergeMassachusetts among other matters.

As much as I can be out there, often describing myself as a pinko, Dolan is normally restrained. We share many progressive values, but she is no shouter.

Thus in our recent show with her, Ryan and I felt she could have and should have elaborated more and even bragged a bit about her positions. We wondered why she didn't differentiate herself more. Also, we came in a bit at a disadvantage because she did not have a published platform and her website was a shell with a splash screen.

Pithy vids

Well, no more. The campaign site is fully fleshed out. As befitting someone with her video background from her own show, her Issues section is a series of vids on major topics. Each cuts right to essentials and follows the new media rules of being short (under a minute here). She doesn't pad and you know what she believes and would do. Good stuff.

Last evening, before she spoke, I mingled with Concordians and Lexingtonians. The room had an odd blend of old men, a good range of middle-aged women and a few younger sorts (including former treasurer candidate Mike Lake), among the 60 or so present.

Those I chatted up all loved Sen. Susan Fargo, whose decision not to run again prompted the flurry of contestants. About half had not met or heard Dolan before. Those who had told me they had caught her at a candidates' forum or such and two said they gone from neutral to supporting her after seeing her in action. Oddly, the locals seem not to have seen her TV show.

From the start, she came on like a real candidate. She promised to hit her big issues of jobs, education and health care. She did both in specifics and with passion. Some, like the economy, came with solid slogans, like how to get companies to come to MA, stay in MA and grow in MA. In other words, she used rhetoric well.

Family played too. Her college-age daughter, Grace Ames, introduced her, briefly and with obvious respect and affection. Dolan returned those and later drew attention to her parents including stepfather in the audience, both in person and to illustrate points about education. She turned over the family cards without being cheesy or exploitative.

She faltered briefly only once. She misted and choked up a bit when speaking of how she wants to inspire girls to strive for achievement even when people tell them they won't succeed. "We will not be stopped," she said. That tied in with her very reasonable assertion that voters should not replace one of six women in the 40 Senate seats with a man.

She also managed to integrate her caring and cooperation angles well. That seemed a little vague in her LA show, but she used education as an example. She defined herself as a proud progressive and said that her proposals to improve education were broad. She said her supporters, "These good people don't just want these things for themselves. They want them for everyone."

She briefly touched on her support for progressive tax reform,single-payer health care, public-sector unions, rebuilding MA infrastructure, and education with the aim of turning kids into life-long learners. She has the essentials of her positions on these down pat. Start to finish, no one would likely say she was unclear or reserved.

It was a butterfly moment.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mine, Not Yours, Politics

That winger/pinko divide gapes wide.

I've long asserted that the very literal types tend to be right wing. It's damned hard to get consensus among them and lefties who tend to weigh and accommodate subtlety.

Now in the current economic blues, the variation on disparity falls clearly to those who play zero-sum games. Like kindergarten kids, what they have and want are reasonable. What others want better not be cutting into their "stuff." If someone else gets something, that's not fair!

Many pundit sorts have noted the most obvious form of this. The self-identified Tea Party types tend to be older, often in retirement. As their parents did, they take Social Security payments, Medicare and such, and before that, there were likely GI Bill or similar grants, subsidized mortgages, dirt-cheap college money and on and on.

They are quick they claim they earned every penny and deserve what they got and get. That's not so clean and easy. Absolutely the WWII and Korean generations and likely the early Boomers end up with more than they put in the funds for such benefits.

Now the real problem comes when someone else is due benefits. To those who have long ridden on dearly subsidized highways, disguising the true societal cost of their personal vehicles, to those who have otherwise benefited in myriad ways from federal and state largess, much becomes welfare.

That term drips with disdain and is the cover for inhuman rejection of the commonweal by many, including the GOP POTUS candidates. That calumny might comprise:

  • extended unemployment benefits
  • prenatal care
  • child care, even if necessary for one or both parents to be able to work
  • special education programs
  • food stamps
  • subsidized housing

Basically those most comfortable and secure through direct governmental payments want to deny them to others. They call such payments unfair, welfare, and worse.

Let's not even get into how the very wealthy got and maintain their fortunes with tax rules written by their peers. Much as their lesser grousers claim they deserve all they get, the most privileged allege they earned all their wealth and society should praise their mere existence...and right now.

It seems too painful to the I've-got-mine folk to admit this dichotomy.They would have it that what they get is fair and what others get is not. It makes no difference whether they are dumb or willfully ignorant. The effect is the same.

In Congress, many are willing to play the winger game. There are some who act as conscience, and remind the others of how America grew, of our obligations to those who were not raised in privilege, and even what our various sacred texts teach us.

It was, after all, deist (maybe theist) Thomas Jefferson, who wrote, "Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."

With no small irony that came with this fear. He wrote denouncing slavery and had wanted such condemnation in the Declaration of Independence. Yet, he owned slaves, fathered children with one and did not free his own.

We are not caught in such times spanning Colonialism, exploration, slavery, and pending civil war. Like so many cultures before and around us, we are certain our troubles are profound, unique and crucial. Instead, we have before us clear choices.

We must choose to better the lot of those without assured comfortable futures.That is the American way.

Picking Up Political Pieces

Dissuaded and defeated candidate's trail clearing holds a small fascination for me. I still await Jim King For Senate's version.

I would like to think that our interview with him on Left Ahead the day before he announced withdrawal from the US Senate contest was not a major factor. Then, he didn't hang up on us or express obvious disdain. You can judge for yourself in the episode.

A week later, his online self appears to be still in.

His campaign site still leads the standard smiling attorney pic with a backdrop of law books and stacked, mirrored hands, with the opening words, "I’m running for Senate because I believe passionately in Massachusetts’ extraordinary tradition of leadership and innovation." There is no press-release section. The two links to articles about him are long before he dropped out and certainly do not include the announcement, first printed by the (Springfield) Republican on its MassLive site.

Likewise, his Facebook page, listing him with the Politician epithet, leads with a March 1st post about his seeking the Senate seat. His Info section never fully converted to his candidacy, stressing instead his impressive legal biography.

Following the show, early morning the day he eventually announced he was quitting and endorsing Elizabeth Warren, I sent him two emails I thought would please him. First, BlueMassGroup front paged the post on the show, with the audio player. Then a little later MASSterList linked to that. Each should have brought numerous listens. Frankly, with so many people saying and writing for so long that he had no chance, I was pleased a few machers shared my interest in his platform and strategy. He has yet to respond to my thanks for having him on the show or either informative email.

For King, the day before he stepped back, he told us he was not intimidated. About two minutes in he said, "Most importantly, money is not the issue. It certainly creates hurdles, but it's not the ultimate issue. The ultimate issue is Scott Brown." He told us he was aiming for the June party convention.

Sure, it's no surprise when a pol says something and does the opposite shortly afterward. Cynics are wont to say they're all liars and dishonorable.

I don't think that of him. I would love to know what happened after 3 PM on Tuesday to flip him. Some pundits has surmised that he got a call from a DNC big shot, convincing him that avoiding a September primary would be the thing to do to put this Senate seat back in the D column. Surely that wouldn't be a Godfather-style offer-he-couldn't-refuse, rather an appeal to this political loyalty and lawyerly pragmatism.

King is 63, a court vet, confident in his rhetoric, and extraordinarily well educated. He is not the sort to sit weeping in boudoir over his aborted drive to public office.

Can he not be bothered to inform his supporters on FB and his site of the decision? Is it simply vanity that keeps him from admitting failure?

Lest you think that he hopes that leaving the site with its red-and-white DONATE HERE $ button will bring him more cash to cover any outstanding expenditures, know that the underlying ACT BLUE link is gone.

Regardless, you'd suppose he'd clean up after himself, picking up the political rubble.

The subhead on his campaign site,"HOPE ENDURES, THE DREAM WILL NEVER DIE", related to Ted Kennedy. Others' dreams do in fact die.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

West End Anti-Hero

Our most famous namesake is at it again. You don't stage a successful musical in London or most of Europe without Michael Ball as the male lead.

This time, he wows as Sweeney Todd in the current production at the Adelphi.

He's matured and the Financial Times likes it. Sarah Hemming writes that "Michael Ball, as teh murderous barer, is a revelation.Gone is the dimpled cherubic individual who beams at us from the programme pages; in his place is a brooding, taciturn lump of a man..Ball lets us see the wild emotons bubbling beneath the surface..."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

NH Stays Live Free (and Marry)

Despite the drooling anticipation by anti-gay/anti-marriage-equality sorts, in the end it wasn't even close. The NH House defeated the attempt to overturn same-sex marriage today by 211 to 116.

The heavily Republican legislature might have been fertile ground for a repeal of the two-year-old equal-marriage law.

Supporters of upholding the law have been ubiquitous this week before the vote.

NOM has made this a target state. According to the AP, that group is putting at least $250,000 into campaigns to elect or re-elect more anti-equality legislators.

Oddly enough though to those out of the region, the state whose motto is Live Free or Die is not so stereotypical as NOM might hope. Numerous GOP legislators favor equality and there is even a New Hampshire Republicans for Freedom and Equality.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Promises on Ice

Sure, the plug uglies can be hateful and likely will. Yet if this pro hockey scene proves anything, it is that the world is moving on.

On the ice at the Ottawa Senators' Scotia Place, one woman proposed to another. The team provided the big screen words and the mascot's participation. The crowd loved it. The moment was sweet, sappy and natural.

The women are fans of different teams too.

From Gollum to Good Guy

Have no doubt, there most certainly are bad capitalists. The huge winger lie — from the GOP's POTUS candidates to talking heads and bloggers — is one of job creators.

Click around just a little and go to huge supporters of unfettered capitalism, like the WSJ, and you'll find the sad reality. Companies and rich people in general hoard. They've been sitting on cash that brings to mind Scrooge McDuck's swimming pool. The nation rots in unemployment and slow recovery, while they put their wads and bags of liquid resources only where those get guaranteed returns.

They create nothing but incremental additional wealth for themselves.

A few of the super-rich, such as Warren Buffet have called them on this disgrace and lack of concern for both the nation and its citizens. The government is fairly powerless to make fake and self-identified job creator actually create jobs.

Playing Gollum viciously protecting the Precious is the reality of the job-creator myth for the fast majority of flush companies and individuals. Yet we may finally have a corporate peer to lead boards and CEOs to responsibility, compassion and patriotism.

The ever self-interested Apple announced it would begin doing the right thing. It will pay out much of an accumulated $100 billion-plus in cash. Its admission that it has passed its tipping point of hoarding may well catalyze other McDucks to do the same.

Apple absolutely has been stifling the economy when it could have been a hero. Now if other corporations see the warm rains of praise and great PR surely to fall on Apple, many are likely to follow suit.

The corporation admits its cash has grown faster than it can use it. It will start by paying dividends around $45 billion to shareholders.

As another indicator of the nature of the hoarding problem's expanse, it won't touch $65 billion, at least short term. That cash is held outside the country. Its tax rate would be higher as a result of re-Americanizing it.

Don't hurt you head thinking of the companies, banks and individuals who also expatriate their millions and billions rather than creating jobs or expanding opportunities domestically.That's simply the inherently bad side of capitalism. Those amoral sorts need direction to act well.

Apple's first payout, beginning in July, is relatively modest in percentage, 1.8%. That's moderate for a high-tech company, and below the rate of Microsoft and others. However, it's a big change for Apple and likely an inspiration for other hoarders who have shunned their duties to the nation and its people in this awful economy.

I contend that an even better solution would be tweaking our tax code. Sure, Congress is mostly rich white folk making the rules to benefit rich white folk. Here the great mower with blades of shame and reason can slice off the unfairness and deceit.

Structure taxes like other Western nations. Businesses and the wealthiest would have a seminal choice. Either keep sheltering the millions and billions from economic growth, thus losing most to tax, or reinvest and invest it in job creation, company expansion, and the good aspects of capitalism for low or very low tax.

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Pathetic's Day Breakfast

Truth be told, America's Funniest Home Video makes me cringe. I have enough vestigial empathy to feel for kids, adults and animals being hurt physically and emotionally. Those are just mean, not funny.

With that as background, it should be no surprise that South Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day Breakfast event is something I have long avoided. I glance at the local papers' and bloggers' best-of recap. You can do that at the Globe or Herald, and get a smaller slice at David Bernstein's Phoenix short.

For whatever reason, I returned from a long bike ride to check into NECN for the weather forecast and see that the live coverage of this dead(ly) event was starting. So, I did it, at least letting it stumble on in background while I did work at the desk and in browser tabs.

Try-it-on Note: For the moment, NECN has numerous clips from the breakfast here. Click Politics on the left menu and if they are still available pick one or more.

It'll be a long, long time before I catch this flea circus again. My major takeaway was what poor performers the pols were.

That's surprising for people who almost all have decades of public speaking. No, it's stunning.

Amusingly enough in a morning with low amusement levels, Mayor Tom Menino was one of the two best on stage. Known locally, nationally and beyond as Mumbles for has slurred diction and misuse of common words, he even started the requisite self-effacing humor nothing that "easier said than done" didn't apply to him. Then he jumped right into delicious slams of the many who have challenged him for his office and lost badly or terribly.

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray was the other winner. He arrived in a NASCAR suit and helmet and joked relentlessly related to his totaling his state car.

In contrast to that pair, most other speakers where labored and halting. US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren was an exception. Yet her smooth delivery was too gentle and not all that funny, all but her spear point about incumbent Scott Brown going from Cosmopolitan centerfold to Goldman Sachs poster boy.

The oddment was that the others apparently have never heard of Toastmasters. U.S. Rep. Steven Lynch supposedly was the funniest; he certainly got applause from the not-yet-tipsy audience. His delivery was as halting and painful to follow as the other pols. Even Brown, who was his usual arrogant self, delivered lines like a teen asking for his first date.

You'd think that having done this a few or dozens of times, on top of the regular speaking demands of their jobs and campaigning, they'd have it down. Nah, they were terrible. I'd far rather read a transcript for those recaps than suffer through that without a fast-forward button.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

GOP Going Beyond Big Brother

Easy to see why libertarians have real troubles with Republicans — the GOP's chief pols, POTUS candidates, and party officials seem to have no concept about the American rights and freedoms in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution or its Bill of Rights and Amendments, let alone case law.

How do the wingers self-identified as Republican try to pass themselves off as American, as patriotic?

Underneath the policy statements of GOP members of Congress as well as the candidates for President is the same dreadful concept. That is, Republican lawmakers, Presidents and cabinet members will tell each American and all Americans how to behave, what is forbidden and which rights, if any, are allowed.

In the past few days, it's been Rick Santorum's turn to promise intrusion into and control over our lives. One expression is that were he elected to the highest office, he'd jail people for what he deemed unacceptable sexual material. Regardless of case law and actual statute, he'd see that his (if you pardon the expression) commonsense judgment of pornography would trump due process.

Likewise, with the exception of the Libertarian Ron Paul, the GOP candidates still standing and braying are eager to permit any employer to force employees to divulge their sexual behavior. Starting with their use of birth control, employees would lose the long-established right to privacy and could be denied health-care benefits selectively on the whim of management.

How can anyone in Congress or hoping to be President even form such absurd thoughts or utter such inane words?

Truth is, we've seen this spreading, invasive intrusion theme for decades. As a nation, we got past McCarthyism, red scares, yellow peril, institutionalized segregation and dreadful abuses of humanity and human rights. Yet, since the Nixon Presidency, we have experienced unceasing attempts to have government control over our lives and liberties...some of them successful.

There have been wiretaps, FBI, CIA and other spooks in warrantless searches, photography and more. Of course, after 9/11, we've had severe and widespread abuses in the name of Homeland Security. That includes random nonsensical physical searches by undertrained, underpaid, often thuggish airport pseudo-police. (Better we should be smart and respectful like Israel in handling travelers.)

The oddment is that all the while, the GOP party leaders, lawmakers and candidates collectively, as well as the winger media, accuse lefties and even the centrist President Obama of wanting big government. What the devil do they think big government is?

Not only have Republican Administrations consistently increased the number of federal employees, plus all those contractors, more than Dems have. More to the point, what the wingers want and often get is a larger government devoted to stripping rights Americans have struggled to attain and retain for centuries.

As a bunch, they seem to relish ceding control to some Big Daddy figure, bigger than Big Brother. Freedom of speech? They'll tell you what you can say or publish. Freedom of assembly? Only where, when and in how large a group as they say. Freedom to travel? There's kind of a war on, so you have to expect a lot of restrictions. Right to due process and trial by jury? Well, not really, we have special rules about who gets a speedy, public trial or any trial at all.

It goes on and on.

Thus, it's no surprise that Santorum, Romney and Gingrich feel empowered to suggest going far beyond restricting and aiming to abolish a woman's right to choose whether to take a fetus to term and viability. They openly speak of laws limiting contraception, as well as allowing each employer to decide what health-care benefits are permitted.

Back in the real world, let's keep making everyone aware. These people are anti-American rights. They don't understand our liberties. They are anti-American.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Providence's Foul Anti-Equality Wind

While you shouldn't need to have the smallest brain among Roman Catholic clergy to be bishop in our smallest state, Rhode Island's The Most Reverend Thomas J. Tobin may well have both attributes.

His arrogance and ignorance all too often evident in modern clergy of almost any religion, fill the diocese's web pages, audio, video, text links and Facebook entry. There's no doubt he's The Man around Providence. He even entitles his regular RC-paper column (not walking humbly with your God) WITHOUT A DOUBT.

That's a trenchant pun playing on his not-yet-papal doctrinal infallibility pretensions.

This Bishop is infamous for his anti-LGBT rhetoric. He has a special compartment in his nasty heart for marriage equality, a compartment best described as a dungeon.

Witness his latest column, "Five Problems with Homosexual 'Marriage.'" He uses and abuses the stereotypical set of loaded slurs and irrational claims of the worst of anti-gay hate groups. Those include:
  • Of course, marriage in quotes, denying simultaneously legality and compassion and civil rights, as though feigning that church rites supersede reality and law
  • Of course the big lie of "The proposal to legalize homosexual marriage is an attempt to redefine the institution of marriage as it has existed from the very beginning of human history." Marriage equality most definitely does not change man/woman church marriage in the slightest, which itself is a relatively recent institution that finally took its place in the ages-old patterns of polygamy, fornication, extramarital relations, and women as property (and ideally with property).
  • Sadly too, he wants to mandate his particular doctrine of homosexual couples as being involved in "immoral activity" as policy and law.  He's welcome to be a judgmental alter kaker, but that has no place in statute.
  • He lugs out the wheezer that marriage equality is "a social experiment with unpredictable results." That's crap. The anti-equality folk promised a collapse of MA when we legalized same-sex marriage (including mass exodus of moral and wealthy citizens). With our lowest-in-the-nation divorce rate and zero related problems, we see the Tobin types reduced to oh-just-you-wait-long-enough (keep waiting, keep waiting).
  • Alas, he falls on the straw man of legislative distraction, the last refuse of the political liar. Claiming that Rhode Island has more important things to do than offer equal rights to its citizens is beneath contempt and shows a profound lack of, well, Christianity as well as knowledge of civics.
Tobin's column is fab though in putting all that junk in one box for examination. At the end of this piece he promises that his diocese "will be fully engaged in the battle. We will work hard and pray hard for the defeat of this immoral, misguided proposal that erodes the foundation of our society and offends the moral values we cherish."

Honestly though, despite the oft repeated cliché that people never change, Tobin may, through introspection or observation, have an enlightenment. Not only is he a politician, as any cleric risen to his level, but he busies himself with a serious to-do list. If he gets ahead of that or gets more sensible about his goals, he might have time for some prayers that aren't too egocentric.

His self-assigned duties include stocking up the new-priest pool, which he is doing OK at so far. He has an educational effort related to the every-sperm-is-sacred, life-begins-as-conception conceit. That's another personal decision that speaks to a fixed, limited audience. Also, he has an advertising-heavy campaign to put more lapsed-Catholic butts back in the pews — again, with limited success. These and other big items keep him busy.

Looking at the list, he likely can count his greatest accomplishments in the combo-teaching/Tobin promo. His SHARING CHURCH TEACHINGS to-do is embarrassingly all-Tobin all-the-time. He's everywhere as the longest description in the list indicates. Tobin. Tobin. Tobin. He even concludes with a link to his vain, commissioned coat of arms. His epithets in the uninspiring artwork, the words he uses to describe himself, are strong, loving, wise.

We're the same age. I don't know whether I could out-lift or out-armwrestle him, but I can see plainly that the other two are hooey.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Marriage Equality Podcast

Long-term marriage equality warrior Rev. John Buehrens does not see smooth seas for that struggle, but to torture the nautical image, he is sure the ship will arrive…and sooner that many think. He’s served nine years on the board of Freedom to Marry and joined us today at Left Ahead.

Listen in as he talks about the five states in play this year, with legislative votes or referenda in the works. Two are defensive actions. He speaks of the trends favoring per-state and nationwide equality. That will of course include removing the Defense of Marriage Act. He also foresees the 14th Amendment (equal protection) coming into play as more courts base decisions using it.

He paints a picture of 10 states with equal marriage and 10 more with all-but-marriage legalization. He figures that will be the tipping point. Coupled with the slight and growing national support for equality, he sees that math as undeniable.

He discusses the big parties as well. He would be very surprised if the Dems did not include an equality plank in this year’s platform, even it it phrased in mild terms. For the Republicans, despite the current POTUS candidate rhetoric, he finds many GOP pols and legislators far from monolithic in opposing marriage equality. 

Listen in as he touches on state-by-state and national trends and expectations.

Cross-post note: This originally appeared at Left Ahead.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Murray Wants Betters to Lead by Example

Put down that remote. Your HD mind rot can wait while you do your duty and digest some Charles Murray.

The libertarian social scientist continues to be the darling of the conservatives who don't really read his stuff. He annoys the crap out of wingers and lefties alike.

His lunch with the FT this week (free reg for limited hits per month) is a good start. You may first admire his gourmet flair (black-truffle pasta and $105 bottle of Cortese di Gavi). For your background consumption though, try his half-crazy Losing Ground, the 1984 book that fantasized that welfare made a nation of bums, or his new Coming Apart. The latter offers his interpretation of how the rich and super-rich fail their own families as well as the larger public through what he calls ecumenical niceness. The poor and middle class as not inspired by their superiors, in his mind, who no longer are industrious, righteous, religious, and like that.

Salon's Joan Walsh debated him and picks at his substance. At the NYT, Ross Douthat thinks 15% of the book is hooey, but 85% is worth considering and maybe right. The Daily Beast's David Frum finds him quintuply delusional and wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong (plus conclusion and a sidebar rebuttal).

I confess that I enjoy the weekly lunch-with feature. I tend to read even LITE ones, with trivial people like self-absorbed fashion designers. I suppose it's the candid nature of egotists gossiping about themselves.

Enjoying his martini before the wine arrived, Murray got into the error of the elite types, particularly, "There's a big difference between being good and being nice." That is, "Being good involves tough choices — tough love. Ecumenical niceness is just pablum. It's as if, in all our interactions, parents are trying to stop our kids eating food off the floor, when that is what would inoculate them against far costlier things later on in life."

He says such risk aversion cuts off the top dogs and their pups from the larger American culture. Oddly, he would like the rich folk to exhibit the work ethic and morality of 19th Century England...and preach it to their inferiors (my term) in the rest of the country.

Moreover, he has nothing good to say about the POTUS and his policies. He also despairs at the entire GOP set of candidates for the office.

To many, including me, he is oblivious to the cause-and-effect patterns of income disparity that the laws and regulations that enable them. He offers and astonishing expectation that the middle and lower classes will, of course, emulate the virtues of the rich, should that group find and display those.

By the bye, Murray does have some economic perspective. Knowing the FT would pick up the lunch, he verified with interviewer Edward Luce that a $350 bottle would e out of range before picking the $105 wash.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Mitt & Rick, "Off My Bench"

Maybe I've been doing the marriage-equality thing too long. When the GOP would-be POTUS types want the other candidates to step away, I think of their anti-SSM screams and screeds.

That is, supposedly Rick Santorum called on Newt Gingrich to quit the race. Now he says it was his Super PAC supporters, surely not he. Although he'd like Gingrich out (particularly before more Southern primaries where Mr. G. should do well, native son and all), he told ABC that the call for Gingrich to quit was without his knowledge.

The pro-Santorum PAC Red, White and Blue, advertised that Gingrich was unworthy, for among other reasons, supporting individual health-care mandates in the past.

Santorum indicated his heart or at least his fantasies were in line with the PAC, but he never made that request. As he put it, "I’m not saying I don’t want him to get out. if he wants to get out, I’m all for him getting out. I’m for Mitt Romney getting out. I wish President Obama would just hand me the thing, but that’s not going to happen."

In contrast, Romney's campaign was much blunter and he has not denied the request — that everyone else quit the race. His forces, under his control, have two main points. Secondarily, it's better for the party's chances if they do not publicly eviscerate each other, but first and awfully dryly, "'Super Tuesday dramatically reduced the likelihood that any of Governor Romney’s opponents can obtain the Republican nomination,' Romney political director Rich Beeson wrote in a memo to reporters. 'As Governor Romney’s opponents attempt to ignore the basic principles of math, the only person’s odds of winning they are increasing are President Obama’s.'"

That's right, kiddies, on the huge, central, emotionally charged issue, Romney's folk made the business case.

I laugh the laugh of a SSM advocate. For years now and well into this one, wingers have chanted, screamed and written, "Let the people vote!"

When they're going on about plebiscites to prevent or overturn marriage equality granted by a legislature or state high court, it's raw democracy. They must know that 1) it's anti-American values to put up rights on any group to majority vote and 2) town-meeting style voting on complicated statewide issues is neither reasonable nor fair.

Ignoring those and facing having to be fair and reasonable, they shoot for a last, desperate attempt. They do anything to harm, hamper and hinder homosexuals.

So now, we have GOP candidates for POTUS like so many middle-school kids on a bench. Some figure there isn't enough space for everyone. They shove and hip bump. Santorum and Romney make it plain that they demand some space.

Santorum wants to be considered Romney's only party adversary headed toward the convention, where he figures to be the surviving anyone-but-Mitt guy. Romney wants everyone else to play his passionless persona, accepting the math and forgetting the months and millions and mouthing.

Even Ron Paul, who has never had a chance of being President, Vice President, a cabinet member or even winner of a primary, isn't quitting. The let-the-people-vote mindset is far too firmly attached to the Republican character and caricature. They'll all simmer and stew and boil in it.

Y'all wanna play at giving folk their say? You asked for it. You got it. Have at it.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Pee-wee Limbaugh Ready for Recess

It's all too much. Consider Rush Limbaugh as Pee-wee Herman.

In the discordant present, the intentionally offensive, bombastic talker failed miserably at the mic and at every subsequent effort to reframe it. In the end, he has decidedly falling back on the character with the child-mind who was wont to tell any critic, "I'm rubber. You're glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you."

We surely all know now that Limbaugh royally goofed up with stupid, mean, illogical slurs heaped on a young law school student. She was willing to testify that the likes of her fellow female students needed the option of birth-control coverage in health plans, even if they, like she, went to a Catholic university.

Instead of dealing with the ideas, Limbaugh went totally ad hominem as well as plain dumb. Calling her slut and prostitute, and demanding that she and her, in his wee mind, sex-crazed fellow students post videos of their intimate encounters. His underlying message was that students needed to pay for birth control on their own. He left all the big issues, if you pardon, on the floor.

Art note: I claim fair use for totally and obviously transforming pix of Herman and Limbaugh for this.

Rachel Maddow dissected his attacks, pointing how he clearly seemed to think women needed to buy a birth-control pill for each intimacy, much like his beloved and expensive Viagra. Others commentators of various political bents pointed to the likes of Don Imus, who handled mic blunders sensibly, quickly and sincerely, ending their problems.

Instead, Limbaugh went the full Pee-wee. He said:

  • "I descended to [the left's] level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke."
  • "I've always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program." 
  • "I'm not going to wait for apologies from the left for saying despicable things they say about us, about people like Sarah Palin. Don't expect apologies, they're never going to apologize."
  • "Talk about a double standard...Rappers can say anything they want about women [and] it's called art. And they win awards."

So, Limbaugh throws in an insincere apology, but heaps lies and cowardly assertions to hide it. Pinkos, rap artists and such are the real villains here. He only does what they've taught him. They're rubber...

You'd think anyone as wealthy and as old as he would have grown into a sense of responsibility for his actions and words. You'd be very wrong.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Doc, Help, I'm Afraid I Got Santorum-ism

HT to the SF Chronicle (SFgate) for the cascade of Rick Santorum dreck onto my running observations of how the GOP has no sense of what America is, has been, and should be about. There may be enough time before the November election to broadcast the essentials. We need to try. The bifurcation is wide.

The catalyst was Little Ricky's same-sex marriage double blunder:

  • If elected POTUS, he'd see that all existing SSMs were invalidated (10s of thousands of fellow Americans having their legal rights stripped)
  • He'd also see that there was a single, national marriage law

He perfectly illustrated what's been going on with the right wing since Pres. Bush the Greater, through Bush the Lesser and well into the current crop of would-be POTUS clowns. From his stated positions, we can learn:

  1. He is in the van of wingers who are anti-gay and anti-marriage equality
  2. He is eager for a huge, intrusive central government to mandate states rights as well as individual liberties
  3. He does not understand federalism or the pre-US-nation principles of the constitution that reserve all rights to the states not granted to the central government
  4. He is willing to rework the US Constitution as well as case law to suit his particularlistic religious and social beliefs
  5. He'd have plebiscites on civil rights of groups he dislikes
  6. He is willing to put his beliefs into public policy instead of respecting freedom of religion

Overall, his and wingers of his mindset are nearly totally anti-American. They do not share the ideals and ideas of the Revolutionary War, those quasi-mythical Founding Fathers, the Bill of Rights, and more recently the Baby Boomer/post-WWII concepts of individual liberty. It's as though they missed civics classes in junior high, as well as every American history class offered.

I mean, hey, if you hate gay men and lesbians, there you are, in your tiny-minded room of hate. We lefties acknowledge you have may be like that, so long as you don't try to impose your emotional and intellectual problems on other. Catch that last part.

Most of the rest of us paid attention to the concepts of the original American nation, as well as our advances over the past few hundred years. We even grew up with novels, movies, TV and texts that enforce, discuss and develop the ideals and practicalities involved.

I think of a ditty in my mother's 1940s college yearbook that included a line about "when they gave out brains, I thought they said trains...I missed mine." There is Little Ricky, too ignorant and too stupid to belong in a discussion with the bulk of us.

Thank God, thank Jefferson, thank the Framers, thank so many that the rest of us know we have to live and let live. We know that states have to honor each other's laws, in comity. We know that freedom of speech and religion includes that no single religions zealot tells the rest of us what we can, cannot or must do.

Wingers have truly overreached. They are damned this election and maybe far beyond. It's likely too late for them to wake up this time. Santorum is only the worst of those still talking on the national stage.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Blame Someone and Vote!

The cliché lives! Angry old white guys populate more than Simpsons episodes.

The FT sent Richard McGregor to chat 'em up. He traces back to Richard Nixon to analyze why so many blue-collar men turned from Democrat to Republican, at least for the top of the ticket. (This link requires free registration or subscription.)

Even strong union supporters and adherents to the bulk of the Democratic Party platform voted Republican for POTUS last time and may again. They buy into a tax-and-spend slur, ignoring the GOP's borrow-and-spend history.

Among the sources, sure, there's gun talk (Obama wants 'em and the old white guys keep theirs handy just in case). Some eagerly take Social Security, Medicare and other federal benefits, but want to restrict others' access. And the President's mixed race does play...a bit by their comments...into the equation. After all, it's now a white-minority nation, getting more so. These folk are happy to admit listening to Limbaugh and Beck.

The big point is that from Nixon on, Republicans have been successful in wagging the dog from its small tail. As Mike Gammella, head of an UAW local put it, "I hear people in the plant criticise Barack Obama but the fact is, without him, we would not have a car industry today...But the Republicans are very good at isolating one or two issues that play on people. There’s a lot of anger out there and not only among the people who were laid off. They tend to vote angry and when they vote angry, they get it wrong."

The right is not helping itself in this season of crazed  POTUS candidates though. From the VA gov and legislature on women's health to the more identifiable to this group of older male voters issue of union rights, the GOP far, far overreached this time. Laws and bills in the Midwest to crush unions and destroy collective bargaining may take away those pivotal issues as decision points.

They would like to blame Dems and particularly Obama for everything wrong with their income, jobs, town, state and anything else. With GOP candidates throwing money to the wealthiest people and companies, and callously saying the auto industry shouldn't have gotten survival loans, even those desperate for such simple fantasies are outrun by reality.

Friday, March 02, 2012

MA High Court Nods to Bloggers

Creeping bloggerism continues. Here in MA, the Grand Poobahs of justice, a.k.a. the Supreme Judicial Court, ruled on their rules today to bring citizen journalists into their news media fold.

To most, that is between small and nothing. To internet writers, it's hot stuff.

Universal Hub's Adam Gaffin was quietly, politely, as is his wont, in the scrum from the beginning. He was quick to note that he helped draft the update, upgrade to SJC rule 1:19. As innocuous as it might seem, the change by the whole SJC brought the body into this century. This likely will lead other sleepy atavistic judges in other MA courts to attention. Oh, they will think, the SJC says bloggers are journalists. How about that?

The salient point in the rule ruling is the new definition:
The "news media" shall include any authorized representative of a news organization that has registered with the Public Information Officer of the Supreme Judicial Court or any individual who is so registered. Registration shall be afforded to organizations that regularly gather, prepare, photograph, record, write, edit, report or publish news or information about maters of public interest for dissemination to the public in any medium, whether print or electronic, and to individuals who regularly perform a similar function upon certification by the organizations or individuals that they perform such a role and that they will familiarize themselves or their representatives, as the case may be with the provisions of this rule and will comply with them. 
Sure, blah, blah and sure, the Poobah proprietary continues — no stealth recording or photography, advance permission from the PIO and judge and so forth. Yet, it's a welcome and overdue change.

I think of a certain MA Governor, a Deval Patrick, who five years ago to the month dubbed bloggers press. He held a town meeting at Boston Latin School, replete with the likes of Mayor Tom Menino speaking before him. Then he squirreled up in room 023 of the basement with a few dozen of us reportorial bloggy types. He held a full press conference, yes, press conference. He had use netroots and new media to get elected and had not forgotten.

He continued and keeps involving us in his media communication. He's come on Left Ahead several times. In short, he acknowledged from the beginning of his first campaign that bloggers could be news media if they reported and analyzed.

Such is pragmatism and realism.

In contrast, I think of the treatment by more traditional media even recently. Many seem to resent bloggers in puerile and competitive ways. They should mature a bit.

Locally, the likes of the Boston Globe rarely mention a blog's name, even as they quote them without attribution. (Video god Steve Garfield has been splendid in calling the Morrissey mob on that.) In my own petty concerns, I think lately of BUR's Bianca Vasquez Toness using me, quoting me for a piece on Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley...without citing my blogs or podcast. She had been reading my stuff, but defined me as "a political blogger in Hyde Park." Try to imagine how BUR or NPR would react to their material being quoted with the only reference being to "a  college radio station in Boston."

Likewise and worse, during the prolonged frenzy about US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and me bantering about right wingers calling her a hick for being from OK and an elitist for teaching at Harvard Law, most newsy types avoided attribution. Some cited Left Ahead, but not by URL. There was nationwide (and beyond) coverage but none of the major media provided the professional courtesy of linking to the source. Even in multiple Youtube excepts of Warren and me, they treated the clips like their own material.

As an amusing aside, my wife laughed at ABC News' typo in its coverage, where "Host Mike Ball" was rendered at "Hot Mike Ball." She may be one of the few in the world who agrees with the error, but many other outlets repeated the typo though cutting and pasting. So for a couple of days, I was hot.

I feel newsy as a blogger for having come out of journalism school, working in high-school and college papers, before daily and weekly newspaper jobs and on to magazine writing. I quote sources. Whenever possible, my newsy blog posts include links as well as identification for those cited.

There's no reason beyond childish competitiveness and bad training that MSM folk can't, won't or don't credit bloggers and podcasters.

When we have an elected official, candidate for office or any expert on the Left Ahead show or as part of a post, if it's good enough to quote, we should be good enough to cite. I've heard my stuff quoted locally as well as on the networks. The likes of GBH's Emily Rooney treat that material like it's theirs, public domain or maybe original.

I can't control that kind of abuse. However, in the future when Vasquez Toness or other newshounds sniff around, I'm making it plain. the SJC acknowledges that bloggers and our ilk can be news media. I expect the professional courtesy that I extend to them. If they quote me, any of my blog posts or any of my podcasts, I require a full citation with a URL.

If their J-school profs, editors or program directors or their mammas for that matter didn't teach them that, I can provide that service.

Cross-post: This appeared first at Harrumph.